How did you start homesteading?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Tori'sGarDan, Feb 28, 2005.

  1. Tori'sGarDan

    Tori'sGarDan New Member

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    Ohio
    I am curious as to how you all got started in homesteading. Were you born to it? Did you already know how to raise animals? Did you just jump in with both feet and hope it worked? How long before you felt like you knew what you were doing with animals, gardening, canning/freezing, etc...? Was it scary and would you do it again the same way? My dh and I have 4 kids, 6 chickens, 1 golden retriever and 10 acres. We are just starting our venture and I guess it would inspire and give confidence if you would share your stories.

    Thanks
    Tori
     
  2. NikiandAlex

    NikiandAlex Member

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    You and I are in the same boat as far as getting started is concerned. So, I'm sorry that I don't have any true homesteading stories so share, but I think I have an answer to the first question you asked. I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere and moved to the city when I was 18. It was so boring! I didn't want to go shopping, or out to eat, or go visit the lastest thing. I'd rather walk out to the creek, or pick blackberries, or run through the irrigation with my dog. Now all I have to do is...everything!! But, at least, I'm sure my new homestead won't be lacking in things to do!
     

  3. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

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    Hi, TorysGarDan-- Welcome to the Board! You've come to the right place to get your question answered, but you will find that the folks here are a diverse group of people that have not taken a single path. Some have grown up on farms, while others have just made the leap and figured it out as they go. Of the latter group, some have prepared for years, others have gathered up every dollar they own, packed up the car, and set up housekeeping in a shipping container. Last fall, there was a woman with 3 teenage kids who had next to nothing and was bent on acquiring a plot of land and putting up a house (on her own) by winter. Don't know how it turned out, but she was an inspiring one! And check out Deberosa's posts (use the search function) regarding her ongoing adventure. Talk about an amazing city-born gal in her second year of homesteading who's going like gangbusters! Or Jena, a self-made cattle rancher who's built a thriving meat business right before our very eyes! Just hang out on the Board for a while and you'll get acquainted with some very interesting people and their stories.
     
  4. Mike in Ohio

    Mike in Ohio Well-Known Member

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    Tori,

    What part of Ohio are you in? Our farm is in Carroll County and our house is up in Cuyahoga County (we are an inholding in the parks).

    Oops...forgot my manners, welcome to the board!

    About the best advice I can give is to figure out what works for you. We keep bees, have a small orchard and are starting to process Black Walnuts. We don't currently keep any animals (well, a Siberian Husky and 4 cats <G>) such as chickens or goats. I am looking to work with a neighbor to run some cattle on our hay pasture. We are starting to experiment with garlic as well. I consider us more farmers than homesteaders. We currently have 47 acres at the farm. While I like the farm, it really is a business venture for me (as well as a lifestyle choice). This is how we plan to fund our "retirement".

    I try to tackle a few major projects each year and a certain amount of minor ones. The list of minor ones changes constantly. This years large one is fencing our North pasture. That's close to a mile of fencing with 4 gates. Another major project is to really focus on marketing. The previous 2 years was focused on working out our production processes for honey and black walnuts.

    Other people have different focuses and goals. Anyways, again, welcome to the board.

