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Should I go to school to earn a degree just to save for my homestead  RSS feed

 
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In order to be able to afford the start up costs of buying animals, seed, fencing, etc. To start a new small homestead/farm?what do y'all think I'm torn by the need to better myself or just try and start somewhere. I don't really have any work in my rural community so I will either have to drive at least 20 miles to find some to earn enough to start saving to get animals and equipment, or I'm thinking I can stay in the city and earn an associates in construction management and save a couple years of the higher income to be able to slowly start my homestead dream!
 
Posts: 264
Location: SW Missouri
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Definately go to school!  Homesteading will cost you a fortune. You need a good job to save money. I would never recommend a 4 year school but a trade school for an associate's in something practical and valuable will pay you back ten fold.  
 
gardener
Posts: 3858
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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The farmer's market I attend is located in a University town. Go Aggies!!! One day a lady came to market, and she says to me, "What? -- are your credentials? -- to be a farmer?" I laughed in joy, spread my arms wide to encompass two tables full of beautiful, better than organic vegetables, and I replied, "My resume is displayed on the table in front of you." LOL! That pretty much made my year as a farmer.

I highly discourage anyone from going into debt to "get an education". In my estimation, it's not smart to graduate from university with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. I think that the smartest people are those that go directly into the workforce, or that attend a trade school.

I would recommend a trade that might be useful in a homesteading community... Farming, animal husbandry, welding, irrigation, etc.

There is always a tension between earning money off-farm, and settling into homesteading habits that minimize the need to earn money. I see a lot of people trying to do what I think of as half-homesteading. They want to hold onto the new car, and a house payment. Then they need a job to pay for them. Then they don't have the time to do homesteading properly, and they have to pay for things that a homesteader would be creating on-farm. If/when I ever do homesteading, I expect to ditch the car, the house, and the farmer's market. If people want to buy vegetable from me as a homesteader, they can come visit.

 
Franak Ostapowicz
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Man I really appreciate the reinforcement of my move toward earning an associates or tech cert. In construction, im starting to wonder if a programmers degree would be even better because I could work from home with that possibly. I know I need to save money but I'm so ready to just stsrt farming right now even though I have no real means to!
 
Franak Ostapowicz
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I definitely don't want to be up to my ears in debt, so I'm going to school in construction management in hopes that it will be an opportunity to put to good use on others farms as I travel and learn. But the main plan was to be able to save enough to put some systems in place that can begin to grow and be ready by the time I'm done traveling and learning. Like apple and other fruit orchards accompanied by blackberries and blueberries and some other fruits! I'm really excited to full on homestead but I know I can't do it unless I have a little chunk of money saved and the means to make more if I have to. All in all I want to be on the farm or helping others with theirs, I do want leisure but that's once I know I'm gonna survive and be able to pay the electric bill, there's another reason I'd like to be able to make more than twenty thou a year, solar panels, and batteries! Fully off grid! Thank y'all both for your inputs, you guys made my night!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
gardener
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I know lots of successful farmer's that are growing on land that they don't own, and using the pre-existing infrastructure. I think of myself as a "vacant lot farmer". It's been ten years now, and I don't see any reason why I would want to own land.

The thing about plants and animals, is that they are self-reproducing. So you buy a packet of seeds for $2, and it contains enough seed to grow that species for a lifetime, and pass it on to your grandchildren.
 
gardener
Posts: 422
Location: Sierra Nevadas, CA 6400'
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I went to a "four year" (5 years) school and did not regret it one bit. I haven't used my degree (Civil Engineering) at all since graduating. But I also graduated without debt, despite that nearly crushing me. The thing I loved most about school was its ability to change how my mind solve problems and learned new things. That experience cannot be substituted. That being said, I have no idea how to give advice to people about this kind of decision.

You are only young once, and there is something about being forced to be in school for 12 years prior that allows your mind to somehow think it's okay to be in school even more. It is not easy to go back to school when you are older, family members will need help, chickens will need to be fed, all kinds of things conflict with a school schedule.

I think my advice would come down to two things:

1. Don't get into a serious amount of debt. It will force many important life decisions, decisions you will at the time not even consider a decision. It will just be a way of life for you, possibly for the rest of your life.

2. Don't bank on working in X career or making $Y salary dependent on your degree. The world is different now. You may increase your odds of working in X career or making $Y salary by getting a particular degree, but I see an equal chance of that happening if enough determination is focused in that direction, regardless of education.

I might also think less about "saving for enough to start homesteading" and more about making enough money to live and start homesteading on the side. Work towards homesteading more and working less over time. Even successful plans can be decimated by a drought, pest infestation, hail storm or livestock disease.
 
Eric Hammond
Posts: 264
Location: SW Missouri
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I went to school to become an automotive technician, got my associate's and worked in the field for 12 years. You don't have to have an associate's to fixcard, you do have to have it if you want to teach.  Now I teach automotive technology at the very school I left. Have every summer off.  My brother got a masters degree in mathematics and teaches at the university level.  I make more money per year then my brother does teaching, with far less invested in my education, because the skill I have to teach is unique and very high in demand.  Anyone can teach math....

Find something you think you will enjoy for a awhile and go for it. It doesn't have to be a a forever career, but any practical skill you gain will help you in your endeavors.  

Welding, HVAC, construction, automotive can all be very lucrative careers.
 
steward
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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I was lucky enough to find a "co-op" program through a local community college when I was in my 20's. I went to school for 3 days a week and worked, applying the things that I was learning, and making a good wage which more than paid for the program. The program was industrial maintenance which taught mechanics, hydraulics, welding, electrical trades and blueprint reading to name a few. All of these trade skills, and that 2 year degree have landed me jobs with 12 different large companies over the last 35 years. Anytime I wanted to try working at something else with a different company , I had a job waiting. I still get calls from headhunters who see my resume online and want  to know if I am looking for a new job.

