One wife + seven children; where do I begin?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by DesperateDad, May 6, 2006.

  1. DesperateDad

    DesperateDad Member

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    From reading your posts, I've come to know some of you and believe I shared many of your values. For my family of 9, we're looking for a more old-fashioned lifestyle and some distance between our family and the go-go world of the Jones'.

    I like a lot of the lifestyle you all talk about, and my wife and I are both hard-working people, but neither of us grew up on a farm. Honestly, I don't know that I want to spend all my time bent over digging in the dirt either. I make a very nice living with an internet business, so my motive isn't so much economics but rather lifestyle. I do want to spend more time with my wife and kids though, and would like to learn how to do all these things, but imagine hiring labor to help manage the garden and the animals and such since we're not professionals. Frankly, the businessman in me is interested in developing a farm operation that would generate a surplus of agricultural goods that could be bartered with others in the community or donated to the needy.

    I have the resources to initiate and maintain such an operation (I think!), but would want to get to self-sufficieny in terms of the operation itself at some point.

    We homeschool already so that's not an issue. I work from home and travel rarely, so location and proximity isn't an issue. With a family our size, we're a virtual community of our own, and with the internet we've got access to all the information we need.

    I don't have delusions either about our preparedness for the task. I'm interested and want to learn, but I know where my expertise lies and it's not homesteading.

    So where do we begin? We're not caught up in all the excesses of luxury, and we already live in a small town, so some of the lifestyle shock might be behind us. However, we're not ready to give up central heat and air. I need electricity to manage my business affairs. However, we've got friends who get their water from a well, supplement with solar, have started managing electrical use, etc., and are transitioning from the typical modern family home to something closer to 'homesteading'. I want to be 'reasonable' but would like to begin as well.

    I've rambled enough. You good folks seem so willing to offer advice and suggestions to others, I thought you might be willing to share some of your ideas about our situation as well.

    Thanks in advance & God Bless you all,

    Mark
     
  2. goatlady

    goatlady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Mark, no critisim intended but what you are describing is an "absentee landlord" farm business. A LOT of the homesteading outlook is the satisfaction of PERSONALLY producing the food on your table, PERSONALLY producing the animals, eggs, veggies, fruits, nuts, PERSONALLY tending the land you have stewardship of. Your best bet may be to become a partner in a CSA - Community Sustainable Association. You pay a set fee to a local producer and in return you get a set amount of veggies, eggs, etc. produced on that farm on a weekly basis. It's VERY rare that a homesteading operation/CSA setup are self-sustaining, at best it's break even financially. It's really not ecenomically feasible to plan on hiring out all the work necessary to produce what you want - myuch cheaper just to buy from the Agri-business farms. Homesteading, I think for most of us, involves other criteria besides financial - financial IS a consideration, but not to a self-sustaining point. If you are not willing to get your hands in the dirt and develop a total understanding of the problems AND joys of homesteading you really cannot be a successful "owner"/manager" of such a situation. It's a lifestyle not a business, a way of life not an income producer. Just my thoughts after living a homesteading lifestye these last 20 years.
     

  3. Niki

    Niki mini-steader

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    Mark, I'm glad you posted this. I am at a loss as well. While I do like to get my hands in the dirt and am interested in raising and tending to the animals and so forth, I am relatively clueless at what baby steps are required to take to get me there.

    My SO is also a business man and when we buy our farm together I have no doubts that he will utilize his talents in making money by what we do on the farm. Other than supplying meat to slaughterhouses and meat markets, I have no clue what he will come up with, but I know that he will because that is who he is and what he does. He is an old-fashioned man and to this day uses his mom's old wringer washer to wash his clothes even though he owns/operates his own successful business and takes care of his own home at night! He is quite something. :)

    We will have employees to help with the labor because, quite frankly, with the amount of land and cattle (and other livestock) we intend to manage, we are going to need help. This will help put some money in the pockets of a few locals, too! Providing jobs is an awesome thing! Kudos to you for knowing where your talents are and aren't, and coming up with a plan to acheive your goals despite your homesteading handicap LOL

    There are some things I could never do on my own, but with my family and employees all working together toward a common goal, this can be accomplished and everyone will have a reward for their input and labor.