    Mike
     
  5. Helena

    Helena Well-Known Member

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    Our adventure in homesteading really came by accident 25 years ago. We wanted to move from surburbia and have a country home so we literally picked up and moved 300 miles away from family, friends, good job into a small town only knowing the real estate person and rented a house. We came and camped onced to sign the lease. I remember my father standing on the corner crying when the U-haul pulled away...I never looked back !! Young and foolish...or pioneer spirit ..who knows for sure !!?? Our house wasn't sold...no job for hubby lined up with $800 U-haul full of furniture, 2 girls ages 11 and 14 and various dogs, cats and gerbils. Within a month husband had a job. In another year we bought our little homestead. Our daughter had a friend we stopped to see one Sunday and low and behold they had a small homestead. Goats, sheep, chickens, homemade applesause and eggs from them for dinner that night !! We were thrilled with the woodstove and the "simple life" they seemed to have !! Then we found a Mother Earth News magazine and we thought it would be "fun" and I guess we have been having fun ever since. We have a small homestead now with goats, chickens, peacocks, horses. Grow 90 % of our veggies and of course the milk and eggs. Have put a few goats in the freezer over the years with chickens and turkeys too. Have tried a little of everything and found out what we liked and wanted to do and left the rest behind as experience. Heat entirely by wood..no central heat in this old 100 year old farmhouse..kitchen cook stove, (have a propane gas one also) wringer washer (just love using it..uses less water and cleans clothes much bettter too)..We certainly were not born to this way of life. We actually had the book Manual of Practical Homesteading by John Vivan in one hand and the goat's udder in the other when we first milked. Wish I had a picture of that night !! Learned to can foods the same way..book in hand. Find as many books or magazines you can find and read..read..read !! Ask questions of the old timers and do not voice your opinion on things you know little or nothing about. Living in a sad little house with little furniture might not be your way of life but often that is how some folk live and don't need your comments. Know what I mean..lay low and listen. You are the new comer in their area and you need to learn about them and their ways of live not the other way around. Don't be the city slicker who thinks they know everything. You'll do fine and the local people will come to love you and respect your decesion to make a contry life for your family. Do not over extend yourself with new gadgets and new trucks and cars. Money is harder to make in the country on jobs. If you want a simplier life you will need to leave behind some of your city ways and maybe even some conveniences. Try to stay out of debt as much as you can...it's easy to fall into that pit and it will surely put stress on your life. Our daughters adjusted just fine and are the better for it I believe. Even though both of them did not follow in our homestead ways I know that they can cook and feed their families with a garden if ever a day comes to that. They know how to watch their money and learn to live with less when times were hard for them. You get a different out look on life on what is needed and what you just want. Laugh at each other a lot and remind yourself that your family is the most important thing in your life and remind yourself ... husband or wife also. Life is too short to be somewhere you don't want to live so enjoy what you are doing.Money is not the #1 thing in life. Time will pass quickly and as we have found out we never regretted moving to the mountains...only wish we had done it years before we had. Good Luck and please let us know how you all are doing from time to time !!!
     
  6. chas

    chas Well-Known Member

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    western pa
    Welcome aboard neighbor.
    I was raised on a farm that did everything.I ran a trap line,milked cows, got cleaned up, ate breakfast and walked half a mile to catch the school bus at 7:15 .
    Us boys drove tractor by 8 yrs. castrated animals by 10 yrs.And custom baled around the county by 14 yrs. Combined grain for hire at 15.
    I knew ;) what I was getting into when I married a city girl and bought our 30 A. farm! She's my right hand man Friday ,does it all and loves it :) .
    We are self sustaining, grow every thing we eat except the ho hos :D
    I pasture raise goats, rabitts,chickens,and ducks.Raise fish.plant a hugh garden , raise 4 colors of raspberries,blueberries,kiwis.grapes(can our own juice),apples, pears, peaches,nectarines,apricots,cherries.And in the fall we have Paps Punkin Patch.
    We also teach sunday school and work with the youth,and I'm deacon chairman.
    I work away from the farm as a matalurgical chemist 6 /7 days a week :( Can't wait to retire in 3-4 yrs. so I can slow down and smell our rose gardens!!!!
    I am now set up to do my own butchering.It makes it easier processing the venison, when I have time to hunt,and we put a couple goats in the freezer.
    Sometimes we make ice cream with our own milk and eggs.
    We are having a ball.
    Lotsa luck and may God bless;
    Chuck
     
  7. comfortablynumb

    comfortablynumb Well-Known Member

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    I was born a poor white child.
    lol
     
  8. whiterock

    whiterock Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I was raised on this place. Went to college and got two degrees in Ag. Ed. There was never anyplace else that has ever seemed like home. One day development will force me to move but I plan to stay in the country. I never fit in in town.
    Ed
     
  9. mtnmom208

    mtnmom208 Well-Known Member

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    My husband and I had been married 6 mos when we made the decision. It may sound cliche, but 9/11 was the day that we vowed to sell everything, buy an RV and go find a place to build our life and family. It's not that we were paranoid about terrorists, we just knew that it was time to simplify and get back to what life and survival are really about. We wanted to start a family, with me at home with the babies, and knew that we couldn't do it on one income in the city.

