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Author Topic: Funding a homestead  (Read 1586 times)

Offline Pukwudji

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Funding a homestead
« on: November 27, 2012, 10:01:43 AM »
We're city folk with rural roots looking to move rural.  Like anyone making a major life change there's a lot to figure out.  Currently my biggest concern is how we are going to finance the move.  I could stay close enough to the city that I could commute but that would limit the amount of time I have to spend homesteading and increases the price of land.  What would really help is to have some ideas for ways to make enough money off a homestead to be able to replace part or all of our off-farm income.  We are looking in the areas surrounding Portland (OR) and could find anything from 5 acres to 60 depending on what we can figure out to do.

What I'm asking is, what types of things could we do to earn a significant income off our land.  We have some ideas, but I'm really hoping people with experience can chime in with some ideas as we really have no idea how viable some things would be.

Even better would be sample business plans and maybe an idea of how you got started.

Thanks,
Brian in Oregon

Offline RationalHusker

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2012, 10:31:54 AM »
I think there are a lot of us in this situation.  We just cannot give up our off-the-homestead income for the foreseeable future.  There's a list of things you could do, but unless you have a great idea and implement it well, you'll likely have to have multiple income streams.  It takes a lot of eggs and chickens to amount to much income.  And you then have to navigate food safety regs or do things "under the table," which limits your customer base.  There's always blogging/podcasting, but that takes time to set up and even longer to turn a profit.

I hope this thread generates some traffic.  There are a lot of us that would benefit from some out of the box ideas...or better yet, ideas that have already worked for other homesteaders out there.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2012, 11:14:22 AM »
What would really help is to have some ideas for ways to make enough money off a homestead to be able to replace part or all of our off-farm income.

Even better would be sample business plans and maybe an idea of how you got started.

Almost every farmer I know works 'in town' or if he is a full time farmer, his wife works 'in town'. I think out of all the farmers I know, only a handful of  them work the land full time and not have an 'in town' job. Those ones own 2-3rd generation farms/ranches which are all paid off. They are land rich and not as rich at the bank. It varies by year however and cattle prices.

It depends on the piece of land, where it is located, what clientele is available, how far you are from your market. What the land will tolerate and grow.How much water/lack of water/flooding in winter. You cannot just plan and then get the land and make it work in most cases in my belief. You have to work with the land, not just make it conform (although you can break that rule a bit).

You can go to your country extension agency and they will help you come up with ideas for your land. That is what they are for. I know lots of farmers who became famers as they inherited the land/farm and had NO CLUE what to do with the land. One of my best friends family growing up was given their century farm when her father in law died. The extension agency told them to give the 100+ sheep to their 4 school children for 4-H projects and turn the rest into U-Pick farm for berries, and then they went to vegetables and then the first pumpkin patch/farm tour in 'the Portland area" and then eventually a jam factory which sold to Made in Oregon. They are probably the only true farmers I know who made money. But they also did not live like they had money. No new cars, rare vacation, original 100 yr old house. Eventually they sold the farm when they retired and I don't know why the girls did not take over the farm, but it was split into 5 acre lots and McMansions are now built on the farm.

My first boyfriend when I was in HS, his family has a Black Angus ranch. They are large landowners in the area I grew up on their century farm. They leased the land they were not actively farming out on a 99 year lease to a truck stop and other businesses. I don't know if they have since sold the land, but they own the original farm still and some of the surrounding properties still. They have a relative who is living on the land and raising sheep now along with the cattle, and I know they are making it, but I am sure it is from the land leasing.

Another full time farmer works his buns off, his wife works in town. They are diversified in crops and livestock, but I think their main income is carrot seed, alfalfa and mint. They also live on land which has been owned in his family for a generation or two. I think they own it now however.

All of those examples were Century farms and in the family and paid off. Everyone else I know who is 'just starting out', and owes on the land has to work 1-2 jobs outside the farm.

I have ideas for Z's farm but I am not sharing them here *S* I don't want to have competition yet. But it will be diversified. Never put all your eggs in one basket they say. I realized with this farm that I chose the products and livestock very deliberately tailored to this land. If he had gotten another piece of land, I realized I would have chosen much differently. I also know there are certain things I would not be able to grow at this location, whereas I would have been able to even 30 miles away. I also know there are things I will not be able to raise at this place which I would have been able to 30 miles away.

