Financial Hurdles of Homesteading

A few days ago, a reader asked me this:

“How did you overcome the financial hurdles of homesteading, both starting and continuing? ….Obviously you are happily “living on less,” but you also have obvious real expenses.”

This is a huge question, one that I certainly cannot fully address in one post, but I thought I’d start plugging away at it.

Yes, homesteading can be expensive. If you are choosing to homestead on acreage, as we are, then there is the cost of land, of infrastructure like a road, or water.  There is the cost of purchasing, renting, or building your home.  There are expenses related to gardening, to preserving, to caring for livestock.  There is a never-ending list of chores and projects, most of which costs money.  Real hard-earned cash.

As many of you know, our decision to move to Missouri was largely a financial one. We loved Oregon, we love our community there, we love the ocean and the mountains and the abundant cultural opportunities.  The West Coast truly feels like home to me, and thought I’d go on living there forever.  And yet…

We had received an unexpected gift of money, partially from a relative passing away, partly a gift from family.  With this gift, we could have made a nice down payment on a small piece of land in Oregon.  For years we dreamed of purchasing the property on which we rented an adorable little cabin.  We talked to our landlord, we brainstormed with neighbors, we crunched numbers.

We slowly (and sadly) realized that we could not afford to live in Oregon (at least in that area), and continue to live the life that we value – one of hard work and hard play, one of community and connection, one of spending time with friends and family.  With two young children, our priorities had shifted dramatically, and having a livelihood that allowed one of us be at home with the kids felt really important. We began to critically evaluate how we could achieve this goal, and AND homestead in community.  And then, a piece of land next door to good friends in Northeast Missouri came up for sale.

The land was cheap. So cheap that we realized that we could purchase acreage outright, and still have some money left over to build a small home and put in some basic infrastructure.  So, we opted to make a huge move to a new state and start over debt-free, rather than stay in Oregon.

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And that is where I am going to end this post, for now.  In future posts I will detail some of the ways that we are able to make homesteading work, from our employment situation, to creative strategies to save money.

 

Shared with From the Farm Blog Hop and Homestead Bloggers Network.

At the Harvest Festival

And just like that, fall is here.

The change was instantaneous. One moment the kids were running around barefoot, the temperatures in the high 90’s, and in desperation for some coldness, we made a special trip to the store to buy ice for lemonade. We swam in the pond at least twice daily to cool off, and slept under a thin sheet.

Then the weather shifted.  The light changed.  Rain came. And suddenly that special crispness of fall was in the air. Sweaters were taken out of the bottom of our Rubbermaid containers.  Extra blankets pulled out of a drawer. And the kids started saying, “I’m cold!”.

We had two glorious days of beautiful fall sun (and will have more to come!), and on one of those days, we walked across an open pasture to our neighbor’s fifth annual Harvest Festival.  Brian was a participant, demonstrating blacksmith techniques at his coal forge.  Our neighbor Julia sat in the fiber circle and hand-carded some wool in preparation for spinning. There was cider pressing, bread and goat cheese tasting, a hayride, a layout of hand tools, basket weaving demonstrations, and much more. I wandered around with Everett asleep on my back while Ella joined a pack of children in the sorghum patch, munching on the sweet goodness of fallen canes. When he awoke, Everett tried his hand at using a draw knife, under the guidance of our patient neighbor, Mike.

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And at the end of a lovely day enjoying this bounty of craft and skill, I wandered back home, feeling grateful that on our little country lane, I am surrounded by people who care about beauty, food grown by hand, education, and connection with community.  I walked briskly, getting just warm enough to jump in the pond for a bath, thinking that perhaps my days of bathing outdoors are numbered.

 

 

Guest Post: Raising Capable Children

Today’s guest post is by Angi Schneider, of Schneiderpeeps.com. I have reviewed her eBook The Gardening Notebook here on Homestead Honey, and enjoy reading her posts about gardening, recipes, crafting, and more.  Today she shares her perspective on a topic that is near and dear to my own heart – involving children in the work of the homestead.  Welcome, Angi!

