homesteading to the extreme???

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by wizzard, Apr 27, 2005.

  1. wizzard

    wizzard future nomad

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    first off let me say hi all, and im new... been reading posts for about a week, and i thought i would post a very broad question to see what all the people on this board think

    so.. im married, have a 4year old boy and we are expecting another in about a month. my family a friend and his family are considering losing the grid all together. we have been in discussion over it for about 2 years now... and have saved up a bit of money to put towards this venture.

    our goal is to be completely off the electrical grid and preferably off the tax grid. we want to grow all of our own food, have enough farm animals to sustain us, and make enough money to pay property taxes yearly. we want to use only wood for cooking heat. want to build our own structures. we will also want a forge so that we can make most metal items that we need. in the beginning of this venture we will be buying aprox 20-30 acres and start off by living in tents until we are able to get structures raised. we will most likely do this about midsumer so that we can have crops planted in the spring and therefore have food.

    so the question here is .... what all would be needed to make a transition like this... also, what would not necesarily be needed, but would help a lot?

    also any tips on how to go about it?

    what all might i need to organize before such a venture?
    any help offered will be greatly apreciated, i hope to learn much from this comunity.
     
  2. mtnmom208

    mtnmom208 Well-Known Member

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    Hi & welcome!
    I haven't been using this site for long but I love it. There are "homesteaders" here from every degree and you can ask or comment on anything.
    I am married with 2 kids and one on the way. We live off the grid already, wood heat, private water, etc. and would eventually like to be as self-sufficient as you. One thing I can say, it takes awhile to adapt but it is so rewarding! It will take us years to, slowly but surely, move from our old life syle to a more self sustaining one. The time flies by while your caught up surviving. I cannot even begin to answer your more specific questions without knowing more about your situation, climate, and what you already have. I have a wellspring of advice all by myself. Even though we have only been at it for 3 years we have learned an incredible amount. Good luck, ask us anything.
     

  3. Helena

    Helena Well-Known Member

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    We are not totally self sufficient yet in any way and perhaps we will never be ? But we do heat completely with wood and cook also during the winter with wood tool. The previous answer seems as though they would be your best bet in finding out the little details that will make or break your dreams. I just know that it is a lot of work even though it is rewarding. But...are you going to work off the homestead on a job ??? That is where you will find your lost time. Are 2 families going in together or did I misunderstand ?? I takes a lot of wood to heat a house...I know that for sure. We get 20 tons of pole length longs and cut them, chop all by hand and it's work for sure. Also buy slab wood too. Not to mention your garden. The first few years you probably won't have enough veggies to carry you through to the next year until you get your garden going soil etc. Animals...it's an expense and things happen when you least expect them too. Start with a few ideas first and work your way up the ladder or you will be overwhelmed with the work and the necessity of doing it all now because you have nothing us. Read all you can about people who have done this and learn from them and the old timers around you and get the advice from fellow homesteaders too. Will you live in tents also until your buildings are complete with children ?? Rain, mud, snow and cold weather. Think !! before you wave good bye to the real world. Just don't walk off into the woods and let Mother Nature take care of you. Please understand that I am surely not discouraging you at all. But...many have tried and failed because of no planning ahead. Have you even been in the outdoors alone for days on end without any conviences ?? Primative camping would be a good place to start for a week or so to see what it just might be like. Remember people from the past learn by growing up in that time of life....you will be suddenly put into that life without any real life skills that you learned from childhood. Yes...it can be done and I do know families that have done very well at it. Money is still a big issue and can pop your dreams fast if you don't have a handle on it. Baby still needs shoes and the tax man will come !! Plan, Plan, and than plan some more. But do it !!!! Don't take forever getting all your ducks in a row and before you know it the years will have passed and you'll be 100 years old. Raise you children on the homestead before they get older and they can voice an opinion on their wants...then it gets harder to change lifestyles. Remember if you never try you will never know .... ;) Good Luck !!
     
