Homesteading for Beginners Making a Living Homesteading

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Homesteading for beginners, For those in the environmentally aware circles, there is a term that is making a comeback of sorts albeit in a slightly different meaning than was originally intended.

That term is homesteading.

Homesteading was originally a US government legislation that gave away free land to people who took large tracts of rural land and then converted it into their primary landholding and place of residence.

It was a huge success as it helped develop some of the largely rural parts of the country years ago.

Homesteading for beginners
Homesteading for beginners

What is homesteading?

Nowadays, homesteading means to live a sustainable lifestyle away from the city.

It is a throwback to the rural lifestyle which many of our forefathers used to practice.

The decision to move away and live a life on the homestead is becoming more and more common across the nation.

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People who have taken the decision to homestead live a life that is much easier on the environment than a typical urban lifestyle.

These people are much more in tune with nature as they live a healthier and more wholesome life.

They usually have a garden in which they grow fruits and vegetables seasonally.

This is for their consumption as well as for local commerce.

They contribute to local farmers markets where they have an opportunity to sell the produce that they have grown over the season.

In addition, they also rear animals that serve as both a food source and again provide an opportunity to make a living off the land.

Why homesteading?

Some wonder why some people make the choice to live a harder life.

Why choose a life that involves more manual labor?

What is it about homesteading that attracts them?

Well, there is another way of looking at this decision.

The people who have taken the decision to adopt this lifestyle claim that they are closer to nature.

They have a closer connection to the community around them.

Almost all of them agree that theirs is a more straightforward and a fulfilling life.

How to make a living homesteading

So you want to live self-sufficiently off the land?

Leading a homestead lifestyle requires a serious commitment on the individual’s part which may include a sizable investment of the land itself.

Can the homesteading lifestyle provide an income too?

We think it can.

So the question we are attempting to answer is how to make a living homesteading?

A lot of the young people have been moving into rural areas setting up homesteads.

They take the example of their parents who grew up on large tracts of land in the rural areas.

They are preparing food in the traditional manner and basically living in a manner which utilizes minimal resources.

Here are possible income sources which will help you make a living, earn some extra money and even make the land pay for itself.

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Beekeeping

Beekeeping is a fascinating hobby that many people turn into a business.

It doesn’t take a lot of space, and there are many months when there is little work you will have to do which will enable you to market your business or take on other projects.

Before starting out, you may think there is only honey and honey-related products to sell.

Yet, when it comes to beekeeping, there are many income streams.

When you are starting out and learning, you will likely be drawn to some things more than others.

Perhaps you will be interested in how to breed queens or to maintain hives.

You can sell starter colonies and beehive products (including wax and starter jelly).

There’s even photography, activism, science, bee removal, bee products and equipment, education, and more.

Or maybe you just want to keep bees for fun.

Here’s everything you need to get started in beekeeping.

making a living homesteading
making a living homesteading

Make Money Selling Timber

If you have purchased a piece of land that is heavily wooded, then that in itself is a huge opportunity to earn money.

Timber companies will pay you good money to come and clear your land for you.

All you need to do is inform them that you have standing timber which you are ready to sell.

This sale can be either to large companies or even individuals.

There are always people looking to purchase firewood and you can cater to these people.

Make Money Selling Rocks

If your land has a lot of rocks then that can too be a source of income as there are people who are interested in buying all kinds of rocks.

A simple website to advertise the rocks found on your property can see a surprising amount of interest in what most people see no value in.

Make Money Selling Livestock

Livestock is reared on homesteads for the purpose of food and can be a source of income too.

There are auctions in most small towns for livestock of good breed.

These animals can be raised at your homestead and then later sold for profit.

Miniature cattle breeds are often the perfect choice for a compact farming space.

They can provide milk and later, meat.

Make Money Selling Eggs

Chicken and duck eggs are always in demand wherever your homestead may be.

These can serve as a steady source of income.

Quail eggs too go for a tidy sum and it may not be a bad idea to raise quails along with chicken and ducks.

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Make Money Selling Produce

If the land is amenable to it then you can do small scale farming on it too.

