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How I went from rat race to homestead with no savings or money.

 
Posts: 12
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hugelkultur
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Few people are truly trapped, so true.
This is making me think. There is an old farm down the road, part for sale and at risk to me. Maybe the owners would allow me to rent the land in exchange for a permaculture farm. Hmmmm.
Are those Hugulkulture beds by the way? So glorious!
 
Posts: 115
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
10
dog trees greening the desert
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I am still in the beginning stages of this. when I was young and dumb credit cards got me along with student debt for a computer science degree that I don't really even us cause I just got tired of programming all day long. I joined the army in 06 and while in the army my dad passed away and he had land in different areas and I used insurance money that I obtained from his death and payed that land off and most of my debt down. After getting out of the Army I continued with getting a communications job up in Wyoming and after 2 years got tired of spending 750 on rent for a 2 bedroom apartment and then nearly 300 month on food plus paying 900 on my loans and credit cards from college so I finally moved back to the county I finished High school and where my 30 acres. That was 3 years ago but I finally moved on my land this January once I got most of the electrical issues fixed and water well working again. So now I am on my true path to getting where I can be debt free and while improving my land as I go making it where I can work less for someone else and be able to work for myself more. I am just ready to be finished paying debt and get to paying more on my stability. So not truly out of the rat race I am almost there. I am also tempted to allow a few others to move on my land and for their rent I will us the money to buy the equipment to help speed up my land dream.
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Really inspiring,
Thank You
 
Posts: 16
Location: Northeast Utah zone 6B
forest garden solar greening the desert
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This has been an awesome read.

I am in a similar situation with little in the way of resources/cash and with debt I am trying to get rid of.
Gives me hope that my plans at least have a chance of working.  

In the area I live in there is a ton of land available.
Some of it easily attainable (5-10 acre lots @$250 down/$250 month) but you are paying a premium per acre (nearly $10k/acre).
There are other plots of varying size that come up for sale at better prices but not always a owner financed situation which is what we need.

My goal, for whatever land we buy, will be to have it paid off within a 5-6 year period.
So still looking, praying and hoping.
 
pollinator
Posts: 307
Location: South Central Michigan Zone 6
42
dog forest garden fish hunting tiny house food preservation
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Scott Reid wrote:This has been an awesome read.

I am in a similar situation with little in the way of resources/cash and with debt I am trying to get rid of.
Gives me hope that my plans at least have a chance of working.  

In the area I live in there is a ton of land available.
Some of it easily attainable (5-10 acre lots @$250 down/$250 month) but you are paying a premium per acre (nearly $10k/acre).
There are other plots of varying size that come up for sale at better prices but not always a owner financed situation which is what we need.

My goal, for whatever land we buy, will be to have it paid off within a 5-6 year period.
So still looking, praying and hoping.



Keep it up man, you got a good plan.

We have since had an issue with the local authorities on our old property,last summer we basically had to pack up and go. It was perfect timing because we literally found the perfect property for the price. We moved in in October, and have been fixing it up all winter, and now have the garden coming along and seeds starting in the basement. We have several feet of topsoil with over 5% organic matter without having added any compost yet. We are truly grateful and feel the hard work has begun to pay off. A lot of this is possible by not having any debt, we didn't go to college, instead I learned a trade. I actually only have a 9th grade education on paper, I was a drop out because I felt like school was just a prison forcing me to become a worker ant. I am no fucking ant. So this high school drop out got ahead of the game by working my ass off and learning as much as I could about life. Utilized the internet, libraries, and plenty of books. Offered to go work on other's farms for free for a day just to try and pick up some techniques.

You are on a good path, just keep up the hard work. I find myself being bogged down by laziness at times, but burnout happens in this business. Just gotta get over the hump. Thanks for the inspiring words.
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pioneer
Posts: 93
Location: Monticello Florida
12
homeschooling forest garden foraging chicken wofati food preservation wood heat homestead
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Wow... That sounds really simple. I'm planning on something like that after high school and it seems pretty intimidating. That helped a lot. What "homework" did you do? Rent prices, markets, or what?
 
