How We Afford to Mini-Farm on One Income- Part 2

Haying our pasture- 2011

I was really stoked to publish the first installment of “How We Afford to Mini-Farm on One Income” last week.

I always enjoy giving my readers a peek into our life, plus I was hoping to be an encouragement to some of those who want to homestead, but aren’t quite sure how to get there with their current budget.

Little did I know that I would be the one who would be encouraged! As the comments poured in, I was humbled to read all of YOUR stories. So many of you are already debt-free or working like crazy to get there. Even though choosing to live a lifestyle that is different that the “standard American” way of life is a challenge at times, you guys are doing it with style.

Today, I’ll share the rest of our “secrets” (that aren’t really a secret).

How We Afford to Mini-Farm on One Income- Part 2

 

(Read tips 1 through 4 here)

5. We are creative with smaller income streams

When I started this blog, I never guessed that it would grow into what is has today. Now trust me, I am NOT making thousands of dollars per month with it, but the little bit that trickles from affiliate programs and sponsorship most definitely helps. (A big THANK YOU to my readers who make that possible!)

But that’s not the only way we bring in extra cash. I am also a ruthless de-clutterer and have listed many items to our local sale papers and craigslist.org. The extra money that comes from selling our unwanted clutter is useful for sticking in the savings account for a rainy day.

When time allows, we try to pick up various odd jobs when possible. Again, not a huge money maker, but an extra hundred bucks here or there always helps.

6. We cook from scratch and grow as much food as possible.

Eating healthy and eating frugally at the same time can seem contradict each other sometimes…

Back in the day, I was all about getting the cheapest food I could possibly buy… I didn’t read ingredient labels– all I cared about was the price tag.

As I’ve done more research and become more educated, eating like that is no longer an option for us. However, neither is buying all the expensive “organic” food from the health food store.

Paying a little more for quality, wholesome foods IS worth it. You just have to be creative about it.

Our garden

Home food production is a huge part of homesteading for us and that greatly reduces our food costs. I haven’t bought milk, eggs, or beef from the store in nearly two years. Does it still cost money to produce those food items on the homestead? Definitely. But, my home-butchered, grass-fed beef is far more affordable for us than the $6/lb packages of “natural” hamburger that my grocery store sells.

As far as the rest of our food items, I try to make as much as I possibly can from scratch. Making the majority of our bread products and pantry staples (tortillas, pie crusts, pizza dough, broth, breadcrumbs, etc) saves a lot of cash, which leaves me more wiggle room in the food budget to buy items that we can’t grow or make ourselves (nuts or dry beans, for example).

It’s a balancing act, but I truly believe that a person can eat a whole foods diet without going broke. It just takes a little more work and forethought.

7. We forego many luxuries

Living this lifestyle on one income doesn’t come without sacrifices.

We don’t eat out at resturants very often. We rarely go to the movie theater. We don’t take expensive vacations. We haven’t had cable in four years (although we love our Netflix account!). 

My version of a “shopping spree” is spending $20 at garage sales… I definitely don’t go to the mall and spend wads of cash. (I pretty much hate the mall anyway, so it works out well.)

There are things that we want that often get pushed aside for our needs. It’s a trade-off– but is it worth it? We think so.

8. We bought cheap land

The part of Wyoming where we live is known for it’s harsh weather…. The wind blows relentlessly for most of the year. Our winters can be downright brutal. But if you can tolerate that, land is fairly affordable when compared to other areas of the country.

Our first winter. The front door is behind the snow drift. Fun, eh?

There aren’t a lot of trees, and water is scarce. If you are picturing our 67-acres as a lush oasis filled with elegant trees and a meandering stream, you are sorely mistaken. It’s prairie. Grassland. Flat as a pancake.

Although I have found a certain beauty to the prairie and love living here, it’s not for everyone.

Our homestead is also 45 minutes from the nearest town. That distance suits us just fine, but some folks think that living that far out would be fate worse than death… It seems that everyone wants a little piece of the country, but they don’t want to be more than 10 minutes from downtown. If you are looking for more affordable land, you might have to sacrifice the convenience of being 5 minutes away from the store.

Although hubby drives to work everyday (sometimes he is able to carpool), I try to only run errands once or twice per month. We can’t order pizza or run to the store if we need an ingredient for supper, but we’ve learned to adapt to that.

One more thing…

I couldn’t hit “publish” on this post without giving credit where credit is due. God has truly been the reason we’ve been able to succeed thus far in our homesteading adventures. He is the one who developed these desires in us, even before we knew we had them. Without Him and His hand of blessing on us, we could have never made it here on our own. And Lord willing, we will continue on this path for many years to come. :)

How do YOU off-set your homesteading expenses? I wanna hear your “secrets” for balancing a homestead and a budget. Share in the comments!

Comments

  1. I don’t have any tips, but I loved reading this. Most of my friends think I’m slightly nuts because we also shop at yard sales and thrift stores, have no cable, and buy most everything used (I think they’re nuts to spend $400 on a purse, so we’re even there), so it’s great to hear we’re not alone. I haven’t been in a mall in almost 2 years, and don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. Keep up the great work, you are such an encouragement to the rest of us.

  2. Ditto to everything you said! One thing we’ve started doing to help with the cost of feeding all these animals is selling surplus eggs at my husbands work. I also have wonderful neighbors and we swap fruit and veg, home cooked goods, even saw dust from my neighbor who mills his own wood for furniture. We plan to sell split too, as we have plenty of excess firewood here. Every little bit helps :-)

  3. I enjoyed reading this article. We live “20 minutes from anywhere”…that’s whet I tell everyone! We have 4 1/2 acres. Both of us are city slickers so moving to the country 2 years ago was a big change for us. We too live on one paycheck. It is definately hard to stay out of debt when so many things need done and there is no money for the equipment. We rent equipment for once in awhile projects and also buy used equipment for upkeep of our “farm”. My husband says its not a farm unless you have livestock…we have chickens so he says we are not a farm! Lol. Silly boy. Life has so much more meaning to me know than we lived in the city. I’ve learned so many things, gardening, canning our own food, raising chickens(who’da think it?), making “greener” cleaners from basic ingredients such as washing soda and vinegar. I’ve recently stepped into soap and candle making. We face the question often of whether I should go back to work as money is always tight. Having 2 incomes would definately make things easier but I believe the skills we are teaching our children far outweigh the benefits. Thank you for posting this!

    • ya but if you have chickens look into getting a farm tax ID and you can get feed and all sorts of other stuff tax free, like parts for the car that you use to “transport” your feed ;)

      • Big Brother has not part of my “business” and I do not want it’s blessing to save a little on taxes. Only fools would do this for a small farm. Opens you up to control (and future confiscations?) of your livestock, etc. I trust the gov about as far as I can throw an elephant.

      • I would love to find where you find free feed for your livestock and parts for your vehicles. Can you share the site or are you talking about your tax write off?

        • He didn’t say FREE, he said TAX FREE. Having a farm tax ID number enables you to purchase certain things without paying taxes on them.

  4. We have 3, soon to be 4 children, so making extra cash can be a crunch. I take in 1 extra child to watch and make about $500 a month. We only have 2 acres but try to make the most of it. We let out grass grow ridiculously long and cut it for silage for our goats as supplement to buying hay. And although I would love a beautiful barn, we have what we call our “slanty shanty” goat house made out of pallets for free.
    I love your blog, thank you for taking the time to pour into it!

    • Google homemade manual hay Bailer. My husband built one from scrap wood. Mostly free pallets :) and it is awesome. After we mow we can use the grass to make bails of hay and save it for winter. We also bail our corn husks and leaves from the stocks.

  5. Hi Great Article…
    I love to can, so I grow pickles and peppers and make Bread & Butter Pickles, 9 Day Sweet Pickles, Sweet Pepper Mustard, Hot Pepper Mustard, Hot, Sweet Pepper rings etc. and sell them at a local Farmers Market. I find good, used jars, buy new lids and can away ! Nice to get cash for what I Love doing !

