newbie and wannabe

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by lvg4him, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. lvg4him

    lvg4him Member

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    We are currently living in CO and are looking towards homesteading. We are basically wanting to be mostly self-sufficient, have an adequate garden, a goat or two for milk and cheese, and possibly chickens for eggs (have to read up on it ALL as we have no idea about ay of this and are as non-country as can be). We are also wanting a more simplified lifestyle (that doesn't mean we don't want to work, we understand owning land and animals is a lot of work).

    Anyways, we are currently wanting to move and have no idea about how to go about getting the house and land we want. We have a realtor, but he needs specifics of what we are looking for to narrow the field and get us what we want. What do we tell him?

    Also, what can I do in the house we are currently in? It is a suburb and while we do have enough room for a small (VERY SMALL) garden, nothing grew this year but one pumpkin (and we didn't even plant pumpkins!). I am trying to use cast iron, but don't really know how and they are not becoming the well seasoned friends I had hoped they would be (is that because we only have an electric stove?). We have cut out a lot of TV watching. What else?

    We currently bought two books through amazon (The Encycolpedia of Country Living and whatever other book came with it about self-suffeciency). We are waiting for those to come in and read before we head to the library to check out other books we have seen mentioned on this list. I wish there was a class we could attend on this! LOL!

    Anyways, thanks for any help and words of wisdom!
     
  2. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    Your in the right place to gain the info, there are thousands of questions and answers here. Any subject you want to know about just click the search feature and enter its name. But also pack a lunch if you request via general terms, the more exact your search words the more exact info will appear. Example; if you enter 'chickens' there will be up to 5,000 answers; but if you enter 'broody hens' the info will be more refined.
     

  3. wannabe2

    wannabe2 Member

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    "Newbie and Wannabe"

    Me, too. :)

    I have alot of the same questions you do, lvg4him. I've started with the following activities:

    - Gardening, using bio-intensive method (grow more in less space--at least that's the theory) -- don't underestimate the amount of learning there is to gardening: much more to it than throw a few seeds in the ground and watch them grow.

    - Try to do as much gardening organically if possible.

    - Get good at home-cooking (you or your spouse) from scratch & fresh produce, & don't rely on packaged convenience food.

    - Preserving the harvest: learn how to can and freeze. If you don't have garden produce yet, check out the local farmer's market and buy some stuff to can, just to learn how.

    - Read and learn. This site. Countryside Magazine. Backwoods Home Magazine. Mother Earth News. Many, many books: authors to check out: John Jeavons; Joel Salatin; Elliot Coleman; Robert Roy; many others

    - If you have not already done so, try to learn as much DIY home repair as possible, and try not to rely on contractors, if possible.

    - Pinch your pennies, get good at book-keeping, and generally be a tight-wad.

    - Learn all about being as energy efficient as possible.

    These are the steps I am in the process of taking. This while waiting for my oldest daughter to finish kindergarten, whereupon I will look for employment and property in a new location. I also intend shortly to start reading up on the process of purchasing land.

    Other than doing a lot of research and the above items, I'm pretty much where you are.
     
  4. Iddee

    Iddee Well-Known Member

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    While you are in the house in the suburbs, you can learn to can fruits and veggies, dry the same, make jellies and jams, and learn to preserve all kinds of food all kinds of ways. Also, when you buy chicken, buy the whole chicken and cut it up yourself. Other foods, too, when available. If you have a chimney suitable for a wood stove, you can start burning in it, if nothing but city wood scrapes and paper. Start making quilts, pillow cases and other sewn items.

    The list goes on and on. There are numerous things you can do before you move.
     
  5. gilberte

    gilberte Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Welcome and good luck. Readers Digest's 'Back to Basics' is a good book to have, their 'Illustrated Guide to Gardening' is also good. If you don't already have one get a copy of 'Joy of Cooking' by Irma Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, it has everything you need to know about food and cooking (at least to start with). There are a whole lot of good texts out there as well as ones that look good but have been written by folks who just did a lot of library research and never set foot on a farm or homestead.

