How do ya'll do it

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by pcdreams, Aug 14, 2006.

  1. pcdreams

    pcdreams Well-Known Member

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    I'm curious how you all manage to run your homestead and work a full time job.
    Now granted we still live in town but with me working full time I don't have a spare minute to get anything done.

    I get home and make dinner, do a load or two of laundry, start working on whatever project I've got going (right now trying to get the kitchen finished remodeling).. by then its about 10pm.. time to take the wife to work..get home around 11ish and off to bed to start again at 6.

    I've been working on this kitchen for a little while now and I'm not even close to being done (still got cabinets to build, floor to put down, trim to do, etc).

    Anyway my point is how do you do it all? I know theres no way I could come home from work and do a full days worth of work (feeding, milking, haying, etc) and ever sleep. Do ya'll keep it so small its managable? And if so how much of your subsistance are we talking.. can't be close to 100% I'd think.

    I guess maybe I'm just a bit jaded.. Our area is low wage jobs (even with education which I have). Now I could take on 2 full time jobs.. but then the problem multiplies... I just don't get it.


    Here is my issues I could use some help with.

    We know we want to run a small-medium size organic farm (dairy) and we know we want it to be in VT. Looking at farms for sale at this time it looks like +/- 250k to get a place thats got a house and is setup to milk with 80 acres (this is just what we've found, probally not an indicator of market all over the state).

    What would be the best route to get started on a savings plan to purchase something like this? Idea being to have it paid for within 5 years (before we move). And now the real monkey wrench.. All at Near minimum wage (6-7/hr).

    The wife works at the hospital and makes good $$ that takes care of the bills we currently have. I am able to save all my paychecks toward our goal.. But I don't see a way at this time.. Figure $7 x 35 h/wk = $245 - 40 (tax) = $205 x52 = $10660/ yr for 5 years = $53,300.. + 175/month we save in food per month( thanks for the tips on this one) Not even close for downpayment. SIGH

    I'm out of ideas. We've cut back just about as much as possible. Mortgage, utilities, phone/internet, insurance, food, trash is about it.

    If I could get the time to get the house finished and sold (hopefully make enough to build a small cabin on our land (which is paid for) we would be able to do away with nearly all those bills (minus gas of course).. But the underlying problem remains (low wages).

    As I said we're out of ideas and at the breaking point.. Any advice would be very graciously accepted.
     
  2. vancom

    vancom Well-Known Member

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    Same boat--

    I work but DH stays home with kids, etc. We are nowhere near providing for ourselves, but we were working at it slowly but surely. I was earning more than enough for all the outgo and then DH's 3 surgeries and a cancer dx later we are back to ME doing all the work with the livestock (not alot but the base of what we had hoped would add $$ to the bank and food in the fridge/freezer) and I am, like you exhausted. We have 3 kids and they are, honestly, about as useful as tits on a boar hog (to use my dear departed grandma's words) and complain all the time.

    I am actually considering throwing in the towel after 1.5 years of finally doing what I thought I wanted to do. We'll eat the pigs, breed and sell all the Lamancha dairy goats, and wait for the laying hens to die off. I can always buy what I need at Publix and stop this.

    A rant but a heartfelt one none the less. As Bill Clinton would say "I feel yer pain."

    Vanessa
     

  3. ChiliPalmer

    ChiliPalmer Well-Known Member

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    Well, don't know if this would work for you but I'll tell you how DH does it. He works for the paycheck to finance the homestead; I'm the homesteader. Any work not able to be done by myself or the children is either hired out in the local economy or sweettalked as a favor to be exchanged later. He'll catch up with some of the heavy work when he's home on leave.
     
  4. Pizza Guy

    Pizza Guy Well-Known Member

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    Are you stuck at $7 for the next 5 years? Is there chance for promotion? What skills might your employer be looking for that you could go to a community college to get those skills. Is there any on the job training potential?

    I would focus on ways to raise your income but I can't help much with specifics since I don't know your skill sets.
     
  5. pcdreams

    pcdreams Well-Known Member

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    I agree.. An income increase is what is needed. Heres a bit about my history and skills set.

    I'm in the pizza business too (recently went back after I couldn't locate anything for quite some time). I'm at the top of the pay scale for shift manager. Possibilities for assistant(70 hrs a week) or GM(90 hrs a week) at less pay (they call it salary).. I worked there for 7 1/2 years before.. Most of it at $5.25.. only the last 2 years was at $6.75 (which is where I'm at now)

    I have a degree in network technology as well as A+, Network+, Security+ certifications.. problem with that is that in this area the market is saturated I haven't been able to land a job in that field for the past 6 years I been looking (granted I graduated a year ago but was looking long beforehand).

