Applying for Homestead Insurance When you Decide to Go Green

Homestead garden, farm and kitchen

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When you decide to go green, it is important that you also get homestead insurance.

Going green is the in thing these days and in the US there are thousands of households who are resorting to producing their own supply of energy.

Living off the grid and Homesteading can be an interesting endeavor, especially when you consider the rising costs of fossil fuels.

Many people cannot bear the burden of paying their utility bills each month.

Many have to work 2 to 3 jobs each day just to make ends meet.

Let’s first discuss why you should consider living off the grid.

Living Off The Grid

First of all going green would mean that you no longer depend on the conventional systems that your government provides to you, for example gas, electricity, sewage, etc.

Secondly, you may end saving thousands of dollars by producing your own energy because you will be the one in charge of everything.

According to reports, when you pay a utility bill you are charged a percentage amount which goes directly to the faculty and maintenance people working for the energy company.

Applying for Homestead Insurance

Getting homestead insurance should also be on your top priority list but before you do that it would be a good idea if you do some fact-finding on your own with regards to what kind of coverage you will receive from your insurance company.

Living off the grid does not mean that you will have to live the rest of your lives sheltered in a cave with a fire as your only heat source and skins of cow or sheep as your clothes.

It does not mean that you will have to stop using technology that makes life easier.

In fact, living off the grid means using technology and techniques that modern science has discovered in order to adequately and sufficiently produce your own sources of energy.

It is entirely possible and easily doable.

You will be using the power of nature and putting it to good use, the power of sunlight, wind and rain can be harnessed and transformed into energy in various forms.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with going green and like any other US citizen you will also have the right to get homestead insurance to protect you against theft, vandalism and property damage.

Living off the grid and going green can be a really good experience and also gives you the chance of giving something back to the environment.

It will allow you to help preserve the environment and be in harmony with nature and its wonderful gifts.

Plus, you can even grow your own food in your backyard and start a business.

There are many people in the US who have successfully turned their gardens and backyards into harvesting grounds.

You can easily plant organic seeds and harvest organic vegetables which are non-GMO.

Homestead Insurance

Through your homestead insurance and strategic planning, you can then market your products at twice the market rate due to the freshness of your produce.

You can even buy a couple of hens for producing eggs.

Fresh eggs are healthy and full of nutrients as opposed to those which are kept for a long time before being shipped and transported to supermarkets.

You can sell fresh eggs to those who enjoy good food, free of chemicals and artificial enhancers, at twice the price or keep them for your own consumption.

You can even keep a couple of goats for milk.

Goat milk has been scientifically proven to be good for infants who have problems digesting processed milk.

You can either sell the milk or keep for self-consumption.

Homestead Insurance
Homestead Insurance

Homestead Insurance and the Purpose of Going Green

Living off the grid requires you to cut off any outside sources of power like electricity, heating, sewage and water.

That being said, many households keep one source of energy for themselves and use other sources through normal means.

For example, you can produce your own electricity but use normal water and sewage services.

Many live on state electricity but have their own water and sewage facilities.

The main idea is to minimize your monthly expenditure in forms of utilities bills and other state bills.

Paying for your homestead insurance and utilities every month can be really frustrating.

Instead, if you provide your own energy you can use the money you save to pay homestead insurance premiums.

You can even sell excess energy to energy companies.

You can harness the power of nature through various methods and technology.

Solar Panels

You can purchase solar panels and install them on your rooftop or in your front lawn to provide adequate sunlight exposure.

The solar panels will absorb the heat and light from the sun and break it down, creating energy which will flow through an AC switch and generate electricity.

You can also become self-sufficient in providing electricity for your household by installing a wind turbine.

Winds blowing in your locality will move the turbine and create electricity through an intricate system.

You can either install both solar panels and wind turbines or one of them.

Solar panels are relatively more cost-effective.

You can also invest in becoming self-sufficient in all forms of energy.

You can even use the excess energy you create to pay for your homestead insurance premiums.

If you desire to live off the grid in the US or anywhere else, it is also important that you consider creating a separate budget for backup generators and batteries that can store energy in case you experience any difficulties in producing energy through the alternative sources.

Homestead Insurance

Due to the steady increase in households going off the grid in the US, producing their own food and energy, there are many insurance companies which now offer insurance coverage deals and packages.

To save fossil fuels from being depleted, many households reverted to recycling and creating their own energy.

Also, for insuring farm equipment.

There are few homestead insurance companies which provide discounts to people who are self-reliant in producing their own food and energy.

Some companies may also give up to 5% off on insurance premiums for households that have solar panels installed along with geothermal pumps.

Homesteaders Life Insurance and Benefits of Living Off the Grid

Homestead insurance companies

Do not like to insure homeowners who live without heating and water systems.

They do not encourage insurance if such households depend on firewood and coal for heating and cooking because that is potentially dangerous and a mishap just waiting to happen.

But they are willing to insure people who at least have proper solar panels and geothermal pumps installed to become self-sufficient.

Secondly, insurance companies do not cover improper installation.

It is required that you get your solar panels and geothermal pumps installed at par with the company’s standard and you will have to hire an experienced professional for the job.

Also, many insurance companies do not insure wind powered households.

Slash the Costs of Homeowners Insurance

Insurance for Living off the Grid

Insurance companies over the years have provided their clients discounts for setting up environmentally friendly houses.

According to reports, there are some insurance companies which have provided a number of different products and services to households that are going green.

Many homestead insurance companies encourage environmentally friendly households and opt to invest in the renovation of old buildings using techniques which promote environmental safety.

Michael Barry, a spokesperson for the Insurance Information Institute, was recorded 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.”

How to get Proper Homestead Insurance

When you decide to apply for an insurance policy, you do not get any sort of additional coverage for geothermal pumps and solar panels and your umbrella policies will cover all of this.

You must determine whether or not your insurance policy covers the cost of replacing and renovating your home in case of any hazardous event.

According to research, many analysts argue that due to a considerable increase in the number of environmentally friendly homes, insurance companies would have to draft insurance policies for such households.

Over 250,000 households live off the grid in the US. Here are some advantages of having homestead insurance:

Sustainability

Growing your own food gives you the advantage of eating healthy and you can avoid having to eat GMO food products as well as processed foods.

Plus, you can even sell your produce for a reasonable amount of money.

Generating your own power allows you to save money because you will not have to pay utility bills.

Saving the Environment

Self-sustainability will let you be in harmony with nature and will allow you to become more self-aware.

You will end up saving a lot of energy by making it a habit to turn off lights when not in use, saving water as much as you can, etc.

This way you will be giving back something to the environment instead of destroying it.

Insurance against Damage

Your homestead insurance coverage will allow you to claim damages for any issues with your solar panels or geothermal pumps and your household tools.

No Frustration, No Stress

By producing your own power and becoming totally self–sufficient, you will not have to pay hundreds of dollars in utilities each month.

What you earn you keep.

However, it is imperative that you take good care of your equipment.

Plus, you will not have to depend on anybody.

Long Term Investment

Living off the grid can save you tons of money but you will have to invest some of it to set everything up including your homestead insurance.

Initially, the cost will be high, the equipment and machinery is expensive and the time it will take you to recover what you have invested in the ‘going green’ process will take about 5 to 10 years to recover and after you have recovered your investment, you will save a lot of money.

Plus, you will not have to pay any tax at all on your utility bills.

Things to Consider When Living Off the Grid

There are pros and cons of everything but for living off the grid the only con is cost.

Though everything good takes a bit of cash and time to pan out, you might have to considerably invest in this way of life.

But rest assured, once you have recovered what you have invested you will not have to worry about anything else apart from maintenance.

You Own Your Own Power Supply living off the grid

Ever noticed that there is a small percentage of money charged in your utilities bills apart from the actual charges.

Well, that percentage charged is for the salaries of all the people working under maintenance of the power company.

You are paying for their salaries.

Going off the grid would allow you to save this money but you will have to invest your efforts and your time in making sure that everything is working according to plan

Investment

If you plan on going off the grid permanently and have made the necessary arrangements, then you will have to not only invest in the technology but also a backup generator and some batteries.

The excess energy produced can be conserved, even supplied back to the grid.

You will require a battery to save this energy.

The batteries are a bit pricey and need to be replaced every 5 to 10 years, based on its quality.

Plus, you will also have to purchase a backup generator.

Never compromise on the security of your house so before you do anything else it is better to first get homestead insurance so that you are protected against theft and wrongful products.

These days, homesteading has become a way of life and people are becoming more aware of what is harmful for them and what is not despite what is being shown on the media.

People have become aware of the destruction heavy industrialization is causing to the environment.

That is why nowadays most people grow their own food and vegetables.

Homestead insurance policies can be really ideal and flexible depending on the company you are getting the policy from.

Top Homesteading Skills

Living Off the Grid Things to Consider can Extraordinary Experience

Solar panels outside house

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Living off the grid can be an extraordinary experience. Off-Grid Living: Surviving the Outdoors

It is perfect if you want to escape the daily stress and frustrations of life.

Paying utilities bills every month can be a really frustrating task.

Water, gas, phone and power bills all haunt you each month when you go out to the morning paper and hesitantly check the mailbox.

For some people paying bills can be an extremely hard task, especially when they are working 2 or 3 jobs.

A considerable portion of your wages goes directly into paying the bills.

But what if you can cut back on some of the things, what if there was a way of completely living off the grid?

Well, fortunately for you, there are indeed a number of ways to escape the pressure of paying your monthly bills.

Living Off the Grid

Living off the grid is becoming quite popular these days and people are opting for a life free of financial constraints and are instead choosing to live independently.

And by independently it means to permanently or at least try not to depend entirely on natural resources.

The Electrical Grid

The grid refers to a linked system of electrical power units (those large wired poles you see on your drive back home) that deliver power in the form of electricity and telephone lines to households and corporations all over the country.

There is a separate grid system for water and natural gas.

Living off the grid requires shutting down all these power utilities which keep the light, gas and water going in your house.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to live like a caveman; there are ways that you can create your own utilities.

Different ways to live off the grid

Many homeowners choose to get their power grid off for electricity and develop a way produce their own power.

This way, they can live off the city’s water and sewerage system.

On the other hand, many homeowners tend to cut off their water supply and dig wells to be self-sufficient as far as water is concerned.

They take care of the sewage by getting septic tanks installed and voila, no water and sewerage bills ever!

In the US, there are quite a lot of people who are living off the grid and becoming self-reliant on some form of fossil fuels or the other.

Heating your home with an outdoor furnace

It is still difficult to accurately measure how many people are doing it.

However, in 2006, Home Power magazine published an article which showed that there are over 180,000 homeowners who have successfully become independent and produce the electricity they need.

They have also cut off the other utilities.

Another report published by USA Today showed that there are over 27,000 households which have become self sustained using solar and wind energy sources and doing so resulted in a permanent freedom from power bills. Realistic Off Grid Power Sources

Though households who get off the grid tend to be the ones already located in far-off locations, there are now people living in urban areas and big cities who created their own sustainable methods to create and harness energy in the form of electricity and water.

Many city dwellers are now living off the grid in order to cut back on their bills and save money, plus they also give something back to the environment.

Here are some of the ways you can go off grid and live a life free from stress and frustration;

Living Off the Grid: Using Solar and Wind Energy

In order to live a life a life off the grid, the first thing you need to get rid of is electricity.

You can contact the power company and get your power cut off very easily.

In order to produce your own power, you will need to harness the power of the wind and the light from the sun.

Harnessing the power of nature to create different forms of energy is a concept that is quite commonly used nowadays and many know about alternate energy systems.

Having said this, many people are now installing solar panels on their rooftops to create energy using sunlight.

Solar panels

Households living off the grid use photo-voltaic solar panels installed on their roof or somewhere close by the house.

The solar panels are made from components known as silicon semiconductors.

When the sun is at its peak during the day, these silicon semiconductors harness the energy from the sun, store the electrons and break them down so they can move around independently.

These free electrons travel directly down the electrical panels in the solar panels and generate DC, direct current.

Through an inverter, the current is then converted in to AC, alternating current, which you can use as electricity to power the house.

Wind power

If you prefer the wind to power your house than the process involving wind energy is a bit different than solar energy.

You can harness the power of the wind by installing a household wind turbine.

A wind turbine resembles the propeller of an aircraft.

This turbine sits on a 50 to 120 feet tall tower and is powered by nothing but the force of the wind.

The wind powers and spins the turbine.

The force of the turbine leads to a shaft which is connected to a hub in the generator below.

The power of the spinning turbine is converted into electricity through an AC inverter which you can use to power your place.

Earn income selling excess energy

If you do indeed indulge in living off the grid, then you can either use one of the above mentioned methods or both.

There are households who have installed both solar and wind energy mechanisms which they use alternatively for example, during the day they would use the sun to power the house and during the night they would use the gentle breeze to power the turbine and create electricity.

There are some households who produce energy in excess of their needs.

They can either sell the excess energy to a power company (if your state has no regulations against it) or store it and use later, but it is better to store and use because you will have initially cut ties with the power company.

The technology involved in harnessing the power of the winds to produce energy is affordable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly.

You can save a lot of money if you go with this option, plus it is also good for the environment, with no greenhouse gas emissions produced there are many environmentalists who are switching to wind powered technology.

This way, it has become a favored option for tree huggers.

You can also reduce your carbon footprint this way.

How to Get Rid of Water and Sewage

Now that you totally depend on the power of the sun and wind to produce your own electricity, the next step in the ‘living off the grid’ process is to cut off the city’s water and sewage provision.

A common fact is that most people are not aware of is the fact that water is everywhere.

It is beneath you and when it rains it pours down on top of you. Rainwater harvesting system

Water provisions

This gives you a couple of great opportunities to use water in order to live off the grid.

According to the information provided by the ‘The Groundwater Foundation’, over 17 million American households sustain their own water provision, mainly by having wells dug.

The process of digging wells is a fairly simple one.

You need a huge driller to dig a hole in the ground beneath where water flows.

Before doing this, confirm that your driller is licensed because there are well digging regulations for private use.

Make sure that your driller is professional and experienced.

You will need to be really careful to dig a well in the proper spots.

If you don’t, there can be harmful contaminants which can leak into your well and your water supply.

The cost will depend on the size of the well.

The deeper the well the well, the more chances will be that a cleaner and more refreshing source of water will be found.

Whole House Water Filter

You can also get a filter installed so the water tastes good.

Another way of efficiently storing water is by getting a rain tank or a cistern.

A cistern is a sort of a tank that can hold water.

There are various home cisterns that you can installed depending on your requirements.

You can either get a concrete system installed above or below ground or you can get a cistern made out of fiber glass and even steel.