Good luck,
Cedar

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Offline ID_Joker

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2012, 11:15:06 AM »
I'm somewhat down the path of the same transition.  Have the land now and just working on getting it up and running (including building the house). 

I think Rational Husker is spot on -- you need to plan for multiple income streams.  This not only replaces current income but gives you some stability.  If one income stream dries up, you aren't completely out of luck.  MOST people that make this move don't generate all of their income off their land and that provides one nice form of buffer.

I thik expectation setting is also important.  For many people, it's likely unrealistic to expect 100% replacement on their current income if going form a metropolitan to a rural environment.  On the flip side, hopefully many of your expenses will go down too.  So figuring out what you will actually need can be as important as what you are able to earn.  And on the 'what you need side' make sure the whole family is on the same page.  You might be ok never going to a movie or out to dinner or into town, but if other parts of the family want frequent social events, lots of shopping, etc, then you could have problems.

In terms of how to generate income off your land...well that's really tough to suggest without mroe information.  Depends on your definition of 'significant'.  Depends on where you are and the specifics of your land.  If you're in the right place, agri-tourism may be an option.  You could do a you-pick fruit operation, cheesemaking, herb or flower gardening, teach natural building or permaculture classes, etc.  There are lots of things that can make good money depending on the land itself, local markets, your skills, what infrastructure you have already vs need to buy, etc.

Offline flippydidit

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2012, 11:44:50 AM »
We have gone with the diversification approach as well.  Currently, not so much.  But we understand that my job here is a means to an end.  I'm working the "lucrative overseas contract" until we have the infrastructure and capital to a comfortable level.  Going forward we will have many projects (manageable) at the same time.

We know that 10 acres isn't going to be a "farm" in any income generating sense.  So with my machine shop and product prototyping (which will turn into manufacturing), book writing, consulting, and "other" income generating plans, we are working toward multiple income streams that aren't reliant on our own food production.  That's actually how we planned it from the beginning.  We know that we don't want to be a "farm".  We're rather seclusive so we don't want groups of berry pickers on our property.  Our homestead is set up for our own group needs and only slightly more.  It's our "personal grocery store" so to speak.

I know this doesn't help much with how to make your homestead profitable.  I think my biggest advice is to plan on it NOT being profitable and develop other solid "work from home" plans that focus on 1)  What you're good at, and 2)  What you enjoy doing.  If you can get those ideas and business models to turn a modest profit, then anything your homestead does generate as profit will be that infamous "extra money".
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Online bigbear

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2012, 11:56:17 AM »
I guess it depends on how much income you'll need.  And could depend on how much land you'll have.  If you can pay for a big chunk with cash, obviously that lowers your overhead.

There's a guy in my area that is a retired realtor.  He had a really good income and socked his money away during the boom.   Before the market dried up, he bought a nice piece of property just off a well traveled back road.  But he kept working full time.

* He started out leasing some land for grazing.  Good use of land with little/no labor allowing him to do other stuff.
* Planted a good sized, diverse garden and sold produce along the road.  But is corn heavy.  That's why I stop there fairly frequently through the summer.  I'm not sure if he's networked with local restaurants, but he doesn't run a CSA.
* Planted 3-4 different types of Christmas trees.  We've gone there for the past 5 years or so.  He usually has Santa, some hay slides, a hay ride to the tree fields, some local crafts, and Cub Scouts selling cider and snacks.  And this year has a contractor offering horsedrawn carriage rides around the fields (I'm guessing he gets a slice) in addition to the free tractor drawn hayrides.  This is pretty labor intensive as he's open every day between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  So he doesn't have the ability to work elsewhere (but you could have a paid staff in theory during the day time).  Or you could just have a field and sell pre-cut trees to another distributor(s).
* A couple of years ago he planted a large pumpkin patch and has networked with schools for field trips. 
* This year he planted 50+ apple trees that are 2 years old or so.