    We were both born and raised big city but had country in our hearts I guess. Our friends and family didn't believe us until we pulled out of town with our old 4x4 Dodge and a little RV. My cell-phone toting, SUV-driving, credit card-collecting friends could not understand why I would want to raise chickens, grow a garden, and home school my kids. His family claimed that we were born a century too late! It took 6 mos. for us to sell everything and down-size but we knew it was right because all of the things that needed to happen just fell into place, God at work in our lives. :worship:

    We decided to visit my mother who lived in a very rural area and that is where we stayed. Everything just insisted on falling into place. One of her neighbors was in forclosure on a beautiful 5 acre piece with a 3 bedroom home on it. The house was no paradise but the price was right! We did not care that it had no power or well, it took us months to clean up but we are not sorry. Our 10yr. mortgage is less than any rent payment. There are no utility bills or credit cards in this house! We have running water from a spring. We love wood heat. We have a lovely outhouse and composting toilet. We have propane appliances, a phone, and a generator to vacumm,do laundry, and use a computer. Chickens, a huge garden, and we can look out any window to see nothing but forest. Yes, I'm in love..........It is the hardest thing I have ever done but the things that are hard are worth the most. We had a little boy about 9mos. after we moved and another boy due this May. I plan on home-schooling them both.

    Let me tell you, anything is possible and life is really that simple. Luxury is being able to raise your own food and protection from the weather, the companionship of family, and the body and mind to do those things. Yeah, I guess I am a homesteader. I can't wait to see where we are in 5 or 10 years!
     
  10. indypartridge

    indypartridge Well-Known Member Supporter

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    DW and I are both city born and bred and have always wanted to get out. After DW went thru breast cancer twice in 5 years, we decided to stop talking about "someday" and just do it. Moved last July. We are clueless about country living which makes fine comedy, and the cost of being stupid can be high sometimes, but we love our log cabin in the woods! There is so much to learn and it's so exciting. Got horses for the kids last year. Adding bees and a small garden this year. Chickens and maybe rabbits next year. Loving every minute of our country adventure! (Well, maybe not every minute - sometimes it takes a few minutes for our sense of humor to kick in after the latest disaster!)
     
  11. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    Welcome!

    I was born in the country into a farming family. We always had chickens and a garden when I was growing up and more often than not we were raising a couple of hogs and steers for meat along the way. My wife's family moved around quite a bit when she was little. Her father was a minister of music but had to stop that because a throat illness. After that they moved back home and always had a garden but didn't raise any animals. Ever since we've been married we've grown most of our food. Butchering chickens and doing a lot of canning was new to her, but she loves it. It was years before I knew there was a word for what we were doing; it was just our way of life. Now with 12 of us in the family we HAVE to grow most of our food!

    I still work in town. We don't have much debt and we're working to get that paid off and get some things going so that I can make a living here.
     
  12. BamaSuzy

    BamaSuzy Well-Known Member

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    I was raised partially in the country but NEVER EVER worked in a garden, didn't can, didn't have animals, NOTHING!

    When I married I gradually got into homesteading, especially during the 1980's, heating our home with wood, container gardening and more...

    We really got serious about it all after the Blizzard of 1993 when we were stranded in north Alabama for a week in huge snow with no heat source but a fireplace and no way to cook but on the fireplace....Now in this house we have a wood heater that can double as a cookstove, and also have back up propane heater on wall....Now raise Angora rabbits, am learning to spin and knit, have three goats and hope to have babies this spring, am an avid gardener and canner, have begun making goat milk soap, and miore....

