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View Full Version : The expense of homesteading?



Bronach Druid
February 20th, 2008, 12:20 AM
Growing up, my parents always had a large veggie and fruit garden. My dad had a few apple trees too. My parents and grandparents used to make their own sauces, can fruit, make relishes, etc. They also used to sew the curtains and some clothes, reupholster the furniture themselves and crochet. Now it seems like it is actually more expensive to do some of these things as it is a "lost" art. I have been thinking of putting in my own vegetable garden this year though and it got my wondering if it is really cost effective or not. I will probably do it anyway, because you can't beat fresh veggies!

I was just curious to hear peoples views on the expense of homesteading.
For example even to just start gardening, you have the expense of a tiller, fertilizers, seeds, fencing, etc.
Then there is the cost of canning supplies or storage stuff.
How long do you feel it takes for the garden to begin to pay for itself and save money? Or do you just feel it is "healthier" to grow it yourself?

Same question for those of you who raise chickens, goats, cattle or whatever.

I have also noticed that crocheting is getting more expensive with the cost of yarn. And sewing well who can afford fabric anymore.

It just seems that there is an lot of expense involved to it all, or perhaps it is just the initial start up costs?
I guess I am wondering with some of these things do you do it to be self sufficient or do you feel it is cost saving in the long run?

Against The Tide
February 20th, 2008, 03:07 AM
Small scale homesteading - eg, growing herbs in pots on your windowsil, is quite inexpensive and helps shave money off grocery bills.

The more costly 'hardcore' homesteading things - large veggie garden, goats/hens/bees/home cannery/home made soaps and toiletries may require an investment (especially the bees! I looked into that) but these things pay off, once you make homesteading a way of life you will reap the returns (and savings) again and again.

Looking at the price of organic food nowerdays, I don't think it'll take long to see where you are saving. Take a veggie garden - make your own compost and mulch from organic (no meat or dairy) waste in your own home. You will need to fork out on hoe (haheho) and dig deep for a spade (I could go on all night), but these tools will last you years - so return is all based on how much you use em. Seeds are never expensive compared to shop prices. Fencing might set you back a bit, I'm sure there are cheap eco-friendly methods for creating borders and the like.

The bigger your plot the more you can grow at a time, and the faster your return.

Good luck in your homesteading - and you can't put a price on healthy, eco-friendly living.

Cindlady2
February 20th, 2008, 06:38 AM
To start "fresh" it is an investment, but yes, it will pay off.
Many people have lived on farms or in a homesteading style since they were kids. Much of what they have has been handed down, made, or scavenged from other sources. Check out estate sales, farm sales and even rummage sales for what you need. Recycle cloth, yarn, zippers etc. Trade with others. The farmer growing too much of one thing, might not have planted another.... good trade source!
Much of homesteading and "simple living" or "green living" is utilizing the excess and discards of others, look for these things!

Did I make sense? (sorry, I feel a bit "scatted tonight)

Diotima
February 20th, 2008, 06:46 AM
Good question!

This is something I have thought for some time. In general, I believe our living costs are somewhat lower that those of people who lead a normal lifestyle in the city.

But many differences- both savings and in particular quality differences- take time to show.
For example, it is true that buying yarn and knitting your own sweater will probably cost somewhat more than buying a ready-made sweater. BUT, the similarities of those two sweaters are rather superficial. The one you made has been made of higher quality yarn (don't believe me? just read the labels, feel the yarns). It will probably look good five, even ten years from now. By that time, the store-bought sweater is long gone. The quality differece is huge, but this is difficult to realize unless you take a look for yourself.

Sewing machine, in my experience, really saves money. Of course, that depends on what you sew vs. what you are accustomed to buy. I dress plainly and therefore, my clothing costs are very low compared to the time when I dressed like everyone else. On the other hand, this winter I sewed myself a new coat. I selected fabrics that were so expensive I could probably have found a ready-made coat at the same price. The catch? I could have found a ready-made coat on the cheaper side at the same price. But for something with tailored fit, excellent quality fabrics and equal workmanship, I would have paid over three times the cost of the homemade product...and I still could not have been absolutely certain about its quality (esp. workmanship) at the time of the purchase. But when I sew myself, there is never any doubt about such things.

I think, from ethical point of view, it is also good to ask that how can store-bought clothing be so cheap. Because it is true that even if factories have more effective working methods and they pay much less for materials, there are also wholesale sellers and finally retail stores that take their share of the final price.
Two options: either the materials are inferior to those that home seamstressers/knitters/crocheters use (in my experience this is very true) or some seamstress in some distant factory is seriously underpaid and working in inhuman conditions. That someone has paid my "discount" out of his or her hide- so is it really right for me to take advantage of that? I believe not, and I believe I don't have to if I don't want to. So I sew, and by dressing simply, I can maintain a sufficient wardrobe that in the end only costs a fraction of the price of buying ready-made.