    • How do you get your cucumbers to stay crunchy? Every time I make pickles (I’ve used at least 7 or more recipes) the cucumbers are mushy once they have been pickled. I so enjoy a good pickle, but only if it’s crunchy! Thanks for your help, Judi

      • Hi Judi I use alum and search the internet for recipes with alum…
        Here is my recipe…For 9 Day Sweet Pickles…
        9 Day Sweet Pickles

        10-12 lbs 4-6″ pickles (cucumbers) = 1 Peck approx.
        1 1/2 cup Canning Salt (No Iodine)
        1 pint vinegar
        2 Tbl Alum

        for spice bag
        1 oz. Cinnamon Sticks
        1 oz. whole cloves
        1 oz. whole allspice
        1 oz. whole celery seed

        for syrup
        8 lbs white sugar
        2 qts vinegar

        In a crock (#5 or6) (I use 16 Qt Stainless Steel stock pots) (can use enameled pots but NO aluminum !!!)
        Slice pickles 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick and put in a salt brine strong enough to float an egg !
        (about 6 qts of water and 1 1/2 cup canning salt to cover pickles). Put a plate on top to hold down pickles under the liquid. Leave for 3 days.
        Then rinse and leave if FRESH Water for 3 days. again put plate on to to hold the pickles under the water.
        On day 6 drain water and put pickles in a 12-16 qt stock pot and boil in 1 pt vinegar, 2 Tbl. Alum and water to cover. Bring to a rolling boil for 2 minutes. Drain and cool.
        Wash thoroughly ( I fill my sink with cold water and toss the pickles around for a few minutes) Then drain and put back into the crock.

        To Make the Syrup.
        In another large pot, add sugar and vinegar and spice bag and bring to a boil.
        (I let it boil about 5 minutes)
        Then pour Hot Syrup over the pickles in the crock…It should cover the pickles.
        Day 7 – 8
        Drain syrup into a large pot and bring to a boil. Then put pickle back into crock and pour syrup over pickles.
        Day 9
        Drain syrup into a large pot and bring to a boil.
        Pack pickles in jars (pints or quarts) full but not tight enough to break them.
        Ladle hot syrup over pickles, remove air bubbles, clean rims and put on 2 piece lids tightly.
        Place jars spaced so they do not touch out of any cool drafts. They will seal without any processing.
        Enjoy.

        Hope this helps and Do Enjoy !!!
        These ARE the BEST Sweet Pickles Ever !!!!

      • Hi Judy I forgot to tell you that I get Alum at an Amish bulk pantry but you can probably find it in the spice or canning section of most grocery stores during canning season.
        These 9 Day Sweet Pickles are so crunchy and crispy…It make take 9 Days but you wont’ be disappointed.
        I, also, use alum in my Bread and Butter and Dill Pickle recipes…
        Enjoy Patti

  6. Great article! Sounds like we live very similar lives! My baby, toddler, husband, and I live on the prairie in very northern ND. We have 30-125 chickens depending on the season, and goats for milk and meat. I can, freeze, dry and cook everything from scratch, and even have a business from home making soaps, lotions, lip balm ect. http://Www.feralfarm.co You say you buy staples like beans from the store. Have you ever grown dry shelling beans? They are super easy and will add nitrogen to your soil. I grew one row this year, but am going to grow a year’s supply next year. I am loving your blog!

    • No, I haven’t tried growing dry beans yet. I know that it’s possible, but so far haven’t had room in the garden patch! Hopefully in the future I can give it a try. Thankfully, I am able to get quality dry beans in bulk for a pretty decent price, so that helps.

      • How about taking a bag full of beans and broadcast seeding them into a hay field. The animals will eat stems and leaves and you can pick when the pods when ripe and shell them to dry on a drying frame. Whatever you do with them remember they are nitrogen fixers as someone already mentioned and they will make everything around them grow better! Next years hay could be substantially better and…. (you wont have to buy as much fertilizer or spread as much manure).

        • That’s a good idea– not sure if it’d work in our difficult climate, but I’d bet it’d work perfectly is some wetter areas!

      • Where do you buy your beans in bulk? I have been looking for a good bulk supplier that I can buy things from that we aren’t able to produce ourselves. :)

    • Apryl, What kind of beans do you recommend starting with? I have never done this but am willing to try a row this growing season. Thank you for recommending trying. Have a blessed day, Lynn :-)

      Jill, thank you for sharing your blessings from God and acknowledging his provision in your life. It is encouraging to find someone else praising Him for all you are blessed with. Lynn :-)

  7. We farm/homestead on the Colorado prairie. I think our climate is pretty similar to yours. We are only 10 minutes from the local town, but almost two hours from Colorado Springs, where there is a Wal-mart and ‘normal’ stores. Very good points about how it’s cheaper to live in these types of areas. I get a lot of flack from my well-meaning relatives back east who don’t understand why I am so far out in the middle of nowhere.
    The one disadvantage that I find is that because I live so far ‘out’, I have a difficult time going to garage sales. Of course I love them and find many great things there. However, unless I happen to be passing through town or CSprings, it is very inefficient to go to them. Our local town has an annual town wide garage sale that I make a special trip for, but other than that it is hard for me to get there. How do you do it?

    • Good question Laura!

      I definitely don’t get to go every weekend- it’s more of 2-3 times per summer type-of-thing for me. When I do go, I try to combine other shopping or social trips along with it to make my gas worthwhile. It’s definitely an “event” for me. But, thankfully I enjoy it and I also consider it a treat. And oftentimes, the money I save in items bought at yard sales more than makes up for my gas.

    • Hi Laura-I live in Colorado too and the hubby and I are looking for good place in CO to buy some land and get out of the city. I am curious about how you found your spot of land and any advice you might have for those of us looking in Colorado for affordable land. If you are willing, could you email me at 2shanyn@gmail (dot) com? THANK YOU!

  8. Your blog has been such an inspiration to me to start homesteading here in town. I had no idea that you lived in Wyoming as well so it proves even more that I can do this from Cheyenne. We have a big backyard so next year a good chunk of it will be for gardening. Thank you for sharing all of your tips and tricks. We too live on 1 income & are trying to be debt free in the next 2 years. I donate plasma to save for birthdays & Christmas presents & then save it to help pay off our debt. Reading your blob has made me want to be even more frugal than we already are to see more p that savings. Again thanks so much!

    • Yes- it can definitely be done in WY– even Cheyenne. :) Things are just a little more of a challenge here than in other, more lush, places, but doable? You bet!

  9. Thank you for sharing a bit of your life with us. All of the tips you gave are very useful and have blessed us as well on our little 20 acre homestead. I love it when our children see our land, pond, animals, etc, and “feel” rich even though we don’t have a big house, go out to eat, take big vacations, etc. We wouldn’t trade for anything!

    • Yes- totally agree! I feel overwhelmingly rich too, sometimes… Even though by the rest of America’s standard, we drive icky vehicles and have a tiny house. It’s all about perspective.

  10. Seeing the pict of your house in winter made me smile. My parents will often call to ask, “How much snow do you have there?” My response is usually something along the lines of, “You tell me! There’s nothing one place, and 3 feet in another!” Ha! Not looking forward to the winter, but like you I’m willing to put up with it for all the other benefits that come from living in this part of the country. : )

    • YES- isn’t it crazy?! I didn’t know what a snow drift was until I moved to WY…. Now I’m used to 8 ft of snow in some places and bare ground in others. :)

  11. I am just getting started with homsteading and have worked so hard in the last year to make a go of it. Right now, I am facing a divorce so all of your hints and information have been very encouraging. I am once again starting over at the age of 50. I adore gardening and keeping chickens. I do have a full time job ‘in the city’. I still planted a huge garden this year and took care of my chickens. This time of year, I let the chickens in the garden to turn the soil and ‘fertilize’ for me. I used shreaded paper from the office for the litter in their coop so I do not have to buy stray or shavings. I adopted the “Ruth Stout” method of gardening this year so I would not have to fight the weeds in the garden. It was a huge timesaver. My gardening this year has ended and still weed free where i used the hay. I will be doing this again! Keep up the good work….and…..Yes, God is to thank for our many blessings.

