How To – Do you test for lead in your Homestead?

3M Lead test kit found in most big box home improvement stores

On our recent visit to our property in Tennessee earlier this month, we decided to grab a bite to eat downtown while waiting for our check-in at our rented apartment. We will get to the apartment accommodations ( they were outstanding) in a later post.

We found this quaint little restaurant tucked away inside a shared antique store ( Antique Market) with many vintage items to choose from including this great deal pictured.  It’s called the Apple Dish Restaurant located at 114 N. Court Square in downtown Livingston, Tennessee.  They have a small Facebook presence but no website. We wish they did!  It’s definitely a DO NOT MISS for a reasonably priced and great lunch and antiques.

Why Test for Lead?

Lead can be in many items in your homestead from piping, insulation, drywall and many plastic items, believe it or not.  It can also contaminate many cooking items, especially cast iron and metal. We found this gem ( pictured above) that my wife purchased as an early birthday gift for me.  After checking with my cast iron cooking resource we discovered by the appearance and Gate mark on the piece  that it was a pre-1900 cast iron bean pot.

As old as it is, it’s usually a good idea to check for lead before using it. Since the early days many homesteaders and gun enthusiasts used these to melt lead for ammunition and other items. Ammunition was and is the most popular. If you are like many of us, you don’t want lead in your food.

As an added gift, My wife picked up this lead test kit from our local Lowes Home Improvement store.  I decided immediately to give it a try.

How to Test for Lead–

These kits cost around $10.00 and come with two small vials of the test chemicals in each packet.  The kits includes instructions for testing many items including plastic, painted items, metals and alloys, copper pipe and drywall. You will need to scrape and clean an area to be tested. Its okay to leave some dust as the test will detect lead in the dust also.

The instructions tell you to remove a test vial, crush each end marked A and B. This will release the test chemicals in each side of the tube and combine them for the testing. Shake the tube twice to mix the chemicals. The contents will turn yellow.  Squeeze the tube until the cotton swab on the end turns yellow.

Once this step is completed rub the swab on the area to be tested for about 30 seconds. If the end of the cotton swab turns RED OR PINK their is Lead present.  I chose to test the bottom inside of the pot as this would be the area most likely to have any lead residue. Fortunately, my test did not turn red or pink, which was great news!

The kit will also include a small cardboard panel with circles on it. Each of these circles contain lead. After completing the lead test on the items tested, place the swab in one of the circles and move it around inside the circle. If the circle doesn’t turn red or pink, this indicates that your test was performed correctly and no presence of lead.

It is a relatively easy test to perform and give you some peace of mind about ingesting any lead.

Be sure to follow along as i am still working on our Blog post from our recent Homestead visit and the work completed.

 

Our Adventure is about to begin…..

The Road leading to our Property

 

In a couple of weeks we will make our annual trek to our property in the Cumberland Plateau of Tennessee.  For many of you following my Blog, Cheri and I will finally begin the process of clearing our property for our future homestead, and installing the necessary utilities that we will most certainly need.

It’s been close to a two year process in getting this far and we aren’t about to stop now.  In my previous Blog Post about our plans Here , I provided my insights in what we needed to do next.  With many ups and downs, and obstacles to overcome we are finally ready to get started.

During our few days there I will share with you our step by step process of how its coming along and hopefully have some pictures or videos to share.  We will see how good the internet speed really is in those mountains –

Please feel free to follow Cheri’s Blog for updates on our adventure at cheriannjones

She would love to have you follow along with her latest updates on our project and plans.

How To Plant An Onion That Has Sprouted? Grab These 9 Easy Steps Now!

Our Guest Article  is from Lucy Clark, Chief Editor at Garden Ambition

Hi there! I’m Lucy – founder of GardenAmbition.com and  
I’m a self-confessed garden fanatic. Gardening has always been a passion of mine and 
will always be my favorite pastime. Now that I am married and have one adorable son, I 
have the time to write and share my personal experiences with other garden enthusiasts 
like me.

Did you know how to plant an onion that has sprouted? If not, then now is the best time to add spice and yummy flavors to raw or cooked dishes through growing your very own onions. But how can you grow one?