    AND EVERYTHING I'VE LEARNED I've learned either on this forum or the Backwoods Home forum or in COUNTRYSIDE or BACKWOODS HOME magazines or in Carla Emery' big book! I didn't know hardly anything.

    My 84 year old mama still thinks I'm a nut and doesn't understand why I don't have and don't want a clothes drier, why I bother to grow my own food, etc.....
     
  13. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    I think that my mindset about homesteading developed from childhood with interest in domestic animals and wildlife. As a kid in town, the yard space I used to keep pigeons. The first ones as kids we went into the stock yard sheep pens and collected young wild pigeons and then I built a loft, got some domestic breeds and then went into making pens to keep domestic rabbits. From then on, I always had an interest for outdoors and eventually to do what many now call homesteading by growing garden and domestic animals for own use or market, foraging, and developing interest for land and water activities.
    I never really considered a lot of what I was, and am doing, is homesteading.
    The first major foray about 17 years ago while living in town and buying the first rural garden property where a big garden was developed. Had practice to grow lots of vegetables and learn ways to harvest, store, and even sell a few at the farm market. Eventually muskovy and khaki ducks were added to this along with heavy breed chickens for eggs and roasters.
    The move to a larger country property was spent more foolishly with commuting back and forth to work as an income necessity. :rolleyes: I hate that part, and it was the better part of the reason the spouse is now an ex.
    I continue with homesteading interest as a mindset and every part of 'starting over' will include the activities of homesteading in one way or another. In the past this included baitfish harvesting business, raising turkeys, ducks for eggs and meat, chicken broilers for a natural 'home grown' taste to fill the home freezer, vegetable growing, wild mushroom and fruit foraging, and of course those nice free range brown rich eggs.
     
  14. Tori'sGarDan

    Tori'sGarDan New Member

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    Location:
    Ohio
    These are wonderful stories thank you. A little about us...Dh and I are from a little town in Northwest Ohio about 10 miles from Indiana and Michigan borders. Dh was born and raised in town and I was a country girl until about the age of 11. Divorce forced my mother to pack up 4 kids and move into town. I hated it. When Dh and I began to be seriously dating I told him if he didn't want a country life then we would be wasting our time. Lucky for me he had always wanted to live in the country. We married and had to live in town for the first 5 yrs. At the first opportunity we sold our house in town and bought this beautiful 10 flat, treeless acreage. We built ourselves a 32 x 64 pole barn and lived in that for the first 5 yrs with two boys. In the 4th yr we were able to start talking about a house and along came boy #3. One and a half yrs later we started building our house along with help from my father. Along came #4...the girl. (I don't recommend pregnancy and building...slows ya down LOL). Now here we are ready to get the real stuff. We have a green house which we built on a warm weekend in January this year. Have 6 chickens....that has been quite an experience so far. We've planted willows and pines and maples and ash trees around the homesite. We are so excited but didn't want to be ridiculed or thought to be big headed by just jumpin in. It's good to see that others have too. I am definitely here to learn, learn, learn. Thanks again looking forward to getting to know you all.
     
  15. HilltopDaisy

    HilltopDaisy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I enjoy this sort of topic. I was raised in the country, and we had the occasional garden and livestock. My parents weren't at all serious about "homesteading", and in fact probably never even heard the term. They thought that raising meat would lower the food bill, as we had 7 kids in the house. Although the folks weren't much for gardening, I became addicted at a very young age.

    I had somehow come across the book "Practical Homesteading" by John Vivian, while in my early 20's. And I read Organic Gardening and Mother Earth News (this was in the early-mid 80's). My ex and I had 13 acres and a huge garden, bees, etc.. I canned everything in sight! I can't say that that's how I lived the remainder of my life, but after a period of many years in town, I'm now back in the country, albeit alone.

