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How to Homestead and Travel?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 3
Location: North East USA
forest garden homeschooling homestead
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Hello everyone! I have enjoyed reading on this permies site and finally made my own account.

I tried to search for threads about this topic but didn't find much, so sorry if I missed it!

I grew up in the country and it has always been my dream to buy some land and start a little homestead to raise my children on. We have one small child and a baby on the way.  My husband is fully on board, he wants the homesteading life for our kids as well. He is the builder, tractor driver and brawn strength and I'm the helper, the planner, researcher, gardener and animal caretaker.  We bought some land and have spent the last year and a half cleaning it up(very neglected land with lots of junk on it) and clearing out the many dead trees(mostly Ash trees) that are on the soon to be fence lines or leaning over a building. The next three summers will be spent putting up fencing, building shelters, and preparing the garden space(a few big dead trees need to be dropped and be cut up in to the future garden space so I'm waiting on that), making compost bins, and planting fruit trees and berrie bushes hopefully. The year after that(4 years from now) we should be ready for the animals I would like(poultry, a few equines, two dwarf milk goats) and a serious garden. In time I want a food forest but that's going to be a while down the line.

However we travel around 6 months a year for my husband's work. Not 6 months straight, it's usually 4-8 weeks at a time twice in the spring and then once or twice again in the fall, with summer and winter at home(we live in the NE USA and we have 4 seasons so winter usually isn't good for most homesteading activities) .  The traveling is great in some ways and I know it will be a great learning opportunity for the kids but I can't really see how we can homestead and travel so often. My husband is very happy in this field of work and we do not want to change careers again at this time. The traveling is not optional. Also we both feel the chance to travel so much could be a great experience for the kids and a chance to see many amazing places that otherwise we'd not get to see. I am determined to find a way to make the homesteading work. I am flexible and even though I've had a firmly set dream in my mind all these years I am willing to compromise to make the most of our situation.

So for the next 3 years I am trying to find small, easy, low maintenance ways to start up the homestead a little bit that are doable even if we are traveling for 6 months of the year, that will not require hiring anyone to come and care for the property.

My ideas so far are;
Gardening - planting in the summer months we are home very short(60 days or less) growth cycle plants such as turnips, beets, lettuce, etc. possibly buying already started plants such as tomatoes.  I could do container gardening until the big garden space is ready.
Getting the fruit trees and berrie bushes planted.
Plant perennials flowers and herbs.
Put up some bat houses and native bee houses.
I'm also learning more about the wild plants that grow on my property and hope to use them as well for eating and medicinal purposes.

Animals- I was thinking I could get just a few chickens( like 3 hens) and my husband could build me a small, very secure and sturdy portable chicken coop/tractor type thing that I could load onto our small flat trailer and haul to my mom's place( only a 30 min. drive) when we would be gone. That way she could care for them and they would be in their own secure house and pen so they would be safe and very easy to care for. She has had chickens in the past and can care for them properly.

Once the three years are past and we are all set up and able to get some animals I figured we'd have to hire a pet sitter. I also plan on reevaluating the situation and possibly choosing not to travel the full time with my husband or maybe staying at home to get the garden planted and then driving out to where ever he was and staying with him for the remainder of his work time. Being together as a family is a strong priority for us, just staying home while he is gone half of the year is not what we want.

I'd like to hear if anyone has any ideas of how to make it work or if anyone has experience homesteading and traveling.
 
gardener
Posts: 3557
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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We kept a cow while I was growing up. Daddy milked her in the morning. I milked her in the evening. That way, there were two people that the cow knew and accepted, and there were two people that had the knowledge, and physical strength to milk a cow. Then if I had scout camp, or daddy had to work out of town, there was already someone available to do the milking.  We couldn't ask a neighbor to milk for us, because it takes a lot of forearm strength to milk a cow.

So my thoughts on the matter are that homesteading and travelling is greatly simplified if you are homesteading as a community, instead of as an atomized family.

Another option is to arrange the homestead so that it's more attuned to a hunter/gatherer scenario. Grow crops that can fend for themselves: Trees, shrubs, berries, edible weeds, deer or gamebird forage, etc. Then forage while you are home, and don't worry about it while you travel.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1609
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Perrenial systems for sure. Fruit and nut trees.  Asparagus.  Berries. Herbs. Walking/multiplying onions. Garlic. Probably need an automatic drip  line for a couple years to get established if you're gone in peak summer. By the third year the trees should handle water on their own.

Bees would fit in well. You can put as much or as little time as you want into them.
 
Posts: 1800
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
47
forest garden solar
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I like your plans of
Planting fruit Trees in the fall and harvesting from June to Sept.
Planting Herbs once and harvesting for years (Lovage, Thyme, Oregano, Garlic, etc)
Planting perrenial/self-seeding vegetables (asparagus, dandelion, garlic mustard, callaloo, etc)
Planting mushroom once and harvesting for years (Wine Cap-woodchip, Oyster-Straw, a few on compost and so many on logs)

Once you are back home in June, you can quickly get some cherry tomatoes, 3lbs watermelon, eggplant, squash, lettuce, kale, spinach in the ground and if you over seed you can cull the weaker ones and call it eating micro-greens.

I find that planting fruit trees in the fall is best.
You get 1st big of all the just harvested bare-root.
While there is no leaves the roots grown until the ground freeze aka Jan1st, and in spring the roots grow from march until until may when the plants leave out aka the plant has a much better root system.