    • You go Susan! Sounds like you are definitely making the most of your location. And kudos for the weed-free garden… I really struggled with that this year!

  12. I am new to your blog and lovin’ it. We are also prairie dwellers but down here in Texas :0). I must admit I am a reformed city girl and I LOVE MY LIFE. I married a country boy, quit my job and now live in the country and home school my two sons. I am definately living the life i never knew I wanted – God truly gives us the desires of our heart. While not as self-sufficient as you are, we are making strides in the right direction! What breed of cattle do you recommend for raising as grass-fed food source? Many thanks for your inspiring blog!

    • Hello fellow prairie-dweller!
      Well, so far we haven’t been real picky about our grass-fed beef sources. We butchered a Jersey steer last time, and the meat was excellent. We’ll be butchering a Guernsey cross steer this winter. So for us, it’s more of what we have available. But I have to say that the dairy beef is quite good.

  13. Some of the ways we’ve been able to cut down on expenses are making our own bread, broth, jam, yogurt, and cleaning products, including laundry soap (big savings there!). We also quit using shampoo and conditioner and use baking soda and apple cider vinegar instead. I also learned how to make soap. It’s not a hardship to do without the storebought stuff because of all the chemicals we wanted to avoid and because the natural products we make feel so much better on our skin! Some of our savings from doing these things go into better quality products that we still buy, like tooth soap instead of toothpaste. We also try to buy naturally raised or grass finished meat until we’re able to raise our own. We bought a milk cow so we have all the dairy products I feel like making. Now that I’ve finally figured out how to get butter in less than 2 hours, I plan to try mozzarella next. It’s a grand adventure, living this lifestyle, and I feel like I would have missed out on something had I chosen the easy path, foregoing the animals and living a “normal” life in a subdivision somewhere. I have no idea what I would do with all my time if I didn’t live on a farm. And who wants to be normal anyway? :)

    • I couldn’t agree more Rebekah! It IS a grand adventure. I also would feel quite unfulfilled if I had just followed the “normal” path that everyone else takes. Normal is overrated. ;)

  14. We have a 2 income family::however w/ the economy in the tank my DH has not had muhc luck for the past 2 years::he sells comercial realestate::So we do our best to hord stock, and rotate things as so not to let things expire::I can everything I can get my hands on::right now I’m canning off some of the beef that we got to put in the freezer, I’ve made chili, vegetable stew, shreaded beef, ground beef, james and the traditional vegetables and fruit:: I LOVE to can::: We have also been going to the store daily and getting fruits and vegetables that they put down on the “Mark Down” table::: bring it home and put it up::freezer, canned or in the dehydrator::: eggs, chicken and dairy::we get at the farmers market:: fresh and tasty! not so cheap on the dairy though:: but ya know,,,we get good whole foods for a fraction more:: so all is not to bad:: at least we don’t waste it:::because we know what we paid for it: lol

  15. Ultimately it doesn’t matter how smart, hard-working or creative you are if you are not following the Lord’s will for your life. So glad you shared the most important reason you are succeeding. Not that all your great efforts should be overlooked – just a good reminder that “unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.”

  16. Love it! We grew black beans this year again, one fifty foot row got us an icecream pail size bucket full of beans. I love growing them because you plant and forget (beside the occasional weeding).

  17. I love the picture. The first winter living in here, over 20 years ago was horrible. I had grown up only 15 miles north of here and had always heard about this area being the snow belt, but had no idea until I opened my front door to a wall of snow one morning. I stood there for the longest time, oblivious to the cold wonder what I was doing out here when I hated winter. I’ve moved away a few times, but always ended up missing it and have settled here permanently 7 years ago.

    I don’t homestead but I do live frugally. I rent a studio apartment just 1/2 a mile from the center of town. I turned the back field (with permission) into a community garden, I have a lake directly across from the apt so it’s what would be prime real estate, but is cheaper than other properties around. I don’t go out to movies, I could order take out, but don’t, and gave up my car this summer. I rarely ever go to a “normal” store, other than to pick up some groceries, but never to a big box or the mall. I shop at thrift stores and consignment shops. Yesterday, we (dil, two grand children and myself) to a consignment store where our total purchases came to $23. Between us we bought a pair of Spiderman boots for grandson, Cinderella dress and shoes for grand daughter, a barbie doll, a frankenstein toy, picture frame, and a floor lamp for a dark corner of my apartment. It was a nice day out.

    As for those splurges, this summer I have taken one of the grand kids a week to the local ice cream stand where we buy a toddler cone for 91 cents.

    • Sounds like you are definitely a homesteader-at-heart Lois! Even though you live in town, you have the heart of a homesteader. Keep up the great work!

  18. “If mountains and oceans impress us with their vastness, I counter with the vastness of the sky and the plains—only on the Great Plains do you get a sense of the hugeness not of one particular geological formation, but of the world itself: earth and sky distilled to their essentials.” via http://scissortailartcenter.org/2011/10/prairie-validation/

  19. Love reading your blog and I’m especially encouraged by this post and the ‘ten minute chore’ post! Having a ‘true homestead’ is my dream – but have been feeling a little down about how we will ever get there lately! My husband and I are blessed that we also live on one (his) income (he’s a woodworker) and I get to stay home with our sweet baby (almost 4 mos old now). I have a nice size backyard garden and we’ve been saving to buy land and we are debt free and always have been and we try to live ‘simply’ and frugally as we know how (we also do without a lot and I try to make many things from scratch.) But I’m anxious to get at least a few acres with a fixer-upper house so we can have a bigger garden, chickens and possibly other animals (something for dairy I’m hopeful and would love to have a horse or two but don’t see how we could ever afford it!). It’s my goal for us to live fairly self sufficiently and for our children to grow up in an environment where they feel ‘rich’ in the way you talked about. You are just such an inspiration – I realize if you can – So can I – even with a young babe or two! I’d love more information on how you take care of and afford your horses and dairy cows? AND how day to day you’ve dealt with your chores with you’re young daughter in tow?
    Thanks!
    Sarah

    • Sarah, I know you question was posed to Jill, but when my youngest (4 yo) was a baby, I used to use a backpacking child carrier. It kept him with me, and my hands free to garden, tend to animals, etc. A word of caution: my son would pull my hair, and sometimes he’d get smacked in the face with a branch due to the height of the carrier :) When he was really small, I tied him on my back with fabric (like in Africa) and moved about that way. Regarding the horses, we went with a horse rescue. We were able to keep them for a few months, get used to their personalities, then buy for low cost the ones that suited us, were well behaved, and usable on a farm.

  20. It’s fantastic that you gave God credit for placing the desire to homestead in your heart!

    I’m newly debt free, and I’ve been feeling the urge to homestead a small area of land. I can see in my mind’s eye the property, so I know God has something great in store for me. Am I expecting a lot of hard work? Oh yeah. I’m learning how to make a lot more items from scratch, I’ve learned to can and make my own bread and pasta products. I’ve also taken to dehydrating food and squirreling it away for the winter months. Most of this has come from having to make money stretch twice as far in this rough economy, but good habits come in handy when you want to live outside the norm/”off the grid”. I wish you continued success and God’s blessings on you and your family.

  21. I don’t live on a farm or farmette, but in a city, Seattle. But the effort you make to be debt-free and more self-sufficient is our goal too. My husband is disabled and I am approaching retirement in two years, so saving money is important at every stage and age… thanks for a thoughtful post.

  22. Thank you for these posts. It’s truly encouraging.

    We so long to own our own farm someday. We don’t make much, but we strive to live simply and have always been frugal and debt free. Someday!

    God bless!

