Not the pretty side of our society, but when picking somewhere to homestead we should look at the crime statistics. While state level stats can be skewed by large cities, they can provide you an overall flavor of what crime is like in a state...
So here is a blog post that has the following stats:
Crime rates by state - are crimes getting better or worse
Equipment theft and recovery
Motor vehicle thefts
What is the best state for you to homestead in America? I have been asked that a lot...so I decided to compile a state-by-state guide of the information you might use to work out what is the best state for you. Each state has details on:
Homestead tax laws
Average land cost per acre
...and many have comments from homesteaders in that state.
I don't know about you, but getting in control of my budget was the first step in me understanding and being in control of my homestead finances! Being involved in project finances for years, it seemed like I could use those skills to work out what the heck was happening to my money when it came to running my homestead...and helped me to find things to cut and be more frugal (lets face it, making ends meet is a constant battle for the homesteader without a solid off-farm income).
I have now been using my homestead budget for 10 years now..and decided to share my methods and knowledge with others...and developed an online course that contains templates links to free software and step-by-step methods to get in control of your cash.
In the same frame-of-mind that homesteaders are trying to save money - the course fee is just 99c. BARGIN! Right??? And whats more fun...if I can save you stress and money for 99c then I feel like a winner as well! (and your 99c helps a fellow homesteader with a small amount if income.
This idea has been on my mind..and we are a few steps down the pathway.
My business model is simple. We can't provide a fancy barn etc for the 'high end' weddings...but we can provide a field and a 'forest wall' as a backdrop for a wedding ceremony. The basic fee is to hire the field. Then the wedding party can arrange all the rest. Or I can do that for them, for the cost of the rentals (tents, porta-potties etc) plus a 'arranging fee' of 20%.
My wife is a cake decorator - so thats another add on if they wish. A family member is a photographer. A friend does musics...etc
So at the basic level, its a set fee (and almost no work by me other than mowing the field spaces. Then the sky is the limit if they want to go that way
Insurance? There are companies that offer 'wedding insurance' that you can insist they take out...and they must show you the policy before they can sign the place.
This is great advice Bethany! I have not used Etsy, but I know lots of people talk about using it as a way to sell crafts etc.
Your post really provides good solid information to help folks along...and thats what I like about this thread
When we lived in Colorado I did run a small online business selling items for a modeling hobby and I made some good money. I got all my sales through eBay selling....and so it was very much 'let the market' decide the prices...but it brought in some extra money for the farm
When we hit Maine with two kid, a new homestead and a lot of other outside work pressures, it fell by the side. It was about priorities I guess.
But knowing that people are having good success doing this sort of things is very helpful for those still seeking better financial independence.
I have been using a circular yearly calendar this year to better plan my plantings and projects...and also to show rainfall and snow falls. It's a super way to see a years worth of information
So what I do is use a template which can be used for any year...and then add the first day of each month (ie if the list of January is a Monday, i put a small "1" in that box). I don't number every box...cause I am too lazy..and I can always work out the days as I add data.
I also add the last and first frost dates for my town...then with a highlighter I mark out my growing season. Then I can start planning.
Here is my data on snow and rainfall so far on our homestead....same deal.
The templates are cheap (like 99c ) or FREE if you sign up for the newsletter. People already signed up will get them emailed to them. You can then use the templates over and over, year after year.
Anyways - just a nice tool that I wanted to share!
Su Ba wrote:I've watched a number of people around me attempt to "live off the land", homestead, small farm, or whatever you wish to call it. The common denominator of those who failed was lack of previous knowledge and experience. Those who survived either had a cash cushion to fall back on while they gained experience, or it wasn't their first time trying to do it. They brought knowledge and skill with them.