Rainwater

Rainwater that runs in your gutter system is directed toward the tank, filling it up with water.

The water then goes into your home.

If you have a tank installed above ground you can utilize the weight of the water to pump it into your water system.

But a cistern will only help you if you live somewhere where it rains frequently.

That being said, if you live near a polluted area, for example an expressway, then it is best that you install a clay roof over the cistern to ensure the water remains clean.

Sewage system

You can even create your own sewage system for living off the grid.

The most effective way you can get rid of your sewage is by using a septic system.

It includes a large tank in which all your water goes.

The bacteria then dissolve everything and creates layer for your waste.

As more water comes in, the old waste gets pumped out via pressure.

The waste flows through a series of pipes and into a drain field.

These are some of the important things that you will have to consider when living off the grid.

But there are some other little things you need to pay attention to as well, things like heating, backup power, and cooling.

Heating and Cooling

Living off the grid requires that you also keep yourself comfortable.

You want to have enough cool and hot water.

You want to have proper heating and cooling throughout your house.

Many households that are living off the grid use propane tanks.

You can use the energy you produce to provide electrical heat.

However, this often will deplete your resources quickly.

Propane is a good source for powering your heating and cooling systems.

Fill the tank with propane, and then pump it into your house via pipes.

Tankless heaters

Another way of heating your water is installing tankless heaters.

Living off the grid requires that you don’t use any other industrial source, so you can’t use natural gas to heat your water.

Tank-less heaters do not heat or hold water.

You will have to heat the water manually for which you will need to put the amount of water you need heated in the tanks and use propane to heat it.

Generator

Most households living off the grid also have backup generators installed.

They do this in case they are not able to generate sufficient energy.

In the winter, the sun often doesn’t shine enough.

In the summer, wind may be scarce in daytime.

It is smart to have a backup generator installed.

You can install it with an automatic ‘switch on’ function.

The generator will start automatically when there is no power.

Burning wood

You can even resort to burning wood to create heat.

Many people who are living off the grid use wood as a primary source of heat.

Electric and gas heating appliances take up too much energy, that is where wood comes in.

Simply chop it up and throw it in your fireplace. You can use wood to cook and heat your house at the same time.

Solar cooking

Get a sun oven and harness the sun’s energy to bake, cook, steam, and boil your foods.

All in all, living off the grid can be a wonderful experience.

You can be self-reliant and give back to the environment.

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Want to Enjoy Off-Grid Living? Here is How You Can Do it

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People who are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and avoid using fossil fuels are turning to off-grid living.

This is a popular choice among such people as it helps them become truly independent.

Making their own electricity, farming their own food and ditching the phone line are among the few things that going off-grid living entails.

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Off-grid Living – Here is How You Can Do it

Enjoy Off-Grid Living
Enjoy Off-Grid Living

Off-grid Electricity

Being on the grid usually means being linked to a country-wide system of telephone, water, electricity and gas line.

Going off-grid means shunning all these facilities and getting yourself to create your own energy and heating your home with an outdoor furnace

There are some folks who like to go off the gird for a limited time, while there are some who have gone off grid completely. Realistic Off Grid Power Sources

Going off-grid gives complete freedom from utility bills and the demands of the companies that provide utility services.

Relying on renewable energy sources such as wind and the sun means living a more environment friendly way.

Using the wind and solar energy to provide electricity can be used by any home, making it a source of energy that can be used to anyone.

While some people argue that this way of producing electricity is expensive, technological advancements in recent years have certainly made it a less expensive affair.

Off-grid Water System
Off-grid Water System

Off-grid Water & Sewer System

Rainwater harvesting system – Getting off the city water and sewage line is the next step in getting yourself off the grid.

The best thing about water is that it’s everywhere; you just have to look closely.

From falling on your head as rain to running below your feet in the form of groundwater you’ll find water just about everywhere.

These are two huge sources that can be tapped into to get into an off-grid living style.

Getting underground water is quite simple, drill a hole into the ground.

Once the hole has been drilled, a pump is used to extract the water.

There is a chance of harmful contaminants seeping out into the well so make sure to dig deep; the deeper you go, the cleaner the water you will find.

Install a filter and you will be free of any local watering restrictions that are applied during drought.

Cistern Water Harvesting

The other way of providing clean water is by using a cistern (a tank or reservoir) to collect rainwater.

The cistern can be placed above or beneath the ground and are made of concrete or fiberglass.

The cistern pumps the water out of the rain gutter and is pumped back into your house for usage.

There are many books on cisterns.

Off-Grid Septic System

To go completely off-grid living, you also need to disconnect from the sewer line by installing a septic system instead.

This is a tank that holds the waste and has bacteria already inside it that helps in breaking down the waste.

It collects the waste, which is naturally separated into layers.

Soil is one of the best biological filters and is helpful here to keep the dangerous bacteria underground up to the time they are finally absorbed as nutrients.

The septic system should be serviced once a year by a professional to keep it functioning at its best.

The benefits of off-grid living are encouraging more people to change their way of living.

Thousands of people have proved it and these numbers continue to grow.

With off-grid living you can become truly independent.

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Living or Just Existing

Guide to Composting Toilets – How to Use and Maintain

Toilet with toilet paper

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With more and more people searching for ways to become more eco-friendly, composting toilets are a popular way to start in that direction.

Becoming environment friendly requires more than just buying energy saving bulbs or trying to recycle everything made of plastic.

Taking care of human sanitation in an eco-friendly way is also a very effective way of going green.

How Does a Composting Toilets Work?

Guide to Composting Toilets
Guide to Composting Toilets

Dry and composting toilets utilize a natural process, one that requires no chemicals and very little water.

This is a way to turn human waste into something that can be used to improve the soil’s quality of being more nutritious to the plants.

A composting toilet uses an aerobic process to decompose and process the waste.

This requires little to no water and absolutely no chemicals.

In order to support the aerobic process the materials used are peat moss and sawdust.

These absorb the liquid and reduce the odor.

Why Use a Composting Toilet?

There are many benefits of a composting toilet that can be beneficial to the environment and yourself such as:

They greatly help to reduce the amount of water used

More fresh water is saved that usually would have gone to waste with the waste

Great for the environment as no chemicals are required to dispose the waste

Can be used anywhere because they do not require water supply

Save money as you won’t require any plumbing

Take it with you when going camping or hiking

It adds a natural aspect to your life, the cycle of reusing and not wasting.

Home Maintenance Tips that Will Save You Tons of Money

Maintaining a Composting Toilet

The most important thing you have to do when using a composting toilet is never to add anything that is likely to kill microbes that are important for breaking down waste.

This requires that you do not add any cleaning agents or chemicals such as bleach and ammonia products.

These artificial chemicals destroy the beneficial bacteria.

Instead of these, you need to use water and baking soda.

The mixture of these two will help the microbes do a better job at their breaking down the waste and not destroying anything beneficial in the waste.

There are a lot of people who like flushing things down the drain.

Make sure you or anyone using it never does that.

A composting toilet’s sole purpose is to process human excretion and nothing else.

Flushing down old medicine and antibiotics will kill the bacteria and harm the microbes that are necessary in breaking down the waste.

If anyone in the family has been using antibiotic medicines over a long period of time, like 6 months, then it is better if they do not use a composite toilet.

It will be present in their excretion and will definitely kill the microbes and the bacteria.

All-in-all, composite toilets are versatile, convenient, eco-friendly and stop wasting so much fresh water.

There are millions of people who are not getting fresh water to drink.

By using composting toilets, the world’s fresh water issue can be greatly reduced, minimizing your impact on the environment as well.

Solar Power Electricity Best Source That Virtually Never Runs Out

Renewable Source of Energy Solar Power Electricity

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The sun is an amazing source of energy… solar power electricity.

It is always there and will keep doing its job for a few billion more years.

It is the best alternate source of energy for electricity, a renewable source that virtually never runs out.

Even though you cannot utilize the power during night, cloudy or stormy days, it can be counted upon to be there the next day, and the days after that.

It is ready to provide light and energy.

As long as the Sun is there, the brilliant opportunity to utilize solar power electricity will be there.

Solar Power Electricity
Solar Power Electricity

Renewable Source of Energy: Solar Power Electricity

Unlike other sources of energy like fossil fuels, the Sun does not run out of energy to provide.

Oil and gases are fuel sources that are quickly being used up and the world is looking towards new renewable energy sources to meet the increasing electricity demand.

The fact that one day there will be no oil and gas left on the planet means that humans will have to look up, literally, to search for another source.

Best Backup Generators

Best Emergency Lighting – solar options

Using a sun oven

We prepared an All American Sun Oven Review to see what it’s like using solar power.

It works great to cook, bake and boil water.

Solar power electricity uses solar panels for renewable energy generation.

These solar panels can be used to generate power.

The technology keeps on progressing and keeps on getting more efficient.

There is still a long way to go to harness the full energy of the Sun for powering the world but it is a good sign that renewable energy technologies are moving towards the right direction.

Oil and other fossil fuels are not renewable sources, once they are gone, they will be gone for good.

Even if another source is found, it will still be something that will, in time, run out.

Making electricity from fossils also adds to pollution.

The waste and gases produced are harmful to the world.

Burning fossil fuel releases carbon dioxide into the air with other green house gases that damage the environment.

We should start looking elsewhere for clean energy.

Solar Power Electricity
Solar Power Electricity

Powering without Polluting

Solar power electricity can power our world without polluting the environment.

This is the most important and biggest advantage of solar power.

Solar cells and panels can be used in homes and are completely silent.

Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium Solar Generator Portable Power Station

They dutifully extract energy without making a sound and require minimal maintenance.

They come with non-moving parts so they last longer, reducing the overall cost in the long run.

Solar panels, cells and lights may seem expensive at first but the initial cost is greatly outweighed by the benefits.

They save you money in the long run due to low maintenance and little-to-no electricity bill.

With the rise in oil and fossil fuel prices, the electricity prices are sure to rise, while solar energy is something that will always be there, you don’t have to pay the Sun anything to give your solar panels the rays of light it requires.

In times of disaster, and also great for Off-Grid Living, having solar power will be a great advantage.

Solar power will definitely help survive blackouts.

With electricity towers and cables destroyed, your solar panels and cells will give you the much needed solar power electricity to get through any difficult times that you may face.

Are We Living or Just Existing?

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Are We Living or Just Existing – Here I am, living on 100 acres and real jazzed about it.

I’m jazzed at night looking back at the day, and I’m really jazzed when I wake up!

I remember one day years ago in my corporate life.

I was in a meeting discussing TPS report cover designs and I found myself daydreaming.

I can’t even recall what I was dreaming about, but it was pleasantly distracting.

Then the person addressing the meeting woke me up when he said that when he got up in the morning he was “jazzed” about life and ready for the ups and downs of the day.

I could see his genuine excitement  and enthusiasm. But where in the world did he get it?

Are We Living or Just Existing?

Comparing that guy’s feelings to my sense of life, I realized I was just going through the motions.

I had a great job and a great family….but something was missing.

Maybe a lot was missing.

I didn’t even like lots of things about my life–and I definitely could care less about TPS cover designs.

Why was I dying on the inside, even when things were going well on the outside?

I knew I needed to wake up and understand what was missing in my life.

Maybe then I could rediscover the excitement and passion of life that I’d once had.

Thus started my journey to discover what was really going on with me.

Along the way, I took a trip with my elderly father back to his home roots on a large farm in Nebraska.

He left the farm when he finished high school, but I suspect he really never really left in his heart.

As we walked around the eight square miles that was the original family homestead, I saw firsthand what a farm was, or more accurately, what LAND was.

I found myself getting pretty jazzed up internally.

It wasn’t living in Nebraska that was the exciting part; it was seeing with my own eyes what was involved in a new kind of life–one that was connected to the land.

It was the rural lifestyle that really got me going.

I remembered my happiness in years past when I’d spent my weekends mending fences and doing other routine chores on our 5-acre gentleman’s farm.

My wife, Marie, had been in her element raising kids, baking bread, growing food–even chasing escapee cows back into our pastures.

Our kids were constantly outdoors, happily playing on their rope swing or munching veggies in the garden.

Over the years circumstances had taken us back to suburban neighborhoods, but now my excitement was growing as I started thinking about living on acreage again.

Marie and I agreed—we were both happiest when living the rural lifestyle.

As we talked about making a change, I started seeing some possibilities for moving back to rural life.

But then came the doubt.

The realist in me challenged my thoughts.

Could I really make such a major change…or any change at all?

How could I really leave my current corporate life?

I couldn’t afford it.

There were too many obstacles.

A part of me said I should just keep doing what I was doing.

But the other part was starting to soar…becoming excited…getting jazzed about the possibilities of a change.

You see it too, don’t you?

Are We Living? 

The internal battle.

Moving to the Country Reality vs. the dream.

I am here to tell you that the dream is possible.

I was tired of just existing.

Of going through the motions.

Would I continue for the rest of my life this way?

Nope.

Couldn’t do it.

For me and my family, change was required, and it involved moving to 100 acres and living a whole new way of life.

I just couldn’t pretend that I liked my life and satisfy my longings by playing Farmville on Facebook.

I needed the real thing.

Not a picture or game of the real thing.

For others it might mean something else, but they will  have to write their own stories about their journeys.

Here is my paraphrased version of the words of Jesus in John 10:10:

“I came so you can have real life, more and better life than you ever dreamed possible.”

We’re glad to be sharing this journey with you at Rural Living Today as we all move toward a life that will really get us jazzed.

Plan Without Action Is Just a Wish

I’m going to get right into it today.

If you want to make the move to a rural lifestyle, you must make a plan and then act on it!

I know a lot of people who would love the rural lifestyle.

They love the pace, how all the work has a purpose, the peace and safety of it.

But not many of those people take it from that wish to actually making a plan and acting upon it.

That’s really the crux of the issue.

Sometimes it can take years to get to your goal.

It really can!

But it truly is worthwhile.

Back in 2006 when I first found our property, I was wishing for a rural lifestyle but didn’t see any concrete way of getting there.

I am blessed in that as an extended family we were able to combine resources and get the land, but still – what then?

It can seem insurmountable sometimes.

I mean, it’s nice to dream of starry skies and wide open spaces, but what about jobs?

Schools?

Let’s be practical about it!

At the time, I was 7 months pregnant with our first child, had already had to quit my job due to nausea and my husband had just been laid off.

We didn’t even have gas money for him to go look for a job!

Not a whole lot of prospects there for making a huge move, right?  Right!

But it didn’t have to stay that way.

We knew what we wanted, so we sat down together and made a plan of how we would get there.

