Advice for a young couple?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by ErinC, Jun 19, 2006.

  1. ErinC

    ErinC Well-Known Member

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    Hi!

    Eventually we'd like to be self sufficient, probably two or three years from now.

    In the meantime, what should we be doing to prepare for that? Any advice, comments or suggestions? (We know having electricity and plumbing will make us not completely self sufficient, but...oh well, we want our electricity.) What sort of "sweet skills" should we learn, what should we avoid, what should we be working on now?

    Thanks!
     
  2. cfabe

    cfabe Well-Known Member

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    Avoid Debt, work on Saving.
     

  3. SweetSarah

    SweetSarah Well-Known Member

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    Erin, how far from self sufficiency are you? We may be in the same boat. We live in the city right now, but are looking for our little piece of heaven in the country. I just started making my own bread among other things with the help of a breadmaker. (I don't think I could go without electricity either.) My husband is getting a taste of putting up fences by fencing off the side of our yard that faces the new neighbors who seem to be constantly "babysitting" Grandma's pitbull. We also have been growing our own veggies last summer and this summer. I think I might try my hand at canning when this crop comes in. I'm also gonna try making my own laundry detergent with a recipe I found online. I am always reading homesteading blogs to see what other little changes I can make to slowly move toward our dream. I honestly think the hardest thing to overcome will be the opinions of friends and family.
     
  4. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    The first thing I'd suggest is getting pre-marriage counseling (from a pastor if you are both Christians). And continuing the counseling for the first few years of your marriage. In order to make anything else work, the marriage needs to be rock solid, and in order to keep the marriage solid, you will both need excellent communications skills, and a solid foundation of values held in common. People often put more time and thought into choosing a new car than they do into making the right choices about a marriage partner, or into making the marriage work!

    Next, work on learning to grow things, and being responsible about raising animals (no biggie if you let your garden grow up into weeds and dry out, but if you have the same problem with your animals, that's NOT good!). You don't say what kind of place you live in, but even if you are in an apartment, you can grow some veggies (and flowers :) ) in pots on a balcony or in a windowsill. And even in an apartment, you can keep a couple of caged rabbits (the neighbors don't need to know that you are butchering the bunnies for the freezer). The rabbit manure will fertilize your potted plants. And even in an apartment it's possible to keep a beehive or two, believe it or not! People who do this, use a tube from the hive to a window so the bees can get in and out -- I wouldn't expect great honey production, but it would be interesting, at least! And even in an apartment it would be possible to build a dovecote and keep a few pigeons for squab.

    Then you can hunt around and find veggies and fruits cheap during the summer and learn to can and dry them -- build your own food dryer. Learn to identify and find wild berries and other wild foods.

    Learn to be frugal, taking good care of what you have, and making, improvising, or buying second-hand the things that you need, rather than buying new.

    Get out of debt if you have any, and stay out of debt -- even if you have to greatly reduce your current lifestyle in order to manage it. You'll find that with no debt, the amount of income you'll need will be greatly reduced, which will either give you more money or more time to spend doing work around your homestead.

    Skills to learn, besides gardening and animal husbandry -- there are so many skills that are useful on a homestead. I would suggest getting at least a passing familiarity with as many as possible, then focussing on one and getting really good at it. That will give you something to barter with later, while being at least somewhat familiar with many skills allows you to do work yourself, or at least intelligently supervise if you have to hire someone else to do it.

    Skills include (but not limited to):
    plumbing'
    electrical
    mechanic
    cutting, hauling, and splitting firewood
    carpentry
    finish carpentry
    drywall
    installing and maintaining fence
    blacksmithing and machining metal parts and tools
    chimney sweep
    all kinds of animal related skills:
    milking
    giving shots
    feeding properly (you should see the size of the books on animal nutrition!)
    grooming/sheep shearing
    butchering
    hoof trimming/farrier work in the case of horses
    construction of facilities
    cheesemaking
    spinning, weaving, etc.
    breeding
    tanning and making stuff out of pelts/leather/fur
    training and using draft animals
    Woodlot management
    How to design a working farmhouse and farmstead
    Marketing -- read anything by Joel Salatin!
    Pest and predator control (better have at least a .22 and know how to use it!)
    Pruning and management of fruit trees and berry bushes
    Soil health -- study up on organic farming/gardening, permaculture, and forest farming

    I could go on, but my brain is running dry!

    Kathleen
     
  5. clovis

    clovis Well-Known Member

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    Stay away from debt like it was a plague!!!!! In my opinion, indebtedness is not self sufficiency, but slavery in a sense. The only exception I would make is reasonable mortgage debt.
    Just my 2 cents.
    clove
     
  6. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't even make an exception for mortgage debt! It is better to live in a tent or an old mobile home on a few acres that you own free and clear, than to be bound by the slavery of making mortgage payments. Until you've lived without mortgage payments, you have no idea of the freedom that comes with being COMPLETELY out of debt!!

