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 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.
Birdhouse Plans and Ideas – Do you love seeing birds fly in and out of your yard? For many homeowners, a birdhouse is a good addition to their yard as it provides a safe haven for their feathered friends.
It’s also a place for birds to raise their young.
Birdhouses, using or not using a birdhouse kit (see examples here) can also be a good do-it-yourself project; something that even a person with limited DIY skills can pull off with the best birdhouse plans.
A testament to how easy it is to put up your own birdhouse is the fact that there are many kid-friendly birdhouse plans available.
Yes, that’s right, even a grade schooler can build his or her own birdhouse given the right tools and instructions.
Building a birdhouse is a fun activity to do with your child.
Birdhouses for Birds – Nestbox, from the name itself, is a man-made box or enclosure that is used as a place for animals, such as specific mammals and birds, for nesting.
Birdhouses for birds are different-sized nesting boxes typically made from wood, and sometimes metal.
These boxes are built to look like small houses, and are made creatively using different colors and embellishments.
These birdhouses (examples) are oftentimes found in gardens or outdoor spaces to attract and house different various types of birds.
Birdhouses for Birds and Nesting
Aside from that, it can also be used as decorative pieces that add extra charm to any space.
Strategically placed birdhouses can beautify various areas while giving birds a safe space to nest and interact with other species of their kind.
It can also help maintain or increase the population of bird species in a certain area.
Birdhouses can be made a different number of ways, depending on the kind of bird you’d like to attract.
Below are the different birdhouses most suitable for cardinals, finches, and robins.
Birdhouses for Cardinals
Cardinals are oftentimes characterized by their bright red plumage.
They are called as such because their color resembles the red robes donned by cardinals of the Catholic Church.
They are considered one of the most desirable “backyard” birds, because of the beautiful songs they sing and their vibrant colors that never fade or change.
These large birds are quite easy to attract as they do not migrate, and can be backyard visitors all-year-round, especially when you’ve got a reliable source of food, water, shelter and nesting areas available.
How to attract cardinals
To attract cardinals, one must know that they prefer shrubby areas and thick vegetation.
They have strong and thick bills that are best for eating large seeds such as sunflower and safflower types.
You can also attract them with cracked corn, peanuts, berries, and apple chunks placed in big and spacious feeders suitable for perching.
Also, it is best to steer them clear from reflective surfaces, as they are pretty aggressive, and can get very territorial especially during breeding season to the point that they will even attack their reflections when they see it.
Cardinals are not what you might consider cavity-nesters; they create open cup-sized nests made from various plant materials such as twigs, stems, bark strips and such.
Since cardinals are large birds, enclosed birdhouses will not be suitable for them.
They prefer open nesting areas that give them enough space to perch, build their nests, and freely move around.
You can do this by creating nesting platforms instead.
Nesting platforms are open on all sides, and is built with corner posts that allow roof support that can offer protection for the nesting cardinals.
It is best to mount or position these platforms on the ground or near walls where there is thick plant cover and shrubbery.
The ideal height of a wooden nesting platform, including the roof, would not exceed four feet from the ground up.
It is important to place nesting platforms for cardinals near areas where they can gather suitable materials for creating their nests.
Birdhouses for Finches
Finches are one of the most common birds that you will see in your backyard.
They are pretty sociable creatures that enjoy visiting well-stocked feeders (great feeders) and interacting with their kind.
Also known as “house finches”, these small birds are just about the size of sparrows.
Males are seen with red-orange chest marks, while females are usually plain and un-striped, with heavy streaks on the body.
It is best to attract finches with plant food.
They also enjoy eating some insects and feeding them to their young.
Their natural diet, however, consists of fruit and weed seed.
During winter, they get the seeds from winter berries.
How to attract finches
It is easy to attract finches with different types of food such as various birdseeds, fruits, crumbs, suet, and nectar to name a few.
Just also make sure that you provide a clean source of water, as well as the most suitable nesting areas for them.
When it comes to housing, finches prefer open spaces compared to the regular enclosed birdhouse.
They would much rather choose a nesting platform or basket-style shelter with an open top.
In building a finch birdhouse, always remember that these creatures are quite small.
The ideal dimensions for the birdhouse are as follows: 6 inches in width, 12.5 inches in height, and 8.5 inches deep.
It should also have an opening that is 1.5 inches wide, plus a predator guard that will protect these birds from unwanted visitors.
It is best to place these birdhouses or basket in a tree that’s at least 8 feet tall, giving the birds more space to enjoy around their nesting place.
Birdhouses for Robins
Robins are large songbirds that have round bodies as well as long legs and tails.
These birds are the largest among North American thrushes.
They are characterized by gray-brown plumage, with orange marks and dark-colored heads.
But among males and females, the latter has a paler head compared to its counterpart.
Just like cardinals, robins prefer open birdhouses.
They are not cavity-nesters so they prefer a nesting shelf or platform that is either open an all sides or has a three-sided enclosure.
It is important to mount these nesting shelves in a natural habitat that is abundant with trees and grass, that’s best for hunting earthworms.
Make sure it has an open front, with the color of the house preferably in earth tone.
Remembers birds’ basic needs
When creating birdhouses, it is important to remember the most basic needs of birds.
You must make sure that you know the behavior of the species you’d like to attract.
Prepare as much food and water, and place your nesting shelves and birdhouses in the most strategic of places.
This will vary depending on the type of bird you are trying to attract.
When building birdhouses for birds, it is best to use durable wood and corrosion-resistant screws, plates, and other materials as you will be placing these boxes outdoors, exposed to various elements and weather conditions.
Also make sure that these birdhouses are well-made and will be able to protect birds from predators.
Installing a predator guard is important as there are many other creatures lurking in forests and various natural habitats.
Some people want to do it as an environmentally conscious decision, other want to do it because they feel their skill set is more suited to that type of living and still others chose to look at it as an adventure worth embarking on.
Homestead House Plans and Designs
It is necessary to have a proper homestead house plan before you take the decision to purchase a land as this will help you estimate not only how much land do you require but also what is the kind of land you are looking for.
Things to Plan for your Homestead
The homestead house plan should be made keeping in mind the particular skill sets you possess.