It requires time, patience and skill but it pays off well in the long run.

The produce from the land can be sold at local farmers markets.

More and more people are shopping at these markets as the trend to eat local grows.

If you are short on space, consider a DIY hydroponics system.

Other sources of income

Apart from all of these you can always sell your skills that you have gathered as you set up your own homestead.

Even inventory that you may have purchased can leased out or rented out to make extra money.

Homesteading school

As the concept of homesteading is spreading across the United States, more and more people are interested in acquiring the necessary skills that will let them live off the land in a wholesome and self reliant manner.

It is to impart the skills required to run your own homestead that a number of homesteading schools are cropping up across the country.

We take a closer look at the skills that you can learn at these schools as well as list out some of the better ones across the country.

A good way to adjust to some of the changes that you will face as well as learn some of the skills that you will need when you take the decision to run your own homestead is to join a homesteading school.

Most of these homesteading schools have been started by pioneers of the return to this movement.

They want to make the path that they followed easier for other to follow.

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There are a number of established homesteads that have hands-on courses that allow to you to get a feel of the life firsthand as well as learn the necessary skills.

It is important to develop these skills as you work as they also can be a source of income to you in the future.

Skilled workers are always in demand on homesteads.

Homesteading school
Homesteading school

Workshops and learning on farms

Kimberly Coburn who has started Homestead Atlanta shared that she realized a number of people want to experience the fulfillment that she has by starting their own homestead.

Her school is not rigid about curriculum that they follow.

Most of the learning is practical and hands-on.

The purpose is to teach as many skills as possible in the allotted time so that a wholesome and economically viable lifestyle is possible for the ‘students’ that pass out from there.

The classes for these schools too can take place at a different location every time.

It can be a discussion at a restaurant or a beekeeping class at a bee farm.

The approach is low-resource by intention.

Some people prefer to take workshops at functioning farms.

These workshops are becoming more and more common across the country now and can start from as little $25 per session.

All kinds of people attend these schools and workshops, not necessarily beginners.

Learning homesteading skills

A number of people took the plunge into homesteading and then realized that there are some skills that they needed to polish or learn from scratch.

These schools have started receiving help in the form of fiscal support as well as access to facilities by corporate players in the field.

Kimberly’s school had a tie up with Georgia organic that allowed her to expand the scope and reach of her program much beyond what she had possible imagined when she started out.

A simple web search for these schools reveals a map of the United States with the homesteading schools in your area marked out.

If you are considering a shift to this lifestyle then it may be a prudent idea to attend one of these schools and acquire the necessary knowledge that will allow you to make a seamless switch.

There is so much to consider when deciding whether to homestead:

Consider the move on your family and possibly being away from extended family

Year-round work it will take, in all types of weather, to make your family self-sufficient

Cost to uproot your life and move (if necessary)

Can you keep your job and start projects on the side

Consider the schooling options available if you have children.

Take the time to understand what is homesteading all about before you take this huge lifestyle change into consideration.

Investigate a homesteading school to help.

And it is possible to make a living homesteading, but everyone has to be “on board.”

You can start small with something that interests you, and grow from there.

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Who’s to Blame for Household Debt Levels

Canadians Blame for Household debt levels are among the highest of developed country nations, beyond those of Americans and Britons.

Recently, we’ve been warned that these debt levels are far worse than previously thought with growing consensus among experts that Canadians aren’t immune from the downfall they witnessed among their American neighbors.

The only bright side, ironically, tends to be the eroding asset base of Canadians, which is largely dependent on a deteriorating housing market.

As Madani at Capital Economics explained: “Debt growth dynamics over the last decade look eerily similar to the U.S. experience, just before their dramatic housing bust.”

In response, the discussion in the media tends to revolve around the dilemma the Bank of Canada faces in its efforts to combat a struggling global economy on the one hand, which requires a lowering of interest rates, and rising household debt levels on the other, which paradoxically requires the raising of interest rates.

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I find our reliance on the Bank of Canada amusing because nowhere in our discussion of this dilemma are we considering what I think is the elephant in the room, which I refer to as an intrinsic motivation of big banks to exploit consumers.

