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designing a homestead to "battle inflation"

 
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If you were designing a homestead in a way to save money as the costs of groceries increase, what would you focus on? I know that certain items, like eggs, are cheap enough in the store that you can buy them about as easily as you can produce them. What are the animals and vegetables that can be produces on a homestead that will actually make the process make the most sense from an economic perspective?
 
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Beef is the most expensive meat that I purchase.  When we had our homestead we always had two or three cows since cows are herd animals and prefer the company of other cows.

My mother used to complain about how high the price of eggs was though I thought they were cheap compared to the price of other items.

Where I live it cost $3.00 for green bell pepper and the tomatoes are sometimes almost $3.00 a pound.

Grocery store tomatoes are a waste of money as most are tasteless.

Growing grain and learning to process it and bake with it might be good.
 
gardener
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If you know why does this inflation happen, you can do something about it.
In my opinion, our predicament is the depletion of cheap fossil fuels, so anything that is dependent on fossil fuels is going to rise in price more than the rest.

For example, out-of-season tomatoes need lots of fertilizers, plus irrigation, plus plastics for greenhouses. That's pretty intensive in energy. Thus, skipping out-of-season fresh food might help. But maybe it's not the most energy intensive stuff. Since we don't know in advance where inflation is going to hit most, my strategy is to be prepared to adapt.
Diversity is the key to resilience. If you have a wide range of crops in your garden, some will thrive in draught, some will thrive in flood. The same applies to any complex system. If you have just one source of income, it may fail, but if you have several ways of making a life, you can pick whatever job suits the occasion.
The more critical a resource is for you, the more backups (and savings) you might like to have.

Critical resources:
- Fresh water.
- Staple / nutritious food.
- Herbs / medicines.
- Heat source (cold climates)
- For electric appliances that might be vital for you: batteries, a generator, solar panels, etc. But be ready to find substitutes for your electric stuff if electricity comes to be excessively expensive.

 
steward
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I'd say it depends on the source of the inflation and also upon your likelihood of being better at it than your current supply chain.

If you think the inflation is caused by transportation costs, then you might want to focus on foods that travel farther to get to your grocery store.  

If you think it's caused by a supply chain disruption (wheat from Ukraine?) you might want to attempt to supply those yourself or find local sources.  For instance, bulk local wheat is super cheap if you grind it yourself.

Eggs might be affordable from the store but if you have a small flock they can make more chickens all by themselves.  You can eat the cockerels and old hens.   Maybe the eggs won't stay cheap at the store when a bird flu comes through and commercial flocks are liquidated.
 
pollinator
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Start by designing the house. Go heavy on the insulation and waterproofing. Maybe even look into heat exchangers for the ventilation system. Position outlets so they don't create a hole in the insulation. Run the plumbing in such a way that hot water going down the drain gives back at least part of its heat before it really leaves the house (not sure I'm phrasing that the right way). Add lots of thermal mass to help keep things warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Have multiple storage areas for foods, keeping in mind that some need slightly different storage conditions. Make sure you have a few difference ways to cook, in case one type of fuel becomes hard to get. If you can develop a fuel source on your own property, even better. The standard is wood, but something like corn cobs would also work. More fuel options than I can summarize, really.

Try to position things with an eye toward efficiency and safety. An example would be adding a trellis or grow-tunnel between the house and the barn, so that it shelters the walkway in bad weather. Or positioning the fridge so that it takes fewer steps to bring in groceries.

When deciding what foods to produce for yourself, there are lots of factors to consider, and price is only one of them. Eggs are a good example. In my area, eggs are cheap, when they're available. But they're also one of the first things to sell out if anything happens, and they're a huge part of my family's diet, so I feel better having my own chickens. Many times in the last two years, those chickens kept us supplied when eggs were nowhere to be found in the stores. If you choose the right breed, chickens can raise their own replacements, with any extras being used for meat. Choose a breed that fits your climate, temperament, and farming style.

The same factors apply to plants. Herbs, spices, and greens are probably a good start, since they can be both expensive and easy to grow. But by weight, the bulk of your food is probably going to be carbohydrates, which means things like potatoes, squash, carrots, etc. Those can be cheap, when they're available, but growing your own still helps. Dry beans and grains can take a lot of room for the amount harvested, but they're easy to store.

I wish I had a formula on what order to prioritize everything in. But there are too many factors to consider, and everyone is a little different. The only thing that's certain is that the more you're able to provide for yourself, the less things like inflation will hurt you.

 
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Wow! Some very interesting thoughts about perspective and causes of one's local inflation. If I had a place outside city limits (city ordinance: 4 hens) I would have them for myself AND to sell at the farmers market... where they sell for $7 doz.  Perhaps I would have quite a flock and have a CSA and sell them for $5 lol   As for produce, perhaps the following would be helpful:  
Square Foot Gardening High-Value Veggies: Homegrown Produce Ranked by Value
by Mel Bartholomew  
Mar 15, 2016
ISBN-10-1591866685  
ISBN-13-978-1591866688
 
pollinator
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In my opinion too many people concentrate on things they have no influence over and dont concentrate on what they can do.
I would do the following;
- write to my representatives with ideas and advice.
- take action to improve things around myself.
- create work for myself
- build with earth adobe bricks that only cost my time, no cement additives.
 