    Kathleen
     
  7. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

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    Practice. Try doing things without using your electricity and city water. There's nothing like experience to learn how to live without them in an emergency.
     
  8. Jeff54321

    Jeff54321 Well-Known Member

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    Do not borrow money for anything. Drive the old car, wear the second hand clothes, save your money and buy things with cash. Avoid credit cards and the countless other scams out there designed to turn you into a debt slave. Keep your head above everything and try always to see the BIG picture. Good luck.
     
  9. townmouse

    townmouse Well-Known Member

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    LOL I was hurrying to tell you to stay out of debt. The world is at your fingertips if you are not enslaved over credit. Guess I'm not the only one to have learned that the hard way! :nerd:
     
  10. rwinsouthla

    rwinsouthla Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Most importantly, make sure you are both into the lifestyle. Talk, laugh, smile, and most importantly, compromise. Don't be afraid to say "I'm sorry".

    Now about the homesteading.....

    1. Get out of debt first.
    2. Stay out of debt.
    3. If you need something, do it yourself and if you can't, decide if you really need it.
    4. Read alot about the lifestyle.
    5. Visit here and don't hesitate to ask the experienced folks.
    6. Keep a journal on what works and what doesn't. Your mind is not like wine.....it gets worse with age.
    7. Keep your marriage intact. You nor your husband can do it alone for the rest of your lives without MUCH MUCH more work. Although there are people here who do.
    8. Don't worry what people think.......You're out of debt and living a dream.
    9. Get out of debt first.
    10. Stay out of debt. It's extremely hard to overcome.
     
  11. ErinC

    ErinC Well-Known Member

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    Kathleen, the advice for pre-marriage counseling is the best - we will be in counseling with my pastor. Thank you for making this first on your list - We believe this is very important, and it is encouraging to hear it from others!

    It's interesting to see that all of you mentioned avoiding debt...we will be careful! ThankyouThankyou!
     
  12. ErinC

    ErinC Well-Known Member

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    Sarah, hehe, I think you're even ahead of us! *giggle* I'm a fashion writer for a ladies' magazine, and he is in landscaping...I spin, weave and knit, and raise sheep, and spend all of my free time with my flock, but am currently keeping them at a relative's farm as I'm spending more and more of my time in the city. That is so neat that you are working towards the dream even though you are in an apartment! We are not sure where we will wind up living the first few years (He and I live on opposite ends of the USA right now) but we were talking about different things we could do to work towards our farm whilst living in an apartment - I would love to hear about your experiments with detergent, canning & etc. !
     
  13. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    ~stay out of debt.
    ~learn to eat anything.
    ~whatever happens remeber it could always be worse.
    ~there is something funny about any bad situation your in, find that and laugh, and the rest is easy.
    ~nerver be to proud to ask for help or dig in the neighbors trash cans.
     
  14. Wolf mom

    Wolf mom Well-Known Member

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    Keep reading all the forums here.

    Subscribe to, and save all issues, of Countryside magazine and Backwoods Home magazine.

    Remember - it's one step at a time & keep balance and joy in your life.

    I think my motto's are: "this too shall pass" & "it's a learning situation" :)

    You'll do fine!
     
  15. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like the two of you have your heads screwed on right! You should do well -- hope you'll stick around and chat with all of us once in while!

    Kathleen
     
  16. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    DITTO far better to live in a bus or trailer or shack than work your life away making a bank rich.And risk losing it all if you lose your job.
     
