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I have the dream..but not the acres! - Advice for beginners needed!

 
Posts: 57
Location: Fort Worth, TX
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I do apologize as I do not have a lot to offer to this section other than having a homestead has been my dream for a long time.
I spent the last 13 years raising a kiddo and getting by. Now, I am ready. I thought I needed to wait for a guy with the same dream. Nope.
Tons of money ( or a good chunk ) to make it happen or live comfortably. Nope.
Now with cities falling apart and I watch everyone scattering about hoping things go back to the way there were, my heart and soul are being pulled towards nature.
So putting it out there that this is going to happen for me. I am manifesting it as if it has already happened.

This book would be cool to have for a newbie but if anyone else has any beginner advice, that would be much appreciated. I am now going to go down the homestead forum rabbit hole!

Much thanks.
 
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Do you have a yard?  You don't need acreage to have a homestead.  There are a lot of urban homesteaders out there.  I am also PRE - land.  I'm even not in my home at the moment, renters are, but I don't let that stop me.  At this point I am learning everything I can.  I read, watch videos, and practice skills.  Check out the SKIP/PEP forum for ideas.  
If you do have a yard, you can do a lot.  You can (if your county allows it) even have small amounts of livestock.  But you can definitely start growing your own food, preserving food, and other things.  
I wish you the best!  Keep living the life you want and you will be living it before you know it!  
 
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Good morning Jenny. I'm working with a group to form a community and here is what I have been posting. Thought you may be interested.
Who is interested in creating an ecovillage/eco-farm/intentional community/group of eco-conscious friends in the Northwest Arkansas area?
If yes, please let me know if you would like to be added to our Facebook messenger chat group. You can find me at https://www.facebook.com/ftenny/.
We also have a text chat if you want to send your cell # to be added.
Why go it alone when you can pool money, resources, knowledge, tools, labor, etc.?
Need alone time? Take a hike in the woods.
Bored? Go to town. Bentonville, Rogers, Fayetteville have everything you would want.
9-5 jobs? The towns listed above have plenty of job opportunities.
What if you don't want a 9-5 job?
 Sell crafts and community raised fruits and vegetables at nearby farmer's markets.
 Live minimally and reduce the need for income and work part-time.
 Do work/food trades within the community and with neighbors.
 Make YouTube videos.
 Work online.
Family friendly, nonviolent, drug and smoke free environment.
Decisions based on vote by members.
Don't want to live in community full-time? Come out on the weekends and build yourself an eco-friendly house/cabin/cottage/tiny house, garden, and de-stress.
Build energy efficient and eco-friendly small houses. Cob, straw bale, wood, stone, etc.
Bring a tiny house on wheels.
Alternative energy. Solar, hydro, wind.
Campfire gatherings.
Board games.
Engaging conversations with people who share the same interests.
Solar heating and cooking.
Composting toilets.
Stargazing.
Off-grid.
Be mindful of our environmental impact on the land.
Practice conflict resolution.
Open-mindedness.
Organic fruit and vegetable growing.
Land trust so everyone owns the property.
You are assigned a small plot to garden and build a house.
Shared common land and gardens.
All pets will not be allowed to run free as the native critters have enough predators.
Natural living. No pesticides, chemicals, harsh cleaning/body products, etc.
Gardening methods such as no till, aquaponics, greenhouse, permaculture, raised beds, etc.
Wild harvesting/food forest.
Rainwater collection.
Plenty of places nearby to swim, kayak, hike, camp, etc.
Mild winters. For example, the coldest month in Rogers is January with an average high/low of 47/28.
Get tired and want to leave? Sell your share to the trust, another member, or a new member.
We do not have land but are looking for members to contribute to a purchase.
 Land traits we would like to find:
   Large enough (20+ acres) for a small village. 50 people or so ??
   Water feature. Creek, spring, lake, river, large pond.
   Borders National Forest or within walking distance.
   Tillable areas.
   Wooded areas.
   No more than 1-1.5 hours from Bentonville/Rogers/Fayetteville, Arkansas, US.
   Existing house with land or raw land.
How much is it to join? Will depend on number of members and cost of land.
When will this happen? As soon as we have enough members to make a purchase. We currently have an active conversation with a group of 26.
We will be meeting face to face with all who are interested on Sat., Sept 26, 11:00 - 3:00ish, AQ Chicken House, 1207 N Thompson St, Springdale, AR 72764.
If you cannot make it, please send an email to Sam at sl.smith944@gmail.com to be added to the Zoom list for the online option.
Additional information can be found here - https://www.ic.org/directory/independence-farm-community/ and https://permies.com/t/123979/Intentional-Community-Eco-Village-Permaculture?fbclid=IwAR1QVaPCQjXJqRk2APOnXQEQraLzw3bmJ1G7y49zAm0kN6_SkuI5Wx7N4nA
These ideas are not written in stone. Please let us know if you have other ideas, comments, suggestions or hesitations.
What are you looking for?
What are your skills?
Are there any other communities that inspire you? Why?
 
