Sunday, March 22, 2015

Off to a Terrific Start

1st batch, mostly Americaunas.
Boy oh boy are we off to a great start on our new homestead. I haven't blogged much because I've been so busy doing what we've been training to do for years.

If you've been following my blog (are you two still out there?) you'll know we've been preparing to be homesteaders for about seven years. We started in Mesa, Arizona with a cookie-cutter home crammed between two other homes in a packed subdivision.

We determined that smog filled, crime infested, traffic laden city life was no longer for us. We started studying,, and similar websites to learn what we didn't to be self sufficient. YouTube helped tremendously thanks to some folks like LDSprepper, WranglerStar, Engineer775 and the like.

Most people, I think, sit back and say "We don't know how" or "I don't have time" and never start. We made a conscious decision to start no matter what. We began planting gardens on our 0.17 acre city house and attempted to raise chickens. I started learning how to handle different weapons and Wifey started sewing, canning, dehydrating, and crafting.

Simple swing does wonders for children (and teens!)
Did we succeed? Not as much as we would have liked but we learned a huge amount of knowledge. Our chickens were quickly eaten by our dog and our garden succeeded about one third of the time.

I began slowly collecting hand tools and items we could use for self sufficiency. I have about fifteen 55 gallon drums that I've been towing around the country that will someday be a rain water collection system, better than the simple two barrel system I experimented with in Mesa.  Along the way, I acquired an 8 x 10 enclosed trailer and slowly built it into a mobile workshop.

Enjoying a gun show less than one mile from my house.
If you aren't where you plan to be permanently, don't let that stop you. As a renter, my approach was to make everything modular. Make a workshop that I could tow behind my truck and take it with us when we moved. Same for the garden. Build raised bed garden boxes that can be put in the back of a truck if you move. Same for chicken coops...they can be mobile too.

Fast forward to now. We have attained our three acre paradise and can easily slide into gardening, building rain catchments, canning, planting our orchard, etc.

In the past two months (we've been here for almost three), we've have:

  1. planted apple trees x 2, pear trees x 2, peach trees x 2, raspberry bushes x 2, blueberry bushes x 2, strawberries and herbs. (video link) Trees were $11.69 at the CostCo in town.
  2. built two pig pens to hold the 4 or  5 swine we will be raising for 4H projects in this May.
  3. rebuilt a Briggs and Stratton hand push lawnmower (you can't beat a good B&S engine) and slowly started to mow the property. Two were left on our homestead = free!
  4. consulted a local honey grower and learned how to start our own hive this August. (Video link)
  5. purchased 32 chicks at a local coop sale at a wonderfully low price of $0.89 each! Got some different  breeds but mostly blue egg layers ("easter eggers") to make for a colorful assortment.
  6. built a swing for the little girls to solve some "boredom" issues in our new home.
  7. restored an old timey self playing piano which provides HOURS of enjoyment.
  8. acquired a 1950s large freezer for the garage, absolutely FREE from CraigsList. This will be a necessity when we start harvesting our own pork later this year.
  9. Rewired an old Oreck vacuum cleaner and it now cleans our carpet.
  10. Refurbished Grandpa's old work stool as a Valentine's Day present. (video link)
  11. Built a craft room hide-away for Wifey. (video link)
The first four trees of our "some day" orchard.
I can't tell you have exciting it is to finally be on the property we've been praying for. I still have to figure out what to do with about an acre and a half of pasture. With only three water shares, a neighbor tells me that it isn't enough to grow a crop. Maybe if I can collect water in my rain catchment system that it would be enough to subsidize what my three shares won't cover.

Now that I have 32 chicks, I'll need to build them a home in the next couple of weeks. They live in a box in the garage for now. I'm thinking two or three chicken tractors, strategically moved about the property can serve a dual purpose: weed control and free food.

Other projects I am considering:

  • solar panel similar to LDSprepper's to provide electricity for the whole house for less than half of what we pay to the utility company.
  • meal worm farm for chicken food (I hear they practically grow themselves).
  • a craftroom shed in the backyard for Wifey.
  • build an enclosed hoop garden to protect our stuff during the winter months.
  • build a one room shed in the backyard for the teens to hang out in
  • someday, maybe someday, build a ride-able sized mini train to ride around the homestead perimeter (gotta think of the future grandkids!)

I welcome your comments.