For example if you plan to make a living of your homestead primarily by gardening then your homestead should have an adequate amount of land that will allow you plant a large number of plants and vegetables and should be ideally be free of too many rocks and trees so that you do not have to waste too much of money on clearing the land for your garden.
Also, if you plan to rear livestock then adequate space for keeping the animals, feeding them and letting them roam free should be kept in mind.
You also may have to invest in a pole barn to house the livestock.
All of these things are important to keep in mind when the plan is being designed.
After the plan is designed then you should make sure that the construction is of a high quality and something that will weather the test of time.
You want this move to be permanent so skimping on building quality and material is not a good idea.
This will be your primary dwelling place and just because you have moved to a rural landscape does not mean that you should live without any luxury whatsoever.
Make sure that your living quarters have everything what you need and some things that will make your life easier and fun.
The forms can be filled yourself although it is advisable to take the help of someone who is well versed in reading and explaining to you the finer points of the document.
Make sure you do the due diligence before you decide to invest in your homestead and then follow all the legal guidelines while building the homestead as well as registering it to enjoy the protection offered to your homestead by the law.
Homestead Designs that are Captivating
When you own a house, you would probably want the best of designs to generate your dream home.
There is a growing popularity with homestead designs for modern homes that would operate with maximum efficiency.
It is not necessary to take up a home design or architectural course to appreciate strategic property designs for the desired homestead space.
Homestead houses can be very unique and captivating with the right designs to make each home very modern and contemporary or otherwise depending on the preference of its owner.
You may wish to have a laid back home with a cozy cottage design instead of a glass double story bungalow.
The vast countryside is excellent for homestead designs that offer style, luxury and comfort with energy efficiency and security features.
A dream country home is not impossible for those who plan well with smart savings and investments, although some meticulous research on homestead designs would translate the dream into reality.
It is important to understand the perimeters of building a homestead property with more than basic data and tools.
Each homeowner has vastly different expectations and preferences that may be influenced by a lot of other factors such as budget, time and family needs.
If you have big dreams of a captivating homestead, you would need to check out what is in the market to formulate what you want for your home.
Building Your Homestead
Every homestead is different with different building approaches and tools applied.
Although a detailed homestead plan is helpful with the range of designs that you may have prepared, it is possible that some parts of the blueprint may be tweaked or thrown out of the window even before construction takes place.
Hence, it is wise to take your time in identifying the best of homestead designs that would give you your dream home as it can be a costly activity building a home the way you want it.
The location is a primary factor for a successful homestead.
The blueprint for your homestead must be clear with the various components to be included; this refers to barns, garages, sheds, guest rooms or cottage, servants’ quarters and extra storage.
Some homestead owners would want a large garden, backyard, court, patio or porch.
A homestead design depends also on the functionality of the property to accommodate the living conditions of the occupants.
The best homestead designs for your dream home would be that from your heart instead of leaving it to the experts in the market.
These may offer some excellent ideas to generate an exquisite and luxurious home but the design may not satisfy you or fit your character and lifestyle.
It is important to make good use of the total land for any homestead instead of letting the remaining land be left in ruins which would mar the overall look and feel of your homestead.
There should be a proper management of the land to ensure a positive outcome of your investment.
Modern technologies with the latest homestead design software are available to produce the best of designs to bring on the most captivating and beautiful home you can ask for.
Moving to the Country Start of the Journey – It was a dark and stormy night…. Really, it was!
That night started my journey to move back to the country.
As I was coming home from work in early evening, snow was swirling everywhere.
I could barely see.
I had actually left work early, as I had heard that the snow was coming.
Of course, I wanted to get home before the worst of the commute hit.
I had seen so many times before the effects of heavy snow during a commute on a freeway, and quite frankly I was too tired to deal with it again.
On a normal day, I would be home in 40 minutes, resting from a hard day at the office.
Twice a day I entered into the chaos and maze we call “the commute.”
I didn’t know that this particular night would be so different.
Moving to the Country Start of the Journey
Once I was on the freeway it became clear that this would be no normal commute.
Buses were stuck in all lanes of traffic.
Semi-trucks were jackknifed in every way imaginable.
A very fancy and expensive Mercedes was spinning alongside a concrete barrier, bouncing against the hard surface as it tried to regain traction and move forward.
The car lost the battle.
I would stop and then move forward a bit.
Once in a while I’d creep along an inch at a time.
After a couple of hours, I’d traveled only two miles.
I wondered if I would ever really get home that night.
Or even get home safely at all.
About this time traffic funneled into one lane, zig-zagging around stalled and stuck cars, trucks and buses.
The chaos was brutal and it reminded me of several scenes in the Terminator movies.
Many people abandoned their stalled cars or just pulled over to the side and went in search of warmth, food, and a place to sleep.
But some of us wove our cars in and out.
And finally, after many more hours, I arrived home.
I was safe.
I didn’t know that awaiting me was an email that would change my life and take it in a new direction.
Direction I had dreamed about, but had never made any steps to realize.
It started with an email
After a nice dinner with my wife, I fired up the computer and there it was.
Not just one but quite a few emails, as I hadn’t checked them for a couple of days.
Most of them were from our grown kids—group emails bouncing back and forth.
Now you need to know that our kids are all very different, but they also are very close.
Together they have 11 children–now I am dating myself–that I am very proud of.
I think the message thread started with an email from our son, and the others responded back and forth.
The gist of the discussion was this:
Do you guys remember growing up on the five acres?
Do you remember the rope swing?
Do you remember the horse ‘Nick’ that just showed up?
Do you remember our two cows that seemed to get out all the time?
Do you remember playing with the other kids on the property?
Note to readers: They were referring to the home I’d built years before on five acres abutted to two other five-acre parcels developed by family and mutual family friends.
The Property Search emails continued…
“Why are our kids growing up in the city??” and then, “Why don’t we get some property and move to the country and live on our own farm or ranch?”
As I kept reading the emails, it was clear that my kids were all in agreement that this was something they wanted to do.
As one of the highest compliments they could jointly give their mom and dad, they continued, “and let’s ask Mom and Dad to come too!”
That’s how Marie and I got included in the conversation.
Let the property search begin
And so the journey started.
First thing was to search and find that perfect piece of heaven.
And that is what these kids did.
Every day, the emails flew back and forth, each showing real estate listings for farms, ranches, and lots of raw land.
We looked at listings from Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and California.