Everything (marketing/momentum) seems built off of his roadside produce stand that has a great location just off that well traveled road (a lot of commuter traffic).
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Offline Roundabouts

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2012, 12:10:34 PM »
Agree with the above.  I think the first step in figuring out how to make the money is to figure out how much money you need to make.  The more you can happily simplify your life living on less then the less money you will need to make. 

The other thing is maybe moving way out may not be the best option.  Yes you can buy more land and less expensive.   However you may also be much farther away from your customers.  That can create it's own problems.  Being closer in may make it possible to keep a job if need be even if it is part time.  If moving way out is something you just really want to do because that is where you want to live then I would look at that first and earning potential second. 

 If you can look around and find a need that needs filled learn about the demographics of the area learn your potential customers likes wants income bracket everything you can.  Then fill that need uniquely. Make it yours putting your own twist on it.  That eliminates competition.  Competition is a very good thing.  If it wasn't then you would not see burger joints so close together.   

 The other thing is what is it you like to do?  No sense in trying to raise goats if you don't like them.  Same goes with any animals.  If you hate gardening then you should look at something else.  What ever you do most likely you will work longer and harder than you ever have before for less money.  At least in the beginning.  You might want to look into "spin" gardening  http://spingardening.com/free/ as one example of how to.  Or "how to start a backyard nursery"  by McGroarty.   He has some good exactly how to's.  I would also read and learn as much as you can about running your own business marketing state laws and local ordinances.  Marketing is key! 

Also do you currently have any hobbies or can you do what you think you want to do on a smaller scale in your current location?  If you can start to make money with that now it will be much easier to expand.  If you have a yard of any sort practice now.  Sell what you can.  Learn and make the mistakes while they can be small and not so costly.   

Visit as many farms or people doing what you think you want to do learn from them.  Those that have done it successfully are a great learning tool.  Those that have negative things to say you can also learn from sometimes even more. 

I know this didn't answer your question directly but hope it gave you some good food for thought.  I firmly believe where there is a will there is a way.  Also on www.permies.com  there was a thread that was pretty long about a guy laying out his business plan.  Many many people responded with negative input  which tells me he was really on to something.  I think you could find some real good info there.  Sorry don't have the link for that.     That forum is huge and I can't remember where it was  ???  Good luck Believe in your dream enough to protect it. 



 
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Offline rikkrack

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2012, 12:22:47 PM »
We were wondering the same thing. We came to the realization without going into a huge about of debt we needed cash. And lots of it before we started on the homestead, because it could be several years before we can harvest enough to make any kind of impact. What we decided to do is make our 0.2 acre suburban lot (includes house in acreage) into the most productive we can and produce for our family and sell the rest. We are teaching others what we are doing here to generate additional income. We cut costs as much as possible and look to make an income stream from everything.

We have chickens, so we sell eggs. We saw what chicks and then laying hens were going for in our area now that many have the bug and are hatching and raising chicks/pullets. We made an arrangement with a neighbor who is out of work we raise the chickens, and he makes the coops (makes much better than I did). Many people want to come see the hens and pick their own out rather than get chicks and wait for them to start laying, or get bigger birds in the mail unseen. Package deal of hens and coop, or hens, coop and rooster. A-la-cart.

We researched and will raise meat rabbits for ourselves, then have an arrangement with another family to make a rabbit starter kit to sell to people wanting to start out with rabbits. 1 buck 2 does, and 4 hutches. Package deal.

We consult on getting other people wanting to start out on suburban lots to turn into a homestead.

I don’t think from all the research we have done it is possible to get land, and live off it without some serious cash or a ready-made farm. Even with that we couldn’t stop working “in-town”

Think about immediate, short, medium and long term. You were exactly right on making a business plan. I spoke with SBA, SCORe, and Farm lending groups. All said the same thing, Won’t make it without constant income from “town”

If you bought the property tomorrow, what could you do to make cash immediately and still cover overhead and debt if there is any? What about the Murphy scenario? Someone gets hurt or sick or barn fire, are there reserves to cover it. What could you do within 1 year? 5 years? Long term of 10-20 years.

Without specifics on property i.e. soil, available resources, water availability, existing structures it is hard to make a recommendations.