    Currently I am not a "homesteader", but that is my goal. My ultimate goal is to live off the land as much as possible, so I think my first task is to discover ways to eliminate spending on things I feel I can provide for myself.

    My first step was a small garden. Last year I experimented with various food preservation techniques (canning & freezing, mostly). Some was a success, some needs tweaking, but I am one step closer.

    The next project I will work on is to try to determine how much food is required for my family for one year and figure out how large the garden needs to be.

    I am also researching "seed-saving". It's a little more complicated than one would thing!

    All the best to you and your family.
    Niki
     
  4. MomOf4

    MomOf4 Well-Known Member

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    Mark - when you count all of our kids, we total a family of 8 (6 of us here all the time).

    I agree that homesteading is more of a lifestyle than a business.

    I grew up on the farm I live on today, but got away from it later in life. I have returned to the homesteading lifestyle, starting because of financial reasons. Since working to get "back to the basics", I have found how much I truly enjoy this lifestyle. We just re-started the homesteading lifestyle less than a year ago, and the rewards are tremendous.

    With the busy season for my business in full swing, I have found that it's no longer a matter of finances, but a matter of choice. Though it's hard work, and things take longer (like making coffee from a dripolator, or drying clothes on the line, growing veggies in the garden, etc.), it makes our lives feel more simplistic, and much more enjoyable. Even with eggs at 79 cents a dozen, we prefer to get chickens (in the plan for later this summer).

    Because I grew up on a farm doing homesteading tasks, doesn't mean I knew how to do the things we are doing, and the things we plan to do. I spent a lot of time over the winter reading, and gaining knowledge about the things we plan to start this summer. I do a lot of research on the internet too.

    Since my first attempt failed miserably a few years ago, I read all winter about solar ovens, and just built one yesterday. Though it still needs some tweaking, we baked cookies today. My children really enjoyed the experience, and were totally amazed that it could be done. It only took 3 hours to bake them too (that's why the tweaking is needed!) But, again, it was the feeling of simplicity involved, and lack of dependence on the electricity to complete a task.

    In the second edition of the Tightwad Gazette, there is a section about overstimulation of children with video games, TV, etc. Just to get them involved in the homesteading type activities drastically reduces the influences of electronic entertainment. That's another goal for me, is to teach my children that you DON'T have to be dependent on TV, you don't have to run out and buy something new if yours is broke - you can fix it, and you DON'T NEED Wal-Mart!

    We choose to eliminate some things, but choose to keep others - we aren't moving our family deep into the woods with no heat, water or electric. We eliminate the things we choose in order to make our lives more fulfilling. PC/internet, phone, electricity and water are our basic requirements. Our movement back to the basics is reducing our impact on the environment, which is something we didn't become aware of until we began being more frugal and self-sufficient.

    If you want to make a change in lifestyle, I highly recommend "How to live on almost nothing and have plenty, a practical introduction to small-scale sufficient country living" by Janet Chadwick. It teaches you the basics, and where to start, and how much to start with. It was written in the late 70's, but has a wealth of information. I rented it from the library, and liked it so much, that I bought it used through amazon.

    I also recommend The Complete Tightwad Gazette. Though geared toward frugality, it has a lot of ideas for homesteading, as well as reducing your environmental impact.
     
  5. rannie

    rannie Well-Known Member

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    this could be a good learning experiment with you're family to actually learn how to live off the land and be self suffient. What better way to teach you're children how to always be able to survive. Start off slow and gradually build up to the point of being a homesteader living off the land. we homeschool and use our farming to help teach so many different things biology, math home ec the list just goes on. Start out with the move to the country then a small garden maybe a chicken or two the easy stuff then see what else you may want to do barter with other farmers for different homegrown meats and veggies. I think once you 've grown you're own garden the pride of i did it will give you the ability to go further. I know different strokes for differnt folks, and homesteading means different things to each. There was a time when the slaves did all the farming for the plantation owners. maybe it will sort of be like that but with paying you're hands. Good Luck Rannie
     
