Best Rainwater Harvesting System for Your Homestead

Large rainwater tank outside house

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Best Rainwater Harvesting System is a highly customization technology.

Myriad solutions exist across a global context.

Rainwater harvesting systems can usually be categorized as either passive or active types.

A passive type uses almost no mechanical means to capture, convey, or treat the caught rainwater.

An active type uses mechanical and/or electrical means to capture, convey, and/or treat rainwater.

Best Rainwater Harvesting System

I often avoid using the terms passive versus active and instead refer to landscape versus built types.

Landscape type systems of rainwater harvesting use landscape features to slow, absorb, and/or store rainwater.

Landscape type systems are usually considered passive.

A built type system uses mechanical and/or electrical means to capture, convey, and/or treat rainwater.

Built type systems are usually considered active.

Landscape types have the advantage of lower cost per volume of water.

Built types have the advantage of providing cleaner water.

For the modern homestead, the built type offers some significant advantages.

And most homesteads can take advantage of both types of systems.

Or even combining systems so that the overflow of a built system becomes the source for a landscape system.

Best Rainwater Harvesting System for Your Homestead
Best Rainwater Harvesting System for Your Homestead

Rainwater Harvesting Systems Components

Rainwater harvesting systems use various components to best meet needs.

These components can be broken down into catchment surface, conveyance (gutters and downspouts), screens, first-flush, storage, water purification, and end use.

Catchment surface – area that the rainwater falls on to be captured.

Conveyance (gutters and downspouts) – transports the water from catchment to storage or use.

Screens – separates debris from the water.

First-flush – diverts the first, and dirtiest, portion of rainwater.

Storage – holds water for later use.

Purification – cleans the water to the needed level.

End use – gives purpose to the system!

Rainwater Harvesting Systems Components
Before you decide which components you need, you should determine how much water you need, what you need it for, and how much you can catch.

Water Audit

You know your homestead better than anyone… often you can conduct a ‘water audit’ just on the back of an envelope.

If you are using the water for drinking, you will need more treatment than if you are using it for gardens.

If you are using it for cleaning (tools, grounds, equipment, etc.), then you won’t need any treatment.

It all depends on your needs and resources (e.g. do you only have seasonal need due to a seasonal creek).

Catchment Volume

The catchment volume is calculated from the precipitation falling on the collection area with some loss due to the efficiency of the collection materials (and leaks).

In addition, conversion factors are used to yield the desired units of volume.

Typically, monthly catchment values are calculated based on monthly average precipitation data.

The collection volume for any period of time is calculated using the following formula (mnemonic device Vrake):

Equation: Vrake – Rainwater harvesting potential.

V = Volume of collection in gal/time or m/time or liters/time

Note that time is usually in months.

Use this to help determine potential yield and tank size.

R = Precipitation in inches/time or mm/time

Collect this data or find it from existing climate data.

A = Footprint of collection surface in ft2 or m2

This is the vertical projected area of the collection surface.

For a rectangular house, use length times width.

k = Needed conversion factors, such as 7.48 gal/ft3 or easier SI units

Can also combine the 1ft/12in conversion for the precipitation data here.

e = Efficiency of collection surface (which is unitless)

75 soil, 0.8 average, 0.95 metal

Average rain harvested house roof
Many locations can collect sufficient water to meet needs. Often the limiting factor ends up being storage volume. Calculating monthly collection capacities minus monthly demand shows how much storage is needed.

Water Pressure

Another consideration is pressure.

Pressure is critical to moving water from where it is gathered or stored to where it will be used.

In a rainwater harvesting system, the water must be able to flow from catchment through the filters and conveyance into the first-flush and storage or end use.

This pressure can be provided by gravity from vertical height difference or by a pump.

As an idea of how much pressure you will need:

Typical US residential water pressure is between 40 to 80 psi (pounds per square inch); typical drip irrigation systems (and some micro-sprinklers) need between 15 to 25 psi; and some appropriate technology drip irrigation systems need only 4 to 10 psi.

In addition to flow from catchment to storage, the flow from storage to end use is critical.

Using the existing topography and/or platforms can often yield enough pressure for end use.

If necessary, a pump can be implemented to add sufficient pressure.

While utilizing a pump increases the pressure, it also increases the upfront and operational costs.

Gravity acting on the vertical height of the water column is what produces the pressure, which is also referred to as head.

Make sure not to confuse volume with pressure (head).

For instance, a 20-foot-tall water tower of 8000 gallons has the same water pressure as a 20-foot-tall pipe of 80 gallons.

If your homestead has varying topography, you want to catch and store the water at the high spots, and then use it in the low spots to provide enough pressure.

Otherwise a pump can be used to generate the needed pressure.

In a system we built in Eureka, California, we were able to change the existing local law to allow us to place the catchment tank where it made topological sense, without being restrained by set-back limits.

The Book – To Catch The Rain

All of this and much more is included in a new book on Rainwater Harvesting, titled To Catch the Rain.

It is available digitally for any donation (including $0) or as a physical copy at http://www.tocatchtherain.org.

All of the proceeds come back to the book and to the Appropedia Foundation (a non-profit).

Book To Catch The Rain
To Catch The Rain

Multiple Income Streams to Making Money Farming: Multiple Incomes on the Farm

Multiple Income Streams

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Multiple income streams is important to making ends meet on a farm.

Often, having several small income streams will merge into a river.

Think you can’t thrive on the farm without that one fat paycheck?

Think again!

There are so many things you can do to supplement your income or to live off your talents.

Making Ends Meet on the Farm

Whether you have recently chosen a rural place to live or have lived in the country for a long time, you can earn money with your interests and skills.

In Normal Redefined, we told you about what we think is a new normal for supporting a comfortable lifestyle.

The key is using a number of methods to meet your needs.

And a major part of that is having several small income streams that will provide enough for you to have a comfortable living.

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The concept of multiple income streams

Though our parents and grandparents may have each worked one job that paid all the bills, earning money from multiple income streams is not a new idea.

Throughout history, people have worked multiple jobs or had small side businesses going to help make ends meet.

Actually, nowadays many families with two adults have more than one income stream.

It’s very common for both adults to work full time or one to work full time and the other part time.

Also, many people with full-time jobs have sideline businesses that produce multiple income streams. 

It’s not unusual for someone to deliver newspapers before work or put in a few hours at a second job in the evening.

School employees often have alternate jobs during the non-school summer months.

Another huge shift is the internet. Many people make their living or supplement their income from an online business.

Multiple Income Streams
Multiple Income Streams

Even Pa and Ma Ingalls did it!

In Little House on the Prairie stories by Laura Ingalls Wilder, we read that Pa Ingalls left the farm from time to time to go work on the railroad or some other short-term paying job.

Like many pioneer women, Ma Ingalls and her neighbors sold extra eggs, milk, butter, and canned goods or traded them for credit at the general store.

That’s not so far off from how some modern homesteaders and farmers make ends meet!

We know that many of you readers live on your homesteads and work in town.

Other couples have one person employed away from home while one stays and focuses on farm projects.

Some couples, like Jim and Marie here, are making ends meet with a number of small income streams.

For both a steady paycheck and medical benefits, it may make sense for one person to be employed elsewhere.

That’s a decision for each family to make.

But we’re here to say that it is possible to replace some or all of your previous income by developing on multiple income streams.

The point is that multiple income streams combined can cover your living expenses and often even allow for savings and investments in upgrades for your home and farm.

Various sources of income

While living on the farm you might have one or more of the following types of multiple income streams.

Regular paychecks

Off-farm employment

Telecommuting/working at home for an off-farm employer

Your own small or large business that provides you a regular income

Irregular or sporadic income

Freelancing or contracting in a field of expertise

Work-at-home opportunities

Small business of your own that provides some income

Renting out equipment you own

Occasional or seasonal work for hire or temp jobs

Selling your products online in a more permanent “store” or on bidding platforms

Looking at that list, can you see how several types of work could collectively fill the coffers?

Working Remotely Doesn’t Have to Mean Working from Home

How to create your own income streams

Sit down with a pen and paper (or computer notepad if that’s more your style!) and consider each one of these areas.

Fill in the blanks. In each category, what could you do to generate some income?

Using your field of expertise

Consulting, freelancing, contracting

Teaching at local schools, continuing education centers, libraries, community centers

Tutoring, coaching, repairing

Farm Income
Farm Income

Using your hobbies, musical expertise, interests, and other life skills

Teaching workshops, classes, private lessons

Sewing, making craft products to sell

Monetized blogging

Guiding hunting, fishing trips

Using your property and farm equipment

Pumpkin patch, corn maze, U-pick, petting zoo

Field trips, hay rides, sleigh rides, trail rides

Event venue, retreat center, bed & breakfast, farm stay

Selling farm produce, meat, eggs, fibers, plants

Hands-on workshops, demonstrations, lessons

Contracting to do garden tilling, snow plowing, harvesting, processing

Winery, vineyard

Rent out equipment

We’re betting that you’ve got several possibilities on that list of yours!

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Our multi streams

We mentioned how we ourselves are combining small amounts of income to earn our keep.

Here’s how those sources fit into our notes on the categories listed above.

We have developed multiple income streams to help them move ahead in home-building plans.

Using our education, training, and previous career experience, we have all found ways to bring in some extra money:

Rural property development consulting and project management.

Freelance editing for print publishers and individual authors plus most of the writing for our RuralLivingToday blog.

Marketing consultant who manages several blogs (all while being stay-at-home mom).

Combining all our experience, we’re developing a small publishing company for homesteading-themed publications.

Using other life experiences, hobbies, and interests, we have found some income-producing creative outlets:

Do some coaching and umpiring for youth sports teams in our community.

Started a business selling custom-designed products.

Manages our new business selling homesteading-themed gift items.

Make nature jewelry.

With our farm resources, we’re becoming producers of farm products.

We have raised pigs to sell by carcass weight at maturity.

We have raised beef cattle before and plan to do that in the next couple of years.

Marie and Bethany have been raising and breeding laying hens and meat birds.

We may raise more hens and sell the eggs, and we plan to start a small local hatchery.

We’re expanding our garden and greenhouse setup to potentially sell plant starts and produce.

Also, we’re gearing up to grind and mix local ingredients for livestock feed.

Beekeeping is something we want to start up as well.

So you can see, we’re using our life experience and training, other special interests, and our farm resources.

We also have a combination of goods and services bringing in dollars.

It’s a comfort knowing we aren’t solely relying on just one thing.

Other sources of income on a farm

Some of our other family members are also doing consulting and contract work, reselling, teaching, and making new products to sell.

As a family we’re discussing future farm production projects and the possibility of building a state-approved food processing kitchen.

We have short-term plans for this year and long-term ideas that will take several years to develop.

We’re also discussing special interests with our oldest grand kids and encouraging them to develop their own small businesses or sidelines to the family business.

One granddaughter is very involved with the chickens.

Her sister wants to partner with Jim to raise pigs this year.

A third granddaughter, who loves handcrafts, has jewelry making in mind.

All three girls are thinking of baking and sewing as well.

Our oldest grandson thinks he’d like to raise herbs from seed.

Another grandson loves running the grinder and might just develop a feed business someday.

We’re all for young entrepreneurs! In fact, discovered her entrepreneurial bent in high school and has been at it ever since.

Other real life examples

We has told you about one three-generation family we know that supports more than 15 family members with a combination of income streams.

At their highway produce and antique store and local farmers markets, they sell their own produce, plant starts, beef, grains, and hay.

They also bring in fruit from other producers in a nearby “banana belt.”

During the winter when the store is closed, they take a vacation and refinish antiques to sell in their shop.

They also start their tomato plants very early and are now known for the first tomatoes at the farmers markets.

Another couple combines a town job with farm production.

The wife works to bring home a regular paycheck while her hubby sees to the daily farm work and marketing.

They raise pigs, rabbits, and several types of poultry and sell meat to individuals, restaurants, and retail markets.

Recently, they installed a state-licensed processing unit on their poultry farm.

They not only sell processed poultry, but will process for others as well.

There’s a former schoolteacher who holds a weekly science lab class for homeschoolers.

A father-son team cuts firewood from their forest and delivers it to local households; for an extra fee, they’ll stack it too.

A young mom teaches a few piano students each week; another does machine quilting for those who can’t do it themselves.

The list goes on, but you get the idea!

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What’s on your list?

Evaluate what you can do.

Discover a gap to fill.

Find a unique angle that will make your goods or services  stand out from the rest.

Don’t think any of your ideas are not worthy of a good evaluation.

You might be surprised how you could fit right into a niche.

We were.

Even in our rural area, none of the farmers markets ever have enough eggs for sale.

There also is a demand for local meat by the pound.

Both of these products require special handling and permits, but neither is unusually costly or strenuous.

It is also important to note that each stream of income may require you to pay taxes, but you should be able to find a decent calculator for taxes online.

Some questions to ask yourself

What skills, experience, training, expertise, or resources do you have?

What goods and services are lacking in your area?

How can you use your abilities to fill a gap?

What unique spin do you have on that niche?

Selling pumpkins
Selling pumpkins

Ideas and more ideas

Know the local rules and law of the land.

Always check on licensing and permit requirements at city, county, state/province, and federal levels.

You don’t have to go it alone!

Forming or joining a co-op or team makes a lot of sense.

You can share ideas, equipment, and job rotations.

You also have a ready group for those times when it’s “all hands on deck.”

A team can be made up of family members, friends, neighbors, or any other group of people.

It works best if you are compatible, with similar goals and mutual trust.

But when it flows, it’s awesome!

Remember our friends that sell farm products and antiques?

This extended family has a great teamwork system going.

Each person has his or her own roles and responsibilities, but when there’s a need, they all join forces to get any job done.

We have a “co-shop” team ourselves.

A few years ago, started a business selling beverage ware and other items featuring quotes from popular books and movies.

In 2012, our business was booming, and we decided that Rural Living Today should start producing a similar line of items for the homesteading crowd.

Both businesses were unexpectedly successful during the holiday season, and in January we were able to upgrade to equipment that produces higher-quality images.

The two businesses share a barn workshop and equipment; we combine our wholesale orders for supplies.

And most fun of all, we work together and join forces to meet deadlines.

Ideas for products

Soap, candles, laundry detergent, fire starters, alternative personal care products

Aprons, pot holders, baby bibs, receiving blankets, fleece blankets

Quilts, pillows, wall hangings

Jewelry, hair ornaments, belts

Fresh herbs, produce

Dehydrated/canned goods

Honey

Eggs, milk, cheese, butter

Seeds, garden tools, livestock equipment (buy wholesale and resell)

Grain, ground and mixed animal feed

Ideas for services

Repairing items or installing parts

Handyman service, mobile farm service

Sewing, quilting, home decorating

Child care, birthday parties, event planning

Pet care, house sitting, farm sitting

Creating farm logos, writing website copy, photographing farms

Designing gardens, irrigation systems

Installing fencing, garden structures

Helping people get started with a garden, composting, rainwater harvesting, raising chickens, miniature cattle, solar, hydroponics, irrigation, beekeeping, etc.

Renting your farm equipment

How to pay the bills?

A number of RLT readers who are preparing for or considering a move to a rural property have asked us a very simple, yet important question: “How do you make a living and pay the bills?”

Some who are already living on their farms have a similar question: “How can we transition from outside employment to making our living on the farm?”

This one issue of finances can be a major barricade in our minds, stopping us from actually making the transition from an urban to a rural home or from leaving a secure job to spend more time on the farm.

With our series “Making Ends Meet on the Farm” we hope to at least start poking some holes in this barricade and give you some ideas so you and your family and can start seeing some real solutions to this issue.
Making Ends Meet on the Farm

Making Ends Meet on the Farm

A few years ago I lost a stable and longtime corporate salary due to job layoffs.

We were several years short of retirement age, but without another good job option available, we felt it was time to move full time to our rural property and get back to Green Living to Go Green.

Since then we’ve been making ends meet in a variety of ways.

And we’ve seen many others do the same.

Before I start with the specifics with some ideas on this, let me rewind in my own mind on the topic of financial security.

Our country is obsessed with security and insurance.

This is prevalent throughout our society.

Just consider all of your insurance bills.

Someone is always trying to get you to pay a little more for a bit more of whatever security they offer.

Yet when I look at who is making money off of this, it seems to me that it is the financial and insurance companies.

Just recently, I was hit with concurrent commercials about retirement while watching a playoff game (yes–I like football!).

The ads all essentially had the same message with different logos and company names.

The gist of the message is that to retire, you need to have this huge nest egg of investments (that’s what they were selling), and if you didn’t have it you just couldn’t retire. They used the fear card big time.

Essentially they were trying to get viewers to go down a road that has no ending.

They were also insinuating that those who didn’t follow their advice would not be taking care of themselves and their families financially.

One ad stated that you need to have approximately 80% of your normal income to be able to retire.

This is NOT true. One does NOT need that.

Essentially, these companies just want us all to keep doing what we do, so they can collect more and more fees from us.

They’re selling us.

If you doubt that, just look at all the beautiful buildings and offices they build for themselves.

But that is a game we don’t have to play, and I suspect you don’t want to play anymore.

Personally I am finished building their beautiful palaces for them with my dollars.

The fact remains, however, that we all have to make a living somehow.

That is a daily reality.

Making the daily commute, paying the bills, trying to save…often unsuccessfully.

And then, trying to figure out how to get ahead, pay for this emergency or that one, and put money away for college educations, retirement and the like.

And we do this for years.

Some will do it for their entire lives.

Working Remotely Doesn’t Have to Mean Working from Home

But ask yourself this:

Are you are really making any progress financially?

My gauge of success in answering this question is the difference between your savings account balance at the start of the year and the balance at the end of the year.

What does it say?

The good news is that we can stop playing the game!

Yes, it takes a lot of courage to do it.

But once you decide to take the red pill and go down the road of reality, you may be very surprised at what you find.

The truth is, there’s a new normal out there!

Not only has life in general changed a great deal in the past decade, but the job and income picture is not the same as it has been for a couple of generations.

On our journey we have made several discoveries and learned a lot from other families similar to ours.

Some of these new concepts have had a profound effect on our monthly budget requirements.

We will go into more detail in the coming “Making Ends Meet on the Farm” posts.

But for now we will leave with you one key concept that we have learned in our own experience and heard from many others.

Cost of living in the country is much less than that of living in a city or suburb.

The fact is, many of us project that we need to have as much income in the country as we need in the city or suburbia.

But this isn’t really true.
income while living in the country
Think about it this way: have you seen what it costs to live in Manhattan or San Francisco in a small one- or two-bedroom apartment?

Normal rents there could easily be $3,000 to $5,000 per month.

Recently a large family that we know moved into our rural area.

They were from a nice suburb north of Seattle, in a neighborhood with standard sized residential lots.

They were leasing their suburban home, so it was easy to leave the area and make the move.

Their lease payment in the city was near $2,800 per month.

Not bad, especially compared to those apartments in the big cities!!

Out here they found a nearly equivalent rental house.

Nicer by some standards—with plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms and lots of land for the kids to play on.

The lease payment? $1,400 per month.

They couldn’t believe it.

And on top of the lower rent, they now have no sewer bill, water bill, storm drainage bill, or garbage bill (they go to the dump nearby).

This is an additional savings of nearly $500 per month.

Bottom line, this family’s budget has been reduced by half and they are just as comfortable as before, with plenty of room indoors and much more outdoor space for play and homesteading projects.