In many things, the initial costs are quite high if you start from scratch and need to buy equipment and supplies. This is true in almost all homesteading arts: sewing, gardening, soapmaking, even baking. But once the initial costs are paid, you will only have to pay for material after that. Usually, that's when you start saving. If you keep up whatever you are doing, you can save quite substantial amounts in long term. I guess that modern society just doesn't encourage people to think such efforts in perspective of several years...

In gardening, the first year(s) will cost more than you reap. But the investments you make, are for longer term than a couple of years and eventually they start paying off. Which is, why in my opinion you should try to buy quality tools and equipment whenever you can afford it. Not fancy, but good quality that will serve you for a long time.
Again, often home grown vegetables are higher quality and fresher than their store-bought counterparts. In home garden you can also grow varieties that would be hard to find from stores. My local stores do not carry spaghetti pumpkins, heritage potatoes or purple carrots! My kitchen garden does. And there is a LOT of fresh food available. I estimate that since starting to homestead, our consumption of vegetables and fruits has grown exponentially. We also get plenty of natural, pleasant exercise, fresh air and plain happiness. How much improved health costs?

I agree- it's hard to put a price tag on better life. And it all depends on what time span you are thinking of. A year (first year)? Expensive. Three years? Ten years? Rest of your life?
On one hand, making initial investments means that you have good plans and commit to them for long term. On the other hand- once you have planned well, and have reached the point where you are selecting wisely the investments best suitable for your needs, you are probably also ready to commit yourself to the work that will follow.

lamoka
February 20th, 2008, 07:48 AM
for me its not so much about the cost (thats not saying money isn't always tight cause it is) but its definitely more about my families health and what we are putting into our bodies.. I am so sick of being at the mercy of people who don't give two cow patties about my families welfare as long as they have a big fat bank account and can afford to keep THEIR family healthy.. I wish we could be totally self sufficient, solar wind and all.. take away the huge cost of utilities, unnecessary medical bills from illness and disease caused by poor nutrition or lack of proper, that frees up some serious cash to devote to other areas of our lives .. maybe some day..
in the meantime we do what we can in what little ways we can to make the biggest impact in a positive way for us..
CYA
aho

Against The Tide
February 20th, 2008, 01:18 PM
I'd also like to add - if you are starting up, maybe split the costs with a neighbour who is also turning over a new leaf?

banondraig
February 20th, 2008, 03:45 PM
Diotima is right on the money about quality. I went for my first knitting lesson today, and the lady who gives them informed me that she had knit her own sweater, which was in very good condition and appeared nearly new, thiry-five yeras ago.

Also, if you grow heirloom varieties, they are often naturally resistant to disease and pests, as this was much more of a concern before pesticides and chemical fertilizers became prevalent. You will therefore probably get more bang for your buck than with newer hybrid varieties, and also not have to buy new seeds if you save last year's.

Tanya
February 20th, 2008, 04:31 PM
since no one has commented yet on livestock and the above answers are so good. allow me to wax lyrical about a humble chicken

Her name is Collie, she is an Isa Brown and by some freak of nature is broody (i.e. she's willing to raise kids,.. many chickens have had that bred out of them)

Collie cost me 15 dollars 8 months ago.

In those months, she's laid 200 eggs and brought into the wolrd three chicks.

I've bought 15 dollars worth of food for her so far and 15 dollars worth of straw for her bedding. The reson I don't feed her much is because she eats kitchen scraps and forages for herself as well.. . We built a run for her out of extra onstruction materials from our house... so that cost nothing but time and irritation.

a dozen organic eggs her costs $8
rounding off, she's laid 16 dozen so while I've paid 45 dollars for her so far I've recieved 133 back in eggs. aded to that I got 3 organic chicken to eat. An organic chicken her cost $18! (I know... crazy!) an net profit of 97 dollars.. there aren't many things that you can invest in that more than double your investment in that short a time span.

plus there's the non-monitary benifits. Her bedding goes into my garden, I've had no catipillar problems in my garden, or trouble with grasshoppers and I get to eat delicious FRESH eggs....

Against The Tide
February 20th, 2008, 08:40 PM
since no one has commented yet on livestock and the above answers are so good. allow me to wax lyrical about a humble chicken

Her name is Collie, she is an Isa Brown and by some freak of nature is broody (i.e. she's willing to raise kids,.. many chickens have had that bred out of them)

Collie cost me 15 dollars 8 months ago.

In those months, she's laid 200 eggs and brought into the wolrd three chicks.

