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Am I ready to make the leap?  RSS feed

 
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So I think I have found five acres for what my current savings plus tax refund next spring. However at that point I will have nothing left to invest in my new land. Hypothetically I could get the land now and keep living pay check to pay check and invest my tax refund each year in improving the land. I plan on doing mostf the work myself with the exception of building a small cabin and barn, for which I would have to hire someone to help. The property I am looking at is mostly timber and partial pasture. I have a vision of living in a tent over the summer and building a home some year ithe future when I can pay for building supples (mill, fuel, chainsaw not the wood itself). In the mean time I think I could afford some stock fence and build a small mini barn for goats and tractors for chickens etc as well as start a few hugel beds.
I have years of experience gardening and raising livestock from ducks to cattle and a little experience with traditional building methods. I am just so sick of the rat race of having to invest everything I earn into just making it through only one more month! I have heard time and time agin that I can not homestead. Homesteading is not for the poor, it takes a fortune to get by etc. well what about the settlers nd pioneers who actually homesteaded? They had to survive n grit and elbow grease? Is that not possible in today's world?
I just keep hearing so many people say its not possible to do what I dream of unless your rich, and the honest truth is I will never be anything but low income unless I am able to start some type of business. Right now I make only 20 k a year and barly have enough left after rent, bills and food to pay for my kids sports and hobbies. Does anyone manage to make it on a small farm with a small income? Has anyone started with rare land and built it not a sustainable home without investing hundreds of thousands of dollars? Thanks for the reality check!
 
pollinator
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The world is full of people that don't believe anyone can do anything. The Russian have a saying something like "you can't sit on the couch and spit at the ceiling and expect things to happen for you". You are ready to make the leap if you think you are, and you really want it. What is going to happen if you try? Will you starve? Worst case scenario, you try it and find out you can't make it, so you rent an apartment and start over with your old life. Best case scenario, you try it, find out you love it, and live out the rest of your days poor, free, and happy I can tell you that while I'm not self-sufficient and I still work a 40 hour a week job, I love my land, my gardens, my trees, and my animals, and I'm infinitely more happy than I was before I started down this path.
 
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Well its important to remember that you do need to observe your new property for a year. Figure out where water flows, wind blows and where sun and shade hit and when.
 
Posts: 618
Location: Volant, PA
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Are you single, got kids?

If you have a loved one that wants to leap too....Go for it!

If you have kids and their safety comes first......Go for it!

If you are single than by all means......Go for it!
 
pollinator
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My main concern is that in the US, apparently Child Protective Services can get weird if you try to raise your kids without a "proper home" - I think living in a tent might be considered "homeless." Otherwise, if you are young and healthy, and have some income to cover living expenses, you might as well be paying "rent" to yourself to build your own home instead of paying rent to some landlord.
 
Chadwick Holmes
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Location: Volant, PA
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Years ago at a campground, I had a family staying there in a tent. Protective services showed up, apparently they had been at another camp for some time. Point being that there is a time limit to children in tents, and that is probably different by state. Those people were warned and moved off camp in a week. It was right after the 2008 fall.....

But that is a good point Tyler made, do look into that.
 
pollinator
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Without knowing more details of your family situation, skills, assets, location, plans, the land, etc, it's pretty hard to say one way or the other.

However, I'd be thinking about added transport and tax costs. What will it cost you to buy and own this land now, even if you do nothing but observe it and pay the taxes? What will that do to your ability to save towards infrastructure costs?

I'd also be looking at property values; is this a screaming deal on a needle-in-haystack sort of parcel in an area where prices are trending up? Or is it fairly priced, with many comparables around, and the market is pretty flat?

Those two aspects, plus the kid-related points already made, would loom large in my decision.



A big part of how the pioneers survived, IMO, was the lack of regulation. The choice to live in a makeshift hovel with no power, well, septic, health care, etc, while you gradually improve things, has been taken away in many areas. The government is here to protect you from those living conditions... and they expect you to pay them to do so! (taxes, permits, fees...).

The cost of land was often near zilch; it was freshly stolen from the previous inhabitants after they were driven off, cheated, and/or killed. This is an 'advantage' that isn't widely available at the present time.