They even scored a cool tree house for the young adventurers and a nice greenhouse and fenced garden for Dad and Mom.

Do the math.

This family’s move to the country saved them $1,900 per month.

Now consider your budget

What if you were to save 50% on your monthly housing expenses?

Make your own analysis.

Even with just the two of us, Marie and I have a much smaller outgo to keep pace with our much smaller income.

Not only are our housing and utility bills much lower, but we spend more free and recreational time here on the farm, we put a lot less mileage on our vehicle and less gas in the tank, and we raise a lot of our own food.

Late addition: Reader Eileen left a comment on this post that we’ve decided to include right here in the post.

Another great story of how “more costs less.”

“I made the move 10 years ago and am living on 1/4 of what I made when I was working.

While I spent my savings to buy the property which is only one acre, my auto insurance was lower.

My homeowners insurance was also lower until Katrina and such raised insurance premiums all over.

My property tax bill is 1/4 of what I was paying.

I have a septic system and a garden and hope to have some chickens soon.

I have a larger house, more land space and less restrictions.

There are lots of trees.

Boy do I wish I had been able to do this when I was much younger and more able to work a larger spread and perhaps have cattle and horses.

“The first most amazing thing I noticed when I moved here was how many stars are really in the sky when there are no street lights to glare away the darkness.

Birds and wildlife to watch and enjoy.

I used to have deer walk through the garden to get to the birdbath during the drought period.

I think development and hunting have managed to drive them away.

“May I never have to go back to living in a congested city ever again.”

We don’t want to give you the impression that it’s real cheap to live in the country.

We won’t say that there won’t be unexpected expenses or challenges in balancing the budget.

But we do want you to know that a realistic evaluation of the costs and how you’re willing to meet them can make a big impact on your plans.

Don’t get stuck on the numbers in your present salary or income—or your current expense picture.

That’s like dwelling in the past. Instead, get real with what the future will cost!

Then you can plot your strategy—and we’ll do what we can to help.

Making Ends Meet on the Farm: Normal Redefined

Making Ends Meet on the FarmMaking Ends Meet on the Farm: Many of our readers have expressed a real concern that finances are a major hurdle to their hope and dream of moving to the country.

In our first post of this series, we focused on the fact that in most locations, the cost of living in the country is much less than that of living in a city or suburb.

Most often that cost differential is substantial.

We’ll take this into consideration as we consider a plan of action for moving to and living in the country.

Despite lower costs, it’s clear that most of us will still need to have some money coming in.

But it certainly is encouraging to know that perhaps the obstacle of HOW MUCH we need isn’t as large as we had imagined!

There are many, many different ways to make ends meet on the farm.

In coming posts we will be detailing some that we know of and that we and others are putting into practice.

But before we start, some thoughts about what used to be considered normal and an introduction to what we call the “new normal.”

Working Remotely Doesn’t Have to Mean Working from Home

The old normal: one full-time job

During our lifetime, it has been very typical for a person to hold a 40-hour job.

It’s a job that can be called “full time” and that hopefully pays well and provides a huge benefit package.

Granted, many have worked additional jobs as well, but a typical goal was one job that paid the bills.

There are some global reasons why this system has been our “normal” one for as long as we have been alive, but now, right before our eyes we are seeing a massive change to what is normal.

The change may not have affected you yet, but it has affected our economy significantly.

We have all heard that putting all of our eggs in one basket isn’t a smart thing to do from a financial viewpoint.

Yet consider that we do just that when we work full time for one company.

Why would we do that?

In the past, this might have been a “no risk” problem, but our current economy is finding corporations and companies laying off millions and millions of people.

Many of you may be in this crowd.

Structurally, these jobs are just not coming back, as our economy, totally based on debt and consumption, will never come back to the old days.

Those who are employed are working harder and harder, doing the work of more than one person.

They know their jobs depend on hard work, as there are many other people standing in line waiting for them to fail and for their positions to become available.

Essentially we become “corporate slaves.”

Before I was laid off in 2009 I had no job worries.

It was only after this layoff event occurred that I realized how all my eggs were cracking.

At first I thought I’d just get another job–no problem, right?

I had never been out of a job for more than a month.

But that had been before the 2008 economic collapse.

Instead of quickly finding a job, I searched for two full years for anything reasonable.

Even with two engineering degrees and over thirty-five years of work experience, I was unsuccessful in finding a job.

If you are unemployed today, you too realize how difficult it is to get a full time job at the level you are accustomed to.

So I decided to pursue a “multiple income stream” approach.

And now, that makes so much sense that I would never go back to being a corporate slave.

The new normal: multiple income streams

What does this mean?

Simply this: Instead of having one full time job that you are practically married to, you have multiple sources of income and ways to cover the cost of living.

You are no longer owned by a job.

Instead, you are now effectively CEO of your own family income.

You can work toward gaining income in a variety of ways that work for you and your family.

At long last, you are able to pursue your passions and interests and learn how to monetize them.

You might work a part-time job and supplement with other sources of income.

This is not really a new idea; a few generations ago it was common for a family to have multiple small incomes rather than one large one.

Even in recent years, the cost of living has required more than one income for many families.

What is new about it is that it’s becoming the norm in many communities.

Today the mindset of having a single income that covers all expenses is receding as the concept of multiple income streams gains momentum.

We are seeing this more and more among people we know.

I have talked with friend of mine about this very thing.

He and I both came from the construction industry, but for the past 12 years he has worked a farm with his family.

He told me about his struggles and successes.

And he emphasized two keys to making a living on the farm.

The first is to get out of debt and not buy anything you can’t pay for.

The second is to create multiple income streams.

My friend’s farm provides most of the family income, but the income comes from several streams.

In the spring, the family starts seeds in a greenhouse.

They plant many of the seedlings in their four-acre market garden.

But they also raise 1,500 extra plant starts to sell along with their earliest produce at three local farmers markets.

Their niche is that with the greenhouse, they get some very early vegetables, including the first tomatoes in the region.

They are busy selling produce all spring, summer, and fall at the farmers markets.

They also have a small retail store on the busy highway alongside their farm.

Community members and travelers passing by will stop in for fresh produce, local handcrafts, and antiques.

Also, with their knowledge, they’ve taught hydroponics classes and helped people with their DIY systems.

During the growing season they operate a CSA (community supported agriculture) program providing prepaid boxes of products to folks on a weekly basis.

In the fall, this family sells some cattle and has beef packaged for resale.

During the winter months, they refinish antiques (a special interest) to sell in their store.

Last year they added some grain production, as they had some fields that could grow it and there’s a need in the community.

New normal income on the farm

My friend encourages people not to despise even the smallest income streams, because they grow!

Another example is what Marie and I are doing and planning for the upcoming year.

First off, I have to admit that my brain cells had to do some adjusting to this “new normal.”

But we are getting the hang of it now, and I must say it is working.

So, not having any full time job, this is our situation and plan for the coming year.

Freelance Work

Do freelance editing work for a major book publisher.

This comes and goes in spurts according to the publishing seasons.

When Marie has a freelance project, she devotes full days to it.

When she has no jobs, she is free to pursue other interests.

I am involved in the local high school baseball/softball program as a coach and available to umpire.

This is projected to bring in minimal income this year, but most likely will grow next year.

I really enjoy coaching and umpiring.

We will raise pigs again this year, doubling our efforts of last year.

This could possibly bring in a fourth of our projected income needs.

As we did last year, we’ll sell most of it by the carcass, but some meat might be sold by the cut at the local farmers market.

We’ll expand our chicken operation.

Right now, we have layers providing seven dozen eggs a week.

This is far more than we need and we sell some and share with family and friends.

But we are now considering raising that tenfold and selling eggs at the farmers market.

Like the pigs, chickens are a real interest of ours, so it makes sense.

We are starting our feed making business.

Looking for the best and most economical pig feed last year, we learned how to make our own pig and chicken feed.

We have invested in a small grinder and are negotiating a cash purchase of a larger used machine that will grind and mix up to 1000 pounds per hour.

Already we have people asking for feed; it looks like this will be a year-round business.

We anticipate receiving a grant for a new hoop house that will allow us to grow much more of the food we need and have some produce to sell.

We are hoping to sell a significant number of peppers and tomatoes at our local farmers markets.

Last year we started an online business with Bethany selling fun gift items for farmers and homesteaders.

The income has far exceeded our expectations.

We won’t get rich on it, but this is a fun thing for us and we get paid to do it.

Profits have allowed us to invest in equipment and supplies to expand our product line as well.

We are starting a small cattle operation.

The model is to raise what we need and sell the rest.

In our case, after this is going well we could receive another fourth of our income from it.

As our kids get involved it potentially could become much larger and support more than one family.

We continue to look and consider new income streams.

We’ve talked about raising livestock guardian dogs, as there is a market for well-bred dogs.

With our family we’ve discussed starting a small chicken hatchery, locally selling chicks and pullets ready to lay.

Our kids and grandkids are thinking similarly for their own families.

All four husbands are employed full time but each family has at least one other income stream.

Sell home décor and personalized items.

Another family will be marketing seeds and plant starts this spring.

Sometimes will be talking about an idea or project and then look at each other and remark, “another income stream!”

We enjoy working together.

And the rest of normal

Rounding out the new normal are some other creative ways to cover expenses and reduce the cost of life on the farm.

In addition to generating income from work, small farmers can consider grants and cost-share programs.

And while living in the country will probably cost less in general, there are still other ways of reducing expenses.

Financial Aid
Financial Aid

Financial Aid and Making Ends Meet on the Farm

Last post we talked about creating multiple income streams.

That is the “bread and butter” of a financial strategy for making ends meet.

It’s where we recommend that anyone start when creating a plan for long term sustainability.

But there are additional ways to ease the strain on the family piggy bank.

Among them is the concept of financial aid: getting by with a little help from some “friends.”

No, we’re not talking about asking your buddy or neighbor or grandma for handouts (though that’s certainly a possibility for some).

We’re talking financial aid that’s available from outside sources to help you fund projects and business startups.

A note about financial aid

Not all types of assistance are created equally.

They all have different criteria, strategies, and followup requirements.

Some require partial or matching investments on the farmer’s part.

Some are outright gifts with no strings attached and some are loans with repayment plans.

We encourage you to very carefully evaluate each possibility and see which ones are comfortable for you, your family, and your general financial profile.

This is especially important in the case of loans which must be repaid and increase your debt burden.

While we suggest that you investigate some of the following programs, we are by no means recommending that anyone go into debt or sign a contract that is unrealistic or uncomfortable.

Note that any of these programs may come and go depending on funding.

Annual programs have a calendar cycle with application deadlines.

Many of them have mailing list options for notification of future funding periods.

Do your homework before signing on any dotted line.

General info on funding

A great place to start for Financial Aid: Small Farm Funding Resources USDA financial assistance program directory

Grants

Grants are funds available to qualifying farmers and agricultural projects; no payback required.

These are competitive, with limited funds available each period.

It pays to be diligent about applications and to study grant writing before applying.

Some are matching grants, meaning a recipient must provide funds to match the award amount.

Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Grant 5 Steps to Writing a Farm Grant – Hobby Farms

Cost share programs for Financial Aid

These funds are available to assist with the implementation of specific practices; no payback required.

They are similar to grants, with some requiring matching or partial funding from the recipient.

Once funding is awarded, program completion periods may extend for several years.

Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS: numerous programs involving conservation practices) 2013 NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants  More programs listed here
making money with bees and selling honey

Crowd funding

These campaigns solicit contributions from the public; no payback required.

Donations are made by people who enjoy supporting entrepreneurs, usually in exchange for an incentive gift.

Farm projects funded have included facilities, equipment, renovations, and livestock ventures.

To see examples, type “farm” or a keyword for your business idea into the site’s search box.

Consider crowdfunding for your non-agricultural business ideas as well.

Kickstarter Indiegogo Your own crowdfunding campaign using Paypal or Stripe to process funds (See this example from our own family.)

Loans as a part of Financial Aid

This is money lent for a specific purpose or general use; payback required at some point.

These may be from banks, corporations, or private lenders.

Most require current employment, security, or collateral guarantees. USDA Farm Service Agency loan directory USDA Microloans for Small Farms and Beginning and Disadvantaged Farmers

In the world of agricultural financial assistance, the term “socially disadvantaged farmer” is sometimes used to describe anyone other than the typical male farmer of history.

If you are a female, disabled, or a member of a minority group, you may qualify for specific programs or get extra application points for a general program.

While we don’t necessarily support the segregation of one farmer from another, the fact is that the practice exists and is in place in a number of situations.

You may or may not decide to accept that advantage.

If you choose not to, you can still apply for some without taking the extra points.

The bottom line

Finding sources of income takes some time and research.

But a combination of creativity and resourcefulness can definitely help you weave together a system to make ends meet on your farm.

Making Ends Meet on the Farm: Reduce Your Burn Rate

Reduce Your Burn Rate to Get Off Treadmill of Debt

Reduce Your Burn Rate:

While creating multiple income streams is one path toward making ends meet, there’s another aspect that involves managing that income.

We call it “Reduce Your Burn Rate” of our money.

Today many of us live in a society that is based totally upon debt.

Debt created out of thin air, to be used by the government to finance our massive consumption addiction.

Additionally, debt is created to “help” us to contribute by buying more and more.

Even though we have no way to pay it back. Even though we really don’t need this.

Essentially, our economic system has been creating and fostering a race of “debt slaves.”

Those who have student loans, which cannot be forgiven even in bankruptcy, understand the burden this places on us.

We are taught to go into debt…and we are taught that it is a good thing.

Go into debt for your house, three cars, education, clothes, appliances, vacations–everything you want you should buy, because you “deserve” it.

But it is all a sham.

A racket.

A Ponzi scheme to keep you in debt and under the control of your masters: the bankers and politicians who are the ones doing well in this system.

In fact, the only consideration is that you make all your monthly payments, because if you don’t, your credit will tank, the world will end for you, your firstborn will be taken as a sacrifice, and of course the all-important credit rating will take a big hit.

Some of our lawmakers want to have both SPENDING CUTS (reducing burn) and TAX INCREASES (providing more income).

Personally, in our own life we are looking for both a BURN RATE DECREASE and INCOME STREAM INCREASE.

So what can we all do to get out of this ‘rat race’?

How do we get off this treadmill that has no end in sight?

In our Making Ends Meet on the Farm series we’ve been exploring options for creating a rural lifestyle that serves us instead of us serving it.

Instead of CONSUMING MORE, or even continuing to consume as you have been, try changing your lifestyle and REDUCING YOUR FINANCIAL BURN RATE.

That’s it.

Sounds simple, right?

It is one of the secrets of making ends meet.

So why don’t we do it?

I suspect it is because we are constantly bombarded with the consumption message by all media, which is being shouted to keep a dying system alive.

I also suspect it is just “easier” for us to keep doing what we are doing.”

That is very normal human behavior.

But as we refuse to take part in that and resolve to change, this step alone will bring huge rewards.

It is tax free, and it is simple, but not easy.

It requires a real mindset adjustment, but it brings huge rewards.

Here are some simple steps to move in the right direction, and we would love to hear other ideas you might have that have helped you in this regard.

Get out of debt.

I mean all debt.

No more car loans, credit card debt, student debt, and ultimately mortgage debt.

There are plenty of programs to help you.

Stop talking and thinking about it and get started doing it.

Don’t by another thing on credit.

If you don’t have the cash, don’t buy it.

I would encourage you NOT to use your credit cards.

Usells your debit or pay cash.

I pay cash now.

It is amazing how my spur-of-the-moment whims to buy even the smallest things are thwarted when I have to take actual money out of my wallet to pay for it.

Yes, this is a process.

But if you stop the accumulation, it is amazing how fast you can whittle it down.

When you have do debt, you don’t need to earn an income that is taxed 50% by everyone in order to make a monthly payment.

Here’s an exercise you can do for yourself.

Look at your monthly bills, add them up and get a total.

Then cross out all of the payments covering debt.

How much income would it really take to live if you didn’t have those payments?

This is an amazing and eye-opening revelation.

To get out of debt, stop buying anything you really don’t need to have.

Don’t listen to the hype of the media or your past way of thinking and buying.

This is a time to actually begin your lifestyle transformation by “reducing your consumption and monthly burn rate.”

So what will this look like?

Look at your budget.

If you don’t have one, make one.

Take each part of your budget and decide what you can eliminate.

Cold turkey.

If that is too drastic for you (and of course this is your life and decision!) then just scale it back.

Some expenses to reconsider

Supporting a Sustainable Lifestyle Through Couponing

Cell phone Expense

If you have a smartphone, do you actually need it?

Sure, it is nice to have a phone that makes maps and such, but do you need it?

One family I know has a smartphone for each family member, with a monthly bill of some $400.

Unbelievable.

Do your kids REALLY need cell phones for texting all day?

Are we living in the past if we don’t have all the bells and whistles?

No.

I am refusing to pay, on a monthly basis, through the nose for stuff my family and I don’t need.

Is it hard to change? Yes.

This goes back to exercising your options by deciding to change.

In our family we have cell phones.

But we do not subscribe to “data” and we have a reasonable bill.

Another family with five kids uses a phone provider that allows you to pay on a minute basis.

They don’t use enough minutes to require a large plan.

The teenagers have phone that are used only for emergency purposes.

The elementary children don’t have phones.

Are they deprived?

I don’t think so.

The family reduced the previous bill by nearly two thirds.

Chances are you could save a bunch too.

Car loans

How many cars do you really need?

Each has to be maintained and insured.

Must they be really new?

They should be reliable and gas-friendly.

But most of all they should be debt free.

Pay off the loan, and then put money aside for the next car.

Amazing how much is freed up with no car loan to pay.

Cancel Cable TV…cut the cord

This is certainly a personal choice.

Some families have chosen to eliminate this all together and rent movies or go digital by streaming TV and movies from the internet.

What works for you?

Pay off Student loans

If you have a student loan, you will ultimately have to pay it back.

If you don’t have any, don’t get any.

This discussion has ramifications for so many of our younger folks.

Interestingly, the cost of college has increase FASTER than that of healthcare.

Education is now considered a bubble, as many are not seeing the benefit of a college degree when compared to the associated debt (creating debt slaves) required for that degree.

Again, it’s a very personal decision, but while it was routine in days past to go to college, I challenge that in today’s economy.

Higher education is a very important priority to many, and I don’t resist that.

But to go into perpetual debt at such a young age for some degree that is not useful makes no sense.

Credit card Debt

This one is simple: don’t buy on credit unless you can pay it off immediately.

Entertainment Expense

If you are repaying debt, drastically limit entertainment costs.

If you’re out of debt, set a budget for it, and pay cash.

Always think twice about that latte, movie, or dinner.

I don’t think entertainment always has to be at a nice restaurant, or even at an establishment where I have to pay for it.

This reminds me of some Christmas mornings where kids, after opening presents, start playing with sticks or other things.

We really didn’t need all those toys, did we?

That goes for adults too.

Just be disciplined and enjoy life as you decide.

Clothing/furniture Expenses

We need clothes.

But how much clothing is necessary?

How many suits can I wear? How many types of shoes do I need?

I would follow the pattern of making purchases with cash.

When you start handing out $100 bills for a pair of tennis shoes and the latest fashions, you might think twice!

Reduce Food Expenses

This is a simple one.

And you might need some help.

