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how homesteading works?

1342 Views 15 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  willow_girl
i am from (and living in) nj and was looking into homesteading. i was wondering can you get free land and run your own farm easily? any help appricated. sorry im a newbie to this stuff?
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Don't believe the ads, the only free land that I know of is building lots in a couple of dying Kansas towns.

As for running a homestead, it is not easy but it IS fun!

I started out with one blackberry plant many years ago, they have increased until I now have 3 rows and I sell what we cannot eat. We have just a few hens in a tiny chicken coop, which is enough eggs for us. I have a large garden that needs weeding...AGAIN! The fruit set on the apple trees was not so good this year: it was raining hard while the blossoms were blooming so pollination was not good. I have swiss chard to burn in the home made greenhouse, and the cucumbers need moving out to the garden.

If this sounds like your idea of fun, then I would highly reccomend the homesteading life! :)
I am not sure if it would work out in NE Corridor but here in MN we bought a farm 80 miles west of the twin cities, my dad still commutes to downtown. I am still working on finding, but will have a local job, and spend the rest of my time farming, I would love to become a full time farmer, after I move out in a few years. I just love the idea of not having to work 40 hours a week for somebody else. We have a good sized town, 13000 people (Hutchinson) about 20 miles from here, towards the cities, and a bigger town, not sure how many people (Willmar) about 45 miles from here, I am planning on moving towards Willmar (farther from Twin Cities) because I will be able to find a cheap place out there. You could keep your current job, then the money you save on eating out, going to movies, etc. (We have already saved a ton) and also the time, can be spent on the farm. I would also reccomend doing some reading "You Can Farm" by Joel Salatin is very good. I havent read his other book yet, "Pastured Poultry Profits" but many people on here say its very good, if you want to have pastured poultry. Also John Seymour's "The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live it" is very good. It talks about self sufficiency, but running a profitable farm is just one step ahead of that. It is mostly geared towards gardening but also covers many animal choices, and how to butcher them, if you choose to do so. Also if you have specific animals in mind, or if you dont. Goto a public library, they most likely have "Storey's Guide to..." books, which contain a lot of information on specific animals.
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ok that sounds great. as long as i have electric, heating and cooling, water, tv, telephone, and internet im happy.

could you recommend areas that are commutable to areas with work (like work for someone who has completed college).

since i dont think i will pick up on farming the very first day
If I had to do it again, I think that I would start with a good map and .

Basically, use United Country to show you where the affordable land is. If they have cheap land, I have found that other properties in the area are priced similarily.

Then, check the map to see if there are cities or large towns in the area.

THEN, check out the job opportunites in the city, look it over, and decide if you would like to live in that area.

After finding some agreable areas, (preferably 2 or 3 areas), put out your job applications and start looking at properties. Don't buy the best property you can afford, you will need a little money for garden hoses, lumber for building, and the ever-present risk of taxes going up.
I would say 45 miles would be max commute for me, my dad does 80, but he just bought a TDI Jetta, 47 mpg hwy. I've only had 1 year of college so far, after I get a crappy degree i.e. Associates in Science. I would open that up to western twin cities 75-80, if I can get a programming job, theres lots there. Then I would have to stay pretty close to this same area, but I would make more money. I know there are some cheap houses South and East of here, equally close to the cities. It really depends on how much time/money you want to spend driving, keep in mind the gas prices that the news media keeps harassing, the threaten $4, then the gas stations sneak up $0.30, and people are glad. Ohwell thats part of this whole capitalist thing. Good Luck
I think that I should have been more precise when I said "lumber for building". I MEANT lumber for building a chicken house, barn, or whatever.

If you decide to build your own HOUSE, you will need more than a LITTLE money! That's because you will have to put in footings, well and septic (or pay hookup fees), and so forth.

You probably will not find a property with everything that you want, you need to have a little money for fences and such.
I would limit my commute to less than a hours drive since gas isn't getting any cheaper. Look for a medium to large city for job opportunities.
Keep in mind what kind of climate you like. Do you hate the cold like me?
Do you have any relatives that you want to stay close to? Do you like mountains? Ocean? Prairie? I would recomend that you stay away from arid parts of the country. Land is cheap but it's hard to farm without water. Humidity can also be a problem if it's mixed with extreme heat like houston.

Think about what you want then grab a map. :)
I heard Texas is really cheap, at least in the suburbs, for 150k you can get 4 bedroom 2 bath big house, whereas in suburban twin cities, you wont find much besides a town home or appartment for less then that. I am not sure if the same applies to rural. I am also not sure how arid it is there, I have been their on vacation once but only on the gulf. They are famous for all the cattle though, they gotta eat. I think New England area would be expensive, if you wanted to stay there. I would also look at forclosed real estate, it can be a lot cheaper, just because somebody didnt pay their bills. I think they usually have quite a bit of work to do, but it is probably mostly not neccessary work right away.
I think another thing to look at, is what kind of paycheck you want to earn working at a job while homesteading. We used to live about an hour away from the Twin Cities where my husband made really great money as a graphic designer/advertiser. But we weren't happy and we never could have afforded the kind of house and property we wanted. Three years ago we moved to our 100 yr old four bedroom, two bath farm house with barns, fencing, pond, woods on 22 acres for slightly under 130K. We live in central WI about an hour and some away from Green Bay, Appleton, etc. My husband got a job at a local casino doing advertising design work (he does the cool posters, bill boards, etc to draw the suckers in). He obviously took a nice sized paycut, but we're happier. Becky
Yes, homes can be had reasonably here in Texas (and in Houston one does become acclimated to the heat and humidity as long as one doesnt live 24/7 in the airconditioning :haha: ). We are currently living in a house that is 30 minutes from downtown, 20 minutes from the largest medical center in the world, as well as museums and symphonies, galore and many industries for employment. We have a 30 yr old 5 bdroom 3 bath home that is currently valued at a little bit over $120K.