Posts: 46
Location: Northernmost California
3
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Travis, you are a DOer! Love what you have made by and for yourself. I would love for anyone with equal roll-up-sleeves and DIG in attitude to do exactly what you did, but in my area. Just like you found your original 'shared' acreage, there is MANY such options here. I[m past the heavy lifting stage myself, but I do see several unused acreage options here (northernmost California) that could be approached just like you did there. Your gain in experience and thrifty living with full return payback is a 'ticket' that sadly way too few see let alone GO FOR.

I do hope that your posting here will get those happy few off their desk chairs and out playing with dirt.

This thread is a few years old, how about an update? (further inspiration?!)
 
Travis Schulert
pollinator
Posts: 307
Location: South Central Michigan Zone 6
42
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Well, here we are 3 years later... my wife is full time on the farm, crushing it, and loving life. I split my time between the farm and my family construction company, which I love doing both and not just one or the other.

I have 9.5 acres that now have poly culture planted swales and berms. A half acre intensive market garden that pays all the bills, plus my wifes income, and after everythings paid still puts money in my pocket.

It took only the first 2 weeks of market this spring (2019) to pay for the years farm investments. We are completely killing it weekly at the farmers market. We only do one market a week and its paying very well. We stuck it out, and were finally making good money doing this. I say "good money" but for many living in the modern world it would barely be enough to get by, but for us we live good on it. Because we spent the last 7 years building a frugal, simpler life.

For the market garden- I used 20 year landscape geotextile fabric, and a fully automated drip irrigation system. We applied this to a no-till garden. Yes I know there are other ways to do it, and other ways to make money without using any plastics of any kind, and I encourage you to go out and be the example needed to show you dont need any plastic to be productive. But let me tell you we battled weeds and native rhizomes for 5 years, spinning our wheels. The first year on our new property, we tried doing the 20 year fabric and drip irrigation, this literally quadrupled the profits, for about half the work load as previous years. It literally saved our garden because I dont know how long I'd be able to farm and not make a good enough profit. But, that was my decision to use plastics on a half acre of my 10 acre poly culture food forest. But that half acre literally pays for the other 9.5 acres, and paid to have almost 500 trees planted in the last 2 years, another 500 this fall...

For the other 9.5 acres- we have 450 feet roughly of river frontage, places to hunt and fish along the river, I've kept 7 acres of the 10 to be zone 4. Because I like wild forested spaces, and I can produce enough food on a smaller scale to not have to use the rest of the property for anything but forest plantings, hunting, and fishing. We have dozens of edible and medicinal species, which I'll rattle off a handful right now, but missing some:
Elderberry, hazelnut, paw paw,gingko, poplar, spruce, mulberry, apple, seaberry, rugosa rose, perennial clumping grasses, currants, serviceberry, and many more I cant think of at 5:30am. Most of which is thriving and surviving and growing quickly.

New outlooks: I hate to say it, but permaculture folks have left a very bad taste in my mouth in the last couple years. I considered myself a permaculturist since about 2008, I took Lawtons PDC. But then I started using landscape fabric on a half acre, which has upset dozens and dozens of people online, and many permaculture instructors have made it a point to attack us and our farm. It's kind of sad really, that we went through all this work, all this sacrifice, only to be booted out of the community because 5% of our paradise isnt perfection. And the catch 22, is our farm is called imperfect by them, and shunned because it doesnt resemble someone elses idea of perfection. Well, that my friends is a very subjective idea... perfection...

So, at this point, I've realized that most of the people criticizing farmers for not farming right, are mostly people who are still too scared to become farmers. I remember reading the "can you actually make money with permaculture" thread many years ago on this site, and I still wonder if you can.... the 9.5 acres of permaculture food forest are in their infancy stages, so many years before I'm picking fruit and nuts, instead of salad mix and broccoli. But the salad mix and broccoli (there are about 15 other crops we make money on) are what pays to continue "playing" permaculture. There are people out there "playing" farmer, I played farmer until I switched to something that kept the weeds down in my no-till garden... Now I am the farmer, we are farming, because we give the giant veggie farms at our market a serious run for their money. We have the premier quality product at our market, everyone else struggles to meet or match our quality, and we continue to sell out, year after year. We struggle to grow enough to meet demand, because people are thirsty for really high quality, really clean food.

