Roger Union

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since May 19, 2012
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Recent posts by Roger Union

It's been great for me! Here's a fun guide to cow offal:
12 years ago
Any tips on what to do with some applewood? I plan to take the smallest piece, de-bark, and cut into small chips for use in smoking/grilling meat.

I may leave the rest as-is until finding a good use. Anyone with experience?
12 years ago
Any tips on making houses close to roads work? There are two properties I've seen that have the acreage and price I'm looking for but are very close to the road (one is roughly 5-10 ft from the road, the other 10-20 ft). The roads are rural of course and speed limits of perhaps 35mph.

First priority would be safety (kids wandering into road), second priority would be appearances. What types of fences, trees, etc. should I consider?
12 years ago

paul wheaton wrote:

Roger Union wrote:Paul -

How's the land search going? What parameters are you using (location, size, etc.)

The land search is about to go into turbo mode.

I understand. Been looking for years now (have never "owned" real estate) but the more I read and learn regarding farming, permaculture, etc. the more I want to press the `Turbo' button myself (yes I had an old x86 with that mode). I also have enough cash to buy a good chunk of land outright.

The search will be the most intense for 30 minutes from the Missoula airport, but open to the idea of up to 60 minutes.

Makes sense. You'll want a lot of outside help, and folks will want to visit.

200 acres preferred. 80 acres considered. Sloped land at least 30% woodland. Not too steep. Covered in "weeds" is good. At least 30% south facing slope.

OK. Bigger than my goals (at least 10 or so) but I'm looking more for just a homestead; enough resources for me, family, friends' food would be fine with me. I assume you're targeting <= $4,000.00/acre and checking Realtor listings, Craigslist, and eBay? Anything I'm missing?...

Prefer surrounded by woodland. Prefer away from public roads.

Saw some land that would work but it had a county road cutting it in half.

Another chunk of land was 95% steep north facing slope.

Another chunk was at the top of some freaky steep mountains.

Another chunk had a few scraggly trees in some gullies - not enough to build anything.

Another chunk had bulk power lines.

I've seen a few that would work okay, but they were way too expensive.

Again, curious what $/acre you're targeting. I agree that most seem way overpriced; actually, the smaller the land the more ridiculous the prices are. I see 1 acre for $90,000.00/acre essentially, but then I'll see 20 acres and they're asking $45,000.00 TOTAL ($2-3K/acre).

What about water/oil/gas/mineral rights?
12 years ago
Paul -

How's the land search going? What parameters are you using (location, size, etc.)
12 years ago
Heavy equipment or livestock to tamp down the soil for pond (sans liner). I think..
12 years ago

L. Jones wrote:As many a hippie found out 40 years ago: You'll be trading one form of stress for another, especially if you don't have a "real job" with income and are depending on crops for food/income.

Thanks for the sobering advice. This is a big decision for me. But at worst, I'd have a "bug out" location if things got bad in a city that I had to move to in order to still work (assuming layoffs at current location; have already survived several of them but who knows).

fer-instance: A late freeze sucks in your garden, but can be the end of a farm, if you don't have adequate reserves. In proper permaculture methodology you have many things and some make it through and you don't have the same issue a mono-crop farmer does, but it's not so uncommon for there still to be one crop you are a lot more economically dependent on than others - and you'll also have a job getting well-diversified and feeding yourselves in "a year or two" with little experience. Substitute freeze with plague of pests, drought, floods, hurricane irene, etc...or several in the same year.

Consider a job with "not as good pay" that is still a job (preferably with benefits - no health insurance is one of the very expensive stresses of not having a normal job) that allows you to live NOT in a major metro area. That will ease the transition (and you may find that you have more money, too - major metro areas are expensive to live in, and are preventing you from growing your own food.)

Agree, plan to still work. In fact I have my main job but also 1 or 2 side jobs already. We have 2 very small children also, FYI.
12 years ago

Jeanine Gurley wrote:Lot of tips will come your way I’m sure.
Here is what I look for when buying property: Note – these are my personal preferences – we will all have different ones.

Well water – no bills for city water – see it running FULL FORCE before you buy

Agree. Nice to have running, though I have family who are/were well drillers so I could potentially have this done for me at near cost.

Septic tank – no bills for public sewer - insist on covers removed and look at it before you buy. Respect your septic and you should not have lots of pumping bills.