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You have gotten many really good practical ideas. From a philosophical level, inflation only matters if you are using that money. If you have a truly self sufficient flock of chickens where the food is grown on your property, the new chickens are hatched on your property, and there is no outside input. Your time to take care of them does not change, regardless of inflation. You can keep chickens and get the same amount of eggs for the same inputs of time for 50 years. People seem to think that everything gets more expensive over time, but that is not always true. This only matters at the store because they buy the effs from the big chicken companies which are buying in grain, grown by farmers who buy in seed and diesel to run the equipment, etc. I like what Ellendra said.

The only thing that's certain is that the more you're able to provide for yourself, the less things like inflation will hurt you.



On the other hand, I don't think anyone could just up and make the leap to being 100% self sufficient in everything overnight. I'd bet most people couldn't do it completely no matter what. That is why there is so much talk of communities. I can calculate my time with chickens and trade for the equivalent amount worth of time in beef from a neighbor. It doesn't matter if economics and government say my time is worth $20 an hour, or $200 an hour or 10 cents an hour. It's an hour of my time spent doing something I think is worth doing for an hour, trading with someone who did something they think is worth an hour of their time. I have hope the US will turn around economically, but I believe bartering, trading, and community need to be a big part of any culture or that economy will overextend and fail.
 
pollinator
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This Forbes article...

https://www.forbes.com/advisor/personal-finance/food-items-more-expensive-inflation/

.. highlights some of the biggest food increases.  They got their info from the Bureau of Labor Statistics data (see attached).  Some of the big movers include:

Beef: 16% increase
Chicken: 13.4% increase
Eggs: 11.2% increase
Rice, pasta and cornmeal: 9.3% increase
Milk: 13.3% increase
Butter: 12.5% increase
Fresh fruits: 10.1% increase
Fresh vegetables: 5.9% increase
Frozen and freeze-dried prepared foods: 14% increase

So one strategy may be to focus on producing the items that have gone up the most in cost, e.g. beef, chicken, eggs.  Some math would be needed to figure out actual Return on Investment.

A second strategy is substitution.  Perhaps one doesn't have space or time or pasture for a cow, but one has plenty of shrubberies and weeds and fencing for a few goat perhaps?  Taking it a step further, maybe one forgoes meat more frequently and begins planting and cooking dry beans.

Additionally time gets a vote in your design.  Even if inflation ends up being transitory, I think it's a good idea to have not just short term wins, but long term goals started for production, too (i.e. trees and perennials and long term cost savers).  So perhaps one swaps store bought apples for foraging and canning in the short term, while also planting mulberries, persimmons, and thornless blackberries for long term wins.

(Personally, my gut says fuelwood might provide the best return, but I know you mentioned animals and groceries, specifically.)

Really, I think *any* permaculture homestead is going to be a benefit, regardless of inflation. But the underlying strategy is to grow what you *enjoy* eating, and grow or raise the things you can't live without --- bacon, anyone?

P.s. A note of caution:  Emphasis on the word "focus" might be counterproductive.  Permaculture design is very much about widening the ecological aperture so to speak, and not being laser-focused on just a few elements or products.  That could become a quick path to a monoculture and dependence on outside inputs.  Instead, it's about understanding and designing all the connections between a multitude of elements, and having good fundamental "mainframe" design, with as many of those elements supporting one another as possible.
Filename: cpi.pdf
File size: 719 Kbytes
 
pollinator
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Have the smallest square footage of home to heat/cool as possible.   Look at passive systems as much as possible to reduce;/eliminate purchased fuels.  Reduce all utility useage as much as possible,  eliminate unnecessary appliances and services.

Raise ducks and rabbits.   Both can easily reproduce,  are winter hardy, easy to feed and process.

Have somewhere clean to fish.   Learn to smoke meat.    Fish, eggs, rabbit and duck meat would go a long way.   Eggs from the store are super gross and clean/organic is not cheap anymore.  

Dump as much organic material as possible into food growing areas.   Learn intensive planting systems, and succession planting for longest harvest.

if space,  forage/graze,  and skill allow,   I'd keep katahdin sheep again.    Maybe 3 ewes and a ram.  Ideally a new ram lamb every year,  if trade and barter is possible, so not feeding a ram overwinter,  but that might not be possible in an "extreme" situation.   That's probably 6 lamb a year on the table.   Fat healthy katahdin can be out of season breeders and lamb 3x in two years if you manage them right, so that could be a bit higher.  
 
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Hey there

Well I suppose there are different strategies for being abundant through inflation. You could focus on growing more rare crops and nutrient rich crops that you can sell, like mushrooms or asparagus.

But personally, I feel the most safe knowing that I have all my own bases covered. I totally second the notion that diversity is important. You will have insurance that something will be successful but also companion planting in the garden encourages diversity that tends to keep common garden issues in check.

