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Looking for advice: Moving to new land and homesteading.  RSS feed

 
Liam Cook
Posts: 3
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Hello everyone, just found this forum and there seem to be many knowledgeable people here, so I thought I would ask some questions. Fair warning - big post!

First a little history on me: I'm 28, have lived all over the east coast (currently in KY), and have become disinterested in city life and living with rent or jobs where it seems like you are just treading water, and want to make a change. I've been researching the idea of going out into the wilderness, building my own home, and attempting to become self-sufficient. At the moment, it would be safe to say that I have very little to nothing as far as tools or equipment to make this change, but one thing I have in abundance is time. I figure if over the next 2 years or so I focus on obtaining items or property, I could get myself into a great place.. if I do it right. Luckily I have managed to stay totally debt free, and am single so I can put all of my resources to one thing without worrying about the family side of stuff. I work, but like most people my age make very little money, and have no savings.. but the kind of lifestyle I am hoping for won't cost much (I hope!)

So far my plan is thus:
- Get a truck (looking at Ford F150)
- Get tools like wood working, general tools, farming implements
- Find land (more on this later)
- Move on out there, build a house, hunt/grow food, live a nice life.

I have a bit of carpentry skills, but am sorely lacking in many areas (hunting, gardening) which I will be training myself how to do over the next few years. I want to live in the northeast US, probably looking most closely at New Hampshire right now.

Land Questions:
- Best place to put down roots? (VT, NH, Maine are top pics)
- Close enough for power/internet, far enough for peace/quiet
- Possibility of splitting owned land (smaller acreage near a town for house + garden, larger plot of forested area for lumber + hunting further away)
- What to look for (water, soil, sunlight, wind, etc.)
- What taxes, regulations, bureaucratic nonsense to look out for
- Family has a house near North Conway, NH. so possibly getting a smaller plot near there, and larger forested area in Coos county?

Equipment Questions: I hope to make most of my income off of wood, either firewood or milled lumber off my land..
- Vehicle (looking to trade in my car for F150 atm, would be net cost of around $2k)
- Temporary living while I build home (just a campsite? or get a trailer or something?)
- Tips on things needed to build home
- Chainsaw milling like This good idea or bad idea?
- Solar or wind.. worth it?
- If no town water/sewer, what to do? I know there are compost toilets and rain cisterns and such.. will that be enough?
- How much of a garden is needed to feed 1 person (will hunt also) or possibly more if I get married or w/e in the future, and what tools are needed?

Other Q's:
- What can I do in the meantime to train my skills? (will be making a garden and learning to hunt)
- Anything glaringly obvious I overlooked?
- Idea of how to get started, specifically pertaining to the fact that I will be getting a plot w/o house (cheaper) and building one.. which will take time.

For the near future I mostly need advise on what type of truck to get, as I'd be building my own home, and hopefully milling my own lumber (and may need to haul it a ways) I figured a larger-ish truck would be nice. I was looking at the F150 because my car should trade in for 7.5-8k, and if you look at like 10 year old F150's (4x4, towing setup) they can be around 8-10k, so I wouldn't be down much. I also want to buy everything I need before looking for land because that way I can use them, get comfortable with them, and then move out to the land sooner. I do have an old trailer of my dad's that he was going to get rid of, so at least I'll have that to haul stuff.

I am aware that it's a rather large post, but I've been researching quite a bit, and any advise I could get would be more than welcome. NH seems lovely and the taxes low, and the homesteading or more rural lifestyle strikes a chord in my heart as a perfect way to live. Ideally one plot of land with power/cable would be the best fit, but I was wondering your thoughts on getting 2 pieces of land and hauling wood back and forth instead as far as whether it seems like a good idea or not.

Thanks in advance!
 
R Scott
Posts: 3349
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
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First, welcome to the asylum!

Next, look at an F-250. I made the mistake of buying a half ton and then moving to a farm. It will work, but a heavy-duty truck will last a lot longer hauling stuff on fire roads. Long bed.

For the land, the big dollar things are water, access, and power. In that order. Water is critical for a self sufficient homestead. It gets crazy expensive to get it if you don't have it already. A spring high on a hill above where the house goes is ideal. Running water for the cost of some pipe and a spring box, no pumps or power needed. Building roads are expensive and a red tape nightmare in some places. Power is nearly a tie, but minimal solar systems will get most people by. Having the power company bring in line costs you dollars per FOOT so it adds up fast.
 