This continued for virtually months, with ongoing discussions of the pros and cons of different property listings.
During this time, it became clearer what we were looking for (what we learned will be in a different post here) and that most pieces of property listed had some kind of fatal flaw eliminating them for our needs.
At least in our eyes.
As this continued, I became numb looking at these listings.
They all started to blend together.
Our daughter seemed to be sending listings for us to all look at on a daily basis.
“You need to look at this!”
“Look at this one!”
It took a lot of time and effort on everyone’s part to really look hard at all these listings.
Then one winter day, we all received an email, “I know I said this before, but THIS ONE YOU REALLY NEED TO LOOK AT!”
Moving to the Country – Is this the Right Property?
I had looked for property many times before, both for family homes and for business projects such as resorts and office campuses.
I had purchased raw land and purchased existing homes.
There is a huge difference between looking at rural property and looking at houses for sale on smaller lots.
When looking at land, the key before starting is to quantify exactly what you want to do on the property.
Or, in one word, PLAN.
One of the abilities I seem to have is “visualizing” how things could be.
That has helped me in various areas throughout my life and my career.
When I built our first house on five acres, the land was essentially a forest.
We knew what we wanted to build, and I determined the perfect site… with the forest still intact.
Couldn’t “see” it so she just had to trust me that it would look right and be a good fit.
Fast forward to the email I received.
Here was the “perfect” piece of land.
It did look nice, with pretty pictures, but it was fairly expensive and it was over 100 acres!
I was thinking in the back of my head of a nice quiet five acre piece somewhere where my wife and I could retire.
Even with our large extended family, what would we do with 100 acres?
Just to walk around it was over two miles!
I realized that I hadn’t done step one when we all decided to look for property.
We hadn’t done any clear PLANNING.
Property Search Planning for the big picture purpose:
Find a farm or ranch where our family could live, work and raise young kids in a rural environment.
And to do it together.
The listing sent was intriguing enough to go take a look, so off we went to see it.
One of our other daughters and her husband were able to go with us.
We met the listing agent and visited the property along with other parcels in the area.
It was late winter, with a bit of snow on the ground, but the weather was beautiful.
This land had a lot going for it.
It had pasture, thick forest, thinned forest, and a large pond.
It was at the end of the road, and yet was only 20 minutes from the nearest town.
At one point on the property, you can see for miles.
I saw a couple of deer by the pond with an eagle gliding overhead.
I took out my cell phone, and my goodness–I saw four bars!
Still connected to the world!
As we tromped around this property, it became very clear that as a family (with five family units) we could do almost anything we wanted with it.
After our visit the family had many discussions about it, sharing photos and impressions with those that weren’t there.
Should we get this?
Or keep looking?
As our discussions continued, it was clear we all had ideas and plans.
And they were all varied, but it was clear this land would meet our initial goals and fit our reasons for this purchase.
The planning continued.
In my mind, the piece of land just seemed so big, but as I saw the seriousness, passion and excitement in the faces of my kids and felt the stirring in my own heart, I concurred that this was the place.
To assist myself with this pending life transition, I turned to BetterHelp (click here), which helped.
So it was decided that we would put an offer on this piece, giving ourselves some time to further research the issues or potential issues that could arise.
In the development business, this is called doing your “due diligence.”
I have done this many times for projects I have developed so I knew what to look at.
So now to the next step in realizing our family dream of moving to the country!
But, my goodness, 100 acres???
Is this the right property?
So our journey from the city to the country continued.
Was this really happening?
We had been talking about it for a while, but now we had found the perfect property for us.
At least we thought it was perfect.
After we walked the land with another son and discussed it at length with each of the kids, we put an offer down on it.
Actually, quite a bit had to happen to make it all come together, but the journey starts with these first steps…so we started.
Our offer was one that was contingent on many items.
It was very important to us to make sure that we could do everything we envisioned doing on our future piece of land.
Rural Property Due Diligence
To start this process, I had to truly divorce myself from my emotional feelings and excitement about the property.
This was really hard to do, as I was pretty jazzed and I really wanted this to work.
If I kept this mindset of excitement, it could cause me to overlook some potentially very serious issues that could stop all our plans for the property.
So it was crucial to do my serious “Due Diligence” to ensure that this indeed was the right property for us.
The investment was considerable, so I approached this like I approached my other business projects.
It means more flexibility in your schedule, fewer distractions while you power through projects, and less overall stress in life thanks to the peace and quiet of solitude.
However, there are benefits to working in an office and being surrounded by coworkers, including the process of collaborative brainstorming, the rivalries that fuel you to perform, and the simple pleasure of socialization.
If you’ve been in either of these environments exclusively, and are now transitioning to having a hybrid work environment, there is a lot to consider to making sure you balance these two worlds.
Work from Home Balance Face-to-Face Interaction
There really is no substitute for face-to-face conversations and, when you work in an office filled with peers, this happens all the time.
Whether you’re in the conference room for a big meeting or you bump into a coworker by the coffee machine, you’re always talking to people at work.
Thanks to video conferencing and screen sharing software, it’s easier to get the same experience when you’re home.
To make this as effective as possible, make sure your home Internet speed can stream that much data.
Make sure to regularly conduct Internet speed tests before planning a teleconference session, as it’s frustrating, embarrassing, and ineffective to have to deal with technical difficulties while trying to be professional.
Important Resources for Work from Home Balance
Your chair (or couch) at home may be more comfortable than the one you have at the office, but what about the rest of the equipment you use?
If you’re going to be working from both locations throughout the week, check with your manager to see if you can have a company laptop to use.
This way, all of your information is stored in one place and you don’t have to use your personal items for professional purposes.
Also, if you can, plan to print things when you’re in the office so you can use the high-quality printer in your copy room.
This way you don’t use the ink you buy on your own dime for company purposes and you’ll likely get a higher quality product on the office printer anyway.
In most offices, even a diehard workaholic can’t spend time at the office after business hours, and that’s probably a good thing.
It’s important to maintain a good balance between your work and personal life.
If you’re working from home, make sure you set a schedule for yourself so you don’t have a 15-hour workday or a 5-hour workday either.
You also don’t want to be working at all hours, nor do you want to spend the majority of your day watching TV or doing laundry.