    Our Front Porch View: The Story of a Young Family’s Pursuit to Fulfill a Simpler Life
    http://www.ourfrontporchview.blogspot.com

  23. That picture of the snow covering the front door is priceless! I remember living in the country as a kid and really miss some of the space (midwest Illinois for me).
    I love it that people are relearning how to do the things I grew up doing! Canning, freezing, baking, making jams, jellies & pickles, gardening, cooking from scratch, fixing things instead of tossing things.
    The first time I knew I’d passed on my values was when that crazy for “torn” jeans came around and folks were paying for “torn” jeans! I took my daughter shopping and she looked at 1 pair of “torn” jeans that were $60 and said “Mom, can’t we make this?” And, after that we were off to Goodwill for $3.99 jeans that she tore to style herself. And, then laughed at all those at school who asked where she “bought” her pants!
    I’m looking forward to next summer when I can have a decent garden again and make my own jam, pickles and can tomatoes for the first time in many years. Before my late husband passed, I was the sole wage earner (which meant long hours away from home). This year I “retired” and am getting married to a great guy and I will be the stay-at-home person while he works. Right now I’m decluttering. I’m moving from 2800 sq. ft. to 950 sq. ft. and I just don’t need and don’t want all this clutter that just weighs your down.
    Your post espouses many of the things I live by! First, we’ve been TV free since 1992. Think of how much more you can get done if you’ve not got a list of “must-watch” shows every night! And, you have much more control over what your children watch with DVDs (and less consumerism when they don’t see commercials for every new toy and junk cereal product). I also have a house payment way below the average american, too. For what most people pay for one house, I still don’t pay for two. With the move, we’ll be still paying less for three than most pay for one (we’ll still be under 900 including taxes & insurance). I don’t have credit cards (can’t say I miss them), I don’t need them. I finally had to buy a newer car last year for working, but I was careful and took my time. My older car has 300K plus and I’m repairing it for a college student to drive for work. Once she’s one her feet, the next college student can use it. I planned ahead for most of what I knew was going to happen this year and took advantage of timing to pay off anything I would not be able to continue to do.
    The other part I really like is attributing to God blessing without going overboard. I think having a sound belief system (no matter which religion you are) helps keep you on the right path.
    Now, I’m off to go make some aprons! I finally figured out a good reason to wear them. Most of my favorite clothes have NO pockets! I need a place to carry my cell phone (laugh). Plus I saw one for clothes pins (awesome!).

  24. Hello,just came across your site,and love it!It’s so good to see like minded people,thriving in the simpler way of life.Athough,I’m older,my children are teenagers,my hubby(of 26 yrs) and I have always tried to live within our means.We’re in the South, and have “farmers blood”,several generations,running through our veins,lol.We grew up canning(on average,I can 300 to 400 jars a year) and having some chickens,goats running about.Working the land and doing most everything for ourselves.My dad’s a carpenter,so with his help,we built our house,from the ground up,as we saved the money,(took two and half years to do it)never had a mortgage on it(thank God).We also have only one income,I’ve been at home with our children since the oldest was two,(after we had the house livable)that was the best decision I ever made.I too love yard sales,flea markets and estate sales,I try not to buy anything new.Bartering use to be so common,love it,glad more people are starting it up again.We love our slow pace life and wouldn’t trade it for anything,so glad to see more people out there loving it too! You have a wonderful site and I’m glad I ran across it : )

    • Wow- 300-400 jars a year? You rock Angela! I bet you could teach me a thing or two. :) Glad you are enjoying the blog!

  25. I really love this two part post a lot and think many people who want to homestead could learn from you. I’d love it if you linked this post and the first part up at Small Footprint Fridays, a new sustainable living linkup! Older posts are welcome!

    http://www.smallfootprintfamily.com/small-footprint-friday-sustainable-living-linkup-100512

  26. Just read Part 2, and had to remark. We live in Alaska on five + acres and it is hard to grow things here as you can imagine. This summer -or so-called – we had grey clouds and rain with pretty low temperatures that would not qualify as “summer” most places. But we manage by growing in our one large greenhouse, and next spring we will have another one or two greenhouses. This does not guarantee vegetable production, as some sun and heat ARE required!

    The main money-saving thing about living 45 minutes (we do as well) from town is that, when we moved here, we just stopped making frivolous trips into town to pick up this or that. Our kids are homeschooled and are not big clothes hounds but content to live in sweats on cold winter days. My husband commutes to his job every day as well, and he doesn the weekly shoppping for little items like milk and eggs. But I rarely go into town, and when I do, we have a planned shopping list that takes us to the far side of town first and then we work a grid pattern of stores/errands toward home. We don’t make side trips but stick to our plans and list.

    The last year or two, we will stop by a restaurant at the end of our shopping/errand-running day, but I have told my youngest son that, maybe from now on, we will just pack a nice picnic lunch and put in our cooler and take into town with us. We will just pop a nice audiobook on CD from the library in and eat in the car and save money.

    Lots of ways to save money, but one of the biggest ways for us has been NOT to drive into town when we don’t have to do so. Saves gas, oil, wear and tear on the car, and we don’t care for town anyway. Too much traffic, too much noise, and too many people -some of whom are up to no good.

    • Yes- very good point about limiting trips to town! I’m having to go way more often that I would like right now with all my prenatal check-ups, but usually I only go once or twice a month. Saves lots of cash! ;)

  27. Lisa Ellis says:

    Just found your page and read your ebook! I was very excited to be able to put a “word/label” on the way I have been thinking since I was a teenager. Homesteader! Since loosing my corporate job in 2009, I made my husband (a handy country boy) a deal. We could make it and I will show him how! I have taught myself through reading and networking with local farmers hanging around at the feed store how to can, freeze, garden, keep goats and chickens I even learned how to groom my own poodle. Frugal is what I am! All that you speak of, I do. I have only 1 issue, maybe you or your readers can help me with. I am SUPER ALLERGIC TO EVERYTHING! Detergents, Ivory Soap, Goats, Cows, you name it, even Latex gloves, Water even makes my hands break out in crazy exema flare ups. I get hives when I go around the goats and swell up like a balloon. Any ideas?

    • Timarra says:

      Eve, I know it has been a while since you posted this and I hope you got it all cleared up. If you haven’t, check your diet. Eczema and allergies are so very often linked to malnutritions and food pollutants.

  28. You inspire me….and make me a wee bit jealous! A day doesn’t go by that I long for the day when we own our own land and can do whatever we want with it! Alas….my husband has a very new business and the bank won’t give us a loan until the business is more established. I’m working on patience!

    So I’m curious…do you yard-sale in Cheyenne? Wheatland isn’t really overflowing with yardsales…so I haven’t been very successful this year. Rather dissapointing after living in the yardsale mecca of Pennsylvania! Ha!

    • Yes- I yard sale in Cheyenne- they usually have tons! I usually either have a really good day where I fill my car, or a really bad day where I don’t end up with much… But overall, they are pretty good.
      Patience is hard sometimes! But your day is comin’! :)

  29. Love your blog thanks for sharing all that you do. We purchase 5 acres and built an small home on it with
    no garage to keep loan down. We just found 9 acres with a home on it for 34,500.00, The home is a fix it upper. And the land is 12 more miles out. Putting us 30 mins to the nearest mall and family. But we are considering about looking at to buy it , and of course offer to buy less then the asking cost, with the profit off of this house and 5 acres..and still have enough profit to fix up the house…and we will be mortgage free with more land. We to live on one very low income. I am getting ready to start making homemade soap. I don’t buy new, we thrift store shop and goodwill shop. I try to make everything homemade and we put out a very big garden. We have berries and a fruit tree plan to plant more. We have a friend who also buys unwanted use farm equipment I think folks are going back to that. Because prices are just to high. Blessings

    • Wow– sounds like the fixer upper house/property could be a great deal! Hooray for being mortgage-free!

  30. I enjoyed the article. My husband, daughter, and I (ages 32, 7, and 29 respectively) have been living full-time in a travel trailer for 5 months. We just wanted to simplify. My husband had an aircraft job and we were all growing increasingly disenchanted with our life (or lack of it). It was work-eat-sleep. So… he quit the job (having made a profit from selling our house made that easier, but it was still a big decision) and we moved the RV to my parents’ yard until we figure out what to do next. Our current plan (God leading and willing) is for my husband to get a decent job close to home and start looking for some land on which to build a homestead/farm. I am rarin’ to go and be more self-sufficient and productive with my hands. I have a strong, instinctual drive for it.

