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Need Help/New Ideas Identifying Regions For Homesteading

 
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My wife and I are currently, and have for a while, been trying to make determinations about where to homestead and I'm looking to you guys to help out with some fresh ideas because we seem to keep coming back to the same ones. We currently have 3 children, the oldest of whom is 4 (yeah, it's crazy around here), and are looking long term at expanding beyond that. We basically came to the conclusion the only way we could afford to feed a large family and avoid egregious medical bills is to primarily grow our own food and maintain a high standard of health and lifestyle so that we avoid the crippling medical system that doesn't seem to help much unless you're in a car accident or shot.

Our general vision:
We really like the idea of living in a wofati or similar, we are currently going through Mike Oehlers book. Unfortunately neither of use were raised  on a farm or similar so we don't really have animal handling experience. Long term vision is to get into tree propagation/sales modeled after Akiva Silver as primary income. We do not expect to get into food/meat/produce sales due to the extreme regulations that keep getting tighter.10 to 15 acres maybe more depending on the area, from what we've seen it seems like 10-15 acres often costs as much as 30-40 acres or only a small difference. Targeting something like Hunting properties that may have extremely minimal infrastructure. Assuming a composting toilet system of some kind for human waste and grey water system.

years 1-2 prep ground with appropriate grazers, establish a garden, small livestock (primarily poultry/rabbits), begin food forestation (planning on mostly starting from seed to lower cost), establish perennials(thinking berries, asparagus, artichoke(if hardy in zone) and perennial/self seeding herbs)

years 3-5 introduce more small grazers(goats/sheep maybe), possibly milk/meat cows, probably 1 or 2 pigs, maybe breed our own poultry. Hopefully begin harvesting from fruit trees. Earth works/ponds

Musts
  • No or extremely lax vaccination laws, we generally don't see these as necessary considering the diseases they prevent aren't deadly unless you are suffering extreme malnutrition
  • No or extremely lax home schooling laws, both because we have a very low opinion of public school system and a remote property does not lend itself to commuting to a school.
  • Not Flood zone or low land (flash flood zone is primary concerns, also not ideal for wofati style builds)
  • Internet Access, I am a computer developer and that will likely be our primary income initially
  • Water Access, river or lake is preferred, especially for livestock, but solar/wind powered wells are an option.
  • Semi near fairly large city area, my wife is a classical musician so we want to make sure she still has access to groups to play with.


  • Want BAD
  • USDA Zone 5 (colorado eg) or greater. This is primarily for food growing reasons but we are not opposed to a greenhouse system, especially the Oehler style in ground green houses.
  • Low Taxation (low assessed land value?)
  • Partially forested with useable trees, nut/fruit/hardwood
  • Decent pasture or areas that could be made pasture pretty quickly
  • Stable wildlife population for hunting, while doing research I have often wondered to myself why I should raise pigs, as an example, when there is a plethora of wild boar in many southern states as an example.
  • Ability to hunt own property, land/acreage req, county/city law
  • Homestead community/culture



  • Nice To Have
  • Sewing with homemade/home dyed fabric/leather


  • Budget (estimated high to have a goal)
  • Wofati style home 1500-2000 sq. ft. (30-40,000)(we do not intend to do a ton of material scavenging so expect to buy things like windows/doors and expect to hire out some labor for things like excavation but we do want to do the majority of labor ourselves. We expect higher costs to move material/hire labor at a remote location. Sq footage estimate is based off of current household and expectation of more kids later down the line)
    [list]Solar Power system 15-20kwh sytem (15-20000)(may be higher if need to factor in need to power well(s))
  • Land (50-100,000) (we assume a mortgage will be necessary so a down payment of 20-40k to avoid pmi)
  • inital fund required ~$100,000


  • I sincerely hope this is way over estimated but honestly this is worst case scenario type planning. We are targeting the next 3-5 years in order be ready on the tail end of a recession when people have begun selling off or banks have begun auctioning repo'd pleasure properties like hunting/vacation

    Currently we are seeing Arizona and Texas are some of our most attractive options though in both cases water access is a major concern, with the exception of eastern Texas where land is 4-5k per acre and North Texas where it is getting into lower hardiness zones and some things I have looked at say they get brutal late frosts making blossoming fruit very difficult to grow. Additionally we like the idea of helping to return desertified land back to more productive land.