Our thoughts were bring our existing flock to the new property, and we have some income from eggs, and birds. Bring existing rabbits and ramp up production on both rabbits, meat birds. Still live in town and work new site ever moment we were awake.

We have aquaponics at our existing place and would make a larger version at the new place. Tilapia in warm weather can reach harvest size in < 1yr, catfish 2 yrs. We do sell produce now, and do agro-tours. 

Fruit/nut trees 3+ years typically.

Goats, sheep, cows take fencing larger areas and unless already there is a cost as well. But at least a year.

Can you harvest any wood and sell next year as seasoned firewood. We found locally that we can get wood for $30 rick in the country, drive it in an hour to town and sell for $70/rick during winter. We made a deal with guy selling that we help cut and split. We take 5 ricks and leave 5 ricks for him to sell. Just cost us time and $70/rick delivered is cash in hand for the new place.

I was super impatient to get out in the country and start homesteading, then reality slapped me. I adapted, and thought; what can I do in my current situation to make more of a homestead where we are at, and speed up income stream to get us in the country faster?

Can you sell stuff, second job, whatever to get more income that will last between old place and new place while transitioning.

Just my two cents.
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Offline Pukwudji

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #8 on: November 27, 2012, 12:23:06 PM »
I'm in complete agreement with diversification.  Diversification is the one thing that's been in our plan from the start. 

In relation to finding the land before figuring out what to do with it:  While that sounds like great advice, it seems kind of backwards unless you have the money to buy the farm first.  In order to get any kind of business or farm loan most places seem to require a business plan.  This implies that you have to have a plan before you can get the land.  I believe you are right, but it just places another hurdle in place. 

While adjusting your plan to suit the land you have is important, I think if there's a direction we'd like to go it would give us a better idea of what kind of land we'd be looking for.  If I were going to raise mushrooms and goldenseal I'd need dramatically different land than if I were going to raise cows or start a fish-farm.  I think there has to be a happy medium where we can figure out what types of things we'd like to do, find the land that would suit those enterprises, then fine tune those enterprises to fit the farm.

Another thing I found is that USDA has programs in place for 'beginning' farmers.  Of course one of the requirements for those programs is that you have three years experience in farm operations.  Just frustrating that you can't be a true beginning farmer and get any assistance from the beginning farmer programs until you are no longer a beginner.  I know experienced farmers would say three years is just a beginner, but what about the true beginning farmers?  Those 3-year farmers have a lot more knowledge and experience than I do.  I need help getting from here to there.

I should say that when our lease expires next May we are planning on finding a rental/lease farm for at least a year, but I really want to start planning a selection of enterprises we could start once we move.

Finally, as for how much money is needed, enough to pay for the farm, run the business, and support a 9-member family.  As I have to stay within about 20 miles of the Tualatin/Wilsonville area (Oregon) that means property is going to be spendy. 

Offline Cedar

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2012, 12:41:54 PM »
In relation to finding the land before figuring out what to do with it:  While that sounds like great advice, it seems kind of backwards unless you have the money to buy the farm first.

You can find the land before you buy it and come up with options for it. Especially in this economy as properties are not moving all too quickly. I have been watching farm listings since I moved back down even though I own a home now to keep an eye on prices and what is out there. Some places I would have liked have been on the market for 2 years now. Some come and go quickly, most don't. I would say most don't.

For instance it will have taken 5 month from finding Z's farm to when it FINALLY closes. That gave us plenty of time to figure out what to initially do with it. Then we are allowed to walk the land (and we actually lucky enough to have the keys unofficially for it for the last 2 months), so we go there walk the land and plan some more.

Cedar

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Offline Pukwudji

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2012, 01:01:02 PM »
Cedar, you can bet I'll be in touch with you a lot when we get closer to making a move.  You have a lot of knowledge, especially in this area, and I know you'll be an invaluable resource.  You're already part of the family.   ;)

-Brian

Offline ID_Joker

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2012, 01:10:00 PM »
In relation to finding the land before figuring out what to do with it:  While that sounds like great advice, it seems kind of backwards unless you have the money to buy the farm first.

