Fear of Homesteading (change?)

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by pcwerk, Oct 10, 2004.

  1. pcwerk

    pcwerk Well-Known Member Supporter

    Sep 1, 2003
    SE Minnesota
    Hello all,
    I just wanted to get some feedback on this issue. My mother-in-law
    has decided to put the money down ($40,000) to buy us a farm in
    SE Minnesota! The area is beautiful, and there is plenty of land to farm
    (35 acres w/ 22 acres tillable). She and my wife are ready to move as
    soon as it closes (Nov.31) but I have severe reservations (fear?).
    For one thing, jobs are scarce in that area and would most likely have
    to drive 38 miles to La Crosse, WI for employment. It would be several
    years before we could just make enough to get by with a CSA. Also,
    farmers are going out of business left and right at this time in Minnesota
    and everywhere else as far as I can see!
    There are many other issues that I won't bore you with (leaving my 83
    year-old mother in Houston, getting along w/ mother-in-law, a city boy living
    in such isolation, and dealing with the SNOW). My wife thinks I just fear
    change, but I have a fairly good job now in retail management that I hate
    but at least it pays the bills. Has anyone made such a drastic change
    before, and if so how did it turn out? Are people struggling to pay mortgage,
    and bills and such out in the country? Any feedback would be appreciated.
    Stuck in Houston, Tx but may be moving to Houston County, MN :)
    Neither of us knows SQUAT about farming or homesteading, except what
    we read about...and the idea of it is greatly appealing!
  2. AngieM2

    AngieM2 Big Front Porch advocate

    May 10, 2002
    I don't know enough to make a practical suggestion,

    But I do know enough that it sounds as if your heart is not in it and you'd be letting the females in your life, control your life.

    If you don't want it, and won't be comfortable in it. And it doesn't sound as if you are farm educated enough to not have some major challenges.

    I'd hesitate a long time.

    Also, just me here, but if mother-in-law is putting down the money, she'll be calling the shots.

    And I am a female and a mother-in-law.....

    Good luck on whatever you decide to do...


  3. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Sep 19, 2004
    Struggle with paying loans, taxes, fuel, etc. is a real concern for people living in the country, as I suppose it might be in the city. In the city, if you have a good paying job and want to change seems to be the dilemma which only you can negotiate with yourself and your spouse. Sacrifices are a way of life, and high expectations may become the stumbling block. Reading about homesteading and farming is one thing, actually time and work at DOING it is another...and with no guarantees.

    As you mention that farmers in that area you are moving to are going out of business left and right may be an indication that it won't be easy there to compete and make an expected profit to continue. If you move, and do get a job there, the main difference becomes your country lifestyle. So, that is maybe the real feature to consider is what will be different living that from what you accepted in city living. That can have intangible value, but can also be a greater than wanted adjustment. Basically, you can't predict the future about what you want to do, so a committment to some setback might be the norm.
    One thing though, is that opportunities are presented, and with sacrifice and learning to deal with small successes as well as some failure might be the key to your final decision. Not to discourage you, but some homework on a 'back up' plan should be considered if it doesn't work out, and what your personal constution for living the kind of lifestyle you want with negotiating most importantly the spousal expection about a lifestyle change and within what boundary of minimums you can live with.

  4. Corky

    Corky Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2002
    I am a homesteader of sorts. We no longer raise our meat and I can't say we even supply more than half of our needs but we are trying and we are almost debt free. We had to buy new to us autos this year but our homestead is paid for. We had to commute an hour each way for a couple of years and that was tough for us.
    I have read about the hardships up there. You can't make a living farming there and that is just a plain fact.
    Now, homesteading is raising your own food. The gardening season is much shorter there. I imagine the reason the MIL bought there is that she got a real bargin. But she should stop to concider WHY it was a bargin.
    Moving to a farm in the north this time of year. Commuting to a jub on bad roads that you don't have a clue how to drive on. If you are used to the south anyway. I wouldn't do it! :eek:
    I think you should keep looking for a place in an area where you are fimiliar with.
    Where your are asured of an outside job. (it takes a lot of money to get that homestead to where you want it.) Start off slow and get lots of help from this board.
    Thats just my opinion. :)
  5. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

    May 2, 2003
    Washington State
    The most important thing I notice from your description of your situation is the absence of any indication that you WANT a homesteading lifestyle. Who's driving this change?