It involved a lot of changes in our life, and we went through some difficult times.

But during those difficult times, my husband went back to school to get a degree so he could earn more.

I went back to work after our second daughter in order to support him so he could attend full-time.

I won’t lie – it was difficult, and if I thought my life would continue perpetually like that, I would have seriously become depressed.

But there was a light at the end of the tunnel!

I knew that a little hard work and perseverance in a situation that was not ideal would pay off, and it has.

Homesteading for Beginners Making a Living Homesteading
Homesteaders Life Insurance and Benefits of Living Off the Grid
Why Do I Want to Live in the Country?
Living in the country ~ Best rural places to live

My husband was very blessed to get a job only months after graduation, and earning enough for me to stop working and so we could move forward with our plan.

Granted, we had to relocate to the greater Seattle area, but we found a nice little rental within an hour’s commute that allows us to live the rural lifestyle while he works to establish himself in his field.

It may still take a few years until we are able to live on the property and build our home full-time, but it will be worth it.

In the meantime, I do a little internet marketing on the side, have a small company that sells travel mugs, and I do everything I possibly can to save money, even to the extent of growing lots of vegetables, making homemade bread, tortillas, and cheese for our family.

I guess my point is this – if you really, truly want to live in the country, I would encourage you to sit down, with your spouse if you have one, and formulate a long-term plan for achieving this goal.

Formulate the plan, and then act on it!

Consider this – on your current “track,” where will you be in 5 years?  10 years?  20 years?

What does your long-term future look like if you continue living the way you are now?

And then think for a moment – what if you take the next couple years – as many as necessary – and make some concrete changes in  your life that will get you where you want to be.

Because if you did this, then you can safely say it will eventually get you to your goal… and that’s not going to happen unless you take action.

What it comes down to is this – If you take action, you will achieve your goal in time.

If you don’t take action, you will stay in the exact situation you are now!

What if you downsized your home or car or some other major expense, and just socked the money away?

What if you went back to school for a higher paying career?

What if you started that internet marketing business you always wanted to?

Have you ever tried to sell stock photography?

It is possible!

Ask your boss about the possibilities of telecommuting – you never know what the answer will be.

As much as it may seem like a mountain you cannot climb sometimes, nothing is impossible.

Some things just take a little bit more time – but the time is well spent and it will be worthwhile in the end.

Just remember – self defeat is your worst enemy.

I wasted a lot of time in my life by just assuming things were impossible.

Don’t make the same mistake I did!

Running to Grandma'sSomeday, there will come a day for us that we can completely fulfill our dream, and my girls can run down the gravel road to Grandma’s house every day, if they want.

That day can come for you, too.

When Less Is More Rural Living…Are We Living

Many years ago our young family took a trip to Disneyland.

Originally we planned to fly, but then the idea of a road trip became appealing.

We had the free use of a motor home that would sleep our family comfortably, so we decided to drive.

We packed up the motor home with basic cooking equipment and groceries, bedding and enough clothes for the trip.

Each of us brought along some things for entertainment, from books to cassette tapes (remember those?) to toys and games.

I even stashed my sewing machine in the shower so I could finish up some clothes I’d been making for the kids.

As we drove away from home, I looked back at our two-story house.

I thought to myself, we have everything we need right here in this little motor home.

Why in the world do we have such a big house and so much stuff?

Of course, when we returned from our vacation we went right on living in our big house full of stuff.

But that kind of thing has repeated itself over and over in our life.

We moved overseas with very little and accumulated again.

Five years later we returned to the U.S. with very little and…yep, we accumulated a houseful of things again.

Small Cozy Cabin
Small Cozy Cabin

A couple of years ago we realized that we spent 80% of our time at home in just a few rooms.

The other space was used just occasionally.

We slept in our bedroom and used our master bathroom.

We cooked in the kitchen and ate in the adjoining dining area.

Though we sat in the living room sometimes, we really lived in the family room.

I admit we did have an “everything room” that stored a lot of stuff but was really not used much.

That’s when we started re-evaluating our plans to build a large house on our acreage.

Not only do we not need the space most of the time, but maintaining a large home is not very high on our list of favorite things to do.

So we decided to build a small home within our utility barn and live in it for a while, building the larger house later.

Our new home takes up one long side of the barn.

It’s cute and cozy and just right for the two of us.

We’ve lived in it only a few months, but it looks promising for a permanent situation.

Less of a house to clean and maintain gives us more time for our other projects.

We never have to search more than a minute to find each other in the house.

And no matter what room we’re in, everything else seems to be just steps away.

Downsizing so drastically forced us to weed through our belongings.

We decided we’d keep things that were meaningful, useful, or otherwise important.

Now when we look around our little home, every piece of furniture, every picture on the wall, and every decorative item has a connection to our family or our experiences.

Would we like a bigger house?

Sometimes.

We can’t squeeze big groups or crowds in our living room.

We don’t have an extra bedroom for family and friends to sleep in.

The kitchen table is the only place to lay out a big project.

Once in a while there’s even a line for the single bathroom.

But so far we’ve tweaked things to be pretty comfortable.

We have plenty of storage space in the adjoining barn for off-season clothes and things we need to access occasionally.

We plan to finish out an office/guest room in there too.

We could build an outdoor studio cabin.

For six months of the year we can have oodles of people sitting in our outdoor living room, dining at our patio tables, and sleeping in trailers and tents.

Stay tuned—we may just never build that larger house.

Learning the Rural Lifestyle Return to Our Roots

In the mid 1970s I was a young mom enjoying homemaking and doing a lot of things the old fashioned way.

My parents and grandparents had modeled and taught me a life that included things homegrown and handmade.

I was really in touch with that part of my gene pool.

One day my mom saw an interesting guest on a TV talk show.

This young woman had put together a publication about living a lifestyle close to the land.

Her publication couldn’t really be called a book, as it was an unbound bundle of mimeographed pages.

She was offering copies of it for sale, and she promised to mail succeeding additions to the material to subscribers.

Mom told me about the interview and the publication for sale.

But she went a step further and ordered a set for me.

I can’t remember if it was Christmas or my birthday, but I received the most wonderful bunch of information in a 3-ring binder.

Little by little, the new chapters were added.

The title of that publication?

An Old Fashioned Recipe Book by Carla Emery.

You may recognize Carla’s name.

As she added more material, the growing bundle of pages became much more than a recipe book.

Tomatoes for the dehydrator
Tomatoes for the dehydrator

Eventually she bound it all into a book with a new name: The Encyclopedia of Country Living.

I referred to my notebook often as I tried out new techniques in my home and garden.

Carla’s granola became a staple in our pantry.

I learned to make yogurt, peanut butter, mayonnaise, and many other concoctions.

Jim and I also read her sections on livestock while deciding what to raise on our first acreage.

My tattered, foodstained, and fingerprinted original copies of Carla’s Encyclopedia are long gone, probably misplaced during one of our moves or accidentally discarded during a purging of clutter.

But I have gifted two of my kids with the nice recently published version of the book.

Carla passed away several years ago, but her legacy lives on in our family and many others!

Return to Our Roots
Return to Our Roots

Tell us about your prior city life—family, home, jobs?

We’ve both lived in a city neighborhood in the Pacific Northwest for the last 20+ years, together for the 8 ½ yrs since we were married.

We had some extended family nearby, and our two late teen/20s kids lived with us some of the time.

What drew you to move to a rural area?

Both of us had grown up in more rural settings.

In Minnesota, lived on 5 acres, surrounded by homes on larger properties, off a dead end dirt road with a pond and lots of trees.

Lived outside a small town in Ohio with space to garden and do other projects.

We desired to get back to a life such as this for quite a while.

But with a calling to work, church and relationships where we lived, we waited for the leading and open door from God who is our chosen decision maker.

We are more than ready for the rural living

What brought you to this particular area?

Five years previously we had driven through this area and environs just to explore on our way home from another city.

We remember saying something to the tune of “wouldn’t it be nice to live here”–and then forgetting about it.

Over the few several years we actually contemplated what it would be like to move over there, especially as allergies were getting worse.

But after talking to family in other areas, we decided the water rights, dryness and snakes were more than we wanted to commit to.

We figured perhaps we should look at moving a bit north instead.

Many things led to our reevaluation of this place we’d visited, but it all came down to hints and nudges from that same Source that had kept us in the city as long had plans for us there.

We were always looking at land online, putting in specifics like elevation, amount of trees, etc.

He found himself looking at one particular piece of land for sale.

He liked the lay of the land and even the name of the road.

It happened to be located in that area we liked.

The first of our clues was in place.

How did you prepare for your move?

We looked at the property, put an offer on it, and purchased the land we knew we were led to.

We got the hint that God was serious about us moving, and we put everything into high gear.

We had already planned to sell our city house if we knew we were to go somewhere and when we knew where it was we were to go next.

We had been in a long process of renovating the house, and put school aside to finish it.

Meanwhile she resigned from her job to pack and clear the house for eventual sale.

This all began in March, and we made the first stage of our move the first of October.

We applied for a job and started the foundation for a Quonset storage building on the land.

Shortly after we secured a job, our house sold for full price within one month from listing.

Do you think there was a bigger plan than our own here?

So beginning of November found us moving our final stuff over, renting a place in town for the winter, and saying goodbye to our life in the city and friends who lived there.

Learning the Rural Lifestyle
Learning the Rural Lifestyle

What kind of research or preparing did you do?

I guess you could call our research prayer.

We began with listening to what we thought we heard God saying, and followed up on gentle clues that He dropped along the way for the how, when and why.

Work was a consideration–we knew that we had to have a source of income and health insurance from employment.

Here again, God was faithful to provide.

As we stepped forward in faith in buying the land, we found that there was a local position open in the very setting that Mary was hoping to transition to.

The was also Homesteading Insurance.

As for research, obviously, God was our first source of information.

The mediums through which we walked out His plan involved connecting with friends whom we discovered were just ahead of us in transitioning to the area, internet sources, and physical visits to the area.

How did your family and friends react?

For a number of years in our Christmas letter to friends and relatives we had talked of our plans to renovate our house with hopes to move out to the country when we got the chance.

So it wasn’t a surprise to them in a way.

But it was disturbing for many when it actually happened, surprise or not, as a 6-7 hour drive is not conducive to Sunday dinner.

Some friends were dubious about the decisions we were making and said so, but most were just encouraging of the fulfillment of what we had expressed as our dream.

Getting There view
Getting There view

What challenges did you face with your transition?

The usual everything happening at once, changing everything.

We sold our three vehicles and got two other more winter/rough ready.

We stored most of our stuff, keeping out what we thought we might need but not knowing exactly where we were going to be initially.

We weeded out what was needed in the 35-foot used trailer we bought to start us out in the fall.

We thankfully had a few familiar faces in the area we moved to, but other relationships were to start from scratch again.

What changes were easy to make?

Being out of the city was easy, as was the change to snow as winter came on.

This was due to our first 20+ years of life in a four-season climate and semi-rural areas.

What tips would you give someone thinking about moving to a rural area?

KNOW that you can do without a Starbucks on every corner, Costco, or whatever else one is used to that would not be local or even close to the rural region.

Have an openness and curiosity about how the new setting will change YOU and how you live, because you won’t be changing it.

Whether you are originally from the city or the country, if you’re not from THIS part of the country, you will have some cultural adjusting to do.

You’re Never Too Old for Adventure!

When we bought our first acreage, we were just shy of 30 years old.

We both dug in and worked hard to make that land into a small farm for our family.

We had all the energy in the world!

We was working full time in the city, and on weekends he was building fences, mending fences, planting fruit trees, tilling garden plots.

I was a stay-at-home mom with three young kids, making our house a home, growing some of our food, and doing lots of domestic things “the old fashioned way.”

After that, life took us here and there for a few decades, and flash forward to today—we are just shy of 60 years old!

We are both digging in to make this land a farm for our family.

But guess what?

We no longer have all the energy in the world!

We have enough, though.

We are putterers and we like to stay busy—it seems to be in our genes.

Neither of us lacks for ideas for more things to do around here.

But we are wise enough to pace ourselves and leave some tasks to our younger family members.

We keep an eye on each other and watch for telltale signs that we need a break or need to get help for something.

We rarely miss our afternoon coffee date together, whether it’s in the living room, at the kitchen table, on folding chairs in the barn, or somewhere in our beautiful “backyard.”

Of course our life would be different if our kids had not wanted to make this a joint family project.

If it were just the two of us, on 10 or 20 acres just outside a small town, not far from family, with a few chickens, a steer or two, a garden, and some fruit trees.

But since we are part of this extended family adventure, we are enjoying it to the hilt with projects and wide open spaces galore.

Our personal mantra comes from the movie “Far and Away.”

You may know the story: Joseph and Shannon, played by Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, escape from their unfulfilling lives in Ireland and sail to America.

Shannon’s parents, Daniel and Nora, come looking for their runaway daughter.

They all end up in the Midwest during the Oklahoma Land Rush.

Daniel and Nora, a middle-aged couple, embark on a frantic (and comical) race to claim a piece of land.

As they stand victoriously surveying their chosen prize, Daniel says tenderly to Nora:

“Let’s pretend we’re starting out instead of ending up.”

Here’s to starting out…at any age and Getting to the Country

Rural Living Today
Rural Living Today

Tell us about your prior city or suburban life—family, home, job?

We both grew up in suburban areas.

We raised four kids, living in large and small homes on city lots and acreage of 2 acres and 5 acres, with gardens, beef cows and horses.

Career in commercial construction and development was pretty fast-paced and required a lot of travel and commuting.

What drew you to move to a rural area?

We’d always liked country life…growing things…open space around us.

We wanted to stay active in our senior years.

Life in a condo or golf course community just didn’t appeal to us.

What brought you to this particular area?

Our adult kids were searching several states for property for all of us to live on together as neighbors.

We found the ad for this property.

Though it was much bigger than we were looking for, we loved it and bought it.

How long did you prepare to move?

We made our permanent move three years after buying the property.

What kind of research or preparing did you do?

We got familiar with the land, the community, and local building regulations.

We put in infrastructure—roads, utilities, etc.

We built a large utility barn with a small home in one side of it.

We also did a lot of research on topics related to farming, wildlife, and forestry and took some great courses through our local extension office.

How did you know when it was time to make the move?

Things just kind of fell into place and we were free to make the change.

One summer we lived in our travel trailer while we built the utility barn.

The following spring we packed up and moved.

We spent five months in the trailer again while we finished out our home within the barn.

How Much Money Can You Really Make Selling Old Stuff

How did your family and friends react?

Our immediate family was very happy—all eight of our kids and our grandchildren love the place.

Some of our friends are living vicariously through us, some aren’t especially interested.

