how to start?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by BlueHeaven, May 12, 2004.

  1. BlueHeaven

    BlueHeaven Guest

    just wondering if someone could tell me what i need to do to start a self sufficient much.....etc.....any comments welcome....thanks
  2. james dilley

    james dilley Well-Known Member Supporter

    Mar 21, 2004
    deep south texas
    you first need your plan of attack. then figure at least the base bills for 2 yrs unless you have a income. then what are you planning on sacrificeing? to make it work. the main thing is to think with your head not your heart when you decide your course of action. are you going to buy livestock right off or try to grow into it?? remember animals don't take a day off or vacations. just think it thru, first. and foremost.

  3. Balancedmom2003

    Balancedmom2003 Well-Known Member

    May 20, 2003
    Hi BlueHeaven,

    There is no one specific way to answer that question. It all depends on what you want as a homesteader. How much land you want and where you want to live. What conveniences you want in a home. What type of animals you want. The best advice is to start out slow. (That is what everyone has told me in the past!) Don't go build a barn and fill it to the brim with lots of animals. Grow as much of your own food as you can.

    As for me I am somewhat of a newby myself. I don't already own land but I consider myself a homesteader. I am saving money for my home and land. I have been broadening my library of homesteading/information type books. I have been gardening, canning, freezing and dehydrating food. I have been cooking from scratch instead of using the "convenience foods" that are the norm these days. I learned to make soap and I have tried my hand at making candles. I am learning as I go. I hope to have my land and a mortgage free home one day.

    I wish you the best of luck! There are plenty of folks around here that can help you out.

  4. Hogsubie

    Hogsubie Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2004
    I'm new to this myself. I'm on about a 3 year plan before I get away from the suburbs. My plan of action right now it to read up on as much as possible right now. I just started reading a book called 'Blood-Lust Chickens and Renegade Sheep: A Beginner's Guide to Country Living' by Nick and Anita Evangelista. It's a short book and I'm not very far into it, but it atleast gives you a good idea of what to expect when moving from the city to the country. There's lot's of books out there, just head to your library, that's what I'm doing. Good luck.
  5. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    There are many different ways to start. Different people walk different paths.

    Yes, it DOES take some money, but you are using money now, yes? A great many people keep their jobs and commute. It means land payments and a 9 to 5 grind to MAKE those payments, but some of us (myself included) have little choice.

    Other people save like the dickens, buy land outright, and then get some sort of house up on it. I admire those people, but roughing it for such a long time is not in my cards (besides, my husband would be horrified to rough it! :haha: ).

    Still others caretake on some remote property, where (hopefully) they might get PAID to live in the country!

    For more specific advice, can you tell us a little more about yourself? Where you live now, and if you have a back yard? Your desired homestead?

    Some homesteads are tiny, some are large, some are in the city, others are very remote. Very few of us are self-supporting, and many of us don't WANT to be entirely self supporting. Personally, I LIKE eating fresh fruit in the middle of winter, for instance. That never will happen from my place in Kansas, but there is this grocery store a few miles away..... :p
  6. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Apr 30, 2002
    North Alabama
    I chose the 'no big money" approach. Started during my last 7 years of industrial employment. I wrote a generalized business plan and filed in the blanks as I researched and developed facets of the knoll that while requiring less than $20 investment, could be done in my spare time and would return profit within a year. After dropping out of the industry , I picked the 3 best facets and wrote a 40 hour week business plan geared to them. Today I grow decorative flowers, trees, garden produce and worms to provide agronomic balance to my investment income.
  7. heelpin

    heelpin Well-Known Member

    Nov 18, 2003
    Its all according to how much land you want, what kind of land you want, the location and your lifestyle. I was very lucky and found a large track with timber that was forclosed on by FHA and failed to sell at auction. I took up a 5% loan with nothing down, sold a house and 2 acres that was separate from the land and didn't have to make a payment for 2 years. I kept this place for 15 years and sold the timber and then the land which enabled me move back to my old home place (48 acres) and settle down. I've had cattle, hogs and leased a poultry farm for a couple of years. I will never own another hog (if they can't tear it up they will crap on it) but planning on getting some chickens and sold all the cows. I tried truck farming for a few years and there is decent money in growing tomatoes once you get your market built up but its very labor intensive, couldn't keep up now without some help but I really enjoyed selling tomatoes to the city folks who loved driving out to the farm.
    I have learned that a lot of the stuff I thought was essential to good life is not important to me anymore. I don't require a lot of money to enjoy life and everyday is a new adventure, if I have to leave home for some reason I can't wait to get back. I'm trying to build a permaculture and a little "garden of eat'in" that will furnish good healthy food that you just can't buy at any price.
    This is the good life for me but I know folks who could not survive this kind of lifestyle.