    Like you mentioned, the land we get may not be glamorous, but “enough is as good as a feast” and we are just starting out with this kind of lifestyle. Our only debt is our F-250 truck purchased to haul our house around. :-). Before that our only debt was a small mortgage on a house (which we sold) with lots of equity. At least the truck payment has low interest. We could pay it off today if we wanted, but figured we should hold on to the cash for awhile to see how things go and if we would rather have the cash on hand for land, etc. I wanted to remain mortgage-free but I may consider it for “investing” in land onto which we can do what we really want to do and pay it off asap.

    The only way I really enjoy shopping is when it’s at yard sales and thrift stores, or even farmers’ markets, etc. I don’t enjoy shopping at malls or for new things at retail price. I don’t even enjoy it much when other people (mainly my generous mom) offer to buy me things from stores because I’m uncomfortable with consumerism and don’t want to be on either end of it. I also don’t want to accumulate stuff. Where before I would have said, “Ooh, free stuff, gimme-gimme!” now I think it through carefully and often turn down offers for “stuff”. We just sold and gave away the majority of our possessions to move into the RV and I don’t want it back. :)

    We all 3 like to “play” in the dirt and my husband and I both need meaningful work to do!

    • Oh– I hear ya about buying stuff retail! I dislike shopping at “normal” stores, but yard sales and thrift shops make my heart go pitter-patter. ;) Best wishes on your future homesteading adventures!

  31. Ryan Peach says:

    My wife, Allie, and I have the same dream that you and your husband are living out. It is so encouraging to read your post and to also know you give God the credit for what you have become. I will continue to read your work and hope to share with you one day that we too have a mini-farm. May God continue to bless your life and your family.

  32. I pray every day for God’s blessing and guidance as we attempt to change our busy lives to slow and steady homesteading. Thanks so much for all this awesome info it is so helpful!!!

  33. Thank you so very much for sharing this part of your journey with everyone. God has given my husband and I such a deep yearning for country/farming life that it hurts to be stuck where we are. We are working towards becoming debt free with Dave Ramsey tools as well and I am learning how to ‘homestead’ in the city, one technique at a time. I teared up reading this (which for me is quite the feat). I want to give everything I have to reach our goals and take what you have written to heart. We are starting to talk about where to look for land, etc. GOD IS SO GOOD! We were JUST TALKING about how to afford a small farm on one income and where to buy land THIS MORNING at breakfast, and then I find this series of yours on how you have accomplished it! (he also mentioned that “there is no gardening in Wyoming-nothing grows there)! I can’t wait to show him all that you have accomplished on your slice of land. Thank you again for sharing. Your blog continues to educate and inspire me to press on toward our dream!

    • God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t He? :) I am SO happy that this article was timely for your situation. And yes– it CAN be done! Good for you for working towards becoming debt-free– that is the first step. Very best wishes in your homesteading adventures! <3

  34. Oh Boy! After accidently finding your web site I have really enjoyed it. My better half and I have 10 acres here in south central Missouri. We are doing the same as you, but we are older. I am 60 and he is 65. We found each other late in life and figure God lead us to each other as we have never been as happy as we are now. We are 45 minutes from town so we do with what we have also. Like for instance last year we saved up to buy and old 1948 Ferguson tractor to make our garden. We had a bush hog but didn’t have a plow or disc to break up the ground. We had a old junk plow to put behind a mule, so we welded bars and metal and made it fit a 3 point tractor hitch. It didn’t have enough weight so Dennis built a seat on it, so I could sit on it for weight. We dug our water lines and garden with it and I got to ride for free. We used an old metal box springs we got out of a neighbors trash pile to smooth to break up dirt and Dennis made me a trailer for the back of a riding lawn mower that he got from his Uncle that had set in a field for 10 years or more broken down and I picked up rocks and we planted a beautiful garden. Enough to share with a food bank for people who couldn’t get fresh vegetables, as food banks get canned food donated to them but not fresh. (We gave ours away instead of charging as whenever we do that God gives us back 10 times over even if money was short we had blessings in other ways when we needed it) We have had so much fun. I have a lot of funny stories on things we do and will share some more another time. We even built our small house 18′ by 40′. for about $2300.00 out of 2 metal carports for $595. each. We had the metal roof so we put them together, raised them up and framed walls and floor. Dennis did all the electrical and it is cute as a button. People that have visited took pictures as they thought ones like ours would be good for shops and hunting cabins. Got a lot maybe I can share and I know there are things I can learn from you. Glad I found you and thanks for the blog.

  35. Michelle M says:

    Thank you for your posts! My husband and I just bought a home on 10 acres in the Loess Hills in Iowa. I am originally from Southern California and him from western Nebraska. We have five young children and I didnt really realize the initial costs of country living. You have great ideas though and I am going to try my best to use them as my husband is the only one with an income. We just fixed up an old goat pen and turned it into a chicken coop and are attempting our hand at raising chickens (for eggs). And we make smoothies every day so I am attempting to start a fairly large garden this year. We got lucky and found a place about 8 min outside of a cute small town and are only 25 minutes from downtown Omaha which is where my husband works. But he still does a lot of our errands so I dont have to use up gas to do so. And I am a big time garage sale shopper as well. I am hoping we can cut down on SOME costs by using some of your tips. Thanks again!

  36. April Jo says:

    Good morning!! I am having to lay in bed today and decided on getting caught up on reading your blog. I have skimmed it a few times never really pouring thru your older posts. Now, I do NOT want to get out of bed cause I’ll miss reading something!!!!! lol I knew I liked you just from reading what I received in your newsletters. But now, after reading further, we are kindred spirits! I am a Tennessee Woman living in the Mountains. Will have it no other way unless the Lord sees fit. After many years of care giving and now an almost empty nest, Mountain Man and I are TRYING to live OUR dream now. Simplicity and natural. We are out of debt too except for our regular monthly things like water, power, etc. Trying to find ways of getting around those too. One income as well. Live in a trailer that has been built on. Neighbors live in big houses and we are often looked upon as…well…you know. And it doesn’t bother us. We are living what we believe the Good Lord put in our hearts. I am on a new adventure of getting away from what you said……eating the cheapest way to can, not fixing bread because I wasn’t showed how, I WILL LEARN!! I recently purchased 6 DVDs from a friend-Homestead Blessing, at $1 a piece. I WAS BEYOND MYSELF!! They are $20 a piece, new!! Its all on breads, sewing,etc. I WILL LEARN THIS!! And I will teach it to my grand daughter. I will not let her have a life like I did where I was taught nothing.
    Thank you so much for being as you are! Clear and simple. I hope more women read your blog and that God tugs on their hearts to come back HOME!

    • Thank you so much for your sweet comment April Jo! (And what a deal you got on those DVDs! I’ve seen them on websites and they look awesome.) ;)

  37. Just found your blog. It made me smile. I am a home school mom of three, and we moved to a big city in Africa last summer, though I am a country girl at heart, raised in a small town in Ohio. We live on a small compound which the landlord hasn’t landscaped yet. So, I am taking advantage of the perimeter of everything to plant as much as possible that will give back to us in some way, mostly food. And having long spans of time without going to the US, proves that you really can go more than a year without buying certain things like clothes and such. Not to mention daily reminders of the very little these people survive on. Though I don’t have access to many of the ideas you have, I love them anyway. Thanks for spurring us on with your creativity.

  38. Lelainya says:

    Great article. I wonder if you know about Permaculture? It would help transform your land into a more water retentive one. I strongly urge you to look up Sepp Holzer, as well. He has many videos on You tube and a couple of books worth borrowing several times from the library. One last suggestion would be Elliot Coleman’s books, especially, Four Season Harvest. These concepts and books have changed forever the way I grow food and care for the land.
    Thanks,

    • Yes, I’m slowly learning about permaculture, and I love it! I just put in my first hugelkultur bed– really excited to see how it goes this summer. :)

  39. “I always enjoy giving my readers a peek into our life, plus I was hoping to be an encouragement to some of those who want to homestead, but aren’t quite sure how to get there with their current budget.”
    Encouragement indeed! Thank you for sharing this. It really inspires me to continue to save and plan for my dream of homesteading. practical advice + inspiration!