Learn to cook GOOD food.

Fresh ingredients, cooked well, taste better and have more nutritional value than prepared food.

A homemade pizza is MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE than the ready made one you buy at the store or have delivered.

Cut back on pre-frozen foods, and learn to freeze your own.

Of course, you save significant $$ by growing your own food.

There is potential to cut over half of your food budget.

Keep Reducing Your overhead Expenses

Of course there are other categories where you can cut costs.

The key is to ask yourself and your family:

What do we really need?

What can we do to REALLY cut our personal monthly burn rate?

How committed are you to put your family in a position to enjoy a rural lifestyle AND make ends meet?

It’s not all about earning and getting money; a major part is reducing your routine burn rate.

Do some “what if” analyses.

How would your budget look if you adjusted each of these items above?

How about cutting back in other areas?

What if you eliminated all your debt?

How much do you REALLY need, then, to make ends meet?

More tips for reducing your burn rate

Create a budget and stick to it

Yes, it’s the dreaded “B word.”

Some of us love the security of budgets, while some can’t stand the limitations.

But there just might be a budget that you can live with.

It may involve multiple bank accounts, cash envelopes, or other clever ways of managing money and sticking to predetermined spending boundaries.

Need help understanding or creating a budget?

My Total Money Makeover free email budgeting course from Dave Ramsey

How to Budget an Irregular Income by Dave Ramsey

Evaluate new purchases and upgrades

Sometimes we think we just have to buy something new or upgrade to the latest version.

But often it’s really not in the best interest of the family budget.

Here are some questions to ask before making a purchase or committing to a higher rate for a service.

Do you really need this, or is it an optional item?

When you look at the product or service carefully, is it something you genuinely want?

Will this require you to eliminate or trim down another expense?

Is there another less costly way to meet the need?

Save money instead of spending it

Anytime you save money, you are improving the income vs. outgo ratio, making your income go farther.

Many stay-at-home moms can manage their families on one income only because of their mindset to “stay home and save money” rather than “go out and earn money.”

This concept can work on the farm also, with one person working off the farm and another tending home, livestock, and garden.

Doing lots of home and farm tasks that ultimately save money.

Don’t believe it can be done?

Read How to Save $1,000 in One Month.

And look at all the other ideas in the reader comments!
DIY burn rate tools

DIY: do it yourself

DIY can save a lot of money.

But it is not always cheaper, especially when you figure in the value of your time.

Either way, it can result in a longer-lasting item or repair.

Not to mention the personal satisfaction of a job well done.

Consider these ideas:

cooking from scratch

making repairs

making do and repurposing

A word of caution:

Know your limits… and when to call in a professional!

Exchange products and labor instead of purchasing

All of us have probably done this in some shape or form.

It’s really just using products or services as currency rather than coins, paper money, debit, or credit.

There’s casual swapping of time and materials among friends and neighbors: trading, helping out, the “barn raising” concept.

There’s also formal bartering with individuals or businesses, whether or not they promote or advertise it.

You might be surprised to find a small business or mom-and-pop store open to bartering.

We talked about bartering in this post in our Beating Food Challenges series.

Readers’ tips for Making Ends Meet on the Farm

Making Ends Meet on the Farm
Making Ends Meet on the Farm

We always enjoy hearing from our Rural Living Today readers.

It’s even more fun when we learn some new ideas from readers .

Today we have rounded up your suggestions for living on less, a list of RLT readers’ blogs, and entrepreneurial readers’ online shops and business websites.

Making Ends Meet on the Farm

All American Sun Oven Review

Jennifer C.

We just have one car that we have paid off.

We do not carry any credit card debt.

Very little eating out, we have a lot of “stay at home” dates.

We preserve as much food as possible by freezing, canning, and dehydrating.

We have a garden, and are working to grow our own food.

What we can’t grow for ourselves we attempt to buy in bulk.

We use foods that go a long ways such as beans, oatmeal,etc.

Lisa C.

My husband and I recently moved from the city in Texas to a rural area of Missouri.

We now have our own little 3 acre place with an old farmhouse.

We have pretty much paid off everything having used my retirement fund to pay for our new place. So, no mortgage there!!!

It is an exciting journey!

Rachael

As someone focused on a long-term goal of homesteading, I’m trying to both save money and spend it wisely.

There’s no reason not to diversify, and I enjoy blogging, doing some freelance writing, and working part-time out of the house.

I’m refining the projects I work on, looking for ways to follow the dreams I do have, and then working hard.

Amanda

I have been showing my husband how my multiple income streams really do help us make ends meet.

Between blogging, selling handmade herbal products, and essential oils I am really helping the family make ends meet!

I also have some ideas for the farmers markets next year when the kids are a little older.

Jennifer in PA

Ten years ago my husband and I and our children moved to a small town and became full time landlords.

It has included some real moments of struggle making ends meet and continuing to invest in our business.

We have had other small businesses along the way, some still making us money and some now shut down.

Some days are tough but we have had time for our family, visiting Canada and homeschooling our four children.

I don’t think we will regret this when they are grown.

Kathy A.

Who knew that foot zone clients, foot zone instruction, and foreign exchange groups would have turned into multiple income streams– but they did!

When I left my job three years ago, I started zoning to bring in some money until I found another job.

Then the opportunity presented itself to work with foreign exchange students so I did that.

Then I had the opportunity to teach foot zoning so I did that.

Along the way I started my website and lo and behold money has begun trickling in from that.

Now clients are asking to buy my homemade soap.

Somewhere along the line I stopped looking for a “job”.

And I’ve never been happier.

Although my husband was a little worried that first year.

Karen Lynn

We are currently looking at ways we can create for ourselves and teach others to create alternative sources of income.

This ties in to my recent “Money Talks” post!

Rob

We are in the process of looking for land to start a small organic farm.

My wife currently works as an elementary school librarian, pretty much just for the insurance because after her 50% contribution for the insurance there literally isn’t a pay check left.

I am a free-lance architectural designer and furniture maker, but also sell greenhouse plans and other handmade and carved items online.

Over the past 11 years, I have built a pretty good client base.

I plan to still run my business(es) part-time after we purchase our property.

I have read many books and talked to several farmers and there seem to be unlimited possibilities of generating income from your land.

Right now we live on only a 1/4 acre, but I have been able to sell seedlings and raspberries to generate additional income.

This year I will be trying my hand at selling cut flowers and heirloom seeds.

I am fortunate that I can run my business anywhere, but after we purchase our property I am confident that there will be even more income possibilities and I am looking forward to that day!

Melissa

My husband and I have recently been discussing building our own homestead within the next five years.

I wish we could start now but financially it is not possible yet.

My goal for this year is a small family garden where we begin to grow our own food.

We rent so it can’t be big but we are going to do a container garden and try a vertical one as well as a small regular one.

For those in my similar position here is my “Things to Accomplish” list while I wait to be able to even buy an acre of land.

Gardening in many forms; hunting; fishing; seed saving and using cuttings or scraps to start plants; canning; cooking not from a box; decreasing the use of electric devices; better sewing and crochet skills; knitting; archery for hunting and recreation.

We are also researching what would be our best options for heat, cooking, water and hot water.

We want to build our home ourselves and have a basic blueprint drawn for the home we want.

Thankfully hubs also has experience with carpentry and HVAC with a little plumbing and plenty of electrician skills thrown in.

We know we want to build a stone wood burning rocket stove and find a way to use that to heat our water as well as our home.

We do want solar panels but here in the northern states sun isn’t so reliable so we need to figure out a backup plan and how to best store energy for future use.

Our kids all have asthma so ventilation is a huge concern and we can not completely forgo electric because the kids often require a nebulizer (breathing treatment machine) in the winter months when the cold gets to them or if the catch any chest bugs.

There is much to consider when you decide to go off grid and there is always going to be something to do and something to learn.

Right now we are working on our stockpile and emergency preparedness and looking forward to a life of self sufficiency!

Sherri

My husband has been laid off for six months and he’s still of the mindset that he’ll find another job just like his old one.

I’m trying to get all of our eggs out of one basket by diversifying into medicinal herbs, honeybees, and teaching.

Mary Ann

We are living on one income now and it is not so bad!

I retired nine months ago.

All of my friends and cousins told me I SHOULD NOT/COULD NOT do it, that our “manner of living” would suffer horribly.

My husband is nine years younger, and we have NOT changed our lifestyle, but I have learned to live with MUCH less, and realized I don’t need all the “stuff” I had been buying.

What freedom!

I think twice before spending now, and yes, I am blessed with Social Security and a pension.

I saved money in my last 6- 1/2 years of working to do some projects here at our place… but you CAN do it.

Eileen

I made the move 10 years ago and am living on 1/4 of what I made when I was working.

I spent my savings to buy the property which is only one acre but my auto insurance was lower, and my homeowners insurance was lower until Katrina and such raised insurance premiums all over.

My property tax bill is 1/4 of what I was paying, I have a septic system and a garden and hope to have some chickens soon.

I have a larger house, more land space, less restrictions, lots of trees.

Wish I had been able to do this when I was much younger and more able to work a larger spread and perhaps have cattle and horses.

The first most amazing thing I noticed when I moved here was how many stars are really in the sky when there are no street lights to glare away the darkness.

Birds and wildlife to watch and enjoy.

I used to have deer walk through the garden to get to the birdbath during the drought period.

I think development and hunting have managed to drive them away.

May I never have to go back to living in a congested city ever again.

Tammy

My husband and I moved to our homestead nearly 2 years ago and have a deep desire to be able to make a living off of our land.

We both have steady jobs with incomes so that helps, but we desperately want to be at home with our garden and animals.

We are working on figuring out how to make money off our homestead to reach our goal.

Kathy B.

We’re sold!

We’ve been living in the country for awhile now and realize we are much better off in so many ways, ways innumerable.

Lisa P.

Some families still live on one income.

Many of the expenditures being made by the average American family are not for necessities.

There are so many things we can do to improve our situations.

Growing food, reducing spending, getting out of debt and not incurring any more debt just to name a few.

Erin

We’re still in an apartment dreaming of living a rural life.

Our little balcony is overflowing with pots (most homemade) for growing food and I cook everything we eat from scratch.

We’re stuck here due to a large student loan (a valuable degree, but unable to get employment that truly values it at the moment) and some consumer debt racked up during a few years of severe underemployment.

The best tool I’ve found to help us stay on track is the software “You Need A Budget.”

Unlike most budgeting I’ve seen it’s more of a spending plan and its different way of looking at money decisions has helped me get past the feelings of hopelessness.

I’m still working on cementing the habit but the mental shift has occurred and I feel much more in control than I used to.
roundup keyboard

RLT readers’ blogs: sharing the good life

Black Fox Homestead (host of The HomeAcre Hop)
Calamity Acres
Daisey Jane
“E” Lizard Breath Speaks
Girl Going Country
Hibiscus House (host of the Farmgirl Friday blog hop)
Homespun
Homestead Dad
Lil Suburban Homestead (host of The Ole’ Saturday Trading Post blog hop)
Mind Body and Sole Online (host of Wildcrafting Wednesday blog hop)
My Maple Hill Farm
Natural Living Mamma (host of Natural Living Mondays blog hop)
Our Neck of the Woods
Prep Utility Vehicle (host of Preparedness Fair blog hop)
Purposefully Simple 
Remembrances
Spot on Cedar Pond
The Aliso Kitchen
The Entwife’s Journal
The Self-Sufficient HomeAcre (host of The Creative HomeAcre Hop and HomeAcre Hop)
Thrift Shop Commando
Townsend House
Two Bears Farm 
Two Succulent Sisters

roundup eggsRLT readers’ products and services: multiple income streams at work

AbbyKate Designs: custom items for family and home
At the Crossroads Etsy shop: pottery, jewelry
Bepa’s Garden  handmade and carved items, greenhouse designs
Black Fox Homestead: market produce for local grocery, farmers markets
Black Fox Homestead Etsy shop: vintage books, curtain patterns, handmade items for homestead
Humeruswares Etsy shop: funny and geeky gifts with quotes from movies, books, and life
Mind Body and Sole Online: foot zone therapy, essential oils
RJT Designs: architectural design, handmade furniture
Making Your Small Farm Profitable by Ron Macher and Howard W. Kerr
5 Ways to Make Money in Agritourism by Barbara Sheridan at Hobby Farms
11 Steps to Successful Farm Marketing from Hobby Farms
Simple Living: How to Save Money and Smile More by Vicki Mattern at Mother Earth News
Live on Less and Love It by Craig Idlebrook at Mother Earth News
Growing Farms podcasts with John Suscovich at Farm Marketing Solutions

Best Beekeeping Products to Start Keeping Bees

bee keeping

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Beekeeping products – If you’ve ever thought about beekeeping as a hobby or an income source, now is the time to start.

Beekeeping is a fun and productive endeavor you will want to continue for years to come.

It’s essential to start beekeeping properly and with the best beekeeping products.

Beginning beekeeping

Perhaps the biggest mistake amateur beekeepers make is taking on too large of a colony without sufficient experience.

No matter how much research you do, you won’t truly understand the art of beekeeping until you have done it.

It’s always better to start small and expand over the years.

Beginner beekeepers should start with 2-3 colonies at the very most.

Best beekeeping products

Here are the essential beekeeping supplies for beginning beekeeping.

They are all of good value and will work well for your needs.

Beehive
Bee suit
Bee smoker
Hive tool
Best beekeeping book

Best value honey extractor. (This isn’t an essential item until you are further into beekeeping.)

While you may want to buy a beekeeping kit to have everything you need, oftentimes, you will find you won’t use everything.

Best products for beekeeping

To get started keeping bees, you will really only need these supplies:

Best beehive for keeping bees

We recommend this beehive.

It is easy to put together, very well-constructed and sturdy.

The metal roof helps protect the hive from the elements.

This hive includes a queen excluder.

There are 20 frames.

After you put it together, you will need to either paint the hive with two coats of exterior paint or stain it and then coat it with a clear polyurethane.

This will help to weatherproof and extend the life of the beehive.

You only need to paint the outside of the hive, not the inside.

How many beehives to start with

It’s a good idea to start with two hives.

To do this, you will need to buy two beehives.

You will be able to learn a lot when you begin beekeeping with two hives.

First off, you will be able to manage both colonies better than just having one hive.

In addition, you will better be able to understand the hive behavior to more quickly learn what is normal.

If both hives are acting similarly, then it’s probably typical behavior.

Also, if one colony becomes weaker and loses bees, you will have the option to add bees from the stronger hive to the weaker hive.

If you have only one hive and something happens, it will be difficult to help it.

If it dies off completely, you may have to wait months to start again.

Best beehive:

Honey Keeper Beehive 20 Frame Complete Box Kit with metal roof

Best bee protection suit for beekeeping

When it comes to buying a bee suit, there are many choices available.

However, you must know that even with the best suit, at some point during bee season, you will get stung.

Still, you need to do what you can to minimize those instances.

We recommend this protective bee suit.

It comes with a veil for protection for your head and face.

Choosing a size for the beekeeper suit

Choosing a beekeeper’s suit online is easy because the size is fairly forgiving.

You want it loose enough to be able to wear your regular clothes underneath.

It’s preferable to wear long sleeves and pants, not shorts, under your beekeeping suit.

Even if a bee should make it’s way under your suit, you will be more protected.

Whatever your size is in clothes is what you should order in a beekeeping suit.

Manufacturer’s take into consideration you will be wearing your usual clothing underneath.

A full beekeeping suit is much better than only the beekeeping jacket.

We HIGHLY recommend the full bee protection suit.

You want to eliminate any ways for bees to come up under your clothing.

ALWAYS take the time to put on your full gear, making sure the veil is secured properly.

Even very experienced beekeepers wear fully protective clothing.

A beekeeper’s suit and mask and gloves are one-time purchases and will provide you with safety for years.

You should wear them at all times.

Best beekeeping suit:

New Professional Cotton Full Body Beekeeping Suit

Best smoker for beekeeping

In addition to a beekeeping suit, a bee smoker is an essential item for when you are doing hive maintenance, harvesting honey, or doing anything around your hives.

We recommend this bee smoker.

You will need a smoker to calm the bees and to minimize their ability to communicate with each other.

Using a bee smoker will help protect you from getting swarmed and minimize your chances of getting stung.

For a bee smoker to do the job you need it too, calm the bees and ensure they don’t see you as a threat.

You really want and need a large smoker.

This 11″ smoker is far superior to the smaller 8″ smokers.

It is so much better and will smoke longer, giving you more assurance the bees will stay calm while you are working among them.

Another reason we like this one is because it comes with a 3-pack of fuel to get you started.

What’s also great is that you can use other sources (pine needles, wood chips or scraps, sawdust, etc.) as fuel.

You will need a beehive smoker for when you inspect the hive or are working on it. You will use it when you collect honey.

As you become more experienced, you may want or need to work with your bee colonies to divide them or to merge colonies.

You will use your smoker often.

Best beehive smoker:

Goodland Bee Supply 11-inch stainless steel beehive smoker

Best gloves for beekeeping

Depending on the size of your hand, there are two outstanding beekeeping gloves we recommend.

One made from goatskin and one from cowhide.

Both are are long enough to cover your arms and sturdy enough for you to handle the hives while offering protection from bee stings.

They are easy to order online by choosing the size you would usually wear in gloves.

We like the gloves from Natural Apiary because they are easy to work in — not stiff — and they are easy to bend your fingers and work on your hive.

Best beekeeping glove small:

Natural Apiary gloves from cowhide

Best beekeeping gloves medium:

Natural Apiary made from goatskin

Beekeeping gloves large:

Natural Apiary gloves made from cowhide

Best hive tool for beekeeping

This is the best hive tool we’ve found for regular beehive maintenance.

We prefer the J hook tool over the ones that are shaped like a crowbar.

You will use this tool to pry apart the hives.

With the blade, you can cut off beeswax.

You really want a long hive tool.

This 10.5″ tool is great because it’s easy to manage and keeps you a little bit farther away from the bees that are sure to be around.

This hive tool is much better than the typical 8″ hive tools which are very common.

Best hive tool:

Kinglake Steel J-Hook beehive tool

Best beekeeping books review

It’s always handy to have some beginner beekeeping books on hand to help you get started beekeeping.

What we like about each of these books is that they are great for beginning beekeepers and also for when you are further advanced, in months or years.

The first book, Beekeeping for Dummies, is the one to buy if you can only purchase one book.

These are the beekeeping books that we reference often.

All three authors are all passionate about bees and beekeeping. All of these books are very well organized.

You will find them all easy to read and easy to find the information you are looking for.

Beekeeping for Dummies by Howland Blackiston

This is an easy-to-understand, very comprehensive book. It’s 442 pages (this includes the detailed index).

It is organized very well and the detailed table of contents makes finding the information you need, simple.

There are excellent chapters about common problems and easy solutions.

This book includes pictures, extensive information on what to do with honey, including honey recipes and more.

Like any comprehensive guide, the only downside to this book is the small type though the headings are large and easy to read.

Both of these are good resources as well and are just under 200 pages.

Beginning Beekeeping: Everything You Need to Make Your Hive Thrive by Tanya Phillips

This book has excellent pictures.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Beekeeping by Dean Stiglitz and Laurie Herboldsheimer

This is more bare-bones with less “extra information.”

It’s a great resource but would be our last choice of the three if you can only buy one book.

