Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by johnk, Aug 17, 2004.

  1. johnk

    johnk New Member

    Aug 17, 2004
    I'm a complete newbie to the topic of homesteading. Is there a guide, FAQ, or dummies book on the topic?

    Land appears reasonable. An acre or two in the US and Canada are usually under $20k. Property taxes usually under $100 a year. Most places will allow a mobile home. Goats & chickens appear to be low-maintenance.

    For starters, how about a checklist of the stuff I'll need, costs that I should expect...

    I thought I'd buy a small plot with a mobile home, put the rest in an Orange account, giving me food money and property taxes in perpitude. Just how close can I get to being able to rely on my acre and not working?

    A fools dream, but what the heck.

  2. cc-rider

    cc-rider Baroness of TisaWee Farm Supporter

    Jul 29, 2003
    flatlands of Ohio - sigh
    Read and re-read all of the messages on this board. Look in the archives. Lots of valuable stuff!

    For starters.... how much money are you starting with? What is an Orange account? If you can find a couple acres for under $20K, you still need to add the mobile home (maybe another 10K used, plus hauling), well and septic (there's another $10-15K), another $2-3K for misc like electric poles, driveway, etc.

    In some parts of the country you can probably find all of this already done for maybe $25K total. (Look on

    With interest rates on your savings at only a percent or two, you'd have to have a huge starting capital to make enough to pay your expenses and not work.

    I don't think it is realistic to think you can do this unless you've already got $200K in the bank and can live on $2000 a year. Total.

    My father-in-law always used to say that if he won a million dollars, he'd keep right on farming til it was all gone. :)

  3. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    As for relying on your land and not working, after 3 years hubby and I still aren't there.

    Yes, we have 10 acres of apples that are now producing, but the cider still isn't quite paying for itself.

    Yes, we have a huge garden, but the lettuce bolted, some stupid small critter has been eating all the tomatoes, the spinach never did much this year, a late freeze took out the sweet potatoes and corn... so we have summer squash, kale, and green beans out of the garden - that gets pretty boring after a while.

    Yes, goats will eat brush and brambles and grass, but they're pickier than you expect them to be. Even tho my goats have pasture and browse, I still provide alfalfa and grain, and you'll need medications and vaccines on hand to keep them healthy (I do actually make enough selling cashmere roving that I come out even on the goats). Remember that goats are smart and will spend the entire day figuring out how to escape from whatever enclosure you dream up for them - you really have to keep one step ahead of them (I actually really like this about goats. They are smart, personable, and lots of fun. Just keep a close eye on them.).

    Individual health insurance, if you can find a company willing to sell it to you, is horrendously expensive and doesn't cover much.

    You still have to pay for electricity, phone, property taxes, equipment repairs, etc...

    The upshot is, even tho we own this land free and clear, hubby has a full time job with a good benefit package. We need his income to keep this place floating. Living off the land is one of those nice-in-theory things, when you actually try to do it it kind of falls apart.
  4. westbrook

    westbrook In Remembrance

    May 10, 2002
    Subscribe to CountrySide Magazine!

    And purchase "The Encylopedia of Country Living" by Carla Emery. To fill in the blanks while waiting for your CountrySide Mag to come in!

    Both of these resources are invaluable!
  5. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    May 10, 2002
    Yes, Carla Emorys' book is the closest thing to a how-to-do it manual that I have seen.

    Except for the archives at this site, of course. ;)

    It really CAN be cheaper to buy someone elses place. Well and septic are expensive, and if you do it yourself it takes LOADS of time! Time that you COULD be spending on a barn and garden.

    Be certain to check the zoning on the parcel that tempts you. In the state of Kansas, for instance, you need 3 acres before you are allowed to keep livestock. It does not MATTER that a milk goat would be happy on a quarter-acre, to be within the law you need 3 acres.

    Some of the things that you WILL need money for, even on a homestead, include clothing, gasoline, a vehicle to take you to your doctors appointment, health insurance, tools, toilet paper, and so forth.

    Some people only have to work part-time, because their homestead provides for some of their needs. Some people sell animals, produce and eggs, and bring in what they need that way. But, it takes time to set up a customer base, and you will need to support yourself meanwhile.

    If you want to know how little you can live on, cut your expenses to the bone for a couple of months. That is how much money you will need until your place is up and running.

    Don't be discouraged: homesteading is a LOT of fun! Just learn from other peoples mistakes. Read. Crunch the numbers on your ideas.

    Homesteading is a chance to make dreams come true. Just accept that you will need an income to make it work.

    Good luck! :haha:
  6. CindyOR

    CindyOR Well-Known Member

    Jul 23, 2004
    We bought 20 acres here in Oregon eight years ago. It went from $70,000 (which we bought outright) to worth $300,000 almost immediately. We put a manufactured home on it, and since then, it seems every penny we get is used for our property. Building fences, barns, shops, decks, gardens - it is expensive. But we would not change a thing, and our kids have instructions that when we die they don't want to live there they should rent it out or just let it sit because they'll never be able to afford property in this area again. I believe property values and housing values in my area are the third or fourth highest in the nation.

    What we decided to do with our place, so that one day we will be able to retire and still live there, is to think creatively and grow items that have a high resale value and have livestock that makes our place a destination and will earn extra money. So far, we are doing great along those paths, but as with everything else, money outgoing faster than incoming with building up those areas. In the long run it will pay off.

    So if you are thinking of homesteading, save every penny you can so you have a big nestegg going in - you will need it. Buy what you need before you move - such as change your car to a pickup - you need a pickup or a car that can tow a trailer because you just do to haul equipment, building material, feed and animals. What you won't use often, find a person you can call on - such as a rototiller person, or someone with a cat. Many people buy a cat to use for the first year or so while they are clearing property - that may be what you do, but resale is not always easy (we've had our cat up for sale for two years now). Plan everything.

    I completely agree with the suggestions of getting Carla Emery's book and subscribing to Countryside magazine. Those would be "must do" before you buy. Go to Carla's website and check out where she'll be in the country speaking. She travels all across the US speaking of healthy living and homesteading. We just hosted her here in our area, and we got a chance to sit and talk for over an hour - what a valuable resource Carla is!

    So, in closing, think creatively, save lots, be frugal, rent what you don't need to buy at first (if ever), shop wisely and do your homework before buying any land. Check zoning, check water in the neighborhood, check drainage - check everything!

    Good luck - it is worth it, but it can be expensive even if you make good choices each time.

    Cindy in Oregon

  7. Stush

    Stush Well-Known Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Another good book is "Back to Basics". You can find it at Amazon:

    "Back to Basics" at

    The Storey's books are also very good and I concur with the previous posters regarding the value of Carla Emery's book. Very thorough. Even if you have lived in the country all of your life, you can pick up good information from it.