3 Types of Lending

To understand this, it’s worthwhile to perhaps simplistically distinguish among three types of lending practices.

The first is responsible lending where banks respond to the needs and wants of informed and educated consumers as a means to lubricate the economy to improve societal welfare.

The second is called careless lending, an extreme level of lending that we saw in the US where, due to the deferral of risk, lenders provide credit to those highly susceptible to default.

The conversation in Canada often ends here as loyalists to the invisible hand argue that banks have no incentive to employ the latter practice because our regulation makes it so that consumer default results in bank losses.

In fact, recently, National Bank Financial analysis Peter Routledge explained

“That these consumer debt levels are a non issue because the average loss rates on banks’ credit cards has fallen back down to about 4 percent, a level not seen since 2008 and the average value accounts whose payments are 90 days or more delinquent is just 1 per cent of the portfolio.”

He concludes that while Canadian debt levels are high, the default rates clearly indicate that this is a non-issue.

The fascinating thing about this absurd and completely misguided conclusion and others that say debt levels isn’t a big deal is that he’s using defaults as a proxy for debt problems rather than considering the idea that perhaps banks have just gotten better at finding ways to exploit consumers without sustaining the cost of default.

This leads me to an overlooked third category of lending practices that I think represents a majority of the types of loans banks make called exploitative lending, a middle ground between the first two extremes where banks search for gaps in consumer knowledge to impose on them the maximum amount of credit possible without them defaulting.

It is this third type of lending that while difficult to pin down is critical because it puts into clear focus the inherent conflict between bank and societal interests, a conflict that I believe is responsible for today’s debt levels.

My Own Debt Experience

For the last several years, I’ve been bombarded with offers from my and other banks to take advantage of credit opportunities, to increase the credit limit on my personal line of credit, my visa card, or to apply for a home secured personal line of credit.

This type of lending has also happened with student loans being granted for more than needed, causing an increase in people who need to refinance their student loans at a later date.

The latter came up when I was asking for a $5000 increase in the credit limit of my existing PLC, at which time I was encouraged to apply for a home secured line of credit that would provide me with 40 times the amount I was originally asking for and 8 times what I had already.

The interesting point of the conversation was that the person on the phone forgot completely about my original request of $5000.

On top of all this, I recently received my fourth communication in a year from my bank offering a 33% increasing in my visa credit despite the fact that since first getting a visa card 17 years ago I have never come close to having a balance of more than 33% of my credit limit for more than 4 weeks.

In other words, I have never maintained a balance on my visa card.

Now what is going on here?

Is my bank really looking out for my needs by offering credit to me that is going to improve my life?

Sadly, I don’t think banks are experts at improving the quality of life of their consumers.

They are experts at finding ways in which to capture value from their consumers.

In this case, value comes in the form of disposable income.

In my case, the bank has learned through reams of data on people sharing my demographic and psychographic characteristics that increasing my credit limit in multiple ways leads to a false sense of security that I have greater disposable income through which to meet needs I didn’t know I had.

More specifically, they know that because I’m comfortable with a 33% use of my credit limit and that my income level has not increased by a similar amount, increasing that credit limit will eventually lead to payments that exceed my monthly income thereby locking me into a perpetual state of interest payments and a high debt-income ratio.

To ease consumers into what it means to have a large balance on their PLC, banks require that consumers keep a minimum balance on new PLCs as a means to avoid initial registration fees.

After the 3 months of a high balance, the hope is that the consumer is accustomed to such a debt level while at the same time hasn’t put money away to pay this off.

Throughout my undergraduate university education, I worked at one of these financial institutions as a customer service representative (teller).

I was awarded cash on the spot if I signed up someone for a credit card.

We were very strongly encouraged to look at the birth dates of younger looking clients to see if they were 18 and were now eligible for a credit card.

I recall learning clever tactics to convince them to get a card such as benefits to their credit rating for future credit access and the benefits of receiving free money for up to a six-week period.

I realize today that this represents a dramatically scaled-down version of a more general culture of pushing credit on unbeknownst consumers.

