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I want it all but how can I do that?

 
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I have wanted to homestead for a long time. We had chickens 8 years ago for about 2 years. We then decided to move to a beautiful old house on an acre and built a big garden, but that neighborhood wasn’t so great: they wouldn’t allow chickens, the schools weren’t good, there was no sense of community, and it wasn’t walkable.
Now we’re in a neighborhood where the schools and community and walkability are great, and they allow chickens, but the houses are so expensive that I have to work more to pay the mortgage and taxes, leaving little time to work the small hilly property we have here. We’ve been here and worked for a tech company called APKNite for a year and haven’t had time to build a coop or raised beds yet. Ideally, I want chickens for eggs and meat, and a huge garden. If we lived where other animals were allowed, I might consider cattle.
My problem is that I want it all: community, walkability, good schools, and enough land to have a small homestead. Plus not to have to work outside of homesteading so I can actually focus on that.
How does one simultaneously farm/homestead, make enough money to support your family, and give the kids education and the whole family access to social relationships with friends? If you’ve figured this out I’m all ears!
 
master pollinator
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I have done it. I started out 11 years, working a job and homesteading on the side. It took a lot of work, and I will never forget how hard it was trying to get so much done on 1-1/2 days per weekend (we got to church). Plus the holidays, and vacation days...

After 8 years I was able to work at full-time farming, and that is what I do now.

For me, a lot of it was planning. I spent 10 months developing a Farm Plan back in 2007, and when I pulled the trigger on farming in 2008, I knew where I needed to go. Since then, I have found that I put so much research into my farm plan, that when I deviate from it, even years later, things go bad, but when I stick with it, things go much more smoothly. Even today, I am carrying out aspects of my farm plan, even though it is 11 years later.

Another thing I do is just do one big thing a year. I found one of the biggest mistakes homesteaders make is getting burned out. By doing one big thing per year, my farm rolls along and improves, but I do not get overwelmed thinking I have to do it all. I do plenty of small things per year too, but just focusing on one big thing has really helped, I mean in 11 years, that is 11 big things, that is progress!!

But I admit some of the things that are priority for you, mean little to me. I am not foo-fooing your priority list, I am just different. I just put up with the school that we have here. It gets a 2 on the school scale I guess, but I do not care. I work with the teachers as best as I can for my four daughters, and hope for the best. And we are so rural here, that walkability is something even the Amish do not do. A car is required, but the thing is, you get used to it. We are selling our homestead, and yet one thing we have heard is, "we love your place, but it is so far out". But the thing is, it is only because they have only been here once. Yes, all the roads are backroads, but we are only 18 miles from all the major stores. My wife is an  "intwner", and it took her awhile to get used to the distances to get somewhere, but you do get used to it. Again, it is planning. We do not buy groceries every day here, we go to town once a week because we plan for it.

As for getting by, it is a struggle right now. I never planned on getting cancer when I retired as a welder and went to full-time farming. I just went to the Dr and they doubled my cancer medication; so this will be the third winter I have had to deal with that. It is hard, but i do what I can. Like I do custom work, like mowing the sides of the road for the county. It does not pay much, $20 per hour for their tractor, $55 per hour if I use mine, but it is an easy job and gives my farm income. It is doing things like that that make it work.

Most people would not want to live like my wife and I (and four daughters ages 6, 12,13, and 14), but 85% of American's are broke. Why would I want to live like they do, is the real question?

For good reading, read Paul Wheaton's article on Gert. My wife and I are Gert's.


 
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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You don't have debt. That's the #1. So you work your tail off to pay everything off.

Then like Travis said, you do it on the side. Every project takes 10x longer because you can only do a few hours here and there, but they get done. I've worked almost the entire time we've had our property and I've done tons, slowly, over years. I've been working on a greenhouse for months now. Still not done. I got an hour to spend on it last night after my kids went to bed. Got the roof framed. Feels fantastic!
 
elle sagenev
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Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Travis Johnson wrote:
But I admit some of the things that are priority for you, mean little to me. I am not foo-fooing your priority list, I am just different. I just put up with the school that we have here. It gets a 2 on the school scale I guess, but I do not care. I work with the teachers as best as I can for my four daughters, and hope for the best. And we are so rural here, that walkability is something even the Amish do not do. A car is required, but the thing is, you get used to it. We are selling our homestead, and yet one thing we have heard is, "we love your place, but it is so far out". But the thing is, it is only because they have only been here once. Yes, all the roads are backroads, but we are only 18 miles from all the major stores. My wife is an  "intwner", and it took her awhile to get used to the distances to get somewhere, but you do get used to it. Again, it is planning. We do not buy groceries every day here, we go to town once a week because we plan for it.