It can be a larger challenge to get motivated when you’re working from home, so make sure you set a time you have to start on work materials.
Stay consistent with your hours and when it’s time to be done with work, be done.
Regardless of your work habits, as long as you have the motivation to get the job done, you’ll be better able to find a strong work-life balance.
Work from Home Balance Interruptions and Interactions
While meetings are great for getting ideas off the ground, many studies support the often-groaned sentiment that they’re not very productive.
And while chatting in the halls or over cubicle walls can be fun, it’s also not the way to get work done.
When you are working from home, especially when you are working on a complex project that will require a protracted period of time and effort, peace and quiet are simply better than the hum of an office.
If you are someone who thrives with more action around you, consider a coffee shop; no one will directly interrupt you as a coworker might.
There are a lot of benefits that come with working both from home and in an office throughout the week, so if you’re taking on a hybrid role, you’ll enjoy the benefits of both.
Make sure you keep your world balanced, so you get to enjoy all the benefits to the fullest.
What to Expect When You Work From Home
Opportunities to work from home are rapidly expanding, and that’s good news for people who want to enjoy the perks of rural living without sacrificing their careers.
A report by Global Workplace Analysis indicates telecommuting in the U.S. rose almost 80 percent from 2005 to 2012, and in a recent survey, 34 percent of business leaders said more than half their organization’s full-time workers will be working remotely by 2020.
Remote work opens doors for those who live in rural areas where good paying jobs, or jobs that fit their skills and experience are hard to come by.
For people who want to move from an urban or suburban environment to one of America’s best rural communities, working from home can make the transition possible.
With all the perks telecommuting offers, it takes a bit of getting used to.
Whether you’ve recently started telecommuting or you’re just thinking about it, here’s what to expect when working from home, and tips to help you succeed.
Work for a company that’s telecommuter friendly
Aligning yourself with a company that encourages and supports telecommuting is the first step toward establishing a rewarding virtual career.
Many companies that promote the fact that they offer flexible schedules may also very well allow telecommuting.
And even if they don’t, it doesn’t mean they won’t be willing to consider it.
Don’t be afraid to ask!
Tip: A few of the best work from home companies include Xerox, Humana, and About.com.
Separate work and living space
Working from the comfort of home is a major benefit of telecommuting, but because your work and personal space are no longer separate, it is also one of one of telecommuting’s greatest challenges.
Ask any veteran virtual worker and they will tell you that dedicated office space is essential to success as a telecommuter.
Tip: If you can’t find a quiet place to work at home, then consider relocating to a shared or collaborative workplace.
If your community doesn’t have a shared workplace, why not establish one?
When you work from home you could be tempted to sleep in and stay up late.
But studies have shown morning people are more proactive and productive than evening people.
So set your travel alarm an hour earlier than you used to and get a jump start on your day.
Hack – If you’re a night owl, try going to bed and getting up 15 minutes earlier than you typically would until you’re comfortably waking up an hour early.
Set boundaries, and abide by them
When you work virtually, it’s important to set parameters that help you establish and maintain a schedule.
Everyone’s lifestyle is different, but boundaries could include telling friends you can’t accept calls during the workday, or letting your employer know that Sunday is dedicated family time.
Time Tracking App Hack
Use a time tracking app to monitor how you spend your time and help you develop a healthy work-life balance.
Stay connected to colleagues
When you move from a traditional office to a virtual one, it’s not uncommon to experience feelings of isolation.
In fact, for many virtual workers, overcoming loneliness is one of the most challenging aspects of working from home.
To stay in the loop with your office bound coworkers, consider regularly scheduled video chats, instant message from time to time, and if possible, poke your head in the office and attend company events.
If your supervisor hasn’t talked with you about how you two will remain connected once you start working from home, discuss possible communication challenges (and solutions) before you start telecommuting.
Switching from a traditional office to a home office can be a bit overwhelming.
Use these hacks to make the transition smoother, and you’ll soon settle into a routine that works best for you and your lifestyle.
If there’s a high school in town, the community may come out to support the football games on Friday evenings.
There is a tremendous sense of community, especially when someone needs assistance.
Disadvantages to living in the country
Other aspects of living in the country may pose a problem at the initial stages for people.
Some of these include power outages, the presence of wildlife and insects, and the transition it may take for those not used to living amid rural surroundings.
You may need to “rough it” more than you did before.
Also, depending on where you moved from, you may have downsized or may have moved into a home that needs repairs.
Or maybe you aren’t used to having to maintain land.
It may take awhile to get used to being more isolated from neighbors.
During natural disasters or storms, it is common for those living in the country to be technically and geographically cut off from the world due to power outages, no Internet, fallen trees and other issues.
The time taken to restore functionality will be greater since they are away from service outlets and have less homes and population to restore.
Electrical companies and other service providers generally go to the denser areas first.
In exchange for a more relaxed lifestyle, your country home may be a great distance away from healthcare providers, hospitals and urgent-care facilities.
This might be a problem in the event that you require medical attention.
Best rural places to live for modern homesteading
The cost of building a sustainable home is much higher in urban areas due to the stricter building codes, zoning and other housing regulations.
Many readers dream of a simpler, healthier life in rural areas where there are few or no building codes and costs are far lower.
But what are the best rural places to live in?
The United States is experiencing a rural resurgence as families are leaving urban areas and seeking out communities where crime is lower, good schools are present, and life is simpler overall.
Homesteading is also becoming more and more popular among people with the charm of living a life close to nature.
We’re seeing a definite trend of people choosing to live in the country rather than in urban areas,” says Jack Odle, editor-in-chief of Progressive Farmer.
“And we wanted to celebrate that.
We’ve come up with a unique list of some great areas that may be somewhat under the radar.”
According to Kiplinger.com, there are rural areas that will entice you to move there.
Consider Ellsworth, Kansas.
With a population under 3,000 people, it’s one of ten Kansas towns which offers free land for retirees and others to move there.
Remember, on many publicized lists, there are small towns that feel more like large cities.
If you are truly looking for a rural existence, you will want to note the difference.
Consider if you want to move to a rural city, town or rural village.
Using less resources
Moving to a rural area could be a boon for the environment as well.
A number of studies have found that people who are living in rural areas are utilizing much lesser of the resources per capita and living a much easier sustainable lifestyle.
