Designing a permaculture system requires careful thought and planning. The size of such a system can vary greatly. As with any new venture, it's best to smart small. A good start to designing a small system is to study what natural resources are available to you. Look at what areas of your land receive the most sun, wind and moisture. Test the soils to determine what may grow the best on them. Review the climate in the area and determine which breeds of livestock are the hardiest for your climate. Study the wildlife in your area and determine the potential impact of any predators. The bottom line is: Get to know the natural environment that you live in.
Once you understand the environment that you live in, review yourself. What skills are you best at? What capital do you have available? (Although it would be nice to be totally self-sufficient, it takes money to buy land, build shelters and raise crops.) What product or crops will sustain you and provide a surplus income? How much is my labor worth? How much time am I able to devote to such a project?
Take your time and dream a little. Sketch out designs of your farm. Start with a basic overview of your land. Don't get too detailed at this point. List out the different ecosystems that might exist on our farm: the house, chicken coop, orchard, berry patch, garden, pasture, wood lot, pond, stream, etc. Think about how all of these ecosystems will fit together. Although the basic design needs to look at all of these ecosystems, don't get too involved with them. This is just a rough draft.
Now that you've got a overall rough draft, narrow your focus to an ecosystem that you would like to try. Some suggestions might be organic gardening, raising free range chickens, planting an orchard, bee keeping or building a pond and raising fish. Once you have determined an ecosystem that you would like to try first, do your homework. Learn the specifics as to how to care and maintain for the ecosystem. Once you understand what the requirements are, think of all of the ways in which nature can provide assistance. The beauty of a natural ecosystem is that the more you can rely on nature for your needs, the less you will spend on outside resources.