 

 

Compared to other vegetables and plants, onion can grow again through planting either the part with a rooted mass on the bottom or an entire onion bulb. As soon as you planted and watered it, the roots located at the bottom will start to develop. After that, green onions will start to grow right at the top of the old onion.

HOW CAN YOU GROW A SPROUTED ONION?

Consider these step-by-step procedures if you want know how to plant an onion that has sprouted:

A Small onion held by hand with fertilizer

 

  1. Choose a healthy-looking onion which has sprouts in 8 inches or 12 inches pots. Pick one in every pot. Don’t forget to cut off rotted, pitted, or moldy parts prior to planting. Take care and maintain the core and the roots of the bulb.
  2. Start filling every pot with a good potting mix. As much as possible, leave some inches space on the top.
  3. Create a hole in the middle of the soil which about the depth and width of the vegetable.
  4. After that, put every onion in one pot carefully while layering it with enough soil to allow the base of the shoots meets the surface of the soil.
  5. Gently but firmly press down the soil to get rid of the air pockets.
  6.  Then thoroughly water the pot until the water goes out from the drainage holes.
  7. Next thing to do when you want to learn how to plant an onion that has sprouted is that you have to place the pots under a shaded spot for a few weeks. Let them get sufficient amount of sunlight but never expose them directly to the light. You should know that their roots need time to adjust and cultivate. Moreover, don’t forget to add fertilizer. You can also used shredded leaves and twigs as a natural fertilizer for your onions.

 

A closer look of onion while inside the plantation

  1. Slowly expose them to more sunlight after a couple of weeks. You may start at partial shade, then after some time, allow them to have a full sun exposure.
  2. If necessary, harvest the sprouts. You could utilize onion sprouts on anything you would utilize onion. It will surely make a delightful garnish.

 

IS IT SAFE TO EAT SPROUTED ONIONS?

The answer to that question would be a resounding Yes. It’s still good especially if the shoots and roots are still tiny. In fact, some individuals out there love to eat sprouted onions. This vegetable is well-known with vegans as they contain plenty of proteins.

 

Closer look of onions in the field

Just be sure to check for rot or mold particularly if this thing has been stuck around in a cool and dark area for more than one week. When you notice that there are molds, simply cut that part out and eat the rest. However, if the onion is already black in color or too mushy, throw it away.

 

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO PLANT ONIONS?

Another thing to take note if you are determined to learn how to plant an onion that has sprouted is the right time to grow it. Many people plant their own onion as soon as spring comes. However, did you know that it is possible to have a head start right on your harvest through planting during fall too?

 

A fresh sprout in an onion

Why opt to plant during fall? Primarily, this is the time when there just a few tasks that you need to do. In addition to that, onions that are planted at this moment are more reliable and more productive than their counterparts. Most of the time, they are less prone to pests, which enjoy munching on these vegetables. To get rid of these pests, spray chemicals.

TIME TO HARVEST!

After knowing how to plant an onion that has sprouted, it’s about time to learn how to harvest it. Once you’ve noticed that the growing onion raised a bit out of the soil, and the leaves begin to turn yellow, this already indicates that it is time for harvest.

 

A bulb onion which has a short sprout

Generally, through bending its leaves, you are stopping them from growing further. Cut off the flowing sap so that you can divert all energy of the plant into the growing bulb. Approximately 50% of the top should be broken over prior to harvesting onions.

You can leave the onion in an open sunlight for a couple of days to dry the tops and necks. Take note that it is not advisable for extremely hot areas. Better use shady, airy places to avoid direct sunlight which might damage the bulb.

Fresh onions which can be found in the market

FINAL THOUGHTS

There you go – the things you need to know on how to plant an onion that has sprouted. Just like other veggies out there, you need to exert effort, time, and accuracy to achieve better results. Planting onions, as an essential kitchen staple, is a great help. Aside from the fact that it reduces the need to buy from supermarkets, it also assures you that you will receive fresh vegetables.

Thank you for reading this article, and don’t forget to share! Hope it helps you a lot.

Preparing our Homestead for the next move…

Over the past few weeks my wife and I have discussed our next moves to get our future homestead going and making it livable.  We really needed to decide how we want the property laid out..where the cabin will be placed..and the other necessities that we will need. Since the property is now raw land  it is going to be a learning experience to start fresh.