Another part of it is, well, sometimes they didn't survive. When the 'move to an apartment and continue with your citified life' was at best far less accessible, there was more in the way of consequences... and hence motivation, I'd think.


Todd Parr wrote:Worst case scenario, you try it and find out you can't make it, so you rent an apartment and start over with your old life.


This is not the worst case scenario. That would be more like, overextend yourself financially, find out you can't hack it as a homesteader and in the process overextend yourself physically, get sick/injured, lose your job, fail to get a new one in a timely fashion, lose the property to unpaid taxes... and assorted predictable bad stuff to taste. Sometimes there are more serious consequences to decisions than described.

I'm a big fan of an emergency fund; sometimes it's time to remember Montrose's toast, but sometimes it's better to remember what happened to Montrose.

James Graham, Marquis of Montrose wrote:He either fears his fate too much, Or his desserts are small, Who dares not put it to the touch, To win or lose it all!"


 
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Make up a business plan. Have it reviewed by a business man/women. Ask them to be honest with you. Ask them to tell you what they think the odds are that you will be a success. Ask them what they would tell their own mother if she wanted to invest in your venture. Do they think she'd ever get her money back.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Dillon Nichols wrote: Sometimes there are more serious consequences to decisions than described.



I think this is very important to remember. If you go into debt, and have not saved sufficient funds to move back to the city, you could end up truly homeless and destitute, and lose your kids.
 
Todd Parr
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Dillon Nichols wrote:
This is not the worst case scenario. That would be more like, overextend yourself financially, find out you can't hack it as a homesteader and in the process overextend yourself physically, get sick/injured, lose your job, fail to get a new one in a timely fashion, lose the property to unpaid taxes... and assorted predictable bad stuff to taste. Sometimes there are more serious consequences to decisions than described.



Maybe we read the OP differently. The way I read it, the OP has money saved for the land, and is planning to continue working for the same amount of money. It would be hard to overextend financially if you are using the money from your tax returns to finance your homestead projects and if you aren't borrowing from your current bill-paying money to make improvements on your land. If you pay as you go, you can't get very far behind. I don't see anything in the OP's post about going into debt to do any of this. Losing your property to unpaid taxes is a possibility, but people have recovered from far worse.

Losing your job is always a possibility, no matter if you are a homesteader, live in an apartment, or are CEO of a huge company making 6 figures. So is getting hit by a bus, having a heart attack, or living a long healthy life until you're 100.

I don't know what to tell you if you are working so hard at this that you are making yourself sick. I work hard on many of my projects and have physical labor to do every day, and pretty much all day on my weekends. I'm healthier for it. If a person is starting out with gardens, food forests and land projects, there are very few things that can't be put off if you are really tired and need a break for a day or two. Livestock of course changes that.

Life is always full of risks, and as I said in my original post, if you want to do something badly enough, you'll figure out how to do it. On the other hand, maybe homesteading is just something a person enjoys fantasizing about. That is fine too. The bottom line for me is that the world is full of naysayers and they are consistently proven wrong by people doing the exact things that the naysayers deem impossible. To each his own. Regardless, it's good that there are varying opinions in the thread. It gives the OP different perspectives from which to make the right decision. I don't have children, so my perspective reflects that. Young children should certainly factor very heavily into the decision.
 
Posts: 69
Location: upstate NY near MA/VT
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Oh contrare, I believe that homesteading is exactly right for the "poor." Why would we be so inspired if we had all the money in the world. Buy your land. Start from there. You can begin to slowly build what you need. Goats are especially easy with a livestock guardian and a good fence. Invest in cattle panels from tractor supply and you will never have a goat escape. I finally figured that out.

Welcome! Grow your garden, enjoy your tent. Make a composting toilet out of a plastic bucket inside a plywood box with a hole cut in the lid. Screw the toilet lid onto the lid of the plywood box, and fill your bucket with leaves or horse bedding wood pellets or rabbit cage cedar chips. All at tractor supply. Find four pallets, and tie them together in a box with hay bale twine. Dump your compost contents into the pallet box, and you'll save yourself a heap of pollution. See the book Humanure for more.

