Inching our way to self-sufficency

Maggie_J(z5 Ontario)August 14, 2005

Brian and I moved from the city (Toronto) to Prince Edward County in December 2001. I don't know where the time has gone.

We started with chickens in spring 2003 which is when I joined this forum. We added a vegetable garden, herbs, small fruits. We started an asparagus bed. This year I have raised three goslings (I want MANY more!) and recently we bought meat rabbits.

Next year we want to add two dairy goats... we spend a lot, it seems, on milk and milk products. And the excess kids would be good eating. What the heck, we may as well go "whole hog" and raise a couple of weaner pigs for the freezer too... By fall of 2006, all going according to plan, we should not need to buy eggs, meat or dairy products at all - unless we get a hankering for a steak - and we should be able to grow most of our vegetables and some of our fruit.

Is anyone else out there inching toward self-sufficiency in a similar manner? What has worked well and what has been a disappointment? Have you saved money and paid instead in sweat? Or paid in cash and sweat and found your rewards solely in the joys of good food and the simple life? Let's talk about this!

(My apologies to the folks who have already seen this over on the Farm Life Forum... but I thought it might be worthwhile to post it here as well.)

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Count me in ;o) I'm still working on building the house but have been a buzy boy planting an edible I can get my hands on. I'm also thinking on flowering plants that can be increased for sale. I figure one day with the edibles I grow for the wife and myself, a bit of income from sells of produce and plants we will do just fine.
We also plan on chickens, with possible milk goats and meat rabbits. We are not that big of meat eatters bt it will be nice to have the extra calories and a source of protein.
Livng debt free, living without all of those 'things' people tie themselves down with (cell phones, cable, ect.) and doing our own work (like me with the house) has made this all possible.
'Course nothing is completely free. I have been using as much in the way of recycled products that I can find to build the house. Other necessities, like a water pump, come along now and again. Looks like the 'now' part has hit the me as the water pump has given up the ghost. Hmmmm Me thinks a solar water pump this time around????
Keep on keep on with the goodlife :o)

    Bookmark   August 21, 2005 at 6:42PM
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My main problem is the whole food storage issue- I own a small farm but currently live in a motorhome and have nowhere to keep a deep freeze, and I just can't stand canning or eating the canning. So it's a summer thing, but one day I'll have a root cellar...

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 12:32AM
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I too am trying to figure out a better method of longterm food storage and have been stocking better supplies etc. trying to figure out what we need here in the NE. At this point our main issue is the cold. So I am trying to convince hubby to get a woodstove etc.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 6:40AM
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If you house is poorly insulated- get a stove suggested for a larger house. I had a 680 square foot pioneer house, and put a 2000 sq foot stove in, best thing I ever did. I'd rather crack a window than wear a coat in the house!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 3:29PM
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madspinner(z7 WA skagit)

MountainMan- we live in a small singlewide mobile home. We keep our freezer on the porch. Looks tacky, but hey, what you have to do I guess. We also have a dryer out there too. Works fine. Just doesn't look great. Will work till we can get a house built.

I think we are inching towards our dream. We don't dream to be totally self contained or anything, just to have ourselves a nice little hobby farm that does a good job suplimenting our food, and keeping us sane.

We moved out here 3 years ago, and we have made decent progress despite serious setbacks. We have planted a decent size orchard with fruit and nut trees, I have a small veggi garden in raised beds, we have a chicken coop and chickens, a llama and sheep for wool, a shed for the sheep to shelter in and for hay storage, and we have been working to improve our shop building, and to tear down the old barn that was (for reasons unknown) built in a swamp/wetlands. We are hoping to get pigs in the spring, and someday plan to have some beef cows as well. We have the space to grow serious crops, and an old 49 Ferguson tractor, but I'm doubting any of us really has the inclination to go in that deep. Still, it is an option. We've also planted blueberries, rasberries, currents, grapes, and boysenberries. We have bass in our pond, and salmon every fall in the river.

Still, it seems like the amount to do is overwhelming, and we always feel behind. We are still trying to get enough firewood for winter, as our source (my husband's job) for free wood has dried up. Both of our cars (one is a truck)have stopped running and we have no money to get them fixed. We thought we would be able to start working on our house this year, before my husband lost his job, and my mother spent the winter at the hospital with no insurance. Things can be hard. Is it worth it? Oh yes, and we are thankful every day that we live here. Do I ever antisipate living here solely off the land, well no, I don't. But that doesn't change how we feel about this place, or the work that we will put into it with our own hands.

And though it is going slowly, still If I stand back and think of what a short time we have been here, and how little money we have had, I can see what a diffrence we have made, rather than the list of unfinished (or even not begun) projects that is always haning over our heads!