We began by finding a contractor and asking for a quote to clear the land for us. We had originally thought about doing it ourselves by hand but knew that would be time consuming if not demanding on our body.  Hiring a contractor would also make the process go much faster.

When we began talking to the Contractor we also found that he is a licensed Septic System installer and could help us with that also. It turned into a win -win for us along with the great price he gave us.  He suggested that we begin by installing the septic system first.

During the permitting process the Inspector draws a diagram on the permit indicating where the tank and drain field should go on the property. That’s where he did the “percolation test”. This will give us an idea of where we would need to put the cabin on the property and any electrical poles and water lines. I don’t think anyone wants a power pole or water line in the middle of a septic field.

It also makes sense to place our cabin on the property where we can take advantage of energy efficiency, sunlight for solar– if we choose that later– and those great breezes through the windows.

Our Septic Contractor also recommended a local electrician to help us with the electric grid hookup.  We found that the best way to obtain electric on our property would be having an electrician install an RV service pole on the property. Depending on the type of dwelling you want for your residence it really made more sense with an RV service hookup. We could easily place a cabin on the property and simply Plug it in, with an extra weatherproof outdoor receptacle for our camper. We are considering adding 200 amp service for any later expansion. The local Electrical Inspector advised us that would be acceptable and pass inspection. Usually, the electric companies will not provide power to your property until they see some type of construction in progress.

We have also been fortunate that we found great neighbors who agreed to give us easements to run the power line drops across their properties to reach ours.

Even though we would like things to move a little faster we plan to head that way in early June to meet the contractor when he clears the property and installs the septic system. We want to take some time before his arrival and decide where and what we want cleared away from the septic system. Our visit will also give us a chance to apply for electric and water service. Feel free to follow along in the month of June as I will be providing updates and photos or videos from our project and its progress.

If you happen to need clearing or septic installation in the Livingston Tennessee area we will happily provide a free plug for the company we are using.  Feel free to contact Benton Tucker at Tucker Farms LLC 

Take the time to read my wife Cheri’s take on our upcoming plans at her Blog Here

How To Become A Prepper – Without Even Trying!

Our Guest Author, Dan Sullivan has submitted this great article for Preppers who are beginning or experienced homesteaders. Feel free to use this great advice and follow him Here OR Join his forums Here

 

How To Become A Prepper —- Without Even Trying!

If the title puzzles you, it’s because, as a homesteader, you’re already prepped for various emergencies and may not even know it. You already make your own food, harvest rainwater, raise animals, maybe even have a generator or a few solar panels. Unlike most people , you’ll be able to put food on the table even when something bad happens like an economic collapse or a prolonged grid-down situation.

Now, I’m not saying you need to prep for Doomsday or some other far-fetched scenario. Quite the opposite. In this article, I want to reveal to you some of the scenarios that are actually likely to affect you, your family and your homestead, as well as give you basics survival advice.

Like I said, you’re probably doing some of these things because you’re a homesteader, but I’m sure many others are not on your to-do list, in which case I’m glad I helped you uncover these holes in your emergency preparedness plans.

#1. Basic Preparations

I’m sure you probably have some sort back-up if the lights go out for a few hours, maybe some food set aside… but what if next time it’ll last a week? You’ll need much more than flashlights, but have no fear because the things you need are not only easy to procure but also cheap.

Consider:

  • lanterns, hand-crank flashlights, chem lights and those garden solar lights that recharge themselves during the day
  • making a blackout box where you can keep most of this stuff, including candles, matches, a solar battery charger and, of course, batteries
  • some other means of heating yourself such as fire wood, a clay pot heater (ineffective but still) and, as a last resort, blankets

Blackouts aren’t just about the lights going out. You need to consider all the things that can happen. For example, what if one occurs during the winter, when there’s snow and freezing temperatures and you can’t leave the house for a couple of weeks?

Things like extra food (tuna cans, beans, rice, peanut butter, honey), water, flashlights, an emergency radio – these aren’t just things you see on boring emergency lists; they are things you need.

Our Recommendations: Get What You Need here!

Disaster Survival Kits by Legacy

#2. Water

Literally any kind of emergency could mean you run out of water. You’ll need it for much more than drinking: consider you have to wash clothes, do the dishes, take care of personal hygiene, water your garden and so on.

