Thursday, September 1, 2011

Starting at the Beginning

The hardest part in any project is the beginning. It is an old aphorism, but from what I can tell entirely true. Finding where we began looking into homesteading is hard because it started relatively organically. Where this blog began though is a lot easier. This blog began because we thought, man, we're making a lot of mistakes and learning a lot of things. We should share what we are learning so that people can be wiser than we were.

If you read homesteading books they begin by suggesting ideal locations in which to set up your homestead to make things easier. If decide to homestead before you buy a house, and you can afford to do so, I strongly recommend it. Not every place is ideal for homesteading, and despite certain advantages our new house is not exactly ideal. So, evaluating the house now for homesteading, this is the list of pros and cons that come to mind.

Isolated: No neighbors to complain, and quiet leading to fewer random disruptions.
Good tree line: This is important for many things including wind break to protect animals and crops from the admittedly rough weather in the location, and firewood acquisition.
Plenty of space: 6.7 acres of land is a good amount of land, most of it isn't cleared and is on a slope, but it is a lot of land allowing for many options. There is a fairly significant cleared area as well meaning that we can do a lot before having to expand the cleared land.
Well positioned for alternative power: The roof is at a strong slant out in the open with nothing shading the southern side which means that solar is a good option, and a good consistent wind which means wind power is also plausible when we have the money.
Good structures: The house is well built, and set up to keep heat in and efficiently maintain temperatures, there is a good garage, and a solid shed.

 Isolated: There aren't neighbors we can ask about things, ask for help, or go to if there is an emergency.
Rocky terrain: Any sort of farming or gardening we do is going to take a lot of work getting the rocks out of the soil, some of which are damn big.
Tough driveway: We knew about this one, but it's become even more apparent. When you have bad rain storms in an area, a curving, 800 foot long driveway is not a boon, and it costs a lot to fix. It also makes getting deliveries up difficult.
Composition of the forest: Most of the immediately accessable trees are pine, which is unsuitable for wood stove use, and hand dragging trees out of the woods is not fun.
Hard weather: When you look at a statistic that says something like "4 inches per month more precipitation than your old home" that's a bigger deal than it seems.
Did I mention lots of rocks: Yeah, they're everywhere.

Would we still have gotten this area of land if we'd been planning homesteading before hand, probably. We fell in love with it, and it's delightfully quirky which fits us well. We would just have been much more conscious of the difficulties implicit in what we were aiming for. Instead, we started deciding to do homesteading after we moved in.

How we decided to homestead:
We decided to homestead for many reasons, but the main ones were that we wanted to work towards a more sustainable lifestyle, and that we as a couple were uncomfortable with the ethics of much of the meat that we ate. We realized that instead of just being upset about it and continuing to support the unethical industries that we were consuming from, we could very realistically with the land we had just bought, feed ourselves. At that point, our research began.

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