And some probably think we’re crazy to make this move at our age.

What challenges did you face with your transition?

Change of climate…living farther from town…missing family and friends.

But we’ve adapted.

What changes were easy to make?

We don’t miss the traffic one single bit!

We love being outdoors so much of our day.

The slower pace and casualness of the life is really appealing.

We’ve cut our wardrobes way down and live in jeans and T shirts.

We’re sort of pioneering kind of people anyway.

What tips would you give someone thinking about moving to a rural area?

Make sure you really want the life—not just to visit, but to live it day after day.

You may have to go cut up a windfall tree when you’d rather be watching a football game.

Or you might need to check on a sick animal when you’d really love to stay in bed another couple of hours.

You may miss shopping, takeout or restaurant dining, city entertainment, or big league sports events.

How much change can you comfortably make?

This goes for yourself, your family and anyone else that will be moving with you.

BUT if you do make that decision, go for it and enjoy it!

It’s a bit like the best advice we’ve heard for marriage: go into it with your eyes wide open and after that, keep your eyes half shut.

In other words, before you make the move, look at all the pros and cons, challenges and compromises.

Know what you’re getting into and what you’re choosing for your future.

Then say yes or no.

If you decide to go rural, don’t let the negatives and glitches rule your life or hang you up.

Keep your eyes on the good and the positive (and the rewards) and when times are tough, remind yourself once again why you chose this new life.

Living On the farm

We’ve successfully raised six pigs, and several local families now have freezers full of delicious pork.

We raised up a batch of replacement laying hens and processed the extra cockerels for the soup pot.

We learned to grind our own wholesome feed for pigs and chickens, using local non-GMO ingredients.

Our garden was fruitful, despite a shortage of water in the driest months.

Some crops did well, while others did…not so great!

Though we managed to harvest just a few puny zucchini, we probably have enough tomatoes and peppers to last the year.

(Yes, you read that correctly, and no, that was not a typo.

Even our zucchini did not grow well this year!).

We planted more fruit trees, grapevines, and berry bushes.

Our new hybrid greenhouse/garden shed will be ready for winter seed starts.

Fencing was fortified to keep deer out of the orchard; screening was applied to the greenhouse to keep the chickens from snacking on seedlings.

new year lonely cuke
new year lonely cuke

Rural Living Today Plans We have some clear expectations.

But not all plans just happen like clockwork.

We have plenty of ideas and plans that may or may not take place or be successful.

But we like to keep growing, keep learning, and keep experimenting in this homesteading life of ours!

make improvements on our home, our outbuildings, our property.

raise more types of food and greater quantities of it.

tweak all our seed starting, gardening, food processing and storage systems.

do more clearing, homesite preparation, and construction of various small and large structures.

discover new ways to reach out in our community and exchange knowledge, expertise, and products with others.

help more of you readers with more of your challenges, and produce more great material to help you as you explore the joys of rural living.

We hope to have more successes than failures!

We’ll learn and grow, no matter what.

We’ll talk more about planning in our next post, Winter Planning for Spring and Summer Success. and Springtime Is Peeping on Our Farm

planning pencil shavings
planning pencil shavings

It’s Planning Time Again

This year?

Some of the same, and a few new projects Again we’re perusing seed and supply catalogs, looking for new ideas and ways to improve our systems.

Favorite educational resources:

Cultivating Success

U.S. Cooperative Extension (articles/webinars here; enter your zip code for local Extension offices)

We plan to increase both pork and poultry production

Beef is also a possibility but will require a lot more fencing.

In the garden, we’re thinking greenhouses

We finished a small hybrid garden shed/greenhouse last year and are getting it ready for seed starts.

We also hope to put in a larger greenhouse to extend our growing season a bit in spring and fall.

For our livestock, garden, and orchard, water is a priority

We need to increase our water supply, which involves bringing water from our secondary well to a cistern on the highest point of our property.

planning greenhouse
planning greenhouse

Tools for planning

Everyone seems to have a favorite system or two for planning.

Often a combination of methods works well.

For handwritten notes and papers

Composition books:

For keeping notes, I LOVE these little notebooks that always seem to be available for less than a dollar each in office/school supply sections of local stores.

They come with all sorts of cover designs so it’s easy to tell them apart at a glance.

Right now several of them going for topics like household, garden, livestock, Rural Living Today, product sales, and finances.

Small sticky notes make great section dividers (you could also insert premade adhesive divider tabs).

Three-ring binders:

We also have several of these on our reference bookshelf, holding printed material, garden plans, sketches, and other things with long-term value.

A binder can be fitted with dividers, pockets, sheet protectors, and even the zipper pencil pouches for small loose scraps.

File folder systems:

Some people prefer this method of organization for general planning.

We use them in file drawers and boxes for record-keeping.

I also have some in a vertical rack on her desktop where we can easily drop in receipts, notes, and anything else that will fit.

Computer and online note and record systems

Evernote, OneNote, Notepad, Sticky Notes:

What’s available on your computer?

We’ve liked every one we’ve tried, but we have favorites.

Bethany’s desktop Sticky Notes keep her on top of things.

I also keep notes and does all his writing on OneNote.

My new favorite is Evernote (free to download) for its ability to clip and pin articles and website pages in addition to keeping notes and lists.

Some of the programs can be synced to more than one electronic tool or between user computers.

Word processor and spreadsheet documents:

Just start a page and add to it as needed.

A word processor is great for text-heavy lists and notes.

It will also make some tables and other helpful forms.

A spreadsheet will track numbers and make calculations; these are awesome for year-to-year comparisons.

I use lots of spreadsheets for personal, farm, and business tracking.

Published books, software, and other systems

Your Custom Homestead by Jill Winger of The Prairie Homestead is a great planning and discovery tool.

It features questions that guide the evaluation of your own wishes and goals for your homesteading life.

It packs a lot of punch! See our interview with Jill and a description of this wonderful system.

Mother Earth News Vegetable Garden Planner will help you plan your garden layout and access tons of information about individual plants and their growing needs.

After a 30-day free trial, you’ll have the option to subscribe for continuing use.

This can be a real time-saver for those who have limited time for research.

The Seed Keeper is a ready made seed organization kit with plastic box, dividers, and other small tools.

It’s an easy way to start, but DIY’ers will find it easy to put together a similar system with items on hand.

We’ve used cardboard and plastic shoe boxes with cardboard dividers.

Marjory Wildcraft of Grow Your Own Groceries shares her DIY seed organization system.

Cool and dry storage is probably the most important factor for seed saving, but it’s sure easier to find seeds when they’re organized to some degree.

There are lots of other planning and organization systems available online and in local stores.

If you’re like us, you’ll try many over the years and keep on tweaking as your needs and availability of products change.

Getting There It’s About the Journey – Here is the story of how it all came about.

Getting There It’s About the Journey modern homesteading, the importance of master planning.

Reader MZGarden and her husband already know the value of a plan—and their story shows how it’s working!

We are really impressed by their planning and preparation, including their evaluation of their future plans and how they honed their rural living skills while waiting for the big move.

When the Rural Living Today team asked readers to tell their stories, MZ and her husband had literally just purchased their land.

Getting There It's About the Journey Modern Homesteading
Getting There It’s About the Journey Modern Homesteading

Advice on Property Development that can hurt you
10 Things to Love About Rural Living
Moving to the Country Start of the Journey
Portable Air Con

We looked for two and a half years, knowing we wanted to try our hand at more rural opportunities, and that our growing young men would find lovely ladies and move on to explore their own new lives.

In 2011 we celebrated this remarkable and wonderful event, so now we were really getting down to it.

For many years, we have known that suburban, neighborhood life was not for us forever.

We had zero experience living rural, but we had read and read and read about it.

We knew we did not ‘fit in’ where we were and the option to have some land, do more for ourselves and be a little more creative was what we wanted.

The continuing issues with food quality/safety/nutrition have continued to push us out to do more for ourselves.

Plus, sometimes, we were just plain bored living in the suburbs.

We had remodeled everything possible in our current house, the backyard was a garden oasis, we had put in rain catch barrels to recycle, and included wood burning heat.

We were just kind of ‘done.’

We knew we still needed to work for a few more years (ya gotta have some money) and we really really didn’t want to leave our church family.

So we stuck a pin in the map for the address of our church.

We attached a string and drew a circle. That was our hunting ground.

Developed our budget and commuting options

We listed our wants/needs/non-negotiables and we were off.

We looked beyond our ‘circle’ and we looked beyond our budget (just to make sure) and finally found something that hit most of the points within the circle (happy dancing now).

Continued to expand our skills.

We read lots. We revved up the vegetable and fruit gardening.

I added pressure canning to the water bath canning I was already doing.

We began to build a pantry of staples.

I improved bread making to the point that it’s a no-brainer.

We bought beef by the side from a local farmer.

My husband is very very handy, if you know what I mean.

He knows stuff I’ve never heard of and he just keeps learning new stuff.

Plus, he has endless energy.

We pressed ourselves to be more creative and to re-use, re-purpose more and more.

We read more and talked to more people.

Modern Homesteading
Modern Homesteading

Best Rural Property

When the property came up (within the circle, but a little over the budget), we jumped.

We bought a little over 5 acres with a barn and a 100+ year old house in move in condition (but needing some TLC).

We are close enough to see our kids and commute to work, but rural enough to get us started down the path.

The house and barn are usable enough not to be overwhelming, but needing enough work to get our creative juices flowing.

The land is flat and will be good for gardening, orchards and livestock, maybe even a fish pond.

As soon as we get a tractor and can get the 3+ years of overgrowth back under control.

We have a 5 year plan to get things brought up to speed, before retiring.

Then we have a 20 year plan for after retiring.

We want to put in a mixed fruit orchard and berries in the near future.

Vegetables are a must right away and laying chickens will come in the near future.

Meat chickens and rabbits are on the interest list, along with goats, pig, etc.

I tell people we have more ideas than we have years left to live – and that’s a good thing to our way of thinking.

Surprises Moving to the Country

In the short time we’ve been on our land, we have had a few surprises:

The number of people that support our decision, but still think we’re nutty

Those are interesting conversations–always positive with a hint of “I can’t believe you guys are really taking all this on.”

How much our decisions have affected our kids

When our oldest was a teenager, he thought living in the country was punishment.

Now that our sons are married to lovely ladies, both couples are interested in rural living.

Both of our sons married ladies that know their way around the kitchen very well and are creative and handy to boot.

The feeling of being overwhelmed

You can read about this all you want, but until you are there, you really don’t know how it will affect you.

When I’m really feeling crowded by the things that we want to do, I remind myself that we are in charge, no one is setting our schedule for us.

Sometimes I just have to envision a roller coaster.

The bar comes down and you just ride through to the end and everything is ok.

You can plan, but moving is not something done in a bubble.

The rest of life is still going on.

You don’t get to suspend all the other stressful things that can happen, while you’re dealing with your first-time move to a rural environment.

The regular stuff still happens AND you’ve moved.

Deep breaths and an eye on the future can help (so does a cup of coffee on the back deck, watching the sun come up over your barn).

What would I tell people, beyond the read, learn, experience, talk to people, etc.

Stuff that much more experienced people have said with much more authority than I can share?

Welcome Home! Getting There It's About the Journey Modern Homesteading
Welcome Home! Getting There It’s About the Journey Modern Homesteading

Making the Transition from Consumer to Producer: For too long, many of us have been led down a path to consume.

And not just to consume all that we earn, but to go into debt in order to consume more.

Even our governments may expect us to go buy more: nicer homes, bigger and newer cars, the latest smart phones.

Just to consume.

But this lifestyle–for us as individuals or as a society–is not sustainable.

If you don’t see this as a huge issue, then you don’t to read further.

But if you see that the things we are consuming in abundance now may become severely limited in the future, or if you just want to have the personal satisfaction of creating or producing something tangible, let’s talk!

The joy of producing

Modern Homesteading It's About the Journey
Modern Homesteading It’s About the Journey

Despite our culture’s emphasis on consuming, I am discovering a new joy.

Not to just be a consumer, but to learn to be a real producer.

And not to produce something that is abstract and totally impractical, but to produce something that usable for many.

In our case we are making, growing, and raising agricultural products.

And that’s very fulfilling and satisfying!

We know from our readers’ emails that many are looking for ways to supplement their resources or develop new income streams.

Some are hoping to save enough money to move to the country or to update their rural properties.

Others would like to spend less time working away from home, finding ways to make more money right on the farm.

We’re right there with you.

Meanwhile all of us—and all of our adult family members–are working toward having sufficient income to draw from large ponds filled by numerous small income streams.

Steps in the right direction

Since I moved to our ranch, along with our family we have been taking slow positive steps forward in developing food sources.

We have a specific goal of sustainability and becoming as self-sufficient as possible.

But we are not trying to live an extreme life–just one that is fulfilling.

We have grown our garden for two years now, and that has been wrought with successes and failures, but we have moved forward.

Next year we plan to add two greenhouses to the mix and work them with Bethany and her family.

We want to bring more water to the garden from a second well on our property. Small successes.

We wouldn’t be able to feed the world, but we have gone a long way in feeding our family.

Marie and Bethany have been working with chickens–both laying hens and meat chickens.

That too has been a great success; we’ve enjoyed tasty homegrown chicken, and our egg baskets have overflowed at times.

With limited coop space for winter, we recently gave our older layers to friends to start their flock.

Our coop is now full with a batch of Buff Orpington pullets (young hens) that are just now starting to lay.

Soon we will have over a dozen eggs a day.

Come spring, another daughter will join us in raising meat birds, free ranging them in our orchard (with the trees protected!).

It’s been a lot of work to tweak our chicken-raising systems and learn to butcher chickens, but it’s been rewarding and well worth the challenges.

So each year we are becoming more experienced and efficient as we learn to produce these food products.

Hungry hogs

Modern Homesteading hogs
Modern Homesteading hogs

This last spring, we bought some weaner pigs to raise for meat.

Beforehand, I read up on it and talked about it with people I trust.

I found a couple of very positive mentors in this and made the plunge.

We bought six pigs from two different sources.

Once I learned that the largest cost of raising pork is FEED cost, I immediately went into a mode to reduce my cost of feed while increasing the quality of it.

Most feed you buy in the feed stores is expensive.

It has GMO products in it…and lots of other stuff to keep it “fresh” and sell able with a long shelf life.

But along the way while I was learning about pig raising, I learned about feed and about protein, minerals, salts, and other things animals need to have.

I decided to grind and mix my own feed.

Initially my cost for feed by the bag at the local feed store was 35 cents/lb. (US$).

That was high, and it contained GMO ingredients which we didn’t want.