  8. dale anne

    dale anne Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2004
    howdy....My family and i have a very remote small size homestead/farm...32 acres this side bought another 3 across the road that was full of timber...paid 1500.00when then timber was sold off we made our money back plus a few bucks....the timber that wasnt taken..big limbs and such are being cut and split to sell as fire wood this winter at 35.00 a rick....gonna put the goats on that land once we have it cleaned up andplant some black walnut trees for a future income to our children......We started out slow with just a few animals...Most of them were rescue animals or givin to us cause we already had the pens and such set up...start out with a few hens and sell eggs...gardens for fruit,maybe some meat rabbits...none of this is a huge investment but will give you a good idea of what ya are getting someone above posted animals need ya when yer sick,hurting,tired,bad weather.....and vacations well...not unless ya have someone to take care of things fer ya......also get some books on being frugal this will help alot.....iffin ya have never slaughtered yer own meat it is something ya will have to get use to! we raise horses,goats,rabbit,duck,geese,turtle,..what we dont sell we eat..we also have our own pond for fish fruit trees huge gardens...i will tell you it is a full time job!....but besides the initial money fer the critters it dont hurt cause ya can always sell everything off or eat it saving you money .
    I love my life and wouldnt change it fer the world....I would like to be able to go out to an say auction without having to be home by 6 pm to feed but thats part ofthe life also....the key i believe is that if you have a family the goals should be the same fer ya all!......well good luck....dale anne
  9. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

    Jun 4, 2003
    Get yourself a copy of John Seymour's "The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live It" and "Five Acres and Independence." Joel Salatin's book "You Can Farm" is inspiring. Owning Carla Emery's "Encyclopedia of Country Living" goes without saying. Eliot Coleman's "The New Organic Farmer" is indispensable. All of the "Storey's Guide to..." are great, too.
    Apprentice with a farmer who does what you want to do. A few weekends of free labor will pay dividends. You can contact your state's organic farming association for farmer listings. They'll never turn down free labor in exchange for picking their brains.
  10. First and foremost, work on your debt to income ratio. Its a good idea to have as little debt as possible no matter what your goals are. Look at your job situation also. Will you have to commute, will you be able to work from home? Do you need to upgrade your degree/expierence/client load? While you take time to do that, look at where you are and use what you have. You can grow vegies and herbs in planters in an apartment. You can also buy vegies fresh from farmers markets, and practice canning. Wean yourself from processed foods so your body and tastebuds won't go into shock. Go to the library, find all the homesteading/survival/frugal books. Go to seminars and workshops involved in sewing, crafting, basic country skills. Look up your local extension office and see what they have to offer. Start collecting things you will need, like non electric counter top appliances. You know, when its time to replace the can opener find one (quality made) that doesnt have a plug. Practice going with no lights(use lamps or lanterns) or tv... only battery operated or non electric items for a short while. Find your comfort level. This may take a while. Only buy the books that give you the most information on a subject. Keep it in good shape and when you have read it a thousand times sell it (or gift it) to someone that could use it. NOW, youve got your debt and job situation worked out...come back here to see if you missed anything. Ask questions. Make a list. Go from there. Homesteading is different for everybody, thier own comfort and ability levels. Find what works for you, keep an open mind and just go from there. HTH

  11. Runners

    Runners A real Quack!

    Nov 6, 2003
    Near Callands, Virginia
    It does not exist and never will. Nobody is self-sufficient, no matter how big nor how small. Every farmer is needs a market and purchases from the market goods and services - so the real success of farming has more to do with the market and how well you leverage it. This translates into mutual cooperation with other farmers who have equipment, experience, materials or access to the markets.

