There is simply nothing that compares to sleeping under the stars (sort of) on your own land for the first time! That is exactly what we did recently and I can honestly say we really didn't want the weekend to come to an end. With no cell phone service, no electric and no running water (other than our little creek) we were in our glory staying overnight. Even with the temperatures dipping down below 27°F our newlywed children were perfectly fine sleeping in their little tent!
None of us can wait until we can do it again! Really :-)
We loved camping out so much that we can't wait to do it again!
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Choosing our homesite was pretty easy, in fact it is the reason why we chose to buy this land in the first place (read more here). However, a road, well thats a different story. With 30 acres of land I can honestly say we have yet to venture through all of it. There is much that we have yet to see, but the more we hike around the happier we are! Recently we were hiking around and found what appeared to be roads even though they had some trees fallen onto them. We realize now that these are old logging roads from many, many years ago. And believe it or not one of them goes right to the homesite we chose! This was so perfect a find that it solidified for us that we chose the perfect spot for our home. All we had to do was some general clearing so we bought a chainsaw and started clearing all the fallen trees and debris on the old road to the homesite! The road is wide enough to drive in with our 4 wheel drive jeep and truck. The only thing left to do is remove a few rocks and make a better 'bridge' over our somewhat seasonal stream! For now, however, it is the perfect rough road for our ATV!
I really wish we did before and after pictures, but we just weren't thinking since we were so excited to get started! Anyway, you can see the cleared road pretty well below. The flags are there so we could keep track of how wide we want it and a few rocks or stumps that we still need to remove. We also made a temporary bridge of some of the cut logs so the ATV could easily cross the seasonal stream. The first 300 feet was basically cleared already and just needed to be weed wacked (yes we used a handheld one and swung it back and forth) and we worked our #4@# off to clear another 400 feet beyond that and up the hill so now we have a driveway of about 700 feet to our homesite. It was a lot of work for the two of us over the course of a two day weekend so hopefully next time our adult kids will come along to help! After all, they are each getting 5 acres of their own :-)
A few words on chainsaw safety: Take the time and spend the money to do it right! Here is the equipment we purchased for my husband (or myself) when using the chainsaw:
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Well that's another mini-step crossed off of our to-do list for our homestead! We set a goal for buying a truck this fall and we can now check it off! And of course, having a truck really will simplify our lives in so many ways.
Here's how and why:
I am sure we will find many other reasons why having a truck is necessary in the Adirondacks. A few off the top of my head: it will make it easy to get our canoes and kayaks to the local River and it will be the perfect travel space for the dogs we plan on adopting one day (can't wait)!
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Choosing our homesite was pretty easy. With the type of home we are building, the homesite was pretty much one of the most important determinations with respect to the property we purchased (Read more about the land we purchased here).
We plan on building an earth sheltered home. This means that all, yes all, of the windows will need to be south facing to make the most of solar gain in the winter (we have plans for special windows to minimize gain in the summers, more on that in a later post).
Also, even though it is an earth sheltered home we intend to have an entrance on the north side as well (most earth shelters only have an entrance on the south side).
For those two reasons we needed a bermed location with a small slope to the north, but a larger slope to the south so we could 'blast' through it and have a level north entrance, but the other side would be all windows facing south. All trees to the south would also need to be cleared to allow full access of the sun all day. If all goes well will will just need to add some dirt over the top of the home!
I know this sounds a little confusing, but you can check out these earth sheltered homes by Formworks in Colorado to see what we are sort of planning. We are in the process of working on plans with them and I will share those soon!
This is the site. This is facing due south. We would need to cut through this small berm. The other side of the berm goes downhill for several hundred feet so we will have quite a bit of forest to clear. I know it is all hard to see/visualize, but since the house is relatively small (32 x 28) it should really work just right!
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We have a plan for our future homestead: to plant with purpose. That purpose will be edible landscaping. Basically, if the plant is edible and an easy to maintain perennial, it is in! That doesn't mean we won't be planting a few other plants for medicinal or even decorative purposes, it just means that most all of our planting on our homestead will be done with prior careful thought and purpose. That brings me to todays post.