    If you have any suggestions of areas you think fit some or most of these guidelines please let us know. Additionally it is difficult to find any lists of homesteading communities online. One of the things we see in the successful examples of homesteading is a community to lean on when needed and besides moving to where prominent youtube Homesteaders live like a creepy groupy, I'm not sure how to go about finding these communities.
     
    pollinator
    Posts: 996
    Location: Victoria BC
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    IMO there is no substitution for boots on the ground for finding community. And there are few things that are more important.. though maybe water access is one of them!

    I lucked out with my property.. have some great neighbours and friends within the firat few months. But I spent a couple years as a tenant about an hour away, getting to know the area and making friends and connections, and I shopped for land in a ~1.5 hour radius of that place.

    This gave me a fallback option if I hadn't found friends right near me. Plus, some of my new friends are people I was introduced to by the friends I made at the last place..


    Your 'worst case scenario' for funds sounds mildly optimistic to me. For example, I have spent about 13K CDN on my 8KWh solar setup. Chinese LiFePO4 with Victron inverters and an SBMS controller, good stuff but not top of the line by any means... could you do it with cheaper gear? For sure, but what will the reliability/longevity be?

    My experience with a small, lower budget solar setup was not encouraging, almost every component right down to the wires failed or exhibited critical flaws in the course of a couple years intermittant use. The only thing still working is the panels themselves, albeit with an alarming amount of crazing.
     
    David Pritchett
    Posts: 19
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    Dillon Nichols wrote:IMO there is no substitution for boots on the ground for finding community. And there are few things that are more important.. though maybe water access is one of them!

    Your 'worst case scenario' for funds sounds mildly optimistic to me. For example, I have spent about 13K CDN on my 8KWh solar setup. Chinese LiFePO4 with Victron inverters and an SBMS controller, good stuff but not top of the line by any means... could you do it with cheaper gear? For sure, but what will the reliability/longevity be?

    My experience with a small, lower budget solar setup was not encouraging, almost every component right down to the wires failed or exhibited critical flaws in the course of a couple years intermittant use. The only thing still working is the panels themselves, albeit with an alarming amount of crazing.



    I completely agree regarding community and our current plan is to establish employment that is not based on a geographic location, move to a general location where we think we want to be long term and find somewhere near there from which to scout the local area and find a long term property.

    Regarding solar pricing, that was primarily based off of the estimates provided wholesale solar website for some pre-priced out packages provided you do a self install. I am just now looking into this, I now that the solar market is currently at a pricing low point so their literature may reflect that or be straight up BS trying to pawn some cheap stuff on a gullible fellow like me, but then that's why I'm looking into this now not when it is necessary.  Though doing a quick conversion I think that does check out, I am personally estimating 15k-20k usd for solar setup the 100k is an initial/upfront cost with the assumpation of a mortgage or similar to cover land, IDK if there are options when doing self build but I doubt a Wofati has high assessed value. I suppose total cost, if we didn't do a loan of some sort and covered everything upfront, would probably be more in the ballpark of 175-200k.

     
    master steward
    Posts: 9809
    Location: Pacific Northwest
    3774
    hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
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    I only have two kids (2 and 5) and we started this homestead when I was pregnant, 6 years ago. It has been hard work, and it took a long time to gain the skills and happy soil to actually grow food.  I stay home and my husband works, and it's just now in year 6 that we get enough food off of our land to supply us with 1/3rd our calories during the growing season. We only have poultry (chickens and ducks and 2 geese)--I'm waiting until my kids are older to even contemplate getting sheep/goats. It's depressing enough losing our ducks to predators. We lost yet another duck to a bobcat today.

