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.

How I Avoid Homestead Burnout

We are back from vacation, and it was so, so wonderful.  Honestly, some of the most perfect days – a mixture of gorgeous weather, good friends, family, amazing food, beautiful beach days, ocean life (dolphins, seals, a blue whale!!!), our kids trying new things like boogie boarding and snorkeling – all in the magical place where my husband and I met and fell in love.

Toyon-Ella Toyon-Ev Toyon-Fog

As we got ready for our trip, my personal stress level was very high. Packing for vacation is always challenging, but this time I felt particularly harried about getting the homestead ready for us to leave it in the hands of a (very capable) housesitter.  My garden was getting decimated by cabbage worms, rabbits, and drought; our “water catchment” system has not been refilled by rain in weeks, making us resort to filling up barrels at friends’ houses; Brian was hand-toting hundreds of gallons of water from the pond so we could keep plants and trees alive; and to top it off, it was 90+ degrees.  Add in rehearsals, work deadlines, two young children, and you can see how it might feel a little overwhelming.

But, thankfully, as soon as we boarded the train, my worries about our homestead evaporated, as they always do when I go away.  On our 40 hour train ride, we read books (The Man Who Quit Money and New Dawn on Rocky Ridge), listened to Sparkle Stories, watched the scenery, ate, and just recharged.  When we were on Catalina, I left my phone in our room and just played.  (It’s why I have hardly any photos!).  And when we were hanging out with my awesome sister-in-law Lynne, we just basked in her incredible hosting.

Recently, while lurking on a popular homesteading Facebook page, I read a heated discussion about balancing travel and homesteading.  There were MANY of the opinion that when you have a homestead, you should be content to stay home; that travel and homesteading simply do not mix. Of course there were some good arguments – experienced homestead sitters are hard to find and can be expensive to hire, your homestead is likely more lovely than your travel destination – but there was also a hint of judgement in some of the comments as well, suggesting that those that like to travel are just not cut out for the homesteading life.

I completely disagree with this sentiment. As much as I love my homestead with all my heart, the way I avoid homestead burnout is by leaving.  I have to get away to recharge, to be able to come back with fresh eyes and say, “Look at all we have accomplished here.” Having not done any travel all summer, it was hard to gain this perspective, and I was getting a bit mired in self-criticism for not having a bigger, better garden, or canning more, etc.

Coming back home can be a bit rocky. There are many moments where I wish to be beachfront, sipping a cocktail and eating scallops at my favorite seafood restaurant.  But a few days into our homecoming, now that I’m finally unpacked, I can envision a cold frame for fall greens, and think about planting garlic, and plot where our new sheet mulched garden should be.  I am recharged and ready to approach the next few months with renewed vision.

 

 

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.

Good morning!  I am so pleased to have our little homestead featured on today’s Homestead Highlight at The Backyard Farming Connection.  Gretchen is a fellow homesteader who has built a great community on her blog, with lots of interaction and information.  Pop on over and check out her site!