    As for that cast iron pan, it has its' uses but it is not the be all end all of frying pans. Good for frying fish and chicken, but not so good for frying eggs. I assume you read the instructions that came with it and have seasoned it properly.
     
  6. wannabe2

    wannabe2 Member

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    With regard to reading material, here is a site with some "hard-core" back-to-basics info: really old (100+ yrs old) how-to books that show how things used to be done in the olden days:

    http://www.thelitterbox.org/librum/

    This site is run by the Old Order Mennonites who are tasked by the Smithsonian and Library of Congress (and themselves) with preserving old books like this. I have yet to discover the riches in store there myself in any depth, but what I've seen looks really good! I intend to make the time to delve soon.

    One of the people behind this site occasionally shows up here on this forum (Majere).

    Another good DIY forum: http://www.everything-diy.org
     
  7. coalroadcabin

    coalroadcabin Well-Known Member

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    I agree with everything you said except this... ;) We cook everything in cast iron- meat, chicken, fish, eggs, stir-fry, cornbread. Just remember to never, never wash your cast iron.

    livng4him,
    I found homesteadingtoday.com during a google search on 'buff orpingtons'. (I want to have chickens when we move) You have come to the right place for info!
     
  8. wannabe2

    wannabe2 Member

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    How do you clean it, then? Do you just let the grease pile-up in it?
     
  9. coalroadcabin

    coalroadcabin Well-Known Member

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    Wipe it out with a dry towel, heat it up on the stove til it smokes, turn the heat off and let the pan cool, we leave the pan on the stove all of the time now because we use it several times a day. In the (rare) event that something sticks and you do have to wash it, you have to reseason the pan-wipe it with a thin layer of shortening, put it upside down on the oven rack, set the oven for 425 and let it 'cook' for an hour or two.
     
  10. Sailor

    Sailor New Member

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    Upstate NY, USA
    For what you want to do, I'd look for a house with around five acres, maybe an outbuilding or two. Or you could build your own. Look for more or less level land, low property taxes, and no zoning. If you can afford it, you might want to go for more than 5 acres. The time may come when you want to expand, keep more stock, even maybe grow all your own feed, then you'll wish you had more. I'd try to locate for the longest possible growing/pasturing season. Be aware of the effect of hillsides on frosts. A southern exposure is nice. Stop by the county extension office and look at a soil survey for property you're considering, and eyeball it, too. If rich, lush, dark green vegetation is present, it's probably pretty decent. If it's covered in pale, scraggly weeds, the soil is probably beat. Check on soil depth. Look for deep-rooting trees. Will you be heating with wood? Might want to consider a few more acres with deciduous trees on it for managed woodlot. Make sure the land has good drainage. You don't want a lake where your garden is supposed to be when it's time to plant. Ask if the land has been cultivated in the past, and what crops were grown there if so. You don't want exhausted soil, it can take awhile to bring it back. And you don't want hardpan. If pasture, what was pastured there? You don't want pasture recently occupied by anything that might have left behind disease that will affect your stock. And make sure you have decent water supply! Study. Good luck, and stick with it!
     
  11. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Remember that you will need an income. The IRS does not take barter.

    To figure out how MUCH income, cut your spending to the bone for a couple of months, and then figure out what you spent it on.

    I find it easiest to use my checkbook when I do this, as I have a written record of what I spent. And, remember such occasional expenses such as life insurance.

    In time your grocery bill will go down, but not for a bit. Veggies and such have to grow for a while before you eat them, and it takes a hen from 4 to 6 months before she lays.

    My sister lived in Colorado. She said that the soil was poor and that NOTHING grew without high nitrogen fertilizer! I suppose that compost might do as well, but I honestly do not know.

    She DID get excellent chard (to add to salads) and zucchini. You might try some for your next garden. When she couldn't eat all of the zucchini as veggie sticks with dip, she made zucchini bread out of it. I don't have her recipe, but it was excellent!