  40. Candice says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for doing this blog. I found it in perfect timing. My husband and I have been talking about selling our house in a subdivision and buying some land. We are fortunate enough to have his mom allow us to keep chickens and a garden on her land for now. She even said we could put an RV there to live in after we sell our house while we look for land and save money. We are working towards becoming debt free. Selling the house will probably be hard since the market in our area is pretty bad for selling, but I’m trying to be optimistic. I would love to become debt free before we expand our family. We want to homestead and make a living by selling homemade goods in the future. Reading your story and others has given me the hope that it can happen if that’s what God is calling us to do.

  41. We homestead on one income, too, in Lancaster County, PA. Not the least expensive place to live, but we do it! My daughter and I are having a great time with our goats, hens, rabbits, and bees. We sell milk, goats, honey, and eggs. My daughter pet sits, too. Every little bit helps. We blog about our mini farm (3 acres) at ARunawayGoat.blogspot.com, if anyone is interested.

  42. We are finally seeing our dream come true. We just purchased 40 Acers in Nevada, we had looked in Wyoming and Colorado as well as Montana but the only Land we could afford was in Nevada and so that is were we are ending up. I also am backtoedenfilm.com kind of gardening only for the sake of not having to water in what most would think of as desert. I raise all the food my family and animals and don’t have an utility bill as propane, solar and wind provide for our needs. Most taught us crazy when we left Ohio to live the first three months in a tent and when my birthday gift was starter animals such as ducks, turkey, chickens, rabbits and a nanny goat from my parents as well as taking two dogs, two ferrets and a cat to live in the tent with us :)

  43. Wow, Jill! i really liked reading this and thanks for giving tips to those out there who are able to do this. I am so jealous! This is what I would love to be able to do, but alas, I’m now an “old maid” (single, mid-30′s), work full time, and am very low on energy (and not very handy). I love Dave Ramsay too. I am debt-free except for my mortgage; however, I am in a small house in a “bad neighbourhood” and would love to be able to afford a country property so I no longer had to hear/smell the neighbours and be kept up late/awoken early by them. A small (2 acre or so) country property that is near enough to commute to work is about 3 times the price of what I could get if I sold my house. I did note that all the other commenters who live in the country are married too, and I do realize it would take at least two people to be able to do it. Thank you for this blog, because I do really enjoy reading about what it would be like and maybe I could eventually do this someday. I am also interested in wholesome, organic, locally grown food (very hard to find where I live) and I plan to keep reading. You’re interesting!

    • You can do it Angie! I know there are other single readers who homestead– if that’s your dream, I’d go after it. :) Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  44. I know this is an older post, but just wanted to say that I LOVED reading it!! We have managed to get in the exact position! Debt free other than our house and land, and, although not by choice, we are living on ONE income due to a major surgery that forced me to retire early! However, if I had known then, 11 years ago when we bought our place, what I know now…we may not even have a mortgage today, especially with raising 4 children….but since we do, we are working with that! We don’t drive new vehicles, we did not provide our kids with new vehicles and we have taught them about ‘keeping up with the Jones’”! Many of my friends (and theirs) drive newer cars and are constantly bugging me to get a ‘new car’! I just laugh…or smile…and think about my paid off vehicle…and I don’t feel at all deprived! Although we only have 4 acres, it’s PLENTY of land to do our homesteading on! My wonderfully, tolerant hubby is also handy! We have been raising chickens, turkeys, ducks, pigs & rabbits for the last 3 years and looking into possibly a milk goat or a dairy goat. We have built most of the housing for the animals with used materials or things we bartered for. Our neighbor even gave us a metal hoop frame that was a portable garage, and he was just getting rid of the metal…hubby turned it into a lovely hoop style green house, 12 x 32, and I can grow year round! We do, however, travel on occasion, as one of our kids is married with children and lives about 7 hrs away and another is in college about 2 hrs away. That’s the only thing that is really difficult…it’s almost impossible to just ‘pack up and go’…We usually have to have someone come and take care of the rabbits for us, unless one of our other teens decide to stay home, everything else is set up with auto waterers (an auto rabbit waterer project is in our NEAR future!) I hatch out extra chicks, ducks & turkeys and sell the ones we don’t intend to keep, along with baby bunnies, and it helps pay for some of the feed, even though we free-range them as much as possible, we have a slight predator problem so it makes it difficult sometimes, we are currently working on a solution for that! Our dirt is terrible…clay…and we have had to do a lot of amending with the soil and be creative with raised beds. I have had to learn how to can & dehydrate foods and grow things I’ve never attempted! There is a learning curve, especially if you were not raised on a farm, but it CAN be done! Sometimes we have losses, but it’s all part of the process, you just have to roll with it! We don’t have a lot of resources here like they do up north, such as people getting all kinds of used pallets for building, and whatnot, but I have learned to be resourceful, use craigslist, call companies and just ASKING if we can haul off…whatever it is they have that we might need…and of course…YARD SALES! I am thankful that my hubby has a good job with a 401K and other retirement plan, that was the only thing that worried me when we began this venture. So many people live off the grid and homestead and live on practically NO MONEY…but what happens when you are too old to homestead? Who will take care of you? What if there is and illness or accident (such as in our case)? There has to be a back up plan! So having that retirement cushion is a nice safety net. I would recommend to anyone doing this on one income that the bread winner make sure they have some form of retirement set up! This lifestyle isn’t always easy, and it definitely isn’t for everyone, but at the end of the day, it is rewarding…and feels really good to know that most of my pantry items came from whatever we cultivated or traded for and our family is getting healthy, organic foods and it didn’t break the bank! Thanks again for posting this! I know it has and will continue to help those who are or are considering homesteading!

  45. Janice MacRossin says:

    Thank you for your reflections. Love and aspire to similar lifestyle and doing a mini version now as I can.

  46. Single girls can do it too! I will be 30 in a month. I have never been married, and I live in the city. I have a garden, and six hens and a bee hive. I get my meat from our local co-op. (I work for them for three days and it covers my meat and dairy costs) I work with kidos who have special needs and go to school part time. Am I totally self sficent, no, but I can tell you where all of my food comes from. I am saving to buy land. One day I will have land and it will be bought with cash. I live as simply as I can and have never been more happy.

    • Amanda! You ROCK! I love this- and I love that you are waiting for no one and plowing on ahead with your dreams. You go girl!

      • Thanks! You know, it was blogs like yours and some very kind likely people that gave me the gentle shove to get started. Its amazing when you start seeking people out how willing they are to share information and the love of their craft. (Would have NEVER had the courage to start my hive without the local beekeepers association.) I know I make more mistakes than not, but that is part of the fun and the learning. Thanks for being real, and for being a great cheerleader Jill!

        • Aw Amanda- your comment totally made my night! I’m honored to have readers like you– you make me love what I do here on the blog!

  47. Charla Echlin says:

    You had me at Dave Ramsey! What a blessing it was to attend that seminar, and how it changed our lives. Being totally debt free has given us the opportunity to live off of one income as well- We have just one acre, but I have a decent garden that provides me with a good amount of vegies that I can and freeze- I would love to have a few farm animals, but I haven’t sold my husband on the chickens yet- We may look at getting a place with 5 acres-which then I could do a lot more. My husband is very handy as well, and I am the re-purposing queen! Thank you for your blog, it’s a lot of work on top of all of the rest you have to get done everyday!

  48. I just found your blog this week and I must say, I Love it!! I was born and raised in the country and still living the frugal life and loving it! First and foremost I want to say “thank you” for giving GOD the glory and honor he deserves! So refreshing and as you pointed out the whole reason you are blessed :) I look forward to many more good articles from you. Dave Ramsey is awesome and his ministry helps so many. We live on one income, Mine. We use repurposed items, I LOVE yard sales and Goodwill (lol) My husband is a country boy / handy man who always barters as well. We have a couple of acres that we garden year round, along with our chickens and rabbits. You can live a frugal and sustainable life no matter how little land you have. I too cook from scratch, make my own cleaning products and personal hygiene items and truthfully I would NEVER go back to buying all that poison they sell us in the store to clean our homes / clothes and body with. The best part of living like this? Teaching these skills to my children and grandchildren~ priceless!

