• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies living kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • raven ranson
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Julia Winter
garden masters:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • thomas rubino
  • Bill Crim
  • Kim Goodwin
  • Joylynn Hardesty
gardeners:
  • Amit Enventres
  • Mike Jay
  • Dan Boone

I Am Trying to Go Off-Grid (need advice please!)  RSS feed

 
Posts: 48
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
2/1/2016

About me:


I am a 23 year old male with a bachelor’s in Natural Resource Conservation. I have a solid knowledge base for ecology, permaculture, and sustainable agriculture. Sadly, I do not have a huge amount of experience actually implementing permaculture besides a few raised beds and planting fruit trees. But I am not very worried about this because I have faith that I can easily develop more permaculture skill.

I am completely disillusioned by how our society is run, the amount of work you have to do just to get by in the city, the way I am treated by my bosses, the general public, the quality of our food, how unsustainable this lifestyle is, etc.

I currently have $15,000 in the bank. By 9/2016 I should have $25,000 in the bank.
I am hoping this will be enough money to start a life for myself. I am willing to go into some amount of debt because I think starting the homestead at an early age will pay off later (E.G. fruit trees mature, property becomes more developed over time, land prices increase).

T minus 1.5 years until property purchase.

T minus 1.75 years until straw bale house construction starts.


I ask that anyone with experience give me advice on my off the grid concerns PLEASE.


Off the grid concerns

1. Money – 20k for the land, house (around 30k to 40k), building a driveway (unknown)
2. Permits – should be fairly easy to secure in the right county
3. Internet – a very valuable resource. Not willing to pay more than $40 a month for internet. I hope I can at least get cellphone internet.
4. Livelihood – worse comes to worse I work seasonally for the government, as I’ve been doing. Best situation would be starting my own cottage business or selling and cultivating food market gardener style.
5. Completing my straw bale building mostly on my own.
6. Leaving for extended periods of time – how hard is it to get someone to watch/stay on your property for free?

I am currently trying to make a step by step document for going off the grid.


House Blueprint Pictures (FYI there are bikini models in these house plans)


https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B55MmqEpXocHZTl0cy1ia00wLTg&usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B55MmqEpXocHckFaWmhXWkx2OFU&usp=sharing

Extra Information:

Property Checklist NECESSITIES:

1. I NEED A WOMAN WITH ME, TO KEEP ME COMPANY AND MAKE ME HAPPY
2. Lax building codes
3. Land is not next to significant sources of pollution
4. Safe neighborhood
5. Reasonable neighbors
6. Adequate rainfall
7. Able to grow 2 to 3 acres of produce
8. Few slopes
9. Able to have an access road that is NOT EXPENSIVE to build or maintain. Must think of road access COST
10. Not in a flood plane
11. Good southern exposure
12. Good building site
13. Decent soil
14. Decent surrounding area
15. Logical shape (E.G. not a skinny rectangle)
16. How much wind does it have? CAN’T BE TOO WINDY.
17. Rain shadow or dry area?
18. Fire history?
19. Flood history?

Watch out for:
1. Slopes over 20% are unusable for food production without serious modification
2. Monocrop fields, coal plants, meth heads, “bad” type of rednecks/fanatics
3. Flood planes
4. Easements/unpaid taxes
5. High wind areas
6. Temperature of the area
7. Any existing structures

Prefer:
1. Mature trees
2. A lot of privacy
3. 20 acres



Straw bale building specs 3.0


2 string Strawbales are 18 inches wide---- Definitely want these and not the larger ones!
3 string ones are 24 inches wide
Interior of the building will be 20x16
Exterior will be 23x19---due to the bales
Full second floor
Total space of 640 ft2


Homestead Tools/Cost List

See page 166 of Strawbale book for example house

Check out salvage yards first

Strawbale construction tools:
1. Stucco sprayer- $300
2. 1200 watt generator- $120
3. 3 tool nailer/stapler/compressor- $200
4. Hammer, ruler, basic saw- free
5. Miter saw- $120
6. Nails and staples?
7. Japanese hand plane (not NECESSARY but COOL and CONVIENIENT)
8. Hatchet – not NECESSARY
9. Chisel- not NECESSARY
10. Draw knife -not NECESSARY
11. $740