  6. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Mark, I am one who believes you can have it all! I am not the typical homesteader here but I have the same ideals and desires as most. I too consider myself a business man. But rather than work my butt off sweating and back straining I work my mind also. I do not have any hired labor. I do have a number of ventures such as tree farming and I have a commercial beef herd. I do have other income producing enterprises that do not consume all my time. Each day I know that I have certain tasks that need attended. I get those out of the way and then I have time that is discretionary. I can go to the cattle farm and spend some quality time managing the cattle and attending to whatever needs attending. The wife and I will on more expanded intervals visit the tree farms and use that as a mini vacation. I have contacts that I can call in when my other enterprises need attention/service/maintenance if my time is limited. Living in the south I do not want to give up A/C any more than a northerner would want to give up heat. I need my computer and I enjoy a comfortable life that I do not want to alter. The skills I hav eI have learned. I did not inherit the land I have nor was I born with a silver spoon in my mouth. My efforts and good health have been my tools. I enjoy attempting to mentor others. I have been very fortunate and this is a way to give something to others. If you want the benefits of homesteading and the rewards of the good life they are there for you if you take the path. The desire is within and cannot be instilled. It is a decision only you can make.
     
  7. bluetick

    bluetick Well-Known Member

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    Homeschooling and homesteading activities almost seem made for each other. One of the kids might be interested in raising some chickens to provide eggs for the family. If you are in town, and it is allowed, a few pullets wouldn't be very noisy.

    Another child might want to improve his/her math skills by planning and constructing a small shelter/coop for the chickens. A couple of kids might be interested in making a small raised bed garden and planting favorite family vegetables - maybe tomatoes, green beans, yellow squash, pumpkins! Some fruits and vegetables could be put in a dehydrator, so the kids could learn about preserving their harvest.

    Some of the kids might be interested in joining 4-H.

    It seems that with 7 kids and their active imaginations and natural curiosity, there are many relatively simple and educational projects that could be done.
     
  8. Laura

    Laura Well-Known Member

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    You don't need hired hands, you have kids!

    If you want to impart this country lifestyle to your kids, move to the country, let the kids research what projects they want and let them do it. You won't have to dig in the dirt, you just have to supervise them while they dig in the dirt.

    DD16 says it worked well for me!
     
  9. Peacock

    Peacock writing some wrongs Supporter

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    This is mostly the point of my baby steps toward homesteading. While my choices are often fueled by survivalist-type worries, more realistically I just want my kids to benefit from a more back-to-basics life.

    For example, when I was a kid, I lived in the 'burbs and nobody taught me to cook, garden, preserve, sew, etc. My grandma did it, but never taught me. I was lucky enough to see the value in those "old fashioned" skills and learn them on my own, and I was never an "entertain me!" type kid, know what I mean? But if I HAD to do them in order to survive, before I started researching and doing the stuff, I'd be totally lost. Probably I still would have big trouble. I'm still a newbie in many ways.

    But my kids have already learned things I didn't, such as the importance of composting, recycling (re-using at home, included), they don't mind things bought used. We're still working on the whole value of money and work ethic thing. :) My goal is that by their adulthood, they'll know how to grow plenty of their own food, care for animals/livestock, cook from scratch, sew and mend, and many other of those skills. And that they'll understand WHY they should know how.

    I also want them to learn how to handle guns, which is hard for me because I never got over that fear myself. But it's important.

    So to answer your question, I suppose you should first consider your goal for this enterprise. Is it for your family's economic benefit, health, a lesson for your kids, a safeguard against civil unrest, etc.? That'll help you decide what to do next.

    I've found that the folks on this forum have all kinds of reasons for doing what they do - from full-blown homesteading to dreaming and planning or just growing a few pots of peppers on an apartment balcony. There are no absolutes.
     
