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What I'm Getting Into...

 
pollinator
Posts: 973
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
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I'm on track to rent a property in New Brunswick within the next week or two.  It's around 10 acres with 7ish cleared and 3ish treed at the back of the property, which backs onto someone's 100 acre woodlot.  There's a house on the property with a full basement, but it needs a new heating system and it currently doesn't have electricity, though it did have until the last year or two.  The owner is very up front about the condition of it.  There's a well of indeterminate functionality, it's missing some windows, probably needs to be re-roofed, insulated and completely renovated.  It is apparently structurally sound.  I don't care about the state of the home right now.  I'm on a shoestring budget.

The first thing I'm going to have to figure out is what to do come winter.  Ideally, I'll be able to get the kitchen, bathroom and a bedroom (all on the main floor) in livable shape for the winter.  Even if I can do this I'm going to have to figure out clearing 300 feet of driveway in the winter with 5-6' of snow accumulation.  My other options are to build a small cabin close to the road so I don't have to clear much driveway or to rent a room for the winter, likely from Jan-April.  I'm not sure about over-wintering any animals the first year, so I'll keep an open mind on that.  I think I'd have to pay someone 3-5k a year to keep the driveway cleared with a snowblower attachment, so I'm not sure about the viability of living in the house during the first winter.  There's only about 2' of snow on the ground right now, and it's melting fairly quickly now, so I'll be able to get onto the property within the next week if it all comes together.

There's a lot of crap in the house, so I'll have to clear out a room to stay in, but that's fine.  I'll want to get the water situation sorted out first, get started on some garden layout, and probably build a coop PDQ.  I've got most of my stuff in storage and getting it out there will be an issue, but I've got enough electric fencing for about 5 acres, though I can easily expand that with some more wire.  The first year I'd like to get some layers, raise pastured meat birds, get quail, 3ish pigs and maybe rabbits.  The only thing I don't like about rabbits is killing them, so I'll have to give that some thought.  The first year I'd like to focus on raising my own food while figuring out my systems and gearing up a marketing plan for meat sales in 2020.  I'm also thinking about sheep or goats.  I'll have to build shelters for the animals so one thought is to use the small cabin I'm thinking about building as a barn next year.  I'd also like to get started with a nursery the first year to start propagating and, if I can, a small greenhouse for next year.  

That's the broad-stroke plan.  NB is about 85% trees, so I should have a lot of cheap building material available and I'm thinking of working on one of the farms in the area, so hopefully I can get access to lots o' poop (and maybe even trade some labour for occasional equipment use.  I'll also have to figure out how to co-exist with bears while raising animals, so that'll be fun.  

What do you guys think?


 
Posts: 186
Location: 7b desert southern Idaho
20
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Too much work. Exchanging work for rent is fine if everything is well communicated. I’d just hate to see you put in all the work just to have the property sold out from under you. There is a lot of infrastructure that goes with a operation that size and it does not move easily. I know I’ve sunk my heart, soul, and capital into my place. It would kill me to move.
 
Timothy Markus
pollinator
Posts: 973
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
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Good point, Dennis but it's a long-term deal so, in this case, I'm not concerned.  I've had that experience a couple of times and, like you, I'm not going to do that again.
 
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 1957
Location: mountains of Tennessee
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Sounds like it could be an excellent opportunity & quite an adventure. My first concern would definitely be staying warm the first winter. After getting a close look at the house you might know better which option to pursue. Good luck!
 
pollinator
Posts: 1563
Location: Victoria BC
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A decent roof is not optional... but other than that it's not like you need to get the whole house shipshape to live in it. Worst case scenario you could do all your living in a kitchen with a woodstove that has enough room for a bed and a bucket toilet... I hope you like cats, I'm guessing you'll need a good rat patrol!

Being in the house would let you work on the house interior in foul weather much easier than if you were living 300' away... and the time/money needed for the cabin could go a long ways on other projects.

300' isn't that far... how often will you need to go out? What about leaving your vehicle(I am assuming you will need one, yes?) just off the road, and maintaining a shoveled or packed walking trail to the house? Haul supplies on a sled?


