Author Topic: Homesteading  (Read 1611 times)

mxmoney

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Homesteading
« on: August 11, 2018, 01:18:56 PM »
My partner and I are interested in looking into homesteading - as I understand it the basic concept is one of self-sufficiency. The way we are thinking about it is mostly in terms of food production - we are envisioning a farming lifestyle where we produce anything we eat. Has anyone here achieved this kind of lifestyle? Is it cheaper? How much money do we need to get started? Any experience with this would be fantastic!

Syonyk

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2018, 04:54:56 PM »
It's a lot of work.  There are plenty of books on it, so start reading.

Producing everything you eat is tricky, but possible if you have a bit of land.  Though it takes more time than most people working full time have.

TBH, I doubt many people doing that are posting here.  They're probably too busy.  I'm aiming for something close to that, but recognize I can't accomplish it in the next year or two (I've got the property, just... limited time).

shuffler

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NV Teacher

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2018, 08:39:35 PM »
Syonyk is right, itís a lot of work.  Start educating yourselves.  Read everything you can.  There are a bunch of homesteading channels on YouTube you can watch.  Start with a garden and learning to preserve fruits, vegetables, and meats.  Growing up we produced the vast majority of what we ate from gardens, orchards, livestock, and hunting game.  Mostly because we were poor, we had a big family, and that was the culture of the area I was raised in.  I loved it but looking back it must have been stressful for my parents to both work jobs off the farm and to come home to chores and wrangling all those kids.  Itís a great life for the right kind of people.

Indio

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2018, 09:01:33 PM »
A good place to start reading about homesteading is the Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. It's been updated several times since it was first published. It's what hooked me on the idea of homesteading. It is indeed a lot of work and trial and error, but it is very satisfying, especially if you're the handy type.

Schmidty

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2018, 08:16:48 AM »
We are aiming to do something similar.  Will have 5 acres to work with.  Starting small and on the cheap, building over time.  I have a lot to learn about gardening and preserving, this will take time and a lot of learning curve.  The land has tons of wild quail and turkey, and some deer.  Will also want some chickens at some point.  We will be doing and adding at money allows, to eventually cut down on food expenses and head toward more self sufficiency.

Like I said, we are doing it on the cheap.  From what I have read, it can get quite expensive.  Land isn't cheap.  We lucked out by getting land inherited from dh's mother.  It isn't the greatest, needs a lot of work, but it is what we are able to get, so there's some cost saved there.  Some are able to find land for not much money, but it needs a lot of work, look around.  It doesn't have a house on the land, so we are moving a mobile home out there, one we found on the cheap (ie. free, just paying to move it).  Will need work, which we will do ourselves, but the bones are good and it is plenty big for the two of us.  Then add the costs of getting water and power, whether it's grid tied or off-grid.  We lucked out with already having well water there, and are tying into the electric grid, for now.  Outbuildings and such will be added to later on as time and money allow.  We are doing everything for as low cost as possible to make living expenses in the future as low as we can get them.

Count us in as working toward achieving this lifestyle.

NV Teacher

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2018, 09:31:53 AM »
A good place to start reading about homesteading is the Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. It's been updated several times since it was first published. It's what hooked me on the idea of homesteading. It is indeed a lot of work and trial and error, but it is very satisfying, especially if you're the handy type.

Her daughter has a YouTube channel Fouch Family Off Grid that I enjoy.

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCm28mg76wIUxq1eyqhbivfg/videos

BigMoneyJim

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2018, 06:45:22 PM »
YouTube has a lot of homesteader channels and homesteader wannabe channels. It's romantic and self-sufficient, but it sure looks to me like a lot of work for a sustenance existence. And I don't imagine you can just go on vacation for very long, especially if you have animals to care for.

Also, I think at least quite a few of the YouTube homesteaders are doing so due to their beliefs, either faith, ecological, or just hardcore self-sufficiency. If their beliefs don't align with yours, some of their choices may not be right for you.

AccidentalMiser

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2018, 06:56:53 PM »
As others have noted, you need to answer WHY you want to become a subsistence farmer.  Almost any kind of low wage work combined with mustachian shopping and eating habits will provide a better material life.

Also, as others have mentioned, there are a ton of YouTube channels related to this topic.  Check them out but realize that many of them do what they do simply to generate content for their channels. 

For the record, we have 17 acres with timber for heat, chickens for eggs, plans to raise our own pork and a very large garden.  We do it because we like to be busy outside and value having skills which allow us to care for ourselves.  We would never consider doing it full time absent a civil upheaval or dramatic life change.

