Jay wrote:How many acres do you think can you take care of with just two people working on them without help of any modern tools?
Jay I can only speak from my own experience and viewpoint. There are more ways and means and methods to grow stuff – and corresponding proponents/fans- than you can shake a stick at.I have made it a point to try most of them over the years.
That said, acreage size does not equate necessarily to crop or livestock production volume or quality. If you mean, of how much acreage can two people manage to grow produce and/or raise livestock? That is a question that has too many variables to attempt to answer.
Why? Because it depends on many things:
1) what you are growing
2) why you are growing it (purpose/goal)
3) where you live and what your ‘space’ characteristics are
4) your level of knowledge and skill
5) your available equipment and infrastructure
6) processing you intend to use for each crop
7) if animals are involved in your plans and what those are/the mix
The reason I posted a link to Nathan Lewis’s blog post about yield factoids was….summed up with this, quote ‘Some people have been pushing the notion that a family of four can be sustained with a 3000 square foot garden.
Oh really? That’s about 50×60 feet. Which is actually a pretty large garden, by hobby garden standards.
Let’s think about this.
A square mile has 27.878 million square feet. There are 640 acres in a square mile. Each acre has 43,560 square feet. Thus, 3,000 square feet is 0.0689 acres. This is about the size of a typical “suburban backyard garden,” if you use most of the available space. The highest calories per acre are probably attained with grains, such as wheat or rice. You aren’t going to get there with lettuce and asparagus.‘ To that last sentence I say – amen – pay attention folks!
I am in my late 50’s. I am very fit for my age. Managing and working my small place is a lot of hard, physical work that never all gets anywhere near done. I NEED calories because I BURN lots of calories. When planning what you are going to grow and how you are going to best feed your family, you need to actively think first, plan next and then implement the plan (and be prepared for them to be shot to hell by Mother Nature, critters etc).If you just grow and eat vegetables, when you are not a vegetarian now, you are going to have big problems in your health and stamina when SHTF attempting to produce most of all your own food. You may not starve, but you probably won’t thrive either. You will subsist. Which was his other point.
In SHTF ok first you want to keep you and yours from starving. Doable but lots of work and experience involved. But who wants to just subsist? Most want to thrive! I know I do. For that I have to feed my body the calories it will need (assuming I am otherwise healthy) to sustain the heavy, physical labor required to grow most of your own food (and let’s not forget other required activities of life) without the aid of modern equipment. AND, IMHO – to thrive after SHTF at some point I am going to have to be able to produce excess in my growing endeavors to trade for all of the many things I can not possibly produce myself – no matter how hard I work.
I know, from my experience, permculture is not going to get me there because it is not inherently efficient for the ‘excess’ and thrive part of the equation. . I would be running all over the farm rummaging around here and there collecting nature’s bounty – all the while trying to perhaps to evade God knows who or what. Not happening here anyway. It has it’s place to me – as a sort of developing backup – but would I personally base my SHTF growing plans and methodology on it – no. That’s me. I understand about wanting to ‘blend’, and OPSEC reasons but that makes me laugh (and I don’t mean derogatorily) – but again, post SHTF at whatever point, going hither and yon, around and about collecting your food? For me – no.
My personal main annual vegetable and fruit gardens (the ‘subsistence’ /must have area -are well disguised, easily accessible for me, but well protected. Working out from that are the areas of the farm that would require me to be more exposed, but are the areas that will help me thrive by producing more calories and variety in diet; and, produce excess for future trade. This is by trial and error, being accomplished now in the least labor intensive methods have been able to devise for now and in future if something happens to make current method not workable.
I am working with my draft cross mainly for pulling a wagon,pulling out logs from the woods, pulling the hay rake and the sickle bar mower that has almost been brought back to life (last night friends helped me make great progress). I do not till my fields when I plant. THAT is too much damn work, pardon my French – even with a draft horse. If anyone cares to know the method I developed/use let me know and I will happily bore you to death.
So, in my case, as described elsewhere, I myself ‘take care’ of and also grow and raise livestock on close to 12 acres. But, I plan,plan, plan in writing and with schedules I refer to daily exactly what I am planting, where I am planting it, what it cost me to plant it (if any), when I need to tie it up, prune it, thin it, harvest it, kill it, process it, can it, dehydrate it, freeze dry it, re-seed it, cut it, bale it….and then start over. Most people who have not gardened, much less grown/small farmed have no clue that it ALL starts with planning. And, my planning starts with the calories I will need to do the damn work it will all take to stay healthy and energetic as possible, what I like to eat (or others will need if growing for trade/sale), what I MOST NEED for my chosen diet and then referencing charts – what that all translates into volume/quantity/space. I do not just on a whim start planting anything for the hell of it.Even if it’s pretty or sounds like an interesting plant (’cause pretty takes work to care for too)
Jay – does this make sense to you? Helpful? Sigh, probably another big ramble.
PS those who read my past posts – my rice trial is coming along much better than expected! Yahoo! We will see.