The relentless frustrated criticisms by all the people out there in internet land finally got to me, and I quit trying to push my message online. People get hung up when they see the landscape fabric and cant look past it. At this point, I have lost a lot of faith in the permaculture world and movement, and I see it on the downword spiral. Mainly because of where it's gone, you have a handful of people making a lot of money in permaculture, and it's all being taken from the pockets of kids who have dreams of doing great things, but then they get out there and realize the world dont fart rainbows and unicorns. It's a tough world,you better be ready to make a good profit, without acquiring a shit load of debt, if you expect your farm to make it long term.

I have the beginnings of a permaculture food forest, in 10 years, most species will be producing, maybe then I'll write a book about how you need market gardening in order to subsidize the permaculture side of things. This is no fairytale world, there is no utopia. You can spend 30 years getting somewhere slowly with permaculture, or you could be there in 10 years by incorporating a half acre market garden into your permaculture... I was told by multiple permaculture educators that my methods and systems are a complete failure, and terrible advice. This has been thrown at me many many times now in the last couple years, whilst trying to promote my message and farm.

You tell me, was it bad advice for me? I went from being a high school drop out, with zero education and no money living in a trailer park. And 7 years later, I own 10 acres, very low monthly bills, my wife and I go out west to California and the mountains from Michigan in the winter on vacation, boondocking in our converted cargo trailer camper. We have a successful farm, dozens and dozens of super loyal happy customers that LOVE us and our food and remind us weekly of these facts... my wife is happier than shes ever been now that shes on the farm full time, and not pulling weeds for 14 hours a day just to make ends meet. We are living our best life, today, and you know what? I do not care if you think its permaculture or not... it doesnt matter at all, what matters is I produce shelter, food, and knowledge for others, I do this with minimal inputs, I do this while building topsoil and diversity, and I do this all while living a great life, seeing my country, and loving my wife. Our relationship is not strained because of a struggling farm...

Really, anyone can do it, for me it took breaking away from what I'd learned on this forum and elsewhere. And to just invest some money into things that will allow us to get ahead of the game, we did, and we won. We couldnt be happier, or feel more successful.  Permaculture is just a word, go make your own way, and your own life, who cares what other people call or dont call it.


One more note, look around the USA today, what do you see? Farms struggling and flooded, everywhere. Yet, we hlare having our best year to date, and the excess rain has only helped, because of well thought out design and layout of swales and garden beds.
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gardener
Posts: 2068
Location: West Tennessee
546
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Travis, I applaud you and your successes. Well done!

I’m relatively new to permaculture and I’ve learned that permaculture is a design. Nowhere in my reading here on Permies or in books have I found someone saying Permaculture is a prescription and here’s the right way to do it. The repeating message I read is considering the location, soil, topography, existing trees & plant life, etc., and incorporating that into design to capture resources like sunlight and rain, so inputs and work decrease as outputs increase as time goes forward. The design varies so wildly from location to location, with elements influencing factors so unique to one’s spot on the globe that what one person does in Vermont is unlikely to yield the same results when replicated in Florida, South Dakota, Australia, or Finland.

It never ceases to amaze me, even people in the permaculture and ecological agriculture community, that must poo-poo other peoples ideas, methods and techniques because it’s different from what they do or believe in.

It seems clear to me that you’ve found a way that works for you at your location and you are successful. Bravo Travis!
 
pollinator
Posts: 194
Location: Piedmont 7a
56
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Well said, Travis. Sounds like a lot of people feel entitled to “should” on you. Keep ignoring them, and keep enjoying your success. You have built a sweet life for yourself and your family, and provide healthy, delicious food to your community. Well done!
 
Huxley Harter
pioneer
Posts: 93
Location: Monticello Florida
12
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You're doing amazing Travis S. I believe you're right about starting with a market garden. It allows you to rent property until you can move on to more permanent plans. Thank you for sharing!!!
 
Posts: 388
Location: Roseburg, Oregon
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Don't let the naysayers get you down. I have tried to follow your posts closely as I am a few years behind you in a similar plan. You are an inspiration to some permies!
 
Tell me how it all turns out. Here is a tiny ad:
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