Homesteading Forum banner

Has Anyone Here Really Given It All Up To Homestead With the Basics ??

2218 Views 18 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  BCR
I love hearing and reading about people and families that sell it all and head out to the woods..or homestead with the bare basics. Guess the pioneer spirit amazes me. If you have, tell us what was the hardest modern thing to give up and why and how you are doing it now. I often wish the Homesteading magazines would go back into there archives and find homesteaders from 20 years ago that they interviewed and see how they are today. We have "homesteaded" for 25 years now...but still have the usual gadgets to make life easy for us. Electric and washing machine, indoor plumbing and all. I do realize Homesteading is different things to different people but tell me what you are all doing !! Thanks !!! :)
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
I like hearing of them too. Foxfire books are awesome.
we have electricty and a nice home but we butcher a hog each year ourselves-put up deer meat-fish -hunt squirrells-big garden--pick berries-poke salad and such as that-we dont buy meat-people say we are the most self sufficent people they know- but i like the modern conviences that make my life easier-i have a really bad back and could not live the hard life of totall homesteader-Nancy
HMMMM? I'd have to quess if they gave it all up but the bare basics and moved into the woods to live they probably are not posting in online forums very often.
I dont plan to give it all up by any means but i also like to hear the stories of the people who have done it. One of my favorite reads was in backwoods home about the couple who were living a very primative lifestyle. They tanned skins for clothing and shelter, foraged for much of their food, even made flint knives and sprears. Thats what I call roughing it!
Sorry I dont remember what issues they were in but it was back in the early ninties when I subscribed.
DH bought me a copy of "The Wilderness Family" a little bit ago. I watched it 4 times already, enjoying every minute.
I was taught and live country ways if it contributes to my comfort in the environment I find myself. I feel no yearning to prove to anyone that I am able to do it. I simply rely on what I have learned or teach myself as the environment dictates. I had a totally off grid cabin hideaway that by utilizing sluce fed branch water, water tower, wood heater and 12 volt water driven generator and batteries , I was capable of providing the convienences that I enjoy on grid, however , I prefer not having to expend extra labor to achieve those convienences if possible. As my grandfather told me, "Hard work was made for mules and they turn their butt to it. Use your learned skills and all the tools at your disposal to avoid hard work whenever possible." Now I live in an all electric home with well , propane and wood backup and rely on an agricultural, merchandising and investment based income source . I utilize internet technology to shop, pay bills etc. so that I do not have to associate with society physically unless I choose to.