gardener
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There's a saying I heard, "bloom where you're planted." Start with what you can handle in your yard, on your balcony, in your window. CSA, farm share, master gardener program, cooperative extension courses, even just working with seasonal produce. All provide experience that will be super useful once you do have acreage.
 
author & gardener
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Oh Jenny, this forum isn't just for experienced folks, it's for everyone with a homesteading dream. By expressing your dream and asking questions, you engage the rest of us in conversation that helps us all.

Are you ready to take any active steps toward finding your homestead? Or are you still in the dreaming/researching/planning stage? That's important, because it's where you can set goals and shape your dream. What do you see for yourself so far?

 
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Plenty of info out there just do your research & start something you can handle first then grow from there !
 
pollinator
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My advice: tell everyone! When you go on holidays, I suppose it's somewhere rural if you're drawn to it. Tell them. When you buy food from local farmers, tell them too, and ask them farming questions (even if they're no permies; work with what you have).
 
Jenny Jones
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Location: Fort Worth, TX
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Sunflower Rogers wrote:Do you have a yard?  You don't need acreage to have a homestead.  There are a lot of urban homesteaders out there.  I am also PRE - land.  I'm even not in my home at the moment, renters are, but I don't let that stop me.  At this point I am learning everything I can.  I read, watch videos, and practice skills.  Check out the SKIP/PEP forum for ideas.  
If you do have a yard, you can do a lot.  You can (if your county allows it) even have small amounts of livestock.  But you can definitely start growing your own food, preserving food, and other things.  
I wish you the best!  Keep living the life you want and you will be living it before you know it!  



Unfortunately, I am in between homes. I am having a literal life changing year. My business got hit hard, I didn't sign my apt lease and took my kiddo to do a few WWOOF adventures, which I loved...her not so much. So my whole being is confused, lost and really have no idea how to start fresh. This is why it all feels too much right now. I appreciate the support. It will soon happen. I feel it.
 
Jenny Jones
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Location: Fort Worth, TX
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[quote=Leigh Tate]Oh Jenny, this forum isn't just for experienced folks, it's for everyone with a homesteading dream. By expressing your dream and asking questions, you engage the rest of us in conversation that helps us all.

Are you ready to take any active steps toward finding your homestead? Or are you still in the dreaming/researching/planning stage? That's important, because it's where you can set goals and shape your dream. What do you see for yourself so far?

I agree with Sunflower Rogers that the [url=https://permies.com/wiki/pep]PEP badge forum[/url] is a good place to start learning useful skills in preparation for transitioning your lifestyle. [/quote]

If I am honest I would say more dream stage. I am terrified to do it alone so I doubt myself, which I know is silly. I know what I want but its the logistics of it, the building, the set up feels overwhelming to me.  
 
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Location: New Braunfels, TX, Zone 8b, multi-generational suburban household
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I also have that same dream and no land of my own!

One thing I did to get myself prepped and ready for full time homesteading was sign up for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

A CSA is where you pay the farmer in advance for a season's worth of produce. They'll give you on a weekly or biweekly basis what they harvested that week. This has allowed me to get used to the seasons in my area (i.e. see what vegetables are harvested when). I'm also expanding my expertise in the cooking now that I have to cook with what I have, what's in season, rather than any and everything from the grocery store! Okra has become a new staple in this home... I even found a way to get the guys to love it! I'm also enjoying finding new recipes through my particular CSA's website.