Now, I’m not trying to be overly negative and suggest that your water could get contaminated (though I do read regular news of rivers getting contaminated), but consider the more likely scenario of when your faucets stop working.

Consider the following:

  • one of those WaterBOBs that you keep in your bathroom and, when you hear news that water might run out, you put it in the bath tub and fill it with all the water you can
  • a rainwater harvesting system (mandatory if you have animals, particularly cows, which drink a lot), but also means to purify that water, such as a Sawyer Mini, which can process up to 100,000 gallons
  • digging a well in your back yard (you’d need to make a study and see if you actually have water underneath)
  • means to store larger amounts of water in large containers
  • and even means to reuse it, such as flushing the toilet with the water you use in the kitchen (the so-called grey water)
  • a few water filters that will allow you to make water drinkable, such as the LifeStraw or the ones made by Berkey, just keep in mind they don’t filter heavy metals (you’d need one of those filters made by ZeroWater for that)

#3. Bugging Out

Though, as a homesteader, you’re probably much better of hunkering down in case of a disaster, you always have to consider the possibility of you being thrown away out of your home. A huge flood, a major hurricane, a wildfire, in cases like these you have no chance of staying inside your home; you just have to go.

Bugging out, or evacuating in plain terms, is not hard, but it does take some planning. First, you need a vehicle such as a car or an RV that you’ll use to make your escape. It needs to be properly equipped for all seasons, including food, water, blankets and flashlights (in case you remain stranded somewhere on the side of the road).

Next, you need to know all the possible ways to get out. With disaster on your tail, you may have minutes to evacuate, and you can’t afford getting stuck in a traffic jam or hitting a dead end. Every second will count.

Speaking of vehicles, you need to make arrangements to take as many things with you as possible. A large trunk will help, maybe even a trailer or a rooftop cargo carrier.

Then, we have the preppers all-time favorite, the bug out bag. We like to spend time tweaking it, making it lighter, smaller and, of course, to add more things to it. My list of over 150 bug out bag items will help, just make sure you stay away from cheap items that might break or not work at all when you need them.

Last but not least, you’d need a place to evacuate to. Even if you don’t have one, you should still prepare to bug out. Better to sleep in your car than die in your home, but really, any place that can keep you safe can be considered a “bug out location”: a friend’s house, a piece of land that belongs to a relative etc.

Here is an Editors Product Recommendation for Bug Out Bags

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#4. Security

You need to secure your home, your family and yourself. I’m just pointing out the obvious here, but having a few guns, an alarm system, a couple of security cameras and some motion sensors will go a long way towards protecting your home, your garden and your livestock.

But you also have to consider your personal security. A concealed carry handgun is probably your best option, but there are others if you don’t like guns, things like pepper spray, stun guns and other alternative weapons.

#5. A Stockpile

I’m sure you probably have enough food to last you 1 – 2 weeks, but what if the next disaster will keep you inside for longer? A 1 month stockpile should be anyone’s goal, maybe even longer if you have the space to keep it all. Focus on the staples (rice, beans, honey etc.) but make sure you only get food you usually eat, and stay away from MREs and other survival foods. Most aren’t worth it.

Last But Not Least…

Besides what’s listed above, one other thing you can do to increase your chances of survival is to simply try new things. I’m talking about things that are useful in an emergency, such as:

  • outdoor cooking (useful when you don’t have fuel or electricity)
  • food preservation techniques (salting, smoking etc.)
  • fixing and even making your own clothes
  • woodworking
  • first aid
  • baking your own bread
  • fishing

These aren’t just meant to prep you for emergencies or to take up your time they can also be fun! So feel free to experiment…

Beekeeping 101: A Personal Guide Part 2

 

Beekeeping 101: A Personal Guide Part 1

My wife and I began our beekeeping adventure after a day at work turned into a honeybee rescue of sorts. One of the tenants at the Condominium complex where I was working noticed a large swarm of bees in the soffit of a building stairwell. I decided to go and investigate and indeed found a large swarm of honeybees. Of course, the owners were determined they wanted it removed.