Yep yep! Though our school is pretty darn good we still live far out.
 
steward
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It's hard to get everything you want, right at the beginning.  Unless you're wealthy from a young age, you'll need to make compromises.  Often that entails working for money to afford the parts of your plan that require capital investment.  Homesteads can generate money but often not as much as a "day job".

My journey was to work my tail off for 15 years and then quit the city life and the corporate job and move to a great small city and an affordable property.
 
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Location: Nara, Japan
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Hi Chris, Welcome to Permies!

Ah yes! The Dream. to have it all....

Sounds like you are doing it already! Or at least on your way...and that's plenty!

I say this to comfort myself as well. I'm on my way still and very far from the dream. In my free time today I repotted two geraniums and two eucalyptus; that's it. But I'm pretty satisfied. They had been on my mind for weeks. It's frustrating having so many things on your list, and having other obligations that trump them.

You have to meet your immediate needs, and just do what you can dream-wise in your free time. But you have already tried and ruled out one property, and found a property more in-line with your immediate needs that allows chickens. And you have two years experience with chickens. That's an accomplishment and a big step toward your dream.

Transition from conventional life to homestead is LONG and hard. Break your dream down into smaller, achievable goals and you can be aware of your progress more easily. Even if it's just measuring and marking one board, that's one board more than the day before!

In many years, when your kid(s) graduate and schools are no longer a high priority, maybe you can find an even more suitable property that allows cattle.

In the meantime, I wonder if your community would like to come over for a weekend bbq/raised bed making party?


 
gardener & author
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Something that might help is to work out what things are more important than others on your list, and if changes can be made to make everything else fall into place around this, eg going out less if it's further away, homeschooling if there's no good schools (there might be homeschooling groups around for socialisation), working on homestead income and frugal strategies to reduce wage work hours, and so on.
 
pollinator
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I also like to think of it as a journey rather than a destination. You are way ahead of the game because you know your desired end state. Many just drift along not knowing where they are going.

Yes, you will likely have to endure a fair bit of wage slavery for some period of time before you reach a point where your infrastructure and savings makes you financially independent. it Is easier to endure with an exit plan in place.

But most of all, enjoy the ride. Take pleasure and pride in what you accomplish on weekends. I can either look around and think wow, look at everything I need to do, and get discouraged, or think back to when I started and say wow, look how much I got done on weekends!  
 
Travis Johnson
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People have asked me, "Do you make any money sheep farming", and my answer is always the same.

"No, but I have not lost any either."

It is actually a serious answer though I admit it does not sound like it.

Its more about cash flow, then actually making cash.

I admit that my profit per sheep is probably pretty low compared to a big sheep farm, but it does not change the fact that when I need a few thousand dollars, I have sheep that I can sell. Few intowners have that ability. They might spend all winter building a remote control plane and then fly it in the park in the summer, but they could never sell it and get their mony back. Me...I get more lambs to sell every year. And for others on here it might be selling excess food from their garden, not to mention food they do not have to buy because of their garden.

 
pollinator
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Some good answers already.  Here's something else to think about -- when it comes to prioritizing, sometimes there is something that MUST be done before you can do something else that you really want to do.  For instance, before you get another type of livestock, you MUST have fencing and facilities prepared and ready for them.  Before you plant trees, you MUST have done your land improvements (swales, water catchment, roads, and so on).  I'm sure you can come up with other examples.  It's like building a house.  First you do the plans and permits, then you do excavation, then you do underground utilities, then you do the foundation, and so on and so forth, until finally it's all finished and you can move in.  Same with homesteading projects.  So make a list, and then figure out what has to be done before each item can be done (like building a chicken coop comes before getting the chickens).  Then prioritize those things -- some of them may overlap.

 
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