  49. Just found you on this Sunday morning as I was refreshing my mind on canning recipes! You sound like a younger version of me! My husband and I never grew up in the country and come from corporate and blue collar America. We just kept dreaming….
    My kids (who are now all grown) used to tease me “Mom – we just can’t see you on a farm!!” I would just smile and keep dreaming. My husband finally called me crazy when I started saving egg cartons for the chickens I would one day have (and yes, I moved them with me when we moved…twice!) Now, at age 47, we have 107 acres in rural Minnesota. We spent every penny of our savings on the land so had to mortgage the house build but it has been worth it! We have been here almost 2 years and we haven’t bought eggs in a year (my husband is naming the chickens now…he’s COMPLETELY hooked), we harvest our own deer from our woods during hunting season – love it when the kids sit in our own trees! We had a really bad garden the first year but have learned so much and now have a 1/2 acre with cucumbers, carrots, peas, beans, strawberries, tomatoes, 4 kinds of peppers, summer squash, potatoes, watermelons, pumpkins, corn and sunflowers! It is absolutely a God given and God blessed adventure that we’re on. He planted this need so very long ago and its a dream come true….but hard work too! We recently purchased metal fence posts at the auction and will be fencing 10 acres for some bottle calves in the Spring. Hope to get some goats too. Today is for making Chokecherry jelly. Found some great trees growing wild on the land. God is so good. Have a wonderful day and thanks for the blog!

    • I’m so glad you found me Lisa! What a BEAUTIFUL piece of land you have! I have to admit that I’m a bit jealous at the thought of being able to forage chokecherry from my own land. ;) May God continue to bless you on your grand adventure. <3

  50. I loved reading this post, and agree with you on everything. We live in Europe and are looking to find somewhere we could call our own. I have inhaled your posts, videos and recipes and hope to someday share our experiencecas humbly as you have. May God continue to bless you and your family and homestead!! Also big shout out to Dave Ramsey we have cleared 10 yrs worth of debt in 18 months… where there is a will there is a way.
    Blessings, Elle

    • Thank you SO much for your lovely comment Elle– and a HUGE pat on the back for your focus on becoming debt-free– I LOVE it! Keep up the great work!

  51. Jill, I just stumbled across your blog, and I can’t stop reading it! We are a few years behind you with our homestead, but we share the same goals and values. We moved onto our 6 acre mini farm in central Indiana 3 years ago. I have the garden and fruit trees going, and am learning how to store our food for the winter. I think the next steps for us are the chickens and then a dairy cow. I have 3 very young boys and our biggest food expense is the grass fed meat and raw dairy through a cow-share program. It would save us so much money and give me great peace of mind knowing that we are producing the bulk of our food. I’m just concerned it will take more time than I have. I’m a stay at home mom, but run a graphic design business from home. Would you advise we wait until the boys are a little older before we venture into livestock? I’ll keep reading your blog, it’s going to be a wonderful resource for me. Thank you for doing what you do!

    • Hey Christen,
      You are right- adding livestock is a time-consuming commitment– however– for us personally, I’m really thankful that we added the livestock when we did. I love having my children (10 months and 3 years old) growing up around them from day one (my 3 year old can already feed the chickens herself, and even helped me put udder balm on the cow last night). So for us, the extra amount of time is worth it. :)

  52. Great post Jill! I’ve been reading your newsletter faithfully but I only just found this older post. It’s nice to know that I’m heading in the right direction as far as how to manage this homestead we just started with. It didn’t have everything we were looking for but it has potential. The house needs a LOT of love inside but the bones are good, sturdy structure and well maintained for a 125 yr old farmhouse. It took hubby days with the help of friends to get the gardens down to a point where we could see what we had out there that was already planted. We’ve been feasting on blueberries, are now eating the blackberries and patiently waiting until we can harvest the grapes. Our apple trees all have small, really tart apples but they are great for sauce and pie. As city slickers we are on a huge learning curve and stumbling along with wonderful advice from folks like you and the comments of all your fantastic readers who all add their own advice and suggestions. Thank you all! You are helping with the learning curve immensely. :) We live 40 min. from hubby’s work and 30 min from another town. So it takes a little more planning and forethought with the shopping trips so we aren’t running out there every other day.But that alone helps with the spending. When you can’t just hop out to the store at a moment’s notice it forces you to stop and think, ‘do I REALLY need it? or is there something here I can use to substitute?’ We moved from one province to another and I started the trip on my own staying in a friends cottage with next to nothing for 3 months. It’s amazing how well you can do without all of your ‘things’ so when we bought our place and hubby arrived with the household, even though we sold off most of what we had I still found we kept too much ‘stuff’ once I started unpacking. I think modern life and media encourages a life of consumerism and that philosophy is what gets people into debt. We live in times where the norm is that when something breaks, you buy a new one. Resurrecting older values as you and others do, like buying used, make it yourself, make do, get it fixed instead of buying new…these are the road to getting debt free. I recently spent $237 to fix a 30 yr old washer but it’s a great washer that came with the house, nice big drum and worked well except for the timer. So we manually moved the dial around from cycle to cycle for weeks until we found the part to fix it. Even a second hand washer would have cost us this much and the bonus was we didn’t have to use gas in the car to pick one up or drop the old one off at the waste site. The other factor besides consumerism is the instant gratification. Current times promote the ‘gotta have it now’ attitude which often leads to buying something full price at a big box store maybe even on credit instead of making do while you look for opportunities to buy used, or get for free. We bought our house from a neighbor who had started to line the closets with aromatic cedar. He had several boxes to finish the job. We couldn’t afford to buy them even at half price. So I am now trading him 20 hrs of labor to help him around the house (he is a widower) in exchange for the wood. The barter system you mentioned! I am becoming pretty handy at finding alternative uses for things or turning a yard sale find into something else. It’s all a challenge of course but what we are all ultimately doing with this homesteading, is returning to a lifestyle that has been left behind and forgotten by society. Living a life that is more real, more humble, more generous and caring to those around us is, that allows us to stand amid the quiet of the country and appreciate what God has built, is also ultimately more in line with the kind of life described in the bible. In the end we are enriching our health and our souls.

  53. Jill, was so glad to see this article in my email today! My husband and I are retiring next year to Anchor point, Alaska. Both of us as children were raised on a farm, but as teens moved into the city where we forgot how good and fun it was to be a homesteader. Now God is pointing us back in to what we love and we are making plans to purchase 9 acres in the southern part of Alaska, where we will be able to have a farm, fish and have animals. I have been practicing making bread again and never realized that I still remembered how to do this. I still a beginner with canning, but I can’t wait till I buy a pressure canner. We are now living in Florida and I have cut back on so many things, to help save money for our adventure home. The one thing that I can’t cut down is the electrical bill the summers are getting hotter the bill is showing the increase from using air conditioning. We are purchasing a rv and moving into a park where the rent, electric and water is included . The truck is being purchased used and for cash so no more rent and car note, that will save us even more money so that we have a good foundation to stand on next year. Keep posting I love your site and I am learning so much from it.

  54. Hi,
    Greetings from mediterranean Barcelona.
    I am in the research and first baby steps towards homesteading. Searching for information and real-life stories found your fantastic eBook and now I am hooked to your blog. I haven’t been able to find a spanish word for homestead/er/ing. Your eBook felt like mind reading, for it describes exactly what has been my journey of discovery, and now the very first steps towards a change in lifestyle right where I am -in a gorgeous but expensive city but also stuck in a crazy technological rat race. My health is deteriorating due to stress, and nothing can take away this feeling of detachment from nature, from real life, so every little thing I am doing to simplify my life feels like a huge step and brings enormous joy. I have found something that makes everything click intoplace, and your book verbalised it perfectly. I am oh so very far away from where you are – literal and figuratively speaking, but the vision, the mission is the same.
    I just wanted to thank you for pushing on and sharing your jouney.
    I have started translating your book into spanish to share with my partner, who only speaks spanish, catalan and french. It has already earned a front row seat and keep going back to it every chance I get.