Acreage is a bit more, depending upon where you want to be. We are looking at paying an average of 10K per acre...but then we want to stay *relatively* close to my husband's place of employment. Further away from the city, of course, it drops. But even then it never gets what I would call "cheap"...I have a friend moving to Missouri who just laughs at what we are prepared to least twice as much moolah for less than a fourth of the land that they will end up with. But...her dh will be retired, mine still needs towork, and we have a daughter who had a braintumor and we sorta want to stay within range of her neurosurgeon, go figure. Plus, we dont have to deal with that yucky cold wet stuff y'all call snow. :p
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OK, here's one of the best kept secrets on how to live on the rural route, yet still have a "town" job that pays decently:


Rural hospitals still have to compete for trained healthcare professionals. So the salaries are a bit less than the city, but they are still in the same ballpark. Think nursing, respiratory therapist, medical technologist, rad tech.

Once you get out in the country, less than 150K will buy you a nice 3/2 with around 10 acres of land - at least around here. But just like the folks from Texas warned, the heat can be bad, but the humidity of the Gulf South will get your attention.

My .02 cents....
Maybe this will start a flame war, but I got a home in the country at 19 after being raised off and on on farms and a real homestead for 4 years. After bad employment opportunities or a terrible commute to the nearest town, I went to college thinking I would get out, make more money as long as I could stand it and pay-off country land. Along the way somewhere I ended up conserving money living in the city, buying nearly half an acre, a shop and a house that was long-time vacant at the edge of town and started raising tons of veggies, living with my old 4-cylinder paid off truck and generally getting to do a lot of homesteading things like gardening, building outbuilding with recycled materials and canning etc.

I have decided, at long last, although I am not ruling out living in the country someday again, that homesteading in town is not only possible, but desperately needed. We need safe homes without tons of chemicals in the yard for kids to play in. We need kids to see chickens and rabbits and learn to grow veggies. We as adults can also realistically have short commutes (My dad walks to work- I'd even settle to bike!) but still, less than ten miles is good. Especially when even at rush hour it's less than 15 minutes. More time for the garden :)

This year I am going to try and build a greenhouse in the back with a salvaged furnace and PVC pipe. I'll lay a slip formed foundation most likely. I have gray and green water systems I'm developing and heaps of compost from my masses of plant life. Since most people went to city water my irrigation allotment is artificially high and I have nearly unlimited water for 18 dollars a year and the soil improves each year.

Sure, sometimes I wish it was less traffic noise, but between all my border trees and shrubs and the gazillions of birds and frogs that think it's a refuge of sorts its quite nice to lay in an old clawfoot tub full of comfrey and hot water and look at the stars after working around the homestead. I'm not saying it's better or perfect, but to me, homesteading is to some extent an attitude and you can, as my homesteading mom used to say: "Bloom where you are planted".

I guess I don't see a magic seperation where you are a homesteader one day because you changed everything around you. I think it's internal and I could grow worms and tomatoes in an apartment if I had too, although I'm glad to have a 1/2 acre :)

I would say: start wherever you can as soon as possible. Don't put it off until you find cheap free land somewhere else. As long as you are alive, improve the soil, the earth and the world around you and you will be amazed at how many possiblities arise each day as you do. Then, when you do get out, you will already know how to can, grow, raise etc.

That's just my take on this, I am not in any way trying to discourage you from moving out to the country, just sharing a perspective that may be of some small help to you or another traveler through this board :)

~Michael in Boise
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im just a guest said:
i am from (and living in) nj and was looking into homesteading. i was wondering can you get free land and run your own farm easily? any help appricated. sorry im a newbie to this stuff?
Sure you can get free land. Free *usable* land is something else! :haha: But seriously...get a copy of "How to Find Your Ideal Country Home" by Gene GeRue - Amazon and other places have it...about $17. It'll bring up things most think of - taxes, land prices, etc - and things you don't think of - hazardous chemical dumps, military installations, organized racist groups, etc. You may find you don't want 40 acres...that a couple lots in a small town is "it" for you. Or you may find that *isn't* for you and getting 5 acres would be better. It also brings up things like MO has a bigger fault line than CA just hasn't done anything...and many Californians moving to MO to get away from earthquakes find they're sitting on one that has been quiet a long time. It moved before and made the Mississippi River run north for a while. It pays to know such things or at least be aware of them so you can choose your risks with knowledge!

NJ is working on making it impossible to homestead...legislation on numbers of animals and what you can/can't do with them.

Commuting is a major ???? with fuel prices on the rise. And also...depending on part of the country that hour commute could become 3 hours in a blizzard....or more.
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Michael, I tip my hat to you!

Someday, when we're too old to take care of the farm anymore (which, with the way I feel this morning, could be Monday! :haha: ) I'd like to do exactly what you're doing.

I can't see giving up this way of life altogether. Ever. :)
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