  17. kirsten

    kirsten Well-Known Member

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    I do not think you are giving realistic advice, it is good advice, just almost impossible to do. I don't know if you are "roughing it" on two acres or whatnot.... I do say that if the farmers and ranchers can raise city people and they do, plenty! then city people can raise farmers and ranchers however! It is easy to go from the farm to the city and almost impossible to go from the city to the country. We are just starting up here too but let me tell you that if you comprehend everything you need to buy to actually ranch or farm and try to save up for it all, it will never happen! You can pretend to be thrifty but once you get out there and own it, you'll find you were fooling yourself. It costs almost as much to buy the ingredients to make anything these days as it does to buy it made unfortunately. Your fruit trees that you plant will take years to mature, your cow will take 15 months or more to mature until butcher age. How about tractors, mowers, rakes, balers, all the expensive lumber to build anything, woven wire being outrageous and posts being more than 3$ each. You have to brace your posts, even fencing is an art form. A herding dog, a brooder house, your internet. If you didn't have electricity, how could you be on the internet and talking to us? the cost of your livestock, the market for your livestock wherever you move- is it a good market? Are your ducks going to eat all the seeds out of your garden? Automatic waterers? How about going out ten times a day to crack holes in the ice to feed all your various livestock? Castrating, blood testing your birds for pullorum so that you can be a hatchery or the egg selling license... it all costs money. Even chicken waterers aren't cheap. Sure you can make them yourself but they don't hold much water and you increase your chores tenfold a lot of the time with "homemade." What if it doesn't rain? Do you have a big pick up truck becuase you will surely need one! A stock rack, a stock trailer? Cheaper to take it into the vet than have the vet come out! seed to plant is not cheap either. And believe me, some little garden is the least of my concerns. And if you really start homesteading, it will be the least of yours too. I don't have money so I buy ready made properties becuase you will be surprised at how many buildings you are actually going to need! Does your barn have a loft for your hay? The money you actually need is going to astound you and it is going to leave you faster than you ever dreamed. And you need to know how to put electricity in your buildings and you will have to insulate even your chicken coops and maybe some people save a buck here and there by treating their animals to less than the best but I wouldn't reccomend it. If you are going to be self sufficient, one of you will have to quit your job and just stay home and clean the wool and sit at the farmers market. But maybe instead of being entirely self- sufficient, you could think about living as a part of a community and know that you can't grow all your needs, so choose a few and then buy from the others who will in turn buy from you. But I find that even in a marriage, even though there are two of you, it doesn't mean that between the two of you that you will cover every single base in life or know how to do everything! Do as much as you can but don't feel badly if you have to throw someone a bone every once in a while! Sheesh, I would employ everyone under the sun just to help them out. the country is full of struggling folks. If you are a believer, then your whole premise is in error becuase God doesn't want to make you self-sufficient, He wants you to fulfill your role in the Body, He doesn't want you to go it all alone and be totally independent. We are to be interdependent and a community. We are to dependent upon God. He is not going to let you scoff at the rest of the world in your marvelous "self-sufficiency." One abortion storm and where is your flock? At very least, it is not growing! You will find many tests and trials along the way. This self-sufficiency, this marriage, this totally "me" or "we" focus... How about have some goals but don't ever say "self-sufficient," I don't care if no believer has had the good sense to dash that term to bits yet. People in the country and even in the city often narrow down to their own small lives and a ranch and a farm can do that like nothing else can becuase it is by nature consuming but you can't narrow down and remain pleasing to God. It is my opinion that you can have a mortgage and you can have a truck payment becuase if you wait for everything, I don't care how much money you make, you will never get there. If you have to scrape by for a while like everyone else that is going to be okay. I come from Mi too and I am a writer too as it turns out and when you get your clothes, don't skimp! Buy the best winter clothes made for ranching activities. Not many people resell their carhardts- good luck with that. Buy snake proof cowboy boots and working boots and buy expensive thick wool socks.

    My best advice would be to "specialize." You can offer many products but specialize in one or two. You can't build a good farm reputation on everything/nothing. Do you know what I mean? I don't think anybody ever gets anywhere thinking about how best they can fill their own freezers for themselves. If all you really want to do is fill your own freezer and pay your own bills, then you can't begin to realize what God created you for! Simply, live for a lot more, remember God and don't wait until your 80 either to begin. becuase the bible also says, "give and it will be given to you," the message is don't wait until you are rich to give. If this is truly the will of God for you, then He is bigger than your debt or mortgage payment and I am sure you can manage it like everyone else. Don't be foolish... but is He not your help? And remember some of these people inherited their places even if they paid a pittance for them and think it counts and have a lot of pride. Pride is the root of self sufficiency, it increases pride so be careful of that. kirsten
     
  18. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    About the mortgage? Make up your own mind about that. Not everybody is in the same situation, and only you know yours.
     
  19. Jan Doling

    Jan Doling Well-Known Member

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    Start collecting your tools. Keep a list of items your research shows you will need. Shop garage sales and thrift shops for canning jars, shovels, rakes, etc. and check it off the list. If anyone asks what you want for Christmas, birthdays, or anniversaries....give them several items from the list to choose from.

    Do your homework: read, read and read some more. Then put it into practice. You can learn to garden in container if space is limited. You can keep a few rabbits in hutches and chickens in a chicken tractor, if the zoning allows for it. It will probably be easier to learn to butcher your food one at a time anyway, rather than when necessity demands it. After mastering a skill, check it off your list. You will feel a sense of accomplishment instead of frustration from not being able to move onto your land yet.

    Voluntary simplicity and frugal living articles will also be good fodder for your education. Visit agricultural exhibitions, county fairs, etc. Volunteer to help at a working farm to expand your knowledge and skills. Find like-minded couples to spend time with. Armor yourselves with knowledge, skills and hands on experiences. Rent videos to show you how to do things. Then practice, practice, practice and you'll be better prepared than most. Good luck!
     
  20. Tabitha

    Tabitha greenheart

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    and remember, Murphy always lurks around. everything takes longer than you think and costs more. if you can, hang around folks who are doing and learn some skills, and learn to organize and set priorities. and make sure you are both pulling int he same direction. 15 years ago a local told me, you need 100 000 dollars so you can be poor like the rest of us.