    • Hey Gaby- Thanks so much for taking the time to comment– I love hearing from my international readers! I am so glad that my eBook has been helpful to you– how wonderful that you are able to translate it to share with your partner. :) Keep up the great work– perhaps you will be the driver of the homesteading movement in Barcelona!

  55. I wanted to comment that you have a wonderful website. We also started our homestead adventure with $1000 in our bank account and purchased an abandoned doublewide out in the middle of nowhere with 5 acres of land that we’re completely filled with weeds and trash. We’re 50 min away from the nearest city but are lucky enough to have a small town only 15 min away. All of our family and friends we’re very discouraging, made fun of us and we’re not supportive at all. We actually lost some friends because of it. We made our brave decision 5 years ago to leave the city and our city ways. I can say that even though we have gotten so far with so little lately its been discouraging because there’s so many things that we need to purchase, replace, or fix but aren’t able to do. Slowly getting there. The majority of our neighbors have outbuildings, tractors, trailers and expensive animals that are way out of our reach and probably always will and its discouraging at times to be struggling with our little old tractor that breaks down every time you look at it while the neighbors have the latest models just rotting on their property but refuse lend, rent, barter or have us pay them for small things that need done. I came across your website and have to say that its been very encouraging cause it sounds like we are very alike and share the same obstacles. We have relied on only one very low income but God has been good to us. We do not use any of our funds from our one job for anything relating to the farm except our mortgage and electric etc. We made ourselves a promise that we would make the farm pay for anything farm related like our garden, animals, hay, feed, outbuildings etc. So far we have been able to keep our promise and the farm is taking care of itself. We started raising a few rabbits for our own meat and natural fertilizer and now it has grown to be the largest rabbitry in our state and we supply rabbits to people in our state as well as the surrounding border states. Thanks to the rabbits we have been able to add chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, goats, a couple of cows, quail and a few other animals. It has turned into a one stop shop for others wanting to begin raising their own animals. I thank God for this desire and success. We are pretty far from others but it hasn’t stopped anyone from driving all the way here to pick their first set of animals. Most of the business is through our website and we travel to the city once a week to make deliveries of eggs, animals or supplies. While we may not be getting rich of it its allowed us to at least break even and pay for all the expenses that come with raising our own food and providing for so many animals. Maybe this is something you can try? Anyhow, I’m glad that you guys are living the life you love and thank you for encouraging so many including us!

    • Wilber– thank you SO much for your lovely comment! Your homestead sounds LOVELY, as does your farm business! We have really been kicking around the idea of starting some sort of similiar enterprise– we are really motivated to find a way to help our land be profitable. Keep up the great work! Blessings!

  56. Hi Jill, I absolutely love reading your blog. We settled into a suburb home. I love my home, but hate that I am so close to the city. I have a child with autism so we needed to be in a good school district, my other child goes to a fine arts school, they get along great, and dispight the beliefs that children with autism fear physical contact, my child is a huge cuddle bunny and sweet as pie, as I always say. I don’t have a lot of property, and the soil is very poor quality, so e next few years I will be working to rid my yard of weeds (completely overgrown), work the soil and hopefully revive it, and fill my yard with raised beds for a garden hopefully in a year or two. I don have very much free time, do doing all this with a special needs attention demanding child in tow can be …well…a challenge. The only thing I’d be willing to trade in my life, would be country or mountain life vrs. Suburb/city life. We will make the best of what we have.
    Thank you for all your inspiration and good spirit.
    Sincerely, Tracy

    • Tracy! Sounds like you have a wonderful suburban homestead goin’ on. :) I love how you are making what you have work for you– keep up the great work!

  57. I just found your site this morning and I can’t quit reading it!! My husband and I own our own real estate business and I am getting ready to leave my corporate job in favor of taking better care of my family. I too accredit God for instilling this desire in me because when our children were first born, the thought of staying home never crossed my mind. It wasn’t until the last year that I was really burdened about truly being my husband’s help mate and being a full time mom, instead of full time employee and part time mom. We have always grown a garden for fresh veggies, but now that we will be down to one income, the garden size is going to have to grow! I have self taught myself how to can, what I can freeze and how to super coupon! We have zero debt except our commercial loan on our business and one small vehicle payment that should be paid off very soon. Some people think we are crazy for giving up my income, but I truly believe less is more and more quality family time is a better investment than anything else I can think of. My kids aren’t going to be little forever!! Thanks for all the great advise and ideas you have provided.

  58. I am so happy to have found your blog/website. You give me hope that once my husband retires from the Marine Corps we too can own a little farmstead. I hope to be just like you and yours one day, living off the land, and what God blesses us with. Thank you for taking the time to share this information and your life. I know your journey is hard, just like the rest of us, but I can see you have much joy and happiness in your life. Hugs and love to you and yours!
    Natalie

    • Awwww–thank you so much for your sweet comment Natalie–it totally made my night! And yes, you are right–it is hard and happy–all at the same time. <3

  59. Have you seen the movie Back to Eden? It’s free online, just google it. It would help you grow a healthy garden. Only problem would be the wind blowing wood chips. My parents live in central Wyoming and wood chips blow away. If you could do it, it would help with your water problem as well.

  60. I found your website about a week ago, and I am loving everything I have read so far! We are about to move to Georgia from Virginia, and when we do we will be starting to homestead. We will start out slowly, we are going to be renting a little trailer so we can save money and get rid of debt. Hubby will be starting an aquaponics setup, and I will probably be staying home with the babies and trying to grow whatever I can :) What are your thoughts about incorporating aquaponics into a homestead? Keep posting, you give so many inspiration and encouragement to do what others say is impossible!

  61. Cathy Geary says:

    The transition has been very gradual for me, however, I am much older than you. As a younger adult, in my 30′s, hubby had a good job and I stayed home most of the time, but we were not careful enough with our money and had credit cards and all. In later years, we had financial problems, which turned out to be a blessing, as it brought us back to basics. I do much of what you do, also I do not use toothpaste, cleaning products, shampoo or laundry soap from the store, making my own. We were without health insurance for 7 years, and became much more health conscious. We use nutritional supplements as well as continually striving to eat healthier. We gave up TV and our home phone to save money, but, like you, we keep internet. I have a question – we only live 7 miles from the nearest smaller town, but 35 miles from the closest “city”. I can’t justify the gas I spend running to garage sales, so I only go when there are the twice a year “city-wide” sales. How do you, when you only go to town once or twice a month, manage to live on garage sales?

    • Hi Cathy,

      Well, I don’t really “live” on garage sales, but I do like to go when I can. I often end up making an extra trip to go, but do try to run other errands or set up time to visit with friends when I go. I don’t spend a lot of $$ on “leisure” activities for myself, so I don’t mind spending a little extra for gas, since spending a morning at yard sales is something I truly enjoy.

  62. My hubby and I do much of what you do as we are saving up for our own homestead/farm. I do a lot of canning, farming, baking, gardening, we have chickens, and trade for what we can, etc. We are working to pay off all debt outside of our house so when we move outside of the land we will be debt free. We already have my Dad’s old tractor and many things we need to farm as we have been paying cash for it slowly as we find good deals. Both hubby and I work now and we try to save as much as we can. I think a big thing is we don’t use a credit card. We also do all the work on our own vehicles if we can, including oil changes, spark plugs, etc. We find the biggest thing is we love to help others because we went to and we feel it is something God calls us to do as his servant. We find when we really are in a pinch those at our church and close friends are wiling to help us out as well. Its a community we have built within our church friends and some other close friends and we feel having that community in our faith is a big help in what we have been able to do so far. I am so glad I found your blog. :)

  63. In Part One of your post, you mentioned becoming debt free, how did you do that? I plan to buy land, and build an underground home (for energy efficiency), and start homesteading, but I don’t feel very close at all with all of our debt, medical bills, school loans, to pay off before I can do that. Thanks for your help, and for the great article!