  4. diane greene

    diane greene Well-Known Member

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    It takes a lot of money to be poor. A good cookstove, hand washer, good lamps, building supplies, the food you can't produce (oil, salt, flour, extra milk for kids), transportation expenses (you can't grow tires and car batteries), live stock, housing materials etc. all cost money. I think you should gradually give things up and replace them with alternatives. Maybe do a trial run and rent a primitive cabin for awhile. I think this type of living is harder on women with children than anyone else. I have been on this board for almost 6 years and have written to a number of women who did this with their families. They all went back to a more modern form of living because of the hardship and insecurity, but mainly lack of money in times of crisis. It's not fun living without easy hot water and instant lights when you have children (or even if you don't). Children get sick and medical care is expensive. It's hard to make money in such an environment. I'm not saying just stay put, but I am saying this is a tough road to just jump into. I know this sounds gloomy, but better to be prepared than surprised.

    I suggest you first read: "Back to The Land" by Eleanor Agnew & "Harvest: A Year in The Life of an Organic Farm" by Nicola Smith. Both books will you ideas about how people have done this and what problems they found on the way.
     
  5. patarini

    patarini Well-Known Member

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    Learn study and learn some more! Anybody from a farm? Who will kill and process the meats? Anyone know how to smoke cure hams bacon etc?
    I am running off solar -- its expensive to install! Have you been a smith? If not get the complete guide to blacksmithing i think thats the name will xheck when i get home next week. Start practicing now -- trust me its not fun to make the nails you need by hand! How much growing food exp do you have? Practice! Food for livestock can get pricey, learn to grow it! Plan on a job off the homestead till it pays -- and I think most homesteads dont pay enough to live on. What crops/livestock/crafts etc will you sell to make a living? Start them up early! I am trying all this on 22 acres in tn, what fun! Course i can plow both sides of my acres -- big help! Good Luck!
     
  6. TennOC

    TennOC Member

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    Even if you are starting in mid-summer, you can have some garden things like tomatoes already planted in big pots that you can move. Then take lots of seed for sprouts for the kitchen, as well as greens for salads. Look into planting a "fall garden" too. Good luck.
     
  7. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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  8. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    hi tennOC!! long time no see!!

    dang, that rhymes! :confused: :)

    yes the five gallon bucket of tomatoes works good. i did that when i moved, and it worked great! even people who only have an apartment with patio can have fresh tomatoes.
     
  9. tamilee

    tamilee Well-Known Member

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    Hi wizzard;
    WELCOME! Wow, we share the same dream. I'm looking in to going off grid but, I am still in the processing of researching state and local laws. Our electric co-op tells me it's a county law that all homes be tied to the grid and that it is mandatory that we pay a monthly fee for the power even if if we don't use it. I think the base is around $40.00/month with no kWh and they claim they do nOT buy back surplus power from grid intertied systems. I'm not sure they can legally do that.
    Also we have to pay monthly for the waterlines which pass by our house to the expensive development that went in about 10 years ago. Now we are soon to get MANDATORY sewer connection and monthly sewer bills. It's kinda disheartening to see my dream being snatched away by progress. I am happy for you and excited that you are interested in and pursuing being off-grid. I'd love to hear about your progress.
    I don't have a lot of advice to give,. Just wanted to say welcome and I'm thrilled that you are going to pursue your dreams. I wish you success.
    Have a blessed day.
    tamilee

    P.S. I just bought the book "Handy Farm Devices and How To Make Them" by Rolfe Cobleigh, on Amazon.com book section. With shipping I paid about $7.30 for a new reprinted copy. It has a wealth of wisdom and instructions.
     
  10. djuhnke

    djuhnke Well-Known Member

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    With all of the people who want to be off the grid, they still have computers and go on the internet. Interesting :)
     
  11. dscott7972

    dscott7972 Well-Known Member

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    Check the State/County wellfare laws, we Foster Parented for many years and I know of a situation where they took children away in our County because they lived in a tent. I didn't agree with the decision but then I had no say.
     
