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Starting with nothing on an established plot of land

 
pioneer
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Hello,

I am seeking some commentary and advice on my current situation.

I have the opportunity to relocate to a 10 acre parcel where there is already a modern home built, amongst other minor amenities, however, I would not be wanting to take part in that directly, although the option is quite nice if I become desperate to get off the ground. They are family friends so there is no mistrust here. There would be no rent, nor expectations of me. I imagine I can't turn 9.5 acres into a farm of course and this type of personal limitation will be in place.

The problem is, this place is in middle of nowhere in Mississippi. The plus is, this place is in middle nowhere in Mississippi.

Cons
- Distance from stores, although the family travels to the city via truck frequently for various things.
- Directionless - From nothing with no real income (about $1,000/month from saving) to... to where? to what? what style home do I build? I don't have any knowledgeable friends in person to help out. As a broke person with no life savings and nowhere near retirement, this is where homesteading grinds against me. I do like business and I do like to do non-homestead things, such as brew beer, bake artisanal breads, make music, make things in general... I enjoy the pursuit of high quality craft and hobbies, so will I ever be able to homestead efficiently to where I can perhaps start a business as well for money within a few years in such a rural area? Etsy and shipping something?
- I will likely be spending half my days researching how to do something simple and mulling over options, like settling on which toilet to try and build for 3 weeks.
- Coming from Florida, I've seen snow once in my life.
- Minimal income for building supplies - $1,000/month max I can spare. I will have to review whether there is proper timber to access, or if I will have to spend money to build a small log cabin.

Pros
- Easy hunting - food, jewelry, clothing, dog food....
- Potential timber - building materials and green woodworking
- Aforementioned con about starting a business turned pro... perhaps this drastic 180 degree, instantaneous turn in life will inspire new business ideas such as leatherworking through the sheer natural land and use of the Internet.
- Space - best part of it all - the blacksmithing/woodworking shop I've dreamt of for the past 3 years, tiny house, huge market garden, small telescope space observatory. All of this which is utterly impossible in the suburbs can be accomplished seamlessly without scratching an inch out of 10 acres.

So what do you all think? How do I even begin to begin... If I make the final decision to move onto this parcel? Perhaps a notebook. Perhaps brainstorming ideas in the meantime, laying things out, taking concrete action instead of mulling everything over. I know failure. I know that if I fail badly I can come back to where I stay now, but I don't want to fail, I want to succeed at this but I feel like without enough money to start with, it's much more difficult to make headway.

Cheers everyone... Wish me well.
 
pollinator
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Sounds like “something” to me. Money helps, but limitations on it instigates creativity. It sounds relatively low risk to me and like you want to go for it. I would encourage you start planning for it to be successful, but to go in as prepared as you can. One recommendation I’d give to anyone homesteading in rural places is a Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder Course. It has paid for itself many times over for me, you meet good people, and it prepares you for a life of adventure while mitigating catastrophic risks. It has helped treating myself, friends, colleagues, random strangers, and pets. WMI, WMA, and Aerie have all had good courses and instructors in my experience.
 
Jeff Steez
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Thanks for the suggestion. You're right. Just a few weeks ago I almost stepped directly on an outstretched 5 foot rattlesnake here in Florida, which I was actively looking for. If it was coiled I would've been flown to the hospital. The camouflage was so precise there was no way I could have seen it until I heard the rattle, saw it 2 inches away and levitated back 30 feet. From that day on I swore to wear long pants and boots or moccasins when in the wild, I do not care if it's 100F in Florida anymore, should I end up staying here longer.

Do you have any book recommendations for this topic? I am a book person, that is going to be something I may have to store in their house for a little while.... All my books. I will have to do some planning and strip down the necessities, build something, and perhaps travel back to my current location to retrieve the rest when I know my structures can withstand the elements.

Rattlesnake3-1.jpg
[Thumbnail for Rattlesnake3-1.jpg]
 
master steward
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I agree with Ben about planning.

I would suggest getting some supplies together before you go, at least some seeds and maybe some food.

Do you have a tent?

Tools to take with you?

Have you read this book:

https://permies.com/wiki/51907/Possum-Living-Dolly-Freed
 
Jeff Steez
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Anne Miller wrote:I agree with Ben about planning.

I would suggest getting some supplies together before you go, at least some seeds and maybe some food.

Do you have a tent?