I started my own homesteading adventure (having come from crowded New Jersey) I brought what I thought was enough knowledge and skill, which woefully proved to be inadequate. Luckily I had a financial cushion to survive on until I acquired experience. Luckily I am in Hawaii where I wouldn't freeze to death, die of thirst, die from hunger, or roast while I struggled to live. Looking back, I should have practiced my future lifestyle and learned as much as I could for a year before making the plunge. What a shock going from grid electric to zero, piped in water to rain catchment, sewage to cesspool, heat and air conditioning to zero, comfortable housing to 2x4s and a roof, local shopping malls to nothing, friends to nobody, medical hospitals and doctors everywhere to a rural clinic (I was lucky to have even just that), 5 minutes to town for supplies to 2 hours and a poor selection, Internet to none, telephone to none, TV to none, income to none, buying food to .........gee I thought I was really going to be able to live off the land? I lost 50 lbs the first year and almost lost my marriage. Restless but reasonably content to worried, stressed, bouts of depression and despair. It took a good year to make the switch emotionally, psychologically, physically, mentally in general.
I wish you the best adventure, but I would suggest that as a pioneer you should hope to be better prepared than we were. Perhaps a year being one of a Paul's ants would give you the skills to survive Alaska. Or some other practice session somewhere else, ya know, a stepping stone so to speak. May your future be interesting!
So well said Su Ba....
I really want to help people in this situation. All the enthusiasm in the world is not the only skill you need....but boy it helps!
My mantra to all new homesteaders is:
Start low tech and
Remember you are a newbie - ask , ask and ask for help, advice and assistance.
It is really important that our community help in this research....because as our Earth changes due to shifts in our climate, it is them natural calendars that will be the signals that show local variations.....and combined will show regional change.
The time of the citizen scientist is now! Get involved
It really is not a perfect measure...but I wanted people to think seriously about if THEY are really wanting to be a homesteader or just escape the rut they are in..
If you are starting off in the world of homesteading (or even an old hand) give it a try. Its totally free and no obligation to ever see or talk to me again.....but you will need to create a login to use the system (its easy...but I know a pain for some folks).
Love some feedback....if you think I have missed something or being too hard in some areas...
What is the most important object on my homestead?
Is it the well? Is it the barn...or maybe the workshop? Is it the creek, the pond or the swale?
Nope - its the survey boundary pegs! Objects to be found, respected and even revered. They define your land (and your neighbors) ad you just need to know where they all are (BEFORE you buy and maintan them afterwards).
I learned this through a bitter experience - and so I offer this advice to people so you don't end up in the same position we found ourselves in a few years ago.
There is nothing better than starting off homesteading...and you can't beat the price (no mortgage or land tax). I hope you hug your grandfather a LOT! And the kids will love you forever having such a wonderful experience at such a young age.
There are so many things to consider when you start. I have to second the 'take time to plan' notion as it will save you time and money later on.
Mike Haych wrote:Budgets are optimistic on both the income and the expenses. At the end of the day, if you don't know what the actual cash flows are, the budget is useless. Based on 10 years of using it, I'd highly recommend Quicken. It's simple to track expenses if you used plastic, either debit or credit. If you use cash, you need to keep a record of where you are spending it and enter the detail manually.
Great advice Mike! Any tool that will help people be more in control works.
I build 'conservative' budgets....with padding and 'fat' so I am positively surprised more than disappointed when I look at the final figures! And thats also a way to forces a little more savings each month
I think one of the first (and essential homesteading/farming) skills we all need to master is being in control of our personal budget....how can we make money and save money if we are not in control of our own finances?
So when people say to me 'what skills do I need to have to start a homestead?'...I say 'Be able to budget and stick to it!'. I get funny looks most of the time! (what about gardening and composting and fencing and building and animals etc etc etc). Budgeting really is not hard - and in todays world of great online tools its easier than ever. But why is it that people baulk at being in control of their own money?
So I have started a series of blog notes on budgeting (and a simple online course) to help those who are "Budgeting Challenged"
Charli Wilson wrote:- About 90% of my income comes from off-farm, a 9-5 job in IT.
- The last 10% comes from craft projects, I make glass lampwork beads and marbles and sell them on etsy and at craft fairs. I don't sell much, I could sell much more but the IT job pays much better and is much easier! I've also been really busy renovating our house so its the craft stuff that has been cut back.