Villanelle

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2018, 12:14:51 AM »
Another question to consider is whether you define "self-sufficient" as truly needing nothing outside what you make, or if things like trades are acceptable.  Is an arrangement to trade half a dozen eggs each week for a bunch of honey from someone in your community or for some fresh or preserved vegetables different from what you grow acceptable?  Or is trading a lot of your produce for a half cow every year okay?  Or trading some of those eggs for someone's service butchering live stock you raise?  Things like that are going to make it a lot easier to add variety to your life than if you have to learn the skills for every item you use, and then to work the systems for each of those items.  Without allowing for any outside items or services, you have to either significantly limit what you have in your life, or you have to learn a bunch of skills, many of which you may use pretty infrequently, thus making it pretty inefficient.  Do you want to go without honey and beef, for example, or will it be worth it to learn the skills necessary to master then entire production cycle of both, for relatively limited use/production? 

elliha

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2018, 01:27:18 AM »
I have always been interested in this and when I was in my twenties I also wanted to do this but as I am now 35+ it seems less appealing. I know people who are trying to live this kind of life and as is said it is hard and it is almost impossible to do this unless you have tons of money or a part- or full time job to support the areas you are less successful in. Getting to 50% is probably reasonably realistic for a larger group of people, 75-90% for a dedicated group but getting those last 10% is very hard. I do know people who are able to grow most of what they need and then gain access to the things they don't grow by selling produce and crafts etc that they make from things on their farm or they sell something like fire wood. They are not the typical modern farmers but they do take part of the regular economy.

If I would start up a homestead I would try to have a part time job and start up with learning to grow the 10 things I think I will later depend on for food. I would start working on planting things like fruit trees or berries and try to plant crops that don't need that much work like jerusalem artichoke, asparagus etc and progressively add such crops over the years so that I don't need to put work into every single thing I eat all the time. As for animals I would start with 1-2 kinds at the most, chickens, ducks, turkeys, rabbits, sheep or maybe goats would be my pick and then not add more animals for 1-2 years. I would try to learn how to harvest hay myself as early as possible as that will be important in order to be self-sufficient.

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2018, 03:28:53 AM »
Millions upon millions of people in the world live this way. And even more have lived this way, including your own ancestors. They worked from dusk until dawn and they starved if the harvest was bad. I don't see that as something anyone would want to aim for, coming from the first world. Stick in a small vege garden and see how productive you can get it. Get a chicken or 10, and see how much time you actually want to spend caring for them. I can tell right now that as satisfying as it is to produce some of the stuff you eat, and to have a small bunch of feather butts greet you every time you enter the garden, it's not simple, it's not easy and it's definitely not cheaper.

Prairie Stash

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2018, 01:36:52 PM »
Has anyone here achieved this kind of lifestyle? Yes
Is it cheaper? No
How much money do we need to get started? 4% rule still applies to all your expenses

Try this for a start, preserving food. Every fall I can go out and pick apples (among many other food items), enough to supply all the sauce and pie filling I need for the remainder of the year. Regardless of who grows them I need to spend time picking and canning; this year I'll pick at a neighbours since my tree had a bad year (insect infestation, several trees in my area are barren). If homesteading is for you, start there and start now. If you currently can't be bothered to preserve food, you won't suddenly enjoy it later. If you actually enjoy it, that bodes well :)

Growing food is easy, preserving it for the winter and the off season is the hard part. The best way to find out if the lifestyle is for you is to start living the lifestyle. Luckily there is an intersection between MMM and homesteading; for myself I save money with food preservation and the upfront costs were minimal. Homesteading falls on a continuum, from dabblers like me to full on living off the land, I see no reason to go extreme all at once.

Syonyk

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2018, 02:24:41 PM »
Yeah, vacations are tricky if you've got animals to take care of...

My interests are heavily along the lines of "local property sustainability" - or, phrased differently, critical needs anti-fragility.  I'm aiming to have a solar power install that can run grid down as well as grid tied (doing it myself because none of the solar companies are coming remotely close to what I want to pay, or flat out won't build a system like this because it's not their area of expertise), because we rely on power for a lot (pure electric house, including water - our power bill includes pumping from 200 ft down to 60psi, which isn't cheap).

I'm working towards being able to produce a good chunk of our own food locally, ideally in some small greenhouses.  Automate some of this, and we should still be able to travel.  Assuming suitable redundancy in the systems, and someone locally who can poke it if something has gone wrong.

I don't expect most of this to be the most cost effective way of doing things, which is fine with me.  If I do all the solar work myself, it might break even at some point in 15-20 years, as opposed to 5-10 years for a grid tied system.  But I can ride through grid outages without noticing them, even longer term ones.  Same for producing our own food, though I would argue that if you're comparing the cost of a homegrown tomato with the cost of a store tomato, you're doing it badly wrong because one is watery and one is amazingly juicy and tasty.