There are also a number of people who find that they are more suited to the hands-on approach to the rural lifestyle.
You will have more opportunities to use your skills in different ways, especially when you live off the land and from your talents and hard work.
The above mentioned list is by no means comprehensive and only serves to provide a starting point for which to begin your search for good rural places to live in.
Declaration of Homestead
The homesteading movement is spreading all across our nation.
There are a variety of reasons for which people are taking the decision to live a rural life off the land giving up their city lives.
These reasons vary from wanting to move to an area with lower crime, taxes and better schools to making the environmentally conscious decision to utilize less resources and try to be self sustaining in lifestyle.
Whatever the motivation to set up your homestead may be, it is important that you fill up the legal form for the declaration of homestead.
This is necessary as the law provides certain privileges to your homestead that can protect it from foreclosure because of debts to creditors under certain conditions.
A Declaration of Homestead requires you to prove that the homestead is your primary place of dwelling.
In certain states, just proving the homestead as your primary place of dwelling is enough to provide you with the same legal protection.
These laws vary by state and make sure you are aware of your legal responsibilities before taking the decision to set up your own homestead.
Declaration of Homestead form
Filling the form is fairly straightforward.
You can do it without any legal help.
You can download them online.
The form has to be notarized before submission, for which the legal fees have been capped by the government to a maximum of $25.
Rural living classes
The homesteading lifestyle is not for everyone, and it is advisable you look into what you are taking on closely before you commit.
There may be options where you can attend hands-on workshops at functioning homesteads.
You can also seek out community outreach and conservation centers, nurseries, nature and special-interest clubs, libraries and community colleges.
They often offer classes on specific topics throughout the year.
These places can be great resources to learn about living off-the-grid.
Many teach about may teach about rainwater harvesting, attracting pollinators, planting native plants, preserving food, growing fruits and vegetables, wind and solar production, composting, prepping, and much more.
This will allow you to get an idea of the activities that you can do.
If you have purchased a piece of land that is heavily wooded, that in itself is a huge opportunity to earn money.
Timber companies will pay you good money to come and clear your land for you.
All you need to do is inform them that you have standing timber which you are ready to sell.
This sale can be either to large companies or individuals.
There are always people looking to purchase firewood and you can cater to these people.
Earn money selling rocks
If your land has a lot of rocks then that can too be a source of income as there are people who are interested in buying all kinds of rocks.
You can set up a simple website to advertise the rocks you have to sell.
You may see a surprising amount of interest in what most people see no value in.
Raising livestock for a living
Again, you can raise livestock for meat and cows for milk.
There are auctions in most small towns for livestock of good breed.
You can raise them and then sell them for profit.
Depending on your space, you can also consider small cows instead of full-size.
You can have ducks and chickens on homesteads.
Chicken and duck eggs are always in demand wherever your homestead may be.
This can be for food as well as income.
You may be able to raise quail along with chicken and ducks.
You can sell quail eggs for more money than chicken eggs.
Rent out equipment
Often you will have equipment you aren’t using regularly.
You can rent out tools, a generator, tractors, or heavy equipment to make extra money.
Earn money from your skills
Once you are skilled in these various jobs, you can earn money for them.
You can offer classes and workshops in town teaching any number of things.
From there, you may want to hire yourself as a consultant, helping people get started in a new hobby, craft or trade.
You can be the expert in rainwater harvesting, milking cows and preserving milk, bird watching and building birdhouses, beekeeping, cultivating organic seeds, making cheese and butter, growing berries and making jam, or building furniture.
There are endless opportunities when you are living in the country.
With your skills, you can help others get started and grow your business.
Holiday Gift Ideas – Is it that time of year again? Our family truly enjoys this special month of December.
We celebrate Christmas in many ways, from a birthday cake for Jesus to special holiday menus, from stockings on the mantle to a fragrant Christmas tree.
But our favorite facet of the month has to be the warm and festive gatherings with family, friends, and neighbors.
And some of those get-togethers involve gift giving.
Though we try to be kind and generous all year round, there’s something about celebrating this season by giving something special to those we love.
In our family we exchange gifts including coupons for services and outings, personalized tree ornaments, practical packages under the tree, and fun gift bags passed around in those silly gift exchange games we just can’t give up.
Holiday gifts for individuals or families?
Here are some suggestions from our house to yours.
Rural Living Today Holiday Gift Ideas Four Holiday Wish Lists
Rural Living Today have compiled some lists of practical and fun items we use or would like to have…and that we highly recommend to other homesteaders.
So here we have lists For good measure, we’ve added a list for the youngest homesteaders in our lives.
We’ve included links to some online stores so you can see the products or order them if you wish.
But we also encourage you to support your local merchants by shopping in your own neighborhood.
Rural Living Today Holiday Gift Ideas
Carhartt Long Sleeve T-Shirts
I could never have too many of these–I live in them all winter.
Marie and I both like to wear them alone or layered under other shirts, depending on the temperature.
These Carhartt T-shirts are heavier than most Ts, well made, and reasonably priced.
They come in several colors that still look good after lots of washing, and Carhartt’s short sleeve T-shirts are great for the spring to fall months.
Badland Winches and Trailer Tongues for Your Vehicle
With safety always being a priority, we have put together information on two products for your vehicles, depending on your situation.
It is not surprising to have off-road vehicles get stuck in the mud or some challenging terrain regardless of their tough mechanisms and dynamic designs meant for such situations.
This is when Badland winches would come in handy to extract the vehicle from uninspiring positions in the outback or dense forests.
The market offers 12000 lb Badland winches with an automatic load-holding brake to get stuck off-road vehicles out of their predicament easily and quickly.
The dynamic winch can offer plenty of power in any heavy vehicle recovery using a cable tensioner that pulls out the stuck vehicle quickly without damaging any component.
If you frequent adventurous trips using 4×4 wheel vehicles in remote terrains, it is wise to bring along one of these 12000 lb winches as an unfailing companion when needed to get out of a tight situation.
Badland Winches for off-road fun
Badland winches exhibit great power in not just recovering stuck vehicles; they can haul timber over a great distance or be loaded onto a container.
A boat can also be loaded with this powerful winch which uses a series-wound motor.
The winch enjoys a 3-stage planetary gear system that spurns a fast speed line to get the job done.