- So the homestead hasn't been making us money, but it has been saving us money. Doing all the renovating of our shell of a house ourselves has saved tens of thousands, the homestead provides vegetables and eggs and a testing ground for everything I hope to implement when/if we ever get more land. I have spare eggs but they're mostly swapped for favours- the neighbour gives me compostables if I give him eggs, in exchange for a bacon and egg breakfast the workers in the park dumepd some woodchip on my drive... etc.
- My Other Half works part time in a hardware store, so we get cheap seeds/plants/chicken food/tools/other random things.
The grand plan is that eventually we'll have a deposit for some land, and maybe I can telecommute in my field of work. I'll always have to work off-farm as land is really expensive around here.
We are in the same boat - I work a job and really do use the homestead to SAVE money.
I love the bater system...but have not yet really worked out a way to do it outside of family members.
I telecommute - and it is a HUGE bonus to us...just the money saved on gas to commute for example.
Bethany Dutch wrote:I earn a living through my two Etsy shops (and working on transitioning one to my own domain online store with Shopify right now) where I print and sell mugs, phone cases, luggage tags, and other similar gift type items that I'm adding this year.
One of the big benefits of this is being able to live in a low cost of living area while selling a high quality product to a high income demographic.
I'm also working and experimenting with growing a few specialty crops - mushrooms are going in this year, and I am also going to plant sugar maples as well as look into growing Oregon truffles. So when my kids are older, I will probably have a few farm products I can sell locally and I may do more of the selling education/ebooks making money online type thing, I used to do that and I really enjoyed it but then my Etsy shops took off and I had to quit with my limited time. Right now, my online shops are all I can handle.
Awesome Bethany! I love the 'plan ahead' approach to fit in with family
This is a subject that pings around my head a good deal and I know we're not alone. I'm lucky to really like my 9-5 job developing online education which has a very bright future for telecommuting. For now I'm happy with a predictable work schedule that lets me spend plenty of time with my young family and working on my many projects. I also have a lot more to learn so until we can transition into a few acres or so our suburban back yard is proving to be a great laboratory.
So after that transition, tentatively the income streams would be as follows:
- Freelance Online Education / Corporate Training Development
- Some type of farm income, a small orchard long term would be ideal
- Would also be relying on talents from my first career as an artisan/craftsman
The craftsman gig I've been part time with for many years already and have recently discovered a really promising angle to boost the income from this model. There is a site called Patreon.com that is a way that online content providers, bloggers, youtubers, musicians and the such can essentially get tipped by their fans on a per project or monthly basis. It works a lot like Kickstarter but it's an ongoing service, not just for a single project. I've started making videos of my projects in hopes that I can develop an audience of sorts. It doesn't cost me anything to record these projects as I have all the equipment already and the client's projects are getting built no matter what. Stacking functions! Not a sure bet but I'm confident that if I can find the time to edit the videos and engage with the viewers it will be a worthwhile experience.
Thanks for sharing the article and for this conversation!
Sounds like you and me are coming from almost the same background in education - and I am so very lucky to be able to telecommute. But this whole concept has been heavily on my mind for a number of years now, and I am working at ways to transition (in maybe 5 years) to having more income from the second two streams so I am not totally reliant on the first. It will be a hard transition to be sure - i love my off-farm job, it pays well and I can telecommute...so my head grapples with the 'why change??" issue.
For me its one about being flexible....the world is changing and I don't want to find myself in a position where the off-farm job ends and I am struggling.
There seem to be three income streams people are following - work off-farm to finance things, sell farm produce and/or make money online. I am trying my hand at all three of thse (well..the first is still a hand over of my move to homesteading). Here are my notes on these: http://www.almostafarmer.com/homestead-income-streams/
What are other folks doing to provide cash for their dreams?
How many folks are working off-farm?
How are people doing selling products?
Who is making a real living online (and how)?