In that case, think through what you enjoy doing and that will guide you to the land.  I'm intimately not familiar with your area, but it would probably be helpful to look around and see what other people are doing and, per Cedar's suggestion, talk to the extension service.  That will give you some ideas on what to rule out.  Of course, you don't want to do exactly what everyone else is, but there are likely some reasons that traditional activities are common to the region.  Especially true since it sounds like you have the area narrowd down pretty firmly.

Getting abcck to how to make money...generally speaking you're going to make more money with value added products than with commodities.  Ie more with cheese than raw milk.  More with bread than raw grain.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #12 on: November 27, 2012, 01:32:17 PM »
Getting abcck to how to make money...generally speaking you're going to make more money with value added products than with commodities.  Ie more with cheese than raw milk.

Not to mention regulation:

http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/FSD/Pages/program_dairy.aspx
The dairy law exempts from licensing a person owning not more than three dairy cows that have calved at least once, nine sheep that have lactated at least once or nine goats that have lactated at least once. The fluid milk from these animals may be sold for human or other consumption only if:

    The person does not advertise the milk for sale
    The milk is sold directly to the consumer at the premises where produced; and
    No more than two producing dairy cows, nine producing sheep or nine producing goats are located on the premises where the milk is produced.

So legally you cannot own more than 3 producing dairy cows even for home use only unless you have a dairy license and all that entails.

But we are better than most states as we CAN sell raw milk.. as long as we don't advertise and people come to the house to pick up the milk. Cheese is another whole kettle of fish and kitchen/food licensing.

Cedar
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Offline Cedar

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #13 on: November 27, 2012, 01:34:14 PM »
PS.. what are you doing on Friday? I am taking a seminar on small scale farming marketing as a proxy for Z since he cannot attend. $25 for the class, not sure the enrollment is closed.

Cedar
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Offline ttubravesrock

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #14 on: November 27, 2012, 01:37:17 PM »
I think of a homestead as a way to not have to worry about income.  I would assume that your concerns are for the short term goal of "establishing" the homestead, hence your biggest concern being your ability to finance the move.

I hope you plan on going into the homesteading with little to no debt.  I'm not judging if you do, I just wouldn't want to do that.  Obviously you aren't making this lifestyle change to make a financial profit.  Back to the topic of financing the move...

First, if you can afford to stay in Portland and save up enough cash to purchase the land while you are still working in town, I would do that.
Next, I would stay in Portland working in town to save up enough cash to obtain the equipment you will need to get started on the land. 
Next, I would stay in Portland working in town to save up enough cash to build at least the shell of your house/cabin/ranch.
At this point, I would put the house in Portland on the market.
If you need this to happen faster, you should put together a budget (easy) and stick to it (not so easy).  There are lots of sources to help you with this. 
Upon putting the house on the market, you could either continue working while you are waiting for the house to sell or move yourself out to your homestead.
The money you make on the house sale (if there is any profit) could fund future projects, be an emergency backup fund, etc.

Once you are homesteading you could make a little bit of income from farmer's markets, craft shows, flea markets, teaching classes, etc.


Offline Pukwudji

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #15 on: November 27, 2012, 01:44:21 PM »
Ahh, but you can own two cows, 9 sheep, and 9 goats.   ;D

-Brian

Offline Pukwudji

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #16 on: November 27, 2012, 01:49:11 PM »
The income needs of the farm just have to be living expenses and farm maintenance and growth.  The only debt we'd have is any mortgage we'd have to get on the farm itself and start-up costs that might be needed.  I'm already planning to continue to work for at least a year (actually two of us will work off-farm) if not longer.  We finished a short sale early this year so no profit from that fiasco.  We've spent the last couple of years paying off the rest of the debt and that is expected to be down to zero by the end of this winter.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #17 on: November 27, 2012, 02:04:03 PM »
I guess maybe I should tell you how I funded my first homestead. I bought a 30 ft 5th wheel brand new at $179 a month payments. I lived on it on 7 acres I rented. I stayed there 2 yrs and saved every little penny, got another mans garbage and sold it (rip rap), got metal and sold it. Raised enough of my own my grocery bill was $67 a month for 4 (oh yeah, 2 adults and 2 part time kids lived in the 5th wheel too). Gas for the heat/fridge/cooking was $27 a month. Saved enough for a down payment on almost 3 acres with a huge barn/shop and a house which could not be seriously lived in until it was rehabbed.