  10. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    DITTO It is a lifestyle sounds as though you want the best of both worlds but to remain in your current bubble and just reap the homesteading benefits. This is the second time I saw two Lurkers come out together and since it seems no one else has welcomed you, I will say welcome to the forums I will look forward to your continued participation, and if you dont decide to live an authentic homesteading life I hope some of your kids will grow up and do so anyway.
     
  11. dezeeuwgoats

    dezeeuwgoats Well-Known Member

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    Baby steps are good! We started with acreage - on the outskirts of town, so my husband could keep his business, which was well established. After reading Fast Food Nation, and reading it out loud to my family - we decided to raise all our own meat. Four years later, we have it fairly figured out. We also added dairy goats - for our own milk and cheese, and laying chickens for eggs. Animals has always been my interest, and I gardened when we were in town. My soil is more difficult to work with here - although the manure is helping! We added one animal project at a time - the learning curve is steep! We finally figured out how much to raise to keep our freezer well stocked with meat. I just joined a CSA this weekend - because I keep murdering innocent vegetable plants, and I'm tired of buying produce at the store. Now I'm going organic and supporting a local farmer!

    I have spent lots of time researching. I enjoy that sort of thing. Homesteading means lots of different things to different people. The meaning of the word has changed over time. Sounds like you may want to determine what it means to you, and your family. I kind of consider myself 'in training'. My goal is to be as self-sufficient as possible. Am I going to learn how to sew? Probably not - thrift stores work for me. There are lots of choices to be made. I just kind of tackle the new challenges and projects as I come upon them......One great thing about doing it this way, is that it has slowly introduced both my husband and three sons to a lifestyle they were NOT interested in, and now have great pride about. Now my husband is showing interest in even more 'homestead' ideals like, living mortgage free, getting out of the big city, to a place where we could grow the animal's feed and be more self-sufficient in case of the economy having trouble. Timing is everything!

    Homeschooling is great and it sounds like you have already begun your family's journey. I wouldn't worry about not wanting to go 'off grid', or be without central heat/air. I hardly think that disqualifies you. Good luck!
    niki
     
  12. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Welcome!

    With such a large family, you and your wife might not have time to do it all. But, you can do SOME, so make it count and do what makes you feel rewarded!

    Remember that inexperienced people take longer to get ANY job done, so don't start all of the operations at once. Just because an experienced person can do it all does not mean that a newbie can: give yourself time and remember the learning curve.

    And, your dream might not be your kids dream so keep their interests in mind when you assign chores. One child might consider caring for critters and shoveling manure a fate worse than death but might not mind swinging a hammer at all, another child could be just the opposite. It isn't ALL about getting the chores done!

    Mostly, enjoy yourselves! :hobbyhors
     
  13. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Kids have always been the hired hands on farms! And really, if you start slow, there's no reason they can't be in your case, either.

    I'd suggest starting with chickens. Meat, eggs, and fertilizer all rolled up into one. They're economical to keep and easy for children to tend.

    If you've got space a sheep or a goat would be nice. I'm partial to my sheepies, of course, and feel that everyone should have two or three. However, some are a bit more foolish and prefer clothing eating goats. Goats will give milk for a year, while sheep have a shorter lactation. That is the only benefit of a goat that I can see. Well, it also gives more milk. :p Either way, you can get milk for either drinking or cheese making; goats will consume brush and sheep will graze to keep pastures mown. The kids could learn to spin wool and sell their yarn.

    Have you any gardening experience? Start with simple things, and a small space. No point in making it so difficult the first couple of years that you hate it. Google square foot gardens and make yourself a small raised bed or two. Actually, my neighbors have six kids and each child has their own raised bed. The beds are about 4x8, so easy to manage. The children choose what plants they want to grow...sometimes everyone grows the same thing, sometimes they have a variety. But with ages from 16 down to 8, they've been doing this for 4 years and the kids all love it. Your kids could each be responsible for tending their own bed, or they could work out a schedule amongst themselves for watering and weeding.

    Personally, that's where I'd start. Simple and small and not overwhelming. Get a couple years under your belt, then start bartering and marketing and developing plans to proceed into self sufficiency.
     
  14. Good Hope

    Good Hope Well-Known Member

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    First of all, welcome!