In terms of providing everything for yourself the Three Sister is a great solution.

The main crop for the indigenous people of turtle island//north America was//is the three sisters.

This is like the OG companion planting set up that, you know, worked to feed the population of most of North America pre-industrial agriculture.

it is......beans, corn and squash

planted all together.

Super simply the magic of the three sisters works like this:
You plant all three seeds at the same time and first up comes the corn. The beans, after sending their roots into a deeper layer of the soil, create shade around the base of the corn before they start to grow upward using the cornstalks for stability. Around this time the squash seeds have germinated and grow densely outward, providing a green mulch which holds water in the soil so that all three can grow. The beans also fix nitrogen from the atmosphere benefiting all three.

In terms of working effectively with timing, space, sunlight and nutrient sharing these three are the dream team.

Nutritionally corn provides starches, beans are rich in protein and the carotenes in squash provide ample vitamins.

<3
 
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I try to keep my focus on the things I use most, and the things I know I'm able to do, while still working toward increasing what that encompasses. When you produce the things you can in higher quantity than you need, the extras can be used for bartering, gifting, and creating/ strengthening community ties.

If (like us) your home & outbuildings are already built, there are almost always modifications that can be done to improve your expenditures. Harvesting water, using lower energy-use appliances, moving your thermostat as close to the outdoor temps as you can stand, limiting electricity use, etc.

Raise/ grow the things you consume the most, if at all possible. If you're raising animals, choosing multipurpose livestock over single purpose is a great idea. So things like poultry, that give both eggs and meat, as well as pest control (if they free range, which also makes feed far less expensive). If you feed them via compost piles and bsf larvae that you grow yourself, their feed needs can easily be met, without buying it. As far as larger livestock, we've chosen a small, multipurpose breed of goat, that provides dairy, a lovely fiber for textiles, meat, (if needed - these particular goats have too much to offer, to just harvest them for that, unnecessarily), brush control (which then also saves on fuel &/or the labor of doing it yourself - and in our case, it just might save my husband's life), and as pack animals. If you keep good quality, pure-bred males around, their stud services can go a long way toward bartering, to hire out. Many people and companies will hire goats for brush clearing/ control, which means they eat free, and bring in $$ at the same time. Many of these qualities can also come in the form of small cattle, like Dexters or Highland Coo. Using those critters (goats and sheep, too), nose-to-tail will give you many products.

Shopping for good quality groceries is easier and often less expensive if you're near a Simple-Folk community (Amish, Mennonite, PA Dutch, etc), because they're not shipping as many things in, as the big box stores. That helps me keep my footprint- and bills smaller. Sticking to the outside of the regular stores, and staying out of the big aisles full of processed stuff will go a long way toward improving your health, empowering your budget, and lessening the time spent in actual shopping.

Shopping for home items can be greatly reduced, if you make what you need (knit a sweater from your own pet's or livestock's fiber, instead of buying one, carve or build wooden items from trees you've harvested from your own place or rescued from a trip to the dump...), recovering a bit of furniture in your own animal hides, instead of replacing the furniture, etc. Shopping as much as possible from resale shops (instead of retail) can greatly shrink an expenditure for almost anything, often with the proceeds going to a worthy cause - and I've found many brand new items with the price tags still attached. Make quilts from anything fabric you have on hand, including using old, worn blankets as the batting, sheets for the backing, and even the tiniest scraps for the top.

Start living as if you're dirt-poor, now. That will allow you to save whatever you do have, as well as getting you ready to live that way, if it becomes an actuality.

 
pollinator
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I see trees as a good hedge against inflation (pun intended). My grandfather was an economist, and he told me if any investment “claims” over 9% growth annually, its probably a Ponzi scheme. In the tropics, polyculture tree plantings have shown an average of 9% annual growth with the first large yields coming at about 15-20yrs with the culling of n-fixating support trees (that are also valuable hardwoods) as the canopy closes. Coastal temperate rainforests of the western US can grow just as fast or faster than their tropical counterparts (with upwards of 10x the biomass). Eastern forests can also grow valuable hardwoods quite quickly before the canopy closes with chestnuts or other climax food forest trees. This also works with the fact that forests and their byproducts are not likely to become over-abundant any time soon. Their value will only grow. So I guess Papa might say I am proposing a tree growing program that is also somehow  a ponzi scheme.
 
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Jim Aldridge wrote:If you were designing a homestead in a way to save money as the costs of groceries increase, what would you focus on? I know that certain items, like eggs, are cheap enough in the store that you can buy them about as easily as you can produce them. What are the animals and vegetables that can be produces on a homestead that will actually make the process make the most sense from an economic perspective?



You'll do best with things like fruits and vegetables. They're relatively easy to grow, yet they cost quite a lot in the grocery store.  This is because the logistics of harvesting a crop and getting it to the store before it spoils in 1-2 weeks for many crops adds to the expense. They must be properly stored at the right temperature and humidity. You've got fuel, labor, and other costs all along the supply chain that go into the final price of the product. Unfortunately many grocery stores also view produce as a way to bring in revenue with inflated prices, not a low-profit item to bring shoppers in the door.  