One the years my husband and I have planted many different types of plants at our suburban house for many different reasons: pretty, suggested by friends or family, free from others, or transplanted from somewhere else. Unfortunately there was little to no research on any of these plants prior to planting, and well, we regret it now because they are impossible to get rid of and a real pain in the neck to maintain. Some of the plants actually came with the house when it was purchased, and again, we didn't think much about them at the time. Either way these plants have provided us with not only a great learning experience, but a list of plants TO NEVER PLANT on our future Homestead!
Here's our list:
I absolutely love how wisteria looks and smells in the spring. It is so beautiful the way it drapes down and hangs and to walk past it and smell the aroma is, well, heavenly. But...that only lasts for about a week. And. That. Is. Not. Worth. It. The rest of the year I am chasing down the runners that spread 30 feet or more all over the yard, up trees, into the neighbors yard, all over the fence, and even into my pool once while we were away! I can't even begin to describe how horrible this plant can be all for the reward of one weeks worth of beauty. It's simply not worth it. And, once it's planted you can absolutely never, ever, get rid of it! It will be a lifetime of maintenance and the plant will, literally, outlive you! if yore interested and willing to do the work you can learn more about wisteria here.
The yucca plant is well, yucka! I absolutely hate it. Yeah, the flowers look kind of pretty but they attract so many ants that they become ugly really quickly! And cutting those long nasty stalks covered in ants really stinks. The leaves are pointy and sharp and can really hurt you too. And seriously, trying to get rid of the plant is impossible. It spreads too easily and seriously, the leaves need a 'hair cut" every spring! The work to pleasure ratio just isn't there for me! Oh, and I did my research and this is not the edible species of yucca. Some yucca have edible parts, but this is NOT the one so bye bye yucca! Read more about the difference between the yucca and yuca plants and their usable parts here.
Blackberries are delicious, but picking them really is the pits. We planted a blackberry bush a few years ago that we got on sale in Home Depot. HUGE mistake. It grows like crazy, has the nastiest and sharpest prickers, and we absolutely can't get rid of it no matter how many times we "excavated" it out of the ground. When we bought this blackberry bush we had no idea there were different kinds and that some are invasive. Apparently there are ways to tell the species apart - the invasive ones have a hexagonally shaped stem with flattish sides. Who knew? Well, now we do, but either way the thorns are terrible so unless there is a thornless variety that is not invasive, blackberries will never be planted on our homestead! Read about invasive and non-invasive blackberries here.
Where to start? Yeah, it looks pretty nice around our little front porch but it does need to be cut at least twice a year, the flowers aren't that pretty (and only grow in the sunlight so only the right side gets any flowers), and they don't even smell that good! The stems become like mini trees and literally rip the porch apart as they wrap around it and through it. They are also ripping the rain gutters off the roof! Finally they have these little tiny roots on all the shoots that literally grab onto anything so they can climb. Pretty interesting, but this means you literally have to rip it off sometimes. Again, too much maintenance for relatively minor return. Not worth it in my opinion. Here's more info on climbing hydrangeas if you are interested.
What. A. Nightmare. As pretty as this looks, it is a real pain to maintain. It can send runners out up to 10 feet (or ore) away that literally pop out in the middle of the lawn! This would literally take over my entire front yard if I let it. The flowers are pretty but they attract a lot of ants and other critters and it constantly needs to be 'trimmed.' Way too much work to simply keep it under control. Read more about trumpet vines here.
I have a love-hate relationship with my privet hedges. Here in the suburbs I love the privacy they provide me in my backyard (hence their name), however with 50' feet of them on one side and about 20' on the other, it is a lot of work to keep them maintained. Believe it or not I used to have about 70' of them across the front of my house too, but we ripped those out. We used to keep them trimmed ourselves but they are currently about 10 feet high and we just can't keep up with it anymore. This means we pay to keep them looking ok each season. And that is just ok because they really should be trimmed twice a year. Thankfully on our new homestead there will be no need for any privacy barriers since we will be building literally in the middle of our 30 acres! We won't have any close neighbors at all! Read more about privet hedges here.
These are great for growing on fences because it looks nice by kind of hiding the fence but it spreads and grows like crazy and I find myself ripping it out every season as it reaches for all my other plants and bushes around it. There is a tree in the neighbors yard that is actually being choked to death by this ivy and we worry that it will die and fall in our pool at some point. In my opinion it just requires too much maintenance. Read more about English Ivy here.
