Self Sufficiency Homesteading pros/cons?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Paranoid, Nov 22, 2005.

  1. Paranoid

    Paranoid Homebrewed Happiness

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    I think at times the best thing for me to do is get a 10-20 acre farm, some chickens, goats, vegetables etc and work part time to pay various bills while I work the farm to keep me alive and fed. This would be a nice self sustaining lifestyle, at least until I am too old to be able to continue anymore.

    The alternative I was thinking of was.. WHY? Why spend all the money on all the land, all the expensive machines to work it, the time expense of working it, not being able to go anywhere because the animals, etc. Why not work a normal 40 hours a week, instead of buying a tractor, buy a storehouse and just periodically fill it with the things I would have grown anyhow. I mean seriously, its a lot more work harvesting 100lbs of corn than it is for me to work my normal job and buy that same 100lbs of corn with 15 minutes work/wage time.


    Has anyone gone the second route? If I did that I'd probably buy 5 acres on a gov land line so at least i didnt have neighbors, have a 3/2 and a 2 room storehouse/work room on the property.
     
  2. Farmer Willy

    Farmer Willy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I guess the reason a lot of people try to get the homestead/farm thing going is because they like doing it or they figure if times got hard how do you get that 100 lb of corn if you no longer have a job to get the money to buy it or if you did have the money, what if there was no place to buy it. Commercial crop failure, truck strike, fuel shortage, ect. I figure best bet is a combination of both---warehouse what will keep and you can afford to buy now, get a good seed stock and grow what you are able to grow now and in the future.
     

  3. Kenneth in NC

    Kenneth in NC Well-Known Member

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    How about buy-stock up and have a green house?


    Kenneth in NC
     
  4. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I want to aim for self-suff because the food I grow will be a lot better than any (almost) I can buy both in taste and safety (organic etc), and bec I think I will be healthier for the exercise and frsh air I will get doing the work around a homestead.
     
  5. LittleJohn

    LittleJohn Well-Known Member

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    Well their are lots of reasons. For one you cant buy corn that has over about 3-4% protien and low in mineral content as well. But you can grow open pollenated corn with 13% protien and higher in min.. That same argument can be made for every food item I suspect that many of our modern illnesses are caused by the low quality food we eat besides the chemicals in that food. I can sympathise with the livestock but thier are things that you can do seasonaly and take the winter off. For instance growing poultry or fish in the summer and freezing enough to last the winter. Alternatively if you get a place near a good fishing hole you could spend a lot of time fishing and consider that part of your homesteading work for supplying your food.
    One of the big tricks to liveing self sufficiently is to have a very low overhead. Many people Sell thier home in the city and spending it all on a large piece of land and big house that they nolonger have the income to support. If you arent a scrounger or at least inventive you wont last long in the country.
    I grew up on a farm the only reason we lasted as long as we did farming is cause grampa didnt spend a lot of money on equipment. Dad went broke buying fancy equipment. Why buy equipment to grow food you cant eat yourself? Use raised bed gardening and all you need is a few hand tools. You cant make wages growing food unless you have a special angle and preferably live near a big city. Most farmers are going broke and they know what thier doing. Unless you have a good income (even then they just lose money) or are a good scroungeing mechanic you dont want any moterised equipment just the upkeep will kill you.
    Thier is something to be said for buying organic food from people you know and staying put if you have a realy good income. But would prefer the security of selfsufficient lifestyle and homestead.
     
  6. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    In the long run, I think it comes down to joy. I LIKE having chickens and putting up gallons of blackberries!

    Going to work is something that I have often done, but it really is more fun to do it yourself than to punch a time clock.

    I am not set up to do it all: I only have 1 acre where I live (More outside of town), and I have a mortgage. But, I CHOOSE to do for myself what I can! It is so MUCH more fun! :goodjob:
     
  7. tnborn

    tnborn Well-Known Member

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    I enjoy my country eggs. I know what chemicals are not being given to the chickens and they free range. yes, I have problems with those nasty hawks :bash: I enjoy watching my goats, donkeys.
    Having few neighbors, makes me :happy: I have privacy and enjoy listening to the owls hooting and watching the stars which is almost impossible in the city.
    We have accumulated equipment gradually.
    tnborn
     
  8. Janon

    Janon 993cc Geo Metro

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    Some folks are fortunate to be able to do what they like to do - maybe that is "homesteading" full time.