With fruits and vegetables you've got a product that is relatively cheap and easy for the farmer to grow at the point of production, and easy for yourself to grow, yet quite expensive for you to buy at the store. So this is where you really come out ahead.

Raising your own animal products such as eggs might not be quite the inflation-beating bargain you'd think it is. It takes many pounds of feed moved through the supply chain to produce one pound of eggs in your own henhouse. By the time you've paid for all those costs of buying the food at the farm store, and the logistics of getting it there, you're almost better off just buying eggs that come from a centralized location where they buy feed by the truckload. Smaller animals such as goats, sheep, small pig breeds, and chickens are more practical for the farmer who only wishes to feed their own family, although if you aren't growing food for your livestock you've still got that issue of having to buy food for them. One cow can produce 8 gallons of milk a day, or 400 Lbs of meat.  What you'd do with all that milk or meat would have to be determined.

Staple crops such as wheat, barley, and dry beans aren't very practical to grow at home from an economic perspective. You can't compete with the efficiency of machines that plant or harvest a whole field in a day. So as long as we're talking about 10% inflation, not a true SHTF scenario, then staple grains aren't something you'd really need to be growing.
 
pollinator
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Where I live, at least, fresh fruit and veg haven't really gone up in price at all. That's pretty much all I buy in stores. I buy staples in bulk and haven't had to buy any for quite a while, so not sure how those prices have changed. My dad told me that flour has gone up a fair bit, so I'm glad I grow grain.

I think every homestead already produces food of whatever type its inhabitants value and can fairly easily ramp up or adapt, so I wouldn't bother worrying about that so much. I would focus on acquiring skills to avoid having to replace products I own or make better use of materials I can get free or cheap. Things like timber framing with wood from your property instead of having to buy lumber. Maybe being able to resole shoes yourself, instead of having to buy new ones.
 
Abraham Palma
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Nathan Watson wrote:
Raising your own animal products such as eggs might not be quite the inflation-beating bargain you'd think it is. It takes many pounds of feed moved through the supply chain to produce one pound of eggs in your own henhouse. By the time you've paid for all those costs of buying the food at the farm store, and the logistics of getting it there, you're almost better off just buying eggs that come from a centralized location where they buy feed by the truckload. Smaller animals such as goats, sheep, small pig breeds, and chickens are more practical for the farmer who only wishes to feed their own family, although if you aren't growing food for your livestock you've still got that issue of having to buy food for them. One cow can produce 8 gallons of milk a day, or 400 Lbs of meat.  What you'd do with all that milk or meat would have to be determined.

Staple crops such as wheat, barley, and dry beans aren't very practical to grow at home from an economic perspective. You can't compete with the efficiency of machines that plant or harvest a whole field in a day. So as long as we're talking about 10% inflation, not a true SHTF scenario, then staple grains aren't something you'd really need to be growing.



I agree and in my case that's true. But I see some gardeners that have a few chickens integrated in their farm design, and it makes a whole lot of sense: they don't buy food for the chicks as they just eat bugs and crop waste all from the garden, the birds are working at fighting pests and producing manure and in addition they lay eggs.

The same goes for staple crops. If you grow wheat for the flour then it has very little value (you need three different machines for flour), but if it's a carbon production crop that you grow for your animals, then you can harvest some whole grains and toast them with some milk for breakfast; not as nice as bread but fills the stomach. Wheat is a dryland crop (in temperate climates), it does not have any value in a kitchen garden, but if you have a big lawn that you can't irrigate and corn doesn't grow well there, wheat might be an option.

Soo, don't raise chickens for the eggs or grow wheat for the bread, but if you happen to use them as a part of your farm/garden design, then they are an extra.
 
pollinator
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Avg Monthly Expense

$1500 Housing
$800  Transportation
$200  Gas+Electric
$200  Internet+Cable+Phone
$900  Childcare
$400  Food (Supermarket/Grocies)
$300  Eating out/Resturant (Starbuck/BK/Olive Garden, etc)
$600  Healthcare
$160  Personal Care/Clothing
$120  Education
$570  Retirement

So many things on the above list for us to tackle.
Housing: can be reduced by not renting and once we buy/build to build a smaller house so that it cost less. The location of the house can make a difference.
Transportation: drive less, and have a older car, do some biking if possible
 
Heather Staas
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Since posting a month ago,  I've purchased and learned to pressure can.   This does two things;  it lets me take advantage of bulk pricing, especially meat,  and lets me STORE it without electricity once it's canned.  No fridge or freezer required.  This has cut $100 off my grocery bill so far, and expect that to be a bit higher once I really get the hang of it.
IMG_0627.JPG
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pollinator
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My county assessor indicated that property value assessments are going up 18% next year, so property taxes will also be going up that much.  When looking for a homestead, give special consideration to ones that have features that aren't taxed heavily. For example, a basement is taxed far less than a main floor, so a 1800 square foot house with a 900 square foot basement and 900 square foot main floor will often be taxed much less than a house with just a 1200sqft main floor. Similarly, ag land in my area is taxed based on how good it would be for producing corn and soy, so something that would be tough on a combine means lower taxes.
 