    I thought something was going to pan out with the trades.. Tested for electrician apprentiship with IBEW and scored well.. But didn't get the position.. They told me to come back when I had 1000 hrs under my belt.

    If I had my duthers I'd sell the house pickup and rent a place in VT till we could get some $$ squirrled away.. Problem with that plan is 1.. No way to make job contacts there without being there.. 2. I'm guessing rent is going to be more than our mortage 3. hard to find a place that will rent with 2 dogs and a cat..

    I suppose we could move to our parcel up there but I'm not sure it would be worth the hassle (& fines) once they found out we were living there without well and septic.
     
  6. anniew

    anniew keep it simple and honest Supporter

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    Are you being realistic in thinking you can buy a place for $250,000 and get it paid off in 5 years.
    Your "project" time is the time homesteaders who work outside would be homesteading!
    A five year plan doesn't sound feasible to me to buy an operating dairy farm...then, of course, there are the cows to purchase, perhaps equipment to buy, etc. Why do you think dairy farming in the northeast is decreasing?
    You have to come up with a different plan, I think. Right now your plan is more pipe dreams as financially it just doesn't cut it.
    Sorry.
    Ann
     
  7. boren

    boren Well-Known Member

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    Finding a working grade A dairy with 80 acres for $250k seems really really low to me....You can barely find a house with 80 acres for 250k out in Indiana...That's $3k/acre for the land alone.

    Maybe it would be worth finding something smaller and seeing if you ever like to milk animals... Or deal with sick animals, etc etc. I don't know your background, but if you think it's busy in the city just wait till you have 200 head to milk at last twice a day.

    In between podcast 2 and 3 I did a sound seeing tour milking Cleo, a former goat of ours. If you've never milked anything before I suggest you look at my URL in my sig, and then look in the archives, you'll find it in the March time frame. If you have earphones it's in stereo just like you were there.
     
  8. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    I would say "it is impossible to..." but I know people who are farmers and both spouses work off farm to make it happen. How they do it is a mystery to me. It is an absolutely brutal schedule. I can't imagine what it is like for the children, but to them this is the "norm." When I lived on my uncle's farm it wasn't at all unusual for both parents to be working, leaving pre-teen boys with the chores. Everything from feeding the bottle calves to gathering eggs. It sounds, on paper, all very rural and ideal. But in the depths of winter, when the buckets are frozen and the world is dark, it isn't such a rosy picture. Oh sure, nobody died. But they did break bones (fall from hay loft when one missed their footing) and I'll tell you frankly... nothing was ever quite "right."

    Everything was run down. Nothing ever got done completely, only to "good enough." In all the time I lived on that farm the kitchen was never clean. We never had the luxury of time to clean it. It just got grimier and grittier as the years went by. The kids, the parents, always looked a little tattered.

    And not one of those kids grew up to be farmers. It was their parent's dream, lived at great cost to everyone around them.

    PC has a good point. There is a point at which the slog becomes irrational. When I was sick last winter we made the snap decision to pretty much slaughter everything my husband could catch (and shoot a few he couldn't) because there is a breaking point where the "dream" becomes a bit of a nightmare, and seriously irrational. You CAN after all, walk into a grocery store and buy anything you want regardless of the season. You can buy canned food, fresh food, dried food... and biscuit mix, if you want to get right to it. The homestead thing, carried to an extreme, becomes irrational.

    Or as that venerated Vermont company says... If it isn't fun, why do it?

    Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream!
     
  9. pcdreams

    pcdreams Well-Known Member

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    Dang it!! There goes my sweet tooth. You got to stop doing that to me MC :)
     
  10. pcdreams

    pcdreams Well-Known Member

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    Here's The listing I was refering to.. I don't know much about dairy but this didn't seem to bad to me.

    http://www.farmandforest.com/proddir/prod/73/147935?sid=3350&RedirectURL=/-ListPrice/0/10/?#
     
  11. MARYDVM

    MARYDVM Well-Known Member

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    I spent 16 years as a dairy vet across Lake Champlain in northern NY state. We had a few farms similar to that one as clients. The only way they ever survived was with the wife working a good job, and the farm - if lucky - just breaking even. If you want to go the more expensive route of producing organic milk, you would have to be sure the local coop would pay a premium for it. If they weren't set up to buy and market organic you'd be stuck.

    You might want to consider farms in Clinton Co. NY. Vermont land is extremely expensive due to high demand from yuppie types. There are lots of dairies of all sizes available in northern NY - because most just can't survive in today's economy. The winters are harsh, but at least the roads are paved in NY, so you don't have to deal with Vermont's picturesque "mud season."
     