In a sense I did "ditch it all", but my ditching included people and accepted social functioning in favor of comfortable solitude.
See less See more
Currently on PBS (Maryland) they are running a documentary titled "Pioneer Quest - A Year in the Real West". Tells of 2 couples that are living the lifestyle of the early settlers - horse drawn wagon, hand tools, building cabins, growing food, raising animals, etc. The documentary was listed as being filmed in 2000. I would suggest that you check out to see if it is showing in your area or if you can purchase the tapes. Very interesting but definately HARD work during those early days.
Helena said:
I love hearing and reading about people and families that sell it all and head out to the woods..or homestead with the bare basics. Guess the pioneer spirit amazes me. If you have, tell us what was the hardest modern thing to give up and why and how you are doing it now. I often wish the Homesteading magazines would go back into there archives and find homesteaders from 20 years ago that they interviewed and see how they are today. We have "homesteaded" for 25 years now...but still have the usual gadgets to make life easy for us. Electric and washing machine, indoor plumbing and all. I do realize Homesteading is different things to different people but tell me what you are all doing !! Thanks !!! :)
My idea of homesteading is a mix. I want off the grid and the gov. off my back and out of my business, and clean food. Right now this means getting a small organic beef operation off the ground and planning to do solar and other passive systems to my home. I buy my veggies at the farmers market but have an extensive orchard around my place with herbs in all my flowerbeds and things like asparagus, poke salad, elderberries, etc. wherever they'll fit. I'm working too many hours to pay for the cattle setup to take care of a garden, but I still hunt and fish. I intend to have a minimum of gadgets but I am NOT going back to a rock and a river for laundry! I like people more than Shrek does I guess, so I'll always have something to do with town, just on my terms. My goal is the independence of knowing I can take care of myself from start to finish, but I don't have to prove it by doing it all, especially all at once. I will no doubt end up with a grain mill, etc. eventually, and I already butcher my own meat--because I like the results better not to prove a point. That is my motto in loooong form--you asked! :)
See less See more
Helena said:
I was at Parkland Hospital, waiting for a friend to get out of recovery after surgery. There's nothing to do but talk with others in that kind of situation and I had the blessing to meet a man who was waiting for his wife to come out of recovery too. He was once sent out with a cousin by their grandfather. Each boy (about 11-12 of age) was given a knife and 24 hours to live off the land without help. His cousin could not begin to figure out how to do it, but this man had been taught how to build a lean-to, hunt with snare traps and build a campfire. 48 hours later, his grandfather had to pull him in from the hillside. He now owns a farm, pays a cattleman for a calf and a year's worth of feed, and the cattleman butchers the yearling for him. He raises chickens for eggs and meat, gardens, and the like. He drives a horse and buggy into town. He'd do more, but he's not able to get around well after somebody dropped a refrigerator on him from a 2nd story window. His wife buys things like flour and sugar and toilet paper, but for the food, they do just fine without the stores and cheaper too.
I want a similar set up with a solar passive house partially buried to limit the need for heating and cooling. Hopefully, that won't be much longer. :yeeha: Judi
Thanks for all who answered me !! People we know call us the Pioneers because as so many of you we have "hugged" many of the old time ways also. Heat totally with wood..chopping and splitting over 20 tons by hand each year, husband does do most of this work. Grow 90 % of our own veggies, herb gardens, raise chickens for meat and eggs and goats for meat, cheese and milk. Can and freeze foods etc. Would love to do without the electric company but our 250' well has stopped any snap decesions on this for now. Perhpas we will never be off the grid a 100%..but yet again maybe that is alright too !! We are very rural but lately I am hearing the traffic on our "little" state route over the field due to the electric company putting their monster lines in the old hay field next to us and clearing a lot of trees for progress. That is an another whole story in itself !! Remember when the only car up our dirt road was the mailman..but things do change. I wouldn't want to do without the modern medical treatments we have today. Who wants to die of a sore throat or a broken arm ?? My library is bulging with homestead books and stories and I just love reading about these things. Hubby keeps saying perhaps we should sell it all and build that little cabin in the woods. We understand you can't get away from it all...and we probably wouldn't want to in some instances...but it's nice to dream and hear of others who have. I'll check out the web sites you all have given me..!!! Thanks Again !!
See less See more
Although I also love to hear the stories, and it does some tempting at times, I really doubt I'd want to live like the Pioneers in the middle of God's nowhere. No electricity, no plumbing, no conveniences. In all honesty, I probably could not do that much work for that long. We all think of green fields, flowing water, cozy fires... but I doubt you'd have the time or energy to enjoy any of those.

Well there are days I have considered saying "chuck this cr__" and felt like wandering off into the woods axe in hand and I could probably live without the internet and TV just fine. However I have this wretched family I like and people in general suit me fine so it would get old talking to the chipmonks very fast. I have a feeling something will have to change within the next 5 years here or I will go stark raving urban. I chose farming over banking but I must be a popular guy cause they zoned the farmstead city and I keep getting drafted to manage stuff. Ya supose if I neglect to shower and show up at these blasted meetings "eau d'agri" they'll get the hint?
Too funny, Ross!

I think the worst thing about being "on the grid" (and I include here all so-called city-type "services" like trash pick-up) is all of the taxes they add on, without a vote of the people. Look at your phone bill for an example--they should just call that "regulatory assessment fee" on the AT&T bill the "pay our lawyers' retainers for us" fee.

In many cities, for example, you pay for trash service whether you use it or not, and to me that's a tax, not a service. Especially galling is the fact that there is no competition in the garbage hauling industry (although I'm sure there are problems with independent haulers illegally dumping instead of going to the legal dump), so you have no way to really lower your bill beyond a certain point. I know people who own second homes in vacation areas where they hope to retire someday and they have to pay for trash even when they're not there, which is most of the time.

And there was a recent article in one of the big city newspapers about how they were going to "remind" people that they need to separate out the recyclables from the rest of the trash. Well, excuse me, but what about all those single folks out there who barely fill one trashcan a month with trash, including recyclables, yet have to pay not only for weekly pickup, but recycling fees? I have a friend who refuses to recycle because he has to pay for it whether he does it or not, it doesn't lower his bill any to do so. Recycling should cost you nothing (and I do think they should prosecute people who steal the items from the trash companies' bins when they've been put out on the curb). And that's not even getting into when the companies go to the cans for the automated pick-up--because they're so oddly shaped, you can't get your money's worth unless you purchase a trash compactor, or a giant kid to jump up and down on the trash.