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This is an interesting idea!  An inflation-resistant homestead.  So I guess we need to look at what inflation is.

Inflation (the general rise of goods and services) usually gets divided into two categories:  General inflation and Core Inflation.  Core Inflation does not include food or energy because those are so volatile that it makes for difficult economic modeling.  But this is still interesting to look at.  I recently read an article that stated that while total inflation was near 9%, core inflation was only about 0.3%, meaning that almost all inflation was lumped into the food and energy sectors.  With that in mind, I would say that an inflation-resistant homestead does the following:


1)  Produces as much food as possible on site.  Obviously, this combats inflation in the food sector.

2)  Has a reduced energy footprint through energy efficiency, solar panels, etc.  Again, this obviously combats inflation in the energy sector.

3)  Uses battery OPE tools when possible (chainsaw, lawnmower, etc.) to avoid using gasoline.

4)  Is close to town, avoids car travel altogether or both.  Again, energy related.

5)  Is owned outright or mortgaged with a fixed-rate mortgage.  This avoids inflation in rent.  

Did I miss anything?

Eric
 
John C Daley
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Eric, what are these please? "OPE tools"
 
Eric Hanson
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Sorry John.  

OPE Tools are Outdoor Power Equipment.  

I was thinking along the lines of chainsaws, lawnmowers (if necessary at all), trimmers, etc.  These probably don’t consume huge amounts of money in fuel, but why not switch to batteries when battery tools have become so good?

Eric
 
John C Daley
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I am off grid and use Ryobi battery tools with my business because they have so much, grease gun, cartridge gun, air compressor.
Its amazing really, but the batteries are not low cost, but do last a long time, 5 years so far. [ not between charges].
I even have a charger wired into my vehicles.
Since I work on remote places I am not bringing out leads and at race tracks the same benefit.
Beating inflation was the topic and I guess if people study the breakdown of costs, they may realise a small home is affordable and fits in with the short term budget.,
For building I use a drill, impact driver, small circular saw and a belt sander, all 18V and one very sharp hand saw.
I have added a 18V nailer,recip. sawe, impact drill, vacuum x 2, circular saw,  and a brad gun recently.
 
Eric Hanson
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John, I agree with your basic assessment, particularly with the building tools.  I guess I would add to those tools a reciprocating saw and an impact driver.  I particularly love having an impact driver as so often a cordless drill is really used simply to fasten screws and an impact driver is very quick and efficient at the job.  It also frees up the drill for a secondary task.

But these are adding costs to the list and one will have to decide for themselves whether these extra tools are worth the money.  For my purposes, I find them invaluable and really not all that expensive, but then I bought my impact driver as a factory refurbished item on eBay.  I saved a boatload!

John, it’s slightly OT, but since we are talking about batteries, how do you like the Ryobi line?  They certainly have every tool under the sun you could want and then some (floating Bluetooth battery powered pool speaker anyone?  Not Joking!).  Their reputation is that they are a cheap/budget brand but I am not so convinced.  I am in the Ridgid line which I used to think was a great bang-for-your-buck line that had really good quality at affordable prices.  But their prices are going up and the product listing is going down.  And Milwaukee has everything but is very pricey.  I am thinking about switching brands and wouldn’t mind input.

Eric
 
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if you can grow lots of surplus crops. you too can be cashing in on inflation and making your share of the pie larger and feathering your nest egg.
 
Eric Hanson
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Bruce,

Yep, right now is a great time to be a farmer, especially if one is an organic, regenerative or Permies farmer.

Crop prices are going to be very high this year (good for farmers), but farm inputs will also be very high (bad for farmers, especially traditional, “ chem. Farmers).

But for those who grow w/minimal inputs, the year could be amazing!

Eric
 
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I live in a city and I'm never going to be self-sufficient, but my home is almost entirely electrified. I do have solar panels which produce enough energy for my home, but I'm not storing it; it's calculated into my energy bills. The garden is moving towards being a balanced ecosystem which needs as little maintenance as possible, and does produce food, but trying to grow all my food there wouldn't be very practical. I'm learning to drive an electric scooter to and from work (cute but still a bit scary) so maybe I won't need the car in the city (at least during good weather and daylight hours... we'll see).
I'm teaching art and through that I'm trying to pass the concept of making your own stuff - even if it's just artworks, gifts etc., I think my students are embracing the idea of "self-sufficiency" that way.

I was listening to a podcast where they were discussing the concept of cities being entirely electrified in the future - to stop using fossil fuels - and there was a number of interesting issues it may cause (and probably will), especially combined with more frequent extreme weather events which we may also expect in the future. Once someone designs better batteries of course...
 