You might be worried about watering, but with drip-irrigation or earthworks/swalles you get to 'set it and forget it'.
If you had a greenhouse for vegetables you could 'set it and forget it' for alot of those microgreens/starters/vegetables.

When it comes to animals.
Bees/Honey is 100%
Fish if you have a stream or big pond
Automatic feeder for chicken for 6 weeks might just be doable, hopefully no animals get in.
Cows/Goats/Sheep is a no-no but you might be able to wild harvest some deer, either on your property anytime or off site during hunting season ditto for fish and some birds.



 
Posts: 56
Location: Saskatchewan zone 2/3
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We have traveled for weeks at a time - and we had chickens and dairy goats, as well as dogs and cats, during several of those trips.

You can rig up feeders and waterers that allow you to leave chickens for days at a time, though egg pecking can become a problem if you don't collect them for too long.  You need a coop and run like Fort Knox if you are going to leave them unsupervised for any length of time, though.

If you have dairy animals, plan to only get a small portion of the milk.  Leave the kids on the goats as much as possible.  During times you are going to be home for a while,  you can separate the kids from the mama goats overnight, milk in the morning, then turn them out together through the day.  During periods you are traveling, leave the kids and mamas together full time, and the kids become your backup milkers.  Your milk production will be reduced, but you can at least still build up your herd.  Getting someone to come and feed goats is much easier then getting someone to milk for you!  Goats breed on a pretty predictable cycle, so if you keep your buck separate from your does, you can schedule the kidding for a time when you are home to supervise (though you will want to build in a few weeks' grace on either side of the anticipated kidding dates, just in case). 

With the gardens, plant short-season veggies and things that will hold in the ground for a long time (potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc), which you can harvest right into winter, if your winters are relatively mild.  Fruit trees are a great bet, as you can harvest them if you're home, or leave them for the wildlife if you're not.  Perennial veggies like rhubarb and asparagus are also great bets.  You may need to arrange for someone to come and water your trees and perennials veggies during hot/dry periods, though, for the first few years until they get established (depending on your local climate).

You could look into housesitters or WWOOF-ers to watch your place while you are away.  I know of people who travel extensively by housesitting (there are several sites online that match sitters with folks who need them).  However, if you are away from touristy areas, you may not be able to find people.  Make a point of being friendly with your neighbors.  It took us 3-4 years to find a reliable neighbor who was willing to come and watch our place, but now we have a lot of freedom, as she is fantastic.  We shower her with eggs, jelly, and whatever else we can, and pay her very well - all of that helps when we have to go someplace on short notice.   

Travel and homesteading are possible, but it takes a lot more money, organization, and patience than if you just have a house in town with a cat. 
 
pollinator
Posts: 574
Location: Southern Arizona. Zone 8b
75
bee bike fish greening the desert solar woodworking
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Friendly and reliable neighbors are your best option, automation is a distant second.

I'm a big fan of automation and I build a lot of automated systems for around myhouse.  However, with any automated system, sooner or later it will break down.  With DIY automation this tends to be sooner rather than later.  Furthermore, automated systems will almost always follow Murphy's Law, which means the most likely time for them to breakdown is while you're away.

If you're going to go with automated systems, it's best to have a secondary back-up system in all critical areas, and then a tertiary (and completely separate) monitoring system that can alert you (even when you're on the road) to any problems.

Did I mention that friendly and reliable neighbors are your best option?

Well, your other choice is to only implement those portions of your homestead that can either survive without you, or will not cause any heartache if it dies.
 
Posts: 122
Location: PNW
18
books food preservation homestead cooking tiny house trees urban
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S Bengi wrote:

I find that planting fruit trees in the fall is best.
You get 1st big of all the just harvested bare-root.
While there is no leaves the roots grown until the ground freeze aka Jan1st, and in spring the roots grow from march until until may when the plants leave out aka the plant has a much better root system.


Where do you buy fruit trees in the fall?  Seems like everyone only sells them in the spring.
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1800
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Starbros, onegreenworld, etc. This works for bare root, expect a November arrival
 
Posts: 9
Location: Central and Eastern Ohios
bee forest garden solar
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I have remote property that we can only visit on weekends or vacations. It's mostly wooded, we finally started a pond this year and once its full, fish will be a priority.
This fall we'll be adding fruit trees and berry bushes too, along with as many perennial vegetables that I can get my hands on.
To me, the perennials take much less care and I don't have to worry about them while we're in the city.
My stepdad keeps honeybees on our property in langstroth hives, but my goal is to add more bees in Warre hives. They can be left for months at a time.
I keep compost worms in my city house, but if you had a large enough bin, i would think you could fill it with horse manure and leave them for months.

a good friend of mine kept free range game hens, they would roost high up in his barn. With automated feeders, they might be able to take care of themselves.

I hope to be at our country place full time one day and I think that if all of the perennial and low care systems are in place it will be much easier to add bigger livestock later.
 
Sonja Draven
Posts: 122
Location: PNW
18
books food preservation homestead cooking tiny house trees urban
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S Bengi wrote:Starbros, onegreenworld, etc. This works for bare root, expect a November arrival


Thank you!
 
Adrienne Halbrook
Posts: 3
Location: North East USA
forest garden homeschooling homestead
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A huge thank you to you all!! Thanks so much for all the helpful ideas and info. I have a lot of food for thought now and much more confidence that we make our situation work. :)
Thanks again!
 
I have a knack for fixing things like this ... um ... sorry ... here is a concilitory tiny ad:
How to Make Your Own Emergency Home Battery Bank
https://permies.com/wiki/38548/Emergency-Home-Battery-Bank
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