    Economics of any situation depends on the situation - but I think you'd find that most folks here have at least one person in the household with a "traditional" job. I cannot even think of any larger scale farmers I know that provide even the majority of their income through farming - and I'd bet that there are quite a few who actually lose money.

    One of the posts above mentioned that to be self-sufficient, you had to have very low overhead. They're probably exactly right... since the less you have to pay for, the less you have to earn. Complex systems (even if it is your household income) fail in complex ways.

    cheers,
     
  9. WanderingOak

    WanderingOak Well-Known Member

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    I plan on being as self-sufficient as possible, not to save money, but because it makes more sense than relying on commercial agriculture. Just about every single poster on this thread has given a very good reason for doing so. I would rather be self-employed with some type of home-based cottage industry, raising my own food on the side than be a 9-5 wageslave eating irradiated beef and GMO corn.
     
  10. BrahmaMama

    BrahmaMama Well-Known Member

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    I myself have the same thoughts go through my head EVERY day!
    Honestly if you don't own your land and equipment (modern or old fashioned) outright, it's nearly impossible to keep your head above water and trust me, I've DONE the math.
    Hubby pays the traditional bills w. his full time job, and I keep the animals fed w. my part-time job.

    Personally I think it's sad that I'm gonna have to win the lottery in order to live more SIMPLY.
     
  11. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

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    My parents did a lot for their self reliance from a double city lot where they had lots from the garden to store. He kept bees for honey, though that might not be practical everywhere. Around here it's close to hunting and fishing, which many 'self sufficient' town dwellers participate to lower their grocery bill with a deer harvest, canning rough fish (poor man's lobster), harvesting wild berries during season, foraging where possible. It can be done, but it takes time and committment.
     
  12. Jenn

    Jenn Well-Known Member Supporter

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    remember the old farmer joke:

    A farmer won the lotto for $1 million. "What will you do with all the money?" he was asked. "I'll just keep farming until it's all gone," he replied.
     
  13. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    Our plan is to pay as we go and God willing in 10 years or less my hubby won't have to "go to work" unless he wants to. We are both in our 40's and if we don't make our later years live-able no one else will. There is no money for us to live on when we get old if we stayed in the city. Our land is our retirement plan. When I am too old to take care of myself I want to go for a walk, sit down for a nap and not come back. I want as much control of my life as I can get. I have been poor most of my life and trapped in it. I have more freedom now than I have ever had before.


    You don't have to spend ALL the money on anything, we buy what we need, we don't buy things we don't need. City people spend more on things they want to feel "in style" than I ever will. I don't live to fit myself into a media scheduled plan of what someone else wants to sell me.

    What expensive machines?, homesteaders don't NEED very many machines. And the ones I have are on the very low end of expence. Most are to get by with until we have money to set up a lower tech system.

    Commercal farming and homesteading are different, I only sell surplus, I don't grow for market. We are buying only winter feed until we have a field fenced to grow our own. By next summer we should be well underway on that.

    The time spent is the reward, it is my time, for my life goals. I don't have to do something until I want to. No one is going to shut off my lights or my heat
    if I stay in bed until noon and don't get to work 'on time'. I don't have to rush through traffic and hoards of grumpy people to "make ends meet".

    I can go any where I want to, any time I want to. My animals are not confined to pens and wholely dependant on me to feed and water them.


    .

    Well, speaking for myself, is it boring, I would be at someone else's mercy as to the job and if the company shut down I could be on the street without a choice in the matter.

    (In Oklahoma City the General Motors plant is going to be shut down and some 2000 people are going to be out of a job. Early next year. )

    What if those things in your storehouse get wiped out by a storm? What if rodents get to it? What if insects get to it? What if it just gets too hot and all for the food value and life force in baked out of it? What if some people break in a steal it or set it on fire? What if there is a leak in the roof and it is all ruined? What if there is a disaster and there is no way to cook your stored food? How will you store meat if the electric isn't there for the freezer?
    My stored meat is walking around in the shade eating leaves or scratching in the dirt for what they might find. (inbetween sunbathing and napping in the barn doorway)

    With a hand full of corn seed, or almost any other kind of seed, I can grow enought increase off of it to meet my needs in just a few months. My animals can live without stored/store bought food so can I. When your stored food is gone and if you can't buy more, what will you do? Will groups of people that think your plan is sound, come with guns and take what is grown by people like me?