Speaking of my particular CSA, I see that you are in the Fortworth area. While I live in New Braunfels, the CSA I purchase from is based out of Austin and even delivers all the way up there! It was also inspiring for me to read their story of how they grew from a backyard farm to having 100s of acres.

You can check them out here: https://jbgorganic.com/

I'd highly recommend you sign up! I'm thoroughly enjoying it. If you do sign up with this particular farm, do send me a message because you can get a week's worth of produce for free if you use my referral code!

And I'll be honest, I originally signed up for this after the grocery stores got wiped from the initial covid scare. Now I know that if something like that happened again, at the least I can count on getting my vegetables from my CSA!

Best of luck on your dream!
 
pollinator
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Can you describe the dream. I assume a part of the dream is to grow your own herbs and green leafy vegetables (around 1/4 acres). That same 1/4 acre can also have your bee hive and chicken coop. Maybe you want to have some bulk calorie tubers and such another 1/4 acres and you should be golden. A 1/4 acre fish pond would supply you with alot of fish, but you could also try a sub-optimal aquaponic system if you like. You can also plant alot of berries on say another 1/4acres that will provide you with an harvest in a year or less.

You can probably lease the above acre of land for a few hundred dollars a year. Or you can buy it with a 5yr payment plan. I think that you can probably find a owner-financing 2 acre plot of land for sale, for a nice price and payment plan. You just have to be on the lookout for a year or so.

The next part of the dream probably involves zone 1, that is food preservation, less fast food, food-grade cleaning supplies, organic clothing, reduced waste stream, etc. Those you can actually start doing now.

Then there is the house support system: Water source, Water purification, septic system, greywater system, HVAC, and electrical system/solar/etc

I am not too sure if your dream also include also being a house, from say more natural materials with less glues and plastics.


Alot of folks who want to get started quickly they might get some land and an RV and just jump right in, but it does come with some challenges ,esp if you are doing it alone




 
gardener
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Location: Denver, 6a / BSk, rental house dweller, going back to Wheaton Labs soon
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Hey Jenny,

Thanks for sharing your experiences here on Permies. As a fellow rookie-homesteader, I think it's important for us to post our own experiences, as well.

I can relate to much of what you describe.  


One thing that is working for me is to find a place where I can go do some of the homesteading stuff. You said y'all already went wwoof'ing; which steals my first piece of advice. Maybe there's more places y'all can go so you can start working on it? The place I've gone is Wheaton Labs (present tense, because I've twice returned, and plan to go again).


Another thing that is working for me is the SkIP program. For me, working on the badge bits has given me a way to start building experiences. Even while living at a rental house. And for me, experiences displace doubt.

On re-reading this, I realize this is just two flavors of the same advice (find a way to do it). I hope you're able to find something that works for you.
 
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Dunno how much "Plenty of money" is but.......

The further you are from a civic center the cheaper small acreage will be. After 100 acres its no longer "small".

For best bang for your buck,

Look for developed water, water well drilling is a crapshoot and you can spend $60,000 in a heartbeat and still wind up with dry holes, lousy water or inadequate flow.

Look for flat usable land, hillsides are cheaper for a reason. a flat terrace on a mountainside is good.....a mountainside will make you sweat for every day you own it. the steeper the cheaper, and less useful with every degree off horizontal.

If possible look for a structure / plan to the development of the buildings, lots of farms "grew organically" and they are a pain to move around on ....usually things are too close together to afford good access with trucks / tractors-trailers.
Buildings built close together are a fires dream, 50' plus between buildings give you a beggars hope of containing a fire. Worst combination a tight cluster of buildings on a rough hillside is almost completely indefensible, in the face of a windblown fire.

Look for large sturdy structurally sound buildings, homesteading takes a lot of space and if you jam everything into small quarters you'll spend more time finding things than working with them. Old and dirty is fine, avoid mold like the plague. Not that every mold is toxic...its just a sign of long term neglect.

Neighbors are a mixed blessing, neighbors that lend their tractor, watch your animals, and fetch needed supplies from town are a delight....neighbors whose goats eat your truck garden, shriek so loud they keep you awake at night, and shoot random things at random times...not so much.

On a practical note...make county tax structure an exclamation point in your search. all government is parasitic, and the counties only method of revenue is taxation, every improvement guarantees a heavier toll on your wallet and no improvement will be overlooked. Ten years of steady development can extract a brutal, never ending, ever increasing, burden that will ensure you struggle to keep it when your on a fixed income......