Beginner beekeeping books

It’s very handy to have beekeeping reference books to answer intricate questions about the type of bees you have along with help if you honey production varies from year to year.

These books have been invaluable resources to help us position our hives, when to harvest honey, basics for beginners, and how to take care of the inevitable bee stings.

Best beekeeping book:

Beekeeping for Dummies

Best honey extractor

You won’t need a honey extractor right away.

You may want to wait to purchase one because there are the hives, bee suit, and other essentials to buy first.

However, at some point you will need to buy a honey extractor.

If you have the funds and can purchase it right away, great.

Do it!

But if you want to wait on this purchase, you can.

You may also be able to rent the extractor if you have access to a local bee, apiary club.

Generally, you shouldn’t harvest honey the first year you have a hive.

Therefore, the honey extractor is a product you may want to consider as you go into your second year of beekeeping.

We like this honey extractor in particular because it’s perfect for 1-3 hives, when you are just starting out.

It’s a great value when you compare it to other larger-capacity honey extractors.

If you find yourself wanting to own more hives and you will be harvesting a lot more honey, you will want to get a more robust honey extractor.

But in the meantime, this is a well-performing, basic honey extractor.

Best honey extractor:

Honey Keeper™ Pro 2 Frame Stainless Steel Honey Extractor

Best beekeeping products

What is really great about beekeeping is there aren’t a lot of products and supplies required to get started.

Where do I buy bees?

You want to make sure you have all the equipment you need — on hand — before buying bees.

You will also have to be sure it is the proper season to start.

It’s best to get all of your beekeeping equipment.

This involves the following: 

  • Building your two beehives
  • Paint/treat the hives
  • Have your bee protection suit and other beekeeping products ready

In this way, you will be able to start beekeeping right away when your bees arrive.

To begin quickly as a beginner, it’s best to start with purchasing a pack of bees.

The alternative is to wait for wild bees find your hive.

When you are ready to purchase a package of bees, it’s best to find a local beekeeper or a nearby commercial apiary.

Otherwise, you can order bees online or over the phone.

The bees will be delivered to you within a certain time-frame.

The company will tell you in advance so you will be there to receive your shipment of bees.

Be sure to read one of your beekeeping books to decide how to introduce the queen to the hive.

You will learn about the direct method (faster but more dangerous to the queen) and the indirect method.

Or you may decide to buy a nucleus hive.

In time, you may decide to raise your own queen.

The Beekeeping for Dummies book has an excellent chapter which gives you specific instructions on what to do when you inspect the hives.

It’s also great for telling you what to do with your colony the week after hiving your bees, the second and third weeks, and the fourth through eight weeks.

How much does it cost to start beekeeping?

Basic, two-colony beekeeping set-up typically runs around $400 – $750.

Most of the beekeeping expenses are one-time purchases.

Prices will vary greatly depending on the types of bees you select.

Remember, you don’t need to buy the honey extractor right away.

Many beginning and amateur beekeepers want to harvest a lot of honey right away.

However, when you buy the correct and best beekeeping products and start small, you can expand once you are more experienced.

You will save money over the long run.

Remember, like with starting any new hobby or activity, there are going to be important beekeeping products and ones that are nice to have, but not essential.

Start with the essential beekeeping supplies first; buy other things as you learn more.

How do I start keeping bees

Many people who want to begin homesteading start with bees.

Beginning beekeeping is an exciting time. Know that beekeeping is a seasonal hobby.

In the winter months you will need to check on your hives but there isn’t as much to do.

Buy the best beekeeping products and essentials, read some of the book, check for a local beekeeping group, and get started.

Beekeeping for beginners questions

There is much to consider when you start any new hobby or business.

We love beekeeping because it offers sustainability, helps our environment, helps prepare for food crisis, and is a unique and interesting hobby.

Once you progress with beekeeping, you can turn it into a small business, selling the honey honey combs, and so much more.

Will I get stung beekeeping?

Yes! You will get stung, despite wearing the best protection.

Take time to learn about how to properly remove the stinger so the venom doesn’t get into your skin.

Over time you there will be less swelling and you will become an expert at removing the stinger.

The beekeeping books also cover what to do.

Read these sections in advance of acquiring your bees.

Protecting your hives

Elevate the hives a few inches above ground to avoid sickness-spreading moisture.

Take precautions to protect the hives from bears, raccoons, skunks, and other predators, depending on where you live.

The beekeeping books all cover pathogens, parasites and pesticides which could all affect your hive.

best beekeeping products
hive maintenanc

DIY beehive

If you are handy and you have the time, you may want to build your own hive.

Know, however, that commercial hives have come down in cost considerably, and are more readily available than ever before.

Therefore, when you consider the time involved, you won’t be saving that much by building your own versus buying a ready-made beehive.

But you can have pride of builder-ship if you build your own.

While you will want to make a detailed plan before you start, the basics of your hive must include the following.

This list includes the parts of the hive starting from the top, down:

  • Outer cover
  • Inner cover
  • Shallow super
  • Frame
  • Deep super
  • Queen excluder
  • Deep super
  • Bottom board

DIYers have had success using pine.

Be sure to use enough waterproof wood glue as well.

You will need to use a high-quality paint for outside protection when you are finished with it.

Weatherproofing will help to extend the life and integrity of the hive while it is exposed to whatever elements, depending on where you live.

You need to protect it from the sun, rain, and snow.

You’ll even need to protect it from ants and termites (if prevalent in your area).

If you paint it white or another light color, that will keep it cooler in the sun.

You also may choose to line the outer cover with sheet metal for extra protection.

But this is optional, especially if you use a good paint.

Build your own hive

After you have your commercially-purchased hives going, you can always take on the project of building your own hive.

You will also have a better idea of the intricacies of hive-building once you own bees and have constructed a ready-made beehive.

A DIY beehive is a great project for the winter when you will have to tend to your bees less often.

Bee types

To successfully raise bees, it’s important to understand the different types of bees and each of their roles within the colony.

Queen Bee

In beekeeping, the queen bee is considered the mother of the colony.

Her only job is to lay eggs in the hive’s cells.

She typically has a large, swollen abdomen that tapers to a point.

She resembles the drone more closely than a worker bee.

The queen’s body will be longer than that of the other bees.

She has a stinger but rarely finds herself in a position where she needs to use it.

When you become a more experienced beekeeper, you can learn how to raise a queen yourself.

Worker Bees

In keeping with their name, worker bees do most of the heavy lifting for the colony.

They gather pollen, bring in water, build honeycombs, nurse the young, prepare food, and guard the hive.

There are typically several thousand worker bees in a colony.

The worker bees are equipped with stingers and will use them if threatened.

They can be identified by the basket-like cavities on their legs that are used to store and carry pollen.

Drones

There are typically around one hundred drones in a colony.

They are destroyed as honey becomes scarce.

Drones are easy to spot due to their large bodies and the loud humming sound they make with their wings.

Higher than usual populations of drones may be an indicator of high honey production.

Raw honey advantage

Honey has medicinal value.

Raw, organic honey brings with it many health advantages including:

  • Anti-fungal and anti-viral properties
  • Allergy reduction
  • Blood sugar regulation
  • Skin healing properties
  • Improved immune function
  • Helps digestive health
  • Helps to regulate blood pressure

Unfortunately, many consumers don’t realize there is a major difference between store-bought (“fake”) honey and raw, organic honey.

In an effort to increase profits, many manufacturers put their honey through a process known as pasteurization.

This high-heat filtration process removes almost all of the beneficial bee pollen, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and antibiotic properties.

Today, 76 percent of all honey in grocery stores contains absolutely no bee pollen.

Raw honey, on the other hand, goes directly from the beehive to the consumer.

In its natural form, honey is one of nature’s most powerful super foods.

Local bee groups

You will want to join your local bee club if there is one near where you live.

You will be able to learn from each other and deal with weather and other variables specific to your area.

The American Beekeeping Federation is also a great resource.

Reasons to keep bees

Perhaps you are interested in bees as a hobby or you’ve learned how bees are becoming threatened in our environment.

Honeybees pollinate approximately 90% of crops in the United States.

They are critical for our food supply.

So while some beekeepers have taken up the hobby due to concerns over the declining bee population, others simply find joy in watching these industrious creatures thrive on their land.

Many people start keeping bees for a hobby or for an income source.

There are so many ways to earn income from keeping bees.

They are fascinating, social creatures you will soon grow to love.

Bees are one of the few species on our planet that fully contribute to their environment instead of just taking from it.

Survivalists and rural-living enthusiasts understand the value of year-round gardening, preserving fresh food, and preparing for a possible food crisis.

Beekeeping is a perfect complement to this way of life.

Beekeeping products

Rural land owners, backyard gardeners, and most anyone can reap the benefits of beekeeping.

With practice and patience, you will see how beekeeping is fun and fascinating.

These are the best beekeeping products to start keeping bees.

Beekeeping is a very rewarding and fun experience.

If you have the desire and the funds to get started, go for it!

Starting with these essential beekeeping products will keep costs down.

You can find out more of what you need after your hives are more established. 

Beekeeping makes for an interesting hobby, and you can enjoy another aspect of sustainable living.

Best Tools to Own for DIY House Repairs

hand tools for house repairs

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Best Tools to Own, one of the challenges of rural living is having to do most, if not all, of the repairs around the house yourself.

It is a challenge, but one that lets you have a lot of fun.

Many of those who live off the grid actually have a full workshop for woodworking and general around-the-house repairs.

You can too.

There are several things you need to prepare before you can handle any repair you have to do.

Having the right tools for the job is one of them.

In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the best tools to own for this purpose.

Best Tools to Own for DIY Repairs

Best Tools to Own for Around-the-House Repairs
Best Tools to Own for Around-the-House Repairs

The Toolbox

First, start with filling your toolbox with the essentials.

Pick up a claw hammer so you don’t have to use a stone or the back of a screwdriver to nail things to the wall.

It is also a good idea to have a set of pliers, particularly the needle-nose pliers, for getting nails out of the wall and other things.

You will also need a good screwdriver set.

Make sure you get one with a sturdy handle and a complete set of screwdriver heads.

If you can’t find a kit that fits all of your needs, you could also get several kits for different purposes.

This lets you have a smaller handle for smaller heads, and a bigger one for rigorous tasks.

The last three essentials you want to add to the toolbox are a tape measure, a flashlight, and WD40.

The latter is known as the lubricant to have for everyday repairs and maintenance.

It can handle anything from a squeaky hinge to getting your old power tools working again.

Power Tools

Depending on the size of your workshop and the kind of work you want to do, you can add several power tools to the arsenal.

If you want to do more work with wood.

Such as when you love working on your own furniture.

It is actually a good idea to invest in an industrial-grade moulding sander.

A power drill, a jigsaw, and a circular saw are the next power tools to look into.

They are also among the tools that will speed up your work with a wide range of materials.

If you pick up a molding sander, you can skip looking into a hand sander and a router; the molding sander is more than capable of handling any woodworking task you throw at it.

Don’t forget a generator to operate these tools around your property or in case of a power loss.

The Small Guns

To complete the set, pick up some tools for doing electrical repairs.

A pair of wire cutters and strippers can make your life a lot easier.

Be sure to have some insulation tape in the drawer, spare wires, long-necked screwdrivers, and a test pen or a multi-meter (volt/ohm meter) in your toolbox as well.

Complete the set, and there is no repair you cannot handle.

Once you have covered the basics, you can continue by adding more tools such as a sledgehammer to better meet your specific needs and preferences.

Is Your Household Tool Arsenal Fully Stocked?

Household Tool Arsenal – Avoiding the crowds and the city lights, enjoying an abundance of peace and quiet, being closer to nature, and developing closer relationships with the few nearby neighbors you do have is part of the warp and woof of rural living.

But another aspect of living in the country is the need to be constantly prepared for whatever may come your way.

Stocking up on canned goods and bottled water in the pantry becomes a matter of necessity and not mere convenience.

Another example would be home security devices.

But here, I want to focus on keeping your home tool supplies fully stocked ahead of time, ready to tackle any home repair or renovation project. Extra trips to the town cost too much time and gas money.

Household Tool Arsenal
Household Tool Arsenal

Household Tool Arsenal

Here are some tools you don’t want to be without:

Generator

Backup generators provide power during outages and storms.

There will be times when power is out, and living in rural areas sometimes it will be slow for lines and pole to be repaired and the power to resume.

Having a generator to not only provide power to your home and critical appliances but also tools that you might need to use on your property that might be to far from an electrical outlet or supply.

Plug what you want to run with you generator directly into the generator or use a HEAVY duty extension cord into the generator.

Champion Dual Fuel 9000 Watt Gas and Propane Generator
Champion Dual Fuel 9000 Watt Gas and Propane Generator

Paint Sprayer

For both indoor and outdoor painting projects, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort by investing in a high-quality paint sprayer.

Country homes, if anything, tend to take a bigger beating from the weather and the wear and tear, making painting a more frequent event.

Avoid drips, runs, spills, and paint spots on the floor and keep paint coats evenly distributed by investing in a quality brand.

To be sure you make the choice, Toolnerds gives you comprehensive household tool guides, including paint sprayers.

Multimeters

Simple electrical problems, whether with your outlets or your devices, can often be solved with a handheld multimeter and some “basic training” on how to use one.

Finding shorts, safely testing if outlets are live, and identifying a number of other electrical issues can be fast, simple, and easy with a multimeter.

Modern models often don’t even need to be calibrated before use, and the LED screens are easy to read and interpret.

Staple Guns and Nail Guns

A staple and/or nail gun, complete with a compressor and a sufficiently long air hose are essential to a host of home improvement projects.

Siding, wood steps and railings, decks, wood flooring, carpet, structural repairs, trim and baseboards, and more will all be made much easier with a nail or a staple gun versus hand nailing.

And with a long enough hose or extension cord, you can quickly nail fallen fence boards back to their posts.

Staple gunnail gun

Power Washer

A power (or pressure) washer will come in handy in country settings with relatively harsh climates.

Moss, mold, dirt, dust, and other undesirable elements will soon be plastered all over your home’s exterior.

Your decking and even foundation line may also become in need of a good washing.

If your home is sizable at all, you probably should opt for a larger, more powerful model.

And be sure it will handle hard water if you are drawing from a well or pump with high-mineral content.

Variety of Saws

Not only will you need a basic, corded circular saw, but you will likely use the full spectrum of saw types if you live in the country.

Many who live in the country will choose to build at least some of their own furniture from scratch, and it is not uncommon to run a small woodworking shop as well.

A sliding compound miter saw will make cutting angles on even wide boards fast and simple.

A contractor, or even a cabinet table saw will be powerful enough to handle all of your woodworking projects.

A jigsaw is essential for making odd-shaped cuts, and a cordless, lightweight circular saw is necessary for cutting in tight, hard to access areas.

Having the right saw for the job gives you a huge advantage.

Investing in more than just one or two saws is wise for country dwellers.

I shop for tools primarily online at ToolBarn.com and Amazon.com.

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How to Get From City to Farm or Ranch and Live the Lifestyle You Want

small stockhouse with snow surrounding it

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Get From City to Farm – Read this if you are working toward moving from city or suburbs to rural living.

We will help you get from city to farm or ranch.

How to Get From City to Farm or Ranch

Getting There –Step 1–Answer the question:

Where do you see you and your family living in five years?

Every day, Internet search engines receive thousands of queries using phrases such as “how to move to the country” and “how to get to the ranch or farm.”

I have read countless forum posts by people from all economic walks of life and backgrounds wanting to move out to the country.

People are intrigued about the rural living lifestyle.

They see value in its positive benefits for their lives and their families’ futures.

It is something they want to pursue.

But many people don’t know how to make the move happen and Get From City to Farm.

It is daunting to think about such a major change.

Existing jobs, homes, families, and friends have entangled many people in a way that make such a change nearly impossible.

These are important considerations and a part of our normal social fabric that give life substance.

The good news though, is that they don’t have to be so daunting if you understand that this is not an event, but a process of change that culminates with the actual move.

It is very similar to moving to a new area for a new job.

Most of us don’t like change.

But as I have read the stories of so many people wanting to move, I see a common thread.

They want to move, but seem to always have reasons or excuses why they can’t.

I won’t judge the excuses.

But excuses and obstacles can get so big that they paralyze us, preventing us to take action.

It confuses our heart’s desire with all the logistical facts that speak against a move.

How to Move to the Country

Do You Know Your Neighbors?

If you are unable to get started, or find yourself treading water, ask yourself this question:

Where do I want to be living five years from now?

It’s a simple question that can be answered very simply.

It is a general question but an important one.

You and your family need to ultimately agree on a clear and understandable answer.

What is the answer?

On a beach?

In a foreign country?

In New York City?

Perhaps in the country?

Questions to Ask Before Moving to the Country

Do you find yourself dreaming of the rural and country life?

Does the desire come and go, or does it seem to stick around?

If it sticks around, you are probably on the track to a specific answer… move to the country, or start a farm or ranch.

Discuss this with your spouse.

It’s important to be in agreement about the ultimate destination of the family.

It is no small thing to move your family and start a new life.

If you see yourself staying where you are or on a beach or in a foreign land, that is great.

You can stop reading if you want, as these articles will not be going in that direction.

But if you see yourself living in a rural area, on a ranch or farm–living a new kind of life–then stay tuned for Step 2!
paint mare and foal

Strong Family Ties

Interview with the Strongs, another family with plans for a multi-generational farm.

They have lived in rural areas before and are patiently working toward the day they can move full time to the country again.

Tell us about your life in the country and the city.

Our three-generation family has always loved the rural life.

We moved several times and lived on small acreage in the past but never with self-sustainability as our focus.

We are a home schooled family and enjoyed raising chickens, goats, gardening, etc., as part of our lifestyle and curriculum.

Also, we owned and operated a small family business for more than 30 years and love and appreciate the dynamics of working closely with family.

Currently, we live in the city.

We are working toward selling our business so we can live and work full time on our 20 acres.

What drew you to move to a rural area?

We love the rural lifestyle but we are also preparing for what we see as uncertain times in the future.

We feel that rural areas will be safer and more self-sustaining.

What brought you to your particular area?

Although we are a close family we each are individuals with varied likes and dislikes, so when searching for an ideal homestead respect for one another’s preferences was a premium consideration.

For example, our patriarch, Louis, was raised in a fairly remote area with very harsh winters.

His deal-breaker was ‘no six-month, 40 degrees below zero winters!’

Our little granddaughter, Tasha, is musically inclined so an area that was reasonably close to music instruction and venues was a must.

After prioritizing the true deal-breakers from the just-preferences, we began our search for a happy-compromise property.

Through the grace of God, we found a lovely 20 acre parcel that is just waiting for our family to nurture and develop.

What kind of research did you do to find the right place for you?

We searched for countless hours online, talked with realtors, drove and looked at innumerable properties and asked many questions about various areas on forums (www.city-data.com/forum is a good one).

We carefully considered nearly every state before settling on the area and property that we purchased.

Although at times our quest for the right property seemed endless and frustrating, knowing that we had made a thorough search allowed us to make an informed decision with peace of mind.

How did you know when it was time to pursue a move?

We have lived ‘by-the-book’ our whole lives.

We started our family-run business more than 30 years ago and although our company continues to thrive even in this sluggish economy, there is a high price to pay for the fast-paced lifestyle that is required to operate our company.

Government regulations, high taxes, arbitrary industry demands, are difficult to navigate and still have time leftover to enjoy life and family.