Materials:
1. 14, 16 ft 6x6s- $50----$700
2. 1x6s for floor—3 sq ft----320*3====$960
3. Metal roof 500 sq ft- 4 sf ft- $2,000 (WHITE ACTUALLY LOOKS NICE)
4. 24, 2x6x12s-$12------- $288
5. Strawbales-- $5-------560 sq+544 sq=1,104/3.5==315 bales= $1,577
6. Lime Plaster------1,104 *5= $5,520
7. Concrete Pad---- $500 to $4,300 (only entered in for $500)
8. Windows-----$1000---$781---100”x48”=8.3x12’----3 , 3ft circle pieces of glass $200*3= $600-----UPDATE PRICE
9. Total so far is ----$13,666
10. Toilet--- $50
11. Electric---5.50 a square foot---$3,520
12. Stove- $300
13. Solar system---1 kw- $2,500
14. Plumbing-- $500
15. Total so far is ----$20,536
16. Cement mixer---$170
17. American Clay, Enjarre, 80-Pound bag—150 sq ft*8—1,104 sq ft---- $680---- cheaper to make yourself??
18. 5 gallons of clay paint----$261 (seems like a ripoff)
19. Plaster trowel- $25
20. Mica flakes 16oz- $52
21. Total so far is—$21,724
22. Composting Toilet- $900
23. Rigid Floor insulation- $600 to $800 (r13)
24. Engineer fees- $1500
25. Total so far is $24,924



Permaculture:

1. Land--- $20,000
2. Tractor ( for land clearing, road building, pond building)--- $4700
3. White and black ---Elderberry 2 plants- $22---2 to 3 yrs.---15 lbs.—picky
4. Blueberry 4 plants- $40---- 2 to 3 years---10 lbs—highly acidic soil
5. Blackberry 5 plants- $50----- 1 to 2 years----10 lbs
6. Goji plant 2 - $32----2 to 3 years---4 lbs
7. Honeyberry 2- $35---1 to 2 years----1 to 10 lbs
8. Fig tree 2-----3 to 5 years--- $32----25 lbs
9. Hardy kiwi 2- $60—5 years---75lbs
10. Red and black currant 2- $30--- 5 to 8 lbs ---
11. Hazelnut 2- $40
12. Gooseberry 2- $30--- 5 lbs per plant----easy to grow---3 to 4 years
13. Plum 4- $120--- 3 to 6 yrs----30 to 120 lbs
14. Honeydew melon--$5
15. Cornelian cherry 2----$60 ---
-$482 – for food so far
16. Red Raspberry 5----$33---1 to 2 years---
17. Fall Gold Raspberry 5--- $20----1 to 2 years---
18. Peach tree 2--- $60---2 to 4 years-----120 lbs.
19. Apricot 2---- $30—2 to 5 years---30 to 120 lbs
20. Nectarine 2--- $20---2 to 4 years---60 to 120 lbs
21. Apple crisp trees 2---$60---dwarf 3-5 yrs , 1-2 bushels (40 lb-80 lb)----reg. 5-8 yrs, 4-5 bushels (200 lb- 240 lb)
22. Grapes 3- $32---2 to 4 years---7-9 lbs
23. Strawberry 25--- $20---1-2 yrs--- 1 lb.
24. Sea Berry 2--- $50—2 to 3 yrs--- 30 lbs.
25. Service Berry 2--- $20
26. Nanking cherry 2---$40
27. Kristen Sweet Cherry 4-- $120—4 to 7 years---40 to 120 lbs
28. Highbush cranberry 2---- $60—12 lbs
- $987 so far for food
29. Chestnut 4----$32----3-5 yrs---55 to 110 lbs (year 10)
30. Chinese Chestnut 4---- $32---3 to 5 years---150 to 300 lbs (year 10)
31. Almond 5----$100-----2-4 yrs
32. Black walnut 20 (fast growing variety)----$60---- 4-7 yrs

Criteria for land:

1. Not close to oil/coal extraction/ other pollution such as industrial agriculture
2. Not close to methheads
3. Decent neighbors
4. Safe area
5. Little regulation
 
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
31
books chicken duck food preservation forest garden hugelkultur trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow, you've done a lot of work . . . .

I have a couple of reality-checks from my perspective/experience -

First off, neighbors. You mention this requirement a couple of times - the odds of getting decent, reasonable, friendly and helpful neighbors, are not good. Add to that the fact that you won't know about what you got in the grab-bag of your purchase until circumstances test you and your neighbors. You can try to analyze your future neighbors before buying - use google maps to view said property and how the neighbors property and house/buildings line up around your possible purchase. No line of sight is very nice. Check easements, and shared roadways. Check if any of their property stands between you and a resource such as a waterway or main road access. If on a hill check what the up-hill neighbor is doing with their land before it comes close to the property your considering. And look at how they are using their land. The one's without fences, encouraging deer/wildlife and not keeping any animals of their own are type (1), the ones who don't work at all, don't work the land and don't need/care to do either are type (2) these are the troublemakers for everyone else in my area. Enough said.

Example 1: Met another permaculture guy down the road a few miles from me when he came to buy my pigs and sheep. He has just bought an old sheep farm of 40ac and was in the process of living the dream, my animals were his first jump into livestock.
He has since had neighbors shoot at his place, and kill one of his sheep, spray roundup past their shared fence line killing off vegetation way into his land, and this nasty looking neighbor and his two grown nasty sons glare as they pass by. They are of type (1)
This is land in a farming valley, been used for farming and livestock forever.... but. I have personally found that country folk are much more aggressive and invasive than city folk dare. I've been wondering about the psychology of this for a while now.