By know you will know that I love to use Google Earth to research and plan my homestead in Maine...and now we are under four feet of snow, there is no better time to be looking at the soils using Google Earth and free online soil data...
Zach Muller wrote:Around here eggs are pretty tough to distinguish yourself it seems. So many farmers have them at the market, that a dozen is like 3 something dollars. The only things that distinguish different eggs is that people that sell them, and how they feed and treat the animals. I don't sell my eggs because I have a small flock and to me a dozen eggs out the door is not really worth 4 dollars coming in.
I had an idea that is kind of a joke and could really work in some markets. Basically you have a 'hen of the month' or week or day and you hang their picture with a small profile up in your booth, stating that if you buy a dozen eggs you will get to taste what this premier hen has to offer. That way when people come by they can read it and laugh about how they are reading a chickens stats. I always thought that this kind of thing would reinforce to the customer that you love what you are doing, and the chickens are happy in what they are doing. While they eat the eggs they will be reminded of such a ludicrous chicken profile and probably come back for more eggs, and to see who the next hen of the week is.
Thats a wonderful idea - I love that! Thanks for sharing.
And all the other ideas are great too...you have all given me a boost of confidence
I hope to increase my flock and do a better job selling eggs this year...sort of a New Years Resolution for our farm. So I have been researching the web about selling eggs and all the possible ways to package, wash and grade my eggs if I want to go beyond selling just to family and friends. Here is the summary of the research to share. http://www.almostafarmer.com/selling-chicken-eggs-resource-guide/
Bottom line for me is how can I maintain a constant demand for the eggs. I can do that with family...but once I go beyond that it will be a really marketing issue. The local farmers market is an option...but I travel for my job (hey...somehow I have to pay the bills), but my big hope is selling to a local produce store. For that reason I hope to somehow make my eggs 'special'....they are already cage free, free range, organic, grass/wild feed etc...and super HAPPY chickens...
What are others doing to market their eggs? What can you do to hit that niche of folks who 'get it' whn it comes to happy animals give awesome eggs?
I am just a little ahead of you and love to share what I am learning with others just to help folks along.
One HUGE thing we learned (the hard way) is to find out the real boundaries of any place you buy. Pay for a survey - it will save you so much in the long run if there is ever a dispute. Find the pegs...KNOW what you are really buying.
Just having a great list of requirements is a huge start! I am impressed!
I have found that most of New England is great to homestead within. We are in Maine, and find the rules and regs here better that in Colorado where we started. But that said, don't let RULES alone force the decision....good land anywhere will make a difference over bad land with no restrictions.
My advice is always the same:
Start small - don't bite off more than you can chew! Even on a bigger property, start in a small area and get that under control.
Start slow - no need to do everything at once. Become experts of a few things then expand.
Start low tech - don't laden or burden yourself with all the fancy gadgets. We farmed 5 acres with a ride on mower and not a tractor. It can be done!
Know your limitations - remember you are a newbie...ask a lot of questions and seek help all the time.
I am a hopeless gardener. Everything I try to grow is a failure. Tomatoes split, potatoes get the Colorado potato beetle, square foot gardens look like square foot weed gardens et etc
My wife tells me its cause I am never at home to tend to things (i travel a lot for work in summer). I am reducing my travel to overcome this obvious issue but now fear my lack of a green thumb will just keep me failing.
Soooooooo...what the hell should I try to grow that will give me some confidence back?
My family love to eat:
potatoes (if I can only stop the damn beetles)
I want to comment about writing as an income stream...
I am working on trying to make some income from writing. I have a blog (it is early days, but the income stream is way below the time invested) and have earned a good writers fee for an item I wrote for a science project....but that was so much a 'one-off'.
The good thing about writing is that you can do it when you CAN"T be doing things outside cause of the weather or even when you run out of daylight hours. I would start it off as a hobby more than a genuine push to make money and see where it goes.
Be aware that there are a LOT of folks who push online how easy it is to make $$ from a blog etc. It is not. It is a lot of hard work and many many hours of research and development to even turn over the cost of having a website.