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It’s a good question you ask, and you have gotten a lot of good answers, but here is my 10c.
7 years ago we decided to start working toward food independence. At the time, there were no inflation, but we had a “feeling” that we might need this. Over the years I have learned a lot, so here is some of it:
1. You need to look at it holistically, like some wrote look not just at the garden, because you will need to have food storage, and room for processing. Right now I have 3 pantries. 1 is out day to day pantry. It contains things we use most days. #2 I call my butlers pantry. Here I store food that will last for up to 5 years, and my bulk items, like sugar, salt, flour, pasta etc. #3 is my long term food stash. It has foods that will last for up to 25 years. Once you have a system like this, you don’t feel inflation the same way, since you buy in bulk, process seasonal when things are cheap.
2. When you start processing things, every little scrap counts. Fruit scraps can for example be made into vinegar or jelly. The rest we get, goes to the chickens, rabbits, ducks, or the compost.
3. When planning your garden you have to think both short and long term. By this I mean, start with the trees and perennials since those needs the most time to establish. Next look into plant companions and plant those with your perennials. Once the plants start to grow, remember to save seeds, so you can continue growing. This saves a lot of money.
4. Get to know your local farmers and homesteaders. This year, most of our garden failed, but that’s okay. It gave us the opportunity to support our local farmers. I visit farmers markets, and talk with the farmers at the stands, not only to buy, but to weed out the fakers and find the farmers. I have made many friends and gotten many contacts over the year, so when my garden failed I called around and in the end, I got everything I needed at a very good price.
5. Learning how to preserve and use everything makes it cheaper. Since I know how to process foods, I was able to take the fruits and vegetables that the farmers can’t sell at the market or to grocers do to imperfections, cracks, shape etc. Those things means nothing to me, since I process for example  the tomatoes into soup, crushed and sauces. The cucumbers are pickled and fermented etc. That fruit or vegetable cost a lot less that it otherwise would, and the farmer loves being able to sell the hard to sell items. It’s a win win.
6. Learn how to process and store your produce. There are many preservation techniques available. I do WB canning, pressure canning, dehydrating, candying, fermenting, salting, freezing and smoking. I think the 3 most important ones are canning, dehydrating and fermenting.
7. Consider having an indoor nursery for off season items. We have trouble growing leafy greens outside both summer and during winter, so we have an indoor nursery. We also use it to grow starter plants before the summer or winter growing season starts.

I am attaching pictures of my main pantry, so you can get an idea of how much room food takes up. Though keep in mind that I feed 5 adults, and keep an years worth of most things in stock. The picture was taken before our food preservation season started. Right now, I had a third isle added.
I am also attaching a picture of the nursery we have indoors. It’s in the shower of the master bathroom. My hose is attached to the shower, so I have water. It’s topped my a 3000w led lamp.
Last, we have solar, and batteries for it. It’s a huge relief, not being dependent on the electrical companies, and we are saving about 500$ a month. So think about that too.

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Suburbia…
-Chickens …still my number one.  They’re multifunctional.  Eggs, soil tillers, fertilisers, prep soil (they’ve killed my kikuyu that countless hours of digging didn’t manage in areas they’ve been in…bonus.  And with the right ones if you want, meat.  Homegrown, you know what goes into them.  So you know the quality coming out.  If you are allowed roosters then your supply is ongoing.  Not allowed one here sadly.  And they’re fun.
-Comfrey (non seeding) for planting around fruit tree drip lines and elsewhere, and useful for great fertiliser…dump a whole lot into a rubbish bin…add water…leave until broken down, smelly ++.dilute and use.  I’ve also tried not using water and leaving to break down…not smelly til you dilute it to use it.
-Worm farm. With Kombushi, worms and chooks (and 2 dogs) I don’t do compost, but I do chop and drop instead.  Plus add the rest with occasional horse Pooh if I go past any.
-perennial veges…cabbages, asparagus, scarlet runner beans, Welsh onions, other multiplying onions, trying yacon and Jerusalem artichokes….carbon biomass for the garden if nothing else, and a crop which hopefully I’ll like.  Strawberries…runners keep on giving….One plant gave me 12 runners…let a few run for replacements, but keep the rest for strawberries.  I consider my chard/silver beets perennial as they self seed anywhere.  Choko/chayote. Chili Rocoto (orange red and yellow if they grow.  Rhubarb.
-root veges you like….potatoes, kumera (sweet potato), carrots (experiment) and radishes
Annual veges…tomato, chili peppers, salads , hopefully beans green and dried, which I have far too many.etc
-berries, blueberries, grapes, strawberries,
Herbs for flavouring and starting to learn about medicinal uses, and expanding from pots to permanent places.  And for tea making.  Even have a camellia sinensis to try (real tea plant).
Flowers - poppy for seed, marigolds (herbal), love lies bleeding …just because!  Granny’s bonnets, roses and bulbs because they were my mums and nanas.  