Its load-holding brake is an automatic feature that is designed for extreme safety in any off-road adventure.
Modern technology ensures that all Badland winches are designed with dynamic components that offer features to benefit the extreme adventurer with maximum safety.
The winch’s motor stays cool even when in long pulls while the free spooling feature ensures a fast line out.
Its cable tensioner is specially designed to prevent any tangling of the cable.
The winch has a 12-foot remote control that is ergonomic in shape for a smoother hold and grip.
Its roller fair lead comes with nylon bushing and tough wire rope of aircraft grade to give durability and strength at every pull out job.
It is easy to attach the winch onto the vehicle easily and securely to ensure that the vehicle would be pulled out of the challenging terrain.
Holiday Gift Ideas buy Badland Winches
Veteran off-road adventurers have no hesitation in investing in a quality Badland 12000 lb winch from an appointed supplier that provides fair pricing and friendly customer services.
Such products come with a lifetime warranty that assures consumers of material defects or substandard workmanship.
An extended guarantee can be secured to enjoy better services from its distributor.
Certain distributors may even allow a return of these winches for any reason.
Costing just a couple of hundred dollars with a lifetime warranty, Badland winches are a strong necessity for adventurers as well as heavy vehicle repair shops, manufacturers, tool enthusiasts and building contractors who have specific uses of the winch.
The wide number of suppliers and distributors for winches makes it easy for customers to get a unit for their vehicles.
The internet is a powerful platform that allows easy search and online purchases of these tools, such as wWw.OnlineCarParts.co.uk.
At first look, Trailer Tongue sounds like something a dentist might be interested in or maybe something a stand-up comic dreamed up of.
However, hold your laughter as a trailer tongue is a very real thing and for people who love to carry their mobile home along with them as they head down the road, a trailer tongue is a serious thing.
Technically it refers to the forward portion of a trailer where the coupler is mounted.
Now why would one worry about this contraption or even give it a second thought?
Well first of all, as they say in trailer circles, always know your tongue weight.
It is something that you will need to aware of if you intend to hitch a trailer to your car.
Most people who are familiar with all things towing say that the tongue weight should be around 9-11% of the gross trailer weight.
This is crucial with respect to safety while towing your trailer.
If the tongue weight is too light then not enough downward pressure is applied on the attachment point and can result in something that is called as trailer sway.
This is unsafe as it makes the trailer difficult to handle and can it can even come off under severe stress.
The other thing is if the tongue weight is too heavy.
This causes an undue strain on the car pulling the trailer affecting the gas efficiency as well as making the trailer very difficult to maneuver specially around turns.
There are some fixes that can be made if the trailer tongue weight does not fall within the correct weight limit then simple fixes can be made.
These include shifting the cargo weight inside the trailer to help compensate as necessary.
If the trailer weight is too light then all that needs to be done is to shift the weight forward and if the weight is more, then some weight needs to be shifted toward the back of the trailer.
This helps in balancing the trailer weight and helps in maneuverability.
This however is a distant second fix as compared to changing the actual trailer weight.
Calculating tongue weight
The next logical question is how to calculate the tongue weight?
Well the first step is to know the total weight of the trailer so that you can calculate what weight range you need to be within.
If you do not already know this then a trip to the public scales and a small dollar investment will provide you the answer.
To calculate the tongue weight you can either use a small bathroom scale (for lighter tongues) or you can purchase a specific tongue weight scale which will help you find out the exact scale of the heavier tongue weights.
For newcomers, both the information on Badland winches and trailer tongues for your vehicles may sound intimidating but with your research, you will need what you need to in order to buy accordingly.
The shaft is made from sassafras with some of the bark left on for added appeal.
In fact, the bark forms the “twist” around the shaft, and it looks amazing.
As good as the pictures online are, seeing my own walking cane from Brazos Walking Sticks Company was something entirely different.
The piece has a really beautiful sheen, and the orange and red colors are gorgeous.
I’m impressed by how lightweight this stick is, yet it appears to be amazingly durable.
No matter the terrain or the weather, I know that my Twisted Sassafras Turned Knob Walking Cane is up to the task.
The wood that is used to create this stick is incredibly well polished.
It feels so smooth and comfortable in my hand.
Available in two lengths, I was able to get the size that is perfect for my height.
Additionally, it’s possible to add all sorts of personalization and accessories to these walking sticks.
I added my monogram and the combi-spike tip so that my cane would be a true go-anywhere accessory.
If you like, you also can add a cane strap or other embellishments like an American flag medallion or a pewter star.
Brazos even offers a thermometer, so if you’re concerned about the temperature, that might be a sensible addition for you.
One of the things that I find so appealing about this cane is that it has so much personality.
I’ve seen plenty of people walking around with a plain, impersonal cane made from metal or another less-imaginative material, but it’s rare to see someone with such an outstanding and unique accessory in their hand.
I guess what I’m saying is that I appreciate that this cane was made from a material that once was a part of a living tree.
In some ways, I feel like it’s an extension of nature, and that fits in well with my lifestyle.
Plus, anyone can see how sturdy and dependable this cane is in addition to being well made.
This is probably going to end up a family heirloom for my country-loving relatives.
Initially, I had planned to only use my walking cane while going on my long rambles through the countryside.
Now I take it pretty much everywhere I go.
When I bring it into town, people are always impressed with it, and I can’t stop myself from telling the story.
I also tell them, only if I’m asked, how much I paid for my stick.
It never fails to astound people that this impressive and functional piece of art costs so little.
I think it just might be the smartest purchase I’ve ever made.
I have no intention of ever giving up my independent country lifestyle.
My walking stick is one more tool that makes that possible.
Oak Wood Derby Walking Cane With Oak Shaft And Brass Embossed Collar
If you are looking for a handsome, durable walking cane, look no further than the Oak Wood Derby Walking Cane With Oak Shaft And Brass Embossed Collar from Fashionable Canes.
This cane is as functional as it is beautiful.
The secret is in the derby style handle, which is both easy to grip and balances like a dream on the edge of any table.
No longer will you have to worry about your cane slipping to the ground and embarrassing you during a fancy dinner out.
You also won’t have to tuck it away and run the risk of forgetting about it!
Your cane will be right where you left it, securely clamped on to the table.
The handle also makes it easy to maneuver around with.