Cool. What about composting toilets? I feel like for $1K or so (used?) it's the way to go. One less thing to worry about?

Outside of city limits – no city taxes. We are about 2 miles outside of city limits.

Are you talking municipal taxes? I've always lived in towns, boroughs, or townships. I know cities like Philly have crazy taxes.

No flood plains – will not be required to have flood insurance.
No zoning restrictions.
No Homeowners associations and/or covenants.

Good ones. Zoning particularly. Seems to be a huge battle among "us" here. I wish we could actually OWN land, but that's impossible now (Google "aloidal title").

Buy a fixer upper or stick a trailer on it until you make it what you want.

Yeah, tough with wife being picky (white people in a trailer... you get the point). Also don't want lead paint and the like in fixer-uppers, or a money pit situation.

Note on fixer uppers: There may be a lot of money involved in fixing up the house. But you can pay as you go and just live with the yucky stuff as long as you have a roof over your head. If you lose your income you are not stuck with a big mortgage or home equity loan; you can just live with the hole in the floor or the pink bathtub for a while – at least they belong to you.

My mortgage was $277 per month. It is paid now. Where do I find places like this? I have had four different properties in S.C. in the last 18 years. Some in worse shape than others.

I go check out those neighborhoods that are considered the ‘wrong side of the tracks’. I have always found people in those neighborhoods to be great neighbors and I like the price. My taxes are ridiculously low. I do what I want, and because I am lucky enough to have a great job I have plenty of extra money for fun stuff . And if it all goes south when I retire I can probably mow lawns for what it takes to pay our current bills.

But it wasn’t always that way; during the lean years the only reason that I was able to keep a roof over my head was because my mortgage was often lower than what most people pay for rent. P.S. Never scrimp on electric. I always run that brand new (fire hazard). Everything else can wait.

Another P.S. Welcome to Permies!!

Thanks for a great reply. I hope to buy in full so no mortgage. Ideally owner to me directly, for cash.

Lately I've been getting good feelings from the searches for "cabin" on Craigslist, directly from owners. Seems like I can find 13 acre wooded areas for around $45K with a small cabin and often well/septic too.
12 years ago
This is sad to hear. Also am/was a huge fan of Joel's.

Did some searching, and my guess is he's too occupied with books, talks, and marketing these days and the farm's suffering because of it. If you go to their Yelp page (food reviews) at (URL), you'll see 5 star reviews up through mid-2010 or so, and then two 1 star reviews explaining how overpriced and bad their meat tastes (particularly the prepared foods like sausages and bacon). Apparently his wife's running the farm now, and customer service is bad, along with perhaps the operations (based on comments above).
12 years ago
Hi all, been browsing the forum for about a year. First post! We're a young family looking for a property in PA and I am seeking any guidance on finding a homestead. Ideally I'd like at least a few acres and be able to supply all our own eggs, chicken, and vegetables within a year or two in a sustainable manner. Currently I work a day job but not against eventually leaving the rat race for a simpler, stress-free family life on a permie-ish family farm.

Any wisdom from fellow parents who are actually DOING this, not just researching it would be great. Actually, any game plans toward achieving this are helpful. My wife and I are getting fed up with inaction I guess, but I could lose my job within a year and be forced to relocate; I could probably get a similar job with very good pay but we'd be trapped in a major metro area with any hopes of land out the window. I'm sick of reading about all the great stuff I could be doing but can't (I make due, but tough with our small place and no yard).

  • Finding property? Been looking at Craiglist(s) for properties within 45 min of my work (day job). Have looked some at auctions, and Cheapest property is $2,500/acre and it tends to be woodland in areas with average to poor schools. Back of my mind, MAYBE would consider home schooling. Wanting to buy property/home outright with large savings I have (or a small mortgage). Should I "cold" approach older farmers in my area inquiring about their property/subsection of it?
  • What type of house? Have seen the cob thing, ferrocement, underground/wofati. Would consider RV or trailer for year or two while building structure, but that could be stressful. Not against property with a house that could use TLC. Want/need 3-4 bedrooms, 1500-2500 sqft. Wife actually LIKES cabins or at least their appearance...
  • Keep renting? I personally think real estate will get cheaper over time, or at least single-family homes without huge properties. House rentals are at least 33% more than I'm paying now, but we're also in a townhome with little/no yard.

  • Anything other tips/tricks/lessons learned/advice you can suggest would be great as well.
    12 years ago