Homesteading Dreams Never give up, just alter as needed!
Coming true one step at a time!
We have a dream. It was a 6 year plan with 5 years left now. There is a chance we may have to extend that plan to 7 years more, but we will jump that hurdle when the time comes. Suffice it to say if we could find a way to go now and make it work for us, we would. But, we are not quite ready yet.
The dream for our future is about living on a homestead and being as self sufficient as possible. We have planned out the steps to achieving this goal and are ready to share our plans since we have just completed Step 1: Buying the land!
The steps themselves are fairly simple but will require time, and of course, money. We also want to do each step the best way we can including value, economical friendly plans and materials, and efficiency. Of course meeting all those requirements entails a lot of research, but more on that later.
Here are the basic steps we have planned out toward attaining "Our Future Simpler Life" goals:
Step 1: Land - Completed!!! - Purchased 30 Acres in Adirondack Park 1/23/17
This is what we just accomplished and we couldn't be more happy. Patience and perseverance paid off and we finally found a piece of raw land in the right location, with the right soil and slope, with just enough fresh water, large enough to homestead on and split off to give a few acres to each of our children. You can read more about what we found on our blog post "Homestead Dream Step 1: We Bought Land!" If you are thinking about buying land and want to know all of the considerations before you do, then check out our post, "Are You Thinking About Buying Land?"
Step 2: A Road/Driveway
We purchased 30 acres of land and we want to basically build right in the center. That means we will be approximately 600 feet in on rocky sloping terrain. Wow, that is a long driveway! We are currently in the research mode looking at different ideas for a driveway that will be level, drain easily, plow easily, but look more like a winding country dirt road than a driveway. Also, we intend to have the electric buried along the side of the road to the home location. This will make it possible for us to hook up our small 18' trailer to start enjoying our land right away!
Step 3: Build the Garage
Garage: We would like a 2 car garage with a loft apartment on the second floor. We plan to live in this while the house is being built because it will be more comfortable, and warmer in the winters, than living in our tiny 18' trailer. Since we also plan on repurposing or reusing many supplies, the garage will provide a great dry place to store what we find as we find it! This will be a great way to be economical, earth friendly, and efficient!
NOTE: In order to build the garage we need to have the dimensions and shape of the house planned out and ready to go. Knowing where the house will go will make it possible for us to decide the best location for the garage, septic system and well.
Step 4: Build the House
In order to do this we will eventually need to sell the house we live in now, but that doesn't mean we can't get started with our plans! The basic plans that I designed are for a small open ended dome shape home that will completely covered with earth. The open end will face south and consist of all windows that will allow for light and passive solar heating in the winter. Being small will minimize the amount of utilities, housework, etc. that will be necessary indoors. Regarding it being an earth sheltered home, there are so many advantages I don't even know where to begin. I would say the two most important to me are the fact that the internal temperatures should remain between 55 degrees F in the winter and and 70 degrees F in the summer. This means it will require very little heating in the winter and no air conditioning in the summer at all. Super efficient! The second reason is because it will require literally no exterior maintenance. My husband and I plan on living out our years in this home so we want it to be simple to maintain and affordable to live in. A wood stove in the winter is really all we will need to supplement the 55 degree F temp in the winer. In the summers it will be comfortable at 70. The exterior of the house won't need to be repainted or stained. The worst part will be washing the windows! You can read more about earth sheltered house FAQ's at http://www.formworksbuilding.com/about-formworks-building/ or http://www.earthshelter.com/faqs/.
There are so many other requirements for the house that I am making a separate page to list them all. I will link it here when it is done!
Carport: We already know that the garage will house the snowmobiles, the ATV's and my husbands workshop so cars probably won't be fitting in there. That means we will need a carport for two cars to keep the snow and ice off of them in the winter (in the Adirondacks this is a must). We would also like it to have a small woodshed attached to it for convenience.
Greenhouse: this is a must! We want to be able to grow food all year long. This means there will need to be some sort of heat in the greenhouse for the winter and that many plants will be grown in pots so we can easily move them (peppers, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, herbs and more). I am thinking that the back of the greenhouse will be bermed to aid in insulating it and we might even dig it down into the ground some as well, again, further insulating it for the winter months. It would be super great if it was connected to the house to avoid having to go outside to get to it!