Forcing people on sewer by billing them every month just because the lines are in the street until they connect (which costs thousands of dollars), even though their septic tanks are not failing and if they were they could and would be replaced by the homeowner is another example of taxes being disguised as "services". Even if your main water use in the summer is watering the lawn, your sewer cost does not go down, even though there isn't any water going down the pipes.

I think it is important to know how to do homesteading-type things, and have a good basic library of homesteading/survival books on hand to refer to.
See less See more
Helena, your well doesn't have to stop you. You will need a really good solar power system, complete with batteries, but you can pull enough power to run that 110/220? pump just like your washer and dryer and frig. Where are you? Unless you're in Alaska where it is dark 6 months a year, you shouldn't have too much trouble--just have to throw money at it! I myself am too old to haul water etc. so I'll be keeping my minimum comforts. But!--you can buy water and energy efficient washers and dryers so they pull as little electricity and water gallons as possible (but my oh my they are fond of the little darlings) and a storage tank arrangement at ground level will solve part of your demand problem. I'm not a plumber, but I'm sure someone here knows exactly what you'd need for the house. I'll be curious to see what answers you get to that, myself, as I need a solution to it too! :) Belle
Been there and done that. I grew up on a small farm. No electricity we used "coal oil" lamps for the short time we were up after it got dark, no refrigeration, everything was kept in the cellar or in a bucket hung in the well to keep it cool. No indoor plumbing, I vividly remember going out in the bitter cold and parking my butt on a frosty plank. I also remember carrying all of the water we used in 5-gallon buckets from the well in the bottom about a 100 yards downhill from the house; we heated water for washing and bathing in a big iron kettle, which was also used for scalding hogs. We heated and cooked with wood that was cut with a crosscut saw and split with wedges and a sledgehammer. We raised most of our food, planted a huge garden and canned hundred of quarts of fruit and veggies, milked several cows by hand and sold milk, raised and butchered hogs, cured our own hams, shoulders, jowls, bacon, canned sausage, and rendered lard. While there is something vaguely romantic to some folks about getting back to the old days and ways, when you have had to do it without the option of saying "to hell with this it's too hard" and going back to town, believe me there is nothing fun about it. Just a lot of hard work and drudgery. I still live on a small farm, have an earth sheltered home, heat with wood, have an orchard, plant a big garden and preserve a lot of food, raise our own beef, (I still refuse to milk a cow unless it is an emergency situation), raise our own fryers, and eggs. I also have a propane furnace, air conditioning, water heater, refrigerators, freezers, and best of all indoor plumbing. I have lived both ways and this is a whole lot better, and I suspect there are few people who were raised the hard way that would want to go back to living and working like that again.
See less See more
My very favorite book as a kid was My Side of the Mountain, which is about a boy who runs away from his family in NYC to live on his great-grandfather's land in the Catskill Mountains, with a pocketknife, some string, and a bunch of survival knowlege gleaned from books.

Dropping everything and just going and trying to make it from scratch somewhere is really tempting somedays- but I know if I want to be sucessful at it, it's going to need more planning.

My Great Grandmother used to tell me that the only thing good about''the good old days'' was that they were in the past. She grew up in Mississippi in the 1890s, & as she grew older she was delighted by any advancements that made her life easier. While I find many of the ideals of homesteading admirable, I have no desire to do without modern convienencies. I would have to think that our goal should be to find ways to use modern things,such as this computer that I'm talking to you on, to make our lives better. I've worked hard all my life to give my wife & kids something better, every year,every day. Being more self sufficient doesn't have to mean doing without things. I think that it means that we should use whatever we have access to,new or old, to make our lives Better.
Heck, everyone draws the line somewhere. I have alot of conveniences but don't have a clothesdryer (never have) and keep an old microwave in the basement (thats how often we use it). Don't have cable/satellite but do have this computer.

It is about what fits for you. I get tired of people saying "you're not a real 'homesteader' if..." So consider widening your perspective and find the wonder in that wild nature in your backyard. Even if it is lined with concrete and has many passersby.
1 - 19 of 19 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.