So after factoring in the emotional and physical toll of running our business as well as what we feel is an unstable future for the economy, we decided that it was time to quit dreaming of a better life and sell our business to finance a new beginning.

Yes, it was a scary decision but staying the course and continuing with our old life seemed much more frightening and bleak.

We have since moved beyond the initial fears that can plague a major life-change decision and enthusiastically look forward to making our final move to a new life.

What challenges have you faced with your transition?

Selling our business and commercial property has proven difficult in these hard economic times; however, we have; a potential buyer interested so hope seems to be on the horizon.

In the meantime, we pray for contentment with our current life and the wisdom to utilize this period as a time to study and better equip ourselves for the new life that awaits us.

What changes will be easy to make?

We love life close to the land and have no desire to be immersed in today’s culture.

We are happiest when tending to gardening and critters, with jars simmering in the canner!

What tips would you give someone thinking about moving to a rural area?

Research, research, research, and, if you are a person or family of faith, PRAY.

Then, if it feels right to you, just do it – jump in.

You’ll never regret it.

Get From City to Farm

Trading Freeways for Country Roads
Trading Freeways for Country Roads

Trading Freeways for Country Roads

Meet Forrest and Deb, who made a move from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest over a decade ago—and have flourished in their new lifestyle.

Tell us about your prior city or suburban life—family, home, job?

We both grew up in Southern California, in the “Big City.”

Forrest drove literally 60k + miles per year on the job.

We both wanted out, to move to a small town and live a simpler life.

What drew you to move to a rural area?

We had decided that we didn’t like people – living in the “Big City” no one seems to care for anyone or anything.

Everyone is afraid to speak to anyone they didn’t know.

What brought you to this particular area?

We lived in Sandpoint, Idaho, for 12 years and loved it.

Unfortunately, with the economic climate of the past few years, we could no longer afford to live there.

Still interested in living in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, we looked around quite a bit before we settled on our new hometown in NE Washington State.

We like the feel of it. To us, it feels like what Sandpoint must have felt like 20 years ago.

It is still affordable.

Hopefully it will stay this way rather than growing so rapidly as Sandpoint did.

How long did you prepare for your move?

We generally don’t do a whole lot of preparation — just make a decision and jump.

In this case, we had tried twice before to move away from Southern California before we were able to make it work.

It took us over 10 years before we made it to Sandpoint.

prepare for your move
prepare for your move

What kind of research or preparing did you do?

Before moving to Sandpoint we had a number of heartfelt discussions about what we wanted out of life before deciding that we wanted to live a simpler life in a smaller town.

We researched small towns including buying a book on “micropolitans,” towns of between 25 and 100 thousand people.

We visited several possibilities on vacation with our four children.

One of those was Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

On a day trip, we visited Sandpoint.

As we crossed Long Bridge, Forrest said, “This is it.”

How did you know when it was time to make the move?

We knew from previous efforts that we had to pay off our California bills in order to survive on the lower wages that we could expect almost anywhere in the country.

Once we were able to do this, it was time to get from city to farm.

How did your family and friends react?

Our friends were supportive.

Some of our family members were negative, but Forrest’s parents soon followed us to Sandpoint.

What challenges did you face with your transition?

Our biggest immediate challenge was financial.

Forrest had developed pneumonia during the three-day drive up from Southern California and was unable to work in construction for several months after we moved.

Raising turkeys
Raising turkeys

We had a small savings account, but we had both expected to both get jobs upon our arrival.

The other big challenge was finding decent rental housing for our family, but this ended up being a blessing in disguise and helped us get established.

What changes were easy to make?

Driving fewer commuting miles.

Breathing cleaner air.

Liking people again.

People in small towns are not only willing to speak to someone they don’t know, they are also willing to joke around with them and help them out – who knew?

What tips would you give someone thinking about moving to a rural area?

Be sure that you are willing to accept it the way it is rather than trying to change it into something that you were accustomed to elsewhere.

Be ready and willing to accept help, and provide help to others when you can.

Dream of Homesteading

Dream of homesteading
Dream of homesteading

Today we have an inspiring story about a family that is documenting their journey on their own blog.

Here’s how the family’s new life has been unfolding.

It all started with a dream.

Not a hopeful, wishing sort of dream, but a vision in your sleep sort of dream.

The kind you’ll never forget, even years later.

In his dream, Papa saw an impression of our country’s future, laid out in the sky.

He was left with a feeling of urgency, that we must begin preparing our family for unstable times unless we wanted to be caught vulnerable when it counted the most.

With this beginning came a lot of deep thought, late night discussions, and research to help us decide what it was we were preparing for, and what steps we needed to take to be ready.

The winter after the dream occurred, Papa had a close call with unemployment when two major construction contracts with his employer’s company fell through due to the economy.

Because of God’s grace and his employer’s generosity he remained employed, but the incident reinforced our desire to prepare for a rainy day.

Dream of Homesteading
Dream of Homesteading

Result After Moving to the Country

Fast forward three years.

And we get from city to farm.

To make our first giant leap in preparing for an economic depression and/or a martial law situation, we purchased a rundown camper, fixed it up and moved it to family property to create a “bug out location.”

We used it as a camp and stored a few things there, but even though we knew we had reason to prepare for trouble, it still felt like a shock when Papa got the pink slip.

After five months of making do, we used our tax return to purchase a more comfortable camper, along with other homesteading supplies, and moved off-grid, leaving the mortgaged house behind.

Living in thirty-one feet

We’ve now been living here, on the land in a 31’ bunkhouse Dutchmen for 15 months.

We have been blessed with our fourth child and a new job (in that order) since we arrived.

However, while our original purpose in abandoning the house and moving out here was to get out of the system and survive, we have used the opportunity as best we can to reach our long-term goals.

Live well with our growing family, no matter the economic, political, or social times we live in.

Our homestead is still in development.

This year we are working on the outhouse and grey water leach field, next year we hope to break ground on our off-grid house, and a rainwater harvesting system but we have achieved a lot by trial and error, and a lot of determination.

We collect and use rain water, we made a compost toilet, we have a small vegetable garden and a decent medicinal herb garden, we raise backyard chickens for eggs, and most of our power comes from a solar panel.

We also managed to stick it out through a New England winter, which we weren’t sure we would be able to do until we were halfway through it.

homesteading gardening
homesteading gardening

Eight steps Moving to the Country

There are so many different things I could focus on that are a part of the story, but since the focus for this series is “getting there,” I’ll try to break down the steps we took, to give you some helpful ideas.

We asked permission from family members to park our campers on their land.

With step one approved, we began shopping for campers within our budget.

We also purchased an extra car battery, a solar panel, a water pump, a generator, and a few extra things to make it easier living off-grid.

We downsized our home, literally shutting off half the house, had a huge yard sale, and began packing up.

Moving day – after many of our belongings were moved to the original camper which became our storage building, we hauled the new camper to the land and moved in.

We spent the first couple of weeks learning how to use the propane, water, and electronics in our new living space, which we were able to do before Papa got a new job near the end of 2011 (this whole time he was still applying for jobs, with no luck).

Once we had the important stuff figured out, Papa began work on additional homestead projects – digging a well, creating a rainwater collection system, preparing the ground for gardens, building the chicken run (we brought the coop from the old house), building a tool shed, and installing a clothesline.

All this while the kids and I checked out our new local resources: the laundromat, library, general store, etc.

Becoming self-reliant

Gradually we became more confident and became less dependent on outside assistance, like gas for the generator, water for showers, etc.

We are still not self-sufficient, but with time we hope to become so as much as possible, relying on local resources for extra things we need.

Living this lifestyle is not easy – it has its trials – but the benefits are numerous:

Peaceful environment, free electricity, privacy from neighbors, ability to garden and have animals, and the prospect of an out of the way, self-sufficient, off-grid home, to support us no matter what the future holds.

homesteading made easy
homesteading made easy

What would you do differently if you had a second chance at making a go of rural living?

Kristy and Mike Athens moved to a rural property in 2003.

But six years later they found themselves back in the city.

Now they’re on track to make another move to another country home.

What will they do differently this time?

Here’s Kristy’s story:

Second Time Out: 5 Top Tips I Do Differently Next Time?

In 1999, my husband Mike and I bought a little house in Portland, Oregon.

As I mention in my book, Get Your Pitchfork On!, we lived “across the street from a nice neighborhood park.

We had fixed up the house and planted a garden.

Also, we planted fruit trees in the yard.

We trained hops to climb the garage.

This should have satisfied us.

We could take any of four different bus lines into Portland proper.

People picked up our refuse and took it somewhere else.

Water came to our house clean, and went away dirty.

Friends thought nothing of stopping by for a visit.

The grocery, post office, restaurant—even a movie theater—were all within walking distance.

Yet, we drove around the Columbia River Gorge every weekend and imagined life on one of the homesteads tucked off the road.

We decided to chuck the house, which we’d remodeled from the studs out, and the garden we’d build from scratch, and bought a mini-farm on seven acres in the Columbia River Gorge, in Washington State.

It was dreamy … for a while.

But contingencies we hadn’t planned on started popping up.

We couldn’t keep up with the maintenance that the land and buildings required.

All American Sun Oven Review

Being a part of the local community

We had cut ourselves off from Portland’s economy in an effort to become part of the local community, and then couldn’t support ourselves.

I don’t really fit into mainstream society, so I often felt like a freak.

Sometimes I was even treated like one!

Plus, I got involved in small-town politics, for which I was not prepared, and did not fare well.

The 2009 recession dealt us a crushing blow; we sold our land and retreated to Portland.

We’re still licking our wounds, saving our money, and planning our next attempt at country living.

It’s given me time to consider what I’ll do differently next time:

Kristy’s top 5 Hacks Moving to the Country

Have a Job First

When we moved to Portland, Mike drove 140 miles round-trip to his job.

I was a freelance writer and editor so my physical location was less of an issue.

Working this way kept us isolated from the community.

When we tried to get local jobs, no one knew us so they wouldn’t hire us.

This time, we will attempt to do our job search from Portland and then move after one of us gets hired.

I can’t tell you whether this strategy will work yet.

If it had already I wouldn’t be writing about it from my desk here in Portland!

Rent, Then Buy is an easy way to Get From City to Farm

Buying land in an area you haven’t lived in is a little like marrying someone you haven’t met; a happy ending is possible but not super likely.

The next time out, we will rent in a town near the area we’re hoping to settle in, and make sure that we complement the flavor of the town before we commit.

We actually liked the Gorge quite a lot.

And once we’ve demonstrated that we want to be a part of the community, we will likely get advance, insider notice of property that comes up for sale.

When you are ready, we recommend checking out the USDA Loans here: Requirements for a USDA loan

Choose Land Carefully

Mike and I were fairly conscientious about this the first time, but we were also guilty of getting whipped up in the romance of acquisition and making compromises we shouldn’t have.

For one, we will never live on a state highway again—too loud, too dangerous, and too much extra snow at the top of the driveway from the plows.

We will pay more attention to micro-climates on a parcel.

We will take irrigation more seriously.

And, we will look for mature fruit trees.

I have planted baby trees in two places now, and want to finally reap what I’ve sown!

We will study zoning and local land-use policies.

Work on Diplomacy
Work on Diplomacy

Our dog, Phynn, was killed on the highway adjacent to our property.

Work on Diplomacy

Next time, I will wait a lot longer before I get involved in local politics.

I will pay closer attention to who is friends with whom, and who isn’t friends.

Also, I will learn who the big-deal families in town are, and who has married whom.

I will pick my battles carefully.

I will understand that no one cares what my education is and where I’m from; all they care about is how I plan to contribute to their community.

Get a Tractor
Get a Tractor

Get a Tractor

As I say in Get Your Pitchfork On!: “No matter how strapping a pair you are, you will not be able to keep up if you try to do everything with a pickup, a wheelbarrow and two shovels.”

Those compact tractors are expensive but necessary.

Period.

“Elbow grease” is no match for this much snow!

Return to Rural Small Farms, Hard Work, and Local Food

Rural Small Farms Boulder, Colorado is often in the news for being happy, healthy, and crazy about all things local—but not often does news coverage dive into policy efforts that underlie that hearty sheen.

One key: initiatives by the county government to support a local food system.

Boulder County leases approximately 25,000 acres to local farmers and ranchers in an effort to promote sustainable agriculture.

This acreage is part of approximately 90,000 acres of county-managed open space.

Having such local agricultural production capacity is remarkable in Colorado’s sprawling Front Range.

And heightened consumer interest in local foods has been a boon for local producers.

In addition to shaping consumer demands – the “all things local” craze also created new producer desires.

More people began envisioning lives as small-scale producers – a few acres of organic vegetables, a lavender farm, some goats.

Yet historically, most of the farmers and ranchers leasing county land operated at a large scale.

Niwot Farms, for example, is a natural beef operation with more than 1,000 head of cattle.

And according to Mary Young, a writer for The Blue Line, third generation Boulder County farmer Jules Van Thuyne, Jr. runs a 1,800-acre operation, with 950 acres leased from the county.

Yet the county sought a way to facilitate smaller scale-farming dreams.

And today, small producers (typically smaller than 20 acres) have access to public lands through recently developed regulations for a Growers’ Association model for agricultural leases.

Through the Association model, several producers work together on one larger parcel of land with access to shared resources, such as water, coordinated among members.

According to Adrian Card, Boulder County’s Colorado State University Extension Agent, the county currently has 3 Growers’ Associations encompassing 8 producers, with annual leases running $100/acre.

Hay Season on a Boulder Farm (courtesy of Let Ideas Compete via Flickr)

Growers’ Association producers include Ollin Farms, a family business committed to sustainable agriculture that operates a farmers’ market booth, on-farm dinners, summer youth camps and also offers shares in its “community supported agriculture” (CSA).

Organic produce, eggs, and honey can also be found at Hoot n’ Howl Farm, one of three farms which comprise the Gunbarrel Growers’ Association.

A key challenge of the program has been helping would-be farmers realistically consider the requirements of running a production business.

Boulder County’s Extension Office offers a variety of informative print material, as well as interactive listservs and business workshops.

The county also requires each member of a prospective GA have farming experience and/or direct mentorship and oversight from an experienced farmer.

Many local producers have developed close connections with community grocers and farmers’ markets.

Boulder’s top restaurants, including Frasca, Salt, and the Kitchen also foster close connections with local farmers and ranchers.

The Black Cat Farm Table Bistro has gone so far as to create their own organic 70 acre farm which supplies the restaurant, a farmers’ market booth, as well regular food deliveries for their membership-based community food share.

This strong connection between local restaurants and food producers – from vegetables to mushrooms to poultry — was noted in Boulder’s 2010 recognition as “America’s Foodiest Town” by Bon Appetit magazine.

Boulder County’s first Growers’ Association hit the ground in 2008 and the program is following a path of slow, careful growth.

According to Extension Agent Adrian Card, key is to ensure potential producers have a solid business plan based on realistic expectations.

A successful backyard garden isn’t sufficient to ensure larger-scale success.

Still, with its innovative policy setting and relatively strong local market, Boulder County offers a place where ambitious small-scale producers can pursue their farming dreams.

Would-be farmers must bring experience, determination and a willingness to work hard, but the Growers Association Model provides access to another central requirement – land.

Return to rural communities: Resilience over efficiency

Before moving, twelve years ago, to a village with a population of 1,230 deep in the Alps, Daniel and Johanna led a dual life in Zurich, Switzerland — accountants by day and members of a small theater troupe in the evenings and on weekends.

Living downtown in a city that consistently finds its way onto lists of cities with the highest cost of living, however, did not come cheap.

According to Daniel, “when Johanna became pregnant, we knew we couldn’t afford an apartment with enough space for all of us”.

On an earlier hiking vacation, they had passed through a small village and had stopped to visit the garden in the local cloister.

At the time, Daniel’s eye was caught by the adjacent lot overgrown with weeds.

As Johanna’s pregnancy advanced, Daniel thought again of the overgrown lot and bought a bus ticket back to the village.

“The garden was still there, but there was no one to clear the weeds from the next lot.

I talked with the owner of the land, applied for a government grant, and we moved into a nearby vacant farmhouse two months later.”

He soon cleared the land, planted peppermint and an array of other herbs, and within two years had the land certified organic and started producing his own line of herbal tea mixes.

Since then, he has operated a small one-room shop on the cloister grounds, expanded sales of tea and vegetables to a number of local fairs and markets, and started raising goats.

Everything you need to Know about Pygmy Goats

After giving birth, Johanna got a part-time job at the town’s nursery and started organizing a theater group at the local church.

At the time, it was a big change, but now I can’t imagine it any other way. When I was young, I always liked the idea of living in the countryside. It has been much simpler and much happier than I imagined.—Daniel

Urban-rural migrants lost in the flood of rural-urban migration

But why consider the story of Daniel and Johanna?

After all, statistics show that the largest migration in human history is currently underway as people move from the countryside to the urban centers.

According to current models, the future is cities — bigger, denser, more populous and more externally dependent on resources and energy than ever.

At a recent symposium, entitled Sustainable Urban Development: Challenges and Issues in Developing Countries and co-hosted by the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS) and the United Nations Center for Regional Development, it was pointed out that experts expect the number of people living in urban areas to grow from 3.4 billion to 6.3 billion by 2050, an 85% increase.

Speaking at this event, Ms. Aban Marker Kabraji, Asia Regional Director of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, pointed out that “while cities cover a mere 2% of land space worldwide, they consume a whopping 75% of the resources”.

The massive scale and the rapidity of this shift in human civilization have fostered broad generalizations of an inexorable movement of people from rural to urban areas.

Daniel and Johanna are not alone though — recent reports from Korea, for example, show that in 2011 there was a 158% increase in the number of households leaving cities to settle in rural areas.

One explanation given by Korea’s Agriculture Minister Suh Kyu-yong is that city dwellers are increasingly packing up and moving to the countryside “to seek a quieter life”.

Just as there are a number of commonly cited drivers of rural-urban migration, however, it likewise seems logical that the reasons for households moving in the other direction are more nuanced and differentiated.

Considering the fundamental changes in human civilization that are forecast for the coming decades, are these urban-rural migrants the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, or just exceptions to the prevailing rule?

And what role can these urban-rural migrants potentially play in supporting ecosystems and fostering resilience?

The important role of rural populations in preserving biodiversity

Humans can play a crucial role in maintaining and even increasing the biodiversity in their surroundings.

There are many places around the world in which people have interacted with their natural surroundings in a harmonious way for many generations, creating socio-ecological productions landscapes (SEPLs).

These dynamic mosaics of land usage and ecosystems/habitats provide sustainable livelihoods that are interlinked with local culture and community.

Terraced rice fields, for example, are home to a multitude of species, but depend on regular human maintenance.

A recent survey in Japan recorded a staggering 5,668 different species living in rice paddies.

On average, rice farmers in Japan are 66 years old, and the rapid depopulation of the country as a whole, and rural areas in particular, means that these biodiversity-rich SEPLs face abandonment and fundamental change.

A case study published by the Satoyama Initiative looked specifically at landscapes that had been abandoned around Machida City, a suburb of Tokyo.

After observing a steady drop in the numbers of plant and animal species, a project was set up under local management to restore the landscapes through human intervention and make full use of traditional knowledge.

In 1986 a baseline survey identified 591 different species in these areas, but by 2002, the landscapes had become home to 680 different species.

