How To Create A Homestead On Wooded Land

Want to create a homestead on your wooded land? Here are tips for making a thriving permaculture style homestead using the natural resources of a woodland. Last fall, we found our perfect 10 acres, complete with a house we loved, and in the school district we wanted.

Needless to say, everyone was pretty excited when we made the move to our “forever home” in 2014.

Want to create a homestead on your wooded land? Here are tips for making a thriving permaculture style homestead using the natural resources of a woodland.

Ever since then, we have been working to create a homestead on our completely wooded land.

It seems that the first instinct for most people, (including me) is to clear the majority of the land so pasture and gardens can be made and animals and food can be grown.

However, a complete turn around like that is not always the best, and definitely not the easiest or cheapest way to create a homestead.

So, I wanted to share some of the tips we have learned about how to create a homestead on wooded land.

Of course, there will need to be SOME clearing of trees and brush so that the necessary vegetables and fruits can be grown. We cleared most of the trees from our fenced back yard, and are using a portion of the yard as our new vegetable garden. The stumps will be removed eventually, but for now, we are growing around them.

Outside of our yard, we cleared a large area that will be our orchard. We have elderberry bushes, blackberry canes, and cherry and plum trees planted so far.

Eventually, we will clear a couple of larger areas to be converted to pasture and a field for growing larger crops.

The rest of the land will remain wooded, and used for many other purposes.

For instance, did you know that pigs, chickens, and turkeys were actually all woodland animals originally?

They can, of course live on and benefit from a pasture type habitat, but they also THRIVE in the woods.

We are fencing in a large amount of wooded land for our chickens to live in, (I am so thrilled to no longer have chicken poop all over my porches!) and for our pigs when they arrive.

The long term plan is to have a milk cow that provides the dairy products for our family, but it will be a while until we have a pasture ready for a cow. So, until then, we are going to have a couple of dairy goats! Goats are browsers and foragers, not grazers, so they do fabulously in the woods as well. I raised an entire herd of dairy goats for several years when I was a teenager, so I am pretty thrilled to get the chance to work with my sweet Alpines again!

We could also add turkeys and guineas eventually since they are so well suited for the woodlands.

All the wood we have felled has gone to the woodlot to be converted into next winter’s firewood and wood chip mulch.

We are also utilizing the actual dark shady woods for food growing as well as animal forage. Fiddle head ferns, violets, walnuts, and morel mushrooms have been foraged for, and a shiitake mushroom log was inoculated last fall, and is happily nestled away in the shade of the woods.

Golden seal and ginseng are woodland plants, and will be planted in the fall! Oh, and I can’t forget to mention the lovely maple syrup we have made from the maples!

Homesteading does not require wide open pastures and fields to be the only landscape around.

A woodland can be so beautiful!

Want to create a homestead on your wooded land? Here are tips for making a thriving permaculture style homestead using the natural resources of a woodland.

All in all, there is so much benefit from leaving part of your land in a wooded state, or even planting a stand of trees to farm for firewood or fruits and nuts.

Want to create a homestead on your wooded land? Here are tips for making a thriving permaculture style homestead using the natural resources of a woodland.
This post has been shared at Tuesdays With a Twist, Down Home Blog Hop, The Home Acre Hop, From the Farm Hop, Old Fashioned Fridays, Simple Saturdays, Simply Natural Saturdays, Wildcrafting Wednesday, and The Art of Homemaking

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22 responses to “How To Create A Homestead On Wooded Land”

  1. Jennifer A says:

    We’re on 13 acres with only about 1 acre cleared so far. Our goats are in the woods, and our chickens go where they want. It was amazing how quickly the goats cleared the brush in their pen. We’re working on fencing in another part of the woods to put pigs. My dream is to build a house back in the woods, and put the milk cow in the cleared area, but we shall see. After the pig area is cleared by the animals we’ll move them over and use that for the garden I think. I love the ideas for mushrooms and woody plants! I’ll have to start working on that.

  2. tessa says:

    These are all great points and incorporating permacultures principles into the homestead is something I’ve been contemplating for awhile. Its hard to re-train my brain since we’ve all grown up with this idea of farming that includes all cleared land with animals in one place and food in another. Historically, our modern version of farming is without precedent and, to be honest, completely wacked. There’s so much benefit to having a forest incorporated into the homestead! Or, should I say, the homestead incorporated into the forest? Pinned!

  3. This post makes me so happy! You’ve found a way to have abundance AND forest. I’m sure the local wildlife thanks you too 🙂

  4. Jessica says:

    Thank you so much for posting this article. This has been very helpful to me. My husband and I are getting 10 acres from my dad and it is mostly wooded. I was worried because I want to grow food and animals and I figured it needed to be cleared off and made into a pasture. We are going to clear off a backyard and home site and there is some pasture for the horses and hopefully cows one day. I am thankful that chickens, turkeys, and pigs can be foragers and not need all pasture. Once again thank you and God bless.

  5. What a beautiful home and property you have discovered, congratulations. I can only imagine how happy this has made you and your family. I too have quite a lot (15 years) experience with growing gardens and food on land that was once forested. We live in SW Michigan on a five-acre parcel that for many years was oak and pine savanna forest. Our soil is CHALLENGING; sandy, lean forested soil perfect for growing trees. I have learned about various soil amendment processes and the Back to Eden Gardening strategies. Both are techniques that have helped us in our quest for growing food here. I invite you to follow our blog where I share a lot of information about growing in soil that once nurtured trees. It’s a challenging and unique but not impossible situation. Donna at The Small House Big Sky Homestead.