    Secondly, you CAN tend to animals and a garden even if you don't have experience. What you do need is knowledge, hard work, and some help from experienced people. It's better if your neighbors or at least people in your area are willing to help, but, if not, that's why this board exists. :) People here are willing to answer all kinds of questions, and would be happy to recommend useful books on gardening, animal husbandry, cheesemaking, spinning, and just about any homesteading/self-sufficiency related activity one can think of. (BTW, the Encyclopedia of Country Living is, quite possibly, the best all-around resource on homesteading.)

    If you really want to homestead (and your post does make me wonder, like Goatlady and Jnap31, if that is what you are looking for), there's no reason that you cannot.

    Have you ever looked up hobby farming? That is sort of what my family is doing right now. My impression is that it is more about the recreation that homesteading-type activities provide than growing your family's food and providing for most of one's needs.

    Keep in mind that these are just my thoughts and that I don't have anything to speak of as far as experience.

    I'd agree with those who have suggested that you start with a garden, preferably a small one. Even if all you have is a porch, you can grow some tomatoes in pots. If you have even half-acre of land right now, you should have plenty of room for a starter (meaning, a small) garden. The reason gardens are a good starter project is that they don't absolutely require daily tending and, if you mess up for any reason, animals aren't being neglected. At the same time, one can grow a decent amount of food without a lot of space.

    If you are allowed to keep chickens and have the space, you can also work on building a portable (so that you hopefully won't need a permit) chicken coop. Maybe something low to the ground and with a hinged roof for cleaning? Then, next year, after having gotten used to tending your garden and learned about chickens, you can get some day old pullets.

    Another thing to consider is getting used to working outdoors. If you don't do much of that, it would be worthwhile to start now.

    Well, I hope this helps you a little,
    Sofia
     
  15. DesperateDad

    DesperateDad Member

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    Thanks to all of you who took the time to respond. Some of your comments were critical-constructively, of course-and that's great. As I mentioned, we're investigating and trying to come to a reasonable conclusion as to how we want to proceed and what our ultimate objectives are. I'd rather change my mind and make a good decision than make a decision I later evaluate as foolish.

    One comment I saw, something along the line of "it seems it's just the lifestyle you're lookng for" is exactly right. A certain lifestyle is something a father of 7 children thinks about. The 'bubble', on the other hand, is not. I read that someone on the forum makes their own clothes, although I suspect most do not. I personally am not interested in making my clothes. Sure, it's possible that at some point in the future there will come a time when I can no longer buy the clothes I need at a store, and I will have to find an alternative. Hopefully there will be such a person in my community that might find that I have something they need.

    I've looked at land in Mexico as well as Central & South America, as well as here in the U.S. One interesting component in Latin America is the abundance of cheap labor. It seems I could hire an experienced manager and a crew to help work the farm, which would have the added benefit of myself and the kids learning from them. If I earn $200 an hour, why would I hesitate to hire people at $2 an hour to help me? I might find that I enjoy learning something new and enjoy the work myself, or I might discover that I enjoy my consulting practice just fine but want the lifestyle of living in the country, eating food grown on my own land, and avoiding the urban lifestyle. I'd like my children to learn some of these skills, but it may be that they'll want to be Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers or Teachers and won't want to inherit the family farm. That's okay with me. No doubt some of this seems naive to many of you.

    I got two good book recommendations and for that I'm very grateful. I also appreciate all of your continued feedback. Has anyone built a house designed for present modern day conveniences such as AC, electric pump wells and so-forth, but having also built with the possibility in mind of an eventual 'off-grid' situation?

    Again, many thanks,

    Mark
     
  16. vickiesmom

    vickiesmom Well-Known Member

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    I am a widowed mom of eight, so don't dispair. I'm learning all I can, and I expect in three years to have enough for some land and to change my lifestyle. I'm using this time to save my money, learn some skills, decide which animals I want to raise and why I want to raise them, etc. Luckily all of my kids will be grown or late teens and can be a great help.
     