After noticing they were indeed honeybees, I knew that spraying would not be an option in getting rid of them. Bees are just too important to our way of life and the environment. Without any prior experience with beekeeping I realized that bees pollinate a third of everything we eat and play a vital role in sustaining the planet’s ecosystems. Some 84% of the crops grown for human consumption – around 400 different types of plants – need bees and other insects to pollinate them to increase their yields and quality. These include most fruits and vegetables, many nuts, and plants such as rapeseed and sunflowers that are turned into oil, as well as cocoa beans, coffee and tea. I not only learned that bees are essential for our food crops, but are essential in cotton crops.

Bees are some of the hardest working you can find.  Bees depend on plants for food, just as much as plants depend on bees for pollination and reproduction.  This much I  understood but had no clue about raising honeybees or where to start. I still have much to learn about them and how to keep our hives healthy.

After about an hour of deciding how to move forward, we decided we would call a professional beekeeper to come and remove them. I knew they would have a good home and will be taken care of.  My wife and I had previously talked about beekeeping and raising bees and this was a chance to talk with her about possibly bringing the bees home. She readily agreed that we could give it a try.  First, we needed to buy a hive and all of the equipment we would need to be good beekeepers—even if we were amateurs.

It took a day or so for the professional beekeeper to come out and start the removal process. Decked out in their suits and veils they began the tedious process of the hive and bee removal. The one thing we found with beekeeping is everything is slow and deliberate. There is a reason for that – Bees can be delicate to handle and one can easily destroy the combs they build which produce honey and provide brood for new bees to produce.

Inspecting and Deciding how to remove it

 

 

With a hive tool or a knife they began the task of removing the combs from the building and placing them in the new hive frames that we purchased.  The beekeeper gave me a sample of a piece  of the comb that he removed to taste the honey. It was awesome!!  Most of the neighborhood is overgrown with Brazilian Pepper bushes which gave the honey a sweet yet spicy taste. The entire process took about an hour to complete.

A sample of the great tasting honey

When the combs are removed and placed in the new hive frames the bees will have a tendency to follow along. For those that don’t, the beekeepers have a special vacuum that is used to gather the remainder of the bees. Don’t worry, these vacuums don’t hurt the bees. I will say that in the process, you will lose some bees but not many. Most strong hives will contain around 40-50,000 bees in them. Losing some is inevitable but you shouldn’t notice a difference in the losses.

Large Comb removal
Placing the combs in the new hive

After the beekeepers were finished they immediately drove them to our house for their new home. We gathered some important pointers from the professionals and started our new beekeeping adventures. We purchased the hive and frames from the beekeeper and found a local hive builder for the smoker and tools we would need.

Now for their new home!

Being new to beekeeping we depended on the beekeeper to give us advice and guidance to make sure that our bees would be stable and continue building out the hive. If you are inexperienced in beekeeping, I suggest you do this to be sure the hive will survive and allow them to monitor the hive, making sure the hive still has a queen bee and no diseases. Without a queen, it wont last.

In Part 2, I will highlight our experiences with beekeeping at home and give you some suggestions on purchasing hives and equipment.

 

 

How To: Digging a well on your property

 

Your typical Pitcher Pump

 

I know I have often thought about drilling a well or simply being satisfied with a public water system on our property.  Many times the costs are less when connecting to a public water supply, but the water isn’t always the best! After all, water just isn’t something you can do without, right?  In this instance, I will give you some ways to have supplemental water sources for your garden or watering your lawn!

If your property has soft, sandy soil or loose gravel on top of a shallow water table, here are three cost-effective ways of drilling your own backyard water well. On the other hand, if the water table is 150 to 300 feet below the surface, use a portable drilling rig, or hire a contractor for the project.  Well Drilling Contractors can be a good source for telling you if your area is suitable or possible for a well. Deep well water is usually potable — provided it passes certain tests performed by an approved laboratory. If not, your deep well should produce enough water for a sophisticated irrigation system.

Check your Zoning Laws and the Water Table

  • Check your local suburban zoning laws before planning a well or purchasing equipment — some cities do not allow private water wells. On the other hand, if your local ordinance allows backyard wells, apply for the relevant permits and ask for the location of municipal utility cables and pipes on your property before proceeding. Once this is done, establish the approximate depth to water table by either checking the depth of nearby wells or hiring a hydrologist to perform a survey of your immediate area.