    Bookmark   September 4, 2005 at 10:38PM
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Mountain Man,
I keep two small freezers (about 3.5 cu. ft. each) in an unheated garage. And I used to know someone who kept hers outside on a concrete slab, with only an oilcloth tablecloth covering it. I think if you want a freezer, you'd find it works okay outdoors if you just cover it. I agree that frozen is usually a lot better than canned, but am canning some things just in case the electricity poops out...Ann

    Bookmark   September 7, 2005 at 8:38PM
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Well, my family has a milk cow due to deliver any day now, arghhh!!! getting very tired of waiting! Looking forward to milking her and consumng her products (milk, cream, icecream, cheese,yogurt etc. Have the layer hens, meat chicks on order. We eat out of our garden and wild hog meat almost exclusively along with some bought chicken and fish my husband and boys catch. We grind the super lean pork and you probably would not know the difference in my spagetti, or chili and beef spag. or chili. For some reason the wild stuff has a different texture and is totally lean. During the season we usually have deer meat. No season on hogs.

We love the thought of living off the land, but have settled for low paying jobs (lol!) at the local school 1/2 mile away, Dh and I both work there. But it provides so-so insurance (dh is accident prone like right now waiting for surgery to fix hernia, ouch!) We save on gas, and travel time. He can go to the farm on his lunch hour and work, unload feed, check the cow or goat etc. I only have a 30 min. lunch by the time I get in my car and go home, it is time to go back. I think I could be much more productive as a stay at home Mom and wife, but boys are 10 and 15, and really need the $/insurance. I think it is hard doing both.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2005 at 7:21PM
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Madspinner, our husbands have something in common! Had his first operation ever late spring (hernia). He just started a new job so he went for 7 weeks without pay and (of course) chose the insurance policy available with the highest deductable ($2500)...such was our spring. One vehicle runs like a top but the other is highly questionable - we're on borrowed time with it, I'm afraid. Daughter graduating high school in 2006, and spring brought bad luck to our first year with the orchard we moved to in Feb. Lost all the peach crop and 95% of apple crop to late frost/freeze. But asparagus was great to market and blackberries grew like gangbusters. Tomatoes were bad here but so was everybody else's. High point - we learned we COULD do this and love being out here (daughter doesn't) and for back-up funds I am taking a CNA course (nurse's aid). I finish last of Oct. (lasts 2 months) and take state test Nov. 2nd (pray for me I'm 5l and brain cells are lazy). Offered a job 36 hours a week at local hospital - nights- for $9 an hr. Not bad! Think I can handle it til I can get on days. Gives me time to help out with mother in town - she has last stages of Alz. Bought a lil piggie to fatten (cheap) from a neighbor and husband plans to bag a deer. They're all over the place here. Droves of turkey, too. Pheasant and prairie chickens a plenty. He hasn't hunted for years. I've been canning applesauce and pie filling, green tomato relish (hubs favorite) and planning a patio for customers and daughter's graduation party next year. Two walk-in coolers here; prev. owners left us their deep freeze (we had a large one already - it's waiting for deer and piggie). Would deeply love a root cellar. Working on hubby for that. Have 2 hoop-house greenhouses but would like a stone/window sash one for winter goodies. Been reading Helen and Scott Nearing's solar greenhouse book and looks pretty promising for us. Planning for next year already and keeping chin up - unless we get tornadoed off the face of the planet (darn near did once this summer!) we couldn't possibly have a harder year next year. Just got to keep on plugging away - would like to grow my own potatoes but will have to have that root cellar! Everybody sounds busy and satisfied; just the way to be when you're doing what feels right!

    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 5:13PM
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Agent_65(8a wst tx)

We live in arid west texas on 2 acres in th boonies .and its something else to get garden stuff to survive . any ideas out there from folks in simlar area? We came from ill. where there is no problem producing your own vegies to can or pack away in the cellar .Is there some trick to it we are missing ? the heat here is intence.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2005 at 12:29PM
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huisjen(z5 ME)

Agent 65, I'm not in a similar area (the gods be praised!) but three things come to mind: Shade cloth (I got mine from the Gemplers catalog) suspended on a pole structure, "snow fence" or some other windbreak, and if your well can take it, fog-it nozzles or other low volume sprinklers here and there within the garden, running a lot.


    Bookmark   December 21, 2005 at 9:49PM
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First quit worrying about what looks good. Looks don't feed you family. I have a freezer in front of the house and a huge one(the outdoors that gets really COLD). Second please just jump in with both feet and try, try, try and try again. We moved to 160 acres of woods(you have never seen so many trees) 20 years ago. NO WATER NO ELECTRIC. Yes it was hard but it was also satisfying. We still have not water and no electric, but we have a wonderful gravity system my husband worked out and we have inverters and a generator. I guess the best advice from someone who has been there is JUST DO IT.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2005 at 7:42AM
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Updates pretty please?

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 9:04PM
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