Many canes will slip right out of your hands at the first disturbance or slippery ground, but not the Oak Wood Derby Walking Cane With Oak Shaft And Brass Embossed Collar!
The derby handle keeps it right by your side, no matter what kind of terrain you are up against.
The design also allows you to keep up with others who might be walking briskly without the aid of a cane.
You will never worry about falling behind again!
This cane is also lovingly carved from oak, which gives it a beautiful appearance as well as makes it sturdy and largely immune to many different types of wear and tear.
The oak is honey-colored, but the grain is darker, giving the cane a sophisticated appearance that contrasts the darker grain against the naturally light color of the wood.
The result is striking and sophisticated; the perfect complement to any outfit.
This is a cane that could accompany you to the most prestigious occasion and fit right in perfectly.
Such a fabulous cane needs some incredible ornamentation, which is exactly what this cane gets with a solid brass collar that connects the derby handle to the staff of the cane.
This simple collar is subtly marked with the Royal Canes Company logo.
It is muted and understated sophistication, the last word in class.
This cane can be customized to your weight and height, although some maximum limits to apply.
The cane itself weighs in at just under a pound, which is great for users who need a lightweight cane that can still stand up to the rough and tumble nature of life.
This cane is also reasonably priced as well.
You can get your hands on it for under $40.
It’s a small investment in your overall happiness and mobility, and well worth it!
I would recommend this cane to anyone.
It’s handsome but simple enough to go with any different outfit, and it is able to stand up to different types of terrain and wear and tear.
Best of all, the derby handle will keep the cane right where you need it; by your side at all times.
10 Things to Love About Rural Living
I don’t have to spend 10% of each day commuting.
For years I did it in the morning, and then I did it at night, and I repeated the cycle five days a week.
What a waste of time, energy, and emotional well-being.
Nowadays, my vehicle of choice is a tractor and there’s hardly any traffic!
I am happy when I wake up.
I don’t dread a new day.
Each day is a new one full of adventure, projects and challenges.
The old routine called the “daily grind” is history.
I live in a safe environment.
I leave my keys in my truck.
My house is unlocked.
My dogs are the best doorbell I’ve ever had!
I know the history of much of my food nowadays.
No more worry about food scares and where my food is coming from.
My food doesn’t have unknown additives, hormones, enhancers, and other stuff that just isn’t good for you.
I will live a longer life than if I had stayed in the city.
My food has flavor, too.
Just try one of my tomatoes and compare it to one from a supermarket.
Mine has flavor…
Things are growing all around me.
I am surrounded by real life—living things.
I can look at my garden and watch my own livestock from my kitchen window.
On my way into town one day, I saw literally hundreds of deer and wild turkeys.
I really enjoy watching the eagles soaring above me as I work on my property.
My kids are learning about life.
They know where their food is coming from, and they are responsible for some of that.
They are able to follow their desires and passions, whether it is growing food, flowers, or animals.
Their world is unlimited.
They run around and play and I don’t have to worry.
They have become much more self-sufficient and confident.
They are no longer addicted to the Social Media, text messaging, or video games.
My family is somewhat protected from potential issues in the future.
All is not well in the economic, political and global environments.
Unemployment, home foreclosures, civil unrest… are things really getting better?
The civil consequences of all of this will be hitting the urban areas much more than the rural areas.
I can be out hunting in five minutes.
I can be catching a fish in thirty minutes.
Couldn’t do that in my suburban neighborhood.
I know my neighbors.
They are ready to help me with a phone call and when we pass on the road, they always make time to stop and say hello.
In my last neighborhood, I barely knew or even saw my neighbors.
And the top reason I love rural living: The Importance of Family Traditions
Long, long ago, December 25 was designated as a day to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus.
Over the years, other cultural and personal traditions became a part of Christmas celebrations.
Our family embraces both the sincere appreciation of Jesus in our lives and the joy of participating in many fun and meaningful aspects of the season.
We stretch our celebration into about six weeks, from the day after American Thanksgiving in late November into the first week of January.
Each year we attend some new events, try some new recipes, and make some new decorations.
But the basis of our celebration of the season is a cornerstone of family traditions.
Sense of belonging
Family traditions give a family a sense of belonging, routine, and anticipation.
They provide a cohesiveness that can bring everyone together no matter what the circumstances.
If a teenager is feeling like an outsider or wondering which planet his parents came from, family traditions can bind everyone together in shared history and memories.
Someone going through a tough time can relax and be reminded that he or she is not alone.
Newcomers to the family can be invited to introduce some of their own traditions as the family melds together.
A new family being formed by remarriage can encourage the family blending by incorporating traditions from each merging family and then creating new traditions together.
With turmoil all around us in the world and even in our communities, there’s something dependable and faithful and even comforting about participating in a family tradition.
It means something to count on, something to anticipate, a feeling that “I’m a part of this family and this family is a part of me.”
Traditions also promote expectations, which can be good or bad.
In our family we try to focus on the positive ones and eliminate or adapt those with heavy strings attached.
We’ve also kept an eye on interests and abilities as years go by and people change.
Some traditions just die of old age or are replaced by more appropriate or comfortable activities.
Family traditions, old and new
In the past decades, as we shaped our own family’s winter holiday traditions, we carried over a few from our own childhoods.
Each of us had always gotten a tangerine at the bottom of our Christmas stockings.
We both had fun memories of annual visits from “Santa” as part of Christmas Eve preparations and Christmas morning surprises.
Holiday music was played in both of our childhood homes; local concerts and Christmas Eve candlelight services were special events.
On the other hand, we dropped with a thud the traditional fruitcakes of our childhood.
We tweaked the typical Christmas Eve and Christmas Day menus of our parents and grandparents.
We added activities like our annual trip to a rural tree farm to select and cut down the “perfect” tree.
We made our own set of traditions and our own memories as we raised our children.
Today they do the same in their homes, keeping some of our traditions alive and adding others that fit their families.
The four younger families in our nuclear family have developed their own traditions.
Each family has maintained some of the parents’ childhood traditions and initiated new ones tailored for the family members and the changing times.
And even those traditions are fine-tuned as the children–our grandchildren–grow older, bringing home their own ideas and indicating their favorite traditions and the ones they could do without.
Nowadays, three generations of our family celebrate the season together.