    We like our neighbors and we are lucky that most of our neighbors come from old time subsistance farmers/homesteader families, they have enough money now that they don't need to grow what they need. (basicly they are hobby farmers/or non farming country folk) But, all that we have become friendly with have said they value us being here and the way we live. It shows we are here for the long haul and can be trusted to be 'country' and not bring city laws and values in, to take over. If the way of life they have now collapsed, we could help them get started again.

    So, we don't have to feel like we need to hide our assets from them. They would help protect us and what we have. because the way we live is an asset to them to.
     
  14. homebirtha

    homebirtha Well-Known Member

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    Keep in mind, Joel Salatin got his farm from his parents, didn't have to buy it or get a mortgage to own it. Secondly, he makes a lot of money selling his ideas and his books. So while I like some of his ideas, I think he makes is sound a lot more feasible then it really is.
     
  15. 3girls

    3girls Well-Known Member

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    I just happen to be reading Joel Salatin's You Can Farm . Nowhere does he say it is easy. The first chapters of this book paint a very realistic treatise on what it takes to farm. Clearly, one must love the farming lifestyle in order to succeed.

    I believe you are wrong about how he makes his living. I've been there and believe me, they have a going operation there. You are right, he inherited his land--so did a lot of other people. That just means they have no mortgage. Lots of the people on this forum also own their land free and clear. I just do know that he and his family are very successful at what they do. By the way, no one is going to get rich off writing farm books. There really is a limited market for these books.

    I also know that if your heart is not in it, you'll not do well at farming.

    Gene Logsdon's books are also very good at addressing this issue. His goal was to grow enough to raise ALL their food and be able to sell a little bit to cover the costs. He does make a living writing farm books and articles. He also writes a great deal about having simple wants and finding both physical and emotional health on his farm.
     
  16. JAK

    JAK Well-Known Member

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    I think there is a compromise approach where you work more land smarter but less intensely. The idea is not to maximize yield, but to get the land to improve itself and produce various food/fuel/energy with mininal expenditure of time/money/fuel/energy. Of course the price of land and property taxes ups the ante, so this minimalist approach works best where land is cheaper yet still productive, which generally means farther from civilization and well paying jobs. It comes back to what you want out of life.

    It would be nice to discover in this life how much land it takes to live off the land.
     
  17. Farmer Willy

    Farmer Willy Well-Known Member Supporter

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  18. Hoop

    Hoop Well-Known Member

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    There is no such thing as self sufficiency. Hasn't been for decades. About all one can do is STRIVE to BECOME somewhat self sufficient.

    Land costs today overwhelmingly are based on what it would sell for as residential real estate. The initial purchase price :grit: of land far outweighs anything that could be raised or grown on it. :(

    If, by some chance, you were able to use your land to generate some income, its doubtful it would generate enough revenue to pay the property taxes, health insurance, liability/homeowners insurance, utility bills, etc.
     
  19. kenuchelover

    kenuchelover Well-Known Member

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    Homesteading is a multi-purpose lifestyle. It's quality food, a healthy lifestyle, and security come hell or high water.

    Yeah, you can buy inferior quality corn in bulk (hope you like GMO, cause no matter what, you're gonna get a certain percentage of GMO corn.... maybe even ALL GMO corn, depending on who you get it from & how your luck runs with respect to which batch you get sold). And this WILL be cheap, which is fine if all you want is whole kernal corn for meal.

    Don't forget to buy your own grain mill.

    But any fruits or veggies you buy will be MUCH pricier than you can grow yourself, as well as nutritionally poorer & usually not tasting as good. And they don't keep so well, not even if you buy a BIG walk in fridge or freezer. So you either pay a fortune for questionable quality fresh veggies on a regular basis (most imported), or buy canned goods instead.

    On the other hand, you don't need a large acreage, you CAN feed yourself on just a fraction of an acre, AND do it in your spare time. Canning it all does take a fair bit of labor, but some stuff you don't have to can (grains, dry beans, winter squash, potatoes, etc) & you can always make a deal with a neighbor to have them can for you in exchange for a large percentage of what you raise. Buy extra land & let folk run cattle or poultry on it in exchange for a set quantity of meat. Get land with a pond, and eat fresh fish every week.... it's healthier for you anyway. Buy MORE extra land, and do a little hunting.

    Face it, you don't need a tractor or lots of expensive machines to work enough land to support yourself (get a good rototiller for a few hundred bucks... or even RENT ONE each year). Hire a farm neighbor to put in a few hours tillage, if you're going bigger scale. If all you're doing is raising your own food, you don't need mechanical harvesters.

    Working the land should be FUN, or you shouldn't be doing it. It's good exercise, has plenty of fresh air, and is more intellectually & spiritually stimulating than putting in those same hours at the office & gym.

    And.... remember I mentioned "hell or high water"....? If anything bad happens, like another great depression, a pandemic, invasion or civil war, societal upheaval or collapse, getting downsized...... you'll STILL have your land and it'll already be in production & you'll already have experiance raising your own food. Your "storehouse" idea is good only so long as you can buy stuff to fill it..... under some scenarios, you wouldn't be able to. And if you've got a storehouse like that (rather than constant crop production and "food on the hoof, fin, or foot"), you're vulnerable to storage problems (pests, mold, etc) AND LOOTERS.

    Heh, here's ANOTHER alternative instead. Go ahead & get the 10-20 acre small farm. But build an extra room, or a small cabin off to the side, and hire a caretaker to do the grunt work you seem to think might be a problem. You can go ahead & do your regular 40 hour off-farm job, and earn enough to pay the caretaker a stipend PLUS his room & board. You'll get most of it back in the form of food he raises FOR YOU, and in the security he provides by being there most of the time you're not.

    And if anything bad ever happens, you've got a productive setup PLUS somebody to help you & to watch your back.

    Let HIM get all energetic about specialty crops & improvements, allow him to use whatever acreage he can handle & pay you a percentage of his gross.

    Or buy a bigger acreage & let some young couple live on the far side of it, they'll watch the place for you, not impact your privacy much (put them closest to the access road.... they'll keep people AWAY from you), AND by raising a bigger garden & more livestock than they need just for themselves, provide you with all the food you want. You get what you want at an only slightly higher land price and WITHOUT using your own labor, they get land to live on & work & practice on prior to getting their own place. You only do as much as you want to.

    Homesteading isn't commercial scale farming... and there are ALL kinds of options available for you.
     
  20. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    My hand full of seed is stored in a rodent/bug proof ammo box with mosture aborbant packs, in a cool cellar. orginal post was > "why not?" just buy and store goods, instead of spending all that time growing it.< With reasonable skills you can grow food for a life time, it is almost imposible to store that much. My post was not in the spirit of bashing stored food stuffs.

    We live off the main roads, and our housing ect is small, low key, not easy to see, locals would help, our guns would be used, our dogs would give warning. When frightened our "walking meat locker" runs for the barn 20 ft behind our house, when money is available to do it, we will build a solar/wind system for a deep freezer. We are off the power grid. and are planning a underground cellar/ice house, just to see how well it will work, it all takes time and we like learning/working it out process.

    Who said I have nothing stored? I have grain and mills to grind them. There is something to eat in my garden 12 months a year. We also have 30 acres of forest to forage if I had too, wild pig, turkey and deer even more land counting the neighbors. We are accepted here now. We are as accepted as the 4 generation family (on the same land) down the road from us. My hubby is out today helping a neighbor (who lives some 15 miles away) move a trailer because their house burned down, they called us the "new" people to ask my husbands help with it.

    Why would all my livestock "kick it' at the same time? A pressure canner is a very much needed tool for a homestead lots of lids and jars too.


    sure, ....And there are lots of people learning things they hadn't thought of before. There are always things to mess up plans, so hedge your bets, think of "what if" , ask questions and do the best you can. Put your faith in action. Don't rest on last years success. The gophers etc are looking for a meal.