  12. bgak47

    bgak47 Well-Known Member

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    I find that to be interesting too!
     
  13. sisterpine

    sisterpine Goshen Farm Supporter

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    In my somewhat educated opinion the first thing you would need to determine is "Exactly how - off the grid- are you talking about." Are you intending to have not utilities or just no grid tied utilities. Solar Wind Hydro or None? If you say NONE then how will you get the water out of the well you will have to have someone come and drill? A bucket takes a long time for as much water as you will be needing. Going to get your light from oil lamps? they're hard to do homework by or read by. Are you wanting to go back in time a hundred years? more? or less?
    We have been totally off the public grid for over 5 years now. And yes I have a computer and yes I have internet. And yes I need to create electricity for this to happen as well as I pay hefty monthly fees for the service! We cook, refrigerate and dry clothes with propane. Our electricity comes from solar panels, wind generator and gasoline generator (would love to lose that last one someday) as needed. We recently drilled our first well, 400 feet 8000 dollars and the hole is DRY. Money can disapear quickly! Living this type of life has many rewards and just as many challenges. For instance, today it is blizzarding (again) and we must go to town (25 miles) for a doctor appointment....we will have to put chains on all four just to get down off of the mountain and then change into not muddy clothes when we get to town! An interesting life indeed, be sure it is what you want and that you are young enough, strong enough, determined enough and smart enough to pull it off before you go investing in this one!
     
  14. bgak47

    bgak47 Well-Known Member

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    I wish I was 35yrs younger!
     
  15. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    My parents like to camp, even when they had small children.

    Actually, my Mother had 6 kids, so there was ALWAYS a baby and a toddler or two!

    There were a few rules around the campsite. One of them was that Mom ALWAYS had a lawn chair available. A woman with a small baby does NOT need the added physical stress of always getting up and down from the ground all day.

    Also, wood and water were always to be at hand at all times, and she did not have to fetch them. A minimum of 5 gallons was considered to be adequate. When it fell below 2 gallons we were sent to fill a second 5 gallon container.

    A table was necessary for cooking, so that Mom could cook while standing up, and someone else did the dishes.

    Laundry was done at a laundromat and everyone shared the work.

    I cannot say how to run the house when it is up and without utilities, but this turned out to be a good way to run a campsite.

    Good luck!
     
  16. terrythetaod

    terrythetaod Well-Known Member

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    I can't offer any specific advice, I can just comment that I understand your desire. I think the rate of technological advance alarms some people (including me.) I can certainly appreciate the benefits, but I think the drawbacks are not immediately apparent.

    I often wish that my life was a lot simpler. I go to work to make money, I spend money, I get a raise, I spend more money. I use my money to try to reconstruct a simpler environment. But, I have to take advantage of the modern world in order build the capital. It's a catch-22.

    I think the person that said "It takes a lot of money to be poor" said it best. For example:

    I just spent $500 building a chicken coop. There is nothing fancy about it, but I bought all the wire, nails, hinges, staples, roofing tin, lumber, etc. from Home Depot. All those items are expensive. Our chickens just started laying. After the fifth egg, I said: "This one only cost us $100.00!"

    Today we have a modern infrastructure. A hundred years ago we had a different infrastructure. You could chop down trees, and have them milled into usable lumber. You could grow corn, and have it milled into meal. Your neighbors didn't complain about your pigs and chickens, because they had them too. You had to have them in order to eat.

    I think it is easy to forget some of the advantages of modern times while longing for a simpler life. Modern health care saves a lot of children's lives. A hundred years ago child mortality rates were much higher. One of the saddest photos I've even seen is a picture of my mother's two-year old sister being prepared for burial. They were too poor to have her picture taken while she was alive, but they managed to get a few photos after she died. What did she die of? Who knows? She was a "sickly" child. In today's world, she probably would have been saved by modern medicine.