Then I found a guy in our area who makes feed, and his price was 21 cents/lb. for GMO-free feed.

Good stuff.

A few months into our pig raising season, I decided to try and make our own feed.

I learned that it wasn’t difficult–just took some math to juggle the right protein level I wanted.

Then I bought the grain and the nutrient additives locally and a small feed grinder online.

I started grinding feed for our pigs—and they loved it.

I enjoyed making the feed, and as a bonus, so did one of my grandsons.

Our fresh, non-GMO feed costs us 15 cents/lb.—less than half the price of the feed store bags.

I now have neighbors wanting to buy my feed…a new business and income stream maybe?

The proof is in the pork

Modern Homesteading hogs butchering
Modern Homesteading hogs butchering

So the day came that we had the pigs slaughtered.

We had turned those six little weaner pigs into 1,100 lbs. of quality pork consisting of chops, bacon, roasts, ribs, and of course great sausage.

Oh my…it is tasty!

Marie and I didn’t need that much meat so we kept only one hog and sold the rest to family and friends.

They were happy to buy a product that was high quality.

They knew how and where it had been raised, and all of them had even “met” the pigs at some point over the summer.

The delicious meat was well received and a benefit to all.

We didn’t buy that meat; we grew it.

We didn’t consume; we produced!

And honestly, this was a very satisfying endeavor.

When Marie and I sat down to a hot breakfast one October morning, we had finally reached one of our personal soft goals: to grow everything on the breakfast plate.

We raised the hens that laid the eggs in our own coop.

We grew the potatoes, peppers, and onions for our hash browns.

And “finally” we had grown the bacon.

Just to make a point, we wanted to drink water with that meal because we can’t grow coffee that would taste so good with it.

But we could barter with a local coffee roaster for that!

Are We Living…You can do it too!

The goal of gradually becoming more of a net producer instead of net consumer takes time, dedication and perseverance.

But it is very achievable and very satisfying.

Our ranch model is to start small and plan the best you can to grow at a comfortable pace.

We did a business plan with reasonable costs and goals.

And we are producing now.

You too can produce on a scale that could feed your family and perhaps another.

You too could end up with an operation that could easily be scaled up to produce more of the same product without too much more cost or effort.

Hopefully next spring…beef cattle are coming to our ranch!

Path to Sustainability is Preserving Fresh Food

Heating food on large pot

Last Updated on

Path to Sustainability, These days many people rely highly on packaged mixes, precooked dishes, and ready-to-serve meals.

Some don’t know how to prepare anything much from scratch.

It’s really not their fault, since our culture has veered in the direction of fast food and easy meals.

Home economics classes are no longer required in many schools.

The majority of TV commercials for food are selling products wrapped in plastic and cardboard, not skin and peels.

Due to the economy and cost of living, grocery shopping is more likely to be Dad or Mom stopping on the way home from work than a family outing where kids see what fresh food looks like.

A basket of farm-fresh products, even honey from a local beekeeper, might baffle many people today.

But it’s not unlikely that we’ll all need to cook most of our meals from scratch at some point.

A key to sustainability when times get tough is the ability to prepare fresh foods and to preserve them for later use.

And it’s also an important element of a disaster survival kit

Path to Sustainability is Preserving Fresh Food
Path to Sustainability is Preserving Fresh Food

Path to Sustainability is Preserving Fresh Food

In this discussion, we’re using the word “fresh” as opposed to processed or precooked foods.

Some foods like grains, rice, and dried beans may not be fresh from the field when we buy them, but they have been stored in their natural form and have not been previously cooked.

We’re not discouraging the use of canned, frozen, or dehydrated ingredients.

In our kitchen we use both commercially and home-preserved foods regularly and include them in our food storage system.

We also use mixes and quick fixes.

But there may come a day when it’s crucial to know how to prepare foods that have not been previously processed.

We may even have to rely on foods that have been grown in our own communities.

Preparing fresh food from scratch

Some of us already prefer cooking from scratch, using fresh ingredients and doing most or all of the preparation at home.

But for others, this means learning some new skills and a return to cooking like Grandma did in years gone by.

If you’re in the latter camp and want to learn how to cook like Granny, have hope!

There are oodles of books, magazines, websites, blogs, local classes and workshops out there to help you get started.

Better yet, find a cooking granny or a friend who cooks from scratch and ask for some co-cooking sessions, tips, and recipes.

Cooking with a friend can be lots of fun, and it’s hard to avoid learning something new while you’re at it.

If you hesitate to go whole hog from the start, you can ease into it, using a combination of prepared and fresh ingredients.

Gradually you can move toward using more and more fresh food.

Preserving fresh food for later use

To many of us, there’s something very satisfying about putting up summer’s bounty for the rest of the year.

But it’s much more than just a pleasing activity.

Preserving food to last for several months or the entire year can save you money, frustration, and time.

And it may ultimately save you from doing without some of your favorite foods.

Who knows–“shopping” from your pantry instead of the grocery store may be a necessity at some point.

The most common means of food preservation for long-term storage are freezing, canning, and dehydrating.

Some people use only one method, while others combine two or more.

We think it makes sense not to “have all our eggs in one basket,” so we freeze, can, and dehydrate.

While freezing is the best way to store raw meat and our preferred method of preserving most veggies, in the event of a power outage or freezer breakdown, we’ll be glad not everything is frozen.

Libraries, bookstores, and the Internet are full of resources for learning to preserve food.

We suggest starting at the National Center for Home Food Preservation and becoming familiar with food safety issues and various processing methods.

We’ve shared more info on food preservation in a previous Rural Living Today post, Beating Food Challenges: Storing and Preserving Foods.

A list of food preservation resources is included in our new book, Getting Started on a Food Supply Plan, which is part of a Real Food Storage & Preparedness eBook Bundle (see below) this week.

Getting Started on a Food Supply Plan will also be available for purchase at Amazon and Smashwords.com.

Continuing year after year

In order to prepare and preserve food for a period of years, it’s wise to accumulate a good supply of equipment and a stash of supplies.

While most of us have basic cookware and utensils in our kitchens, it’s not a bad idea to have extras available.

And when it comes to food preservation, it seems one can never have too many canning jars and rings, which are reusable, as well as one-use lids and storage containers for frozen and dehydrated foods.

Please add your ideas for food preparation and preservation sustainability in the comments section.
sust highland cattle

Path to Sustainability Is It Really Important

As the patriarch of my family, I’ve continued to think about this and believe that sustainability is a word that essentially defines for us whether we are living within our means and abilities or living outside them.

If we are living within specific parameters, we will be able to continue to do what we are doing indefinitely.

If not, we will ultimately crash and burn.

And then we will need to start over.

There are a lot of ideas out there telling us this and that, and stressing that what we do must be sustainable.

While we may have thought of this as a new concept that will lead us to the promised land, perhaps it is just a new word for an old concept.

And that is to live, farm, and otherwise work with what you have.

Or maybe to not consume more than you have.

I think it is really that simple.

Consider what is not sustainable

Having an outgo that’s more than your income.

Debt is not sustainable on any scale, whether it is within our own family or on a global economic scale.

In fact, we are seeing the western global economic system crash before our eyes.

Governments need money for their banks, so they are stealing it from people’s savings and checking accounts.

Amazing.

Debt is not sustainable!

Running 20 head of cattle on one acre.

What would happen?

The cattle and the acre would just crash.

Cutting down the last of your trees for firewood and expecting there will be more for next winter.

Eating your seed corn and expecting a great crop in the garden next summer.

No seed, no crop…

Working 16-hour days with no days off.

Just not sustainable.

The Path to Sustainability Is It Really Important
The Path to Sustainability Is It Really Important

You all see where this is going.

Doing obviously dumb things for the wrong reason will end up in a crash.

These activities are not sustainable.

But we could adjust each of the five examples above so that the practice would be sustainable, right?

Recommended Sustainable Practices

Not buy anything I don’t have funds for.

I don’t buy that new tractor with zero down.

I buy what I can afford.

Certainly put animals only on land that can support them.

Nor cut down the last of my trees; cut only what the forest can stand to lose.

Grow, harvest, and eat, saving seed for the following year.

That is sustainable.

Work 16-hour days for a short period of time only, with some substantial breaks.

So is it important to me what the word sustainability means?

In my life probably not.

But the concepts it highlights will help guide me—and my family–as we continue to live and work on the land.

I don’t want to be held hostage by ideas and methods that no longer make any sense to me.

I am thinking that sustainable processes are SIMPLE ones.

I am thinking that sustainable processes are rooted in COMMON SENSE.

And I am now nearing the conclusion that sustainable processes help me get the very best bang for my HOUR (and buck) as well.

That in itself is very important to me, as I can be very lazy at times…looking for the easy way out.

To conclude, let me highlight my research journey into raising cattle.

This is something my son and I are looking into right now.

It is active project and on my plate.

If you’ve read this far, please keep following me on this.

Raising cattle: the old way

Common wisdom has been that if I want to run cows, I need to revamp my existing pasture that hasn’t been used for decades.

I should kill what is on it, perhaps torch it, prepare a new seed bed, plant seed and let it sit fallow for a couple of years as the roots develop.

Oh my. And that is just a start.

Then, I should set up a haymaking operation.

Cool.

Tractor trucks to move the hay.

New barn for the hay.

Grass cutter and then the whole works to fluff the grass, rake it, and get it ready for the bailer!!

Then I will need to fertilize the entire acreage each year as I am baling, thus removing the nutrients from the pasture.

What an investment!

And then comes the operation.

Put cows on half of the pasture and make hay on the rest.

Cut the grass, rake the grass, put the grass in rows, bale the grass.

Move the grass to a central location.

Store the grass in the barn.

The pasture I mowed really won’t work for cows now, so I had to move them to a central location.

Each day, I need to pull down one of the 80# bales of hay, open it, and spread it for the cows to eat.

Their manure is now a problem, as it is all in one spot.

Another issue to consider.

After hearing about this process by talking to different folks, I almost just gave up.

I didn’t have the funds or energy, and it seemed so inefficient.

It really was not sustainable.

No money to be made, as the system ate it all up.

That is why so many people give up raising cattle this way.

sustainable hay field - rotational grazing
sustainable hay field – rotational grazing

A better way…a sustainable way

BUT THEN I learned about another way: rotational grazing.

This is a very different process for achieving the results I wanted.

I won’t go into detail here, but my “textbook”

What I found was that the simple, sustainable, and profitable way to raise cattle was to let the cattle do all the work instead of me!

Now why didn’t I think of that?

But does this really work?

What do the people who already do this say about it?

As I continued in my journey, I saw that many have been doing this very successfully–and it IS sustainable, with only minimal input.

Consider the difference of a sustainable practice compared to one that really isn’t as detailed above.

Here’s how it goes:

My existing pasture is left as it is.

The cows are started on it and rotated once a day to a specific paddock.

They eat most of the forage and after they’re moved they won’t touch it again until they are rotated once more to it.

The grass grows much better, and the manure stays in place.

Instead of cutting grass for all my hay, I stockpile hay by letting it grow higher.

When late fall arrives, the cattle are put there to graze, even if there is an early snow.

They will have all that they want or need.

There is no hay operation.

The grass is left for the cattle to eat, in place.

The cows spread their manure throughout the pasture.

They—not I–do all this work.

I will feed hay to them from the middle of winter till early spring.

I will buy local hay, and the nutrients in that will replace any chemical fertilizer I would normally have bought.

My efforts during the summer consist of moving the cattle from one paddock to the next each day–maybe 30 minutes.

The result of living sustainably?

Using this rotational grazing method, there’s a profit at the end of the road.

A profit is made without equipment, with no fertilizer.

Just healthy grass and the cattle doing their thing and improving the pasture each year.

Some say that using this method allows you to double the carrying capacity of the pasture.

Now that is only a quick example, and not intended to be an education on cattle.

But I wanted to contrast the difference between a sustainable operation and an unsustainable one.

This type of system could work for any operation you are considering.

I will bet you will find ways to do things outside of the mainstream box that will make your projects very sustainable.

So, is sustainability important.?

Yes it is.

It leads us to simplicity.

It leads us to common sense.

And in the process, our time and our wallets become much more sustainable as well.

The Path to Sustainability: What Does It Mean to You?

Path to Sustainability: Have you ever noticed how words in the English language get hijacked and take on new lives with different definitions?

It’s like the game of Gossip or Telephone where a whispered message goes around a large circle of people and ends up way off from how it originated.

Passing time has the same effect, gradually altering the use of words and even their meaning.

Think back to your childhood.

Weren’t there a few words that had different meanings then?

Radical once meant ‘really out there’ rather than ‘amazing.’

Money used to be green bills and coins; now it can mean something is really awesome.

And don’t get me started about innocently-used words that draw giggles and looks of shock from the younger crowd.

Many a plain old word of my youth has now taken on a new connotation.

I can’t even play a game of Scrabble without using a word that means something entirely different to my kids in their 20s.

broody April

Defining sustainability

Here in our world of homesteading and self-sufficient living, we’ve seen a few words fall victim to the buzzword syndrome.

Some examples are organic and natural.

Those words can’t be taken at face value anymore.

Another hijacked word is sustainable.

We sometimes see it used very loosely to describe ways of saving money, time, or energy.

Even using prepackaged ingredients and other items purchased at stores.

While we do buy manufactured and prepared products, we don’t consider using them to be sustainable.

A big question is: if shipping, processing, or manufacturing suddenly stopped, would we be able to provide for ourselves?

Several years ago our family established a goal of becoming more self-sufficient and living a more sustainable lifestyle.

Our plans were based on the old standard definition of sustainability.

public domain the farm girl

Sustainability, RLT style

In the box above, we’ve boldfaced some words that exemplify the heart of sustainability in our minds.

To us, sustainable living involves developing systems that can be upheld…kept going…maintained…supported…and continued year after year.

Systems that endure.

We could add these words to our description:

perpetual…cycling…reproducing…refreshing…reinvigorating…restoring.

Key concepts of sustainability

Some involve being wise stewards of the earth and its natural resources.

Others focus on the health, care, and feeding of our human bodies and those of our pets and livestock.

Raising plants and animals, procuring fresh locally-produced food, preserving it for long-term storage, and cooking with nutrition in mind are all part of the equation.

Then there are the sensible use of fossil fuels and non-renewable resources–and for many people, the downsizing of dependency or weaning from heavy use.

A gift that keeps on giving

As an extended family, our personal sustainability goal is to create a lifestyle of systems that would allow us to thrive year after year without relying on outside sources that may become unavailable or unreachable due to financial or logistical restraints.

So now you know what we mean at Rural Living Today when we talk about sustainability.