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Well, we have our mini homestead land. Our next big project will be to put a road in, but in the meantime we are preparing to build a garage with a livable loft to live in and use until we build our main house. Part of the plans and preparation for the garage construction is the materials. We really don't want to buy everything brand new. First of all, new costs money and doesn't necessarily mean that the product is better. Secondly, there are tons of materials and supplies out there that are used and still in perfect working order! No reason to fill the dumps with good stuff. We are happy to refurbish, reuse, and repurpose if it helps save the Earth, but even more importantly, saves us money!
This Vermont casting stove was being discarded by our new neighbor. Yup, it was going in the garbage! So the little window was cracked and it needed a good cleaning. "No biggie, we can fix that!" said my husband. And guess what? He did!
I didn't even tell you the best part yet: the stove came with 12 feet of stove pipe too! Livable garage loft, we are ready for you!
My husband simply went online, did a little research as far as what stove it is exactly - The Vermont Castings Resolute from 1979 - and purchased new glass for the door windows and a gasket kit. He purchased all the parts from Mountain View Hearth Products in Montana. He had to call them up and talk to them to make sure he was getting the right parts and they were super helpful. We highly recommend them if you need any stove parts!
Took some time for him to take it all apart, clean it, and put it back together but now it is like brand new! Total cost: less than $200. Savings: THOUSANDS!
A few other items we have collected for FREE so far:
Still on the lookout for:
One of our favorite places to visit is Restore in Ronkonkoma. It is run by Habitat for Humanity and all proceeds go to building homes for people in need. They get donations of used or leftover building materials, supplies, flooring, cabinets, even furniture and appliances!
We never know what we will find when we visit but it is super fun to go! So if you have something to get rid of, or are looking for something particular, consider checking them out. It is worth it! Think of it like a thrift store for building and home needs!
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A while back I wrote about Looking for Land and Buying our Land in the Adirondack Mountains. With 30 acres purchased our next mini-goal was to get our hands on an ATV so we could get around on the land and well, have some fun!
After searching the internet high and low for a used ATV, we decided on what we really wanted in an ATV but we just couldn't find one in our price range to buy.
What we wanted...
After deciding the bare minimum with respect to what we wanted, we continued to search to no avail. However, we spread the word and waited patiently for the right opportunity.
That opportunity finally came around in May when family friends decided to sell their ATV after they moved. They had mostly used it to plow their driveway but no longer needed it after they moved.
For us this meant that we got an ATV that was well maintained and not used and abused. Bonus for us!
What we got...
Being an older model, it also has a bonus pull-start on it...just in case...though my husband states that he hopes he never needs to use it!
A quick wash, an oil change, new brake pads, a rear master cylinder, and an added back seat and its is P.E.R.F.E.C.T.
We couldn't be happier with our used ATV!
This was just a small step...
Our Next Big Step?
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Read more about our Future Homesteading Dreams here!
We did it! We finally found a piece of land that met all of the criteria we set for it! Seriously, all of the criteria which was a pretty difficult thing to do. However, patience and perseverance paid off because God provided for us and what we wanted for our future homestead. After several offers back and forth and several visits to the property to explore it we finally settled on a price and signed the documents. We are now the proud owners of 30 acres of beautiful, prime Adirondack parkland! We couldn't be happier. Step 1 toward our future homestead is now checked off!
In my last post I talked about Things to Consider Before Purchasing Land (all things we learned as we were looking) but now I want to share with you a comparison of what we wanted verses what we purchased:
Next Big Step?
Next small step? An ATV!
ATV Accomplished! Read more here :-)
We have been looking to buy land for a homestead for many years now and boy have we learned a lot as we have looked at many different properties over the years. Who knew there was so much to think about before making a decision? We certainly didn't so I just want to share some of the more important things we have learned in our search.
What we learned to consider when looking for land:
Wow! Who knew there was so much to think about...and this isn't even everything! Thankfully we learned all of this before finding the land we finally purchased to build our future homestead on!
Read Homestead Dream Step 1: We Bought Land!
One last piece of advice:
Get out and walk or ride (think ATV) the land! If you can't, then find someone who can do it for you. There is no better way to really know if you want to buy it than to see it and experience it first hand!
Welcome! I'm Kathie, an educated, happily married mother and step-mother to four adult children. I wholeheartedly believe in creating and living a simpler, happier, and healthier life in this stressful and modern world! I work at creating a simpler life in ways that are as economically wise and environmentally conscious as possible. Please join me on my journey:-)