Save your compost from home, separating the goat and chicken edibles: apple cores, orange peels etc (if you have chickens more care is required as you know) from other compost, such as coffee grounds. Take them to your land every week or every day and build yourself a garden compost pile. Add leaves and grass clippings and manure to it. Pretty soon you'll have soil.

Meanwhile at home grow sprouts in your windows and eat them regularly. You will need the vitamins!

I have three years worth of articles on this very subject. See each back issue of the Honest Weight Food Coop's Gardener's Diary. Here's some articles. Look for titles such as Transgender Tales from the Garden (My Girl Llama is Really a Boy) and Bugs Slugs and Turning Nettles into Wine....from 2010 to 2013:

http://www.honestweight.coop/page/coop-scoop---2010-to-present-160.html

http://www.honestweight.coop/uploads/Scoop/1373056746_CoopScoop-2010-06.pdf

http://www.honestweight.coop/uploads/Scoop/1373056746_CoopScoop-2010-12.pdf

http://www.honestweight.coop/uploads/Scoop/1373056746_CoopScoop-2010-12.pdf


Have faith in your desire to homestead. You will succeed.

Jules




Jules
 
Chelle Lew
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Thank you all for the encouraging words! I do not plan on taking out loans or going into debt to homestead. I have no intention of quitting my job in child care either, I work part time at a preschool and am a nanny and babysitter as well. I might try to find work and apartment closer to the land so I can commute by bike instead of driving out from the city.
I was just hoping there's are still some folks who go for it one dime at a time. O in my most likely case one tax refund at a time, lol. Thank you for brining up the point about camping all summer with children! I had bother phathomed such a thing was against the law. I have spent nearly entire summers camping and on the road with kids and never had any problems, however I had an apartment I was wasting rent on while away.
Is it somehow illegal to live without modern ammenities? If so how dothe masses of Amish settlements go untouched! I was actually hoping to live ratherr primitivly once having a home built and possibly upgradign to electric and plumbing if those are things my kids want as they get older. It would take a couple more summers to get to the point where we could live on the land if I had to rent an apartment in addition to investing in the land. But in the long run it might be the logical decision to have a small apartment in town to live in while still spending the majority of the time on the land in the summer.
I have lived on a small scale far with no electricity and no running water for about five years and love every moment of it! We had a humanure loveable lou and the only time there was running water was when it was below zero and i wantd to get the bucket up from the hand drawn well before it froze over.
However my fiancé and I both quit our city jobs to move to the country and jump in head over heals. We took out loans and lost investments. After some unforeseen medical bills we ended up loosing the land contract we had on the Amish farm house. That place was my life and my dream all rolled into one. I lost my fiancé and my farm within a matter of weeks and had to return to the city. However this experience has left me knowing I can thrive off of my garden and animals, which previously were not a permaculturre design and kept us in healthy organic food. I was able to sell extra eggs, cheeses and produce to people who drove by and at small town markets as well. It was not enough to consider a job, but since I was running th ehomestead while he worked it did help make ends meet.
My plan is to buy the land this spring, put up a small garden and possibly a stock sheltere and pen depending on the predator situation and my ability to afford fencing. Perhaps a couple of whethers with horns or a hog, no birds or rabbits. Unless anyone thinks a goose would make it with attention only twice a week? Any animals would just be for meat in the fall as overwintering seems impossible without actually being there to attend to an animal. I have butchered and frozen my share of hogs, goats and birds but would like to try curing and canning this time around.
I hope I addressed the majority of the replies and thank you for readings my essay/introduction.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Because you don't intend to quit your job, I think you're in a good situation to go for the life you want to have. Having an income and not going into debt, are the two main things I tend to be concerned about. Looks like you have made those mistakes and learned from them!
 
Dillon Nichols
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Chelle, the additional info you've provided is very encouraging; I think you should go for it. Sounds like you're well equipped by past experiences to avoid pitfalls. Commuting by bike could be a great way to save money, or perhaps you could bike commute to work and save the gas for farm visits since you'd likely have more stuff to transport.

Practicality of untended livestock, as you note, is going to be closely linked to predator pressure... I haven't got any experience with geese, but they'd be less of a financial loss than larger creatures if it didn't work out. I'd be focusing on planting fruit/nut trees alongside the garden; great to get started early on this, and minimal care required once established...