Next item, WATER - rain fall, snow, rain shadow, etc. are all nice, but having your own underground steady water source is #1 on my list. A creek/river with water rights is okay, but as you pointed out your at the mercy of the upstream owners. A spring, up-hill would be the gold standard of land finds, or if a creek originates on your land.

Land Orientation - In my case at 43 latitude my land is sloped facing south, without any natural blockage.

Mixed Land - some slopped, some flattish, some wet, some dry. Trees are a super resource as you know



Have water and soil tested - I know it's a pain, but. My water has a lot of iron, not a big issue. However, people in the valley below me have dangerous levels of boron in all of their water - yikes. People in the valley east of the nearest small town have naturally occurring arsenic in all of their ground water. They find it very hard to sell because Banks won't loan on such land. Not all dangers come from man made sources.

To sum up, neighbors are a wildcard factor. Not much you can do about it, and they haven't made a mail-in test kit for them yet....
Water is King, so having at least a good source to start out before all your water-works and storage are in place is such a blessing.... and may be the thing that makes or breaks your dreams. Remember: water is a natural solvent, always seeking to balance it's self.
Look at land through your permaculture eyes - you'll want gravity hills and rises, places for collection, a mixed bag of features and resources for you to capitalize on and add to.

Going off grid is a whole other conversation --------------------------------------

For this I'd say moving water would be awesome!
Off grid doesn't have to mean completely without power, just providing it for one's self sustainably- IMO.

There's a thread on Dirt Road Maintenance here you may want to look at for DIY tips.


I'm not sure if you mentioned, but what area are you looking in?

 
alex wiz
Posts: 48
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow thank you so much for the helpful post! I am looking for land in Kentucky.
 
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
31
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Jami McBride wrote:Off grid doesn't have to mean completely without power, just providing it for one's self sustainably- IMO.

It doesn't have to mean having an electrically wired home either.

For myself personally, I can be pretty happy with extremely little electricity, basically just enough to run a computer and lamp in the evening hours. Whether you get this via solar+battery bank, microhydro or something else is up for discussion.

To the OP, that's probably the biggest piece of advice I have. Learn to be happy with fewer resources, the less you have to spend the less you have to earn to support those habits and the more you can focus on your priorities.
 
alex wiz
Posts: 48
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jami and Kyrt, how much money did you all spend to get established on your homestead?
How much time did it take to get reasonably established?
What do you do for income?
Thanks.
 
gardener
Posts: 3553
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
848
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
alex wiz:

I am of the opinion that the best/easiest way to go off-grid, is to rethink what you really need/want from the outside world... Can you live without a refrigerator and central heating and air-conditioning? If yes, it's trivial to generate enough electricity to run a few lights and a laptop. Are you content to use muscles to power tools instead of electricity? Again, that greatly reduces the cost and complexity of the infrastructure needed.

Are you willing to ride a bicycle instead of drive a vehicle? I'm willing to make that choice, and as a result, I don't have to grow and sell 300 dozen ears of corn per year that would have been required just to own a truck and keep it street legal.

I believe debt to be a frightful monster. I can't imagine myself ever volunteering to be a debt slave ever again.
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
31
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

alex wiz wrote:Jami and Kyrt, how much money did you all spend to get established on your homestead?
How much time did it take to get reasonably established?
What do you do for income?
Thanks.


Mine is still a work in progress. The greatest expense- aside from the land and basic infrastructure- is genetics. Breeding Stock and Perennial Food Plants.

IF you have access to a decent chunk of land, one of the best investments you can make is to start growing rootstock of all the trees and bushes and shrubs you want for your land. If you have access to more, acquiring breeding stock and breeding up the population is another excellent investment. Cattle are the worst in this regard [disregarding horses as I have no personal interest in them.] They only give birth to one offspring once per year, and you've probably got about a 50/50 chance of it being male. Sheep and Goats are a little better, averaging two offspring per year [variant depending on the breed] while pigs and poultry are easy.

As for the electricity? Right now I'm hooked up to grid power, but I'm constantly learning to reduce my use more and more and looking forward to installing a small solar system, maybe 200-500 watts.

EDIT: and SEEDS! That's another component of the genetic material that can be surprisingly expensive. Seeds are easy to come by but enough seeds to grow a massive planting to sustain a person is surprisingly expensive, especially if one is dabbling in tons of varieties to find good ones for their site rather than just making a bulk purchase of a single variety. This year I expect to be spending over 100$ on seeds trying to find the right ones/breed a diverse landrace to suit my local. If you aren't looking for land far from your home, you can do this work NOW and vastly multiply that initial investment to scatter your seeds all over your future growing space.
 
alex wiz
Posts: 48
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:alex wiz:

I am of the opinion that the best/easiest way to go off-grid, is to rethink what you really need/want from the outside world... Can you live without a refrigerator and central heating and air-conditioning? If yes, it's trivial to generate enough electricity to run a few lights and a laptop. Are you content to use muscles to power tools instead of electricity? Again, that greatly reduces the cost and complexity of the infrastructure needed.

