I have so many things I want to change and do to become more self sufficient that sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I have made good progress on being able to provide a portion of my families food with what I have available. I feel now it is time to work on becoming more independent in other ways. Energy and water is at the top of the list. next is............
Install metal roofing and rainwater collection system
Utilize solar energy for at least a portion of our homes energy needs.
Install a wood stove to enable us to heat the house independently.
Install energy saving features in our home, Especially windows.
I know many people have worked their way much farther down the list than I. what do you have left?
Install perennial beds: medicinal herbs, perennial salad and salad flowers, perennial braising greens, get perennializing abundant roots going, and lots more berries, asparagus, rhubarb, and artichokes.
Also, add trees and shrubs that will hang over the forage areas for both the chickens and the goats (different areas).
What I like to also fantasize about though is:
Beef up the wildlife corridor, make more habitat, be able to harvest more from its edges into zone 4
Insulate the house! that alone would be awesome!
Create some solar access/thermal mass area so at least that could be passively heated part of the house.
The really juicy stuff, like photovoltaics, I haven't even let myself think to. There's so much that needs to be added to the whole house eco-system. Later I'll think about what needs to be taken out and changed. or maybe I'm just doing first the cheap stuff that I'm confidant with
I started with food also. mainly because it requires little upfront investment (not including some land). for $200-$300 I had milk, eggs, vegetables and meat. I have expanded slowly (both through purchases and basic reproduction) and added to that but now its time to get down to the scarier financial investments. eeek.
I am so poor that it is hard to get much stuff done, because it all takes money.
I need to improve the soil, beginning with adding lime and nitrogen, because my soil test indicates it's seriously lacking in nitrogen, calcium and magnesium (to start).
My main problem with the house is that it's a stupid old mobile home. It's almost impossible to add things like passive solar. And the fact that the original owners planted fir trees on the sunny sides doesn't help.
The roof leaks and right now I've got it covered with plastic, but unless I fall into some money, a metal roof for rain harvesting isn't really possible.
I found some old section of logs that are too rotten for firewood, so I will use them as the internal moisture source for a herb spiral. I'm not at all sure about these herb spirals.... they look hard to harvest from, and I haven't heard how well they last, year after year.
All I can do is try, and see if I can trade for useful stuff.
At least my mortgage is only $400/mo, which is at least half what renting costs around here.
Just an acre in an L-shape. The last estimate I had on it by a friend who was in the real estate business estimated the place was worth about $147,000 a few years ago (pre-mortgage panic). I couldn't afford it at that price. I bought it at $76,000 and have a $50,000 mortgage on it.
Some friends here bought 5 acres of unimproved land in 1988 for $16,000. The same area was selling at $35,000+/acre last year for bare land.
I break into a sweat when I think where I would be now if I didn't have it.... under a bridge with the rest of the derelicts.
Its going the same way out here. A few years ago the land around me would have been $3000 an acre. Now it is $8000-15,000 for raw and most tracts are being sold, improved and resold as sub lots for around $40,000/acre. If you are willing to live out a ways you can still buy land pretty cheap, $2000/acre if you are buying 40+ acres less if you are willing to really live in the boonies in western okla. The housing market hasn't slowed much here, okc was voted one of the most recession proof cities and oklahoma in general is pretty diversified.