    The uncertainty and hardship issues that you raise are part and parcel of the self-reliant lifestyle. They're challenges to be dealt with, for sure, but if you view them as hands-down "negatives," then it's unlikely that this is a life that you would be happy with in the long term.

    It would be helpful to hear more about what you want. If a spouse's dream is behind this change, maybe there's a compromise to be had. There are certainly many ways of having a more rural, self-sufficient lifestyle, some more drastic than others.

    In past posts, some very experienced homesteaders have pointed out the fact that it is very difficult to make a living on a small farm alone. You're at a disadvantage because you admittedly have not done it before. My impression is that most folks here have jobs of one form or another to supplement the income they derive from the homestead. Those few listmembers who have successfully sustained themselves on homestead activities alone (e.g., Shrek) tend, I think, to be unusual in their creativity and flexibility, their entrepreneurial bent, and their willingness to have a number of things going at once. They tend, also, to be relatively unencumbered.

    A number of experienced folks on this list have cautioned against cutting ties with a traditional job until you know that all your ducks are in a row. You might try searching the archives with the words "job," "insurance," "income," "security, "etc., and read for yourself what others have had to say.

    Good luck!
  6. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

    Oct 29, 2002
    I think the first thing you will need to do is sit down and run the numbers. It sounds like you will need to work off-farm, so you should start looking at what jobs are available in La Crosse. Try to be realistic about the finances.

    Starting a farm can get real expensive real quick. You also need to consider that crops may not produce the way you want. DW and I spent almost $10k this year gearing up to process black walnuts. Last year the ground was carpeted with them....this year we barely have enough to test the equipment. Plenty of acorns though <G>. Fortunately our honey production continues apace.

    I wouldn't worry too much about the snow...attitude is everything! I've lived in snowless places and in places that gets tons of snow.

    If the numbers work then it becomes a decision for you as to whether this is what you really want. If not, how do you find a compromise that works for your wife and yourself. I'm not including MIL as this is about you (plural).

    Just a few thoughts.

  7. vegascowgirl

    vegascowgirl Try Me

    Sep 19, 2004
    somewhere, and No where
    Well, I can't tell you for sure, but you might find that it will be a good move. I have sort of the same situation as you do. My parents recently bought land in Forsyth, Missouri, which we will be moving to in November as well. We currently live in Las Vegas,NV. There are always jobs to be had here in Las Vegas, but quite honestly the city life depresses me sooo much. I just recently quit my job of 14 years. Like you, I hated it, but it payed the bills. I can't tell you how much more relaxed I am now that I don't have that Job anymore, and the thought of being able to find a new and better job really excites me. I think the point you need to think of is whether your state of mind is worth keeping a job that you hate. You say you live in Houston, well, I've been there and it's not much unlike Las Vegas. I bet if you take notice you will find that you sometimes drive farther than 38 miles just to go somewhere in the city (I know I do). In that respect 38 miles isn't that bad (and in the country you don't have the awfull traffic). Your worried about the farmers going out of business? Are you going to be doing commercial farming (selling to markets or resturaunts) or farming in order to be more self reliant? Yes Commercial Farmers are having trouble right now, however, you'll find that decline is not near what it was in the 1980's. People now are getting back to the land so to speak, in their eating habits...I find that more people are willing to buy organic foods over processed, or chemically enhanced foods(uses of bug sprays, steroids, etc.) .
    If you will just be farming for yourselves, the idea of going out of business is null and void. Since you will be moving in November, you'll of course have to buy most of your food untill late spring/summer after you have planted some goodies, but after that, you'll find that supplementing with home grown products will cut down on some of your food bills.
    I can understand the idea of leaving your 83 yr old mother, being a fear. One of the reasons we are moving to Missouri is so that we can be closer to family in Indiana and Ohio. Living so far away from them has always bothered my Mother and Father (who themselves are senior citizens), and when my Grandparents were sick or passed away it always meant long trips back (my Mom won't fly). That would probably be the biggest draw back of your move. However, if you have family that are living in close proximity to your Mother, then at least you know she will not be alone, and family/friends can always give you a call if an emergency arrises.
    Is homesteading easy? from what I have learned thus far...not always. Do you always have plenty of money to pay the bills? I can't tell you that, 'cause I haven't started myself, but I emagine it will be the same as living in the city. You cut back on one thing such as eating out, so you can pay for something else. sometimes a bill, sometimes a special treat.
  8. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