From the bankers’ perspective, think about how easy it would be to slide down the slippery slope of exploitative lending by finding ways to convince consumers to take on more credit that they don’t need.

Bankers are very bright people, and while well-intention at best, they understand the psychology behind consumer purchase decisions.

They know that a majority of the consumer population struggles to differentiate between cash and credit and that when consumers see a high credit limit they are more willing to use that credit in lieu of cash.

If you were a bank, you would have every motivation to push credit on consumers just up to the point prior to bankruptcy.

Call it greed or good business, the point is that this is a reality that we’re not talking about.

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Consumer Responsibility for their personal debt

One of the main reasons why this discussion hasn’t yet occurred is because the very conservative Canadian culture would argue that it’s up to Canadian consumers to spend responsibly and therefore to borrow responsibly.

Carney himself, in his message to Canadians, tends to use this approach.

What this completely overlooks however is how the power of Canadian financial institutions in influencing consumer behavior in Canada.

Several months back I was somewhat lambasted by the Sustainability Director of one of the Canadian banks because I criticized their green initiatives as green washing, a mere disguise for the blatant disregard that they oftentimes demonstrate to society.

My main criticism, like with many other firms I comment on, is that on the one hand the bank is marketing the hell out of their commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency in their retail branches but on the other ignores how their ongoing daily activities with business and individual consumers leaves them culpable to debt issues.

There is no question that the banks would respond to my above claims by completely denying responsibility for any increase in debt levels because it is up to the consumer to make sound credit decisions.

This is an expected response, one that several other industries have taken when they engage in activities that indirectly lead to major social issues.

The apparel industry denied responsibility for sweatshop labor in the 1990’s, the consumer electronics industry, up to a year ago, denied responsibility for the suicides in their suppliers’ factories, the food and beverage industry denied responsibility for the obesity epidemic, and of course the tobacco industry denied responsibility for consumer deaths.

The banks got their first scare in 2008 with the financial crisis revealing that the inherent motivation of the financial industry does not necessarily align with society’s interests.

As Canadians figure out that debt levels, like cigarette addiction rates, are not necessarily caused by consumer irresponsibility but rather a blatant attempt by banks to exploit the vulnerabilities of their consumers, a major backlash will ensue.

Perhaps one so drastic that they end up like their tobacco company counterparts, cowering in a corner begging for mercy.

I’m not Environmentally Friendly, I’m Just Cheap

I started by asking myself if the decisions I make are “eco-conscious” or “frugal” ones. I initially thought it’s not an either/or question, rather a both/and proposition.

My dad instilled frugality, while my step-father promoted a sense of stewardship by having us collect cans to recycle.

There was a monetary incentive.

Growing up in Los Angeles, each can had a deposit and we earned money for returning them.

If memory serves, my step-sisters and I earned over $100 for turning in cans (multiple large trash bags full of crushed cans).

Every time I come back to the question of whether I walk somewhere because it’s good for the environment or I’m just cheap, I almost always tend toward the frugality.

I can’t stand paying for gas.

Every time I drive the car I think about how much money I’m wasting and how much I could save by walking (or biking).

Every month, when our auto loan gets deducted from our meager checking account, I curse how expensive it is to own a newer car.

The same goes for the insurance on it.

We don’t drive much, neither my wife or me.

In all honesty I don’t know what her aversion to driving is.

She supports environmental awareness, but I don’t know if she quite disdains the financial commitment the way I do.

The funny thing is that it doesn’t matter at the end of the day whether I’m a cheapskate or just being an “eco-warrior” because the two really go hand in hand.

Saving resources, like using cloth napkins instead of having to continually buy paper ones or paper towels, is all about saving.

Money, energy, trees; these are all resources.

I just can’t understand why people would willing spend money when there are viable, cheaper alternatives.

I suppose this explains why the savings rate has been so low in this country.

Debt – I’m talking about personal, not governmental – is something to be avoided.

Why wouldn’t someone choose the option that saves money?

There just happens to be an added benefit of saving other resources too sometimes.

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