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Hypothetical Homestead III

 
pollinator
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III is because there are 2 previous threads with other parameters. I will link them here later.
Hypothetical Homestead I - https://permies.com/t/40/117345/Dairy-Sheep-kicking-ideas#1017445 (This starts near the bottom of the 1st page.)
Hypothetical Homestead II - https://permies.com/t/129625/Hypothetical-homestead#1016883


Parameters:

80 acres of heavy forest of mixed evergreen and deciduous trees, located in TN, zone 7a, steep mountains

Limestone and loam dominated soil with some flint in it

Water supply is 3 springs on side of mountain that become a creek lower down.

no house, utilities, or other development, only building site is on southern slope of the mountain near where 3 springs come together, a deer path leads to it.

You have $2000 and a shoebox full of vegetable seeds.

Build a homestead.

 
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What tools do we have?  Do we have a car or a truck or nothing?

For tools, seems like at the minimum I would need the following:

Gas weed eater/brush trimmer
Gas chainsaw

Cordless tools—available in a kit
*Hammer drill
*Impact driver
*Recip saw
*Circular saw
*Flashlight

Hand tools
*framing hammer (maybe x2), all forged steel
*nail puller, crowbar
*hand saw
*carpenters square
*adjustable square/ruler
*roofing square
*4lb machinists hammer

Long handled tools
*axe + at least 3 wedges
*sledge
*log cant
*pick axe
*round point shovel
*flat blade shovel
*narrow trenching shovel
*long prybar

Tall, sturdy ladder

I have all of these tools in my basement.  Do we assume that these are a part of the starting package?

Eric
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Eric Hanson wrote:What tools do we have?  Do we have a car or a truck or nothing?



None of that, just the $2000 and the seeds. But nothing prevents you from making your own tools, working or trading for tools you can't afford, or something like that. The point of this one is that a poor hillbilly with inherited hunting land CAN ALSO make a homestead.

Edited to add: I think you can build a perfectly good house with an axe, 2 saws, a slick, and a scotch auger. It might even be pretty.
 
Eric Hanson
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Ok, game on!!

Can I assume I have durable clothing and good boots, gloves?

So with my $2000, I am going to buy as much as possible of the following:

Long handled tools:

Axe,  Estwing solid steel axe (have one, works better than traditional long handled axe)
Sledge hammer
3 wedges
Folding pruning saw
Machete with sawback (again, have one, amazing)
Maybe a kukri
Round point shovel
Flat blade shovel
Long prybar
Rake
Garden fork
Grub hoe
Grape hoe if $ permits
File for sharpening edged tools

Hand tools
Estwing solid steel framing hammer, 28 oz.
Chisel
Long, flat bladed screwdriver
Hand saw
Hand mattock
6’ level
Carpenters square
Carpenters adjustable square w/ ruler
Roofing square
Pencils


I estimate at this point I have at least $1000 left

With 80 acres I would shamelessly have a portion logged off

Maybe log off 2 acres near the point where 3 streams come together
* find someone who will come and clear the trees and mill them on site to dimensional lumber.
  * I take half of milled lumber for building a simple shelter structure
  * he takes rest as payment
  * note:  I had a friend who did this exact same thing.  Total area logged was in his case 1 acre, but I will estimate we need 2 acres (he had 5, we have 80).

Now we build a small garden and plant some seeds to get some food

Of the remaining $1000, I would go for some power tools, but first I need power.

Cheapest generator I could find online
1800 watt generac, $400
5 piece Craftsman 20 volt power tool set $250
Leaves $350

Of Remaining money I would buy
A couple recip blades (long, wood blades)
Circular saw comes with a blade $0
A small pack of impact driver bits $5
Small drill bit collection $20

$325 left

20 gallons of gas=$50
4 5 gallon gas cans bout 7$/= approximately $30

$245 left

Buy a 20 lb bucket 3” wood screws=$80
Buy a 20 lb bucket nails=$40

$125 left=leave before I need something else

Bum ride to and from hardware store

Build a really solid ladder

Run generator only to charge batteries for tools

Build a basic shelter structure

Include a RMH

Expand garden
scavenge fire wood
Scavenge woodland edibles
Start to eat from garden


Maybe bum ride to town and buy bulk rice ($40)—that’s a lot of rice to start

So now for more stuff

Need:  pickup—nothing fancy, only gets from point A to B

Need $2000

Need 4 wheeler or utv on property (buy used)

Need $1000

Need logging arch—scavenge, build one—$50

Need cart for atv—$50

Log off 1 more acre (can we get $10k for lumber?)