    So, do what you can, but go in with your eyes open. Don't be afraid to take advantage of the conveniences from today. Believe me, your ancestors would have loved to have had electricity, running water, paved roads and a Ford F-150 in the driveway.
     
  17. Mutti

    Mutti Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Remember,when the pioneers opened the West and lived like you think you want to they often "wore out" two or three wives. Child care is exhausting enough with running water and electricity...add in keeping a wood stove going, gardening,canning,sewing,cooking from scratch,caring for a hubby. Well, I've been there with three in diapers and no running water...the word squalor comes to mind and it like to drove me mad not being able to keep things the way I wanted. Hauling water and always taking sponge baths gets old mighty fast. Do you know how much a cow drinks? How about hauling a 55 gal.drum daily,rain,snow,ice? It takes years to acquire all the tools for homesteading let alone the knowledge and each area of the country also comes with their own special problems. You can't live off the land these days no matter what the books say, gardens aren't instantly sucessful the first year,animals are costly to buy and maintain. I personally know two different couples who ended up divorced over the "back to the land" thing...stress over money and long hours of hard labor that brought little reward but bare exsistence killed their dreams. NOT to say it can't be done...jsut the chances are pretty slim. And what about health care...a simple broken leg can bury you in debt. I'd never want to squelch someones dreams...we moved to the country on less than a shoestring and many people do but it will be tougher than you think even with much planning and sacrifice.DEE
     
  18. mtman

    mtman Well-Known Member

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    one thing is for shure it takes money to get in it and it takes money to stay in it
     
  19. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    I cannot tell you all the mistakes I made on my 5 ac farm in Western WA. I had gardened, read every book available since 1970, had all the copies of Organic Gardening and Farming, etc. etc. That was with water, elec, phone, etc. I am currently living with my daughter and granddaughter in a suburb near Philadelphia.

    I highly recommend that you and your friends get a standard farm-type property, out in the country a little, with a house on it. Will you and your friends be living in the same house? This will give you time to "work out the kinks." This seems a good way to lose some good friends in a hurry! Improve the house and the property, and then go further out in the boonies, with a MUCH better idea of what it takes to live off grid.

    I don't want to discourage your dream, but do caution that taking it in one or more stages may make the transition a lot easier and smarter.
     
  20. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    Thats a big bite of information your asking for.

    I think you know this, but my 1st thought is that your not ready, not even close. This is a great place to ask and learn. For me, I think the single most difficult thing to deal with is being alone so much, hubby works off farm and is here and awake only about 20 hours per week. I don't have a small child on the farm, thats a plus. It is VERY VERY hard to raise a small child as you build your place up. Until you get the infrastructure for your survival in place, it is not much fun as a way of life.

    I will have to think abit on what comes to mind as being your greatest need as far as info and skills to learn so as I think of things I will come back and post.

    the 1st thought I had was 20 to 30 acres won't be enough land, we have 60 acres, about 1/2 trees and it's almost not enought. We freerange. and annually buy only 10 to 15 % of the animals feed and I am learning to grow that too.

    Right now we have 3 horses, they are currently employed as lawn mowers to produce fertilizer.

    4 sheep - lawn mowers, wool and someday meat,
    7 goats - milk, brush control, meat, I get some fertilzer from the barn and corral from both of these
    Chickens -eggs, bug control, fertilizer, meat
    ducks- muscovies and others, eggs, bug control, meat
    rabbits - fertilizer, meat, furs, I am learning to grow their food, we buy more food for rabbits than anything else.
    We had 2 pigs last year, the only things we didn't like about them was the following me and squeeling for food, and rooting up the ground near the house and barn, when we have fence to keep them away from me and the house/barn area we will get pigs again.

    It will be easier to learn and for us to help you with info if you ask smaller questions.

    This is not an easy way to live, buy for some of us there is no other way to be happy.