Two more years of in the 5th wheel and got the house redone. After that is another chapter as I left... but the point is to also think about thinking outside the box for the greater gain of what you want. Sometimes it is not comfortable but it is doable.

Cedar
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Offline Cedar

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #18 on: November 27, 2012, 02:06:19 PM »
Cedar, you can bet I'll be in touch with you a lot when we get closer to making a move.  You have a lot of knowledge, especially in this area, and I know you'll be an invaluable resource.  You're already part of the family.   ;)
-Brian

Awesome, one of these days I will have to meet up with my family!

Cedar
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Offline Cedar

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #19 on: November 27, 2012, 02:08:15 PM »
Ahh, but you can own two cows, 9 sheep, and 9 goats.   ;D

Not AND... OR

Cedar
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Offline Pukwudji

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #20 on: November 27, 2012, 02:13:45 PM »
hmm... so what is the conversion rates?  What if I had 1 cow, 3 sheep, and 4 goats?  You sure it's not AND?

Offline ttubravesrock

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2012, 02:20:11 PM »
Sometimes it is not comfortable but it is doable.

Plenty of people think I am crazy because I have the income to afford a mortgage in a typical house and a couple car payments but choose not to.  I live in a dry cabin (no plumbing or rooms), drive vehicles that are well over six figure mileage, eat cheap food, rarely travel, and generally live as cheaply as possible.

Question: Is the ability to shower and poop indoors worth $800 a month to you (alright, $700 if you count my trips to the laundromat)?

Basically, my wife and I made a conscious decision to continue living as if we were on the same budget we lived on as college students for five years after my graduation. In that five years we will have paid off all our debt (will be done by memorial day), and saved up enough to purchase a nice piece of land. After that, we will increase our living budget, but continue to live well below our means. 

Five years of sacrifice will be worth a lifetime of being debt free.

Offline Cedar

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2012, 02:33:28 PM »
Question: Is the ability to shower and poop indoors worth $800 a month to you (alright, $700 if you count my trips to the laundromat)?

I don't own a shower now and have not owned a shower since 2006, but you bet at -40F and trudging out to an outdoor loo at those temps I was thinking a heated toilet seat would have been nice when I did on occasion use outdoor facilities. I was very happy to have an indoor loo up there.

$800 maybe not, but $100 for sure  ;)

Cedar
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Offline jr doyle

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2012, 04:18:14 PM »
i have a friend out in corbett on 70 acres and he does 2 things for extra income. first he has 5-2 acre plots running christmas trees in rotation which isnt a ton of money since he only cuts and replants 1 plot a year but it's something. then he sells firewood (in the winter to get an extra $50/cord) by way of cospacing trees on another 20 acres. neither of these will make you rich but it helps my buddy to pay the bills. he also commutes to pdx for work 5 days a week and he complains about the 30-45 minutes each way but he wouldn't have it any other way either... there is also an older couple out there i know who have chickens/ducks/geese and the just sell eggs and poultry to locals who dont have the time to do it themselves. i think if you really want to make a go of it then you'll have to pick 3-5 things that will bring in money locally year round.
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Offline jr doyle

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2012, 04:21:00 PM »
one more thing i forgot. he started out with 2 goats and is now up to 7, they pretty much roam the property and eat blackberries all year. he has been looking into the "goat rental" business for people wanting to clear brush from their land.
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Offline flippydidit

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Re: Funding a homestead
« Reply #25 on: November 28, 2012, 12:13:35 AM »
Depending on your homestead size, the possibility of owning/needing a tractor is no small consideration.  We were lucky enough to find a farmer that would take payments from us.  We sacrificed quite a bit and had the $9600 paid off in four months.  For a USED tractor.  If you're looking at new tractors of any real size.....well, you'll be spending more than on some new cars.  Try to figure out the largest tractor you might need and then get the next size up.  If the choice comes down to a larger tractor with no implements (but that can have them attached), or a smaller tractor with implements, get the larger tractor.  You can always add implements as you need/afford them.  But the tractor is going to stay the same size.  That would be my advice.
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