    Aug 4, 2003
    Zone Unknown
    I have a small homestead. It is more than enough for me. I bought it lock, stock and barrel.

    However, I have the name of family members on the deed.

    AND, in the back of my mind, one of my intentions in buying this place was so that any family member of mine who needs a home is welcome to come here and set up. :)

    BUT ... !!! ... NO family member of mine is REQUIRED to move here and set up. No guilt, no nothing. I have simply made it known to everyone that, if circumstances are such that they need a home, they are welcome to set up here. I did this because I believe people function better in the world if they have the security of knowing they DO have a soft spot to land. No one in our family has ever been homeless, and we intend to keep it that way --- we like to take care of our own. :)

    Were your MIL going about this the way I am, it would be one thing. However, it feels to me more like your MIL and your DW have made some decisions --- some BIG decisions --- concerning your future.

    I would sit them down ASAP and tell them your concerns. I believe your concerns are absolutely legitimate. I live further north than you --- NE Oklahoma --- and there is no possible way I could make the transition easily and comfortably to Minnesota. I wouldn't even know where to start.

    Long way around to say, yes, I think your concerns are legit. And I would make them known ASAP. Good luck!
  9. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

    Jul 27, 2004
    I see a potential disaster looming here... this isn't going to work if one of you is forging ahead (the wife) and looking back at the reluctant partner and calling the reluctance "fear of change." Sounds to me like you've got some very real issues to bring to the table and labeling them is dismissing them. They CAN be dismissed, but they're going to rear up big and ugly in the future if things don't run smoothly with this transition... and they won't. Homesteading has elements of being tired, wet, cold, and having to do it anyway. CSA means hours out in the hot sun bending over to weed. And while on a theoretical level your wife may be all for this, when the hammer hits the nail, unless she's one tough woman, she isn't going to find this fun at all.

    A 40 mile rural commute can mean an hour and a half each way to a job. That's a lot of travel time, a lot of hours away from home, a lot of wear and tear on the car. If you absolutely LOVE where you live and are glad to be there, it isn't so bad. If you're going back and forth in a constant state of worry and not happy about where you are, it is another matter entirely.

    We had the option to take The Big Step into a Good Farm this year. Drive time to the husband's job: about an hour and a half (but he has the job, so no stress in finding a new one). But this put the onus of running the farm completely on my shoulders. All the animals, most of the haying, all the crops... and we decided no. That without the necessary background and skillset this was extremely risky. But without both of us able to be there it went beyond being financially risky and became a potential marriage buster. So we stayed where we are on a much less desireable piece of property and are making do.

    But hey... we're still married!
  10. FrankTheTank

    FrankTheTank Well-Known Member

    Aug 26, 2003

    I live right outside of La Crosse, WI (10minutes). This area has jobs available, there just low paying(unless your educated in the medical field or law enforcement). La Crosse is a HUGE party town (worlds largest 6pack!) and has more bars per square mile then anywhere I know of. The 3 colleges enroll about 20K students (UWL, Viterbo, WWTC). Your drive from over there to La Crosse isn't to bad (if your coming from Houston, MN area or Caledonia, MN). 2 lanes (lots of deer) and not that much traffic. A lot of construction was done over that way and has really made it better(faster?). Watch out for flooding if your land sits low. The Root River is always flooding over that way (so it would seem) in the spring.