The legality of living somewhere without modern amenities varies pretty wildly with location; if the municipality or district or whatever is serious about occupancy permits, and serious about not granting those without a permitted, inspected dwelling, then you might have hassles to deal with. If those hurdles don't exist or aren't enforced, then you're in good shape. If you're not officially living there, though, you're almost certainly golden; having an official residence elsewhere should be very effective at warding off official scrutiny.



Todd, by and large I agree with your points, but felt like some sort of cautionary viewpoint was needed. Yes, Chelle wasn't talking about loans, but as I read it was talking about spending down to near zero including money that hasn't arrived yet, and that carries risks.

I've not put myself in the sort of situation I describe, but I've known people who have. Start with an apparently workable plan with not a lot of wiggle room built in, and then things don't follow the plan. Perhaps the initial plan was unrealistic, or a partner bails, an investment sours, someone gets badly sick... and there is no reserve available to take up the slack. Working harder and harder to try and pull money from the farm while holding down a fulltime job can definitely wear someone out, to the point that continual exhaustion takes a toll on your mental acuity, and then your own poorly considered decisions make the whole situation harder.

I don't think the forum has a large population on the forum of people who burned out and failed; if things go that sideways, how would one find time for the forum? Plus, the general human disinclination to discuss ones failures. Doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
 
gardener
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To answer the question of the subject of the post, you need to question many things of yourself.

In your post you asked,

They had to survive n grit and elbow grease? Is that not possible in today's world?

This can be boiled down in many ways and in many questions to yourself, but the paste that results at the bottom of the pot is ultimately the same:

The question is, is it possible in your world? Everybody has a different definition of normal, a different set of values, a different set of goals, a different set of things that constitute what homesteading is, even. Do you have what it takes? Can you shift your paradigm back into this mode? Do you think that you have the grit and elbow grease? Homesteading is possible, but it's going to take a determined effort that is sustained. You may have it, but only you can figure that out. I can't see why you shouldn't give it a shot; you are not extending yourself beyond your means, are you?

You do have gardening and animal husbandry skills... so there's very little that you actually need to learn, which is huge. Yes you do have to pay for things, and that will always be, but you can earn money on your farm, and you can work away from your farm. You can do anything that you want. But you HAVE to want it. It seems you do. If you do, Go For It. Every risk needs to be weighed. Perhaps another year of scrimping and saving and being sick and tired of the rat race will bring a bit more of a safety net that you feel that you need; or perhaps you already feel that you are there, and you just need a bit of encouragement to take the leap over the chasm that claimed your last project. Only you can make that decision. There's a lot of really good thoughtful posts here, and Dillon's final warning in his second post can be accurate, for sure. Weigh the risks. Know yourself. Sit with the idea. Imagine it... from both sides.

All that said, I would hold off on having animals on the farm until you can settle on it yourself. Get your garden soil established and your fruit and nuts rooted, and set up a happy camp for you and your kids. Design your paradise (and... your retirement, maybe), slowly, as you get comfortable with making it happen again. Breathe. You can do this.

Perhaps you could look into collectively raising animals with people in the area who live on their land, without the being your sole responsibility, and so tied to your very reasonable fear of losing everything again.
 
steward
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Chelle, without knowing anything other than what you have already posted, I am thinking about what I would look into doing.


I am not looking for you to answer these questions on a public forum...just thinking out loud.



How far is the land from the places you need to get to...work, schools, stores etc? If you are able to get to everything you need easily, that is a plus. Living on the land has all sorts of plusses.

Will you have neighbors ? Have you met them? Are they like you ? What types of homes do they have? Do they have families? Will they be helpful or the type that will turn you in to child services?

What are the current codes /laws/ etc that govern the land? Can you get away with low tech /permaculture living or will you have to have all sorts of extra costs for things like septic and water? What have the neighbors been able to get away with?

Is the land hidden by trees so it is hard to see what is being done? Sometimes you can do a lot of things as long as you do not ask/ do not tell.

