The Half-Acre Homestead


| 5/23/2013 10:59:00 AM


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I’ve gone through an evolution in homesteading in three phases.

In the ‘60s, I built a house in Big Sur, developed a water supply, and terraced a hillside for farming. I was intrigued with the idea of self-sufficiency, and along with all of the changes going on in the ‘60s, the back-to-the-land movement was a powerful force.

We had a big garden, planted fruit trees, and I could walk down the canyon to the beach to get fish and abalone. Pretty soon after finishing the house (built out of mostly salvaged materials and hand-split shakes) and getting set up for farming, fate intervened, and I left Big Sur for a 5-year stint building geodesic domes.

Flash forward to 1971. I bought a half-acre in a small Northern California coastal town and built another house. This time we got farther into homesteading. We had goats, 50 chickens and 5 colonies of bees. We raised a lot of our own food. I cut hay with a scythe. We learned a lot of the “forgotten crafts”: making butter and cheese, brewing beer, baking bread, smoking fish, and many skills and crafts that had been part of our ancestors’ lives.

After several years, I realized that all this was taking too much time. Tending dairy animals is time-consuming and tricky. Bees need attention. Raising a good portion of your own food is demanding. (I’m talking about small plots of land here. If you have acreage, then everything is different.)

I started cutting back. First, we got rid of the goats (a half-acre is too small for dairy animals anyway). Then the bees. I started putting more time into publishing, less into food production and home crafts. We didn’t give up on these things, but scaled back.




dairy goat

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