Selecting a Homestead Site

Get advice on what to look for when choosing a homestead site, such as climate, soil type, water supply, available space, length of the growing season, and more.

| January/February 1971

Will Rogers gave this advice: “Buy land ... they ain't making any more of that stuff.” And modern day population alarmists predict standing room only for the future. All the land will be occupied, they say, to feed and house and transport people. The population of the U.S. is estimated to be 700 million in one hundred years. Of the 2 billion acres of land in the U. S., only one-third is considered favorable to crop production. Alternative solutions appear to be 1) State socialism with overhead control of births; and 2) a strict limitation on population growth, keeping business (and private ownership and land speculation) as usual.

But there is now a Third World Front that is viewing the land and population issue in the new light of the primacy of the home. First of all, if we used only our prime cropland and cultivated it as intensively as the Japanese, and reduced bureaucratic wastage, and consumed more firsthand foodstuffs rather than processed trash and animal products, then we Americans could feed a tremendous population (2 billion people, according to U. S. Department of Agriculture, 1958 Yearbook). The population explosion scare is overdrawn: It diverts concern from the real issue, which is the comfort and beauty of people, versus 1) making money (capitalism); and 2) worship of the state (communism).

Finding Land for Your Homestead

We must come to terms with this so-called land question before selecting or acquiring our homestead site. Understanding the issues will most definitely influence our choice of location. For one thing, anyone who has done any land shopping realizes that there is currently a strong demand for land. The same demand in the 1930s had its origins in unemployment and insecurity. Today's influence is more sophisticated: Industry is dispersing to the countryside, as is the suburban growth of population. An estimated million acres is taken up yearly by residential, industrial, highways and other nonfarm use. Farms are enlarging to make labor and machinery investments more efficient.

The amount of land now being withdrawn from the market for speculation is frightening. Traditionally, the investment in land is especially high during and immediately after a war. Land is considered a safe hedge against inflation. Speculative land is just not available — certainly not to the prospective one-horsepower homesteader. We must therefore outwit the carpetbagging speculators by finding attractive homesites that are not attractive to their investment dollars.

A brief study into rural appraisals indicates clearly the speculative value of various property features. Closeness to rail transport or a main road may be important to a commercial farmer but it is probably not worth the additional land cost to a small acreage homesteader.

Hilly or Level Ground?

Level ground is far more valuable to a land speculator than sloping ground. The speculator knows that level ground farming permits a more uniform type of vegetation. He knows that power equipment can be used to more advantage. But a small homesteader may find that drainage is poor on level ground, water accumulates and leaches nutrient materials down into deeper layers forming hardpan and poor aeration, which becomes impervious to plant roots. A hilly site location may not be adapted to large-scale farming operations, but there are actually more advantages to the homesteader in choosing a hilly or mountainous location.

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