Buy chainsaw

Buy trimmer/brush blade

Gather brushy wood, make woodchips, get Stropharia, start making mushroom beds

Then we really get started

Ryan, so what do you think, what’s wrong with plan, what would you do differently?

Eric
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Well Eric, while I would have done it radically differently, I don't think you did anything wrong. I'm only now getting into power tools myself, and I hate estwing products (while sturdy and deep-biting, they have zero shock absorption).

Here's how I would have done it:

I would have bought a budget hammock and tarp combo camping gear from REI Garage at about $400 all told, a cold steel trail boss axe (comparable to the GB small forest axe) for $27, a Lansky Puck for $6, an adjustable square and a log scribe for $25, a framing slick from a yard sale for $4, a drawknife from a yard sale for $3, a one-man crosscut saw with 2 handles for $30, a Stihl Farm Boss Chainsaw with 20" bar for $400, a cheap chalkline for $6, A peavy from an old guy's barn for $10, a pair of log dogs from the farrier for $26, An alaskan mill for $90

That leaves me with $963.

I imagine there is some kind of transportation to gather all this, I'm gonna say he does what I currently do and gets rides from his retired grandma. A Rokon Ranger motorcycle is in his and my future, but not now.

Next I buy 4 big buckets with lids at the hardware store for $3 each and a tarp at the overstock store for $5 totaling $17. This is to store food.

Then I buy a 20lb bag of AP flour, a tub of legit lard, 20lbs of pinto beans, and 20 lbs of brown rice at IGA for $50. The rest of my food until the garden comes in is from the forest, with 80 acres and a creek, there is no shortage of game and shellfish and wild plants. Use of traps, snares, and deadfalls allows me to work all day and take a pleasent walk for my dinner. The spices come from my home pantry, they and the lard are stored in the 4th bucket.

I absolutely do not use the deer trail to get to the building site, it will be full of ticks. I follow the creek and pack in all my gear, tools, and supplies.

I cut trees from the slope above the building site, use the alaskan mill to square them into beams, and then use a rope and the capstan to haul them down hill to the building site. Same with some large rocks for the foundation. Gas is bought, whole project totals $140 in gas for the saw.

Then I build a cabin with help from a friend when I've got him and a capstan when I don't. The beams are notched with the half dovetail joint at the corners. The logs are fitted tightly together and dried moss is crammed in the gaps and plastered with a mixture of dead pine needles and clay from the creek. The roof is made of clapbords treated with Shou Sugi Ban. The clapboards were cut from the logs earlier when squaring. There is a substantial hearth made of dry stacked limestone with clay plastering inside. The windows are made from oiled paper to admit light but repel weather. This is done for free because the paper is from the butcher at IGA and the oil is from the previous home's pantry. Paper windows do not break as the house dries and settles.

Once the house is built and the camp taken down, The garden is planted on the slope above the house directly into the leaf litter like a Ruth Stout garden. A junkpole fence is used to keep deer out. The hillbilly continues to harvest wild game, but the garden provides vegetables.

Starches still need bought in, and property taxes need paid. Savings won't last forever. So I turn to chainsaw sculptures, I sell these on the roadside for income.

Eventually I save up the $8000 for a Rokon Ranger and the $1500 for the tow bar and single track trailer. I use this to haul down my sculptures, and to go to town for groceries.

Homestead Complete.
 
Eric Hanson
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Ryan,

Not bad, I actually like it quite a bit.  I am afraid my primitive skills are not what yours are.  

Also, I am a builder with an almost unhealthy obsession with my tools.

But I like what you came up with, especially the Alaskan mill.  In fact I almost went that route until I remembered my friend, from TN no less!  He had not so much a house as a huge structure, like a big open pavilion built to covet his double wide with additions, a deck, an elaborate stair and ramp contraption.  Quite a lot of lumber!  And he only got half as the other half was taken for payment.  This was a cool bargain as not only was the single acre cleared, it was cut to lumber on a portable mill and the value of the wood increased by milling.