And we’ll be talking about it a bit more in future posts.

A few things we’re working on at our farm:

not just using purchased products, but replacing some with reusables and homemade

not just growing veggies, but saving seeds and making compost

not just raising livestock, but reproducing some and having sources for others

not just owning equipment and machinery, but being able to repair it

Because ultimately, we would like to be able to live our life without depending on any source beyond walking distance for

groceries, household supplies

garden seeds, planting supplies, soil amendments

replacement livestock, livestock feed

That doesn’t mean we won’t purchase these things when they’re readily available and affordable.

Today that may be the best use of our time and money.

Right now we’re still building up our sustainability level, and we still do need to rely on outside sources.

And frankly, there are a few manufactured products–toilet paper comes to mind–that will be the last outside conveniences we give up.

Always a work in progress

The fact is, we’re not yet where we ultimately want to end up on the sustainability scale.

But if the world came crashing down on us tomorrow–if transportation of goods ceased, or prices became exorbitant, or we were suddenly unable to procure goods and services for any reason–we would be able to move forward.

We couldn’t have said that five years ago, but since then we’ve been steadily developing and fortifying our lifestyle of sustainability.

Some time ago we borrowed a mantra from an episode of the TV show “Doomsday Preppers.”

While most of the households featured on that show do not have full-scope long-term sustainability covered, a few do.

One man at an operating farm said something like this:

“If the world falls apart, I’ll just go out in the morning and feed my chickens like I always do.”

Come what may, life will go on.

Sustainable.

Need some inspiration as you find your own definition?

Check out The Lexicon of Sustainability and see what others have to say!

It’s a cool interactive resource, and you can add your own definitions for all sorts of terms related to sustainability.

The Path to Sustainability: Building Community

Have you been thinking that now is a good time to increase the sustainability of your lifestyle?

It’s time for all of us to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on outside sources of food, household products, and other goods and services.

Why the emphasis on sustainability and self-sufficiency?

After all, many of us live where there is still plenty of everything.

In previous posts we’ve talked about the meaning of sustainability and why sustainability is important.

And recently, some of us have noticed some empty store shelves, had to wait for stores to resupply, or cringed at the price of products we used to buy without blinking an eye.

Others are just reading the writing on the wall.

Our family is moving forward in preparing ourselves to be less dependent on outside sources.

We’re working toward a more sustainable life.

What does that mean?

We’re building community.

We’re learning to raise our own food, do our own repairs, make more things from scratch.

We’re stocking up on some things we’d like to have if they later become unavailable.

We’re evaluating our options for nearby sources of other items and services.

Building community

We have written before about how important community is to us.

Community is key to our rural living experience.

What is community?

We see it as a group of people with something in common, whether it’s location, purpose, or ethics.

In a sustainable living situation, ideally a community will share goals and values that involve working–sometimes pretty hard–to develop self-sufficiency, decrease dependence on outside sources, and build a system that will perpetuate and reproduce year after year.

In our case, our sustainability community includes our extended family of 20-some adults and children, some close neighbors, and some friends living within 20 miles of us.

It includes faraway friends we’ve never met in person, available for encouragement as long as the Internet still functions!

community people

We have no formal structure defining us as a community, but we act as one.

We collaborate and brainstorm and help each other out.

If times got tough, we would share skills and resources.

Obviously, parts of this community could become unreachable at some point.

Without the Internet or computer power, we wouldn’t be able to connect with people who live far away.

Travel challenges like fuel shortages might prevent us from working side by side with people just 20 miles away.

But for now, we are able to support each other in our quest for sustainability.

Our goal for our community:

Everyone should know something about everything.

Everyone should know everything about something.

That way, everyone can step in to help with any situation, and everyone can take the lead in one or more areas.

Our community members contribute an interesting and very useful variety of expertise.

We have most everything covered except engine mechanics.

Some of us will be learning more about that and hopefully someone will learn all about it.

community sheep

From nearby neighbors to faraway kindred spirits, who’s in your community?

Household, Farm, and Personal Items

The one-year plan to The Path to Sustainability, we suggest that you do some brainstorming using a one-year plan.

This will make a potentially overwhelming project much less daunting.

As you go through the coming season, make note of everything that you consider necessary or very beneficial.

This includes foods (especially those you can’t easily raise), household goods, fuel, spare parts, etc.

Find a way to keep your lists in a composition book, binder, file system, or computer spreadsheet.

When you buy something, think about possible natural or DIY substitutes.

What if you couldn’t buy this product?

Look into other solutions.

What basic supplies are needed for DIY laundry detergent and household soaps?

Could you make a wasp trap?

How about wool dryer balls for softening laundry?

Make an attempt to collect as many of those crucial products and supplies as you can for future use.

For some long-lasting things this means one or two, and for others like consumables, it’s good to build up a supply.

Repeat this throughout the year.

The end of each season is usually a good time to find items on sale in retail stores or used in classified ads.

By the end of a year, you will be much further ahead in your planning and will make some progress in your preparations.

Most likely you won’t be able to collect everything you need in one year.

But if you consider it an ongoing project that will take some time, each item you add to your stash and supply will represent a step in the right direction.

Please add your ideas for household, farm, and personal sustainability in the comments section.

The Path to Sustainability: Raising Livestock

The Path to Sustainability: Gardens and Orchards

Supporting a Sustainable Lifestyle Through Couponing

Whether you are beginning a homesteading lifestyle or have been practicing it for decades, there may be financial advantages through couponing that you are missing out on.

While sustainable living is based on the concept of growing and making your own food and goods, there will still be times where it is necessary to purchase essentials from a supermarket or hardware store.

In these cases, there are ways to help save on cost or ways to make extra money when funds are tight.

Sustainable living can be quite cost effective for families and with the additional help of coupons available, the cost of living can be even lower.

Improved Lifestyle through Couponing

As a homesteader, it is always best to plan and prepare food storage so you will be ready to face a disaster.

If there is no water, gas or food available through the usual means, what items will you have to back you up in the time of crisis?

With just a bit of thinking ahead you can avoid problems later.

Of course, one needs to build up a budget for stockpiling food and survival stores.

While it’s not expensive, the larger the family, the larger the cost will be to build up sufficient stores.

Don’t let cost be a deterrent when beginning to stock up on supplies.

When calamity strikes, the last thing you will care about is how much the materials cost.

Start by keeping a lookout for items you can purchase with the assistance of coupons.

Coupons for bulk items

Coupons can be especially helpful for buying bulk storage foods such as corn, pasta, dried milk, honey and oats.

These items are regularly couponed at most major supermarkets.

Look for foods that have a high fat content and can be stored for long periods of time.

Foods like these are essential for supplying calories needed to sustain life when food is scarce.

It is essential to build up food stores that can be preserved for a long time.

Think canned foods or freeze dried foods that have long expiration dates.

Even though you are making a one-time purchase for your food stores, the savings on these items can add up, especially for larger families.

Coupons for non-perishables

Also look for coupons for other non-perishables such as yeast, soda, baking powder and vinegar.

Many of these common household items are regularly discounted through coupons and can be stored for up to 25 years.

Savings on these items could equate to large sums of money over time.

Another great reason to think ahead and buy bulk items in advance with coupons is because they are the first thing to go from stores in cases of emergency.

In addition, consider stocking spare tools that you will need to cook the food.

Can openers, pots, pans, and utensils will all be helpful if your original tool is lost for any reason.

Better to be over-prepared, especially when you can efficiently buy spares with the help of coupons.

Using coupons to build a surplus

It is also important to think about creating stores of supplies for any livestock operations that you may be running as well.

If you are raising any type of farm animals, ask yourself what tools you use regularly to help take care of the animals.

Any feed supply, even for the short term, can make the difference when sustaining life.

Consider also using coupons to purchase additional spare parts for generators or filtration systems.

It’s not only supermarkets that issue coupons, though that may be the most popular place to use them.

Hardware stores also regularly print coupons.

You can use them to stock up on materials you may not think of when you are creating an emergency supply.

Duct tape, rope, additional sizes of nuts and bolts can all come in handy even when you least expect it.

At the end of the day, it is important to plan and prepare for the worst situations.

Think of those materials that you will need most to sustain life in a disastrous situation.

Start by watching for coupons for those items, mostly food and water.

From there, consider cleaning and preserving substances.

Think of things you can safely preserve and store for long periods.

Who uses coupons?

If you are not enthusiastic about couponing and question how much it will save you, consider these facts.

In 2013, each person was offered an average of $1,617 in coupons.

Still, non-coupon users are in the majority.

While $516 billion worth of coupons are offered each year, $512 billion of those savings go un-redeemed.

Statistics show that those who do use coupons are having the last laugh.

42% of those who utilize coupons save $30 each week and 21% save more than $50 each week.

A big misconception about coupons is that they are for the poor.

Most people report not using coupons because they don’t want people to think they are cheap or poor.

However, the 1% of the population that uses coupons are those who are wealthier and better educated, uprooting those stereotypes.

Easy ways to use coupons

Another common excuse for not using coupons is that it can be time-consuming to hunt for deals.

There are ways to make it easy.

Not only are there an ever-growing number of mobile couponing apps, there are other apps that will comb through your inbox and make sure you’re automatically taking advantage of any cashback or price drop deals.

At the end of the day, homesteading is a rewarding lifestyle that takes advanced preparation and planning.

While it will help you save costs in some areas of life, there are additional means to be able to cut down on the costs of materials that allow you to sustain a homesteading lifestyle.

The vast majority of the population does not utilize coupons.

The average family could be saving thousands of dollars a year with couponing.

Luckily for homesteaders, most of the materials we need are available to purchase with coupons.

This is extra convenient for those who may be beginning to build food and supply stores for disastrous situations.

When looking to build a sustainable lifestyle, couponing is key.

Building these stores can be costly but with the help of coupons, a percentage of the cost can be reduced.

For more information on the savings that can be earned through couponing, check out this infographic that breaks down the average savings lost per person.

Via: InvestmentZen.com

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Affordable Living Off the Grid Guide How to Live Cheap

Beautiful view of mountain trees

Last Updated on

Affordable Living Off the Grid – Our last post, The Challenge: Affordably Living Off of the Grid, got so much response that I decided to tell a little more about our backstory.

This is a detailed post with lots of experience and lessons we learned about moving from a fast-paced lifestyle to a remote location.

I want to share our “get to the country” plan and how things changed and developed along the way.

Affordable Living Off the Grid – The Beginning

The story really does go back as far as childhood for both my husband and myself.

We both have always loved being out in the mountains, and have been interested in back-to-basics.

To put it into perspective, when I was just a teen, when someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my response was not that I wanted to be a nurse or a teacher or firefighter.

My response was “I want to be a hermit in the mountains and live off the land.” Off-Grid Living: Surviving the Outdoors

As years went on, life took over and I began to forget about my dreams of living in the mountains.

I got caught up with the hustle and bustle of life — or at least our culture’s concept of it — until one decisive moment.

Affordably Living Off Of The Grid
We brought in someone a few years back to do some initial clearing to get things started.

Time’s a Changin’

It was Christmas, and we just had our first daughter.

We were in one of those very difficult times that young parents go through.

We were dealing with unemployment, a major and traumatic split in our church, and the reveal that our pastor was somewhat of a con artist.

I was also feeling very unsettled with life in general. Parenthood had made me begin thinking about life in a much deeper sense than I had been before.

We had no direction, no goals, and it felt like we were just floating along in life.

At the time we were living in Colorado.

It’s where my husband is from and where we met.

However, I was feeling some very strong pulls to move to Washington where my family was.

In retrospect, I know that sort of thing happens often when young people become parents.

It was a time of transition, in many ways.

I was feeling very discontented with my life.

And with the responsibility of this new precious baby girl we now were caring for, my husband and I were feeling like something needed to change.

Then, for Christmas, my mother, Marie, sent me a special gift. 

It was Carla Emery’s Encyclopedia of Country Living.

I still remember the following week when I devoured the book.

I remember reading it cover-to-cover while in the bathtub, while cooking or nursing my baby, and in those precious stolen moments by myself.

It stirred the discontent in me.

I started talking to my husband about it.

He was feeling it too.

We talked about how we were attempting to live our lives the way society and civilization expects, but it felt like putting a square peg in a round hole.

We talked about our dreams, and how we would love more than anything to see our baby girl grow up playing in the mud and climbing trees.

It was mostly talk at that point, until I happened to say something to my brother about it in an email.

He had been feeling the same thing.

We wanted to live in the country, raising our children together as neighbors so they could be close as well.

Then my older sister and her husband were on board.

Our parents, who had been looking for 10-20 acres to retire on, were thrilled about the idea of a joint venture.

Before I knew it, we were shooting emails back and forth looking at different properties and sending the real estate listings to each other.

Just window shopping, right?

My husband and I didn’t have jobs, much less money to buy anything, but it was fun to look!

One day, I looked online and happened to find this one listing.

It was much more property than we were considering, but it was stunningly beautiful and not too far from where my older sister lived.

It had a nice mix of pasture, woodland, and even a decent sized pond, at an amazing price.

The land was beautiful beyond what we could have imagined.
The land was beautiful beyond what we could have imagined.

I emailed the listing to my mom, telling her I knew I’d sent her a lot of listings but she and Dad just HAD to look at this one!

Long story short, we ended up buying it.

Not “we” meaning me and my husband.

It was all of us together: my parents, siblings and our families.

We are all in it together.

This wasn’t our first rural property

Until I was six, we lived on a 5-acre hobby farm next to some other families we knew.

One of those families actually was family.

So basically, I grew up living in the country with my cousins nearby.

It was so fun for us as kids, that when this idea of living near each other came up, my siblings and I remembered what that had been like and thought it would be nice to raise our kids similarly.

Life had taken our family to cities and suburbs overseas and in other states, but we all prefer the rural lifestyle.

Most of us are drawn to country life anyway, so it just made sense.

Buying property with family

After buying our property, we formed an LLC.

We all pay toward the mortgage on the land.

Granted, cooperative living like this can be difficult with different personalities and priorities.

However, we are doing our best to anticipate issues and keep things out in the open as we go along.

Also important is to have some very clear boundaries and privacy guidelines, as well as a general like-minded mentality, and so far it’s been pretty good.

Each family has its own home site with several acres of land, and we have some common areas too.

So now – let’s go back again to Colorado.

Here we were, my husband and I with just temp work, no resources, and a baby to support.

This was the point when we decided we were going to go for it.

Why continue to struggle forever for a life we don’t really even enjoy, when we could instead be fighting for a life that will feed our souls? (Click here to Tweet this)

So – we packed everything up and moved to Washington with the intent to live on the property.