  17. wyld thang

    wyld thang God Smacked Jesus Freak Supporter

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    Please forgive me, but something that stands out "about" you is that you keep wanting to hire other people to do the work(I'm just trying to make an observation, not be judgemental). I'd say virtually all real homesteaders I've come across or read about have a giant streak of do-it-yourself and make-do or do-without. I want a garden because I want to learn how to grow things for myself in my persnickety micro-climate, I know my own stuff will taste better and be good for me, and on. We do our own car repair, house repair, logging(for log sale and firewood) because we dont' have the money to pay someone else, and it's much much cheaper, and we get that satisfaction of doing it ourselves. I cook from scratch because I know processed food is poison in a box ;) and scratch stuff is healthier and tastes better and cheaper. Sometimes we learn things by trial and error, but mostly we pump those who do know for information. Be nice and suck up to your neighbors and they'll give you an earful--especially after you move to the boondocks and they dont' see you throwing money around and and they see you doing things for yourself.

    Have you gone tent camping for two weeks(or even just one week) with your family, with no showers, ac, refrigerators, microwave? It's would be a real eye opener on what your family will be willing to "put up" with...it shows how far people are willing to put up with a little discomfort and extra work, and most importantly DIRT. We're not the only family who has our sons convinced we'll take potential daughters in law camping before the ?? is popped--our sons have seen how camping is a great indicator of someone's true character:).

    I guess IMHO, it all comes down to how you look at dirt. If you can get muddy, go for a few days without taking a shower, not care about your car being eternally dusty/muddy, then I think you'll make it. But people who are neurotic about dirt don't seem to make good homesteaders.

    We dont' have AC because it doesn't get hot often enough, and I hate them anyways(it's UNNATURAL:))--we have a below grade basement that stays 70' even when it's 95-100'. House too hot at night--sleep outside. We have a well, but we also have water stored in case power goes out. Last summer our well quit working, we went to the bathroom in the woods :), used our stored water and collected rainwater for the few days it took to fix it. First off my hubby called the well guys and talked their ears off "pumping" them for info, which they gave cuz that's just the way it is around here in Mayberry. Then we did have a well guy come out, and asked him what new parts we needed to buy and asked him to point to stuff we needed to replace. He showed us how to check to see if it was pump or electronics that was bad. Since this is Mayberry, the guy was nice in that he realized we weren't made of money and we're "halfway handy" and was happy telling us information. We in turn bought a new pump from him(cheaper the Home Depot!) and got the rest of the electronics/wire/whatever at the local feed store. (Always support locals whenever possible!!) We fixed the well ourselves(needed new pump AND electronics). As for off the grid, we plan to set up a rainwater catch/storage tank set-up, but we also have basic set-up for catching and storing rain if "TSHTF" before we save $$ for the tank:).

    SO guess that makes our emphasis on making do or going without;)
     
  18. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Between raising 8 kids and earning a living, Desperate Dad will have less time than some of us. That is why he is talking about hiring help.

    Personally, I would start a project with the help of a child or 2, which teaches the skills to the child so that s/he can help maintain it. Then, start another project and do the same.

    When I was growing up, us 6 kids did a fair amount of work, but we had to be taught how first. In the long run it is quicker to teach the kids how, but it DOES limit the amount of work that a newbie can accomplish at first! Not only does he have to learn each project, he has to teach it to the kids as well before he can move on to the next one.

    When Desperate Dad talks of hiring help, he is just trying to speed things up a bit.
     
  19. Niki

    Niki mini-steader

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    Terri, I agree with you. I was involved with animal nutrition for the past several years working closely with a nutritionist diagnosing nutritionally related equine diseases and making recommendations on what to feed to either solve them or alleviate them. While I know how to feed many types of animals, when it comes to caring for them in any other way, I am clueless. Fortunately for me, my SO was raised on a farm, so he already knows all that stuff. Desperate Dad doesn't have that luxury, but "hired help" will already be familiar and knowledgeable with many things that could take DDad years to figure out through trial and error.
     