Freddie Orcut
Posts: 25
Location: New England
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Not sure how much my words will help, however I was looking in Maine for a long time(still am-kind of). My reason for turning away is simply the grow season. I aspire to produce 75% of food and trade barter for rest of my needs with local homesteaders. For that I will need a longer spring/fall season. Primary target is Eastern TN, secondary is SW Virginia.
Maine- CHEAP once you get into the Bangor area and north. Also north west from Skowhegan. I was told Bangor and Skowhegan are druggy cities by multiple Mainers. If you are an hour out obviously this is no issue. If you don't mind a short grow season and tons of snow and cold, look at Dover-Foxcroft area. That is decent proximity for hospitals/ farmers markets, etc. About 50 thousand and you can get property with a brook or small farm pond along with a small camp with a woodstove. I have done extensive research and I can't find a camp with more than 10 acres for less than 50k there. Also, if you don't live full time on the property it is possible that a logger will come steal all your hardwoods and destroy your land. Or you yourself could buy large acreage and sell the hardwood to make pasture space.
NH- I can't speak for it other than it is beautiful. A bunch of rude people from Mass seem to have relocated there (more towards Southern NH) so I would advise visiting for a few months prior to purchasing to make sure you have friendly neighbors.

Vehicle- Any 4x4 if you have a trailer should be good. I have a 97 Toyota 4runner and that things 4x4 is outstanding! She is 18 years old so i find I have to fix things here and there. Just did valve cover gasket (pass side, EASY!) yesterday, and doing the oil change shortly. I am a Mustang guy and I also like the old F100's and 90's F150's. Newer cars are getting ridiculous to work on with how tight their engine compartments are and all the computers they are putting in them. If you are handy and can learn fast, an older car may be the right way to go if it has a good body. Be prepared to battle rust until it falls apart up here in New England. SALT SALT SALT from the coast does it's toll on cars here. Cleaning the undercarriage will be a yearly ritual if you want it to last.

I hope some of this information is useful and helps stir the brainstorming a bit. Sorry I don't have more on NH.
 
John Wolfram
Posts: 652
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
21
trees
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Liam Cook wrote:Luckily I have managed to stay totally debt free, and am single so I can put all of my resources to one thing without worrying about the family side of stuff. I work, but like most people my age make very little money, and have no savings.. but the kind of lifestyle I am hoping for won't cost much (I hope!)

It's not a homestead, but at my orchard just about everything has taken twice as long as I had hoped and cost twice as much. Before you become tied to a particular area you may want to consider trying to get a one or two year position that will let you save up a nest egg for your homestead. For example, a year or two in North Dakota might let you save enough to buy land outright and get you through a year or two without any income from your land.
 
Liam Cook
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R Scott wrote:...look at an F-250. I made the mistake of buying a half ton and then moving to a farm. It will work, but a heavy-duty truck will last a lot longer hauling stuff on fire roads. Long bed.
...

I actually just found a 1994 F-250 with 74k miles for $6k.. might be old but if it looks good and mostly rust-free that might work (I could actually get money on trade-in and put that towards land or w/e)! thanks for the advise!

John Wolfram wrote:It's not a homestead, but at my orchard just about everything has taken twice as long as I had hoped and cost twice as much. Before you become tied to a particular area you may want to consider trying to get a one or two year position that will let you save up a nest egg for your homestead. For example, a year or two in North Dakota might let you save enough to buy land outright and get you through a year or two without any income from your land.

My uncle owns a cabin in NH, so was perhaps considering moving there if it's vacant and getting a job so I can look at land in the area. I wasn't going to do something like an orchard probably, just use trees for lumber or firewood for profit (though on my home site I might set up a couple apple trees). I am hoping it will only take about $10-15k to get started as far as tools and equipment, I certainly hope it doesn't cost $30k!

Thanks for the replies, it's helping my research quite a bit!
 
Liam Cook
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Oh, also wondering what you guys thought about BCS Tractors instead of a rider mower or legit monster tractor.. They seem to have many uses, and lots of modules.
 
John Wolfram
Posts: 652
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
21
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Liam Cook wrote:Oh, also wondering what you guys thought about BCS Tractors instead of a rider mower or legit monster tractor.. They seem to have many uses, and lots of modules.

I use a Grillio (http://earthtoolsbcs.com/) walk behind tractor and it is great for a couple acres.

From what I can tell, Grillo is just about the only competition right now for BCS in the walk behind market. If you are mechanically inclined, you could look into getting an older (30 year old?) Gravely off Craigslist with a bunch of implements for a fraction of the price of a new one. One nice thing about walk behinds is that they can get into tighter spaces and are better on inclines. If you tip over a BCS tractor you might damage some rubber and metal while if you tip over a full size tractor you are looking at damaged flesh and bone. Of course, with a smaller tractor comes limitations and things take longer. For example, last year I was bush hogging a rather wild area (old brush on the ground and weed trees over my head) with the Grillo and was lucky if I could get half an acre done in a day.
 