I contemplated for a minute of doing the logging on my own and cutting, milling, then finishing to hardwood flooring.  The reason is that each “pass” roughly tripled the value so that the value of a cut log is only about 1/10th the value of the same log converted to flooring.  But the equipment costs add up as well.  Potentially one could log others property for the same deal, make good money and only minimally touch the 80 wooded acres.  70 wooded acres and 10 clear acres actually sounds nice.  Plenty of woodland that I would then only cut deadwood or drag out fallen trees and logs.  The clear land could be gardened, and a small flock of animals kept.

Surprised that you don’t like Estwing, but I find them indispensable—they are sturdy and the axe really bites into wood.  Also, I liked your initial focus on a camping store.

So how about a slight variation of this plan.

Same deal as before:  80 acres, wooded, stream.  $2000, but you can walk in carrying whatever you could reasonably hike with.  I imagine that a person could carry a 40 pound load in a pinch, so that is sort of a practical upper limit.  Everything must either fit into/on a large hiking/camping backpack or on your person.  So what would you take with you (you basically get this for free in addition to the $2000).

I will go first.

First off I would wear comfortable clothes, but dress in layers and wear carharts.  I can shed these later.  I would wear good boots.  On my person I would have a pocket knife and a leather man or other multi tool.  On one hip/waist I would have a good machete.  I am evenly split between a Gerber sawback 18” machete and a schrade kukri machete here

https://bladeops.com/schrade-km1-large-kukri-machete-black-finish-blade/

On the other hip I would carry a more knife-like machete.

In the pack I would carry a small 3 man tent (not as big as it seems) with ground tarp, sleeping bag w/ pad, inflatable pillows.  I would carry a couple changes of clothes, but made of lightweight nylon canvass that is both durable, extremely lightweight and holds no water (this would be minimal packing)  I would wear a good, durable pair of leather gloves.  I would pack a pot/pan lid, cast iron for durability and so I can stick into a fire to cook.  Plate, fork, spoon, knife.  A small RO filter water bottles and/or canteens.  Strap to the back of the pack my favorite (not yours) Estwing axe, a pruning saw.  One 500’ spool of nylon string, a 100’ bundle of paracord, and round out with as many MRE’s as I could pack in.  Maybe last item would be my 24” handle hand mattock.

As you can see, I am a gear centric person which had its strengths and weaknesses.  I think I would immediately set up camp, make a small clearing, start a fire and make a sort of clay kiln to make the wood burn long and slow and maybe even make a sort of stove top.

I would immediately make a small garden and plant a few seeds to get some quick food.  I wish I had potatoes, but I think I would buy some seed potatoes and plant them.  My little hand mattock will work for a bit but eventually I want a grub hoe for digging, a grape hoe for really clearing off sod and a Dutch hoe for regular weeding.

So what do you think?  What would you do differently?

I kinda like swapping these ideas!

Eric

 
Ryan Hobbs
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Look around on the REI site for a minute and you will quickly revise your loadout. I'm a backpacker and general outdoors freak. I like bushcraft a great deal and I think you should watch TA Outdoors on youtube to get a better idea of packing in the needed tools. Watch the Saxon House series on that channel. I can carry 40 lbs in my milsurp german army ruck, it is a 40 litre internally framed pack with waist strap. A packing trick is to stuff a rectangular office waste bin inside first to use as a water bucket. Most backpacing packs have a water bladder inside. Mine does not, but I strap a canteen to it at the moment. I would like to get REI's gravity filter bladder. You also need to check out their cooking ware, you will probably discard the cast iron halfway up to the flat spot.
 
Eric Hanson
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Ryan,

Fair enough.  In college I could not get enough of camping. I am afraid that home ownership and acreage makes me look at gear more.

Good points though.  I know I tend to overprepare and therefore over pack.  I was just imagining what I could carry to camp site.

Eric
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Eric Hanson wrote:Ryan,

Fair enough.  In college I could not get enough of camping. I am afraid that home ownership and acreage makes me look at gear more.

Good points though.  I know I tend to overprepare and therefore over pack.  I was just imagining what I could carry to camp site.