Temperate/subtropical micro climates….feijoa, mulberry, 2 stone fruit (cut down to stumps when they sold the place and regrowing nicely but no idea what they are) plus some Asian apple I’m told…probably a Nashis, loquats self seeding…don’t like them so they’re going to make way for a food forest.  I’d love apples but they don’t do well.  I have a suitable cherry and a Meyer lemon, bearers lime,  and a fig to plant.
I’m in the burbs.  So limited cheap good fertiliser.  Cheap bought compost killed my garden at a previous home.  Lesson learnt.  So fertilisers are important.  

I have some basket willows in a bucket.  But probably won’t find a home.  Wanted to have a go at basket making.  But everywhere is near water pipes or mains.i

If I get everything planted (it’s spring here) I’ll consider it a win.   It’s one big experiment while hoping the 3 chooks don’t get out, and the dogs stop running through my gardens. I won’t start on my obsession with seeds (eyes bigger than your belly sort of thing).  At the end of the day, increasing your resilience makes sense on many levels.  Inflation hedge, but also redundancy, reduced work hours, sickness, natural disaster…hopefully not one that takes out your gardens.., retirement.  And just to keep fit, healthy and be a bit more self reliant and know where some of it comes from.  I’m also trying to get my 20 year old to eat more healthy.  Basically plant what you like to eat, add in some experiments.

Water tanks…can’t forget that…I use rain water I collect to reduce reliance on town water and costs.  At the moment it’s all a big mess with someone else’s junk stored here.  Learn propagation and one plant becomes many.  Do I really know what I’m doing…not really…but I want to learn.  After I get into over abundance I’ll learn preserving, dehydrating, etc.  Look at a root cellar.  And stop worrying I’ll sort it , then need to move to be able to afford to retire.  Otherwise I’ll keep procrastinating instead of going all in.  Permaculture it is.

Oh…join a seed saving group…really cheap way to get started and learn.
 
Posts: 33
Location: Southwest Mississippi, USA zone 8b, Ruston fine sandy loam
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John Wolfram wrote:My county assessor indicated that property value assessments are going up 18% next year, so property taxes will also be going up that much.  When looking for a homestead, give special consideration to ones that have features that aren't taxed heavily. For example, a basement is taxed far less than a main floor, so a 1800 square foot house with a 900 square foot basement and 900 square foot main floor will often be taxed much less than a house with just a 1200sqft main floor. Similarly, ag land in my area is taxed based on how good it would be for producing corn and soy, so something that would be tough on a combine means lower taxes.



Speaking to property taxes, I live in a county in southwest Mississippi. Once you make 65 years of age you pay NO MORE property tax.I am sure that this was instituted to prevent the elderly from loosing their homes to tax sales.
 
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My husband and I had a similar goal based on the assumption of reduced income when we retired. The gist of our plan has been to work toward becoming less dependent on buying stuff, whether food, supplies, materials, etc.

Accomplishing that goal has required a two-fold approach. The first has been growing and producing more for ourselves. Since we have poultry and goats, we have to include feeding them too. We've invested in gardens, orchard, production growing areas, and pasture and forage. Something I wish we'd done at the beginning, is focus more on perennial foods and forest gardening. These take more time to establish, but are more reliable in the long run. Saving and storing our own seed is important too.

The other aspect has been changing our lifestyle. That includes our diet, of course, learning how to eat more of what we can produce ourselves. It's also meant changing our lifestyle habits. We grew up in a consumer culture, so the first instinct is to buy everything. We've had to learn how to think outside the box. We've learned the difference between impulse buying and thoughtful buying. We've had learn how to determine needs versus wants, plus analyze alternatives. "Do we really need that thing, or is there another way to go about it?" Most importantly, we've learned to live without.

We've slowly been changing our lifestyle habits. We aren't anti-technology, but have realized that the higher the tech, the more maintenance, feeding, and repair it will require. For every high-tech tool or piece of equipment that we own, we've sought low-tech alternatives as well (and learned how to use them.) One interesting thing we've learned, is that convenience and time saving gadgets and gizmos aren't always that convenient nor save that much time, especially when you add in clean-up. It's often simpler and easier to do many things by hand.

The right equipment is important. Equipment is expensive, so it requires thoroughly thinking it through before purchasing. For example, we have a lot of pine trees on our property, so we invested in a used portable sawmill and have been able to mill all our own lumber for building projects. Our tractor and PTO wood chipper are two more essentials for us.

We've gradually weaned ourselves off air conditioning and owning two vehicles. A house phone is cheaper than a mobile phone, although we have a cheap pay-as-you-go talk-and-text-only burner phone to take in the car if needed. We don't have a television service and dropped all telecommunications extras except internet. I buy all our clothes off the dollar rack at the thrift store. Insurance is the bare minimums.

The biggest challenge to all this is learning how to be content with this kind of lifestyle. We humans tend to look at what others are doing and what others have, for our standard of "normal." If we want a truly resilient, sustainable, inflation-proof homestead, then we have to start thinking differently about life and how we choose to live it. Scary, I know, but all I can say to that is, "come on in, the water's fine!"
 
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I actually never looked at our chickens as an expense as they were mostly free range and their poop was composted and put on the garden.