Driving a Wellpoint

  • A wellpoint is a perforated pipe fitted with a hardened point that is driven into the ground by hand. The openings in the pipe are large enough to allow water to enter but small enough to keep water-bearing gravel out of the pipe. Wellpoints vary in diameter from 1 1/4 to 2 inches, with lengths between 18 and 60 inches. After the initial drive point is hammered into the ground, subsequent pipes are attached to the ends with specially designed drive point couplings. Pipes are added until the perforated end penetrates the water table by 2 to 6 feet. Wellpoint extraction only works when driven into a high water table, 10 to 15 feet below the ground. Once installed, about 5 or 6 gallons per minute can be pumped out using a pitcher pump or a shallow well pump.

Air Pump-Assisted Drill Bit

  • An air pump-assisted drill bit can drill your backyard water well to a depth of up to 100 feet. The unit consists of a small but powerful air-driven drill bit capable of cutting through hardened clay and densely packed soil. The bit is attached to the end of a tubular expansion chamber containing the inlet pipe from the air pump, with holes in the lower part for water to flow into the system. A 100-foot length of 2-inch PVC pipe is attached to the outlet port of the expansion chamber. The well is constantly filled with water from a garden hose until the drill bit penetrates the water table. Exhaust air from the drill bit is ejected up the expansion chamber and into the 2-inch PVC pipe, forming a vacuum and sucking water and slurry out during drilling operation. A well liner, foot strainer and pump is installed on a concrete slab to complete the project.

Jetting or Washboring

  • Jetting or washboring is suitable for producing a shallow well where the distance to the water table is 25 feet or less. In basic terms, serrated teeth are cut into the end of a schedule 40 PVC pipe with a hacksaw. A drill head with two 3/4-inch threaded fittings is attached to the top of the pipe with a threaded pipe coupling. Hose pipes are connected to the threaded fittings to supply a constant flow of water into the Schedule 40 pipe. A wide wooden handle is attached to the pipe with hose clamps to provide leverage. The operator stands on an open pickup truck tailgate, places the serrated end of the pipe on the ground and has a helper turn on the hose pipes. He then twists wooden handle back and forth to allow the teeth on the end of the pipe to cut into the soil with the help of jetting water. Extra lengths of pipe are added until the required depth is reached. A well liner, foot strainer and pitcher pump or a shallow well pump is installed on a concrete slab to complete the project.

Micro Drill Rig

  • Use a one-man diesel-powered micro drill rig to drill a well up to 300 feet through clay and rock formations. These rigs are equipped with hydraulic power for easy handling and for added pressure on the drill bit. A powerful mud pump is used to pump drilling mud directly to the drill bit to speed up drilling action, and manual setup and positioning is straightforward. Since these micro-rigs cost over $20,000, you may be able to rent one through a heavy equipment rental outlet. If not, you could always recover costs over time by renting the machine out to your neighbors — or you could establish your own micro-drilling company as an added source of income.

Land Preparation- Is your Land Ready for your Homestead?

 

 

My wife and I decided that we wanted to find the perfect place we could call home and be certain that the land was sufficient for the things we wanted to do with it. We needed to focus on land preparation. We began that journey more than a year ago as I posted in a previous Blog Post. Without some basic research, we ended up with a property we couldn’t do anything with. You can read about it here –>>https://www.homesteadinghowto.com/a-place-to-call-home/

We found another piece of land that was a little smaller and decided to venture back to Tennessee and meet with the Land Specialist to look at it. A few days earlier we decided to do as much research on this property and learn as much as we could. After all, we didn’t want to end up in that same boat we had been in before. We quickly found the contacts for the utilities and if a title search was needed on the property. Title searches can show you any discrepancies with the property and any obstacles over ownership or deeds. After talking with the Register of Deeds Office in that particular County we found that the property was free and clear of any potential heartaches. That was a good sign!