Eric



Also, long term camping requires you to be up off the ground. Instead of a tent, I recommend just a siltarp. If you don't like hammocks I recommend building a bed or packing in an ultralight cot. You stay warmer, drier, away from the thermal mass of the earth, and away from bugs and snakes. I would go with a hammock personally. It is comfortable, packable, light weight, and can be used in areas that are rocky or uneven.
 
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1st thoughts:  

* IF I could stay elsewhere, not on the land immediately, I would take time to become familiar with lay and characteristics of the land.  Consider what is already there and what cannot be seen below.  Learn has been done to land surrounding that 80 acres.  I would probably look for bear, wildcat, and coyote dens to prepare accordingly for their presence.

* If the land and its critters are thriving well as is, I would only create a potable water source and minimal shelters for myself and a handful of critters to stay fed.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it :.)  I prefer a minimal, functional, natural structure that anyone can build since I lack construction skills.  Probably a low, very thick, rounded cob structure if it's in an area where tornadoes come through.  I would not bring anything synthetic to the land.  Items like glass for windows I don't perceive to be problematic.  No rubber or plastics.

* Bring or buy only tools necessary to build shelters and hedge a thicket fence just inside the perimeter of the property  (My sister, brother, and I put up cedar post fencing with hot wire around 90 acres when we were kids.  Labor and time is not an issue for me.).

* Cull dead trees and certain brush for hugelkulturs if needed, and as much as possible without interfering with what wildlife has created for themselves.  Dependent on what best suits the land's circumstances, I might leave culled areas alone and let nature take its course.  Or I might plant whatever wherever to see what naturally takes.  Let nature decide what is a good idea to put where.

* Possibly add hugelkulturs or terracing to cope with wet areas, or dry areas in danger of experiencing drought.  Or not.  80 acres alone should produce enough food for one individual to survive comfortably with.  Depends on what the land needs.  Perhaps it needs nothing since it was doing fine before I arrived :)


IF time were a factor and I had to or wanted to live immediately on that 80 acres, first I would establish potable water and build a shelter for myself.  Then the rest as above.
 
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That actually sounds almost identical to this property. Here's how it was done, as best as I've been able to piece together. Mostly through oral family history. About 1900 this was a heavily wooded forest with nothing much else around. The nearby railroad track might have been here then, not sure. Original homesteader (let's call him great grandpa) came here with an axe & some serious woodworking skills. He picked the most level place on top of this ridge & built a small cabin & outhouse. The outhouse still exists but was filled with dirt & rock many years ago. As the cabin was built he planted chestnut, hickory, & pecan trees. If I had to guess the cherry & pear trees came some time after. As land around the cabin was cleared he built split rail fences, dug a water hole which has never gone dry, & started keeping a few cattle. Then built a small barn & a chicken coop large enough for about 50 chickens. Those are both still in good condition. The coop is still used for chickens. To the best of my knowledge building the initial homestead was his only job. He died & his son inherited the place. Then around 1940-1950 the cabin was expanded & slowly converted into a more comfortable house with electricity from the newfangled hydroelectric dam. Grandpa did have an outside job with the railroad. People called him Bull because he could carry two railroad ties around on his shoulders. He never drove in his life but rode a donkey everywhere. (no law against donkeys while intoxicated) Pastures got larger so there were more cattle. Then in the early 60's Bull died & left everything to his nieces & nephews. Only one niece was interested in the property so she gradually bought her cousins out. She had a city job but on the weekends, every weekend for many years, she & her friends gradually replaced the cabin & built a fully modern house. One room at a time until the cabin no longer existed. It's amazing what beer, BBQ, & good friends can accomplish by working together. A larger barn was built further away from the house. Then the small barn became home to a horse & a pig. Some small outbuildings were built using the old techniques. The horse & pig eventually died & are now buried directly under a hugelkultur bed. Their pasture is now my garden area. I'm fairly certain no vegetables other than maybe a few tomatoes were grown here until I arrived a couple years ago. I started by building a traditional kitchen garden & basic soil improvements. That has continuously expanded & is quite productive now. Starting to focus more on fruit, perennials, animal foods, & food forest type of things. We have enough pasture & cows. We also have a lot of zone 5 areas but I'm going to plant many more trees along one part of the perimeter that doesn't have enough. We have a few chickens & want a few more. There is wild game (deer, turkey, duck, goose) on site & fish nearby but so far I have only observed it. Have better places to hunt & fish.