Are you willing to ride a bicycle instead of drive a vehicle? I'm willing to make that choice, and as a result, I don't have to grow and sell 300 dozen ears of corn per year that would have been required just to own a truck and keep it street legal.

I believe debt to be a frightful monster. I can't imagine myself ever volunteering to be a debt slave ever again.


Thanks for the great information. I definitely want to minimize my expenses. I'm thinking that it will cost me about $50,000 to have my property and house purchased. I'm not a fan of debt. I still want to have some luxuries. E.G. I don't want to clear and build a gravel driveway by hand. I still need a car to sell a decent amount of veggie produce in order to pay property taxes and whatnot. I plan on this being a semi-minimalist project by American standards.
What is your life setup like? House? Source of income? Romance? etc.
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
31
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

alex wiz wrote:I don't want to clear and build a gravel driveway by hand.

I mentioned this on the dirt driveway thread, but it bears repeating here.

The best way to bypass the need to maintain a driveway is to bypass a driveway entirely. Build your garage at the edge of your property and a walkway [perhaps a highly productive walkway where you can pick food for dinner on the way home] from the garage to your home. The closer to level you can make this walkway- even if it ends up winding to twice its distance in length- the better.
 
alex wiz
Posts: 48
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kyrt what steps did you take in order to get into the life setup you are now in?
Thanks, I am trying to find out how to start living a lifestyle like yours.
 
alex wiz
Posts: 48
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kyrt, that is a pretty damned good idea! Why didn't I think of that?
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
31
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

alex wiz wrote:Kyrt what steps did you take in order to get into the life setup you are now in?
Thanks, I am trying to find out how to start living a lifestyle like yours.


My lifestyle isn't quite as developed as it might appear from conversation. It's all a work in progress. I'm a bit of a scholar by nature who assimilates information like a sponge, comparing and contrasting results and internalizing collective wisdom from various sources.

So far as actual homesteading experience goes, my accumulated practical wisdom at this point is somewhat limited, but growing over time from attempting to live more of it day by day.

Joseph's probably quite a bit closer to the dream than I am.

As for which steps I've been taking thus far, it's all in this thread already. Reduce energy consumption, source alternative energy [efficient wood burning and storage of heat, for example] and start developing systems to feed myself and my family.
 
Posts: 177
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
15
books forest garden tiny house
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't have too much advice since I'm just starting out myself. However, since I'm doing everything on basically no budget my mind instantly went to ways to cut down costs.

You can really keep your building costs down through salvage. Windows especially are super easy to come by I've found. My husband and I just spent an afternoon disassembling eight 6'x7' double-paned, glazed windows to transport. They were free. When you see someone doing renovations, or a new house going in, talk to the window guys. They'll hook you up more often than not. Do you want round windows or free windows? Renos can be good sources for all kinds of construction stuff. After we loaded up the windows we drove by a house that had recently been reno'd and still had dumpsters in front. We rooted through and got twenty good 6-8' 2x4s out of it. I recently turned down the 5-year-old slate tiles off a 2000 square foot building cause I had no way to move them at the time. And on and on. Take a bit of time to look around and talk to people and you'll save big.

If you're comfortable with the risk and find a property where people mind their own business, you can forget about permits, engineering fees, etc. and just build/do what you want. Not everyone wants to take that chance, though.

Some places have tool libraries, so for a minimal membership fee you can borrow things like stucco sprayers, hand tractors, etc. and not have to buy or rent them.

Is the shape of the land really that important to you? You can get a good deal on funny shaped lots sometimes. Along the same lines, sloping land may not be good for tractoring on, but tree crops can do just fine. Slopes can also be good for hiding permitless houses And while wind can pose challenges, it can also generate electricity. Some things you're thinking of as negatives, could be positives if you think about them differently. It's easier, and probably more realistic, to adapt your plans to the property rather than find a property that exactly fits your plans. But there's something to be said for holding out for the perfect place, too.

Starting fruit from seed or cuttings, which you can easily find for free as well, is an option. Many people would be very happy for you to come dig up some of their rapidly spreading cane fruit - or whatever does a little too well in your climate for the average backyard. It will take longer to get fruit from seedlings, but less/no money spent up front. You can also teach yourself grafting. Buy one stone fruit to begin with, get free cuttings for others to graft onto the first.

That's what came to mind right away for me.
 