    I actually have relatives that own 130Acres in Houston County, MN (right outside of Houston, MN). So i know the area pretty well.

    The past few years winters have been pretty mild by WI standards (not much snow, not that cold). This can't keep going on forever!Dec. 25, 2000 was -24F!! You could also see how far Rochester, MN is from where you would be living. I would think the job prospects would be greater in that town (lots of wealth).

    Its a beautiful area (right now the trees are gorgeous). The river is a huge part of this area (Mississippi) and is heavily used year round. ANy more questions you have just ask.
  11. Mudwoman

    Mudwoman Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2002
    My Dh says your dead. Boy, this is a no win situation. It is nice that MIL has appropriated such a large amount of money----very generous. But MN? We have people moving to Arkansas from there by the droves because of the winters.

    Let wife and MIL move there and spend the winter trying to make it. (Leave the door open in Houston and repeatedly write them of how nice the weather is.) Tell wife that she and MIL can get the garden going for spring etc. while you work and make money to pay the bills in the mean time. Sound positive. Explain how much better it will work as you in the mean time have a job and will be putting in applications for a job there. It might just be that a hard winter up there for 2 women may be enough to dampen the romance of the idea.
  12. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    About your family situation with your wife, MIL, and yourself I would not dare to give advice.

    About the rest of it.....

    Can the farm land be rented out? Will there be a mortgage? What is the condition of the buildings: are they in good repair or is it a fixer-upper? Have you seen the property? Winter is setting in, and now would be a lousy time to discover the roof leaks.

    My honest advice would be to go to the area, and pass out your job application. There is a fairly MAJOR difference between moving to a place with a job, and moving to a place without one.

    It all depends on how much risk you want to take.
  13. Blu3duk

    Blu3duk Well-Known Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    central idaho republic
    factor out how much trhe mortgage is gonna be, who is gonnamake that payment, and just who is gonna control the property should one or more decide to vacate and the other 2 like it there!

    Make sure you reserve a couple thousand bux for a good size hoop house so you can get a jump on planting season next spring.farmtek

    Next never sell yourself short, while everyone experiences setbacks, forging forward is the only way we learn from bad experiences..... or good ones for that matter.

    One nice thing you will find about that area, you dont really have a large A/C bill year round...... <----- humor.....I said that was humor.

    Might be better to visit the area before buying the ground and rent until next spring if everyone is bent on getting out of Houston now.

  14. GrannieD

    GrannieD Well-Known Member

    Sep 13, 2003
    Missouri Ozarks
    Neither of us knows SQUAT about farming or homesteading, except what
    we read about...and the idea of it is greatly appealing![/QUOTE]

    OOfdah ! I lived in Minnesota til I got smart...The worst winter in a 100 years (74/75)made me decide to head south with 4 kids if I had to walk...snow hard & high enough so livestock walked over the fences...banks high enough along the roads so you could sit on top of the telephone poles...I drove a school bus for several years..school was seldom closed because road equipment is always ready & a plow was on my road before my route, but what a way to live...! Its not been that bad for awhile ,but I'll guarantee you better LOVE winter to live there..You likely are used to mosquitoes in Houston, but they give a new way to excersize in Mn.The fishing is great tho...! The willing horse is not always the one who knows whats going on...Good luck ! GrannieD
  15. Janon

    Janon 993cc Geo Metro

    Aug 25, 2002
    Southern Ontario CANADA
    Sometimes fear is what keeps us from sticking our feet into the fire... but it can also be what holds you back and keeps you tied to the whatever situation you're currently in.

    Texas to MN, new job, new surroundings, new climate, MIL and a future farmer... wow, those are some LARGE LARGE changes. Living with MIL and her plunking down $40k... that could get real ugly.