    I have 5 acres of gently sloping open land. I planted an orchard and blueberries, and a very nice garden. (Seems like only yesterday that I was whining about my pitiful first garden here). I have a couple of sheep, four goats, lots of poultry, rabbits, dogs and cats. I'll be starting 2 beehives in May, the hardware is all over my diningroom, in various stages of being painted, and the bees have been ordered.

    The long range goal is to have a market garden. I'm taking my time and learning all I can, so one day when it feels right, I'll be ready to dive in.

    I love this way of life. There was close to 18" of fresh snow on the ground this morning. I've learned that shoveling is not the smartest way to deal with it......so I now make use of a snowblower. Doesn't fit in the homesteading picture? It allows me to live here on top of this hill, so it works for me. I'll acknowledge that I must be quite a sight, snowblowing the pasture, but I can get everything done in an hour or two, rather than several days. Anyway, I wouldn't want it any other way.
     
  16. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    SE PA, zone 6b
    My, my. You folks have been busy. Welcome to the board/forum.

    I was born 70 years ago, and have moved 67 times since. My summers growing up were spent on my grandparents ranch in Lemoore, CA. During the war years, we stayed with the other grandparents in Eureka, CA. Many happy days camping or picnicing in the redwoods. Papa had a huge garden, and canning was just part of our life. I wasn't too involved in the actual farming duties, but something must have rubbed off. I married a Navy pilot, and just expected to follow him and hold up the fort. This was all before easy phone calls or e-mail. When they left on cruises, the mail was all we had! Took awhile to get an answer about anything, so I became a DIY, like it or not!

    Then we moved to Moffat Field in the San Jose area. We all went camping in the redwoods at Big Basin, and I realized that there was something important missiing from my life. Then moved to NAS Lemoore where all my relatives owned farms.

    Cut across many moves, 3 children growing up, divorce and I found myself wondering what to do. I used to be a financial planner and often asked my clients, "If you won the lottery and money were no object at all, HOW would you live?" Not what would you buy, but what would your life look like? Well, I applied that to my life and realized I would buy some land and see what I could do with it. SO, I did.

    I lived on 5 ac near Mt Vernon, WA and grew salad greens for the Farmers Mkt. Had lots of fun with that; was on the board of the Mkt. I struggled a lot (was in my 60's), knew what I wanted, had a plan, but had big gaps in the execution phase. I worked hard or had depressions for 5 years. I finally ran out of money and energy at the same time. Learned a lot--LOT! but had to get away to see what it was. I was successful in a lot, but had to hire out all the heavy work. I was trying to get everything done in three years, so I could just maintain for the rest of my life.

    I have spent the last four years grieving over leaving the farm and the West, and now live with my daughter on 2 ac of very suburban living. Those four years, I read every book I owned and more I bought, and analyzed what I could have done differently. I also got very honest with myself about what I can do, what I will do, again, how I want my life to look, and am starting again. I am MUCH better informed now, love living in a house with other people, still miss the west, but definitely know the answers to the questions. When I started the farm, I didn't know the questions, in spite of all the books. Big gap between the reading and the doing. I will work on only three things here, and am taking a lot longer to do it. I have started a small backyard nursery, help with the garden, and will raise chickens and rabbits. These are all within my capabilities. My daughter may be able to enlarge each concept later, but I will just stay small with what I can handle. It's too bad that I cannot take what I know now, and just step back in time to my earlier years.

    I have tried to share on these various threads in an honest way what I have learned and hope someone will learn from that. I am still learning, of course, and the source of much of that is now with Homesteading Today.

    My advice is to start small, and build up. 6-12 chickens until you know what they are about. Landscape around the house and put it a small garden...expand with experience. Read, read, read and analyze, analyze, analzye. If this doesnt' work, then why not and what do I need to do to make it work? There are a bazillion directions to go in, just DO NOT TRY THEM ALL AT ONCE!!!