Tools to take with you?

Have you read this book:

https://permies.com/wiki/51907/Possum-Living-Dolly-Freed



Yep, already pulled my tent out. I have a ton of traditional tools such as carving axes, draw knives, a froe for splitting shingles, survival tools, water filtration, Berkey Water filter.

To some extent after a bit of reflection, it's almost like this is precisely what I've been preparing for since I would never be able to afford land in south Florida. I just decided to start gathering these types of things "in case'.
 
gardener
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Hi Jeff,
I second the planning stage, and I would like to suggest that you create some sort of official agreement with the land owners. If they are good friends, maybe it doesn't need to be a full on lease agreement, but there are too many family and friends who live together and then something happens and there is a rift in the relationship. Having an expectation of what you are going to do, what you are going to bring to the table, and what happens if something falls apart, are good things to sort out ahead of time.

I do like business and I do like to do non-homestead things, such as brew beer, bake artisanal breads, make music, make things in general... I enjoy the pursuit of high quality craft and hobbies, so will I ever be able to homestead efficiently to where I can perhaps start a business as well for money within a few years in such a rural area? Etsy and shipping something?



I don't think there is an official definition of a "homestead" or "homesteading", but I subscribe to Jack Spirko's definition. "A homestead is when the property is making you money instead of costing you money." That is an inexact quote, but I think its close enough. Homesteading does not have to look the same for all people. Most people cannot do everything to survive on their own (which is what so many people think homesteading is). It is a process. Some people like to garden, and some people hate it. But those people might love goats and cows, while the gardener only likes chickens. This is where community comes into play. Different people doing things they enjoy can come together to make the whole. You mention brewing beer and making bread as "non-homestead" activities. I think these ARE homestead activities. Making music might be harder to make money at than beer or bread, but could still be a part if you enjoy it. If you buy the ingredients to make things, I think could be homesteading, but it could also be cool to grow your own hops for craft beer. Maybe you grow your own wheat for craft bread. Or build furniture from wood you harvested. I guess I am saying that yes, I think you could start a business from there. Could you grow everything you need and still have the business? Maybe... but you might go crazy. Why not find a community where someone else can do some of the homesteading and you can do another part?
 
Jeff Steez
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Thanks for the comment, that is true, sometimes homesteading becomes this one-way image in the collective imagination. It was always in my plans to share absolutely everything I do with the step-relatives living there. They are the grandparents of my little sister, and her father possibly plans on moving to the 10 acres within the year. Between all of us, including relatively normal, non-permaculture, non-homesteaders, we should be set to go.

I hate to say, but one of the very first things I want to get is a horse to get around the larger area instead of an ATV, followed by bees, chickens, and getting the garden going. Then I would be willing to move beyond the tent, once some food is secure. Will have to see how far the vet is.
 
gardener
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In that planning, research just how much it costs to keep a horse. A horse is not an inexpensive pet, for me that expense doesn't pencil out.  What can you do or plan to do to supplement that 1k per month that you have. Internet sales is certainly something that does not care where you live other than tax issues that might be in place in your area. Does this opportunity offer permanence, will the situation ever change and force you to move or change the cost of being there? What are your plans exactly? Do you want to farm? Is this a familial homestead or is it being turned into one? Are there any expectations of assistance from you to create a farm/homestead? What else can you tell us that will help with advice in your opportunity?
 
Jeff Steez
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I've watched quite a few videos on horses. I worded it incorrectly and my mind was mixed up as I consider this potentially ludicrous opportunity. I need to do all those other things and someday, I would like to get a horse to roam around the large property on, as well as hunt with, and a hunting dog.

I am a vegan currently but I expect to become heavily involved in hunting due to the fact it's a relatively... equipment-less endeavor that provides a lot of calories, can provide clothing as well as a source of income through tanning and leather working. Therefore, besides the garden, chickens for eggs, bees for honey, and my housing, hunting is going to become a huge part of my life. That is why I simply feel obligated while living this Native inspired lifestyle to someday maintain a course and a hunting dog. Currently I care for my family's two German shepherds and have handled large dogs all my life.

