A differnt idea of farm living...

jason13170May 22, 2011

Hello, peace to all of yoy.

I have a question I'm hoping someone can answer or steer me to the right resource.

My family (me, wife, one 3 yr old girl) want to change our life in a way that seems to be hard to find information for... Everyone else seems to have way bigger ideas, or way smaller....

It's pretty simple. I have a job that pays right around the poverty level, but I love it and it has insurance and a retirement plan. We have no money left over, but with God's help we get by.

We have no debt to speak of and detest debt in any form but real estate debt. We qualify for a USDA loan, and remarkable, even my bank is willing to give me a small conventional loan for a home, so we are looking. We rent right now.

In our area, we could find a humble house, and maybe a barn, on 5-10 acres, for a price about equal to our rent payment.

My wife has some exprience with goats, and we're thinking or keepng goats to provide milk and meat. The goal is to feed ourselves, not sell. If we find some local folks that want to buy milk or meat fine, but not necessary.

I might raise a steer or 2, again for personal consumption, sharing with neighbors, and maybe selling the best cuts for a few bucks.

We want a garden large enough to provide maybe 7 -10 types of vegetables and fruit... Again, to feed our family and share. No intention of making profit.

My goal after the first 3 years or so is to have learned enough to cut our food bill by 80%. 90% in 5 years (i suppose there will always be a few items needed, as we are not radical purists of any kind).

We'd like well water if we can swing it, and use as little electricity as possible, and as little fuel as possible.

In short, we'd like to sustain ourselves, our basic needs, as much as possible.

We have no use for expensive toys or hobbies, fancy furniture.....We love simple things. I like to target shoot with my guns and my wife's passion is reading and learning (mostly about animals, goats and dogs in particular).

So you can see that our hobbies are humble as well, financially speaking.

It seems perfectly feasable for us to accomplish a goal of having about half of my $1240 net income or so to save for emergencies, retirement, and an occasional, well thought out pleasure purpose, like a vacation once a year.

This is what we want, and we'd like to find a forum and books, magazines, etc for just this kind of thing. I thought we would be considered homesteaders, but we don't seem to fit that, as the sites about that subject talk all about needing 2 jobs in the family, woring 16 plus hours a day just to survive.... What on earth are these people spending their money on? Yes kids are expensive, but not expensive enough to need a work schedule like that, with 3 or fewer kids.

One guy had 340 acres, and raised soybeans and other stuff to feed his 1000 pigs...... He said he barely makes it, and thats 16 hr 7-day-a-week work. What on earth are his living standards, I wonder? What do most people consider "a living" nowdays? I thought most country minded folk had pretty simple desires. They do here in central kentucky where I live.

Maybe it's a geographical thing.

So where are the simple folk that want to try to grow and raise say 125% of what they need to eat, hope and pray for 100% to actually come through, and need only 1 humble full time job with health insuranse and a retirement plan to pay for what we can't do or make ourselves?

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I would consider that homesteading, indeed and homesteading can be done anywhere one wishes to be more self-sustainable. Acreage does help and it doesn't have to be a lot, just in a place where you will not have restrictions already in place.

My husband and I live a pretty sustainable existance and although we live humbly and our life is simple it is a good one. The skills you will need to be successful at it are something you won't learn at once......I've been learning over a lifetime. Be aware that the restrictions imposed on agriculture are becoming so severe, it may impact your plans on selling meat, and especially milk. I gave up my egg sales just because it got ridiculous.

My first in-laws lived on what amounted to an eighty acre subsistance farm. We bought little other than coffee, salt and flour and the rest was raised on site. If you don't know what you are doing, and how to do it, it can be a disaster with crops and animal husbandry. Start simple and ease into it as you learn. It will be a full-time job for your spouse and you'll spend all your free hours working too and it's part of it. So you better love what you are doing.

You will need equipment and you will need a home to be brought up to good repair. If you are doing it on a shoestring..........you need those skills too. You need outbuildings, a tractor you can pretty much maintain yourself, fencing. It all costs money.

No, farmers don't get rich........putting in a crop is expensive and you can be the best farmer in the world and have rotten weather or a disease outbreak and lose it all in two seasons. It has little to do with lifestyles.......go price a good tractor, a dump truck, irrigation, seed, chemicals, grain or hay elevators. Your assets are the soil beneath your feet when it comes down to it.

I am in an agri-business and most of our friends are farmers including my son. Eight out of ten of them have day jobs. You are realistic in your expectation to keep yours.

I garden and can and have fruit trees and brambles and a flock of chickens. I put up perhaps three hundred quarts of food a year, plus what we eat fresh. I would say that I produce about half of what we need and purchase the rest.

You can have that lifestyle..........just be realistic that most people don't because most people do not want the work involved when push comes to shove. I wish you the best of luck and hope your dream comes true.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 12:01PM
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You didn't say where you would be farming. The climate and the type of soil can make a big difference in what you can and cannot do. If you get someone's old farm, it's a good chance that the ground is already worn out. Fruit that grows in one area, simply will not bear in another.

The idea of living simply is a good one. I hope that you will be able to do what you want to do.

But, here's the problem. You will need money. And what you are planning isn't going to pay the bills. Your daughter is going to have to go to school. She will need clothes and shoes. And as she grows, even if your wife sews, or you shop at the Good Will store, she will cost more and more. Even school supplies can add up to a good deal now. Suppose she needs glasses, how will you pay for them? Will you have more children?

You are going to have to pay property taxes and buy gasoline for the farm machinery. You may have doctor bills and other unexpected expenses. This will last for as long as your child lives at home. Do you want to send her to college?

How would you feel about using Medicaid or charity if you had too. Are you the type that would hate having to ask for help? It used to be that the people in a farming area could help each other, but unless there are others around doing the same thing, you would be on your own.

I'm wishing you the best on this. It's a wonderful goal. Just be careful about the quality of the soil in the land you buy and keep your job.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 12:48PM
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You might try taking a look at the Homesteading forum here at the Garden Web.They ought to be able to answer a lot of your questions.

Here is a link that might be useful: Homesteading Forum

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 1:26PM
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Actually - look for 'survivalist' and self sufficiency under Google - much of what you mention might be covered in such chat groups as those individuals might post to.

Yes - good luck - A cash crop won't hurt - even with regulations - strawberries, day lilies, bamboo for construction, tobacco in Kentucky -

Control your heat bill with solar and caulking - conservation. Heating with wood is fine so long as your property has trees you can sacrifice, but wood is expensive to buy, and the physical labor you're biting off to do every day, rain or shine, heat or cold, plus what you owe your employer will mount up.

Best of luck

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 9:06PM
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Good luck to you!
I personally know two related homesteading families in Kentucky... they are happy and their children are real, not one superficial thing about any of them.

Good luck to you and may God bless you.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 11:55PM
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Thank you all very much.

You know, many people, I think, dream of simplifying to some degree. Finding those people, and maybe buying land and splitting up, would not only make the land more affordable but you'd have a few neighbors with the same goal that could share work and equipment, and swap food too if one farm won't produce a certain crop. Or a well went dry, etc.

Many of you may be familiar with intentional Christian communities. This would be a little like that, but with more privacy (the thing that seems to challenge ICC's so much).Hmmmm....

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 10:28AM
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