On the other hand... to me the big upside of the cabin is that it could be portable. If something went sour, you could hopefully get it moved to greener pastures. Maybe the landlord is great, but what are his heirs like? Shit happens...


I kind of think your livestock list is overambitious for year one... around here it seems like the first law of homesteading is 'Everything Takes Forever'.

In my case, I am a terrible marketer so have had a hell of a time selling pork. Seems to be a local glut as well. But, I haven't had much trouble *trading* pork; no need to raise meat birds, beef, or go hunting/fishing. Maybe an extra pig would be less hassle than additional species?
 
Posts: 98
Location: Frederick, MD zone7b
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What an interesting challenge you are moving into. I love it.

In this situation I would make sure I have figured out the essentials first- food, water, shelter and sanitation for you. All of your decisions can be thought of as being along a spectrum based on time, finances and resources. I think that large tarps, 5 gal buckets, cardboard boxes, and duct tape will be your best friends right now

For instance:

Water: one end would be getting a few tarps and 5 gal buckets to collect rain water. Next along the spectrum might be using more permanent and larger water barrels/ ibc totes for rain water. Above that might be working with the well to get the pump and well working. There are ways to use solar panels and well pumps. The best way is to have enough water storage so that the pump runs during the day and fills the tanks and then night time water comes out of the tanks

Food: get a garden in place for you first. Before trying to plant 7 acres of cleared land - create a section just for your food and plant that first. The more you can produce on hand, the less travel and the fewer dollars spent at the store. Try to get some of the higher calorie crops priortized like potatoes, beets, beans, etc. grains and fats are probably best left to the grocery store for now. Compare prices at the grocery store. You can do a lot of research online. You might find that in reality it costs less to order from amazon and get delivered directly vs the store. Do the math- it is your friend when on a shoestring budget

Shelter: definately do not build a crude cabin by the road. The time and effort spent on that will be far better spent on a million other things. As spring is coming quickly, try to deal with leaks first. That will ruin a house faster than anything. Instead of working to fix the roof, use large tarps and secure them down. You can fix it for real later.

Shelter can run the range from an outdoor tarp in the good weather all the way to a snug and tight house. Either way, a key component js keeping things dry. Wet things rot and mold. Dry things dont.

Like somebody else said, start with one single room to fix up and live, work, etc in there. Cooking might be easiest outside. At the most primitive is a campfire then perhaps a rocket cooker, then a grill ( which many people freecycle/ craigslist in the spring when they get a new one- keep an eye out) new propane tanks are expensive. However if you have one to trade in, it is truly reasonable compared to the amount of fuel you get. Ive have gotten a number of totally cruddy tanks that could never be reused off of freecycle, and then turn them in and exchange them for brand new ones.

Folded cardboard makes decent insulation from cold weather when it can be kept dry. The cardboard can easily be gotten free

Keep all the seeds and root pieces of any vegetable you eat and replant them. Some might be sterile and not grow, but others will.

If you can clear out a room now and stop any leaks now, the rest of the house can probably wait till winter.

Sanitation: the simplest toilet is a pit in the ground. Just make it far enough away from things that you dont contaminate your crops or water. A bucket in the house works. Try to layer any system with straw or sawdust or leaves. Some sort of carbon in there.

Shower and bathing can be done with rain water - a solar shower is cheap and is basically a black back left in the sun to heat up and then manuvered to be above you. Sponge baths are simple
And easy also. Many people get a membership to a cheap local gym just for showers

If it were me, I would put effort into getting egg laying poultry before any meat animals. Raising, butchering and selling said meat it a tough thing off the bat. Especially with the regulations on doing it all legally. Eggs are much simpler and more widespread. You could even transition a laying flock to be stew chickens. But I would find other farm ways to make money other than meat selling until you are more established. Its easy to get overdrawn with animals on the farm when other things arent settled. But then you are stuck with the animals. Instead put more effort in that nursery and greenhouse idea. Less work and commitment up front, but with decent returns.