    We also started out with a house that came with a shed and well/power/septic. I honestly don't think we would have survived if we tried to build our own house. As it is, I constantly feel like I'm spinning too many plates and many are crashing to the floor. When do I find time to read to my kids or clean the house when I'm working in the garden or building a shed or tending the animals or harvesting/presurving food and cooking it from scratch?

    This isn't to say it can't be done. I fully admit that other's may have less crazy kids, or higher ability to manage their day and children. But, I wanted to say something to caution you to start slow. You only have so many hours in the day. There are only two of you, and you are outnumbered by kids that need you. And, yes, a LOT can get done with a baby on the back or sitting on a blanket...but it's maybe 1/4th what you could do if you weren't tending a baby.

    The first year, I would focus on getting the house built. Plant a few fruit trees and make a garden bed and maybe get chickens. Growing berries and herbs is a great start, as they give you a LOT of nutitional bang for your buck, and they're often low maintenance, too. And, a lot of them multiply. Plant a strawberry and raspberry, and soon you'll have lots of raspberry and strawberry plants to distribute around your property! Make a list of your priorities and BE OKAY with dropping things off your list for a while. There was a big learning curve on, well, just about everything for me. I was not skilled at building, animals, or gardening. Perhaps you are--if so, this will all be much easier. But, if I'd tried to have ducks and chickens and goats in my first few years, I probably would have done them harm

    Give your family grace. Yes, quality nutrition is VERY important, and the best way to get it is by growing it. But, stress is also extremely damaging to the immune system. My husband developed crohns, and the catalyst was way too much stress when our children were infants. If you take too much on, you risk stressing you and your children out  to damaging degrees.
     
    pollinator
    Posts: 671
    Location: Southern Oregon
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    I homeschooled my kids at various points in their lives for various reasons. And I do so in two different ways, one was a homeschooling charter school that we checks in with once every couple months, the other was establishing ourselves as a private school. I had thought that the second option is available pretty much everywhere in the US. Is that not true? Are some states strict about establishing oneself as a private school? For us in California at the time, it was literally just a paper that you filled out. Just curious.
     
    Posts: 5
    Location: Lawrence, Kansas
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    Look into Leavenworth County in Kansas.  Seems to meet most of your criteria especially, price per acre, homeschooling, vaccinations, and type of land (wooded, pasture/prairie).

    Also, the county does not have building codes outside of any townships.

    We just bought 7 acres right on the county line next to Douglas county and 10 mins outside of Lawrence KS.

    There are a lot of homeschoolers and homesteaders around here. We have a 4 and 6 year old that go to the Waldorf school here.

    Let me know if you have more questions.

    Bill
     
    David Pritchett
    Posts: 19
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    Nicole Alderman wrote:I only have two kids (2 and 5) and we started this homestead when I was pregnant, 6 years ago. It has been hard work, and it took a long time to gain the skills and happy soil to actually grow food.

    This isn't to say it can't be done. I fully admit that other's may have less crazy kids, or higher ability to manage their day and children. But, I wanted to say something to caution you to start slow. You only have so many hours in the day. There are only two of you, and you are outnumbered by kids that need you. And, yes, a LOT can get done with a baby on the back or sitting on a blanket...but it's maybe 1/4th what you could do if you weren't tending a baby.

    The first year, I would focus on getting the house built. Plant a few fruit trees and make a garden bed and maybe get chickens. Growing berries and herbs is a great start, as they give you a LOT of nutitional bang for your buck, and they're often low maintenance, too. And, a lot of them multiply.  But, if I'd tried to have ducks and chickens and goats in my first few years, I probably would have done them harm

    Give your family grace.