I've bought 15 dollars worth of food for her so far and 15 dollars worth of straw for her bedding. The reson I don't feed her much is because she eats kitchen scraps and forages for herself as well.. . We built a run for her out of extra onstruction materials from our house... so that cost nothing but time and irritation.

a dozen organic eggs her costs $8
rounding off, she's laid 16 dozen so while I've paid 45 dollars for her so far I've recieved 133 back in eggs. aded to that I got 3 organic chicken to eat. An organic chicken her cost $18! (I know... crazy!) an net profit of 97 dollars.. there aren't many things that you can invest in that more than double your investment in that short a time span.

plus there's the non-monitary benifits. Her bedding goes into my garden, I've had no catipillar problems in my garden, or trouble with grasshoppers and I get to eat delicious FRESH eggs....

Thats just the kind of example we need to promote homesteading!

Juniper138
February 21st, 2008, 04:05 AM
Homesteading seems to cost less the longer you do it. :smile:

Shanti
February 21st, 2008, 06:04 PM
Growing up, my parents always had a large veggie and fruit garden. My dad had a few apple trees too. My parents and grandparents used to make their own sauces, can fruit, make relishes, etc. They also used to sew the curtains and some clothes, reupholster the furniture themselves and crochet. Now it seems like it is actually more expensive to do some of these things as it is a "lost" art. I have been thinking of putting in my own vegetable garden this year though and it got my wondering if it is really cost effective or not. I will probably do it anyway, because you can't beat fresh veggies!

I was just curious to hear peoples views on the expense of homesteading.
For example even to just start gardening, you have the expense of a tiller, fertilizers, seeds, fencing, etc.
Then there is the cost of canning supplies or storage stuff.
How long do you feel it takes for the garden to begin to pay for itself and save money? Or do you just feel it is "healthier" to grow it yourself?

Same question for those of you who raise chickens, goats, cattle or whatever.

I have also noticed that crocheting is getting more expensive with the cost of yarn. And sewing well who can afford fabric anymore.

It just seems that there is an lot of expense involved to it all, or perhaps it is just the initial start up costs?
I guess I am wondering with some of these things do you do it to be self sufficient or do you feel it is cost saving in the long run?
Expense...not really.
First we do almost everything by hand, including tilling!
As for yarn, I get that from the animals. My spinning wheel is made from scrap PVC pipe and a plastic wheel chair wheel.
Fencing...pallets are easy to come by for free.
As for canning...I dont. I dry and freeze foods.
One big freezer for everything, meat, veggy, herbs.
Drying is free...hang the stuff in the garage ( not used for vehicle's)

As for the cost of raising the animals...our grocery bill dropped from 150 per week to 80 per week just in meat savings. That is more saving than the animals cost to raise. Plus the animals give free fertilizer. Their spent bedding is tomorrows free compost.....aka soil!

Do 99% of everything with your own 2 hands and you do save a lot.
1/2 our garden will be used for seed collecting, not harvesting. Seeds, free!
Seed collecting...storing seeds, a hand sewn cloth bag made from old cloths, reusable too! Collecting seeds, use fingers. :)
Leave fleshy fruits like tomatoes on the ground where you want them to grow. They need to rot for germination.
Seeds that need cold...the fridge and in that handmade cloth bag.

Golden rules:
By hand.
Be creative.
Recycle everything possible.

Our old frig is now a converted home for newly hatched baby chicks.
Old tire rim is for one of our camp fires.
Old jars with lids...make shake it up butter and storage for anything!
Old tires, feeder for hay for goats.
Old broom handles and such, plant supports in the garden.
My mate is making a chicken plucker out of scrap pvc and scrap rubber tie downs.
And pots for plants. I never buy any. Junk can always be found that can be converted to grow a plant.
Need to protect seedlings, cans from the kitchen. Soup cans, all cans. Just remove both top and bottom of can and place over seedling!
Those wall of water protectors some garden places sell, use plastic soda bottles instead. Tie them together to form a circle and fill with water!

Its amazing the junk that can be re-used!

banondraig
February 23rd, 2008, 10:44 AM
How do you make shake it up butter?

Bronach Druid
February 23rd, 2008, 11:44 PM
How do you make shake it up butter?

Maybe Shanti is talking about something different. But as a kid we used to put heavy cream and a dash of salt in a jar and shake it like crazy....it will make butter.

Shanti
February 24th, 2008, 12:57 AM
Maybe Shanti is talking about something different. But as a kid we used to put heavy cream and a dash of salt in a jar and shake it like crazy....it will make butter.:smile:

banondraig
February 24th, 2008, 12:24 PM
Maybe Shanti is talking about something different. But as a kid we used to put heavy cream and a dash of salt in a jar and shake it like crazy....it will make butter.

That's good stuff. :smile:

Cindlady2
February 25th, 2008, 03:37 AM
Yup.... did that too :)