Likewise, forests left unattended — particularly planted monocultures — may grow denser as they age, leaving the forest floor without sunlight.

Those thinned and managed in a sustainable fashion, however, let in enough sunlight to feed lush undergrowth, which in turn fosters a wide range of different species.

Such SEPLs require people to stay on the land to manage it in a harmonious manner.

As such, there has been growing focus by urban planners, among others, on the impacts of this flow of people from rural to urban areas, while the SatoyamaInitiative and others look at how to maintain healthy communities and ecosystems in the face of ageing populations and a lack of successors.

Is specialization antithetical to resilience?

With resilience a key focus of the upcoming IUCN World Conservation Congress to be held in September 2012 in Korea, it is useful to consider the implications of people moving to and from cities.

Perhaps it is most informative to look first at systems that demonstrate a lack of resilience.

Coral reefs, for example, are characterized by dizzying levels of biodiversity, are visually stunning, and are recognized for the potential pharmaceutical value of their genetic diversity.

At the same time, many of the organisms living in these environments are tremendously specialized.

Individual clown fish species, for example, have co-evolved with anemones in a symbiotic relationship that leaves each highly dependent on the other for survival.

Considering the fundamental changes in human civilization that are forecast for the coming decades, are these urban-rural migrants the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, or just exceptions to the prevailing rule?

In a relatively static environment, such specialization has allowed these organisms to efficiently exploit niches within the ecosystem.

At the same time, it has rendered them highly susceptible to changes in their surroundings.

Mass bleaching of coral has been closely associated with unusually warm ocean temperatures and rising water levels, both of which have been predicted as outcomes of global climate change.

With coral literally providing the foundation of these ecosystems, and each organism within the system heavily dependent on the others, such events could cause the entire ecosystem to collapse.

Collectively, these specialized organisms therefore constitute an ecosystem with a low degree of resilience in the face of global climate change.

Scientists have predicted that global warming will spawn a host of extreme weather events, which will test the resilience of ecosystems across the world.

Couple this with the spread of invasive species, widespread habitat loss and ecosystem degradation, and the future looks grim for highly specialized organisms like the giant panda, which feeds almost exclusively on bamboo, or the five-needle Alberta pine, which relies entirely on a single species of bird for seed dispersal, the Clark’s Nutcracker.

On the other hand, organisms with less specific diets and a greater capacity to cope with fluctuations in temperature and weather patterns may flourish in the future as more specialized competitors for resources disappear.

Are rural communities inherently more resilient than cities?

Turning away from coral reefs for a moment and focusing again on cities, it has been noted that efficiency is one of the keys to economic growth.

Efficiency, in turn, has often been achieved through increased specialization.

Many urban residents have a small range of highly specialized skills such as accounting, legal advising, pediatrics, etc.

They exercise these skills in an efficient manner, and rely on other specialists to meet the fundamental needs of their daily lives.

In many cases, urban residents lack even the most basic skills associated with securing food and shelter, and are successful due to:

  1. Continued demand from society for their own area of specialty; and
  2. Availability of other specialists who can provide them with food and shelter.

The absence of either point would raise serious challenges for the individual.

It could therefore be argued that urban systems, filled with their highly specialized and externally dependent individual parts, lack resilience in the same way that a coral reef does.

Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, for example, more than 600,000 people left the capital Port-au-Prince in a mass exodus for the rural areas because food distribution networks had shut down and many people had lost any form of shelter.

Movement away from urban centers towards rural areas may come with an increase in resilience as specialization decreases and skill sets expand.

This does not have to be a dire conclusion, however.

For, while evolutionary processes have shaped the specialization within a coral reef, it is recent economic and social forces that have shaped urban specialization.

The giant panda cannot suddenly decide to diversify its diet, but people can always add to their skill sets.

Indeed it seems that the denser the community, the greater the pressure towards specialization.

On one end of the scale, Robinson Crusoe alone on his island was responsible for every aspect of his daily survival.

Further along the scale, a small group of pastorals in the Sahara may have some areas of individual expertise, but each member of the group remains responsible for a broad range of different actions.

At the other end of the scale are extremes like New York or Tokyo, where specialization has reached its zenith and it is possible to earn one’s livelihood solely from working as a pet therapist or wine taster.

In some cases, therefore, movement away from urban centers towards rural areas may come with an increase in resilience as specialization decreases and skill sets expand, as with Daniel as he moved away from the specificity of accounting and took on all aspects of starting an organic herb farm, raising livestock, and marketing his wares.

If estimates hold true and the global population expands to over 9 billion people by 2050, including over 6 billion urban inhabitants, this means that over two thirds of the world’s population could potentially be based in areas characterized by a lack of resilience.

In purely economic terms, cities may represent paragons of efficiency, but the trickles of people leaving for rural areas may reflect some element of a universal human consciousness that resilience rather than efficiency may be the best survival strategy over the long term.

Buying used equipment an essential part of sustainable farming

Buying used farming and construction equipment is a key part of sustainable farming.

When you choose to farm ecologically you are not only focusing on the profitability of your crops but you are also benefiting your environment by utilizing renewable resources to grow your food.

This enhances not only the lives of people you provide product to but also the farmers who work and live off the land.

A single farm can become a self-sufficient method of recycling when you consider how damaged crops and animal waste can become fertilizer.

Crop rotation nurtures the soil and rain water can even be used to water the plants.

Money and natural resources are saved to a great degree by using this method.

Purchasing used construction equipment is just another form of recycling (or reuse) that can take place on a farm.

Used construction equipment for a farm usually comes from previous users or suppliers that no longer wish to use the pieces because they have gotten older and their parts are harder to find.

This can be a nuisance for an operation that doesn’t have the time to stop and work on their equipment or try to find parts for it.

Farmers who know how to work on their own equipment and don’t mind doing a little looking around for parts won’t have a problem with used equipment.

Technology also often becomes outdated and manufacturers phase out certain pieces that don’t match up to the new and latest releases.

As the economy fluctuates and the construction equipment market changes certain pieces come and go.

As people buy new, the older equipment that still functions well needs a new home.

Unless a piece of equipment is labeled as being broken down it probably will function nicely after a small tune-up and inspection.

Sometimes a few small pieces are needed to make the engine run better but this often only costs a few dollars and can make a big difference over how much you would have saved on a brand new piece of construction equipment.

You can also make any modifications you need for your own farm and it’s often easier to do this on an older piece of equipment.

It’s not necessary to doubt the quality of a used piece of equipment in order to make sure you are running a self-sustaining farm.

Most sellers will encourage you to try out the equipment before purchasing and it’s never in their best interest to try and sell something that doesn’t work properly because a bad reputation could develop.

This could prevent future transactions from occurring so it’s not likely a bad piece would be sold.

Most details are stated upfront and many times a warranty is put into effect for at least 30-60 days.

This gives you enough time to take your new purchase home and try it out.

If any problems are going to arise they usually will within the first month or so.

Purchasing used equipment as a key part of sustainable farming allows for a reduction of energy costs and improvement in the environment.

New equipment doesn’t need to be made if there are older pieces being used and this saves on factory costs.

Raw materials won’t be consumed at high levels either.

Used construction equipment is a great way to go green on your farm and help not only yourself but others and the environment as well.

Business Of Sustainable Micro Gardens

Micro gardens are small growing areas planted without the benefit of a plot of land, even without extensive space.

These are gardens that require only pots, which can be created out of any kind of vessel, encouraging creative recycling.

Urban citizens are encouraged to go green and grow their own food inside old flowerpots, buckets, and more.

Business Of Sustainable Micro Gardens

Sustainable Living

Generally, a sustainable garden feeds just the people whose home or land it is attached to, but by slightly enlarging the project, one can create a small business.

The great thing about a micro garden is that it is sustainable, and a great way to teach children sustainability.

Experts suggest you need less water than with a conventional vegetable plot and can simply transfer rain water to the purpose of watering your plants.

Sustainable Micro Gardens

Many types of plants can be grown, including leafy green vegetables and root veggies like carrots.

Herbs are especially easy to grow.

All of these are highly nutritious and would be expensive to buy at a supermarket.

You might still have to supplement, but the savings would be enormous.

Another reason this method of gardening is sustainable is that gardeners are recommended to use soil and mulch created from what can be found locally.

Finally, if you are interested in organic gardening and getting away from GMO produce, creating a self-contained garden makes it even easier to prevent cross-contamination from nearby farms or neighboring gardens.

This includes the spread of weeds.

Reducing Waste

A big part of green living is learning how to be self-sufficient.

When you buy produce, no matter how high quality it is, there is usually packaging around it.

To be really green, one strives to get rid of packaging entirely.

Produce grown at home does not have to be bagged in plastic or paper.

Indoor, Outdoor

Because a micro garden can be set up on a patio or a deck, it can be an indoor or outdoor venture.

The trick appears to be fitting as many tables and buckets into a small area as possible, with just the essential space for moving between plants to care for and harvest them.

An indoor garden is completely feasible where weather is too inclement to maintain an outdoor system or when the growing season is very short.

Moreover, many people only have a balcony at their disposal because they live in an apartment.

If they can get enough sun onto their herbs and veggies, there is no reason to rely on the produce department of the local grocery store.

Urbanites can enter the green revolution.

Sustainable Businesses

Because a sustainable micro garden is typically an independent operation for the benefit of a family or household and is very small, raising a business from this practice seems unlikely.

Yet, add a few more boxes, expand the venture while remaining small, and you could have the beginnings of a green business.

Sell the excess produce you grow, even if there is only a little bit.

Local grocers sometimes buy goods from individuals with green thumbs.

A Green Consulting Business

Besides growing and selling herbs and lettuce, consumers with skills can work as consultants to other householders.

Those with high education, such as individuals holding project management degrees can be of great assistance in starting and maintaining a green business.

Experience is valuable. Hire yourself out as a teacher with the skill of turning a 4-foot-square brown brick terrace into green space.

Act as hired troubleshooter.

People will also pay to get a micro garden growing.

A one-off cost will be quickly justified as the pots flourish for seasons to come.

Many community groups need this kind of help but cannot afford to pay.

Become a volunteer consultant, or apply to organizations that provide funding for green management to low-income families who will make an effort to become self-sustaining if they know where to start.

Unique Garden Decor Ideas Without Spending a Fortune

Garden Decor Ideas

Turning your terrace, patio or porch into a beautiful, relaxing, and fun place for your family and friends is personally rewarding.

A garden décor is great tool that can enhance the aesthetic qualities of your garden or backyard.

It’s time to rethink how you can make your backyard or garden the place to spend time alone or with people you love.

This article tells you how you can transform an ordinary area into something that will elicit “oohs” and “aahs” even if your budget is tight or have little space.

You need to have a theme for your garden’s overall look to make this makeover easier to accomplish.

Choose from the garden décor themes listed below based on what you already own.

Don’t think your area is too small because even a tiny space can look bigger with a few tricks.

And if you think you don’t have enough greenery to make it look like a garden that issue can be remedied, too.

All it takes is a little creativity, patience, and some new ideas.

Garden Decor Ideas

Here are 15 of the best outdoor themes you might want to consider:

Stick to a monochromatic theme by giving your garden a fresh, polished look sans the overkill.

You might already have essential pieces such as a wide beach or golf umbrella and wire-work stools and round table so that’s a plus.

Other future accessories will blend right in with a white/gray scheme.

A patio umbrella is an excellent visual addition to any garden.

If you have plenty of benches, now is the time to maximize their use.

Arrange them with a picnic table to play up a nautical theme such as blue hydrangeas in clear vases and fish motif on place mats and lines. Benches work well outdoors because they have no backs to obstruct the view.

You don’t need a complete makeover if you’re on a tight budget.

Weave splashes of fire engine red throughout your space with table linen, planters, red-based table lamps or ceramic vases for centerpiece.

Give outdoor space a tropical twist with colorful accents such as cushions in shades of fuchsia, tangerine, and lemon yellow.

Get table linen in stripes, florals, and ikat.

Have wide floor mats in hot pink and orange and, if your space has trees, and a draped canopy in a splash of any of those colors for balmy days.

If you love wicker furniture, use it to your advantage and create an intimate and cozy gathering space prepped for some evening entertainment.

Add a fire pit, a portable griller, a freestanding umbrella, and you have a barbecue-cum-poolside hang-out, even without the pool!

Do you live in a totally urban place where privacy is an issue?

Enclose your small backyard with a wooden fence a foot taller than usual.

Get shelves on the wall for outdoor cooking ingredients and condiments and set up essential stone furniture pieces such as stools.

If dining alfresco is your preference, choose furniture that is weather-resistant and a canopied “roof” that has sufficient sun coverage; you can take it down after sunset if you want to dine under the stars.

If you plan to have wood furniture, ensure that they have been water-proofed.

How about using that trunk in your attic as a coffee table for your garden, lawn or backyard?

Add some Chinese lanterns, a day bed, and some colorful potted plants and you’re all set for lounging in style in your outdoor space.

Small crates make good side tables for this lounging area as well.

One of the most important furniture pieces that can make or break your outdoor decoration is the sofa.

Choose a unique couch in rattan and transform it into a conversation piece with plush pillows.

Hang some festive-looking glass lanterns and throw in a few foot stools in bright-colored slipcovers.

You can convert any garden space into a casual area with smart seating options.

If you have a stone backyard, pepper it up with a few wire-work chairs in colors most people would find unconventional for garden furniture: purple, aquamarine, neon green, and sapphire.

No awning in your garden?

No problem.

Create yours with a simple fabric canopy in beige, camel or tan.

The key here is seating options like cushioned benches or stackable stools that your canopy can cover.

Create a garden under glass. Of course this setting will make you and guests huddle close, but that’s what it’s all about, right?

You want formality in dining but definitely without the fuss.

A reclaimed table in teak with low-backed wicker chairs will keep the setting relaxing.

Tabletop décor of lanterns made of chicken wire are not only cheap to buy or make but uniquely “cool.”

Use fragrant votives in the lanterns for awesome dining aroma.

Summer may be a long way off but you can make your lawn or patio look like summer with some lively details like bistro-style chairs in hot pink, a freestanding or golf umbrella, paper pom-pom lanterns in summer colors, and a huge jar with a circular wooden top for your dining table.

Having your morning coffee or afternoon lemonade outdoors is perfect when your garden has a “country living” theme.

Anything goes, actually, but pieces such as solid back wooden chairs, white lace-edged table linen, and blue flatware and cutlery translate to rustic cottage even when it is set up in a garden.

The avant garde in you can spice up your garden theme with chairs in different designs and colors without looking odd.

Just remember to have them all of them in one material like heavy metal, wire work, rattan or wood.

Interestingly-shaped chairs are all over flea markets and the internet.

Garden Decor Accents

Giving your garden your own personal touch makes all the difference between an ordinary yard, patio or lawn and a breathtaking spectacle.

Take the time to consider what accessories will make your garden a dreamscape.

Plants, vegetation, and flowers play a key role in giving your outdoor spot a classy finish.

Garden Decor Accents

10 great garden décors to choose from:

Arbors: add elegance to your patio or garden entrance with an arbor.

You may not imagine it now, but garden arbors add some whimsy to any garden.

Trailing plants – honeysuckle, grape vines, and roses – can be strategically placed in a garden arbor.

Storage sheds: when you have that sense of style, a storage shed can easily blend with your garden scheme.

Create a flagstone path for a potting shed with wide-plank and peeled paint exteriors for rustic charm.

Sedum and other green succulents on a shed’s roof keep it cool, bright, and brighten any garden.

Statuary art: find your style and give your garden a sense of artistry with little gnomes, forest animals, and even gods and goddesses.

Statuary makes elegant accent pieces and gives your garden a classic touch.

Just make sure you don’t go overboard; you want a few pieces, not the whole Mt. Olympus community.

Water fountains or waterfalls: these are typically found indoors but why not think out of the box and give your garden the whole Zen appeal?

A water fountain or waterfall makes for an arresting focal point for any garden, including yours.

Get one with lights for quiet yet twinkling nights.

Bird feeders and bird baths: the available sizes, colors, and styles of bird feeders and bird baths is seemingly endless.

Choose your while from those with planters, in ornate metal, hand-sculpted, in brass finish, tube shape, with pedestals, in marble, and mosaic glass, among other popular choices.

Stone arrangements: although typical of a Zen garden, stones and pebbles can be ideal décor even in an outdoor setting sans the Japanese motif.

Lush vegetation and low-lying blooms look easy on the eyes with big and small polished flat stones used as steps.

Container options: get clever with unusual plant containers!

Use old porcelain toilet cisterns as planters by concealing their past lives behind bamboo screens or other plants around their bases.

Colanders, baby bath tubs, crock pots, children’s wagons, old sinks, and even baby prams make terrific planters.

Gazing balls: these are yet another set of unusual décor items for a unique garden.

Gazing balls are multi-seasonal, add sparkle to the conventional greenery of a garden, and become the center of attraction for al fresco dining.

Make your own or scour the internet for great deals.

Garden stakes: give your outdoor place some interesting finds like garden stakes that require no other hardware; you just push them right into the ground.

Choose from a plethora of lawn art, pathway lights, flags, glass orbs, candle holders, outdoor shadow, weather vanes and metalwork, among other finds.

Go solar: help the environment and save money while you beautify your garden with solar lighting. eco-friendly Garden entertaining has never been more fun or eco-friendly than with solar tabletop lanterns, solar string lights, pathway lights, and garden wall lanterns, and lawn stakes, to name a few.

Outdoor Garden Decor

You can easily have an attractive, affordable outdoor garden on a shoestring budget (unless you want to replicate the one hanging in Babylon!).

The key factor is to have outdoor decor that is durable, inexpensive, sleek-looking, and blends well with your general garden motif.

Outdoor Garden Decor

If you are stumped on what to get, here are some ideas for great outdoor ideas using garden decor:

Create a patio in your garden with durable furniture pieces such as tiny chairs and small benches that take up little space.

Ditch the idea of a garden resembling that of Eden and “scatter” potted plants in your patio.

Have the planters in rich colorful hues to make greenery stand out.

Go for gravel.

Crushed limestone is a great substitute for grass.

Get privacy with galvanized metal for your fence; it costs practically the same as a wood fence with a distinct advantage: metal will never rot.

Provide irrigation with an eco-friendly rainwater collection container to help your garden grow.

Do you want attractive landscaping but don’t want to spend loads of money for it?

Create your own! Install a “waterfall” or a water fountain.

Better yet, make your own fish pond and populate it with your favorite koi or construct a reflecting pool and surround it with colorful flowers.

Hopefully, these ideas will help you decorate your green garden beautifully or a Micro Garden on the cheap!

I have been using and reviewing a great resource The Home Book: A Complete Guide to Homeowner and Homebuilder Responsibilities, I’m finding this to be an authority guide on workmanship to Homeowners and Home builders alike.

What Could Bee the Problem?

Recently, life for nature’s natural pollinators has been nothing short of a terrifying and detrimental nightmare.

The continuing trend of dying bees is known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

Estimates show that CCD is responsible for approximately 10 million fallen beehives, worth $2 billion in agriculture and ecological benefits over the last five years.

The most troubling news is that none of us seem to know what causes such a massive population decline to such an invaluable species.

However, recent studies by scientists at the University of Maryland provide new insight and developments on the possible cause of Colony Collapse Disorder.

In the past, researchers and scientists have hypothesized myriad explanations for the CCD phenomena.