I'll never be entirely self-sufficient and don't have any chickens at the moment.  I do think we could live off of the garden for an entire year if I preserved 75% of it.  Hubby feels meat is a requirement but my daughter and I could do without if necessary.   I have the knowledge and ability to forage and eat things that most folks around her would feel beneath them such as chickweed,  lamb's quarters, dandelions,  plantain,  etc.  

As someone else already mentioned,  one of the keys to self-sufficiency IMHO is taking advantages of surpluses when they happen.  I've been lucky to have been the recipient of over two bushels of green beans because the people who planted them had their cellar full and didn't want them.  The only cost was the gas to go get them and the time to pick them.  In my own garden I will share some of my surpluses but usually try to preserve at least  half of it as it may be years before I have another bumper crop. I actually added a 1 1/2 rows of beans because my parent's beans weren't producing very well this year and they only grow one variety.  I pick and deliver them, mom cleans and cans them.  If I find my own supply of canned beans running short I know there's always extra waiting for me there. I also planted several varieties of dry beans this year but its been an exceptionally wet summer and I've turned my focus to growing only for seed this year as I'm losing approximately 50% of my crop due to the damp conditions.  

 
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Might be a little off topic but reading people talk about electricity and how expensive it is or how it might be needed for a few necessary items. I was wondering(and I’m new to investigating solar😁) is there a good way to do solar panels for say just your hvac or just a freezer and a couple ac units? I ask because I live in Texas and I’m constantly trying to figure out how we would survive without electricity being that it gets sooo hot! But a full system of solar is sooo expensive too! I’m also looking into best water catchments due to droughts.
 
Eric Hanson
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Hi Tauni, welcome to Permies,

A/C is tough on solar without really going all in, especially if one has a great big central unit.

But maybe if you had a sort of backup A/C limited to one or two rooms or so you could get away with a much more limited system.

Interesting idea about getting A/C on solar while sticking to a budget.


Again, welcome to Permies,

Eric
 
Leigh Tate
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Tauni Szabados wrote:Might be a little off topic but reading people talk about electricity and how expensive it is or how it might be needed for a few necessary items.


Welcome to Permies, Tauni!

We have a chest freezer and small chest fridge on their own solar system, so I know that's doable. But like Eric said, an air conditioner sucks up a lot of watts (actually the compressors on the freezer and fridge do too). It would require a pretty large system to supply the kWh you need, depending on how many days you want for backup. (No sun, no electricity, so you have to rely on your battery bank).
 
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I have tested a 5000 btu unit in my basement working it on solar.   It seemed to work ok.  The good news is that on hot days, the sun tends to be out more. I have not tried to run it overnight.
 
Eric Hanson
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Just to be clear, what I had in mind was a little window A/C unit.  My wife used to have the very smallest one available (500 units of something?  I have long since forgotten.  BTU maybe?).  For $200 it was a nice unit.  It had a digital, programable thermostat and even came with a remote!  I am not exactly certain why that remote was so special, but there it was.  It simply plugged into a wall outlet.  I highly doubt that outlet was rated to even 15 amps, let alone 20 amps--it was some pretty shaky looking wiring, old housing, etc.  But it did nicely cool one room very well.  I doubt it was going to cool much more than her bedroom, but if that is all that you need, then maybe this is the way to go?  

Maybe go crazy and have 2 window units, one for a bedroom and one for a living room?  Have one on in the day and one on at night?  Just possibilities.  Either way, even at a 20 amp draw, it is possible to build a solar system that can handle that much load fairly easily.  And again, there were plenty of other things plugged into that same circuit so I would be surprised if it even drew 5 amps while running.  The startup amps would be the biggest issue, but actually running should be OK, especially if not running on batteries.

Of course a central unit, while more efficient for cooling the whole house, draws a LOT more current--40 amps are not uncommon--and take up two circuit breakers in the breaker box.  This would be seriously expensive for a solar system.  It could certainly be done, but you would pay for it also.

Of course, you would want to find ways to avoid the heat in the first place, like placing shades over windows, planting trees, and even solar panels on the roof can partially shade the actual roof and cool it somewhat.  I kinda like the idea of an outdoor window shade above the window that consists of a solar panel--a sort of 2-for-1 deal.  

Again, this is just me thinking of ways for you to beat the Texas heat!  I live in humid Southern Illinois, maybe not so hot as Texas, but what we lack in outright temperature we often make up for in humidity.  I am really sympathetic to these heat concerns.

Good luck!

Eric
 
Abraham Palma
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Tauni Szabados wrote:Might be a little off topic but reading people talk about electricity and how expensive it is or how it might be needed for a few necessary items. I was wondering(and I’m new to investigating solar😁) is there a good way to do solar panels for say just your hvac or just a freezer and a couple ac units? I ask because I live in Texas and I’m constantly trying to figure out how we would survive without electricity being that it gets sooo hot! But a full system of solar is sooo expensive too! I’m also looking into best water catchments due to droughts.


Hi, Tauni. And welcome.
This question merits its own thread. Solar panels have their issues and their uses, and I'd like to elaborate more without meddling with this inflation thread.
 
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