    Welcome! :cowboy:
     
  12. lvg4him

    lvg4him Member

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    (this is long, but I have more questions)

    WOW! Thanks to all the great responses so far! I look forward to EVERYTHING everyone has to say! We are very excited (but also scared as we don't know much of anything about homesteading).

    So far we are doing really well with what I have been reading.

    Thankfully we are only in debt on our home (and only two more payments on the car and then it will be ours). We try to pay cash for everything and use the credit card as a debt card (what do you all think of the mio card - those commercials with the orange cat?). We have cut down watching TV to about an hour a day (and are working to cut even more out).

    My husband and I are both from-scratch cookers (took me a while to learn, but I am just now getting to the point of being able to create a few of my own recipes that actually taste good - my husband is much better than me). We have been whole fooders and organic eaters for a while now (although sometimes organic is not in the budget).

    We are pretty frugal (love garage sales and shopping at GoodWill) but still buy more than we need because we can get it for such a baragin. We are curretnly working on that.

    My husband's job allows him to pretty much work from anywhere as long as there is broadband internet connection.

    I do use the dehydrator, and hubby is getting good at canning and preserving. I actually bought him some good books this past season that he really enjoyed using. He made the BEST peach perserves!!

    I am worried about living here in CO as we have heard that the soil is not very good. However, we really love the mountains and the weather. How can we find a place with good soil AND lush vegitation (and beautiful weather!)?? :) All of the land that we have looked at - NO TREES! That worries me.

    Thanks for the tips about cast iron! I have never used soap, but assumed that water and scrubbin after each use (and then drying) was OK. I have not been reseasoning after each use. I think I am going to search (and maybe start another thread) about cast iron. My hubby bought me an old 1800's cast iron waffle maker and it is rusted and I really need to save it. And I was always curious why my scrambled eggs never did well in cast iron.

    Anyways, thanks again for the answers and encouragement! I am totally excited!!
     
  13. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    SE PA, zone 6b
    No reason not to stay in CO. Just be sure you have adequate or more water. As far as the soil is concerned, it can be improved. Read up on soil improvement in John Jeavons, Pat Lanza's Lasagna Gardening , Eliot Coleman's two books, etc. Plan to spend some time with your Cooperative Extension Agent. I really like Joel Salatin's books, but his methods would have to be modified to suit a climate very different from his. I love the elegance of his methods and the principles behind them. Each thing he does, has several different purposes. I have read all of Gene Logsdon's books. They are very helpful in developing a philosophy of your farming, especially those written from The Contrary Farmer through All Flesh is Grass . Two things, among many, that he writes about are 1) First thing, put a STOUT perimeter fence around as much of the property as you can afford until it is entirely fenced. Lot's of good reasons for that, but one is that then, you can use simple electric, portable, cross-fencing. 2) He has a good sense of how much is ENOUGH. He is not out to make as much money as possible, but to make enough to build a good life-style for his family. He has a number of different profit points so that failure of one won't destroy the family. I read his books about once a year just for the sheer pleasure of it. I would read, in general, as much as possible. Become friends with your library, Amazon, Half.com.

    As for Homesteading, there are no set rules that make you a "Homesteader"; no shoulds or oughts. What you are trying to do is build your own lifestyle. What that means for me may be quite different from what it means to you. Keep in mind that you will change as time goes on, so make room for those changes. Don't be afraid--you sound young enough that if you lose everything, you have plenty of time to start over. Experience in this instance is the best school you can attend. Just pay attention, analyze everything, and be ready to try different methods, etc. Failure can be a great teacher if you let it.

    Finally, save every penny you can. The book, Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin can be very helpful. Learn to keep track of everything, time and money.

    Good luck and happy homesteading. You are already there!! Just don't wait too long or for perfection to get as much land as you can afford. Just be very sure about water and irrigation rights in your state. I've heard that even catching rainfall is regulated in CO. Find out first rather than later. Lots of research needed.