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One of the things I love about visiting Homestead Honey is seeing how involved the children are in the homesteading process. As a mom of older children it’s really exciting to see young parents allowing and encouraging their children to be by their side as they go about their work. 

My own children are 19,17,15, 13, 11….and 4. Over the years we’ve tried really hard to include our children in our work. It isn’t always easy. In fact, when they are really young it’s so much easier to just do the work ourselves. However, we’ve found that as our children grow so does their ability to help.

Their abilities don’t just help us, they also help them. My boys are regularly called on by men in our church to work for them. In fact, one man hired the 17 and 15 year old to cut down a tree. When a friend found out that they were using a chainsaw and neither my husband or the man was there, she asked, “Is that even legal?” I don’t know, but they’ll be fine as they’ve cut down lots of trees with their dad. They’ve been taught how to properly handle a chainsaw. 

 

 

Another benefit of having children help you in your work is that they feel capable. We live in a culture that tends to be treat children as if they will always be children. Then we’re surprised when they’re adults and act like children. Children who are encouraged to work alongside their parents learn how to make decisions. They learn how to figure out what to do when something goes wrong.

 

But it’s not just in the area of work that these things happen, it’s also in the area of crafting. As I type this my 4 year old is working on a woven hot pad. It’s hard work for a 4 year old. She still needs help making sure she goes over, then under. She wants to make something useful and is proud every time we use one of her hot pads. 
Young children delight in working next to their parents.  And if you wait until your children are old enough to really be helpful to include them they probably won’t want to be included. 
I want to encourage you that if you aren’t used to having your children work or craft beside you that you gently begin to encourage it.  I think you’ll both be glad you did.

Angi Schneider is a minister’s wife and homeschool mom to 6 amazing children.  She writes about their adventures at SchneiderPeeps and is the author of The Gardening Notebook.

Living Outdoors: A Day in the Life

I bet you’re wondering how a family of four lives on their homestead while they’re building a house, right?  I’d be curious too.  Where do we sleep?  Where do we eat?  Where do we poop? Come with me today, on a little adventure – A Day in the Life…       DayinLife1

We sleep in a borrowed pop-up tent trailer.  Circa 1980, it is literally falling apart at the seams, but has kept us warm and dry (mostly).  We each have a Rubbermaid bin of clothes, and our personal belongings that are not stored at the red shop are tucked into various cracks and crevices.

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The chickens greet the day with some pecking and scratching around our picnic table. One morning, a few weeks ago, I went off to teach choreography at a performing arts camp, and returned a few hours later to this lovely table.  Back in Oregon, Brian had milled up a cedar tree from the land, carted its wood all the way to Missouri, and finally crafted the boards into the picnic table they were always meant to be.  That picnic table is where we dine.

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Kitchen time!  I honestly feel like I spend most of my time in the outdoor kitchen, washing dishes, firing up the rocket stove for cooking, and more recently, preserving food (I’m loving this conversation about canning on the HH Facebook page).

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Charging up the various electronic items.  We have really loved these Ikea solar lamps. They need a few hours a day to charge, but they have been so useful for nighttime reading or just getting the kids ready for bed (not to mention nighttime tick-checks). We currently have a smart phone, so we are able to interface with the internet world on the land, although my big computer sits at a friend’s house.

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How Brian spends most of his time….framing!

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A poo with a view!  It’s our super-duper pooper!  Yes, we poop in a bucket.  And then we sprinkle it with sawdust.  And then it goes into a big old pile of poops that came before it, and it gets composted down into a big pile of humanure.  And we will use it, when it’s fully composted, likely on trees and shrubs.

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And here is how I spend my time lately – in the garden, watering and tending my new fall plantings.  If you look very closely, you’ll see a big black tub with a tiny boy.  That’s our “bathtub,” filled with pond water.  It’s great for hot days, not so great when it’s cold.  I like to mix up my personal hygiene with black tub baths and trips to the hot showers at the YMCA.

So there you have it.  A day of eating, cooking, working, cleaning, and pooping on our hilltop homestead.  If you have specific questions about how this all works, leave me a question in the comments, and I will do my best to answer!

