Buying Land to Homestead (city or country?)

So you want to be a homesteader?  You will need land!  Now, do you want to live in the city or the country?  You can certainly homestead either place.

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I found a city, within forty-five minutes of my husband’s work, an hour and a half from my children, that has a very reasonable housing market compared to the other places in Colorado.  Pueblo has every amenity; arts, theater, restaurantuuuuus, hiking, bike trails, museums, and farms nearby.  My beautiful little house is powered 100% with solar.  I heat the house with the wood stove or the gas furnace.  I have city water, but it tastes pretty good and it is a sure thing.  I have farmed the entire front yard, producing much of our own vegetables and fruit and some for canning plus all the perennial fruit trees and berry bushes are coming along fine.  The wild mulberries here are delicious.  I have a large chicken coop and lots of chickens.  I have a greenhouse and additional garden. I have a farm dog.  I have a root cellar.  I have everything I need to homestead well here.  We even have a lake one block away that is stocked by the city for free fishing.

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Living in the city has a ton of benefits like the ones above plus most cities allow goats and sheep nowadays.  The utilities are generally cheaper.  Without a well, one does pay quite a bit for water.  And there is the space issue.  You can only do so much before running out of room in the city.  I must say I am impressed with how much I can grow here though.  Using vertical growing techniques and permaculture ideas increases yield exponentially.  Finding a home in the city can often be more affordable as well.

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It’s a shame we aren’t city people.  In the country, you might have a view.  A few acres of land to traverse.  More options for animals.  Outbuildings.  Stars.  And country people are my people.  I may have grown up in the city, but I’ve always been a country girl.

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These are things to look for when you are looking for a homestead, whether it be in the city or the country.

Check zoning.  Can you have chickens?  How about, by chance, goats?

FHA doesn’t do Ag loans (agriculture zoning).  FHA is the most common lending so plan to find something residential that can have animals.

Check and see if the community has an HOA.  If so, do not move there.  You will not likely be able to grow corn in the front yard or have a rooster crowing.

A wood stove or wood burning fireplace is a must.  On a wood stove, you can place a pot of beans and a kettle of water or percolator on days that electric goes out.

If you are looking in the country, is it on city water?  Is there a well?  How deep?

Septic tank?  How old?  Get those checked before buying.

How many acres?  What is the zoning?

Let’s be honest now here.  EVERY farmer/rancher I know has an outside job.  It’s just the way it goes these days.  Someone in the household probably has to work.  Check the distance to work.  No one wants to commute two hours to the office!

Check the fencing.  Are you going to be able to keep your pup in?  Goats?  See realistically much work has to be done to move in.  Fencing in the city is incredibly important as well.  Preferably a six foot fence!

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Well y’all, that will get you started.  Happy land dreaming!

 

 

Chickens (rock star babies, paper mache eggs, roosters, and enclosure needed)

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The lambs have taken over the job of farm dogs, the goats are having adorable kids, the ducklings have added a whole new level of freaking cute around here, and the cats are still their goofy selves.  There are three indoor kittens here, a madhouse.  A. Madhouse.  The chickens haven’t been getting a whole lot of attention lately except for praising them for their contribution of eggs each day and the untimely death of one.  But, now it is their turn.

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Meet Pat Benetar, Stevie Nicks, Cher, Chaka Khan, and Janice Joplin (names courtesy of Shyanne and Doug).  My dear friend, Jamie gave me five chicks that she hatched herself using a good looking Brahma dad and Araucana mamas.  They have the beautiful coloring as well as feathered feet!  Stevie Nicks enjoys standing on top of the waterer as we sing, “Just like a white winged dove…” for her.

The dream chicken enclosure!

The dream chicken enclosure!

The landlords have decided that they prefer that the chickens stay locked up.  So, they are going to have to stay in their coop and small yard.  I would like to build a bigger fenced in enclosure.  There is no money right now but maybe we can scavenge enough stuff or find donations.  That space is too small for them and with two roosters?  The hens will never find peace.  So, what do I do with the roosters?  I love hearing their singing.  They are beautiful and have done no wrong.  The girls haven’t gone broody with them there so there are no new chicks from our farm.  They are not needed for protection if they are in an enclosure.  And their singing voices aren’t enough to allow them to have their way (kind of violently) all day with penned up females and eating at the all day organic chicken feed buffet.  There is a locker plant down the way, or someone might like them as a pet.  Or…oh I don’t know.  They need a job.  And their job is about to be eliminated.  Sometimes I wonder if I am cut out for this.