Explanations range from mites to cellphone towers, but new data supports one hypothesis as the crux of the issue.

Maryland Researchers collected pollen from hives on the East coast and fed the pollen to a group of healthy bees.

The findings show that the test group of bees developed a serious decline in their ability to resist a parasite that causes Colony Collapse Disorder.

The pollen ingested, on average, was a mixture of nine different pesticides and fungicides that normal bees would otherwise collect and feed to their hive.

One sample of pollen collected revealed a combination of 21 different harmful chemicals of pesticides and fungicides.

The results, which were published in the journal PLOS ONE, suggested that bees exposed to the sample of collected pollen are over three times more likely to be affected by the CCD-causing parasite.

Pesticides and fungicides, once thought safe for bees, will now be completely re-evaluated.

Out of their gathered sample, UMD researchers expressed particular concern over fungicides.

They “found an increased probability in Nosema infection in bees that consumed pollen with a higher fungicide load”.

Finding a solution to this discovery will of course take time and innovation as halting the use of pesticides is out of the equation.

Pesticide and fungicide use requires reconsideration in terms of usage, placement, and development in order to maintain a fine balance between crop protection and bee wellness.

One hopeful solution is the host of innovative Ag-Tech companies spearheading the clean tech sector.

For those looking to make their own personal impact, companies produce natural herbicides, pesticides and fungicides from botanical oils for residential and commercial use.

Another strongly venture-backed company is American biological pesticide producer, Agraquest, who was recently acquired by Bayer CropScience for $424 million.

This acquisition is telling of a developing trend for big corporations need to procure more sustainable agro-chemical product portfolios.

It will be up to the big organizations to invest in the expanding sea of clean-agritech innovations in order to secure a sustainable and working system for agrochemicals.

Only then can we start to rebuild from the damage caused by Colony Collapse Disorder.

Modern Homesteading For Beginners Become Less Dependent

Homesteading for beginners

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homesteading for beginners – The world is changing at a rapid pace, and despite many advancements in the fields of science and technology, it appears that life is getting to be rather an expensive affair.

Homesteading for beginners aims to serve as part of a solution toward becoming more self-sustainable and less dependent on the external world, i.e. grocery stores and mass manufactured goods for daily living.

Modern Homesteading For Beginners

Homestead house plans and designs can enable you to envision what your new life might look like.

Homesteading in the past

Homesteading by definition is a term which was coined in the 1800’s to describe lifestyles which depended on the individual, or communities ability to fend for themselves by growing and rearing their own crops and livestock, and becoming self-sustainable via farmer’s markets and small scale businesses rather than large scale businesses.

Modern Homesteading today

In the modern time, homesteading for beginners holds the same meaning, the difference being that it is currently being promoted as a lifestyle best suited for individuals and small families rather than communities, as was the case earlier when communities were more close-knit.

Homesteading for beginners ideally involves understanding one’s needs, heating your home with an outdoor furnace, i.e. sustainability in different contexts.

These needs are divided into categories, which will then help someone who is new to the field decide as to how they should approach their new lifestyle choice.
One of the common needs would naturally be food; this is where homesteading for beginners takes a leaf out of an old book, that being of the old homesteading community of the 1800’s, who survived on both, small patches of garden on which they grew vegetables and fruit, and also larger patches where they grew crops such as wheat.

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Ways of making a living by homesteading

However, homesteading for beginners need not be restricted to only food and drink, and the mandatory jams and pickles that appear to be a quintessential addition to the farmer’s markets, which are part of this self-sustaining lifestyle.

One can also consider other aspects of living, which are modified greatly in a cost-effective fashion as part of the lifestyle.

If you are short on space, you may consider a DIY Hydroponic System. A hydroponics system is a great way to grow produce.

A small example would be certain household items such as soap, shampoo and cleaning agents, which are usually purchased from a provision store.

Homesteading for beginners ensures that one makes these items at home, thus ensuring an economical and environment-friendly set of house products which cost little money and are equally, if not more effective than products that are mass manufactured and sold at department stores.

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In context with the sustainability aspect of homesteading for beginners, many of those who have adapted to this lifestyle earn their living through the sale of their fresh products such as fruit, vegetables, seeds, and nuts, and also by selling homemade soaps, shampoos, cleaning agents, candles, and other items.

Learn what you need to start beekeeping for a wide variety of income streams.

It is common for small-scale industries to carry out similar activities, however, what sets the homesteading community apart is their farmer’s markets, which have grown in popularity worldwide due to their promise of pesticide and pollutant-free food and grain.

With a little research and practice, and careful research, it is possible for one to adapt to a lifestyle that involves homesteading and provides sustainability options.

Homestead Seeds
Homestead Seeds

Homestead Seeds

Nowadays there are so many options to buy seeds for your homestead.

There are literally catalogs flying everywhere as the season approaches.

A common mistake that newcomers to homesteading make is to plant everything in sight.

Experience will teach you that a careful selection of seeds to grow in the garden will increase the percentage of success considerably.

Homesteading Growing Season

This is probably the most important aspect for you to consider when you are whittling down the choices for different seeds.

Consider how long the growing season is.

There are certain varieties that require a much longer period of warm weather than might be available in your locality.

Sure, they look great in the catalog but there is no point if they are not feasible.

Similarly, the opposite may also be true when you are choosing the seeds.

There are certain crops like peas and lettuce that require a more moderate temperature over there life span.

Choose seeds that fit your climate zone is a wise way to go.

This can be a little tricky for newcomers although with a little research and maybe even some advice from other people in the area will help you narrow down the choices for your homestead seeds.

Things like the amount of rainfall in your location also affect the soil temperature.

Experience is truly the best teacher for the answers to such questions. Another good source is the seed supplier themselves.

They have usually been in the business long enough to know what variety of seeds is successful in what area.

But you can always DIY Hydroponic system and grow year round.

Check out our Hydroponic Supply Store here.

Homesteading Budget

It is easy to spend a large amount of money buying seeds.

All those little packs add up after all!

A useful trick to keep in mind is to try and find large sizes of seed packs.

These can be found online or the mail order sites for the particular company.

Some companies also help you out by sending you a larger size directly to your home.

This turns out to be much cheaper as seeds are much cheaper when bought in bulk.

Find a seed variety that you like and buy it in large quantities.

If you feel that that you do not need these many seeds then you can team up with family members or other friends and order your seeds together so that it turns out to be more economical for the lot of you.

Living Off The Land
Living Off The Land

Of course, you have to be careful and make sure that the seeds last in storage.

Certain crops like corn and onions do not store well.

All American Sun Oven Review

Living of the land

Living of the land is not only for the adventurous but also for the many eco-friendly people out there.

There are a lot of people who dream of living off the land but have not had the courage or the drive to do so.

Living off the land is not complicated or difficult if we keep a few checklists in mind.

Once we have a rough list of things to keep in mind, the process which will follow will be simple.

Of course, one must do a thorough research before venturing forth.

Also speaking to people who have been successfully living off the land is a good option.

The first and foremost thing to keep in mind when living off the land is a positive frame of mind.

If this is in place, you can achieve anything.

Like any new venture, things may not be smooth in the beginning, but one has to overcome these minor hurdles and learn from the experience to strive ahead.

With a positive outlook, anything can be achieved!

Don’t let any early setbacks put you in a negative psyche.

Work around it and move toward your goal of living off the land.

Homesteading land

When living off the land, the first thing to look into is the land.

One must have a comfortable amount of land to live in and grow food to live on!

Also, the nature of soil should be checked properly to estimate the crops it will yield.

Water source

The presence and availability of water resource should be checked in advance.

This is of prime importance as water is required for not only drinking, but also carrying out daily chores such as washing and cleaning.

Hence, a lake, river or stream should be present nearby.

Apart from this, when acquiring land, it is important to investigate the safety of the neighborhood and surrounding areas.

Build your Homesteading House

After acquiring the land, the next step would be to build your home.

The design depends from individual to individual keeping in mind their own style.

Ideally, the structure should be simple yet functional and adhering to eco-friendly structure.

Energy sources

Energy should be generated from natural resources such as solar power, wind and hydro power.

This energy would be required mainly for cooking, lighting and heating purpose.

Power conversation is important when living off the land.

Minimal energy should be used for lighting during daylight as maximum advantage should be taken of the natural lighting.

Other Homesteading considerations

Additional factors to consider may be how close you will be to healthcare facilities and how close to an airport.

Living off the land may not be for the faint of heart, but it is an experience by itself.

To live with nature on a day to day basis and sustain yourself at the same time is a wonderful feeling which very few people get to practice.

All About Homestead Legal Forms

All about homestead Legal Forms

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All About Homestead Legal Forms ~ Homesteading has been around for a really long time and its use has gone from meaning a free land program by the US government to living 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 and a good design. Homestead Legal Forms

All about Homestead Legal Forms

All about homestead Legal Forms
All about homestead Legal Forms

Homestead Declaration

The awareness of the dangers of environment change and the realization that all of us should look to use as little resources as possible is one of the fueling forces behind this movement.

I am of course talking about the rise of homesteading across the nation.

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.

There are a number of online forums and websites that are run by enthusiasts like you and often a ton of valuable information is available out there.

There are certain legal things that you should be aware of before you take the plunge and move to your own homestead.

It is necessary to fill out a homestead declaration form specific to your state so that you are legally protected from certain situations.

The form is simple enough to fill and there are certain states where simply living at your homestead as a primary residence is enough for you to enjoy the same legal privileges.

However you still must fill out the form.

The government has limited the maximum cost of these forms including getting them notarized to a maximum of $25 so that it is easy for anyone and everyone to fill out these forms.

A homestead basically refers to a primary dwelling of any kind and includes houses, condos and even boats.

Once you are sure that you have filled out the form correctly then you have to submit it to the county clerk’s office after paying the small application fees.

Make sure you renew your homestead declaration form on time to continue to enjoy the legal privileges.

This is a simple yet essential step that you need to take care of before you invest time and energy in your homestead.

These regulations have been drafted for your own protection and even though they may seem like a chore, they are beneficial in the long run.

It is an important life decision for many people as they look to leave their old life behind and try and set up a self sustaining homestead for themselves.

It makes it all the more important that you set off on the correct foot with everything in place.

Homestead Legal Forms
Homestead Legal Forms

The homestead declaration form itself is available on the internet.

There may be small variations from state to state so make sure that you are downloading the correct one for you.

Homestead Legal Forms

It is wonderful to experience life on a homestead.

You live life so much closer to nature in a healthier and natural way.

The happiness indexes are of the charts for people who make the initially difficult choice of homesteading.

The reason for this choice can be many.

Some people want to do it as an environmentally conscious decision, other want to do it because they feel their skill set is more suited to that type of living and still others chose to look at it as an adventure worth embarking on.

As the homesteading movement gathers momentum across the nation it is necessary that people be aware of their legal responsibilities with regard to their homestead.

There are certain legal things that you should be aware of before you take the plunge and move to your own homestead.

It is necessary to fill out a homestead declaration form specific to your state so that you are legally protected from certain situations.

The legal form is simple enough to fill and there are certain states where simply living at your homestead as a primary residence is enough for you to enjoy the same legal privileges.

However you still must fill out the homestead declaration form.

Legal registration of your homestead declares that this is your primary place of residence and protects it against foreclosure by the bank in certain situations.

The forms can be filled yourself although it is advisable to take the help of someone who is well versed in reading and explaining to you the finer points of the document.

It is an important life decision for many people as they look to leave their old life behind and try and set up a self sustaining homestead for themselves.

It makes it all the more important that you set off on the correct foot with all the legal nitty gritties in place.

The homestead declaration form itself is available on the internet.

There may be small variations from state to state so make sure that you are downloading the correct one for you.

A homestead basically refers to a primary dwelling of any kind and includes houses, condos and even boats.

Once you are sure that you have filled out the form correctly then you have to submit it to the county clerk’s office after paying the small application fees.

Make sure you renew your homestead declaration form on time to continue to enjoy the legal privileges.

Homestead Protection
Homestead Protection

This is a simple yet essential step that you need to take care of before you invest time and energy in your homestead.

These regulations have been drafted for your own protection and even though they may seem like a chore, they are beneficial in the long run.

Homestead protection

Homestead Protection by definition refers to a legal act that has been legislated in order to protect homesteads, or, personally owned residences, from creditors, property taxes, and any disputes, which may arise following the death of a homeowner spouse.

A number of states within the United States have separate state statutes, each of which offers varying benefits and challenges to the homeowner.

It is said that homestead protection laws take their roots from the economic depression in the 19th century, during which many residences were forcibly trespassed upon and taken over illegally when the owner was unable to bear the burden of taxation.

Some of the main features of the homestead protection or exemption laws include providing a widowed spouse with shelter, exemption from having to pay property taxes on a personally-owned home, the prevention of “forced sales” of a residence, and enables a tax-exempted homeowner to vote on property tax.

A primary limitation of homestead protection is that its benefits are limited to the state over which it has legal jurisdiction.

Another important limitation is that only one property belonging to an individual will be liable for homestead protection; therefore single or primary property owners will be most benefited, while those who have legal ownership over multiple properties will have to decide over which to call their primary property.

It is only this property, which will receive exemption under the Homestead Act; others will be taxable by law.

In some states, it is also mandatory for homeowners to file a claim for homestead protection personally, as it is not automatically managed.

Also in some states, the homestead protection will not apply to those properties, which have been abandoned by their legal homeowners.

In context with the states that are known to provide the most protection to homeowners, the states of South Dakota, Kansas, Iowa, Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma offer the broadest protection, i.e. they offer the highest value of property, which can be protected from taxation via the Homestead Act.

The state of California provides protection of up to $75,000 for single homeowners, $100,000 for married couples, and $175,000 for homeowners who are senior citizens i.e. older than 65, or those who are legally disabled.

The state of Texas on the other hand, does not have a dollar value limit on homeowner’s property and instead, grants an automatic exemption for homesteads not exceeding the area of 10 acres or 4.0 hectares within a municipality, 100 acres or 40 hectares for those in a rural homestead, and 200 acres or 81 hectares for a family.

As per the current law, there are three types of homesteads that are considered under the Homestead Act:

  1. Automatic Homestead
  2. Declared Homestead
  3. Homestead for Disabled or Elderly Persons.

The first offers automatic protection of up to $125,000 for homeowners and their family who must live in the home and consider it to be their primary residence in order to be eligible for this benefit.

The second refers to automatic protection of up to $500,000 for all owners; in order to receive this equity, homeowners must file a Declaration of Homestead with the Registry of Deeds.

The third refers to homeowners above the age of 62 or older, which includes those who are considered disabled.

SSI disability requirements must be met and the concerned person must filed a Declaration of Homestead with the Registry of Deeds; upon being considered eligible, the person receives up to $500,000 per owner or $1,000,000 for a couple.

Family History of Urban Homesteaders – There’s No Place Like Home

vegetable garden

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Family History of Urban Homesteaders – Here at Rural Living Today, our main focus is encouraging people in their transition from urban or suburban life to the rural lifestyle.

That transition begins when a person makes a decision to live that lifestyle, and they may be living in a downtown skyscraper, an inner city neighborhood, or a suburban community at the time.

We always encourage people to start wherever they are to learn what they’d like to know and practice what they’d like to be doing in the future.

Suburban and urban homesteading are a part of that!

No matter where you want to end up, you can practice homesteading to some degree, either in your backyard, on a balcony, or just in your kitchen.

Family History of Urban Homesteaders

Is urban homesteading a new concept that anyone alive today could claim as their own?

Not if you look at our family.

My maternal grandparents were urban homesteaders.

And I am a grandparent myself, so I’m talking about the middle of the last century.

Grandpa and Grannie lived in a neighborhood on the outer edges of a large city.

Homes were close enough to talk to a neighbor in the next yard.

Most of the yards on the street were just that.

Yards with lawns and ornamental landscaping.

But not Grandpa and Grannie’s.

Their backyard was no larger than the others in the neighborhood.

It had a small patio and a patch of lawn for grandkids to play on.

A brick planter edged the patio…and a big ceramic frog lived there.

But most of the backyard space was taken up by tomatoes, rhubarb, and a myriad of other veggies and fruits carefully fitted into terraced beds.

Urban Homesteaders

I probably got some of my first lessons in composting from my grandparents.

Living through the great depression had taught them the value of using resources to the fullest and making everything count.

Many a family meal was prepared with ingredients we kids went out and harvested from the garden for Grannie.

I can still smell ripe peaches from the trees Grandpa nurtured, and the peach pies Grannie made.

Similarly, my parents were urban homesteaders.

We’ve been urban homesteaders.

And would you believe it, some of our kids are now…urban homesteaders.

Our family heritage includes rural, suburban, and urban homesteaders.

Is it any surprise that we enjoy growing food, raising animals, preserving our harvest, and being more self-sufficient and less reliant on commercial products?

Why Do I Want to Live in the Country?
Why Do I Want to Live in the Country? Corporate Life Ball and Chain

Why Do I Want to Live in the Country?

For most of my life I lived in the city.

I worked in the city.

I was fortunate to have employment that I enjoyed, but to tell you the truth, the pace of life was catching up to me.

I can play the corporate game well, and go through the motions seamlessly.

But it was becoming difficult to keep up with the intensity and passion that is needed to keep succeeding.

The pace of life, it seemed to me, was getting faster and faster.

I was thinking that I should just move to a desert island, or maybe be more practical…and move to the country.

Now Living in the country, that would be a change!

These thoughts continued for some time and I finally had to admit that some change was in order.

You only have one life to live…and my big question was this:

IS THIS ALL THERE IS?

Keep doing this till…till when?

So I took some time to think about issues that I found myself concerned with.

Here are a few of them…

Unsustainable Pace of Life

I was tired of the unsustainable pace of life.

It didn’t start that way, but in the last 20 years the pace of my life has accelerated and accelerated to where I was really winded.

It takes honesty to admit this, as my macho “I can get it done” style has always ruled my life.

But that pace really has no reward, and it was time to get off of the treadmill.

I didn’t have time for…literally anything.

Even my family.

Some people discover this much later in life, and it always brings the “should have…could have” questions.

But for me, there was no need to wait.

The pace was killing me.

I no longer wanted to be a 24/7 slave to my Blackberry.

I like to create and build.

But I lived on a postage stamp lot in a cookie cutter neighborhood where everything was the same.

I detested the yard work, though I love projects.

Everything was too cramped for me.

I needed space, and there was no way to get any more of it in our neighborhood.

The World Around Us

Without going into detail, I am finding myself  more and more concerned about our economy and what is happening with our government.

Being a planning kind of guy, I can’t just sit back anymore with my head in the sand and say everything is OK.

This isn’t politics…stuff is happening  that I absolutely can’t believe…but it is true.

I have started looking at what I should do with my family, and living in the country is a great option.

I am not one to operate in fear, but with my family’s welfare at stake, I will do what I need to do.

One source of help and encouragement I’ve found along the way is a guy named Rudy who writes some real practical stuff on “preparing your family.”

You can check it out here – Preparing Your Family.

Have  a wonderful day…

Homesteading for Beginners Making a Living Homesteading
Homesteaders Life Insurance and Benefits of Living Off the Grid
Moving to the Country – Is this really the right property?
Moving to the Country – The start of the journey
Living in the country ~ Best rural places to live

Remote Doesn't Have to Mean Isolated
Remote Doesn’t Have to Mean Isolated

Remote Doesn’t Have to Mean Isolated

This picture of our red chicken coop and garden shed in the snow is one of my favorites.