The Road to Our Homestead:

When we arrived in Tennessee, we checked into our hotel in preparation for our trip the next morning to look at the land we were interested in. Traveling those mountain roads is a lot of fun and we ended up on a gravel road which led us several miles, it seemed, up the mountain to our future homestead. We passed old farmhouses that appeared to have been there for many years. The gravel road lead us under tree canopies, past small farms and cattle, and an occasional old tractor or pickup truck. In some areas the edge of the road appeared to be washed out from the rainfall, however, the road was still passable and well maintained. Once at the top of the mountain we saw a wooden sign appropriately named ” Big Sky Acres”. Our future land would be at the end of the road. We were told that the area was once supposed to be an exclusive development with an airstrip. The road in front of our future property was part of the old airstrip runway. The development, in all its expected glory, never materialized. The area has cabins and homes in the area with a few neighbors scattered here and there. The property is mostly wooded and underbrush with a bluff in the back of the property overlooking a portion of the Obey River below. We can’t wait to see the view in the winter months when the leaves are fallen!

Utilities:

Many people do prefer the “off grid living lifestyle” and that’s fine. At this point in our lives, it’s just not for us, particularly when we will be new to the area and we aren’t that young anymore!

It didn’t take long to find the local electric co-op for that particular area the property is located in. After speaking to the Engineer and later meeting with him, we found that electric service was much easier than we thought. A service pole is within 375 feet of the property boundary and they would install a pole if needed, adjacent to or on the property at little or no cost to us. A little tree limb adjustment on the neighbor’s property would be needed to run the lines at very little cost to us.

In subsequent phone calls, I located the water utility company for that particular area. That was a little more difficult since the utility companies in that area have different boundaries for service. You will find that a lot in rural areas. Once we connected with the right company we quickly found that a water main runs directly in front of and ends at the property. This was also a good sign! The manager was very helpful and knowledgeable about the water in that area and informed me that he used to own the water system and could happily tell me all about it. A water tap will cost us a few hundred dollars to have water for our homestead.

Land Clearing:

We knew once we walked the land, asked the right questions beforehand, and we came prepared with some needed answers before we arrived, we felt we could do something with this. It was about a week later we decided to purchase it. We realize that we would have to have the land cleared somewhat before we could decide where to put the cabin, driveway, and the things to make it livable. I found a local contractor who gladly went and looked at the property and gave us an estimate on clearing and installing a septic system. We had thought once before that we would try to clear the land ourselves to save some money. We made a decision that in the interest of time, we would have the contractor clear those areas that we needed for the cabin and access, and do the rest ourselves, at the pace we wanted. His price was also affordable and could be completed in about a day!

The contractor we are hiring has various pieces of equipment to complete many tasks, but we asked him to clear ours with a forestry mulcher. If you haven’t seen one in action, they are quite impressive! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXyEOX1srf4

These Mulchers will clear the brush and small trees and provide a mulch for the ground on our property. It helps the environment and saves us from disposing of unwanted underbrush and limbs. We will use the larger trees that need to be removed as firewood for our small farm. We also plan to leave the road frontage untouched to provide a buffer for privacy. If you live or have property in the area, feel free to give him a call with your needs! He is very knowledgeable and great to talk with!

You can find him here —->http://www.tuckerfarms.farm/

If you prefer to go the old-fashioned way with a lot of elbow grease and hard work then you will need the right tools to do it with. I recommend a good quality chainsaw that will last! I chose the Stihl 170 chainsaw for the work I want to do! You also need a good wood splitting ax to chop or split wood. You can also rent equipment to clear land or dig holes, but keep in mind, if you break it you will more than likely be responsible for repairing it.

Building or Setting up a Cabin:

My wife and I decided to purchase a 14x 40 Pre-Built cabin to live in. Once it is ordered and delivered it will be set up on concrete blocks or pillars. We want it a little higher off the ground to be able to easily install plumbing and drain lines underneath for easy access. Our ground is suitable for that since we previously had a percolation test to determine the absorption rate of the land. If you have soft and sandy ground I would recommend a foundation support under it. It can be in the form of concrete footings in the ground that go below the freezing level or concrete pillars. You can find the pictures of our future cabin in an earlier blog post.