And a final edit to add, The more you can do with less tools / equipment the better. It's unreasonable to build the Taj Mahal with a Leatherman but the more equipment, / tool, / stuff you have the more time spent in upkeep, / maintenance, / to the point of no return,
Many start with a plan for a peaceful simple life and generate so much minutia in the process of "keeping it simple" they run back to the city overwhelmed and disheartened.
 
Jenny Jones
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Bill Haynes wrote:Dunno how much "Plenty of money" is but.......

The further you are from a civic center the cheaper small acreage will be. After 100 acres its no longer "small".

For best bang for your buck,

Look for developed water, water well drilling is a crapshoot and you can spend $60,000 in a heartbeat and still wind up with dry holes, lousy water or inadequate flow.

Look for flat usable land, hillsides are cheaper for a reason. a flat terrace on a mountainside is good.....a mountainside will make you sweat for every day you own it. the steeper the cheaper, and less useful with every degree off horizontal.

If possible look for a structure / plan to the development of the buildings, lots of farms "grew organically" and they are a pain to move around on ....usually things are too close together to afford good access with trucks / tractors-trailers.
Buildings built close together are a fires dream, 50' plus between buildings give you a beggars hope of containing a fire. Worst combination a tight cluster of buildings on a rough hillside is almost completely indefensible, in the face of a windblown fire.

Look for large sturdy structurally sound buildings, homesteading takes a lot of space and if you jam everything into small quarters you'll spend more time finding things than working with them. Old and dirty is fine, avoid mold like the plague. Not that every mold is toxic...its just a sign of long term neglect.

Neighbors are a mixed blessing, neighbors that lend their tractor, watch your animals, and fetch needed supplies from town are a delight....neighbors whose goats eat your truck garden, shriek so loud they keep you awake at night, and shoot random things at random times...not so much.

On a practical note...make county tax structure an exclamation point in your search. all government is parasitic, and the counties only method of revenue is taxation, every improvement guarantees a heavier toll on your wallet and no improvement will be overlooked. Ten years of steady development can extract a brutal, never ending, ever increasing, burden that will ensure you struggle to keep it when your on a fixed income......

And a final edit to add, The more you can do with less tools / equipment the better. It's unreasonable to build the Taj Mahal with a Leatherman but the more equipment, / tool, / stuff you have the more time spent in upkeep, / maintenance, / to the point of no return,
Many start with a plan for a peaceful simple life and generate so much minutia in the process of "keeping it simple" they run back to the city overwhelmed and disheartened.



All such amazing advice. Seems a bit intimidating when you put it that way though. haha. But is is practical and I know it isn't easy by all means.
 
Jenny Jones
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Location: Fort Worth, TX
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Ash Jackson wrote:Hey Jenny,

Thanks for sharing your experiences here on Permies. As a fellow rookie-homesteader, I think it's important for us to post our own experiences, as well.

I can relate to much of what you describe.  


One thing that is working for me is to find a place where I can go do some of the homesteading stuff. You said y'all already went wwoof'ing; which steals my first piece of advice. Maybe there's more places y'all can go so you can start working on it? The place I've gone is Wheaton Labs (present tense, because I've twice returned, and plan to go again).


Another thing that is working for me is the SkIP program. For me, working on the badge bits has given me a way to start building experiences. Even while living at a rental house. And for me, experiences displace doubt.

On re-reading this, I realize this is just two flavors of the same advice (find a way to do it). I hope you're able to find something that works for you.



Almost went to the Lab but it didn't work out. Coming from Texas the flight was so costly. Hopefully I can try again in the near future. I am researching the SKIP and am trying to wrap my head around the lingo. It seems so complicated. Why is there another language for everything? I have no idea how to get started...
 
Jenny Jones
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S Bengi wrote:Can you describe the dream. I assume a part of the dream is to grow your own herbs and green leafy vegetables (around 1/4 acres). That same 1/4 acre can also have your bee hive and chicken coop. Maybe you want to have some bulk calorie tubers and such another 1/4 acres and you should be golden. A 1/4 acre fish pond would supply you with alot of fish, but you could also try a sub-optimal aquaponic system if you like. You can also plant alot of berries on say another 1/4acres that will provide you with an harvest in a year or less.

