In 2009, Leigh and Dan Tate bought a 1920s farm house on five neglected acres in the foothills of Southern Appalachia. They had a dream but very little money. All was going well until an unfortunate accident forced them to rethink everything they were about.
5 Acres & A Dream The Sequel is the second book in Leigh Tate’s 5 Acres & A Dream Homesteading Series. It follows 5 Acres & A Dream The Book, taking a hard look at what happened to their dream. Has it changed? Are their goals and priorities the same? Leigh updates their progress toward food, energy, and water self-sufficiency, sharing how their self-reliance goals have changed. She shares how they've learned to prioritize needs in spite of distractions and discouraging times, and how they deal with feeling overwhelmed. She discusses how their relationship with their land and animals has changed how they view themselves and their homestead.
Leigh Tate is a long-time homesteader and passionate advocate for sustainable, simpler, self-reliant living. Through her books and blog, she shares what she and her husband Dan are learning about homesteading, permaculture gardening, off-grid food preservation, regenerative soil management, holistic livestock keeping, plus energy, water, and resource stewardship. She enjoys encouraging others to make their own homestead dreams come true.
This is an inspiring book to read. The dream that started “5 acres and a dream” is still very much alive, with lessons learned along the way that we can all benefit from.
Leigh and Dan’s self sufficiency is inspiring. It’s great to read a book written 10 years on, and their goals of self-reliance, simplicity, sustainability, stewardship, seasonal living, and self-supporting are still the same.
There is tons of great advice in this book, one thing that stuck out to me a lot was “bouncing randomly from one project to another tends to be neither organized nor systematic toward making progress. That’s why keeping a primary goal in mind is important. “
The section about how exactly they prioritise their project list is very helpful.
I liked the farm plans included, it gave me lots of ideas for organising the layout of my own homestead. The detailed pictures of the goat barn are especially helpful, and the sight of homegrown hay in the hayloft is so beautiful it makes me want to build a hayloft in my future goat barn.
There’s a lot of reflection and problem solving in the book, with flooding, for instance, a number of possibilities are discussed for making the land more resilient to flood, or for relocating some structures so that freak flood events don’t impact them.
There are tons of recommendations and resources for all kinds of things discussed in the book. This book is not just a book, but also a homesteader’s experience to learn from, and all they have encountered along the way.
I really liked the chapter on animal feed self sufficiency - this is something that’s often overlooked, so it was great to read about Leigh’s experiments in producing all their animal feed, which crops and varieties worked, and how they did it.
The information on high-impact grazing and their experience with it was really good to read. I’ve read about this on larger farms and wondered how to manage it on a small homestead with goats, so it was great to read about their experience with it.
The energy self sufficiency chapter is inspiring to read, it has heaps of ideas for lifestyle changes that make it possible to reduce electricity bills on a budget. Leigh is working with a standard all-electric house, and there are lots of ideas for reducing the use of the electric oven and other appliances. There’s also information here about setting up small solar electric systems to power single appliances such as a freezer, and how to convert a chest freezer into a low energy use fridge.
The water self sufficiency chapter has lots of ideas for rainwater collection, greywater, and water conservation.
The resource self sufficiency looks at all kinds of homestead resources, from tools, to soil, woods, and even their own time. It shows their journey of discovering different approaches to soil health, from a focus of remineralisation at the start, through to discovering Gabe Brown’s videos, and a focus on encouraging soil life. I really like the way they apply knowledge from large scale farms like Gabe Brown’s to their smaller homestead, and they’ve found a way to to no-till sowing of hay and grain crops without any expensive tractor implements.
The chapters on discouraging things and distractions look at the many hard lessons learned during their time homesteading. I liked that when they were faced with a big medical emergency and a lifestyle change, all their self reliance efforts over the years helped them to adapt to the change. The distractions chapter makes the point that there are many ways to go about homesteading, and that having primary goals such as self sufficiency in mind help the homesteader to find the best way to go about things - e.g. breeding goats for year-round milk production rather than for maximum profit.
Toward keeping a balance continues on from the last two chapters, and looks at how the Tate’s make homesteading decisions. There are many ideas that come up for the homestead, and their set of questions that they ask is really helpful to read, and helped me to evaluate our priorities.
The book is completed with a selection of homestead recipes, including probiotic ice cream, bone broth, DIY pectin for jam, and chévre cheesecake, along with a helpful list of further reading on the things mentioned in this book, such as converting a chest freezer into a fridge, homemade cheeses, natural beekeeping, pigs, goats, solar, and much more.
Another appendix is all about rotational grazing, and a list of useful plants is also included. I like the way that the useful plants are listed, so I can easily see which ones are nitrogen fixers or add organic matter to the soil, which ones are great of erosion control, which soil conditions they need, and so on.
I really enjoyed reading this book and I know I will be referring back to it a lot. It’s great to read stuff by people with similar aims and ideas, and I’ve learned a lot from the book and took lots of notes about stuff to apply to my own homestead.
If you want to be inspired to follow your heart and get back to the land, read this book.
I got this book a while back. It was sitting by a recliner in my basement. I sat down to chill, and two hours later I had completed the book. It was that easy of a read and that compelling of a read.
I wholeheartedly agree with the author. The homestead begins with the dream. It is from the dream that we develop our expectations, and those expectations get challenged by reality. Following this train if thought, the book is logically developed.
The book is, in effect, an evaluation of the author's performance. The first chapter asks if the dream is still alive. In the corporate world, this would be an assessment of Mission Creep. Are the goals that were originally set presently relevant? Closely tied to this are the questions, are the goals relevant, or do the goals need to be changed?
The author, realistically, addressed both the changes in practices that needed to be made to meet the previous goals. She also examines how some goals needed to be modified to address reality.
As the author follows this path, some highly functional information is passed along. I admire the courage of the author and her husband in redesigning their fence rows and buildings to better meet their needs. There is a significant amount of information passed along on building a goat barn. Oddly, no drawing of the plan for the barn was in the book. That said, the pictures were exceptional.
On the subject of goats, the author briefly addressed goat polio. This is something that anyone with goats needs to be aware of. The information provided is sufficient to get any newbie to raising goats headed in the right direction.
Another strong area in the book was the topic of going off grid. There is a wealth of information here. If I had had this information 20 years ago when I first looked into solar, it would have saved me many headaches. There is great coverage if the decisions made and the rational for them. There are many quality pictures. And, there is a good diagram off their electrical system with the components clearly labeled.
Finally, the book successfully deals with the related topics of discouragement and distractions. As homesteaders we are often faced with the decision of time or money. Too often, the answer is neither. It is at those points that it is easy to get discouraged. With discouragement, distractions cant take a stronger hold on us. With this, the author takes full circle back to Mission Creep.
There are still a few gems remaining in this book. The appendices are excellent as is the bibliography. The information contained in the final pages creates a road map to a wealth of additional information.
This book is well worth the price. No matter how experienced the reader may be, there is still valuable information to be gleamed.
"Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from bad decisions." ... Mark Twain
I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you - Fred Rogers. Tiny ad: