Friday, June 3, 2016

Homestead Economics

Homestead Economics

I recently posted an add on Craigslist, asking for supplies, A wish list,( that caused someone to comment that we should have prepared better for farming life.
This was the comment "Christopher Wallace Instead of begging, try bartering. Or Downeast dickering. You should have been a little more prepared for the switch to farming  "

This was my reply " Maine Homestead Project Christopher, good morning. If you read anything I write about this adventure we are on, you will see that I always try to barter. I did offer to trade eggs, baked goods, small amounts of cash or our precious time. I am always open to barter.
As an example, last year we had a plumber come to look at work we did and he gave us some valuable time. He wasn't going to charge us anything so I gave him some relish I had just canned. I would never feel right taking something for nothing.
I have already been offered pipe and a good price on a chainsaw. And we feel so blessed.
We have prepared to the best of our ability. This is the only way I know how to keep our costs as low as we can, I f people are going to throw stuff away, I am giving them the option to give it a good home instead.

This got me thinking about all that we have done to "Prepare" over the years. It is way too much to list but trust me when I say I have been preparing for so long for this move and this new way of life.
I have been gardening and canning for years on a small scale and recently canning on a larger scale. I Dehydrate and freeze all of the herbs that I grow.  Last year we grew 20 tomato plants and canned all that we could, and some still went to the chickens.
I raise chickens, and have been raising them for 6 years!
We have collected building materials for years, but it is still not enough to do all that we want and need to do.

So I thought hard about how I could have possibly prepared for things I didn't know I was going to need before I needed it. I also thought about how I want to live a more sustainable life, including sustainable building.
After we bought our property here, we started moving to it as soon as we could, at first it was a trailer load at a time. If you watch the channel you can see that we progressively have  been moving our 25 years worth of accumulation, from Cape Cod , to the homestead. It has been almost 2 years now, and we have one more Lg. U haul truck to go, the end is in sight, the house is about to be listed, and we will finally be in one place for good.

So I kept thinking about all of this and how I could help others who want to go on this journey for themselves. Here is what I came up with. 

Homestead Economics 101

1. If you didn't know already how hard it is to move, let us be a cautionary tale. Downsize as much as you can, before you buy a place to move to.That means get rid of all extraneous and unnecessary stuff, and  sell your house first!

2. Once you sell, get out of all debt. If you are in any, but you're not right?

3. You were looking for your dream community and a homestead in that area for years right? You didn't just drive up to Maine one weekend and decide to live there, right?

4. Hopefully you purchased your property right before you needed to be out of your current property/ dwelling.

5. Hopefully you have found a place with water(a drilled well that tested clean and safe) a septic system that is in proper working order, and there is some kind of dwelling for you to shelter in. If you're really lucky it might have out buildings, an orchard and lots of garden space. If this is you, please stop reading this, you don't need my help at all you lucky ducky you!

6. Down to the nitty gritty. Save and be as frugal as possible. Stay in and cook all your meals. Watch old movies for date night
Budget, your time, your money and your dreams.
I think the first two are self explanatory.
What do I mean by budgeting your dreams? Well that is easy.
Plan to save for the things you are dreaming about doing on your future homestead, right now.
If you want to raise chickens for eggs and meat, you are going to need a lot of stuff. Stuff to keep them safe, fed and happy and healthy. So plan your dream, on paper. Do the research. Design a coop bigger  than you think you will need it to be. In this case bigger is better. Chickens are the gateway to more chickens...and other animals didn't you know?
Make the decision if you will subsistence farm or market garden or a combo of both. This is very important. We read about market gardening and we thought it might be something we would like to do. It is not a good plan for someone who wants to practice permaculture methods. Market gardening requires an intensive rotation schedule so as not to strip the land of nutrients. I do not want to intensively farm our land like that. So it is not a good fit for us. But I have to say that I would like to have a farm stand and sell extras. It will always change from day to day and it will be what we are not able to use for ourselves. We come first.
So make your decision , what kind of farmer do you want to be? Now plot and plan for that goal. Design. Every. Aspect.

Study Permaculture Zones. Create the areas for your kitchen gardens, your orchards, your pasture areas for your free range pasture hens and meat bird flocks, They need a lot of space. If you want a dairy cow or dairy goats, plan for it, If you want meat rabbits or pigs, plan it all out.

Greenhouse or poly tunnels? Heated or not heated? There are so many things to decide.
We had dreams, but not a lot of firm decisions. We have changed our minds many times, sometimes half way through construction.
So my next point....

7. Be flexible.
S%*t happens. So now what?

The plumbing inspector came by out of the blue one day, and because of his "visit" we changed all our bathroom plans halfway through the build.
We decided to do a detached bathroom instead and now the shell of a room we built onto the garage will not be used as a traditional bathroom. We may have a sink for washing hands and our bucket composting toilet system in there but no shower. and no Water wasting toilet.
But it is now going to be awesome storage area, and closet space where we have no closet right now.

Learn to take punches and keep on getting up.
There will be losses.
There will be tears.
There will be times when you just don't want to get up in the morning to deal with it all.
Just remember that this is the life that you chose to lead.
You want security and safety and joy beyond compare.
You are a Homesteader and you are all in!

So yeah.... I posted an add on Craigslist to materials....
You know what I got?
Replies, and I have met some new and wonderful people because of it. They wanted to help us. Because people here like to help each other. They like to be neighborly and chat for a bit. They are genuinely friendly, and care about what you are trying to do.

I think I was right to ask for help. If you don't you may never leave your property, and you may not make it.

”No Man Is an Island” by John Donne
No man is an island, entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
 as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were.
Any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind;
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
 it tolls for thee.

In this poem, John Donne explores the idea of the connectedness of people. People are not isolated islands. We are all a part of a larger thing, and if one person dies, everyone is affected.

If one person tries to do it all on their own, they will fail.
I feel like we should all strive to help one another, because of this connectedness. We share this human life. We are not alone. We are not an island.

With Love from the homestead,


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