Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
In part 1 of this story, I explained the first part of our journey of starting an off grid homestead from scratch. The first part included how Jesse and I came to the realization that we were unhappy with our busy city lives, our work, and that we ultimately wanted to buy land and start an off grid homestead. Here is where the story resumes.
After a year of searching, we found the perfect piece of property that made our hearts sing. It was $45,000 for 5 acres, it had a great building site already laid out, the owner was willing to carry the contract with $5,000 down which worked well for us, it met all of our criteria (including having a south-facing view for solar and the ability to receive a strong wifi signal), and it looked like we would be able to close on the property within days of the date we had to be out of our rental!
Putting Things Into Motion
We knew that to make the transition work we were going to have to reduce our standard of living even further, start small, and get in the mindset that we would be doing some extended camping for a few months. While we could rent an apartment while developing our land, we were tired of being renters and knew that we would never see that money again. We decided that the best route to take would be to buy a small 19’ travel trailer to live in while we got settled and developed the property.
Making the Move to Our Property
We arrived on our property the first week of September 2015. We have been living in a travel trailer where we limit ourselves to about 5 gallons of water each day, we run our generator for an hour every night for our power needs, we dump the septic once a week or so, we assembled a carport for our trailer to protect it from the weather, and couldn’t be happier! We could try to build a permanent home quickly, but we want time to get to know our land, source our materials wisely rather than running down to Home Depot. One of the reasons we moved up here was simply to find a slower pace of life so we didn’t want to burn the midnight oil like we were in Oregon to make the transition happen!
The reason we are able to slow down and have the time to build our homestead is because we’ve worked hard to reduce our overhead so that our financial needs are few. While we have had to make many sacrifices such as having internet at our home, shopping for new clothes and selling our brand new car, at the end of the day if our basic needs are met we are happy. So long as we have a roof over our head, a warm place to sleep, healthy food to eat and some fresh water, life really is okay and enjoyable.
Timeline of Events and Building
In the next 3-12 months we have a lot of worked lined up for the property. Our first project will entail building an off-grid wood-heated hot tub. We are working on getting our septic system installed so that hopefully we can park our trailer for good. We are working on cutting down our first trees so that we can soon begin construction on a timber frame barn. Our barn will protect our trailer better, provide some storage place, allow us to warm up an area with a wood stove, and we will build an apartment in the loft so that we can transition out of our trailer as quickly as possible. We have a long way to go, but here is what we've accomplished during month one.
In the next 3-5 years we hope to begin construction on our home after we have some time and skills under our belt. We also want to practice homesteading long before our home is finished, so somewhere in the near future we will be starting our garden, begin raising chickens, decide on some livestock to raise, and just enjoy all that the property and this portion of Idaho has to offer.
No Goal is Too Lofty
I think that I would like to end this blog post with the idea that no goal is too lofty! Before we embarked on this journey, the goal we had in mind was overwhelming and we had no idea if we’d be living on bare land within a reasonable amount of time. We have found that we tend to accomplish goals quickly when we understand fully what we’re trying to accomplish.
On this journey, we have also found that there are many ways to skin a cat and there are a lot of opportunities to transition to a different lifestyle. We had many opportunities come our way but we were able to gauge each one by asking ourselves “In theory, will this help us get closer to our goals or further away from our goals?” Sometimes, spending money ironically helped us get closer to our goals rather than hoarding every penny. Other times, we had to take opportunities that would allow us to save up some money but they weren’t the sexiest of all opportunities, such as rehabbing an old house for 9 months in exchange for rent.
In the end (or is it really just the beginning?) we are so happy that we’ve made all the sacrifices we have made over the past past two years to get to the point where we can own and simply be living on our land, even if in a travel trailer. We couldn’t be more excited to put our energy into becoming truly self-sufficient, growing our own food, having our own power, having our own water, and building our home from scratch. Every day has its own challenges but we are learning more practical skills than ever and every day we feel one step closer to being self-sustainable.
Helping Others to Make the Transition
In addition to developing our land and becoming self-sufficient, a secondary goal we have is to document our complete journey from start to finish. We believe there are many folks out there that are eager to buy land and start a homestead but they don’t know where to start or feel that the goal is either too lofty, too frightening or that they don't have enough money. We want to show people what the lifestyle looks like, what the financial ramifications look like and encourage others to find ways to reach their dreams.
We look forward to sharing the rest of our journey on both our homesteading blog and on Mother Earth News. Feel free to get involved in the conversation to let us know what the transition to homesteading looked like for you, or what your biggest roadblocks are to achieving the homesteading lifestyle if it's what you desire.
Alyssa Craft moved to Idaho after purchasing 5 acres of land where she will build a homestead from scratch. In the meantime, she lives in a 19-foot travel trailer while beginning construction on a timber-frame home. Follow her many DIY projects, including building a barn and a house, an off-grid hot tub and starting an organic garden. Find Alyssa on her blog, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
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