  20. goatlady

    goatlady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Location:
    No. Cent. AR
    The MAIN drawback to investing in land and development in a foreign country is the always present possibility that you ARE a foreigner and that country's government and laws will always state they can confiscate your land and development and leave you with nothing!! Going to a foreign country for "cheap labor" incentives just reinforces the inage of the "rich, arrogant" Gringo, elite landowner, colonialism. Your choice of course, but considering the level of medical care and instability of the governments in the countries you specifically mentioned, might want to reconsider if only for your family's safety and health factors. Plus you would have the hassel of export problems in order to reach a viable market for your goods in order to generate U.S. standard income, otherwise, you are stuck with the local prices and competition. Have you ever even lived for any period of time in a foreign country. I have for 8 years in several, it's REAL different on all levels, being the "foreigner" instead of a "local." You also need to figure in under the table "compensation" to the local officials as part of your financial plan, on an on-going yearly basis. Otherwise, you will get no where with your permit applications and authorizations to even "buy" land much less be able to hire anyone. There's no place like home is ever a TRUE statement and actuality. Money to hire everything, including translators, does NOT solve all problems, just makes you a target for shoveling out more $$$ with no return or just for promises.
    "Frankly, the businessman in me is interested in developing a farm operation that would generate a surplus of agricultural goods that could be bartered with others in the community or donated to the needy." Does this mean the surplus is AFTER enough is generated and sold to pay for the operation? Yes, I agree with your statement that what you have posted SO FAR seems a bit naive. I really feel you do not understand how farming really works since you don't have any personal experience with it, it seems. You may think your business skilla and expertise will stand you in good stead, but it will, in reality, have no impact on a drought, or grasshopper invasion, or out of the blue hail storm, or any other weather variation that totally wipes out your year's production the week befor harvest or the hoof and mouth that hits the herd and they all get slaughterer for health and safety of the local area with no compensation to you for the $$$ lost. No one, no matter how skilled and experienced can "manage" Mother Nature and garantee with any accuracy production success or failure. You seem to be placing a great deal of reliance and confidence and basically your family's health and welfare on the hired experience and knowledge to OTHERS. How will you plan to know, in reality, those OTHERS you hire really know what they are doing if you don't know the basics of ground prep, planting, germination criteria, proper harvesting, etc. yourself. Most "homesteaders" develop their mindset, lifestyle, it seems to me, based on a distrust of letting OTHERS be in control of and in charge of their health and welfare.
    Those "peons" you plan to hire for $2 an hour don't know diddly about production farming - they don't even own their own land for the most part they are basically subsistance farmers growing what they can in a limited way to feed their own families. They really do not have experience with machinery or modern seeds or even the safest way to produce their own food, much less be able to translate their limited experience to your production goals. You really seem to need to do a whole lot more research into your ideas especially in the details of crop/food production and get some experience yourself so you KNOW what you are talking about, especially when you plan on talking to someone you would want to hire to do the work. You will NOT learn from your "hired hands" especially in a foreign country - the cultural gap is way too large for them to feel comfortable, much less be able to communicate to you, what you want to know. You would be the boss and most hired third world workers do NOT instruct the boss - he holds the pursestrings and they will take extreme pains to avoid any negative feedback or even make suggestions to the boss. You are supposed to KNOW everything and if they know you do not you will, in their minds, be an person deserving of their scorn, used as a free bank loan, and you will not be successful in your ventures. You CAN learn the basics and succeed IF you make the effort to get your hand dirty, and if the REAL desire is to change your lifestyle. Having lots of kids and making lots of $$$ with your consulting will NOT in reality translate into the skills necessary to achieve what you are dreaming of, you need to ACTIVELY, physically get out and learn to do some of those things so you will have a base of experience from which to build a workable plan for the future. Otherwise, just find a local CSA, become a member, and pick up your fresh produce,eggs, meats weekly from them instead of the grocery store, and keep on consulting. As far as your kids learning these skills, why should they if Dad doesn't know how and doesn't do it? Parents teach by example far more then by words and hiring someone else to do it. If it's good enough for Dad, it's surely good enough for them. Sorry for the longness. Got a bit wound up here!