Hope these thoughts help
 
Timothy Markus
pollinator
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Location: New Brunswick, Canada
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Dillon Nichols wrote:A decent roof is not optional... but other than that it's not like you need to get the whole house shipshape to live in it. Worst case scenario you could do all your living in a kitchen with a woodstove that has enough room for a bed and a bucket toilet... I hope you like cats, I'm guessing you'll need a good rat patrol!

Being in the house would let you work on the house interior in foul weather much easier than if you were living 300' away... and the time/money needed for the cabin could go a long ways on other projects.

300' isn't that far... how often will you need to go out? What about leaving your vehicle(I am assuming you will need one, yes?) just off the road, and maintaining a shoveled or packed walking trail to the house? Haul supplies on a sled?

On the other hand... to me the big upside of the cabin is that it could be portable. If something went sour, you could hopefully get it moved to greener pastures. Maybe the landlord is great, but what are his heirs like? Shit happens...

I kind of think your livestock list is overambitious for year one... around here it seems like the first law of homesteading is 'Everything Takes Forever'.

In my case, I am a terrible marketer so have had a hell of a time selling pork. Seems to be a local glut as well. But, I haven't had much trouble *trading* pork; no need to raise meat birds, beef, or go hunting/fishing. Maybe an extra pig would be less hassle than additional species?



I don't think the roof is leaking, but it'll have to be re-roofed this year or next; I'll make sure it's watertight until next year when I'll do a proper job.  

I know that a 300' driveway doesn't seem like much of an issue if you're on Vancouver Island , but it would have to be blown.  I've lived on a farm in Ontario and needed about 100' kept clear.  It cost me over $5k to have done, so that's not in the budget.  If the house is livable, I'll be parking the car near the road but I think I'd park it somewhere and buy a snowmobile.  For the first winter I might just rent a room for $300 a month.  I'll have a full time job so I'll be out every day.

I get what you're saying about livestock, but I've bred and raised quail, chickens and rabbits and I've got everything I need for them, so I can ramp up pretty quickly.  Once I get 2-3 acres fenced and a shelter I think I could bring in a few pigs.  I'm thinking about dairy, so I'd like to get a feel for sheep and/or goats the first year (without milking) to see if I like them.  My plan is to get a job on a local farm, probably at a bovine dairy.  I'll need a shelter for any animals I get, so that's why I was thinking about slapping up something near the road for them in the summer/fall and use it myself if I need to.  I won't plan to sell anything this year, though I will see if there's a market for pastured chickens.  I can raise 300 for sale without quota, but I'd do a run of about 50 for myself first.  I'm thinking I'll be canning a lot and making confit so I don't have to worry about storage.
 
Timothy Markus
pollinator
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Location: New Brunswick, Canada
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Bryan C Aldeghi wrote:What an interesting challenge you are moving into. I love it.



Thanks, Bryan.  

I'm not cash cropping the pasture; I'll be using it for rotational grazing at first and then figure out what I'm going to do with it in detail.  A garden is one of the first things I'll get going, but I'm guessing my target planting date is end of May.  I'm diabetic, so I don't eat root crops or grains.  I doubt I'll be buying much from the stores.  I've still got some rabbit, chicken and quail in the freezer from 2 years ago when I butchered my last animals.  

I think my first priority for water would be getting the well running again.  It was in use a year or two ago, so it might just need to be hooked up to power.  I'll either run it off a genny or do a solar system, both with storage.  If the roof is in rough shape I'll tarp it and collect rainwater, but I'll probably be able to get away with patching this year.  

My plan with livestock is to butcher them all in the fall.  I don't want to worry about over-wintering them the first year because it takes so much to get everything winterized.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 11799
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Could you snowshoe and sled your supplies in from the road? Or buy a small snowmobile?

(sorry if those are dumb suggestions, I've never dealt with much snow)
 
Timothy Markus
pollinator
Posts: 973
Location: New Brunswick, Canada
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Could you snowshoe and sled your supplies in from the road? Or buy a small snowmobile?

(sorry if those are dumb suggestions, I've never dealt with much snow)



Not dumb at all. That's the way I've been leaning too.  I think a cheap snowmobile would get me back and forth to work and town much better, especially if I can't wait for the road to be plowed on heavy snowfall days.  It would pay for itself the first year.
 
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