Jan White
Posts: 177
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
15
books forest garden tiny house
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:alex wiz:

I am of the opinion that the best/easiest way to go off-grid, is to rethink what you really need/want from the outside world... Can you live without a refrigerator and central heating and air-conditioning? If yes, it's trivial to generate enough electricity to run a few lights and a laptop. Are you content to use muscles to power tools instead of electricity? Again, that greatly reduces the cost and complexity of the infrastructure needed.

Are you willing to ride a bicycle instead of drive a vehicle? I'm willing to make that choice, and as a result, I don't have to grow and sell 300 dozen ears of corn per year that would have been required just to own a truck and keep it street legal.

I believe debt to be a frightful monster. I can't imagine myself ever volunteering to be a debt slave ever again.



I agree very strongly with all of this as well. We lived for 8 months in an RV parked up a mountain. We had one deep cycle battery that we charged up at work every 3-4 weeks or so, charged phones and laptops while driving, filled up propane for fridge/stove/minimal heat every 6+ weeks, hauled in water, etc. We were too far out of town to get rid of our vehicles, but in a different setting that would have been done. Hot running water was the only thing we missed.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
gardener
Posts: 3553
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
848
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

alex wiz wrote:I still need a car to sell a decent amount of veggie produce in order to pay property taxes and whatnot.



I was blessed to live in an Amish community for a while. It definitely helped me to understand that, for me, vehicles are a luxury item. I've tried being a market farmer in a sedan and SUV. I definitely wouldn't want to try it again. If I had to have a vehicle for farming, it would be a truck. For what it's worth, when I'm working in my field that is on the main road through town, I can sell more vegetables during the day than I can sell by going into the big city to the farmer's market. The people at market would love it if I drove my tractor.

alex wiz wrote:What is your life setup like? House? Source of income? Romance? etc.



I bike to my fields. I can carry hundreds of pounds of vegetables on my bike and accompanying trailers. I have friends that operate a bicycle CSA. I live under a vow of poverty and have no income. My judgment in romantic partners has a bad track record, so I choose to live without romance. My skin is my home. My fields are rent free. I relieve the property owners of the burden of taking care of them.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
gardener
Posts: 3553
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
848
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As a plant breeder, I love long skinny fields... It gives me more options for plant isolation.

 
pollinator
Posts: 1129
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
173
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You've put quite a bit of thought into your project so far. I'd like to suggest a few more items on your check list.......check water rights. Check mineral rights. Living on land where someone else owns the mineral rights can be a nightmare for a homesteader. Same for timber rights. Also watch easements. Personally I wouldn't want easements running across my land.

My homestead is 20 acres. I like having the surplus acres so that I can have pastures, make ponds, and maintain a wood lot. Otherwise 20 acres really isn't necessary for a working homestead. That having been said, I bought the largest amount of acreage that I could afford to buy. Extra land is never a problem. Too little land can be a real nuisance. I would have taken 40-100 acres if they had been within my budget.

A word about neighbors. They can change. I was careful to check out our neighbors before buying my land, but in the past 10 years over half the properties on my mile long road have sold. So we got new neighbors that we had no idea about until they moved in. Some have been fine, some have been problems. Just something to be aware of.

As for off grid. Around here many people start out just using a generator. By the way, you may find a 1200 generator to be far too small. Then people add a battery bank so that they can run lights and a water pump at night. Plenty of people here stop at that.....generator + charge controller + battery bank, DC system. Next step would be to add an inventor and switch to an AC system. Next step up would be to install another generating system, be it solar, wind, or hydro, or a combo. And then just use the generator for back up and topping off the batteries on down days.

My only advice, be flexible....and don't be afraid to make the jump. I talk with people all the time who have been stuck in the planning stage for years and years. Keep in mind that if the land you buy doesn't turn out right, you aren't stuck with it. In our case, the first piece we purchased didn't work out, so we sold it and bought our current place.
 
alex wiz
Posts: 48
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Joseph, thanks for the description. Sounds like a fun way to live.
 
alex wiz
Posts: 48
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Kyrt, I guess life is always a journey. I hope you enjoy it.
 
Jan White
Posts: 177
Location: BC Interior, Zone 6-7
15
books forest garden tiny house
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Joseph Lofthouse wrote:As a plant breeder, I love long skinny fields... It gives me more options for plant isolation.



This is one of the reasons I brought up property shape. WE just bought what used to be a right of way for power lines - 75' wide and about a mile long. In 10 acres I've got lush creek gullies, rock bluffs, wooded areas, dry flat spots - so much variation and so many different microclimates!
 
alex wiz
Posts: 48
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Su Ba wrote:You've put quite a bit of thought into your project so far. I'd like to suggest a few more items on your check list.......check water rights. Check mineral rights. Living on land where someone else owns the mineral rights can be a nightmare for a homesteader. Same for timber rights. Also watch easements. Personally I wouldn't want easements running across my land.