Chicken Coop: This will be bigger than any coop we have had in the past as I would like to have at least a dozen chickens. I would also like it to be connected to the greenhouse so they can have a heat source for the winter (indirect heating). Preferably the egg laying boxes (3 to 4) will extend into the greenhouse for easy access and retrieval! A door between the coop and the green house would be convenient in the winter as well - especially if the greenhouse is connected to the house too! The coop itself will be an open-air coop which I believe is best for them. There will be an large fenced outdoor area (top, bottom, and sides) for them when we can't let them out to free range for whatever reason. I really want a spigot right in the outdoor area to make filling their fresh water easier. Lastly, I want to be able to stand up in the inside and outside portions of their coop to make cleaning easier!
Goat Barn: Yup, I plan on having goats. They will also need a large well fenced outdoor play yard with lots of things to keep them busy climbing on! I will also need a place special platform to be able to easily milk them on every day. Feeders to hold the grasses, big old tires, and a nice safe, warm place for them to sleep.
Root Cellar or Spring House or both. We have a small creek on the land so the springhouse is possible, however a root cellar could be build closer to where the homesite is so that would be more convenient.
The property is loaded with rocks of all shapes and sizes. As well clear the land we will be creating piles that would be suitable for a patio or piles good for other things like fencing, etc. I would like to create a natural stone patio on the south side of the home using all the stone we collected while cleaning the land.
Built in pool - this is my one splurge. I know it is not economical but I so absolutely love jumping in the pool after working in the yard that I just can't give it up. It is also a great attraction for company to come and visit. The pool we have now is 16 x 30 so I am thinking to go smaller and more economical as far as maintenance. I think I will also go with a saltwater system rather than chlorine and heating will be by propane because the reverse air conditioner type system we have now will not be as efficient up there in the spring and fall due to cooler temperatures. Oh yea, since the pool will be smaller there will probably not be able to be a diving board. We will see, more research will need to be done.
Fenced "back yard" area. We will really need a fenced area to keep animals out and kids in (and the dogs, chickens, and goats in too!). However, we don't want to block the view to the South which should be pretty nice (it is downslope so we will have a view of what we plant there and of the mountains off in the distance). We have several ideas for this but I am currently toying with the idea of raised garden beds made of local stone about 2 feet wide with the fence installed on top of them. This will allow plantings in the beds, and raise the fence a little higher. The fence itself might be wood posts with a large metal mesh (like 3" squares?) attached. I know it needs to be economical, pretty, but not block the view.
Planting and Working the Land Perennial Edible Gardening:
From day one we intend to begin clearing the homesite and a large area of the slope to the south. To the south we want to grow a lot of lavender and raspberries (maybe blackberries too). We would really like to have some beehives interspersed for fresh honey.
Around the outside of this area we would like to plant some smaller trees such as apple and pear. Beyond that we are going to try black walnut with paw paw in between (they apparently grow well together). Near the stream area we are going to try growing some cranberries and maybe even cattails.
Other perennials that will be scattered around near the home (easily accessible) are blueberries, grapes, asparagus, garlic, onions, chives, indian rice grass (achnatherum hymnodies - great for livestock in the winter and can be eaten by humans too), kale, jerusalem artichokes, globe artichokes, malabar spinach, and perennial scarlet runner beans.
No grass. I seriously want nothing to do with mowing a lawn or having to water it. Some alternative ideas that will require more research: Irish moss, Aerenaria Wallowa (moss like), Thymus pseudolanuginos (a drought tolerant thyme), clover, chamomile, creeping thyme, and/or creeping jenny. Of course after doing more research whichever one is the tastiest for humans or livestock, that will be the absolute winner!
Trails and Other Fun Stuff:
Buy an ATV. One for now at least so that we can get around on our 30 acres. Believe it or not, it is pretty big and with all the slopes an ATV will not only be fun, but useful!
Get a good chainsaw and some safety gear. We will leave the big trees to the professionals we hire, but we plan on getting started clearing out homesite of all the little stuff.
Snowmobile(s). Yup, we will be getting our own. One to start, but definitely two down the road :-) Especially since the local clubs snowmobile trails go right through our property. We can jump on the trail right out our door! So awesome.
Trails: between all of the gardens scattered over the 10 acres of planting I want trails that can be hiked or traversed with an ATV or snowmobile. This will make gathering food easier and provide a great healthy, daily walk.
The "Observation Point" - we have a very high elevation way at the back corner of our property that has an absolutely amazing view. We would love to make a nice little spot there (with a trail to reach it of course) where we could hang out and enjoy the view, or at night have a campfire, and look at the stars.
Yeah, big dreams. But why not?
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