You can probably lease the above acre of land for a few hundred dollars a year. Or you can buy it with a 5yr payment plan. I think that you can probably find a owner-financing 2 acre plot of land for sale, for a nice price and payment plan. You just have to be on the lookout for a year or so.

The next part of the dream probably involves zone 1, that is food preservation, less fast food, food-grade cleaning supplies, organic clothing, reduced waste stream, etc. Those you can actually start doing now.

Then there is the house support system: Water source, Water purification, septic system, greywater system, HVAC, and electrical system/solar/etc

I am not too sure if your dream also include also being a house, from say more natural materials with less glues and plastics.


Alot of folks who want to get started quickly they might get some land and an RV and just jump right in, but it does come with some challenges ,esp if you are doing it alone


The dream:
Starting out with at least 1 acre (would like 5 of course) and with it being just me, I need a livable home as I would not be able to do a lot of repairs or fix up. Fenced in property would be nice. I know how important it is to have water or good water source. Shady as well as flat open land to plant. I can see goats, chickens, bees, maybe a pig or two and some dogs. I want them for love and enjoyment, not source of income. At least to start.
I have been searching. I just ordered some seeds online. I do need to research food grade cleaning supplies and focus on buying more organic.
Thank you for the advice. Very helpful!
 
Jenny Jones
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Rebecca Blake wrote:I also have that same dream and no land of my own!

One thing I did to get myself prepped and ready for full time homesteading was sign up for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

A CSA is where you pay the farmer in advance for a eason's worth of produce. They'll give you on a weekly or biweekly basis what they harvested that week. This has allowed me to get used to the seasons in my area (i.e. see what vegetables are harvested when). I'm also expanding my expertise in the cooking now that I have to cook with what I have, what's in season, rather than any and everything from the grocery store! Okra has become a new staple in this home... I even found a way to get the guys to love it! I'm also enjoying finding new recipes through my particular CSA's website.

Speaking of my particular CSA, I see that you are in the Fortworth area. While I live in New Braunfels, the CSA I purchase from is based out of Austin and even delivers all the way up there! It was also inspiring for me to read their story of how they grew from a backyard farm to having 100s of acres.

You can check them out here: https://jbgorganic.com/

I'd highly recommend you sign up! I'm thoroughly enjoying it. If you do sign up with this particular farm, do send me a message because you can get a week's worth of produce for free if you use my referral code!

And I'll be honest, I originally signed up for this after the grocery stores got wiped from the initial covid scare. Now I know that if something like that happened again, at the least I can count on getting my vegetables from my CSA!

Best of luck on your dream!



Rebecca, very awesome advice. I just looked at the site and it is lovely! Thanks for the share. If I order I will contact you for the code.
 
Ash Jackson
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I hear ya, SkIP can be a lot to take in at first.

Getting started can be as simple as sweeping the floor... or "watering" some plants. Here's a poll of the Badge Bits (BB's) people think are easiest: https://permies.com/t/146515/Badge-Bits-BB-easiest-Apple


I hope you're able to make it up to Wheaton Labs on your next foray. I always have good luck with kayak for finding my flights.
 
Jenny Jones
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Ash Jackson wrote:I hear ya, SkIP can be a lot to take in at first.

Getting started can be as simple as sweeping the floor... or "watering" some plants. Here's a poll of the Badge Bits (BB's) people think are easiest: https://permies.com/t/146515/Badge-Bits-BB-easiest-Apple


I hope you're able to make it up to Wheaton Labs on your next foray. I always have good luck with kayak for finding my flights.



So we do a thing and post a picture of us sweeping the floor? haha or do we just reply, Hey I swept the floor! - BB. Who keeps track? Is it just for fun or do we log it somewhere? I might need a mentor. haha
 
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Hey Jenny - I am a Jenny too and we are awesome, so never ever forget that!!!