We didn’t quite know how we were going to get there, but we felt very clearly and directly that it was our future, and given the fact that we were in a holding pattern where we were, it felt like the best decision.

The months that followed were very difficult.

We wanted to make our life on the property, but neither of us had a job, much less any money to build with, and we had this precious baby to support so we didn’t feel comfortable just *really* roughing it.

That year was challenging for us, in many ways.

Like many of you, we went through a lot of changes, transitions, dead ends, and fortunately, renewed hope.

And then, as it would naturally happen, we began working on a solid plan.

I’d been able to get a job at a local credit union where I was quickly promoted and really enjoyed my work.

My husband was working as a machine operator at a local box manufacturing company.

We were blessed with two reliable jobs, but it really wasn’t what we wanted.

Our Life as a Two Income Family

The typical two-parent working family thing was the only way we were able to really make ends meet at the time but life was miserable.

I was the worst working mom in the world – while I did enjoy the job itself, I could never balance work and home life.

I absolutely hated having to wake up my tired kids, and schlep them off to daycare for the day when all they wanted was to sit and cuddle with me (daughter #2 arrived in the middle of this time).

I’d then come home about 7:30, eat cold leftover macaroni and cheese for dinner, have a brief snuggle with my kids, and put them to bed.

Interesting side note – I actually used to LOVE when they would wake up in the middle of the night.

Yeah, I’d lose sleep, but it gave me an excuse to snuggle them back to sleep. 

I cherished those moments.

Anyway – what we wanted was me to be able to stay home with our daughters, and we wanted him to make enough to support that in addition to being able to save up some money to build a little cabin on the property.

The other very real thing we had to plan for was income once we are there.

The truth is, it is very difficult to survive on the land if you have no income.

The right land (itself) can provide a living, if your needs are small enough, but there is an interim time.

I like to think of this time as the “bridge.”

You can’t just go throw up a cabin on a piece of land and immediately have that land earning enough to support you.

Infrastructure takes time, and income development takes time.

That time is time you’ll still need to have money to pay for food, gas, and other necessities (not to mention said infrastructure).

Lack of income is probably the #1 cited reason I’ve seen when people talk about obstacles and barriers to living this self sufficient lifestyle.

You have to have some kind of bridge that takes you from point A to point B, and we had no way of getting that.

We were making ends meet, but we knew if we just kept on the way we were going, we’d burn out way before we’d be able to save enough even for a small cabin.

How Much Money Can You Really Make Selling Old Stuff

Here’s what we decided to do

I’d continue working, and we very thankfully accepted daycare assistance from the state so my husband could return to school.

He is extremely intelligent, and could have pretty much done whatever he wanted, but we felt it was important for him to not be in school for the next 4-6 years.

So, instead, he would go to the local community college and train as a mechanical drafter.

Then, when he was done, he’d get a job that made enough so I could quit my job.

Then, we could really start saving money, and I (who have a pretty much voracious entrepreneurial bent) could look around and try various options for self employment.

The idea was that he’d be making more money, and we’d be able to live simpler because I’d have the time to do things like cook from scratch, grow food, etc.

This would allow us to save some money and also allow me to establish a work-from-home income that would help us bridge the gap and potentially provide self-employment for both of us when the time comes.

Realistic Off Grid Power Sources

Here’s what actually happened

My husband went to school for his two years, working part time on the side.

He finished school in 2010 and was almost immediately re-hired by his former employer, but now instead of making the boxes, he’s meeting with clients and designing creative packaging solutions for them.

They also moved us over to the other side of the state, where their corporate office is.

Further away from the property, but my husband was also making more than most of his classmates and he really loved his job.

The huge old cedars didn't leave us any sun for growing food but they sure were majestic!
The huge old cedars didn’t leave us any sun for growing food but they sure were majestic!

We rented a 3 bedroom mobile in a tiny town WAY far south, because we simply couldn’t handle the idea of living in the city.

The area was beautiful, although I was disappointed that the huge tall old cedars that filled the property didn’t allow for any kind of food production.

Costs of everything were rapidly climbing due to the recession, and we decided to have a third child which also had a pretty decent price tag.

My husband’s commute was long, but he chose it, feeling that a longer commute was preferable to living in the city.

As life will happen, we weren’t able to save up as much as we’d hoped, but we were able to do some.

I started trying out different ways to make money, and interestingly I really fell in love with internet marketing.

On my end, I enjoyed the day-to-day life with my kids, and also immersed myself in learning how to apply the marketing concepts I’d learned in school to the internet and making money online.

I have degrees in business and marketing, and I was able to transition to the new and different world of internet marketing.

I’d also started a business selling insulated tumblers online, though it didn’t really take off until last year when I started doing regular coffee mugs.

The Discontent Returns

We were living in that area about two years when we started feeling the itch again.

The nature of my husband’s job made it so he couldn’t really do it from the office where he originally had worked as a machine operator, but we were feeling a very strong yearning to get back to the other side of the state.

By this time, my parents had settled in to their new home on the land, and we were all making plans for projects we wanted to do and income streams we wanted to develop.

Finally, my husband had a moment of “enough” and began talking to his employer to see if there was any way he could work for them from the other office – even if it meant modifying his job.

To his surprise, they were so intent on not letting him go that they worked around and changed things just so that he could work from the other office.

Literally a few weeks after that, it was all set up, and we moved within the month.

That was last fall.

We were then faced with a decision.

Our property is about 90 minutes from the town he’d be working.

Did we want to find a place close to the property so it was easier to develop and work at, but he’d have a longer commute?

Or would he rather have a shorter commute and we’d spend more time up at the property on the weekends?

Our little home for now - it is beautiful.
Our little home for now – it is beautiful.

I left it up to him, since he’d be the one dealing with the commute.

He opted to look for a place closer to the property, which was quite convenient for me!

We were also very blessed to find a small cabin to rent.

Just a 1-room 24×30 cabin with a loft on a large acreage.

It has all the amenities, but it was definitely a change from our 3 bedroom home.

It is a beautiful little place – knotty pine interior and round log exterior, with a nice big kitchen and even a washer/dryer.

Our kids might not have their own room, but they do have a huge sky, a nice swing set and even a pond with a waterfall to float paper boats down.

There have definitely been some adjustments to living here.

Our older girls sleep in a bunk bed on the main floor, and we sleep upstairs with the baby in a pack’n’play next to the bed.

Privacy is near non-existent, but we are closer and more in tune with each other than ever.

The nice thing about living here, and part of why we wanted to, is that we knew we’d be initially building a very small place and this would give us kind of an introduction to living in a small space.

We’ve learned a lot just in the few months we’ve lived here, and have made modifications to our house plan as a result.

So – here we are today, living close to our property.

I’m home with the kids, and my husband is working a job he loves.

Awesome!

Slowly we’re able to set aside some money, and some of the investments we made a couple years back have performed beyond expectation.

It’s not much – maybe about $5000 total – but it’s ours and we can use it for our home.

But really, $5000 isn’t really enough to build a house, is it?

We kinda figured that was the case, and so we had planned on staying here for a few years and building gradually as we have time and cash.

And then, we received a text message from our landlord asking us about our move-out timeline.

Huh?

Apparently, we’d had a miscommunication when we signed the lease…

We didn’t know at the time if we’d be building this spring or not, so opted for a 6 month lease, but then over the winter we thought we’d end up staying.

But the landlord had thought we were for sure planning on leaving this spring, and had already lined up new tenants.

My first thought was panic.

I hate moving, and I don’t want to move.

Not only that, but we got such a great deal on this cabin that if we had to move into town for another rental, that would probably suck up all the money we’ve been able to set aside and then some.

My husband’s commute costs are exorbitant, and so if we had to move, we might end up moving down to the town where he works.

I did not want to do that, since I’d already been making plans to run some meat chickens on the land this summer as well as help my parents with growing a significant amount of food.

But then I thought… why not move to the LAND?

My parents have a camper we could live in – could we?

Just maybe?

Maybe this is God pushing us to “walk in faith” instead of what we think is practical or realistic.

I felt very strongly that I did NOT want to rent in town, and I did NOT want to move anywhere but to the land.

I didn’t think my husband would feel the same way, though, because let’s face it.

What kind of man would want to spend 3 hours commuting 5 days/week and come home to a tiny cramped camper with 3 kids and only one bedroom for EVERYONE??

But when I talked to him about it, the first thing he said was “I feel like our hand is being forced and we need to just build. I definitely do not want to rent another place in town.”

I think my heart sang 🙂

After about a week of frantic discussions, “how can we make this work?” talks with my dad, and phone calls back and forth with the landlord, we then decided we were going to go for it.

All signs pointed towards “yes.”

Just because she's cute, our American Bulldog "Princess Leia"
Princess Leia is an American Bulldog and will make an excellent farm dog – she’s even protective of chickens.

Preparing For Living Off The Grid

We’ve made the decision, and have our initial plan almost complete.

In a few weeks, we’ve got the excavator coming to prepare the site, and then we can get started.

Like I said in the last post, our house will likely not have siding or interior drywall.

We’ll be using a bucket and sawdust for a toilet (and an outhouse, probably), and I’ll be using miniature-sized propane appliances taken from our own small camper (not the one we’ll stay in).

In other words, it will be the very basic of basic homes.

Whatever the minimum is for it to be habitable.

This is interesting because I think a lot of people are concerned about our quality of life.

I think the thing that is important to recognize is that “quality of life” means different things to different people.

For some people it can mean the opposite of what it can mean to others.

Most of our society has a certain expectation for comforts, in the name of quality of life.

And, while we do have our comforts that are not negotiable.

We must have internet, and having a bathtub and not just a shower is a huge deal to us, for example, for us we would much rather start with the very absolute basic minimum we can get by with, in order to establish that independence.

I’ve done the math and have realized that our cost of living, once we are living there, is significantly lower than what it was in the city.

As in, HALF.

Not only that, but a huge part of our cost of living is actually the cost of my husband’s commute and work expenses.

It literally eats up about a third of his take-home pay.

That’s another reason why we feel it is so important to establish a way for us to earn a living from home.

And remember – earning a living from home does NOT necessarily mean you do only farm stuff.

In my opinion, selling your homegrown beef or vegetables is no more or less noble than selling non-farm related products via the internet.

In both cases, you are independently producing something you can sell to earn a living for your family, and that is key.

But that will probably have to be another post someday 🙂

In the meantime – now you know our backstory and how it happened.

And know this – we started talking about this move 6 years ago, and started making a real official “here’s how we’re going to make this happen” plan about two years later.

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Building and Living Off of the Grid Homesteader Life Affordably

trailer truck camping

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Affordably Building and Living Off of the Grid, As many of you know, my husband and I have been working and planning towards our homesteader life for many years now.

Affordably Building and Living Off of the Grid

While many people don’t start on their rural living journey until after retirement, or spending several decades building a nest egg, we opted for a different route.

Our future home site - Affordably Building and Living Off of the Grid
Our future home site – Affordably Building and Living Off of the Grid

Living off of the grid

We did not want to wait.

We wanted to raise our children in the lifestyle.

So we made a plan to get to the land.

The plan has taken twists and turns over the years.

Has had to adapt, change and flex based on how life happened.

We started six years ago, and our plan until recently has been we would begin building this year.

Slowly constructing over a period of about three years so we can pay for this thing out of pocket.

Affordably Building and Living Off of the Grid

We’re going to build an earthbag home in the underground/bermed style of Mike Oehler.

We’re using a mishmash of various styles, but are heavily inspired by Mike Oehler’s $50 Underground House book as well as the Earth-Sheltered Houses: How to Build an Affordable….

Our own home.

It’s an amazing thought.

Let me re-introduce us for a moment.

My husband and I are in our early thirties, and we have three girls from age 6 to 1.

living off of the grid
I didn’t have any good family photos but here’s a cute one of my kids playing at the pond 🙂

We love alternative construction, learning all kinds of homesteading and natural living skills, and both my husband and I have had lifelong dreams of living a simple life on a homestead in the mountains.

We believe pretty strongly in having less, doing less, and therefore having more time to enjoy those sunsets and being hands-on with life instead of slogging away in the corporate world for a lifetime.

But – just a few weeks ago, through a series of unexpected events, we decided that it is time to build.

We feel very strongly that our hand is being guided and we are getting the message loud and clear – BUILD NOW.

Except we don’t have much money.

We do already have the land, with water at the home site, as well as a small trailer to live in.

Wanna know how much we will probably be able to spend? $10k. $15k, tops

Challenges Building and Living Off of the Grid Homesteader Life

“If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.”

– Dave Ramsey

We are taking that phrase to heart.

We intend to live like no one else, so that we in turn can achieve our dream of living like no one else.

Living in a way that many people dream about.

Living in a 28 foot 1-bedroom camper with 3 kids while we build will be interesting.

And since this cabin we’ll build will be integrated into our final home plans, we’ll have to make some adaptations to the home plans to incorporate this (stickbuilt) cabin.

All American Sun Oven Review

One thing we had not specifically planned on, however, was living off of the grid.

We thought initially that we would like to have the option of going off-grid, but we also liked the simplicity of being on grid.

So, now our biggest challenge in this is the power.

Given the fact that hooking up to the grid will cost about $5000 on its own, we are not going to go that route. Realistic Off Grid Power Sources

I’ll be using a kitchenette compiled from propane appliances taken from our trailer, and will be hang drying laundry or using the laundromat. Solar Power Electricity

We will very likely construct a portable battery bank, to be trickle charged by a small solar setup that we already have, but one we could conceivably transport in order to get it charged.

Or a Goal Zero Solar Generator kit

I’m actually pretty curious to see what we will end up doing.

I myself am a little more interested in permanently living off of the grid but neither my husband or I are all that well versed with all the systems and setups required.

When it comes down to it, however, I have a feeling it might make more sense to spend $5000 on a good solar/wind/etc. setup (and any necessary training!) as opposed to spending it to hook up to the grid (and let’s not forget the monthly payment also!).

I’d love thoughts on this!

BUILD NOW

Right now, we are making a list of what are the bare minimums we need in order to have a habitable home in time for winter this year.

I am very thankful that the “BUILD NOW” message came now, in early spring.

Our house will not have siding to start with, and it’s likely we might not even have drywall on the inside.

We’ll be using bucket/sawdust toilets.

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I won’t be able to use my dryer much, and it is going to be a huge sacrifice for me to not use a dishwasher.

But you know what?

It will be ours, free and clear.

And that, my friends, is independence.

I would take that over any McMansion on a golf course you could throw at me.

And as we have the money in our pockets, we can continue to improve, finish and upgrade it (as well as adding on the remainder of our planned home).