We'd like to know where a lot of our stuff is coming from, and how it's grown.  I don't intend to produce all of our own food unless we have to, but scaling from "Producing a good bit of our food" to "producing most of our food" is far, far easier than going from zero to 100%.

It's definitely not a common path, and I wouldn't look at the "glamour homesteading" videos as any representation of reality.  I certainly don't have an expensive tractor.  Mine is 75 years old and well rustproofed with a blend of oil and dust.  It's... really quite the vile mix.  But it runs fine, and does what I ask.  Etc.

Bartleby_the_Scrivener

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2018, 08:14:41 PM »

smalllife

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2018, 08:15:04 AM »
My interests are heavily along the lines of "local property sustainability" - or, phrased differently, critical needs anti-fragility. 

Do you mind if I steal this? Great phrasing, and similar to what I'm going for.

I like "playing in the dirt" as my husband calls it, but I am also in a walkable neighborhood on 2/10th of an acre and have somewhat limited aspirations that play to my strengths and desires.  We also like city living.  Costs are what you make them: you can do raised beds in free pallets or do metal beds for hundreds each.   

To give you a sense of what I am hoping to accomplish:
- a substantial vegetable harvest (80-100% for plants that grow well here and we eat constantly, not 80% of total vegetables)
- 100% of jams & frozen berries
- 100% of nuts
- 100% of certain herbs/teas
- chickens for eggs (restriction on killing chickens in the city, so no meat birds) 

That will take 2 semi-dwarf nut trees (already planted, got our first nut - singular - this year), 1-2 fruit trees (maybe 4/5 depending on how the next few years go with the cherry tree - only one in ground currently.  I am undecided on whether I want to do this aspect due to harvest scale), 30ft row of berries, 800 sq ft of vegetable beds, and >100 sq ft of herbs.  Doable, but even my ambitious self has a ten year plan to scale up - gaining experience, focusing on what I'm good at and has the most return, etc. 

Some good advice up the thread: start preserving now from elsewhere to see if you like it (I do like it, but scale may be a factor so I'm taking it slow), focus on low-input and high-output plants like nut and fruit trees, asparagus, and berries. 

Other things to think about - most fruit trees require two of the same species for pollination, but there are new trees that are self-pollinating.  Do those if you are concerned about space.   Would you live in that area if you weren't focused on homesteading?  We love our neighborhood, and even if my raised beds go away I would still love the house.  Is it worth the effort?  The mini farming book below talks about calories per plant and how to make the most of small, intensely used beds.  I am in agreement with a few other posters, true self sufficiency is a hard, sustenance lifestyle that never lets up.

Book recommendations: Gaia's Garden, Mini-Farming: Self Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre, something about local vegetable gardening

My long term also includes solar (electric) but probably tied to the grid, as well as a solar (as in the sun) powered greenhouse for starting seeds and extending the season in addition to the plantings outlined above.  Costs will be a bit higher initially but eventually dip lower, probably evening out at the end of the day.  I treat the costs as a hobby, with the goal on having less environmental impact rather than saving money.

Stache is assuming no vegetable/fruit/nuts being produced - to account for aging, injury, etc.



DebtFreeinPhilly

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2018, 09:09:55 AM »
It is not easy but it is doable. I agree with others in that you should aim for certain targets throughout your journey and be comfortable with those targets. For instance, aim for producing 25% of the vegetables you eat in the first year. Then aim for 50% the next year. Slowly getting accustomed to the lifestyle each year as you shift from modern life to modern homesteading.

If the land is suitable for haymaking, I would trade hay bales to a cow farmer for my yearly meat. I don't want to raise cows at this point, mainly because I have a full time job and the time commitment is not available. BUT...I can cut, rake, bail hay three times a season. My point is find what you are comfortable doing on your own and use those assets to get the things you don't have.

MrsDinero

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #17 on: October 29, 2018, 09:37:25 AM »
The Frugalwoods are doing this.  On their blog they break down the monthly expenses, including any farm equipment purchases.

http://www.frugalwoods.com/

Syonyk

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #18 on: October 29, 2018, 10:26:29 AM »
My interests are heavily along the lines of "local property sustainability" - or, phrased differently, critical needs anti-fragility. 

Do you mind if I steal this? Great phrasing, and similar to what I'm going for.

Go for it!