My homestead is 20 acres. I like having the surplus acres so that I can have pastures, make ponds, and maintain a wood lot. Otherwise 20 acres really isn't necessary for a working homestead. That having been said, I bought the largest amount of acreage that I could afford to buy. Extra land is never a problem. Too little land can be a real nuisance. I would have taken 40-100 acres if they had been within my budget.

A word about neighbors. They can change. I was careful to check out our neighbors before buying my land, but in the past 10 years over half the properties on my mile long road have sold. So we got new neighbors that we had no idea about until they moved in. Some have been fine, some have been problems. Just something to be aware of.

As for off grid. Around here many people start out just using a generator. By the way, you may find a 1200 generator to be far too small. Then people add a battery bank so that they can run lights and a water pump at night. Plenty of people here stop at that.....generator + charge controller + battery bank, DC system. Next step would be to add an inventor and switch to an AC system. Next step up would be to install another generating system, be it solar, wind, or hydro, or a combo. And then just use the generator for back up and topping off the batteries on down days.

My only advice, be flexible....and don't be afraid to make the jump. I talk with people all the time who have been stuck in the planning stage for years and years. Keep in mind that if the land you buy doesn't turn out right, you aren't stuck with it. In our case, the first piece we purchased didn't work out, so we sold it and bought our current place.


Wow I love advice like this! Thank you so much you have no idea how much this helps me!
 
Posts: 7
Location: Enterprise NWT Canada
forest garden solar
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just read all the posts about getting land etc. I am off grid in the Canadian North just above Alberta boarder. I believe people don't think about this area because they think nothing can be grown here but that's not correct I grow potatoes, turnip, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, peas beans onions etc. It's also possible to can fish and moose meat. You don't have to purchase land your better off to lease land. If you can get your start and want to start producing and selling there is funding available to help you. You have to live up here for a year before you can get a lease. If you want to build a log cabin all the logs are available for it. My friends cabin is for sale presently. If anyone wants more info I'm here to answer them
 
Jami McBride
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
31
books chicken duck food preservation forest garden hugelkultur trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

alex wiz wrote:Jami, how much money did you all spend to get established on your homestead?
How much time did it take to get reasonably established?
What do you do for income?
Thanks.



Not much, just a down payment, but then I was in debt. I started out debit free and renting - I planned it so my utilities were cut in half and my house payment was $250 less than my old monthly rent. So my over all expenses when down from $300 - $400 a month just to move out to land My income increased from animal breeding and sales. This was just part of my plan, the rest was to set up solar fencing and back up for my pump house, and to raise all my own food. I've taken a good bite out of my grocery bill and doing better all the time. But I don't live off grid - this is one of the things I'm working toward, to have back up systems in place for all things I rely on now.

The time needed is crazy, I've never worked so hard so long with a never ending list of things I'm not getting to. But I'm under staffed here so it's not surprising that things move very slow. It's a great diet - the country life.

I have worked for myself, part-time from home, doing small programming jobs since 1997 - I could work more, but then it would cut into my life I NEED high speed internet - and electricity to run my electronics consistently.
Now I bring in money from the animal sales just so I can deduct 'farm expenses' this helps with all the things I purchase to work this land.

I could have done much more radical things like off-grid homesteading when I was in my twenties, but I am of an age now I do want I can with what I have, more than some less than others. But for me, I'd never be without some kind of power. I shoot for off grid back-up options to make my homestead self reliant. I heat with my own wood, and my electric is between $50-$100. My next step is to get past generators and add more solar. Wind and water power are not options for me where I'm at now.

Regarding the garage by the road -

Brainstorming ideas for the placement of buildings, roads, etc and land use is a great idea.... Every blue-moon I have to have my septic tank emptied (or at least I should *grin* it's been 5 years) and my well may require some parts replaced before I leave this land. These are just two examples of why you may require some type of road big enough for trucks to have access on your land. I know in Oregon fire trucks have to have certain amounts of access if you have a loan on the property and build on it, but of course this is all code regulations. I am very thankful for my roads here in muddy Oregon, but you may be able to get by without making any - like if you live in the Southwest, or plan on walking to your homestead. Just do your due diligence and you'll know what is best for your situation and goals.








 
alex wiz
Posts: 48
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thats pretty helpful. The type of hard work I enjoy is 50% mental 50% physical. Although I cannot say I am the hardest worker out there by any means. But I can "rough it" and am passionate about growing sustainable food. I wish I wasn't so scared of the unknown.
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
31
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

alex wiz wrote:Kyrt, I guess life is always a journey. I hope you enjoy it.


Always my friend. To quote a classic...

"Get busy living or get busy dying."

Su Ba wrote:You've put quite a bit of thought into your project so far. I'd like to suggest a few more items on your check list.......check water rights. Check mineral rights. Living on land where someone else owns the mineral rights can be a nightmare for a homesteader. Same for timber rights. Also watch easements. Personally I wouldn't want easements running across my land.