120 years later. Still a work in progress. In some ways we're going backwards in time with it. Smothering lawn with food. Planting trees. Restoring some pasture & edges to forest. Restoring wildflowers & pollinators. Sequestering carbon. Soaking up water. Gradually getting off grid functional again. Filling in a long neglected homesteading gap with a wide variety of food crops. Then if I'm still kicking the pastures need permie-ized.
 
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Awesome story @Mike!  Where do you fit into the story?  How are you related?
 
Eric Hanson
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Ryan, Mike,

So with this plan, I would go the less primitive route eventually.  So for mechanization I have already accounted for a beater pickup and a used 4 wheeler.  As is obvious from other posts, I am a bit tractor happy!

I think my ultimate goal would be to have 10 or so clear acres.  I would want to get a small herd of animals.  Even though right now I don’t know the first thing about raising livestock, I think I like the idea of sheep & goats as all purpose animals, what with meat, milk, and wool being useful items.  Ryan, I am really warming up to ducks for all the reasons you mentioned.  I like the idea of a Jersey cow or other similar breed.  

These animals should give me plenty of meat, milk, cheese, wool, etc.  I also think I could sell some meat or other animal products.

Being tractor happy, I would want a small tractor with bucket, mower, grader blade, box blade, skidding winch and grapple for the loader, maybe a post hole digger.  This would give me an ability to both manage land, engage earth, and haul timber.  I also might want a cheap, used 4x8’ trailer.

I would want to clear a total of no more than 15 acres.  This would give me some pastures for animals, a 1/4-1/2 acre intensively cultivated market garden.  Most of this would be for my own consumption, some would be sold farmers market style, maybe leftovers fed to livestock or start a compost pile.  My garden I would convert to raised beds—8’x50’, maybe one added per year.  I imagine that 5 of these would be plenty,  with 4’-6’ spaces in between.  Pathways would be mowed by ducks.  Beds would get copious chips and mushrooms.  The whole raised bed garden is only about 3000 square feet, so less than 1/10 acre.  

I would want about 1/4-1/2 acre orchard and fruit patch.  Among my fruit:

Apples
Peaches
Cherries if they will grow this far south
Blackberries
Blueberries, different varieties to spread harvest
Raspberries—separated from other bramble fruit,  all different varieties to spread harvest.
Others?

Make a newer, more permanent, cob home.

More, less?

Eric
 
Ryan Hobbs
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I was really hoping someone would use the flint. Flake knives are no joke. Maybe Mrs Windrose will... I can see her in a Bark Hut using stone tools.
 
Eric Hanson
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Ryan,

No doubt flint makes some pretty awesome stuff.  I have seen someone pressure knap flint into pieces that are sharper than surgical steel.  Sadly, I don’t have this skill set.

If I took a 1 year primitive skills training before this adventure,  I would make some of the following:

Flint knives, small&long
Flint hatchet
Flint axe
Flint hoe/adze
Flint spear

Bow & arrow

Make cordage from items on site
Make elevated homestead from items on site
Make baskets.

Upon thinking about your thoughts, I think with that initial $2000, I would want some 5 gallon buckets, and at least a few lids.

I understand your concerns of cast iron.  I was thinking about something durable that I could put right on to a bed of coals.

Eric

 
Eric Hanson
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Catherine,

Really good points.  I assume I would explore and asses the ground for all the reasons you mentioned.

Hugel mounds are a worthy investment, but highly labor intensive.  Not s deal breaker, I am just thinking about what needs to be done.

If I could, I would trade some logging for some tractor time and perhaps make some hugel beds. Similarly I might make huge raised beds.

Water is a real issue.  Great ideas.  I probably would get to this, the post was getting long.

Given the terrain, I would eventually want some mechanization.  A decent 30 hp tractor w/ loader, bucket&grapple, box blade, either rough cutter or flail mower, skidding winch.

Also, I would want a logging arch like this one

https://logrite.com/store/Item/ATV-Arch

It can be outfitted with either a ball hitch or a personnel handle.  Should make moving logs quite easy.

This is an interesting homestead idea here.  As I said earlier, I cannot imagine clearing more than 15 total acres, but that does not mean that I wouldn’t take the occasional tree here or there, especially if it were diseased or dead/dying, too close to another, etc.