I ordered a proper #55lb recurve bow to begin practicing with. I have plenty of tools that will let me make self-bows, heck, I have hand tools that would let me make high end carved furniture. Not to mention 20-30 Osage orange trees that I currently have nowhere to grow that provides the best bow wood in the world (possibly tied with yew wood). Perfect for Mississippi! Carving bows... perfect as a source of income... I hope this space will allow me the freedom of creativity that I have never felt before. I do not connect with the freedom of expression the computer provides, I find the results to be too linear for my tastes, I never become inspired using a mouse.

I will begin journaling for the next few weeks, see where my thoughts lead, and keep a log of "finalized" ideas.



My plan is simply to live there as naturally as I can while being resourceful and trying to earn a decent living so I can enjoy a few of the finer things in life. Simple log based tiny house with a solar generator. Under no circumstances would I allow myself to become a burden to the inhabitants even though they are step-relatives, they have known me for years. There are no expectations and this is going to be permanent until I die as far as I'm concerned. They're some of the nicest people I've met. It's a proper house on 10 acres, the rest is mostly grass that gets mowed often to keep the owner busy as far as I know but I'm still waiting on some details such as access to hunting tracts. They would enjoy everything that I plan on doing, it's really as simple as that. Honey, eggs, vegetables, cheese making if I get goats...

Everything you expect country folk to, but they don't necessarily do these things right now, they're just retired on inherited land after building a house.

I know it seems to good to be true but this is basically the situation, I'm having trouble believing it myself and taking the step to move forward. I am going to miss the family dog severely.

I have everything I could possibly need to survive for months on end there in a tent. Tools, hundreds of pounds of grain that the family would very likely let me store somewhere within the house for a little while to get going. As I said, I will not become a burden. They are guaranteed to offer me more help than I am willing to accept.

First step will be to journal for a few weeks, but I cannot let myself get stuck in journaling and never move forward.
 
Jeff Steez
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Here is something else that is beyond important to me yet I failed to mention it because I was trying to word it properly.

Fitness

I am extremely into fitness and have been size early high school, because I was an overweight child that was pumped full of fast food. However I've become a bit lazy lately. The suburban lifestyle has really worn me down the past year with its sedentary nature, the constant development and pollution everywhere, the stink of chemicals and exhaust when you run down the road, being "coal rolled" by gigantic diesel trucks that blast black smoke into your face and laugh.

I want to be able to run for miles in the grass barefoot, or hike for a few days at a time, and train my bodily strength and endurance naturally. Where I live, almost nobody even runs or bikes. You're more likely to become windshield splatter in the petty painted bike line along the side of the highway than you are to get some exercise in. Hiking, running, body weight fitness, lifting boulders, pouring some cement Atlas stones, this would let me exercise the way I desire, which is HUGELY... hugely important to me.
 
pollinator
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10 acres is not such a big space as to need a horse to traverse. A all-terrain bicycle would get you around faster than walking, and could get you into town (assuming it is <20 miles?) on your own.
 
Ben Zumeta
pollinator
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This was the textbook from one of my Wilderness First Responder (WFR) courses. I do recommend the course in addition to the book, as it provides indispensable practice on basic and more advanced techniques where it really helps to get muscle memory on, and practice in irregular scenarios. My instructors were some of the best experiential educators I ever had, and had a lot to do with my pursuing a Master’s in Adventure Education. Preparation makes many challenges fun rather than traumatic. Best of luck.
image.jpg
[Thumbnail for image.jpg]
 
Jeff Steez
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Don’t really see a lot of Mississippi in the permaculture or homestead scene. The ecosystem and environments seem a bit… tame? I have never been there so obviously I can only Google the zone and photos nearby, northern MS a few hours south of Memphis.
 
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Tame? I don't know. Read 'The Bear' by William Faulkner, set in about that spot.  As someone who grew up in the rural South it really rings true.  For some reason, I get the feeling that Mississippi hasn't changed much since he wrote it.
 
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Jeff Steez wrote:I've watched quite a few videos on horses. I worded it incorrectly and my mind was mixed up as I consider this potentially ludicrous opportunity. I need to do all those other things and someday, I would like to get a horse to roam around the large property on, as well as hunt with, and a hunting dog.

I am a vegan currently but I expect to become heavily involved in hunting due to the fact it's a relatively... equipment-less endeavor that provides a lot of calories, can provide clothing as well as a source of income through tanning and leather working. Therefore, besides the garden, chickens for eggs, bees for honey, and my housing, hunting is going to become a huge part of my life. That is why I simply feel obligated while living this Native inspired lifestyle to someday maintain a course and a hunting dog. Currently I care for my family's two German shepherds and have handled large dogs all my life.

