“You want to do what?” My husband stared at me like I was crazy after I patiently explained to him that it was time. Time to sell the house we spent the past five years building – literally from the ground up – to start a homestead.
I wanted to sell our fancy, mortgaged digs for cheap land and an old farmhouse so we could live out the homesteading life I always dreamed of.
To be fair we had been talking about homesteading for quite a few years. We had read, read, and then read some more about everything from biodynamic farming and organic gardening to permaculture. We even took world-renowned permaculture expert, Geoff Lawton’s, Permaculture Design Course. I was done with theory. I was finally ready to get my hands dirty.
The goal – A debt-free homestead
Before starting a homestead, we invested five years into building our own home, and yet, it was still not completed. So, before we could make any progress on our homesteading dreams, we had to finish and sell it. In the meantime, we set out to find a farm in our price range.
If we wanted to get into the business of agriculture, we knew we would have to be completely debt/mortgage-free, which meant significant downsizing from our current property. Why debt-free you ask? We had no experience in farming.
Starting a homestead with no experience? No problem!
Starting a homestead was a bit of a pipe dream because neither myself nor my husband grew up on farms or had any kind of farming experience.
Wait…that’s a lie. We did have a small vegetable garden (I learned that I can kill a whole lot of different plants) and at one point we had 30 chickens. They were all murdered by a ferret. That’s right. That cute, fluffy, little creature bit their necks, sucked their blood, and left them for us to find in the morning. Let us take a moment to remember those poor chickens. RIP.
By the way, did you know that even rats can kill chickens? Fact – Most everyone loves chicken. Lesson learned.
So after these little incidents, we realized homesteading was not going to be as easy as we anticipated despite the amount of reading we had done. It’s like trying to follow one of those parenting books that tell you how to peacefully put your children to bed except when you try it for the first time there is shouting and wrestling. Or how about reading about making your own yogurt from scratch and then waking up to find your yogurt is still milk? These are just theoretical examples, of course. Nothing to do with my real life.
Experience doesn’t come from a book. You have to get your hands dirty. So, if we could start a homestead and learn 52 homesteading skills in a year including raising chickens, bees, ducks, sheep, planting fruit trees and preserving foods with no experience, I am positive you can too.
Starting a homestead without money? Think twice.
If there is one thing I have learned from our homestead endeavors, it is that farming is full of surprises – some good, some not so good.
So, in preparation for such uncertainties and failures, we decided (and still recommend) whittling down your finances and becoming lean mean saving machines. And when I say mean, I mean MEAN. Forget about shopping at second-hand stores…If it’s not essential, don’t shop. By the way, gardening supplies, plants, trees, and seeds are essential expenditures.
How we found our homestead
I spent months scouring the local real estate listings for something in our price range until I stumbled upon a too good to be true relisting of a farm literally footsteps from the edge of town for $159,000. Being close to the city’s limits was one of our criteria, you see. We didn’t want to be too far from our imaginary customers, the local farmer’s market, or the kids’ school.
So I convinced my husband to book a viewing. I made up my mind about the house before we even reached the top of the driveway. I was in love. The century-old farmstead with 12 acres of fertile pasture and a 200-foot barn was oozing charm and potential. I was sold.
Since we already had a mortgage to pay, we couldn’t buy the property outright. Instead, we struck a rent-to-own deal for a year and a month later we packed up our stuff and moved in.
Over the next seven months, I stuck it out at the farmhouse with the kids while my husband and several family members (we love you!!!) worked (literally) night and day on getting our house finished and ready to sell.
Before we built our house we had dreams of constructing a tiny off-grid home in a picturesque setting away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Sounds good, right? Except we somehow ended up with a 2,000 square foot home, a 1,000 square foot 3 car garage, and a nice little mortgage to go along with it.
On top of all that, we ended up spending ridiculous amounts of time commuting to and from town – sometimes multiple times a day.
So along with the desire to farm, we were ready for a complete lifestyle change. Enter Mr. Money Mustache – my new best friend. (Seriously, you have to check out his blog – http://www.mrmoneymustache.com. It’s inspiring, informative, and sometimes laugh out loud funny.)
Mr. Money Mustache made me think really hard about all the things we had acquired and whether we were living the life we wanted. After some deep soul-searching, we decided we’d rather give up our fancy mortgaged digs for a paid-off home that would give us the freedom to pursue our dreams.
Now you may be wondering what we traded it all in for. Well, let’s just say the farmhouse will require a little work. Pink carpet in the bathroom? Check!
Blue carpet in the dining room? Check! Wallpaper everywhere you look? Check!
So in addition to farming, we’ll be renovating. And did I mention we have two kids under the age of seven? Think we’ve bitten off more than we can chew? Of course, we have! Cause that’s the way uh huh, uh huh we like it. Uh huh, uh huh. Remember we are the people who decided to build our own ROUND house. Only crazy people do things like that.
But crazy can be good sometimes, am I right? You may even feel like chucking it all to live the simple life too or maybe you just want to laugh at us as we try and start a homestead. Either way, we hope you’ll stick around for what is sure to be a bumpy ride full of mud, manure, sweat, tears, and (fingers crossed) some joy and laughter.
Are you dreaming of starting a homestead? Sign up below and follow our adventures or ifyou want to read about every one of the 52 homesteading skills our family took on in a year as well as the “behind the scenes” stories on how easy and smoothly it all went, please check out my book.