Seconding all of this, with a slight exception on the easements. IF an easement runs along one property boundary [particularly the boundary furthest from the sun, North in the Northern Hemisphere] I don't really have a problem with it, so long as that line is no more than 30% of the property's total boundary perimeter. [One of those long narrow strips Joseph mentioned could have 50% (or even a bit more for awkwardly shaped somewhat triangular properties] of the perimeter occupied by that easement.]

My homestead is 20 acres. I like having the surplus acres so that I can have pastures, make ponds, and maintain a wood lot. Otherwise 20 acres really isn't necessary for a working homestead.


Check your climate and conditions on 'working homestead' before making that claim. I know I personally wouldn't want a homestead [intended to provide for a family] on less than 20 acres in my climate. But that includes meat and energy provisions on-site.

Someone in the arid south or southwest would have plentiful solar and need far less energy biomass production, but they could still need just as much or far more land to provide for a family because of their limitations.

Aside from [potentially] poor soil, Hawaii is kind of the jackpot for homesteading. Mild climate, plentiful water, good sunlight... the location sacrifice you make is more related to cost than production.

A word about neighbors. They can change. I was careful to check out our neighbors before buying my land, but in the past 10 years over half the properties on my mile long road have sold. So we got new neighbors that we had no idea about until they moved in. Some have been fine, some have been problems. Just something to be aware of.


Agreed. This is part of why more land = better land. The value of a 10 or even 20 foot wide strip of privacy forest [ringed on the outside by a nasty thorny impenetrable hedge] around the inside of the property's perimeter can not be understated.

As for off grid. Around here many people start out just using a generator. By the way, you may find a 1200 generator to be far too small. Then people add a battery bank so that they can run lights and a water pump at night. Plenty of people here stop at that.....generator + charge controller + battery bank, DC system. Next step would be to add an inventor and switch to an AC system. Next step up would be to install another generating system, be it solar, wind, or hydro, or a combo. And then just use the generator for back up and topping off the batteries on down days.

Great idea on the generator, I've already got one for power outages, it stands to reason I should be able to focus my initial outlay on the battery bank and use the generator system. Maybe even convert the generator to run on syngas...

My only advice, be flexible....and don't be afraid to make the jump. I talk with people all the time who have been stuck in the planning stage for years and years. Keep in mind that if the land you buy doesn't turn out right, you aren't stuck with it. In our case, the first piece we purchased didn't work out, so we sold it and bought our current place.

Truth. Choosing a region so as to start collecting genetics and making climate-appropriate-preparations important, but aside from that an open mind is an immense asset in the hunt for land.

Lastly on the topic of slope [which Alex mentioned in the OP] I've found up to 30% is fine for pastures and productive trees, depending on the soil type. You will want to ring such a slope with access terraces now and then though, so as to be able to bring products downhill and transport them across level ground.
 
Posts: 126
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

alex wiz wrote:Thats pretty helpful. The type of hard work I enjoy is 50% mental 50% physical. Although I cannot say I am the hardest worker out there by any means. But I can "rough it" and am passionate about growing sustainable food. I wish I wasn't so scared of the unknown.



If you don't take the risk, you'll still be right where you are now. What do you have to lose? Make a list of what you will lose if you totally fail. Make a list of what you have to gain. I have tried and failed at various things all the course of my life. BUT I have succeeded far beyond my wildest dreams also. Go for it.
 
Posts: 72
Location: Maine
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Would you consider Northern Maine ? I have an acre or two that you can work on in exchange for helping me. Work the acreage properly and in short order you could be making money. This is an excellent area to live. Almost all the people are just plain good. There are jobs available as well. We could build you a Cabin on skids. When you put together about $ 3000.00, I know of many in the area that will finance you. Especially if they can see the work you have already completed. Load the cabin on a truck then move to your own place. You will also have the outbuildings you will need to be up and in operation. Things you will need like an outhouse, woodshed on skids, smoker on skids, etc.. I think you get the idea. Think about it, you could have everything necessary to support yourself while building your dream home. With the capital you have available to you as it stands you wouldn't need anything else. Done correctly you will also have your critters to take with you.
 
alex wiz
Posts: 48
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

The biggest problems most people have with this is:
1. How do they make enough money to survive?
2. What is the benefit for them besides free food and a learning experience?

I'm just pointing out some things. It sounds like a nice setup for the right person! I'd consider the offer if I didn't hate the cold so much and knew that I could make a living wage doing it.
 
Mark Warren
Posts: 72
Location: Maine
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
First Question: What do you consider a living wage.

If you have a home paid for, all the protein & vegetables you and your family could ever use, what do you need to spend all your extra money on ?

Any thing you produce over the needs of your family, is sold and becomes profit.

Once you realize what you make money on, grow or raise more.

Have you looked in the market lately on what they charge for herbs & spices ?