  12. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

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    In our family DH holds a full time job and I'm the homesteader. We couldn't make it without his paycheck. I'm setting things up on the homestead for when he retires and our income will drop to about 25% of what it is now. If we had to live off the homestead, it would be very tough, probably impossible to do right now, but will be much easier when we are out of debt and he retires.

    We are doing things on a small scale. Ducks & Chickens for meat & eggs. I buy a calf every spring and pasture it until fall when it goes in the freezer. Sometimes one of the big cattlemen have orphan calves they give away. I'm always willing to take them and bottle feed them. They bring good money at the sale barn. This year I added goats to provide us with milk, meat, butter, & cheese during retirement. I'm now looking to add rabbits. We use guineas & peacocks to control the ticks and bugs. Also have a few fruit & nut trees, planning to add more. I'm trying to stay organic.

    I grow most of our veggies, and just found a source to buy seed to grow stock feed. Hoping to save on the feed bill by growing most of it ourselves.

    Next spring I will be planting trees. In 20 years they will be ready to harvest so will give us a boost then (or for the kids if we aren't still around). I also grow herbs and tropical plants to sell. I try to do a little bit of lots of things. If one fails, then we have others to fall back on. Don't know yet how well it will work out in the long run, but it's the only way I know so that's what I do.
     
  13. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Well-Known Member

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    I find it stressfull and I'm often behind schedule. I work longer hours at "work" than most people though. I am single and paying a full mortgage alone.
     
  14. chas

    chas Well-Known Member

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    Everyone has to have a dream to work towards to keep them going.But at 60 yrs of age now and working 5-6-7 days a week on 3 shifts i'm tired!
    We raised our three boys and daughter on this 30 acres trying to build it up and pay it off.My boys said they will never work like dad!
    They took my advice and learned the construction trade to fall back on if their jobs went over seas or whatever. After work they go to games in Pittsburgh or kick back and relax.If they need extra $$ they take a side job building for people.
    I did buy a hamock once to relax in and never used it after the first day :rolleyes:
    I'm keeping good records for a change on every thing I grow and the things that don't pay are gone.Next will be the least money makers.I believe in organic and eating as natural as possible.But dogone it i'm tired :shrug:
    I'm growing food for all my family and they do help a little,which is appreciated by dw who has worked haying while pregnant and generally kept going as long as I did.Although she is starting to sleep in a lot more,5/6hrs.sleep aren't enough anymore :shrug:
    My daughter lives next to us on their 20 acres doing the same as I did with a hubby and 3 boys and daughter also.
    Last year we bought a boat to get away from the farm and went to Ontario with it for a week in July.Now we hope to use it at least once before winter :rolleyes:
    I bought my 30 A. old farm house, and barn back in 76 for 30K.
    Worked in a steel mill lost my job a number of times and did a lot of 4-8 dollar an hr. jobs but managed to keep the place. With all the improvements I now owe 60K.
    People we know bought a 40A.farm for 330K in the next county.They will never get it paid off working it!!!
    We hope to have everything fixed,remodled, and paid off in 5 yrs. so I can retire and work full time on our little farm.plus my dads 70 A. 5 mi away.
    Would I do it again? In a heart beat!!!But I'd be a lot smarter with the money though :shrug:
    Keep your dream, watch the spending, and plan realisticly.Work smarter not harder as we say at work ;)
    Good luck and keep dreaming.
    Chas
     
  15. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    Pc, MaryDMV has a VERY good point. Upstate NY, even right along lake Champlain, is a fraction of the cost of living in VT. It is also a "poorer" area, and the soil structure is different, making for a different type of environmental experience.. but it is seriously cheaper. So seriously cheaper that my husband and I have looked at buying property there just to hold against the possiblility of no longer being able to afford VT. There are some absolutely charming towns a few miles back from the lake, squeezed between the Adorondac park system (and no, I never do spell that correctly) and the lake. Which, by the way, are gloriously FLAT unlike our little slice of heaven which tilts alarmingly in sections making any tractor unstable.
     
  16. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    Oh Lordy PC... this place is in CRAFTSBURY!! What are you thinking? Are you trying to find the most expensive land in northern VT? Ok, second most. Stowe, maybe the Burlington area, are probably the first.

    Is there a reason you're trying to find property in this particular section of VT? Could you look further south to Waits River? Orange? Vershire? Because Craftsbury is not going to be inexpensive. It is a sort of land locked Nantucket, Block Island, Martha's Vinyard, sort of place.
     