    Without a tract of land, it's pretty difficult to start planning what's gonna go where, how much and when. On the other hand, if you've got a plan, and manage to find land that fits, be prepared to make radical changes. What looks so good today might be impossible next year or become difficult to accomplish as time changes things.

    We never imagined we'd be raising ducks, let alone hatching any kind of bird, bee, bunny or berry. I thought we'd be into COWs and I'm allergice to bird dander, hate bee stings and rabbits just stink.... berries are OK on ice cream. We're not doing anything with cattle, too much competition from bigger farms - instead we're into ducks, LOTS of ducks, and bunnies and bees. "They" don't sleep in the house, so the allergies are not a problem.

    Within a month of buying our place, we fired up VISIO, like autocad, and plotted the immediate usable portion of the property. We filled and divided up everything and posted a PLAN for the whole family to see. It's been modified 10-12 times this year alone. This is right down to the type of tree, location, irrigation, fences, gate sizes & hinges, watering troughs, ponds, guest house, berry bushes., EVERYTHING we could think of. A whole lot easier to get the family and guests to pitch in, once they see what we're trying to do.

    I did say, "guests to pitch in" - oddly enough, they take one look at that drawing, and say something like, "..hey, this is neat! When those Elderberries and pears start producing, we'd like to buy some from you! Can we go over there and take a look, see!?" and we walk out the door with a rake and shovel.

    Moral of the story is: Nobody can run a farm without the help of others. When people see and understand your plan, they're more likely to offer some help, knowing you'll remember them when it starts producing. The money will come and go, friends are much more precious - you cannot do it all by yourself.

  12. SueD

    SueD Well-Known Member

    Aug 1, 2002

    I have to agree with everybody, lol -

    I'm working on the debt thing right now, and living in the burbs, but I have the rabbits (getting more), dogs and the garden, and also the 'from home' income of farmer's markets and shows.

    My idea of self-sufficiency is being able to (eventually) produce as much as I can for myself, and sell enough of what I produce to buy what I need and pay bills I CHOOSE to have, and those that are 'required' (taxes, etc). To me, self-sufficiency isn't austerity, its production - whether thats food, money or electric doesn't figure in.

    I just finished two WONDERFUL "idea books".... Traditional Country Skills has some nifty ideas of things to make for the ole homestead (though neither of us need them right now, but it DOES show how creative you need to be sometimes!). The other is "Country Life: A Handbook for Realists and Dreamers" which was a great, fast read, and had lots of interesting stuff in it. I also have Carla's book and wouldn't trade it for the world. Check out the 630 section at the library (among others) for some good general reading, then go buy what you like.

    Frugality - its a must - whether in city or country!!!! Most folks could make more money sitting on their thumbs than working for someone else (they only seem to count what they bring home, not what it costs them to do so)... pare it down as far as comfort allows and experiment! I just FINALLY broke the $30 figure on both the electric and phone this month, and cut the gas by over $70 a month by doing simple things that didn't even really require any sacrifice.... It CAN be done!!

    Good luck to you - take notes on all the stuff the others said (I did, lol!) and keep plugging along - you will get there!!!

  13. desnri

    desnri Well-Known Member

    Dec 22, 2003
    I didn't realize when we moved to our property 2 and a half years ago, that we were homesteaders. I just knew that I wanted to live on the property as we called it. The property now has a name, Wells Acres Farm. My mom gave us a very small trailer to live in. We put it where we wanted it, built some make shift steps and moved in. We lived without electricity for 4 months, no water for 9 months and no septic for about 3 months. Talk about roughing it. It was really quiet without electricity, we loved it. We raise our own vegetables, have chickens, 1 goat and a calf. It takes a lot of patience and a lot of hard work to build a homestead. But the reward is great. There is always something to do. We've had to build our farm from the ground up. We still have no barn. We are just now getting the fence done for the calf and goat. It is amazing the things you can scrounge up to build a chicken house. The chickens don't care if it isn't all that pretty. Just as long as it's functional. Everyday is a new adventure. I wouldn't trade this life for anything. One magazine I just can't live without is Countyside Magazine. It's written by real people and full of all kinds of stuff. Don't give up on the dream.