I ordered a proper #55lb recurve bow to begin practicing with. I have plenty of tools that will let me make self-bows, heck, I have hand tools that would let me make high end carved furniture. Not to mention 20-30 Osage orange trees that I currently have nowhere to grow that provides the best bow wood in the world (possibly tied with yew wood). Perfect for Mississippi! Carving bows... perfect as a source of income... I hope this space will allow me the freedom of creativity that I have never felt before. I do not connect with the freedom of expression the computer provides, I find the results to be too linear for my tastes, I never become inspired using a mouse.

I will begin journaling for the next few weeks, see where my thoughts lead, and keep a log of "finalized" ideas.



My plan is simply to live there as naturally as I can while being resourceful and trying to earn a decent living so I can enjoy a few of the finer things in life. Simple log based tiny house with a solar generator. Under no circumstances would I allow myself to become a burden to the inhabitants even though they are step-relatives, they have known me for years. There are no expectations and this is going to be permanent until I die as far as I'm concerned. They're some of the nicest people I've met. It's a proper house on 10 acres, the rest is mostly grass that gets mowed often to keep the owner busy as far as I know but I'm still waiting on some details such as access to hunting tracts. They would enjoy everything that I plan on doing, it's really as simple as that. Honey, eggs, vegetables, cheese making if I get goats...

Everything you expect country folk to, but they don't necessarily do these things right now, they're just retired on inherited land after building a house.

I know it seems to good to be true but this is basically the situation, I'm having trouble believing it myself and taking the step to move forward. I am going to miss the family dog severely.

I have everything I could possibly need to survive for months on end there in a tent. Tools, hundreds of pounds of grain that the family would very likely let me store somewhere within the house for a little while to get going. As I said, I will not become a burden. They are guaranteed to offer me more help than I am willing to accept.

First step will be to journal for a few weeks, but I cannot let myself get stuck in journaling and never move forward.



I don't eat any animal products, and hope to find land that along with any others I can work on for living independently on it. I don't plan to start having products from animals then, I will do all I can, hoping to do so with others there with me, to have everything there possible for us growing that would be useful for food and materials there. This would not take as much resources, and using natural farming methods such as those of Masanobu Fukuoka would have enough produce without equipment needed so much for it.
 
Robert Ray
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Jeff, how is the planning going? Such a big opportunity and big step. Maybe start by breaking the plan into just the basics first. Food, shelter, water? A tiny house on wheels? A schoolie? Yurt? Teepee? A mobile space that will get you out of the suburbs? Your housing also a work space for creating revenue? Breaking the plan into achievable components might make it less daunting.
 
Jeff Steez
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Thanks for the response, truly, I appreciate it. It comes across as a bit of encouragement.

However, personally, I just don't know if I'm capable. I hate to admit it, but I don't believe in myself to tackle what appears to be a very large and complex "problem", or set of questions which must be solved. As much as I like training wheels (the plentiful help and possibility of utilizing in-place amenities if things get dire), I'd rather be riding a bike on my own.

Just yesterday I took a stroll into a local reserve. I sat down and tried to imagine what it would be like starting with nothing but an axe, a few tools, and some vegetable seeds, while considering the vegetation and natural materials available to me. I could envision a lot of digging and hard work, easily surmounted by doing the work itself.

I could not, however, imagine a path forward into shelter and prosperity. I could not imagine creating something substantial.

This was a disappointing realization for me. I just don't know how to proceed, because on their property, they do not even have the natural materials I saw in the preserve which I reflected. As far as I know MS is quite flat and sparse save for some of the lakeside and forest regions, which are privately owned and cannot be harvested from. This means I would, as you said, require some sort of build.

I have by far enough tools for a timber framed tiny house. But what of the wood? It would be costly as per quotes online. I am not looking for a mansion though. A relatively meager building with a few walls inside is all I require. It will be absolutely decked out in cast iron and wood fired goodness, tools created by my own blacksmithing as per the Thirteen Colonies Cookbook.

I have fantasies within my head, but I do not have realistic paths forward. If I had a buddy that said "screw it, let's go", then yes, perhaps I would be far more likely to. But alone, with one brain, I am not trained in permaculture enough to proceed in a way I want. I think I would be far too reliant on the inhabitants.