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On a brighter note, look at this egg!  This is Peep’s egg.  She was our first chicken (also named by Shyanne) and continues to lay these outrageous paper mache eggs due to her age.  It’s a lucky egg!  Should you find it in your carton think of sweet Peep.

Emily, Shyanne, and Peep

Emily, Shyanne, and Peep 2012

Problem solving and dilemmas are always a part of the joys and memories of farms but at least we will be serenated by five rock star chickens while doing so!  No matter what comes up, this is still the good life!

Saturday, May 16th, 2015 from 10-? on the farm we are having a work party day if anyone can help we would be ever so grateful!  Extra fencing, creative minds, helping hands, donations, anything welcome.  I will feed all helpers!  7080 Calhan Road South, Calhan, CO, 80808.

Cohabitating Homesteads

I wonder if most folks, when envisioning a homestead, imagine a house, barn, outbuildings, land fenced in, and only themselves and possibly their children living there.  We have for years.  That quest is becoming harder and harder to achieve with land prices skyrocketing and the economy the way it is; a lot of us were smacked down by it and couldn’t buy a place anyway.  Rentals are very high and often do not allow animals, even on properties that would be perfect for a homestead.  This creates a dilemma for those of us trying to homestead.

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So, what about cohabitating?  I have seen a few models of this.  One was a large house in the mountains.  In each room the inhabitant(s) were early twenties, old hippies at heart and spent a fair amount of time smoking weed while I taught the class they paid me to teach.  It worked though for them, because they had similar interests, felt they had affordable freedom, and enjoyed the arrangement.

Another model would be a main house with a carriage house, mobile home, or second house on the property.  Preferably with like minded people.  We can achieve a lot more if there are more people contributing.  I suppose this looks like a commune without the guru, but hear me out.  What if folks that had the same ideas share a property?  They could have the animals they wanted, the land they wanted, the large community garden, and their own private spaces.  We all possess different skill sets and they could be used throughout the property getting four, or more, times the things done.

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The other benefit to this is if one person falls ill, there are others to help.  If one couple wants to go on vacation, there are folks to hold the farm down.

We have a few friends that have offered this option to us in the future.  Considering everything came together, the rent would help them sustain the homestead.  The rent for us would be much cheaper than we pay now when you consider that they will be on solar (no electric or gas bill), on a well (no water bill), we can share the cost of internet and cell phones, and the trash service.

Between the four of us there are herbalists (who can take care of anything from a broken hand to strep), a dental hygienist, someone who can fix or build anything, someone to assist, IT person, milkers, gardeners, preservers.  If one doesn’t like the job, another one does.  We are all four within four years of age.  We have the same goals.  Same dreams.

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So, what about fighting?  We could turn into siblings and end up fighting all the time!  But here is what life is teaching me right now.  I have a very, very dear friend in the hospital fighting for her life.  I have written about her in this blog A LOT.  She is intricately woven into every aspect of my life.  Business partner, cheerleader, crazy idea maker, I love this girl.  Life is short, folks.  Everyone says it, but it is sinking in just how short.  I intend to let things slide off my back, in one ear out the other, don’t sweat the small stuff, all the clichés that are so common but not actually done.  Life is about living in the moment.  Enjoying people, relationships.  Money for bills always shows up.  Our lives moves on.  Children grow up.  The only thing left is memories and the beautiful moments we have with people.  I will enjoy each day on whatever homestead we end up on.

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In this day and age many of us do not have the large, close families that were once commonplace.  Or we don’t live near each other, or do not have the same dreams and ideas.  We have begun to think that we do have to do everything by ourselves.  The homesteads past were not run by a single couple.  Neighbors, children, friends helped.  Many cultures have more than one family living together.  It just makes sense.

I can see this working.  A fully run homestead can be achieved, easily run, and better created with more people, more hands.  There are many options to having a homestead.