    Hi Nicole, I really appreciate that input especially when many of the more public faces of homesteading are folks who either inherited a functioning farm/homestead or established it while they did not have any children. Honestly I don't expect a ton to get done that first year beyond building a house. I definitely can relate to only getting a quarter done, nothing like 30 pounds in a backpack every time you squat to pull a weed or lift something heavy to help you build hamstrings. If it's not that I'm having to stop what I'm doing to prevent the kids from hitting eachother with sticks or similar...  We have also talked about buying a property while we still rent etc somewhere so we can work on it some with a roof over our heads as opposed to camping in a yurt long term or a camper trailer.

    I absolutely love the perennials we've been able to establish here and they most certainly do multiply. I'm also rubbish at composting so we tend to have a plethora of volunteer winter squash and tomatos growing from our compost.

    We are trying to build skills as we can in our little sub division, but we have some pretty restrictive hoa regulations here. The biggest thorn in our side is no animals that aren't a cat or dog being allowed to stay outside. Even rabbits are not allowed to stay in outdoor cages.

    Regarding grace, I'm probably the one who needs it most of all and grace and love are the only reason life has worked reasonably smoothly for us so far.

    Stacy Witscher wrote: And I do so in two different ways, one was a homeschooling charter school that we checks in with once every couple months, the other was establishing ourselves as a private school.



    Hi Stacy, I had more recently heard about the "private school"  method for handling homeschooling. To my knowledge it works in most every state to have your kids in a home "private school", just some states have stricter laws regarding private schools so it isn't quite as helpful.


    Bill Ayers wrote:Look into Leavenworth County in Kansas.  Seems to meet most of your criteria especially, price per acre, homeschooling, vaccinations, and type of land (wooded, pasture/prairie).



    Thank you very much Bill! This does look like it would be ideal for a lot of our requirements, we had actually looked at a lot of property in that area through websites on the Missouri side but still in the general area and it does look quite nice.
     
    Nicole Alderman
    master steward
    Posts: 9809
    Location: Pacific Northwest
    3774
    hugelkultur kids cat duck forest garden foraging fiber arts sheep wood heat homestead
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    David Pritchett wrote:
    Hi Nicole, I really appreciate that input especially when many of the more public faces of homesteading are folks who either inherited a functioning farm/homestead or established it while they did not have any children. Honestly I don't expect a ton to get done that first year beyond building a house.



    Oh my, yes! And, even the ones that start out with young kids, can be pretty misleading. I remember watching some youtube videos of a family with three kids--one of them a baby strapped on Mama's back--and they were building their home and getting animals and everything seemed so simple and doable. I couldn't help but think, "Where's the kids screaming, 'Johny hit me!' and 'I want a snack!' 'What can I eat!?!' 'Mommy, push me on the swings!' 'Look at this Momma! MOMMA, WHY AREN'T YOU LOOKING?!!!' 'AHHHHHHHH!!! I hurt myself!' 'I need to go pee!' 'She sprayed me with water and I need a new shirt!'" Honestly, some days are so bad that it's literally every few seconds that someone needs something or is screaming about something. My poor adrenal glands are shot!
     
    pollinator
    Posts: 1005
    Location: Longbranch, WA
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    I can recommend my land in the link in my signature line.  It doesn't meet all of your criteria but there are others that I have listed that have more land. We do have winter here for 2 or 3  weeks not consecutively.  So with some protection food can be grown all year.  Home schooling is accepted although the local schools are considered exceptional. Your wife would be welcomed by the local music community.  We are both close to cities and isolated because we are surrounded by water. We have a strong homesteading tradition and a market to those buying and building along the waterfront.
    This is considered hardiness zone 7 but we have longer summer days than most zone 7 locations because we are at 47.25 north latitude.
    The advantage of my land is that it has a south east facing slope that an underground house could be built into.  South west is the prevailing weather and west facing windows should be avoided because of overheating in the summer. 100 amp electrical service is in for building tools. You wold be welcome to clone the perennials from my.2.5 acres and use the grass on the 2.5 acres between us. You could draw on my 75 years homesteading experience.
     
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