Feel free to offer recommendations,

Eric
 
Catherine Windrose
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I think I should not make recommendations for someone else.  I only know what appeals to me :.)  I am not 100% opposed to mechanization of any kind as much as there is only $2000 available in the OP.  And, 80 acres for one person or even a family should provide plenty of food with gathering and hunting.  With 80 acres, I don't see a need for a garden other than a very small one for herbs.  I think the point where people begin creating a carbon footprint larger than they should is when they attempt to do more than what they need to thrive.

That does not mean there should be no technology, rather the technology built might be best  utilized by focusing on thriving in a healthy way that does not prevent others from doing the same.  This is where avoiding toxic practices comes in.  Use of heavy equipment might be used to prepare contaminated land for a permaculture environment, but then what?  The technology and manufacturing processes needed to produce heavy equipment are not the most environmentally friendly.

So, given 80 acres and $2000, I would avoid using anything that is not entirely sympathetic to nature and myself.  

In a different situation, if heavy equipment is available I would use that to establish a shelter, begin a pond or few, storage, and out buildings as quickly as possible to have a place to live before snow comes.  That would allow me to live off grid and reduce my carbon footprint much more expediently.  Whereas living where I am for example, for a year or few while preparing land (using entirely old methods) as a home elsewhere, would cost earth overall much more than using heavy equipment to speed things up to get out of a city where I am trapped and forced to pollute daily.
 
Ryan Hobbs
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Eric Hanson wrote:Ryan,

No doubt flint makes some pretty awesome stuff.  I have seen someone pressure knap flint into pieces that are sharper than surgical steel.  Sadly, I don’t have this skill set.
...

Upon thinking about your thoughts, I think with that initial $2000, I would want some 5 gallon buckets, and at least a few lids.

I understand your concerns of cast iron.  I was thinking about something durable that I could put right on to a bed of coals.

Eric



Flake knives are made by whacking a piece of flint with a big rock until you have a 1-2" long shard. You then carve a wooden grip and stick the whole thing together with pine or birch tar. You need no special skills whatsoever. I made one as a kid and I still use it. If a flake blade breaks, you heat the tar to soften it, pull out the old flake, and insert a new one. It's the original boxcutter. I use mine for opening packages.

5 gallon buckets are a must for storing your food for a long camping trip. It keeps it dry and away from everything but a determined bear. If you hang it from a high tree branch, it will keep it away from bears.

Look up titanium cookware. You can put it on veeeerrrry hot fires, coals, stoves, etc... And it is waaaay light. I have a set that is compact with a pot and cup. I use chopsticks to eat from it. I have lightweight steel chopsticks, but have also crafted them from sweetgum twigs. That wood contains an anti-bacterial sap and they last for several meals.
 
Mike Barkley
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One way to shape flint is to use a piece of wire. A very thick piece of solid wire. Use the edge of the tip of the wire to press on the flint to remove unwanted pieces.
 
Eric Hanson
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Ryan,

Yeah, I looked back on my budget, particularly for that 1st $1000.  I actually looked at prices and even added a few items and found out I had about $385 left.  I added in a bunch of 5 gallon buckets and lids.  I also needed to add some initial food stock.  I looked into bulk brown rice and beans.  About $100 gets about 80 Lbs of rice and beans in big plastic buckets.  This would be a backup/starter while I get things up and running.  Some lard would be good as well.

I will convert to your suggestion for titanium cookware.  Super high heat and much lighter.  Doesn’t retain heat like iron, but that’s trivial.  So titanium it is.

Only metal that beats titanium for heat resistance is tungsten, but if you thought iron was heavy, wow would you be in for a surprise with tungsten!  Density wise, iron is about 7-8 grams/CC.  Tungsten is about 20 g/CC!  But it’s bulletproof (really), and you could swing a pot and hit a bear in the head and kill it!  But this is irrelevant as no one makes tungsten cooking ware.  Ridiculous!  Actually I really like the sound of titanium and did not even know it was available.

Good thoughts.

BTW, I started a hypothetical homestead IV thread if you care to take a gander.  I made a proposal and I will let you take the first shot.  I am really curious as to how you would approach this one!

Eric
 
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