I am also starting out on the homesteading dream.  Currently living with family on their parcel of 7 acres of wooded, northern exposure cliffs in the Pacific NW.  Very pretty, but the post above saying that "a mountainside will make you sweat for every day you own it"... WOW it is so very true!  It has been very discouraging.  I can find information on how wonderful forests are and how to make our gardens more forest-like.  However, when I try to find how to grow food in a forest that already exists with 8 months of exactly 0 direct sunlight anywhere on the property... yeah, there is not much out there...  I dream of acres of flat, sunny land with maybe a gentle southern exposure slope where I can feel the sun all throughout the year... **deep sigh**

BUT THE SILVER LINING for me is that folk-herbalism exists!!!  Everywhere on this beautiful Earth there are plants that we can use for medicine or food or simply joy!  I can work with the trees on our property (Doug Fir is what I am showcasing here) to make salve that smells lovely, is a wonderful remedy in place of nasty chemical-ridden Vap-o-Rub, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment any time I look at it.  My young children enjoyed harvesting the sap from our tree and were at it for almost an hour making a great family activity.  We have also gathered cottonwood buds to make Balm of Gilead which is heaven in a jar for leg cramps

This answering post is probably not as technically helpful as others, and I am a newbie here for sure (my first post, actually!), but the thing that everyone is saying is so true - find ONE thing you can do and do that thing.  Honestly, I spent so many years spinning in circles trying to figure out how to make everything work for my farm dream... 2 failed gardens and a failed flock of chickens later, I just felt really dizzy and sad.  However, having this one thing I can dive into has been the grounding that I needed the most.  Now I am making all kinds of herbal remedies and having a great time.  At the same time, I feel like I can do research into all the homesteading farm stuff for my dream rather than feel guilty or overwhelmed at all the reasons that I can't do the things I am dreaming of.  

It doesn't have to be herbs.  Although, if you have an interest in herbs I so highly recommend getting a book by Michael Moore on the subject:
https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Moore/e/B001K7VAD8/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1!
or this super amazing primer on herbal preparations by James Green:
https://www.amazon.com/Herbal-Medicine-Makers-Handbook-Home-Manual/dp/0895949903/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=james+green+herbalism&link_code=qs&qid=1600237229&sourceid=Mozilla-search&sr=8-1&tag=mozilla-20 ).  

Anyhoo, find your grounding in ONE thing to work on that you can do right now, especially if you love doing it.  That is the foundation to build the homestead of your dreams.  Afterward, you can take everything one step at a time.  
 
Jenny Jones
Posts: 57
Location: Fort Worth, TX
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Jenny Pear wrote:Hey Jenny - I am a Jenny too and we are awesome, so never ever forget that!!!

I am also starting out on the homesteading dream.  Currently living with family on their parcel of 7 acres of wooded, northern exposure cliffs in the Pacific NW.  Very pretty, but the post above saying that "a mountainside will make you sweat for every day you own it"... WOW it is so very true!  It has been very discouraging.  I can find information on how wonderful forests are and how to make our gardens more forest-like.  However, when I try to find how to grow food in a forest that already exists with 8 months of exactly 0 direct sunlight anywhere on the property... yeah, there is not much out there...  I dream of acres of flat, sunny land with maybe a gentle southern exposure slope where I can feel the sun all throughout the year... **deep sigh**

 



Hi Jenny! Yes, I agree. We ARE awesome. haha!
It is funny, I am in Texas and would die for tree coverage. But I see how everything looks greener on the other side. So I will embrace the flat land and soak up the hot sun.
I will definitely look into the herbs. I just bought a lot of seeds and am ready to get my hands dirty. Thanks for the information, I will check it out for sure. I love having more book referrals! Good luck on your family homestead. Would love to see pictures.
 
pollinator
Posts: 322
Location: OK High Plains Prairie, 23" rain avg
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It is good for a person to know if they are a magical thinker. For example, I think it would be wonderful to live on the North end of my property where the sky is darker and a county road is not right on top of me, but there is no electricity there. I think to myself that will be okay, I don't have to have electricity, I can wash my clothes in a bucket and I don't really need a refrigerator. After about 2 years of thinking this I finally realize I really really want a washing machine and air conditioning when it's 100° for 3 and 1/2 months in the summer! And if I have to live on top of a county road to get it I will. But, it took me 2 years to figure out what was true for me. So now I know that I am prone to magical thinking and I have friends now whom I can run my decisions by and they will tell me if that sounds reasonable or not. So, if you don't know yourself very well before you start homesteading, you sure will afterwards!
 
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