Abundant money would make my decision a piece of PIE.
 
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Hi there Jeff! What an opportunity you have been given, wow! I want to try to give you some encouragement.


Jeff Steez wrote:However, personally, I just don't know if I'm capable. I hate to admit it, but I don't believe in myself to tackle what appears to be a very large and complex "problem", or set of questions which must be solved.



I will start with this very famous saying of which I have no idea where it comes from:

How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

No matter how long and deeply you think and plan everything.. You will never be able to say ”okay, now I have thought of everything and solved every possible problem there might me, now I can actually do things!”.

Even if you planned everything really well, there will be problems you didn’t think of. Take one step at a time!

As much as I like training wheels (the plentiful help and possibility of utilizing in-place amenities if things get dire), I'd rather be riding a bike on my own.



The training wheels could be just the right back up support for you in this situation. The safety net while you take a leap towards something new and exiting!

The training wheels also make it easier to learn and master all the new things you are heading into, and when you are done with them you can give them back and offer a ride for the people who supported you when you needed it. I think that is beautiful.

I could not, however, imagine a path forward into shelter and prosperity. I could not imagine creating something substantial.

This was a disappointing realization for me. I just don't know how to proceed, because on their property, they do not even have the natural materials I saw in the preserve which I reflected.



One step at a time. When we bought our place about two years ago, I knew I wanted to grow most of my food. Did I have any experience on growing food? Nope, only a couple of years of growing stuff in pots with variable success. I still don’t have much experience, last year we had a great harvest of potatoes but that was basicly it. Other things I did mostly failed. Chamomile did grow beautifully but I didn’t have time (haha!) to harvest most of it.

I have about two acres of field. At first I had no idea what to do with it, now after two years some plans have been forming.

But those plans could have never formed if I was somewhere else! Every location, situation and opportunity is different.

That’s why I encourage you to take the leap.
Plan for the first steps (you have done some of that already!). When you take those first steps you will see if the path will have sharp rocks, thick bushes or a mountain to go through and then you can plan accordingly.

I have by far enough tools for a timber framed tiny house. But what of the wood? It would be costly as per quotes online. I am not looking for a mansion though.



One step at a time. Take your tent and see what happens.

You might end up seeing that you really don’t like it there and all the worrying about how to build a house had been for nothing.

You also might love it there and just like this opportunity has been presented to you… Something can come up that solves your problems or at least lead to solving your problems. You are so much wiser when you actually are on the spot.

I have fantasies within my head, but I do not have realistic paths forward.



You might have heard this before but.. One step at a time. You have been given this opportunity and that is the way forward. You don’t know what will be behind the corner until you go and see.

What’s the worst that can happen? Returning back to where you left from?

Believe in yourself. And know that there will be bunch of people here in Permies cheering you on and giving you advise.

We only have this one life and going after our dreams is worth it.
 
Robert Ray
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Damn Jeff, Grab life by the balls, Ask the pretty girls out, Get drunk but not as drunk as your friends somebody has to take the pictures. You are going to fail sometimes but failing is learning. Face to the wind while driving a back to the wind while sailing. Life is short get moving towards your goal. Scared, we're all scared, get moving dude, Quit talking and start with care but start.
Where are you going to sell your pepper plants? You have the product walk us through your plan.
 
Jeff Steez
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I believe I posted this elsewhere but I'm not entirely sure of my intent to sell the pepper plants. Seeing as it's one of the few things besides okra that grows well during high Florida summer, I have the urge to make this the type of fruit/vegetable that I buy none of for the remainder of the year... Harvest as many peppers as I can, dry them into chili powder, and possibly sell excess peppers, but not the plants.

As per this original thread... I was wearing rose tinted glasses. It's nowhere near as I imagined it to be. The property is not wooded. I would have to haul in materials to build a house which is far beyond my budget of "if you don't have the money you have to spend the time". I am more in a position to fell trees, let them dry for a year, and build a log cabin. How does the Ranch get all its timber? Is it sourced on site, sourced locally, gifted by friends, bartered for, purchased from a distance?

I'm doing my best to find something, somewhere, anywhere really with more space than I have here but has some natural resources left in place.
 
These aren't just sunglasses. They are a coolness prosthetic. For this tiny ad:
Our perennial nursery has sprouted!
https://permies.com/t/174246
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