You could just raise them and live well.

Have you looked in the market lately on what they charge for flowers ?

You could raise them and add to you income.

Have you seen the prices for worms, not for gardens but fisherman, get real !!!

Raise Crickets ?

Raise Black Fly ?

I don't care, you you want to make clocks, make clocks. Everybody wants and needs a good clock !!!

America was built on imagination and sweat.

Ok, I now step down from my soap box.

Best Wishes.





 
alex wiz
Posts: 48
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mark thanks for the interesting post.
Whats your life like? What do you do for income?
Thanks I'm trying to escape the rat race.
 
pollinator
Posts: 4339
Location: Anjou ,France
240
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would start collecting plants now - recycle pots to put them in , look out for rraspberrys and similar , learn to graft , get your self some quince you can plant for root stock steal ... Er sorry find stuff you see growing in abandoned plots etc . For instance grapes . Make friends who can give you scions etc . Most gardeners would give you loads of free plants they were going to throw away for the sake of an afternoons help from some strong arms .
Same with tools find the garage sales etc why do you need a new spade ? Old ones work fine
 
Mark Warren
Posts: 72
Location: Maine
3
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello Alex: I am a Disabled Veteran - MY income comes from SDI & VA Disability - They don't add up to much, but I can do a lot with very little. I was hurt March 2005 - then came Katrina - I won't bore you on the details - basically homeless until 2010 - two people pooled some monies together and helped me get to Maine - long story short - I am now able to help others.
 
alex wiz
Posts: 48
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow what a nice guy you are!
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 1129
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
173
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

alex wiz wrote: I wish I wasn't so scared of the unknown.



When it comes to homesteading, "unknown" could be synonymous with "adventure". That's my take on it. And going on an adventure is good for my spirit, and gives me good stories to tell down the road.
 
Mark Warren
Posts: 72
Location: Maine
3
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
No Alex, I am just a survivor paying forward.
 
gardener
Posts: 1470
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
167
food preservation greening the desert solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

David Livingston wrote:I would start collecting plants now - recycle pots to put them in , look out for rraspberrys and similar , learn to graft , get your self some quince you can plant for root stock steal ... Er sorry find stuff you see growing in abandoned plots etc . For instance grapes . Make friends who can give you scions etc . Most gardeners would give you loads of free plants they were going to throw away for the sake of an afternoons help from some strong arms .
Same with tools find the garage sales etc why do you need a new spade ? Old ones work fine



Excellent advice that I also thought of when I saw your list of expensive plants to get, above. For example, grapes grow readily from cuttings or "layering", and so do several others on your list.
 
gardener
Posts: 2596
Location: Upstate NY, zone 5
93
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What I can give advice on relates to building. You have a list of materials, but if you really want to build with little money there are a lot of alternatives. Using found/recycled materials has been covered well above. Structural materials will also be available from the land if you get some acreage with forest (or even some scrubby areas). I noticed one of your pictures was of a cruck-framed roundwood house under construction. This kind of thing can give plenty of strength with minimal difficulty. Hand tools are not just a minor accessory, they are essential for doing a lot of work outside standard stick framing. You can probably find a lot of good old tools at antique stores as long as they are not in high-class/touristy neighborhoods.
 
Posts: 123
Location: SW Tennessee Zone 7a average rainfall 52"
1
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Alex, I'm twice your age, so take this as a little advice from Mom.

You've mentioned income several times, so that's obviously a big concern for you. I get it ... we all need at least some cash for things we can't produce ourselves. Have you ever sat down and figured out how much money you need? And once you've done that, have you looked at your "needs" under a microscope and figured out how many of them are wants?

Inexpensive land is invariably located in areas of low economic opportunity. You can get some pretty cheap land here in West Tennessee, but there aren't a lot of jobs to be had. Head across the state to Gatlinburg and jobs are plentiful, but property values are through the roof. It's usually one or the other.

So before you even start looking at property, decide on the standard of living you are willing to accept, and then actually start living that way. Find someone who is doing what you want to do and visit for a week so you have a better idea of what you're getting yourself into. Everyone has a somewhat romanticized idea of homesteading until they actually do it. For many of us, that view remains fairly intact even after the application of blood, sweat, tears, and mud. I have known a few people who found themselves hating it once they actually got started, though, and it's an expensive mistake to make.
 
Mark Warren
Posts: 72
Location: Maine
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello Alex: How goes your adventure ?
 
alex wiz
Posts: 48
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Mark. I just got a Outdoor job in California. I should bank in another $7,000 from that job. So that puts my total savings at $22,000 by 10/2016.
After that I am going to start looking at land in Kentucky. Hopefully another economic crash doesn't happen anytime soon or any other disaster.

I started a new blog as well.
https://aniceplantparadise.wordpress.com/
 
Why fit in when you were born to stand out? - Seuss. Tiny ad:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!