P.S. any helpful tips or resources you might like to share about building or living off of the grid would be wonderful and very appreciated 🙂

How to Protect Your Home While You’re Away

What’s the Big Deal GMOs?

Big Deal GMOs

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You may be hearing a lot about Big Deal GMOs. Most likely, you eat them regularly.

The acronym GMO stands for “genetically modified organism.”

Bayer’s Monsanto, with the support of many businesses, organizations, and agencies, has been steadily increasing its use of GMOs since the first GMO tomato was introduced over a decade ago.

It’s gotten out of control.

Ever eat a product containing soy or corn products? If you eat any type of packaged or processed food products, then you probably have.

What the small print won’t tell you is that most of that soy and corn is GMO. Canola oil, alfalfa, beet sugar…all taken over by GMOs.

Even some varieties of zucchini and crookneck squash in supermarkets are GMO products.

Aspartame, America’s current favorite alternative to sugar?

You’ve got it—GMO.

According to Prevention Magazine, GMOs are in 80% of processed foods. In the United States, GMOs are not required to be labeled. However, in organic foods, they aren’t allowed and are banned — so you won’t find them in the increasing number of organic products.

Big Deal GMOs
Big Deal GMOs

In recent years, companies are including Non-GMO on their labeling as a marketing benefit. Pay attention to these products and choose them when you can.

What is Big Deal GMOs?

Other related terms are GEO (genetically engineered organism) and GMF (genetically modified food).

GMOs are created in science labs. Genes of plants and animals are manipulated to one or more of the following:

  • Increase their resistance to certain organisms
  • Produce a pesticide within the plant to stave off insects
  • Have the ability to survive weed-killing fertilizers
  • Initiate the production of specific products
  • Provide some other perceived benefit

This all sounds well and good if the results are desirable to all who choose to make use of them.

The trouble is, GMO products have invaded the United States food system, and the majority of American people have ingested them for years without knowledge of their effects.

Not only are GMO foods rampant in our grocery stores, but GMO seeds are sold for use in commercial fields as well as in home gardens.

What’s more, any farmer or even backyard gardener is at risk of being sued by Monsanto for unintentional use of the company’s GMO tainted products.

In a process of nature called “drift,” pollen can be carried by wind or pollinating insects into neighboring—even distant—fields and gardens.

Monsanto has had the nerve to sue people for having these GMO-pollinated plants in their possession and reusing the seed.

And the disgusting thing is, Monsanto has won, stripping innocent farmers of all their assets.

Yet, a lawsuit against Monsanto brought by a large group of organic farmers was thrown out of court.

Frankly, it’s hard to find accurate information on GMOs and their effect on our food supply.

Monsanto, the originator and perpetrator of GMOs, says there is no danger to people.

The government doesn’t seem to be saying much. However, one anti-GMO organization after another cites research indicating that GMOs are harmful to humans.

Illnesses from GMOs?

Many modern-day illnesses and afflictions are considered to be tied to GMOs in our food and environment.

Even our own family exhibits indication that this may be true. We lived in Europe from 1986 to 1991, eating food from European stores and farms.

We were not in the military, so we did not have access to U.S. commissaries.

After returning to the U.S., some of our family members developed health issues which have never been resolved despite treatment. Recently some of those ailments have come under suspicion as GMO-induced.

Is it a coincidence that GMOs were introduced to our U.S. food system in the 1990s?

Other countries in the world are not only refraining from creating GMO products, but are refusing to purchase them from the United States.

GMO products are illegal in many parts of the world.

So what’s the real scoop?

We can’t even get close to guaranteeing any one source as an accurate description of GMOs and their effect on our food and our bodies.

For that reason, we encourage you to do your own research. Draw your own conclusions about GMOs and how they may affect you and your family.

Here is a definition offered by Encyclopaedia Brittanica.

Genetically modified organism (GMO), organism whose genome has been engineered in the laboratory in order to favor the expression of desired physiological traits or the production of desired biological products.

In conventional livestock production, crop farming, and even pet breeding, it has long been the practice to breed select individuals of a species in order to produce offspring that have desirable traits.

In genetic modification, however, recombinant genetic technologies are employed to produce organisms whose genomes have been precisely altered at the molecular level, usually by the inclusion of genes from unrelated species of organisms that code for traits that would not be obtained easily through conventional selective breeding.

Inter-species gene transfers

With GMO technology, both livestock and plants have been modified to provide something that someone considers a benefit.

Dairy cows have been bred with human genes in order to produce milk that is similar to human breast milk.

A new variation of pig produces Omega-3 fatty acids due to the introduction of a roundworm gene.

Plants have been engineered not only to resist pesticides but to produce their own insecticides and other pesticides.

What happens to our bodies when we ingest these abnormal and unnatural products?

Can our bodies, designed to digest and use foods our ancestors ate, process these test-tube concoctions without harm?

Our right to know, our right to choose

Here at Rural Living Today, we’re not alarmists. We’re not radicals; nor are we very vocal about political or social opinions.

But there are a few topics that we feel we must speak out about. Recently we discussed the need for being prepared for challenges that are coming down the pike.

Today we are urging you to become knowledgeable about GMOs in the U.S. food system.

What can we do about the production of GMOs? Probably not a whole lot.

But there are things you can do. 

You can continue to fight for our right as human beings—as Americans—to access wholesome unadulterated food that was created for the use of our human bodies.

Though we are very much against the use of GMOs in general, what we’re really advocating is mandatory labeling of GMO-containing products.

It’s our right to know what we’re eating.

Many of us are growing much of our own food or getting it from local sources that we trust.

Unfortunately that option is not available to everyone.

But everyone has a right to choose whether or not to ingest GMO-containing products.

What can you do?

Educate yourself. An Internet search for “GMO” filtered by the “news” category is a good place to start.

Read all ingredient labels before you buy anything. Watch for corn, soy, 

By changing what you can — what you buy and what you eat — you will make a difference. Cook at home.

Notice the foods you buy and eat most often. Find out which of them contain GMOs. Start by finding GMO-free alternatives for those foods.

Support the movement to require clear labeling of products containing GMOs. There are currently numerous national and state initiatives to require GMO labeling.

These bills have huge support from small farmers and consumers, but equally huge resistance is coming from big businesses and lawmakers. See JustLabelIt.org for more info.

Know what you’re buying and eating.

Investigate GMO use in your favorite manufactured and prepared foods.

Ask local farmers and food producers if they use GMO-free ingredients, seeds, livestock, and feed. “Certified Organic” products are raised without GMOs, and many uncertified organic growers follow the same guidelines.

Purchase garden seeds and plants from companies that guarantee the absence of GMOs in their stock.

Most non-GMO companies will probably have notations in their catalogs and websites.

There is a lot you can do to eat healthier. The easiest is to stop buying as many processed foods and packaged foods. While it’s often more expensive, buy organic when you can. They will be free from GMO ingredients.

Do your best to provide a healthy food supply system for yourself and your family. 

When you buy seeds, be certain they are labeled non GMO.

Here at Rural Living Today our focus is on rural life, moving to the country, and making the urban-to-rural transition.

But once in a while we feel compelled to write an “editorial” on a topic that’s a bit off the subject because it affects those of us who want to live a more sustainable life.

Recently we’ve shared how we feel about Preparing for Challenges Coming Our Way and What’s the Big Deal About GMOs.

Today Jim, who closely watches global economics, has some words on what he sees coming around the pike.

Our purpose is to approach an uncomfortable topic in a comfortable way, and to talk about a challenging situation while presenting some practical ways to prepare and move through it.

As always, we want to focus not on the problems themselves, but on the steps each of us can take as we prepare to face the challenges.

I want to encourage you to understand the current global and national economic situation that we live in and how decisions being made will affect our families.

But more than that, I want to share some important recommendations for actions in the future. I’m doing this because we are indeed in a very critical time in history.

Government and GMOs

Many of the personal decisions we make in the coming months have the potential to impact our lives seriously–either positively or negatively.

I love my country. America has been a great country to grow up in.

I lived overseas for part of my life, and each time I came home, I would kiss the ground, as I was so thankful to be back.

Yet something is wrong. What we hear from Washington and New York is not what we see happening.

Things are NOT getting better.

In fact, there is really no possible way for things to get better without a major reset.

Government statistics don’t make sense.

Sadly, I no longer can trust much of what the media reports, what our political leaders say, and especially comments from Wall Street (too big to fail banks).

As I follow through on my own research, most of it in the global and national economic news arena, I have come to conclude that we are on the verge of a global economic crisis.

I don’t say this lightly.

It’s a crisis that may be uncontrollable, depending on how our leaders ultimately address it.

It may even cause or precipitate another major war.

Ways to avoid eating GMO products

Preparing for Challenges Coming Our Way
10 Realistic Ways to Overcome a Food Crisis
Facing a Food Crisis: Realistic Ways to Prepare

7 Reasons to Be Concerned About the Future

We live in extraordinary times.

It took me a while, but I now see and understand that what is happening right now is not normal.

Things that happened in recent months and years have NEVER happened before.

We aren’t just experiencing a little negative blip in our economy.

In fact, because the global economies are so connected together, we cannot separate the issues that are happening in other nations and believe they will not affect us.

They will.

The U.S. economy along with those of Europe, Japan, and China all interact with each other. What affects one, affects all.

This is a very negative topic, because we do want things to get better. 

We have to learn we can take personal responsibility and formulate appropriate action plans for our families. These plans must deal with the direct issues that we will be facing.

If you think everything is fine and don’t care to really look at these issues I am about to bring up, you may want to just stop reading this post and move on.

My point is not to convince anyone of anything. I only hope to educate you by giving some starting points for your own research so you can come to your own conclusions about how your family might be affected.

Most likely you will want to make some changes in your lifestyle. You may want to pick up the pace of your personal food production, food storage, or skill development.

Some of you who live in urban settings might even accelerate your plans for a move to the country or rural area.

Big Hurdle is overcoming “The Normalcy Bias.”

Many of us are victims of what is commonly referred to as “normalcy bias.”

This causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster as well as the possible effects.

In fact, this bias wants to stop us from even reading about, researching, or concluding that there are some potential  disasters and issues that must be faced.

We assume that since a specific disaster never has occurred, it never will.

Normalcy bias examples

Consider these examples of the normalcy bias:

During World War II, millions of Jewish people went on with a “normal” life even knowing that friends and family were being taken against their will and that something was “wrong.”

Understandable, as the situation was too horrific to admit, yet these people paid for this mistake with their lives.

Many Titanic passengers and crew members, including the captain, lost their lives because they couldn’t accept or believe that “the unsinkable ship” … could actually sink.

They made no effort to evacuate until it was too late.

During Hurricane Katrina, many thousands of citizens refused to evacuate, as they had the opinion and bias that the levees could not fail.

But they did fail, and the people paid the consequences of this bias operating in their own lives.

This happened during countless natural disasters and weather events all over the world.

Evidence of the normalcy bias is all around, throughout history and in today’s news.

The good news is you can disarm the normalcy bias in your own life!

Learn and find out what is happening around you!

To many of you, what I present here is not new.

To others it is eye opening, an “oh my gosh” experience, a denial.

I care about our readers and others who are transitioning their lives from a urban/suburban to rural lifestyle.

I am not trying to convince anyone, but rather bring awareness of the critical nature of what is happening all around us.

My first recommendation to anyone wanting to investigate further is to take a FREE crash course from Chris Martenson.

I have no connection to him whatsoever, but I highly recommend the course he put together to help people understand what is happening around them.

Peak Prosperity Crash Course.

Start from the beginning.

You can do it all online, chapter by chapter.

It is simple, clear, and full of content.

When you’ve finished the course, you will feel like you have a much better grasp of current events.

Go do it!

In addition to that, there are some concrete practical steps we recommend that everyone take to ensure a smoother ride on the upcoming rocky roads.

If you’re interested in more details about what we see coming around the corner, read his article “7 Reasons to Be Concerned About the Future.”
Practical steps: preparing for an uncertain future

Practical steps: preparing for an uncertain future

Establish your home base

Too many people look at their existing living situations as temporary but have no concrete plans to change that.

Many a homeowner will hold onto a current residence they view it as an investment.

It’s time to move forward, to find your place and start to homestead it. While it may take time, make a start. 

You have time now, but our movement in the future may be restricted.

Figure out your finances

On paper or in your head, get a grasp on your financial situation and know where your money and your future income are.

Stop living above your existing income. Do what you must do to start living below your means. Stop buying ANYTHING on credit, and start a savings cushion.

Where are your existing assets?

Do you have all your eggs in one basket, or are your assets in a variety of forms like cash, gold, silver, and farm/ranch property that will sustain their value even with a hard economic crises or collapse?

Are you relying on one source of income, or do you have potential for multiple smaller income streams?

Plan for feeding your family

It’s crucial to develop the capacity to feed your family, swap, and barter without relying on grocery stores and other commercial sources.

Many of us have seen stores emptied as a result local emergencies. So how would we eat if there was an extended emergency?

We would highly recommended a very balanced and clear plan that fits your family.

This includes stored food and water, the ability to raise food from year to year, and a backup of local resources for swap and barter.

  1. Learn how to raise a variety of non GNO vegetables, fruits, and livestock for eggs and meat.
  2. Start on a food storage system.
  3. Learn to preserve food by canning, dehydrating, and freezing.
  4. Talk to your neighbors to find out who can provide what items in a time of need.
  5. Learn to cook and bake from scratch.

There may come a time when no one will be able to rely on grocery stores, restaurants and deli departments.

Inventory your non-food household needs

Have a good supply of equipment, tools, and supplies for your home, personal needs, garden, and livestock care.

Assess what you have, what you need, and what you can borrow from neighbors or use for barter.

What can you make from scratch that you might normally buy?

Check out ideas for lots of homemade products at Frugally Sustainable.

Hone a hefty skill set

Know how to do a lot of useful things and be a perpetual learner of new skills.

Not only will you need to do things for yourself, but services are great for bartering.

What can you already do well? Also, is there anything you can learn to do?

In addition, what can you learn from a friend or neighbor?

Peruse Mother Earth News and GRIT for tons of how-tos and tutorials.

At our RLT site, we’re aiming to amass a lot of instructional info too.

Build community

Whether it’s family members, friends, or neighbors, everyone needs the support of a community of some kind.

Look around you. Who do you get along with?

Has anyone expressed interest in working with you?

In addition, consider who has a skill set or expertise that complements yours?

Rural Living Today is part of YOUR support community.

Our contributors and our readers are real people that are of like mind and kindred spirits.

We’re all on a similar path toward self-sufficiency and sustainable living that will serve us well in the coming years.