  16. landlord

    landlord Well-Known Member

    Sep 8, 2004
    Trust me your acres will become achers. If you like that kind of work go for it. Personally, I do, it is very rewarding for me to see the changes. I love nature in all aspects and watching the seasons change. The winters in northern Iowa can be brutal and the roads dangerous. The latest LP bill per gallon was near $1.15. We do supplement with wood heat, too. Trust your instincts.
  17. chickflick

    chickflick Well-Known Member

    Oct 20, 2003
    I think you're all being entirely too negative... This guy is obviously looking for a leg up, here, eh? :)

    Maybe I missed some basic info in your post, but here's my Advice:

    Go rent the DVD "The Alamo". (You didn't say WHO, if anyone in your family is Texan?) Anyway... If you are.. that should help get your head on straight! (Pft.. leave Texas for MN... :no: dear dear.)

    THEN.. get wifey and MIL... DISCUSS!!! Is this all because MIL is in MN??? Ewww... SHE isn't gonna be doing the outiside chores, is she??? Maybe SHE should c'mon down here!! You could buy some nice acreage (not need to be huge!), have a MIL cabin and you and wife have your own place. It is possible to do a great deal (with two growing seasons) and very little property!!

    If MIL truly wants to help the 'cause' of homeownership for her daugheter and her hubby... perhaps she'd like to find property somewhere with a more reasonalbe climate (even midway between Houston and MN!!)

    HOWEVER... all that being said.... You may just be worrrying needlessly. I would assume that you all have discussed this already and aparently you agreed? OR it wouldn't be happening, right? You'll be fine whatever you decide.. Change is always scarey.. BEFOREHAND!! LOL!

    Good luck; and "Remember the Alamo!" :worship:
  18. sidepasser

    sidepasser Well-Known Member

    May 10, 2002
    GA & Ala

    Well I'm a southerner and had always toyed in the back of my mind about moving to Montana...well, if you are from Texas here is what I did:

    I went to Michigan at Thanksgiving, guess what? It snowed, it sleeting, the wind was blowing off the lake, and I darned near froze wearing all kinds of shirts, sweaters, and an insulated down jacket/parka thing with a wooly cap and a hood.

    Now imagine you've got stock to feed and it is January.....

    That is about all it took to make me decide that southern Kentucky or northern TN is about as far up the map as I'm willing to go. I can't see chopping ice for horses five months out of the year...nor can I see living somewhere where it snows from Thanksgiving (it actually did snow in Battlecreek and Holland MI last Thanksgiving Day). It also did something called snowshower where it wasn't rain but wasn't sleet and wasn't snow but some weird mix of all three...and this stuff went on until (last snow was mid May...had frost though till end of the May) according to my friends..

    I'd suggest this...go to MN around December or January...hike around the property, talk to some neighbors about how long it snows there...like when it starts and when it ends...and if you don't think you can stand it that long...then at least you will have gone and seen for yourself.

    Didn't take but one trip to make a believer out of me...besides I've got a southern mule who hates getting her hooves wet, I could just see her standing out in a snowfield...

  19. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Apr 30, 2002
    North Alabama
    Just being in MN is a big negative :) I would try to pick somewhere that has a better growing season. If it goes belly up on you most of the folks I know in MN dont have two nickles to rub together to buy you out. But good luck just the same. Remember all the times people have followed their gut feeling and it proved right. Dont come to a site full of dreamers for validation. Weigh all you know and listen to your gut feeling. I didnt make my move until my gut told me to and even though it was not as smooth as I would have hoped, it turned out good and still has positive direction. If my gut hadnt given me positive signals, I couldnt have done it. Listen to and have a dialog with your own gut feeling. Its only there to help you.
  20. FrankTheTank

    FrankTheTank Well-Known Member

    Aug 26, 2003
    My growing season has been done for almost a month now... So pretty much from Mid May through Mid September is what the growing season is like around here... I will add that this area is a large grower of apples and i have seen pears in a lot of peoples yards...

    Summer isn't all what its cracked up to be either... We have our share of high heat and humidity (this year it never really showed up, yeah!)... Fishing, hunting (deer are like squirrels), turkeys, pheasants, are all in good supply. Don't get the climate of this area mixed up with the climate of N. MN (international falls, duluth)...its not that bad!!!