Will Meginley
Posts: 115
Location: Concord, New Hampshire
6
food preservation forest garden hunting tiny house trees woodworking
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Liam Cook wrote:
- Possibility of splitting owned land (smaller acreage near a town for house + garden, larger plot of forested area for lumber + hunting further away)


That sounds like the best idea to me personally. I understand the desire to not be IN town, but proximity is important. Self-reliance is good, but you'll still need to buy stuff, and if you need to get a job during the establishment phase you'll save a LOT of gas money and widen your options. And few people buy lumber or firewood over the internet, so if you want a "market" it helps to be near the market.

You should also know going into it that making a living off of timber (or any other primary industry) is not very lucrative. To make any kind of a profit selling wood you need to get your land dirt cheap, and you'll need a lot of it. You might be able to coppice enough firewood for your own household on three or four acres, but you'll need a lot more than that if you plan to sell much. Dirt cheap land that's not way out in the sticks is very hard to come by in most places, especially in large parcels.

Liam Cook wrote:
- What to look for (water, soil, sunlight, wind, etc.)
- What taxes, regulations, bureaucratic nonsense to look out for


Whole books have literally been written on these questions. The permaculture design manual is a good one. I also like Ben Falk's resilient homestead book. His farm is in Vermont, so the book is particularly applicable to cold climate permaculture. Since you have a couple years, before you invest in tools I would invest in knowledge.

Liam Cook wrote:
- Temporary living while I build home (just a campsite? or get a trailer or something?)


If by "just a campsite" you mean "a yurt with a rocket mass heater and an enclosed pit toilet not far out the door," then, yes that'll probably do. Be prepared to spend at least one winter on your property before the home is complete, unless you're building a one room shack -or willing to rent an apartment in town for the winter. Stuff happens, particularly when you're trying to build a house in your spare time - alone. And one thing that all of those places have in common - winter is COLD!


Liam Cook wrote:
- Chainsaw milling like This good idea or bad idea?


Seems like it would work okay if you're just milling a tree or two every once in a while. I'd opt for something a bit less minimalist if I wanted to produce lumber at the quantity or speed necessary to build a home or run a business. I'm looking into building one of these, myself. Make one of those in the 20ft trailer version and get you a quality large displacement chainsaw and you could have a good portable sawmill up and running for about $3-4k.

 
Jan Cooper
Posts: 63
3
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What To Look For:
Just make sure BEFORE buying land that you go to the county zoning, have them pull a map and talk to them , ask them- how easy it is to develop in this area. Some real estate agents lied about a landslide area! If I hadn't checked and had bought it, our county would have come by and kicked me off even though it would have been a camper due to the extreme danger. I would have lost the property money and have had no place to live. If you see giant mole lines or a zipper running across land, the land is moving down the hill.
Always check with another source what people are saying. Like one well driller was 3 times as expensive as another, keep checking so you get the best you can. The cheaper drill had a wait time of 4 months, but was older and had done it longer.
Furthermore, dig a hole, see if the water you put in drains or sits. Or a back hoe and see if there is a high water table, if so, fruit trees die and septic become a financial mess.
Check the sun pattern, you need light all day. Hills that block sun in a valley makes for a cold home site, and the shade makes it really hard to grow food. I prefer a south or west sloping site for solar and warming up the soil.
 
Jan Cooper
Posts: 63
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In the extreme drought in some areas, springs are going dry. Well drilling here may not always hit water. One man here dropped the cost of 6 wells and gave up, but he paid a high price for land and drilling. His funds ran out.
Best to buy land with a working, strong well that is unless where you are looking has a high water table and the water is found most every time.
 
Hans Harker
Posts: 115
Location: Chcago IL
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Liam Cook wrote:
I actually just found a 1994 F-250 with 74k miles for $6k.. might be old but if it looks good and mostly rust-free that might work (I could actually get money on trade-in and put that towards land or w/e)! thanks for the advise!



I like the older trucks. You can do a lot of maintenance and repairs yourself. The older 7.3 ford diesel engine is reliable and good for running vegetable oil. 4x4 would be a much better choice for a farm - in case it's not obvious
 
Skjoldr Draugarson
Posts: 17
Location: Western PA
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As mentioned above, I second the fact that if you are planning on doing this in a couple years [or even tomorrow] the best thing you can do is gain as much knowledge as possible. You will find out that knowledge will save you a lot of time and money because you won't get caught up on buying unnecessary supplies, tools, etc. and save you from breaking tools & wasting supplies through improper use or care. Your mind is the best tool you can have for the homestead in my opinion, so power it up and make it as strong as possible and you won't regret it. You my even figure out some really innovative concepts experimenting!

I also would say, don't be afraid to jump right in and get your hands dirty [Necessity is the mother of invention and all that]. There are plenty of small skills that you can learn to become adept at now before you get your homestead that will be a great help once you are there.
 
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