 

Piles

Some days I look around the land, and realize that Brian and I are Pile Managers.  I never really thought much about it before we started creating a new homestead from scratch, but the work of building and creating begins with piles. Piles1

A pile of gravel leftover from the driveway we put in this winter.  A pile of wood chip/sawdust mulch that we’re spreading around the base of our fruit trees.  A pile of lumber from a century old barn and outbuildings that are being torn down, and whose wood will become the siding of our tiny home (and has already been integrated into the building of our chicken coop).

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A pile of black walnut wood, ready to bring to a local Amish mill.  The previous owner had taken down several enormous black walnut trees, leaving tops in the forest.  Borrowing our neighbor’s log arch, Brian dragged these sections of trunk up hill, loaded them up, and brought them to the mill, where they were milled into…

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A pile of beautiful, high quality lumber.

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Then there are the piles of materials for future projects, such as this pile of blue metal roofing for our someday composting toilet. Piles4

And of course, the many piles of organic material that went into the creation of my sheet mulched garden, such as this…

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and this…Piles5

…which now, amazingly, look like this:

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Indeed, we Pile Managers sure do create and move a whole bunch of piles!

This post was shared on the Homestead Bloggers Network, Mountain Woman Rendevous, and From the Farm Blog Hop.

Sometimes…

…Things don’t work out exactly as you’ve planned.
Remember this cute perky tent?  The one we were just days away from calling home?

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With a little strong wind and heavy rain, the tent now looks like this:
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Yes, we are all safe.  No, we were not in the tent.  We had just climbed into our car to safely wait out the storm, and minutes later watched the tent crumble to the ground in a swirl of wind and rain.

Which means that our move to the land is postponed for a wee bit while we figure out the best solution.  Buy a new tent?  Quickly build a roofed tent platform?  Purchase an old RV or bus in which to sleep?

One thing is for sure about building a homestead.  It is anything but boring!

Have a wonderful weekend,
Teri

A Sneak Peek

Well, here we are, back from cake land, and once again firmly rooted in the reality of building a homestead.  Unfortunately, we have been rained out of our big moving day, which was supposed to be today. We will wait at the cozy town house until things dry up enough to move heavy furniture across wet ground.  While I’ve been sharing endless photos of cakes and decadent icing, we’ve actually been hard at work creating a rustic camping situation that will be comfortable enough to live with for three or four more months, or until we finish the house.

So here is a little sneak peek of our soon-to-be home!

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The garden is really coming along.  I still have peppers, basil, and some okra and onions to plant, but the main push to build a sheet mulch garden is over, and now I’m enjoying planting, sowing, and watering. OutdoorKitchen1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brian has been shaping and building a beautiful outdoor kitchen, creating level spaces with urbanite and earth moving, and using some lovely black walnut wood that we had milled up in Oregon to create counters and cook tops.OutdoorKitchen2

 

This photo is a week or two old, and shelving and running water has since been added, but you can see the sink, counter space to the left, and the cookspace to the right.  The lower level will be the “pantry.”NewSofa

Moving slightly east to the living room!  That orange sofa was a total college move-out day score!  Free on the side of the road for the taking.  At first I gave Brian a “what are you, crazy?” sort of look, but I have to admit that it is comfortable and so useful for chilling out under the blue roof of the future house.

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The Sun Oven at work!  We will have a two burner Coleman white gas stove, a rocket stove, and this Sun Oven to cook with.  I hope for lots of sunny days, as the Sun Oven is SO cool.

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Tent, sweet Tent.  Our neighbors lent us this enormous tent in which to sleep and play.  The kids have loved spending time in there with their dolls and trucks; it’s relatively tick-free, cool, and spacious.

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And maybe the most important element of our camping situation: Water.  With this rain, we now have five 50 gallon barrels of water full to the tip top (and overflowing).  The barrels we purchased from Pepsi for $10 each.  They smell like Mountain Dew.  To filter, we will be using a Berkey Water Filter.

I look forward to sharing more in-depth information about each of these elements as we move to the land and get more intimate with these systems.  I know it will be a huge adjustment, but I’m really growing more and more excited to finally live on our land.