So find out if there is an opportunity through the college. to work as you learn. I have heard that Trump's administration is going to focus on new programs like this, so look for new programs to be rolled out.

Is there a need / jobs in your area for the degree you are looking at getting? Does the college offer job placement help after you graduate? Ask them if local employers have come to them asking for certain trades to be taught because they cannot find qualified help. Then take those classes.
 
Franak Ostapowicz
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You know that's why I'm going into construction management. Its in high demand in my area, fayetteville arkansas, they have internships and connections so there is pretty much a guarantee I will be given job opportunities after or during school. I appreciate all of y'alls input! I love the idea of being a mechanic, I'm going to look into my school having that as a choice. I don't discredit people for going to four colleges, though I do think that its a bit of an institution in the sense that its not about societies well being but about individual competition with society, and I'm a strong believer in the permaculture motto earth care people care fair share! Again thank y'all for your words of wisdom they are very much appreciated!
 
Posts: 31
Location: Coastal British Columbia
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Don't forget, you can "homestead" in the city! You can grow a lot on an apartment balcony or in a small city lot. You can even grow microgreens inside with LED grow lights! Lots of people have done this successfully and I did it for years before we had any yard and were in an apartment. Create a beautiful oasis in your home with flowers, aloe, lemon trees, gardenias, herbs, and so much more! I commend you for taking the trade school route, that is by far the smartest choice in my opinion. As someone who did a liberal arts degree and then switched mid-way to a technology school, I had a much better time at the tech school. We learned practical, hands-on skills that I still use in my daily life. The education I got at a liberal arts college...well, I don't use most of it. I think it belongs in the past, personally. And if you ever want to run a business yourself, shadow a business person, don't do a degree! You'll learn so much more by shadowing someone. Anyway, good job asking the right questions and trying to do the best thing for your future. Everyone on here is totally right: a homestead takes an enormous amount of capitol. Take it slow, save up, and hopefully learn from other people's mistakes. Good luck!
 
Franak Ostapowicz
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Thanks for the advice on shadowing someone to  about business! Id really like to travel and intern and work trade at a few places and see how others make it work! I have three cats that I don't want to let go of so my plan is to renovate an old bus and take them with me everywhere.. But now that I'm talking about it they might not like that life, and ill need to pray for someone who is willing to love them like I do to have them.. I love the idea of growing in my apartment, but I don't have much space as it is and my porch is pretty small and doesn't get any direct sun which is good for lettuce right? I'm really excited about building my rock roundhouse when I get home.. My dad has a big house where I grew up in but it has a lot of kinda bad memories and I don't like living in such large spaces. I'm hoping I can build it over a summer and grow mushrooms in the forest to be able to buy pigs and goats to start grazing the yard that has turned back to wilderness a bit! I really appreciate all of y'alls advice and allowing me to talk about my dreams and plans on here! Thanks again! Aloha from arkansas!
 
Rosemary Hansen
Posts: 31
Location: Coastal British Columbia
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 I have three cats that I don't want to let go of so my plan is to renovate an old bus and take them with me everywhere.. But now that I'm talking about it they might not like that life, and ill need to pray for someone who is willing to love them like I do to have them.. I love the idea of growing in my apartment, but I don't have much space as it is and my porch is pretty small and doesn't get any direct sun which is good for lettuce right? I'm really excited about building my rock roundhouse when I get home..



You know, lots of long-distance truckers have cats with them and they seem happy to go along for the ride. Something to think about.

If you can't grow much in your apartment, you can always sprout seeds in jars for fresh greens, I do it to reduce my grocery bill and then I only have to buy carrots to make a salad! Sprouting in mason jars is super easy and amazon sells straining lids (and even stands to hold them up with). You don't need light to do this.

Other things you can do to "homestead" in the city: bake sourdough from scratch, make your own sauerkraut/kimchi, make kombucha, make your own beer/wine/liquors, farm worms with your compost scraps and use the worm castings to grow a few herbs in pots. Herbs don't need a ton of light to thrive. You don't need grow lights for those. Especially if you buy the plants from the nursery (versus growing from seed). Buy a few parsley plants, mint, thyme, rosemary, and a kumquat tree (which are very small). You'll be surprised how easy and fun it is! You can also grow mushrooms inside, just get one of those kits to grow oyster mushrooms and you'll be harvesting them in no time! I totally sympathize with the feeling of wanting to grow stuff and not having the means/land to do it. So, you can do those things I mentioned to feel like you're dipping your toe in the pond.

Oh, and I love your bus idea! That is brilliant for a student just starting out in life. Perfect way to avoid rent payments, which probably eat up most of your wages every month, right? Rock on, Franak!
 
Franak Ostapowicz
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That's really cool that a lot of truckers have cats! That definitely gives me some hope! Really I'm not planning on constantly moving, just to get to a few farms to stay a season or two, and then onto another one for a bit til I'm ready to start something up for myself! I'm kinda contemplating starting a business/trade where I could help people build structures in return for food and growing experience! I love the mason jar idea, I'm gonna look it into that, and definitely the mushrooms and kombucha as well as kraut and kimchi! I love all of the above haha! Thanks for your kind and cool feedback I really enjoy talking about this stuff and being more and more inspired by the beauty of the world when we get away from material possesions and into creating food from alchemy and the magic of gardening! The bus will be my home away from home until I get home then ill live in it while I build my roundhouse! Thank you for your help and inspiration Rosemary! Rent is definitely my biggest cash loss! And I've got a 400 dollar car payment insurance included which is bringing me down! I've got 2 more years if I pay at least 400 a month on it! Praise be the sweet summer breeze, rosemary!
 
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