I've been spending quite a bit of money recently for tools for future projects.  I now own a three point post PTO auger for my tractor (for digging post holes/footings/etc), and am probably picking up a good mitre saw next weekend (going to run around to the local pawn shops before buying new, but... not opposed to obtaining new tools that will last me a lifetime).  These will both get used very heavily for putting in our solar panels next year (ground mount array), and for the deck (hopefully can do that next year - it's been long enough without one and we really, really want one).  Plus, endless other projects.

Goldielocks

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #19 on: October 29, 2018, 11:29:02 AM »
My cousins are doing this, more or less accidentally.

Firstly, a caveat, they tend to make poor decisions.  When they have a bit of extra money, they tend to put all of it onto a single "scheme" to make more money.   e.g., all their available $$ goes into buying breed stock to raise sheep.  Then a bear ate half the sheep in year two, before they had managed to start selling much.   You may be much better at making financial risk decisions so their example may be extreme.

As others have said, you need to figure out what your farming "income" will be.  That income crop / animal / etc will not be a main part of your food for your family, as once you have a small income stream around something, you will maximize the production and sales (easier to sell one commodity than 10).  People that have cows / steer don't tend to eat a lot of steak, for example, because beef is their income.

Cousins -- have had a go at raising horses, cows (heiffer/steer), sheep, turkeys,  (not all at the same time) plus a large vegetable crop for eating, a few chickens for the family.  They do preserve / pickle / freeze a lot of food, and hunt.  The area that they are in is not great for vegetables/ fruits, and things like potatoes that grow well there, will always be cheaper to buy in bulk.   The family used to fish (and can the fish for later) but that is not as easy anymore, because the unnamed lakes to get a lot of fish in a couple of days are farther away in the bush, and bringing all you need to can that far into the bush means a lot of work for what you get.

She is rural, through and through, and is truly excellent with animals, so raising dogs and training / raising quarter horses she is excellent at.  She was also the primary large animal caretaker for SPCA rescues, they receive some food and can pasture these animals on their land, but only received nominal income so have discontinued doing this (inheriting a llama in the process).

The properties that they live on are "Rent to own" or "lease to own".  They accumulate distant properties without buildings to allow them to pull off more hay for the animals, also on rent to own basis... BUT -- if something causes them to miss a tiny window of hay cutting / baling (in good weather at peak nutrients), they are hooped for the year.  e.g., a mechanical failure of their tractor, or in one case, the land did have a small house that they leased for very low rent -- that had a murder in it, and they could not get across police lines for over a week to get to their hay field.

They had a lightning storm and the horses (on a new pasture to them that summer) spooked and one cracked its head on the only tree in the entire pasture, and died, but insurance did not pay out because the horse committed suicide.  I think they had only 7 horses, total at that time, and this was a prime one for breeding.

Their ideal property to live on (beautiful, small home) is too far away to get telephone or electricity, and required enormous amounts of improvement to make it habitable.  They had just gotten it close to the stage where they could over winter in it, and then their 2 year old generator caught fire and burned out,  and they need $$ to replace it if they are to move in, which of course they don't have the money... so they continue to rent a cramped, very poor quality 1 bedroom place for the 5 of them closer to town.

He was trying out many self employment ideas, including buying a gravel dump truck, and also snow plowing contracts.  These are all pieced together with increasing contracts, and start to make good money...until a mechanical issue with the (older) truck, or another person comes on scene to under cut the prices, or the forestry company moves field operations to another area.
 
 Eventually, she took on part time work at the local diner, and he got employed in a hazardous material truck driving gig to pay the bills but it required 14 days away from family at a time.... and after 5 years had to quit to save his family.

The good news?

Although they are exceptionally poor in terms of $$'s, their living costs out of pocket are extremely low.  Fuel is a major cost item, and now some things for the teenagers, but mostly they don't need much money.  The land that is used for farming income is 100% expensed against that income, dropping their tax rate to nothing / eligible for welfare  (Which they refuse to take).  Therefore the house that they have on the property and live in is also 100% deductible from their business income.   

Not many people can expense the cost of their rental family home against their income.
I would guess that the net family income in some years was $15k.  Total. 

Anyway.   Hobby farms look like WAY too much work to me.  I would much prefer just keeping my garden to the size of eating immediately whatever comes out of it, and not selling or preserving anything more than the excess fruit from single trees.

magnet18

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Re: Homesteading
« Reply #20 on: October 29, 2018, 01:34:15 PM »
Has anybody successfully lived off a plot of land?
Over the course of history, probably billions of people

The question is, are you willing to work a plot of land from sunup to sundown 365 days a year?
Some people are perfectly happy doing that, they enjoy it, they take pride in it, and more power to em.
Not very many people, though, and definitely not me