First a flurry of family emails goes around with discussions of when and where to gather together, what food to share, what type of gift exchange to have.
Then we start the “doing.”
We bake cookies and share special holiday food–both old favorites and new recipes.
We have enjoyed making tree ornaments and other decorations like painted plaster Christmas village houses and decorated graham-cracker “candy houses.”
Some of us even watch sappy holiday movies; Jim and Marie’s annual favorites include It’s a Wonderful Life, The Christmas Story, Christmas with the Kranks, The Santa Clause series, and our most recent additions, Mrs. Miracle and Call Me Mrs. Miracle.
It’s never too late to start initiating family traditions.
Any favorite activity, project, or food your family enjoys is a candidate for a tradition.
If you’re short on ideas, ask friends about their traditions or search blogs, magazines, and books for others.
Here are a few of our own special customs.
Tree ornament collections
We gave each of our children a tree ornament every year so that when they left home as adults they had their own sets of decorations to start with.
We still give each family an ornament most years and give each grandchild one as well.
Some of the ornaments have been purchased, but most were handmade.
Usually the ornament has some significance either for the individual child or for the family.
Our kids’ collections have included their favorite animals or pets, college logo ornaments, symbols of that year’s family vacation, and a shiny key to signify the first driver’s license.
Last year Marie made felt hens for the grandkids, using the color of each child’s favorite chicken in our flock.
This year our farm kids will have little piggy ornaments to signify the new farm project of the year.
Over the years we have brought home small tokens from vacation spots for our own ornament collection.
If they weren’t already tree decorations, a bit of ribbon or other adornment was added to what was originally a fridge magnet or key ring.
Nowadays our tree is like a walk down memory lane that evokes wonderful memories from years gone by.
Celebrating Christmas as family
We encourage each of our four young families to spend a leisurely Christmas morning at home, so our extended family gathering is usually on a weekend in December or even early January.
It’s not unusual for some families to stay overnight, and we may even have a “Christmas Eve” and a “Christmas Day” over two days so we can fit in all three of our favorite holiday meals.
As the family grows, the gift-giving changes.
Some years the adult kids draw names among themselves.
We usually have some kind of silly or serious gift bag exchange so Marie can direct whatever new pass-and-steal game she’s discovered for that year.
And there is one gift that keeps on giving–we never know from one year to the next which of the women is going to receive the 80s style hot pink shoes!
Christmas Eve appetizer buffet
Though we have a sit-down dinner on Christmas Day, we like to keep things simple on Christmas Eve.
We can graze and eat when we’re hungry, there’s always plenty for friends who stop by, and best of all–preparation and cleanup are fairly simple.
Everyone brings some type of appetizer to contribute.
Nowadays we enjoy this buffet as the main meal of our family gathering.
Our favorite must-haves include slow cooker sweet and sour meatballs; veggie trays with pickles and–of course–olives for fingers; pigs in blankets made with refrigerated tubes of croissant dough and cocktail wieners; and other specialties introduced over the years.
Our kids who married into the family have added their favorites from their own family gatherings.
And oh will there be Christmas cookies, including old traditions like spritz, Jan Hagel, and frosted sugar cookies; more recently acquired favorites; and some nostalgic holiday treats we adopted during the years we lived in Germany.
As our children developed their own styles in the kitchen, we discovered who had a flair for this or that.
Now the oldest grandchildren are beginning to contribute their specialties.
Let’s just say there’s never a shortage of delicious and appetizing food at our gatherings.
Birthday cake for Jesus
We start our Christmas morning breakfast with some kind of a cake, with candles and all.
Over the years we had coffee cake and yeast rolls.
We finally settled on our now-traditional “cake” of homemade cinnamon rolls in a large pan.
We sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus and blow out the candles for him.
Days before Christmas, Marie shapes the cinnamon rolls and freezes them unbaked.
On Christmas Eve, she sets the frozen rolls out to thaw overnight.
In the morning she pops them in the oven and they’re fresh and hot for breakfast.
Sharing the joy
When the kids were young we also had neighborhood birthday parties for Jesus.
Each guest brought a toy for the town’s giving tree or groceries for the local food bank.
This gave the children a sense of reaching out to others as well as a reminder of the focus of the season.
Other ways of giving to the community include taking children’s names from a “giving tree” and selecting gifts.
Sharing groceries or prepared food with a local family; and caroling in the neighborhood or at a special care facility.
Reindeer cookies with Grammy
One of our traditions is just several years old.
It involves Grammy and all the grandkids, though Papa and parents are allowed to watch and help little ones.
Grammy saw a fun cookie in a magazine before she became a grandma and filed the idea away for later.
Now the grandkids from toddlers to teens look forward to baking day.
We try to get as many of the grandkids together at one time; this year we made the cookies on Thanksgiving after dinner dishes had been cleared away.
You may have seen reindeer cookies in various colors and forms.
Here’s how we make Reindeer cookies
Round slices/cutouts or flattened balls of brown cookie dough (gingerbread, spice, peanut butter, etc.)
Small pretzel twists for antlers
Colored candies for facial features–including red for noses
Separate baking sheet or labeled parchment paper for each child
Imagination, a good sense of humor, and flexibility as the kids create some interesting “reindeer”
Special apron for each child; AbbyKate Designs will embroider names on cotton aprons.
Don’t forget one for Mom or Grandma!
Family traditions may be deliberately developed or spontaneously adopted.
They may be serious or funny, simple or complicated, old-fashioned or modern and trendy.
The important thing is that they are valuable to your family in some way and they evoke warm memories as years go by.
And by the way, family traditions are not just for Christmas!
Any holiday, birthday or other annual occasion can include traditional aspects, and other special days can be “invented.”
Maybe you serve green pancakes for St. Pat’s, or hunt for pumpkins in October.
Do you have a special end-of-school year party?
Snow pudding with the first good snowfall?
Tradition is tradition!
This December many families all over the world are grieving after tragic losses.
Others are struggling to make ends meet and navigate an ever-changing economical climate.
In the midst of it all, we are ever mindful of the true reason we celebrate Christmas.
Jesus is the reason for the season, and our hope for navigating the future is in him.
We all wish you a warm and fulfilling holiday season.
Our blog may be quieter than usual while we spend time with family and friends, but we have more helpful posts and something new planned.