Organic or Non-Organic Garden Preparation:

When we are settled on our Homestead we plan to start an organic garden, meanwhile finding out what we can grow, and cannot, in our new surroundings. The land should be ripe for growing as a result of the mulching that will be done to clear the property. Regardless of where we are, we have found that different areas of the country have different growing seasons for different plants and vegetables. A good resource, if you are just beginning, is to contact your county Agriculture Extension Service. They have a wealth of knowledgeable people who can guide you along the way and they are free. They can also put you in touch with the right people for soil testing. Organic farming can be a little more tricky and time-consuming since you are trying to keep away all the pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. There may be farmers in your area you can contact for advice.

We plan to use as many natural protectors as possible in our garden for the food we eat. We also plan to install a small greenhouse to provide us with food during the winter months. Planting cover crops and plants on your property also help with garden growth and pollination and will provide some food for our renewed bee hives! Look for what grows best in your area and start there!

Making Your Homestead Affordable!

I was recently doing some research for my next Blog post and came across an article about these great Tiny Homes for retirees.  In my infinite curiosity I decided to take a look at what this was all about and what they were promoting.

They were all great Tiny Homes, but the price tags?  To me, this simply defeats the concept of becoming minimal, living small, and the idea of affordability without a mortgage. We all want to retire someday and live comfortably, and  in the way that we choose. Many of us aren’t looking for a super large house with new cars and a boat in the driveway. Well, maybe some, but not everyone!  It’s not something that my wife and I are looking for or wanting in life . I  also found that according to a 2015 survey by a Tiny Home website that 30% of Retirees living Tiny are between the ages of 51 and 70.

Our focus begins with reducing our clutter and the material things that we don’t want or need.  My wife Cheri addresses much of that in her Blog. We definitely do not need a large house where we end up only adding things to it along with a huge mortgage.  We also aren’t interested in a small or Tiny House that we cant reasonably afford with those bells and whistles attached to it.  There is nothing wrong with those who want that, but its just not for us! Many retirees may have the extra cash or savings to sink money into these houses and indeed end up with no mortgage at all.  What about the ones that don’t have cash available or a hefty retirement package?  I hope to give you some ideas about how to do that and not having a  never ending mortgage.

The average cost to build your own can start around $23,000 or less. It really depends on what materials you use, your skill level, and the things you want in it. If you have someone build it for you, the prices can begin at around $45,000 and up.  My wife and I began our journey by looking at THOW’s ( Tiny Houses on Wheels).  The builders that we met are great people and great builders doing quality work. We changed our minds because we were not interested in anything on wheels and the PRICE TAGS!  Almost all builders want full payment for the Tiny House they build for you. Nothing wrong with being in business and making a profit, however, many people don’t have that kind of spare change laying around. It can also be difficult to find a bank to finance one.  That’s problem #2!

We decided that we wanted to create our own and in a style that we liked.  During our searches we found some Mennonite built buildings that are mostly designed for storage or backyard kids playhouses. No, Not that small!  We all know that the Mennonite and Amish have the construction quality and techniques that we look for in a building.

Take a look at what we found Here.  You can find a simple storage building or a Lofted or Un-lofted Playhouse barns as large as 14 feet wide and 40 feet long with delivery and setup within a certain radius of the nearest dealer.  They all come with a choice of doors, windows, metal or shingled roof, siding and paint or stain colors.  The benefit in being affordable is the fact that  you can purchase them outright or rent to own over a three year period. We chose the 14 x 40 Deluxe Lofted Playhouse with full porch and metal roof when the time comes for us to purchase and have it moved.  We really don’t have much of a desire to climb stairs so we will probably opt to use the lofts for storage space.

This was a much better option for us because it gives us the option of finishing the inside ourselves with a floor plan that we choose.  We also want a vintage look inside the cabin which can allow us to use recycled materials where we want.  Of course, because of safety reasons and permitting, we will need to have a licensed electrician for the electrical hookup. You can see the examples in the photos below.

Exterior View of Unfinished Cabin Photo Credit : Cheri Jones
Unfinished Interior with Loft Photo Credit : Cheri Jones

Due to the proximity of our property in Tennessee we have chosen a local dealer to buy our cabin from and have it moved and setup.  With some steady work and a little elbow grease we could very well have our cabin in the woods livable within two to three weeks. If all goes well, we shouldn’t have a mortgage or much of one anyway!  We can spend that extra cash adding chicken coops and gardens and enjoying our life at the top of our mountain!