re Survival Garden: I have an odd shaped farm...

by Dallas
(Chilliwack, BC, Canada)

Hello, our small 2 acre farm is a narrow 65 feet wide by some 1400 feet long. The home is only 80 feet from the front of the property, and another 200 feet takes in the well, septic field and a 1600 sq ft shop. My question is this...

What do you think would be a good setup to use all the land most efficiently. We would like to have some milk goats, pigs, and have already started a small home flock of chickens. My wife would like to have a nice garden as well. The whole property is flat and mostly cleared. The water table is only about 3 feet below our shoes but there is little chance of flooding as the soil drains well. Even after 2 weeks of solid rain this fall on top of a couple inches of snow. I was able to walk the whole property without sinking outa sight, and only one 50 foot by 50 foot low ground area had any standing water, and even this was dried up in just over two days. I am surrounded by huge corn fields for most of the summer and we get good full sun all day long on all the property.
I am a little new at this and do not want to make costly mistakes, any help would be great. Thanks
hi Dallas

without actually seeing the property I can only make a few general suggestions. Pigs and chickens work well together, we rotate them through areas that will become garden. We use portable pens and electric mesh fencing to keep them where we want them and protect them from predators.

Goats and gardens DON"T mix, they will browse and destroy most plantings. The same is true for fruit trees. If you keep goats, either they have to be secured or the gardens do. High electric mesh will (usually) keep them in, as long as they have graze where you're keeping them.

re layout, in general gardens and fruit trees closer to the house, and the livestock further away i.e. zones as in permaculture. I would also suggest a small greenhouse (hoop house) as a good investment, especially in your climate. You could probably harvest from it almost year-round, and the sheltered space would let you get started growing even in a rainy spring.

Other general advice: don't do anything permanent for at least a year - i.e. permanent structures, tree planting, perennial beds e.g asparagus, rhubarb. Focus on annuals and your small livestock for a season or two. The exception to this is perimeter fencing. You need to see patterns of sun, shade, drainage etc.

And those corn fields might be worrisome, depending what they are spraying on the corn. Run-off or over-spray might affect your property.

best of luck,


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Dec 07, 2011
Thanks for the advice
by: Anonymous

Thanks for the advice. The corn is just cow-corn, it is not sprayed at all. I was thinking of looking for a hoop greenhouse, I think that I might be able to at least keep some greens growing through most of the year. The worst would be the low sun during the winter months.

You say that chickens and pigs can be pastured together, I had not given much thought to pasturing the pigs. Will look in to it some more. How well do pigs do during the winter? I have pretty much no one around here that raises pigs other then in complete confinement.

Thanks for the warning on the goats. I know from past experience with them, that it is pretty much a love/hate relationship with them. ;o)

pigs do fine outside in the winter, of course they need a shelter from real inclement weather like freezing rain. I have a portable pig hut - my 'pigloo' - that was a home-made pickup truck cap; Suzie bought it at a farm auction for $2, and we have used it for 8 years. In cold weather we spread a bale of hay in it for bedding.



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