  1. Glad for you, that you are off and running. You gained all the knowledge that helped for a quick start. "three water shares" - what does that mean?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. A wster share is an ongoing entitlement to a share of the water available in your water system. It gives you a right to a share of the water in the dams. The volume of a water share is defined as the maximum amount of allocation that can be made against it each year. Each property that is purchased should come with a set number of water shares as part of the rights with the property. In certain circumstances, water shares can be sold and therefore you may not be entitled to a water share when purchasing a property. This is something you need to investigate prior to purchasing the property. I hope that answers your question. If you have more questions feel free to ask. I am learning too .

  2. You have accomplished a lot in the amount of time you have been there! Awesome! We live in the city on a small lot in northern CA. We can apricots from our tree and apple sauce from a neighbors tree (they don't want the apples). We plant a garden every year. I would love some chickens but no room for them and the dog. The dog is a bird dog and she was here first! I sew and bake bread from scratch. We prep like crazy but not enough room to raise what we need. Hope to move to more land some day but the jobs are here. Keep up the good work!

    1. I wrote an article for Survival Blog on how to find a job near your dream property. i can't link to the article from my cell phone but you can go to survival and search for my moniker orange jeep dad and find it.

    2. when we lived in the city it was hard for us to find enough space for what we wanted to do also. You have to get very creative but don't give up.

  3. Congrats! I hope you learned a few things from what we learned the last almost 6 years here. Make use your chicken house is dog(s) proof, just in case you get strays or any of a number of the wild variants.

  4. How about a full sized mixed orchard? You could do nut trees, maples, and other fruit trees. Those would provide you with a whole variety of foods that are expensive in the stores. And extra can normally be sold or passed on to friends. Also research water hardy food crops. Like sorghum. Or just brainstorm and add a new project a year until you've filled it all (and wish you had more)!

    1. Excellent advice! I would love maple tress. Thanks for reminding me. A new "hot product" yet to hit American shelves is Maple Water. Coconut water is sering great sales success at Trader Joe's and similar stores. I will definitely look into it. Daughter #3 has tree nut allergies, no nuts for us.

    2. Yep, I bought a weekend pass for $10 just so I could stroll through the gun tables all weekend if I wanted to.

  5. Man, that gun show looks just about right.

    I've told my wife that the very first thing I do after getting out of California and receiving my Idaho resident ID is to find a private party and buy a gun from them, for cash.

    Just because I can.

  6. Wow-impressive! I'd set up that rain water catchment system and think about parceling it out in a drip watering idea. Hardwoods would be a good idea-they can be money in the bank as you can sell to the specialty carpeters. These are the master carftsman that create for the Elites; cabinets, floors, or panelling in scarce or "antique" woods. Think Elm, Tiger Maple, Rosewood, Chestnut-very expensive wood to buy IF you can find it. -Stealth Spaniel

  7. God answered your prayers, a couple times with "no" but he brought you to a better place because you waited for Him. I often tell my 15 year old son that we learn more from our mistakes (he is doing algebra) and it's true of us adults too.
    I am having to relearn gardening here in Idaho. I have itchy fingers because I see some green grass. In Wyoming by the time the snow melted off and the grass turned green the race was on to get plants in the ground. Now I am learning to wait. God is good.
    I am happy that things seem to be falling into place for you and your family. You can use the hogs to expand your garden site instead of the tiller, if you decide to grow a smaller garden this year and expand. They will do a fairly good job and fertilize as they go, lol.
    I may sound like a broken record, but I would keep Lucky in a pen and let the chickens out during the day, at least for several hours. Free food for them, free bug removal and free eggs for you. Then entice them into a pen or tractor area and let Lucky have some freedom in the fenced yard. I am sure you will work this out.
    Welcome to Idaho.

    1. Good to hear from you Susie. So far, Idaho is everything we hoped it would be. Dang wind lost me a good tarp today though.

  8. So excited to hear about all your "happenin's"!

  9. Oh you know you should watch Zerofossilfuel he does some good builds for being off grid.

  10. As everyone said you got a lot of stuff done quickly and stuff that has future dividends. You might think along the lines of composting. Takes a long time to decompose properly so getting something started now will be good for next year. Worms seem to be popular both to decompost your personal waste and generate some castings for the famed 'worm poop tea'. your growing season will be short so some nitro organic fertilizer will be a big help.

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