  17. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    I kind of second MaryDVM on this one, at least as far as feasibility of your farm operation goes. At least in my neck of the woods (Maine), the successful organic farmers are totally and utterly diversified, and often the dairy part of the farm is a loss leader or a vehicle for subsidies. The most successful places do a lot of value-added stuff (consider visiting Nezinscott Farm in Turner, ME for some ideas), which allows you to start with less land and less equipment. Saying, "I want to be an organic farmer and I want to run a dairy," is like saying, "I want to deliver pizzas and I plan to buy a Jaguar:" both jobs are not rocket science but they can be complicated with delusions of grandeur or pipe dreams that can't translate into fiscal success without a lot of luck (or a good vet/mechanic). Besides--some of the most successful dairy people I know of around here have just a few animals and concentrate on the artisan market.
    Course, I'm saying all of this assuming you don't have any dairying experience to begin with--which may or may not be true--but the basic message is the same: start small and build up. You'll be surprised at how quickly your world will tell you if it's the right move...and it'll tell you whether the farmer selling that farm you're interested in sold it because he was cashing out after a long and profitable run or if he just couldn't make it work. At least if you're not mortgaged up to your ears, you have options. With farm loans and such, you're a slave to the man, which isn't much different from where you're at now, except you'll need insulated coveralls in VT.
     
  18. pcdreams

    pcdreams Well-Known Member

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    I'll have to check out that NY area.. Didn't know about that :).. No particular reason I was looking at craftsbury..Just what I stumbled across. NEK is more my speed anyway :rolleyes:

    From what Most of you are saying it sounds like I'd be better off trying some of the things I want to do on our little parcel here for a few years, see what works, then decide what to do.. Thats an Idea I can live with (aside from the heat:) )
     
  19. boren

    boren Well-Known Member

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    Sure looks pretty, nice pictures. More pretty than here, but then again I always like hills. Realtor pictures are always so pretty. 1880's houses always look pretty from 500 feet too. :rolleyes:

    A bulk tank and a barn doesn't make a dairy. There's so little information on that page it's really sad. Is property tax 2005/year or were the last paid in 2005. I don't like that number. Then for example is that patch of green the only field there is? Is there any fencing? Where does your feed come from? Do you have to buy it all? Can you even buy organic feed? If some of those 80 acres are tileable who's going to harvest it? etc etc etc. Is the house even accessible by the milk truck? When it's wet?

    There's a lot of good advice on this thread. It takes being a big person to listen to it.
     
  20. Jillis

    Jillis Well-Known Member

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    Actually, for Craftsbury, that is a pretty good price. Right now everyone is jumping on the housing spike bandwagon and prices are sky-high. That price is actually a good one right now. DH and I have been looking for a while and found all sorts of places smaller than that one in much less desirable areas and the barns are a mess, and no equipment for milking left in them. All for that price and more---ex. a 15 acre home in Holland with a nice barn but only a very old-fashioned bulk tank. And the water REEKS of sulpher. I would never want to turn on the faucet! Water in the basement too. The house was nice, but not $245,000 worth. Friends of ours are selling an old home on SEVEN acres with a barn that has no milking parlor but is to drool over for size and the fact that it has running hot and cold water. They are asking $225,000! THEY WILL NEVER GET IT!!!

    Wait a bit, pc. Prices will be going down soon. Already last year's yuppies are selling out due to finding out that the VT winters are more than just a Currier & Ives postcard. They are long, wet, horribly cold and frozen at times, dangerously icey, and often involve the loss of utilities for significant periods of time.

    Find a niche you can fit into. My dh works at the Newport City Municipal Bldg. and the Gateway Marina as the Supervisor of Maintenance. He also has a landscaping business on the side (snowplowing in the winter!)

    So far, only our chickens are self-supporting (we sell enough eggs to pay for their feed and so provide "free" healthy delicious eggs for ourselves) and the goats are not yet providing an income.

    But we plan to make goat cheese---a booming enterprise these days. It should make a good chunk of change for us. It is the setup costs that will hurt. Selling our rentals will defray much of that! My 14yo son and I do the chores...they are not that extensive yet.

    We have friends that have a 220 acre farm. They built an indoor and outdoor arena and they board horses and have lessons there. They raise heifers and make hay. I get my hay from them. For many years, the wife had a booming, successful candle making business right there on the farm, which they just sold. Because of no time to live. The dh does construction and logging, also has a saw mill and cuts lumber. The 2 kids do a lot of chores but seem to be thriving in that environment.


    Consider this: If you have a good enough credit rating, you can often purchase a property with NO MONEY DOWN with the closing costs factored into the mortgage. Call GMAC mortgage here in VT and ask for Sherrie Bull---she has handled ALL of our mortgages and she ferrets out every program available to find one that will fit your circumstances.

    Prices will be dropping here. Sales are going DOWN. I have friends in the RE business here and that is the word from them.