  6. Terry says:

    You have a beautiful home and so lucky to have land. Good luck on all you do there

  7. Chad Fluegge says:

    Love this post. We moved into our home in 2008. It sits on 12.5 acres of land, of which ~10 are forested. It wasn’t until the past couple of years that we decided to actually homestead. Since then, we’ve built a barn (Fully functional, but still a work in progress) and have slowly started to acquire livestock. We currently have 1 goat (1 died from unknown causes last winter), 10 chickens and 2 ducks. We’re hoping to add in a couple of pigs this year. The key for us has been doing things incrementally so that we don’t bite off more than we can chew.

    What we’re running into now is a lack of un-forested space. I have been really reticent to fence in the trees that are immediately adjacent to our field for two reasons: it’s my high value sugar maple stand and I don’t want to impede maple syrup production, and I’m also concerned that any livestock I put in there would engage in cribbing. With your experience with goats, what can you tell me about them and whether they like to crib or not? Or pigs, for that matter.

    • Angi says:

      Hi Chad! Great question! Now, I have to preface this by stating that I have only had experience with pure bred dairy goats who are by nature VERY picky eaters. They do not live up to the goat legends of eating tin cans or clothes off the line. Anyway, in the almost 5 years that I have had goats, I have never had them engage in any kind of cribbing. They forage all the greenery they can reach, then we move them to a new section of the property. Actually, we make sure that we move them before they eat ALL the greenery, and that helps with the re-greening process. During the winter, they are kept in one area and fed hay as their main food source, but still no cribbing. The only supplements I use are kelp, salt block, and an herbal de-wormer. When they are freshened, they also get a small amount of grain. Pigs also thrive in a wooded environment, especially if there are oaks and acorns! Does this help at all?

      • Chad Fluegge says:

        Yeah, that does help! I think that with my schedule clearing up (I’m graduating May 2nd) I’ll have more time to devote to our homestead and blog and I’m going to do some research on this, followed up with a post of course. I have to inventory my sugar maple stand first and then crunch the numbers to see where the balance is that will allow me to accomplish all the things that I need to. 🙂

        How are you going to contain your pigs? Friends of mine contain their pigs with a single strand of electric fencing; that I know of, they have never gotten out. I live right on a major highway, so I’m kinda’ leery about relying on a single strand of electric fence to keep my pigs in.

      • Pamela Borck says:

        A couple questions. 1. What is cribbing? 2. What is ‘freshened’? My husband and I are considering buying land and starting our own homestead, but we are closer to 50 than 40. Any tips/tricks are appreciated!

  8. Ashley says:

    Thanks for sharing. We are buying a partially wooded 4 acre hobby farm and reading this makes me feel much better about the whole thing 🙂 We were just told there are turkeys back there so after reading this I am a little more inclined to keep the woodland,

  9. Kris says:

    What a great post!
    You have no idea how happy and relieved this post makes me! Half of our property is wooded and like a lot of people, I thought that to keep chickens I need to clear the wooded area (much to my DH’s chagrin).
    Could you please talk more about your wood lot chickens? Is their coop in the woods? Do you know how far from a well they should be kept?
    Thanks a lot!

  10. Darla says:

    Hey there. We’re into year five of homesteading on wooded land. I love it. Tip for you if you didn’t know it. Deer love ginseng. Try to make sure not to plant close to a deer path….found that one out the hard way. Keep going girl!

  11. Martha Hart says:

    We have just 5 acres right now. Three of the acres are wooded. How did you fence your yard. I am concerned about all the wildlife that currently live in our woods. We have 3 deer that I am aware of, foxes, racoons, groundhogs, skunks and other small Maine wildlife.

    We would like to have goats, chickens and other animals of our choosing in our wooded area but I am not sure how to accommodate our animals knowing the land is home to others.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  12. Patty says:

    Right there with you. Have 7 acres – Mostly Pine, Pignut Hickory and Oak w/a bit of Sassafras and Wild Cherry thrown in. In fact your pic looks almost exactly like my backyard! 🙂 Look forward to reading more about your progress.

    What we did was to clear some scrub trees to use for erosion control, plus defined ‘yard vs. not yard’ and to let other trees have more of what they need – room. Seven scrubby trees w/one massive oak? The scrubbies were slowly weaned OUT! We also raised the canopy right around the lawn/garden spot in order to get more sunlight to those ‘other’ things we wish to grow such as food!!

    Extra brush that wasn’t used for erosion control went one of three places – either to making a hedgerow (wildlife sanctuary, screening from neighbors, etc.) or to marking off new garden beds or to making hugelkulture beds.

    We’re getting there. Hang tight, it’ll happen. Tis good exercise.

  13. Jacquelyn says:

    Your sunset picture is gorgeous!!

  14. A.W. Riera says:

    Hi Angi, my wife and I just bought 60 acres in northeast Texas. The property is mostly wooded with only around 5 open acres where a highline runs through. Hope to enact some of your ideas to keep the woods as I have no plans to clear cut. Do have predator problems? I don’t know how well goats, chickens and any fowl will survive with us not living on the property (not yet anyway) with the coyote and bobcat population we have. I may try fencing in 5 or so acres at a time and try running some goats to start. Thanks for the article!

    • Angi says:

      We don’t have many predator issues other than hawks, but we do live here, and have dogs. So, my advice would be to go with your fencing idea. Maybe even use an electric movable fence? You can use a solar or battery powered shocker to get the fence live.

  15. E. Gail Phillips says:

    My, sister and her two daughters plus myself are looking for our first homestead near Knoxville, Tn this helps a lot. Thank you

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