I love the contrast of the deep red with the white surroundings.

The falling snowflakes give a peaceful ambiance.

Looking at the photo,  I can almost “hear” the  quiet and feel a nip in the air.

My friend Char likes this picture so much she would like to paint it.

But she also describes the scene as  “a symbol of the enduring, sometimes lonely, always beautiful allure of ‘the life’ and ‘the land.’ ”

Char has a point.

The rural life, while rife with beautiful scenic views and picturesque landscapes, can indeed be lonely.

If one likes solitude, it can be found on a remote piece of land far from neighbors and traffic.

If one likes lots of company, that requires lots of visiting.

Personally I could not live alone on our property very long.

Though I’m very much a homebody, I am not a good loner.

Jim is a great companion though, and the two of us do just fine.

In fact we can go for days without seeing anyone else and have to make a point of not becoming hermits.

We do have a good internet connection and phones.

We communicate daily with family and friends via phone, email, and texting.

But there’s nothing like “people with skin on,” as a child once described it.

So we make a point of seeing people–both by having people come by and by leaving our place to go out where the people are.

If you’re starting out in a new area, there are several ways you can go about meeting people, making new friends, and getting integrated into the community.

Meet your neighbors

We’ve met most of the families on our road and found every one of them to be friendly and warm.

We’ve shared ideas, swapped tips, and helped each other out.

One neighbor, also new, invited everyone over to get acquainted one evening.

Get to know local merchants

Our tiny town has just a few businesses.

Farther up the highway are others, and even more in the nearest sizable town.

Wherever we go people welcome us to the community and are glad to give us suggestions or pointers about the area.

Find sources for local information.

Visit the local library for community history materials and photos.

Pick up visitor guides, pamphlets, maps, and event schedules at the chamber of commerce.

Seek out special interest groups to meet like-minded individuals.

Look for garden clubs, service organizations, churches, and other groups and places where people gather with a common purpose.

Volunteer in the community

At a nursing home, food bank, animal shelter, meet people and provide a valuable service at the same time.

Get acquainted with your local county extension agents and agricultural organizations

They have a wealth of information on gardening, livestock, forestry, food preservation, and a multitude of other topics.

Get on their email lists to be notified of classes, workshops and other educational events.

Some of the people you meet will become your friends, and soon you’ll have a new social network and support system of people to enjoy life with.

Do You Know Your Neighbors?

I love living in the country.

Being a relational kind of person, I have always been interested in people.

I have noticed that while I am still new to our rural area, I seem to know many more people that I am involved with on a day to day basis now than when I lived in my suburban neighborhood previously.

In my old suburban neighborhood, when I saw a neighbor outside I would introduce myself and we would have a short chat and then go back to each of our worlds.

We wouldn’t see or talk to each other for literally months.

It seemed that everyone was so busy with life that to take any amount of real time to get to know a neighbor was out of the question.

At our last house, we did know one neighbor couple fairly well, and Marie and I both wish we had gotten to know them better.

But I think we all are part of a system that has us so busy that we don’t and won’t have any real opportunity to be true neighbors…having real relationship.

How to Get From City to Farm or Ranch

I remember the day I brought our U Haul truck to our new homestead, excited but anxious about unloading.

You who have moved before know what I mean!

I called a friend I haven’t known too long and he immediately volunteered to get over here and help unload…even before I could say no.

Fifteen minutes later, he was here with his teenage son.

We progressed nicely until we got to my baby grand piano.

We needed help!

My friend picked up his phone, called a friend of his, and voila!

There was another guy with his two teenage sons.

Soon a third man arrived to help.

It is safe to say that everything was unloaded within the next sixty minutes.

Then we all sat down and got to know each other.

I had made a few new friends.

One of them was apologetic that he hadn’t brought any kind of housewarming gift!

We ended up talking for a couple hours about all sorts of things.

He shared information, advice, and even some historical details about the area.

Our conversation went into some real depth on some issues. I was amazed how fast this relationship took hold.

Do You Know Your Neighbors? Friends Around the Campfire
Do You Know Your Neighbors?

In the following days, one after another of my new neighbors came up and welcomed us to the area.

One day I stopped to talk with a neighbor at his place, as I was intrigued by his Texas longhorn cattle.

Same thing…he stopped what he was doing and took time to get to know me.

A couple of days later I found myself at our local tractor store buying some maintenance filters for my tractor.

After I made my purchase, the two guys in the store just wanted to welcome me to the area and we ended up talking for an hour.

They had time for me as a person and not just a customer.

I have since been in there many times, and they remember my name and who I am.

This also happened at the local contractors’ desk where I purchased material for our new home.

And again at the bank.

This is amazing.

It seems to me that people certainly need to do business together, but that they do it differently in a small town and rural environment.

It seems to be that people living in rural areas have more time margin to spend with others.

And they genuinely like to do it.

So in my former neighborhood, where houses were literally 20 feet apart, I rarely saw my neighbors.

Here I am living on our rural 100 acre homestead, and even though I can’t see my neighbors’ homes, I already know most of them.

I count them as friends.

Farm Kids: Ballerina Girl and Little Rambo
Farm Kids: Ballerina Girl and Little Rambo

Farm Kids: Ballerina Girl and Little Rambo

Looking at the nicknames of these young farm girls, you might think one is too busy dancing to keep up with her busy little sister.

But these two girls race around our farm together, keeping up with the dogs and cats, chickens and pigs, and even the plants in the garden patch.

Meet 7-year-old Ballerina Girl and 5-year-old Little Rambo.

First off, I have to say that Little Rambo, who was a tomboy toddler, has become quite the fan of pretty clothes and the color pink.

She and Ballerina Girl share a flair for fashion, even here on the farm.

These lovely young ladies are the older two of Bethany’s three daughters.

They had gardens and chickens in the backyard before moving to our family homestead last spring, but now they feel like “official” farm kids.

Here they share some of the highs and lows of farm life.

What would you say if someone asked what it’s like to live on a farm?

BG: I’d say thank you for living on a farm like this. It’s fun.

LR: Holding my chick.

What is your favorite thing about living on a farm?

BG: Going to the chickens. That’s where I used to work but I’ve been naughty but now I can go with a grownup and they watch me.

LR: The toast that my mom makes. (Mom was making distracting toast at the time of this interview.)

Is there anything you don’t like about living on the farm?

BG: No, everything is fine.

Except the wasps that are outside and I got stung right here (shoulder) and it was like a yellow jacket.

LR: The wasps. Can you guess that it has been a bad summer for wasps around here?

Where does food come from?

BG: Vegetables come from our garden. Chicken food is seeds and we grind it.

Eggs come from chickens.

Meat comes from chickens and pigs.

We’re gonna eat the pigs.

And the cows.

And we’re gonna have our milking cows.

LR: Make food and get it at the store and from plants.

Eggs come from the chickens.

Would you like to say anything else about living on a farm or being a farm kid?

BG: Everything is good.

I love the farm.

LR: Baby chicks are so cute.

I like to hold them and feed them and give them a drink.

So now you know a little about the life of these two charming farm girls! Ballerina Girl and Little Rambo have a few (well, more than a few) cousins who enjoy visiting the farm on weekends.

Next time on Farm Kids we’ll hear from some of the boys; maybe they’ll tell us about the fences they helped build or the deep holes they dig in their pursuit to reach the center of the earth.

Via: Arnold Parts

Alternative Landscaping Fit Homeowner’s Eccentric Needs

People like to exhibit individuality in many ways, for some it’s personal fashion and for others it’s their homes.

In fact, homeowners have an affinity for individualizing their surroundings.

It usually starts within the home, but the most important aspect of a home is where you relax.

For many homeowners, they relax on the porch or in the backyard.

This is where alternative landscaping comes in to play.

Whether the goal is to enjoy an exceptional view from their porch or within their own backyard, it’s important to know certain stylistic preferences that will best suit their alternative landscaping needs.

Steps to Alternative Landscaping

As with any plan, there are several steps to employ in order to ensure the best possible result.

Landscapers should engage a homeowner, especially ones with unconventional needs, in a discussion of the following steps:

Colors: ask about the homeowner’s ideal plant types, colors, and seasonal expectations

Scale: discuss the size of plants and specific quantities to be used in different areas

Focal Point: question if there is a favored structure or setting as a focus for landscaping

Texture: assess characteristics of the homeowner’s preferred foliage for an optimal setting

Grouping: review possible plant groupings and colors for cluster-like settings

Sequence: consider recurring elements in the mix, but be mindful of over-repetition

Alternative Landscaping Focal Point Suggestions

On occasion, a homeowner has a notion about ideal plant types, colors, and textures but is at a loss when it comes to a focal point.

It’s quite possible there is a natural focal point that you can highlight.

If there isn’t a natural potential setting, you can suggest building a Japanese Garden or an outdoor dining area.

Then again, if the homeowner has children, a backyard playground or playhouse might be the perfect focal point for an alternative landscaping project.

In any case, a homeowner who is aware of landscaping options and makes informed decisions is more likely to be pleased with the finished product.

Guaranteed Ways to Slash the Costs of Homeowners Insurance

Once you have a good indication of the homeowner’s requirements, it’s easier to create a suitable landscaped environment.

Remember, it’s a lot of information for a homeowner to take in during one meeting.

You should consider leaving a checklist for the homeowner to review over time prior to starting a landscaping project.

Alternative landscaping is an art, and like any other art, you need the correct tools to begin work.

Once you have these tools you can integrate the various elements to optimize the most harmonious setting.

Many homeowners have an idea of what they would like but need a landscaper to visualize the idea.

The best way for a landscaper to assess what a homeowner wants is to discuss and guide the homeowner in how to accomplish this goal.

Homesteading for Beginners Making a Living Homesteading

woman harvesting homestead garden

Last Updated on

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.

Homesteading for beginners

Making a living homesteading, homesteading school and homesteading today

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.

How Much Money Can You Really Make Selling Old Stuff

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.

Beating Food Challenges with Chicken Eggs
5 Important Tips on Raising Roosters

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.

Top Homesteading Skills
Homesteading Product Reviews

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.

Homesteaders Life Insurance and Benefits of Living Off the Grid
Applying for Homestead Insurance When you Decide to Go Green
Why Do I Want to Live in the Country?
Moving to the Country – Is this really the right property?
Moving to the Country – The start of the journey
Living in the country ~ Best rural places to live

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.

Collaborative Consumption Can Curb Over consumption

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.

Eco-Friendly Tips for Managing Your Finances

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.

Modern Homesteaders Life Insurance and Benefits of Living Off the Grid

Woman harvesting fruits and vegetables

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You can apply for a Modern homesteaders life insurance, but it would be better to first do some research regarding what your insurance will be covering.

Lets first talk about what living off the grid is all about.

The meaning of living off the grid is misinterpreted by many as a life full of hardships or a life wasted on substance abuse.

This is not at all what living off the grid means; in fact it is quite the opposite.

Living off the grid does not involve cutting yourself off from the rest of the world and living a life of a caveman hunting for meat.

It does not mean that you will have to stop using modern appliances that make life easier for you.

All that it means is that through various techniques and technology you and your family can now create and sustain your sources of energy using nature’s power.

Just like anybody else, you will still be a citizen of the United States entitled to your rights to claim a homesteader’s life insurance.

Living of the grid may prove to be a wonderful experience in which you feel yourself in harmony with nature and cleaner environment all around you.

This is your chance to give something back to the environment that most of us so ruthlessly destroy every day.

Homesteaders Life Insurance
Homesteaders Life Insurance

Modern Homesteaders Life Insurance

Applying for a homesteader’s life insurance can be a good idea if you want to ensure that your next of kin gets a substantial amount, tax free, in case of your death.

Living Off the Grid Defined

Homesteading and Living off the grid entails a cut-off from any sort of outside source of power in the form of electricity, water and sewage, gas and heating.

There are now a lot of ways you can be self-sufficient in all of the above mentioned energy sources.

There are many homeowners who live off the grid by providing their own source of electricity but depend on the public provision of water and sewage.

Many tend to develop their own water and sewage systems but depend on public electricity provisions.

The main purpose of living off the grid is to rid yourself of various utilities bills.

Many find it increasingly difficult to pay for their utilities bills and homesteader’s life insurance premiums every month.

Now you can eliminate extra costs so that you can focus on saving money for important things like your kid’s college tuition and your homesteader’s life insurance.

You can become self-sustained through harnessing nature’s power in the form of sunlight and powerful winds.

Residential Solar System

Through the installation of a good solar panel system you can easily store a lot of energy coming from the sun in the form of sunlight.

Through an intricate system the sunlight is stored in the panels is then broken down to provide alternative current which in turn will power your house for a longer period of time.

This way you may grow a bit more self conscious about saving energy and conserving energy, ultimately leading to a balanced way of life.

Another way you can become self reliant in harnessing energy is through wind.

You can get powerful winds turbines installed which are propelled by the force of the wind.

The power that the turbines create is then transformed in to energy and then electricity.

You can either install one or both of the systems in order to get more energy.

For example in winters when the sun does not shine for longer periods of time, your solar panels will catch sunlight as much as they can during the day.

Wind Energy For Your Home

And upon night fall when winds are generally blowing in the winter, your turbine system would allow you to store wind energy to be used for creating electricity.

You can even invest in producing 100% energy, this way you can store what you require and sell the rest of the energy to the power companies earning money.

This also ensures that the energy you have created in excess is not wasted.

You can even use that energy to pay off for your homesteader’s life insurance premiums by using the money you get by selling the energy to power companies.

If you are considering living off the grid you must also get backup generators and batteries which can store excess energy in case when you really need it.

There are times when the sun doesn’t shine for longer periods and in these situations your backup generators kick in using the excess energy to power your house.

homesteaders life insurance
homesteaders life insurance

Homesteader’s Life Insurance

In America there are many households which started to live off the grid, unplugging from the system and generating their own source of food and energy.

As they do this, various life and health insurance companies bring out different homesteader’s life insurance coverage options for such households.

To save the greatly depleting fossil fuels, many households are reverting to creating and consuming their own energy.

They recycle, reuse and make sure everything they do result in positive results for both the environment and themselves in the short and long run.

There are specific insurance companies which allow discounts for homesteader’s life insurance for individuals who are less dependent on public utilities and create their source of power.

Some give up to five percent concession on premiums if homeowners install solar panel systems and geothermal pumps to power their homes.

Living Off the Grid Does Not Mean that You Live Without Any Power

According to Cyril Greenya who is Donegal’s (insurers) chief underwriter; “If someone is living in a house with no heat and no water, that’s not somebody we would like to insure.

If they have wood fireplaces or coal stoves, that’s not something we want to insure.

Now you’re talking about a fire hazard.

But geothermal and solar are different. They’re safe.”

Some homesteader’s life insurance companies require that you install solar panels and geothermal pumps via a professional in order to get insured against any hazards.

Insurance companies discourage getting the job done by inexperienced individuals who risk destroying your house through improper insulation and installations which end up damaging entire systems.

There are many homesteader’s life insurance companies that do not give out homesteader’s life insurance coverage to households which are powered by wind, yet.

‘Going Green’ Insurance Coverage

Over the years there have been a lot of homesteader’s life insurance companies which have provided customers with substantial discounts for owning ‘Green’ homes which are environmentally friendly.

According to reports made on these insurance companies it was discovered that in 2009, 22 homesteader’s life insurance companies provided 39 services and products in order to promote the construction of buildings that are environmentally friendly.

These companies also promote the renovation of older buildings using environmentally friendly techniques.

Since the report came out it has been discovered that there are now even more companies providing homesteader’s life insurance for households ‘going green’.

Michael Barry, a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute was recorded as stating;

“Alternative energy coverage is a niche business, but as more homes are being built that are so-called eco-friendly, and as more homeowners take an interest in them and as more builders build them, you will see more insurers cater to this audience.”

Many Insurance Companies Do Not Quote Lower for Off the Grid Homes

Unfortunately some of the most reputable insurance companies in the United States do not indulge offering lower quotes for homesteader’s life insurance for households living off the grid.

Je McCollum, a representative of State Farm was reported stating;

“We have no problem insuring homes that are off the grid, we’ve been around more than 80 years, so we were insuring homes that were off the grid before there was a grid.”

Slash the Costs of Homeowners Insurance

Do Not Get an Additional Coverage for modern Homesteader’s Life Insurance and Home Insurance

It is not necessary to get additional coverage for your solar panels and geothermal pumps since your general insurance policy covers all of this.

You will only have to make sure that your policy precisely defines the cost of replacing it would cover for repairs to your home.

Many speculate that with the rising popularity of homesteaders in the country, more insurance companies will start providing coverage for homeowners using alternative energy.

According to USA Today, it was reported that over 250,000 families now live off the grid in both urban and suburban areas.

Mentioned below are some of the benefits of Living of the Grid with modern Homesteaders Life Insurance:

Sustainability

You can grow your own food and energy to power up your house without any outside influence.

This will allow you to save hundreds of dollars in utilities bills which you can put to better use.

A sustained food supply means that you will be able to consume healthy and non-GMO based foods.

Plus you can even sell some of your fresh organic produce for twice the price.

Going Green

Self sustainability will allow you to become more environmentally entwined and you will stop wasting resources and energy.

Turning off excess lights, turning off running water when shaving or brushing your teeth etc. are all things that you will need to do in order to save energy and the environment.

Utility Independence

The feeling you get when you do not have to pay for you utilities month after month and knowing that you can grow your own food and supply your energy is out of this world.

This free and independent feeling is a reward unlike any other in this day and age.

You will not have to depend on anybody.

Going Green Can Save Money

‘Going green’ might save you a considerable amount of money.

Living off the grid can be a bit expensive initially, but once you have installed your systems and recovered your investment in about 5 to 10 years, you will see how much money you can save living off the grid.

Plus you will not have to pay an increased amount of utilities and fossil fuels.

Some Considerations for Off the Grid Households

There are several advantages of living off the grid but it takes a bit of time and money to set up the entire process.

Here are some things to consider when deciding to go all green.

You are your own power company:

When you pay for your utility bills you are also agreeing to pay a percentage amount on salaries of all those who are employed by the power companies, the workers, the maintenance people etc.

When you are off the grid you will have to spend a lot time making sure that everything is in check along with setting the entire system up.

Regular Investment is required: In order to go entirely off the grid it is required that you invest a lot of money in backup generators for the house along with batteries that can store the energy that you produce.

Based on the qualities of the batteries you may have to buy a new one every 5 to 15 years.

Plus generators require gas and tools you will have to buy a lot of that daily in order to keep the generators running in case of a power outage.

All in all, it is better to apply for your homesteader’s life insurance policy when you go out to get an insurance coverage for your off-the-grid house.

Homesteading Increasingly Popular

Homesteading has become increasingly popular and if the trend continues like this there will be more homesteaders life insurance companies serving alternative energy-backed homes with more services and products.

If you are fed up of paying utility bills every month by working two to three jobs than it is better to switch to a more self-sufficient, satisfying and rewarding way of life.

A homesteader’s life insurance policies may be really flexible depending on the needs of the one who has applied for the policy.

The death benefit is subjected to a decrease or increase at anytime depending on the policy owner.

Plus you can even decrease and increase your insurance premium which is another benefit of having a homesteaders life insurance coverage.

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