How much are you spending on rent? Could this amount be applied to a nice camper, modular or mobile home that could be placed on the land? Can you get a loan for this and pay it back with what you are already paying in rent?

The reality is that there are folks all over the world who live with very little. Seems to me that as long as you are keeping your family clean, fed and sheltered you are doing well and shouldn't have anything to worry about. BUT ...see #2 and #3 above.
 
Todd Parr
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:

All that said, I would hold off on having animals on the farm until you can settle on it yourself.



I would urge this also. It isn't fair to them to have animals if you aren't living there. There are too many chances of something happening and you not finding out for several days. What if an animal gets a leg caught in the fence, or spills their water, gets sick, or gets injured but not killed by a predator? Animals need to be checked on every day, and in my mind more than once a day if possible.
 
pollinator
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Chelle Lew : This video is part of a series and runs kinda parallel with what has happened to you; your break from homesteading was much more traumatic ( to You )

But you do have most of the skills and have had a chance or 10 thousand chances to figure out how to '' Work - Around '' the problems from last time.

See link below :



I am pretty sure you are ready, only you will now when is your next best time to '' just do it '' ! For the good of the Crafts ! Big AL
 
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Hi, all. I'm the woman in the video above. I rarely post on Permies but I've been lurking for years. More context for where I come from is that my mother wrote a book called The Encyclopedia of Country Living, and because of her I have witnessed homesteaders doing their homestead thing since before I could speak.

I've seen a lot of people start and then quit. Because it wasn't what they expected and they weren't prepared. Honestly I think it is not to the advantage of the individual would-be homesteader to engage the widespread cultural conceptions of homesteading, which come with embedded social controls.

Let me explain. If we think of homesteading as something that requires a great deal of money, skill, intelligence, endurance, or even perfect health, then it is only available to a very few people. The rest of us don't have permission. I think this is poppycock. There are two types of response to my public journey (and my mother's ahead of me) that I reject as vehicles of social control. One, if people tell me that homesteading would be easy if I were doing it right. Nope. Poppycock alert. I may have made a stupid choice, but that doesn't make me unqualified to be in charge of myself. Life isn't easy. Two, if people tell me that I'm so amazing and so strong and so powerful and they could never do the things I do. ... Again, nope. A great deal of global humanity carries water and chops wood. Romanticizing it reduces permissions as much as demonizing it, because still, life isn't easy. And if I jump into what I think was going to be a superhero life, and discover that I'm still my same old normal neurotic self, then I feel like a failure and I quit.

I try to shake those cultural constructs as much as possible and just remember that when you intentionally engage lifestyle change, you encounter things you haven't encountered before. That's kind of definitional, do you follow me? If you're trying to do something different, then you will be doing something different, and that will come with surprises, learning curves, etc. Some things will be what you expected, but for sure at some point at least one thing won't.

When I face those unknowns (along the lines of "am I ready to make the leap?" or "have I just made a terrible mistake?") I try to always ask myself, "Is this a social control?" Am I scared of going outside at night because I have been encouraged to be afraid of my own independence? Or is there actually a bear out there? If there is actually a bear out there, what does the bear want? Can I deflect the bear? Do I have the skills, resources and intelligence to handle this? Or do I need to get out of here, at least for a bit, to rest and recharge?

Likewise, with the issue of finances. Is this financial security risk that I'm taking something that actually endangers me? Or is it something that endangers my role in a social construct I'm trying to change? I think these are questions we are constantly asking, and if we train ourselves to ask again and again, then the freedom of "homesteading" is available in a number of different contexts, from urban to rural, affluent to completely broke.

Good luck, Chelle and everyone! Love y'all permies.

Esther
 
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Asking the question tells me you are ready. I have an option for you. I just closed on 12.7 acres. I am willing to let you use up to two acres at no cost to you. I will teach you and provide the tools and equipment you will need to build yourself a small cabin on skids. Instead of spending your monies on land and hiring others to get you started spend your funds on critters and raised bed gardens & seed. You will over time build various outbuildings. When you are sure this is what you truly wish to do, I will introduce you to people willing to finance you for as little a $3000.00 down at payments as little as $101.86 per month. We can then load your cabin, outbuildings and critters and move everything to your new home.
 
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