Dear MOTHER: April/May 2010

Reader letters about the cost of starting a homestead, white roofs, low-tunnel greenhouses, Ruth Stout, and more.


| April/May 2010



handmade home

Rachael and John Schafer built their pretty home using timber harvested from their own land.


RACHAEL & JOHN SCHAFER

Last issue’s Firsthand Report, Off the Grid and Thriving!, prompted several readers to ask how much money it takes to go “back to the land” and start up a homestead. The answer, of course, depends on many variables, but there are several steps anyone can take to keep the upfront cash requirements, or mortgage payments, to a minimum. We’re working on an article for our August/September 2010 issue that will explore debt-free living and ways to “live on less,” and we invite those of you who have already established homesteads to post reports about steps you took to save money, as well as share advice for beginners on ways they can keep their building and start-up costs to a minimum.

Post your comments to Preparing to Go Back to the Land. We’ll send a free copy of Lloyd Kahn’s Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter to everyone whose reports we use in the August article.


How Much to Get Started?

What does it cost to start an off-the-grid, self-sustaining homesteading life? My husband and I are currently debt-free and we’re saving money to buy land and live such a life, but it seems that anything over 1 acre is out of our price range. We plan to run our own business (not much income expected for the first few years or so), and I would like to sell produce and eggs from the homestead — but the question remains, how much do we need to get started?

Lorna Rouleau
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Work Ethic Not Enough?

gordon sampson_1
4/28/2010 2:23:41 PM

It’s Been a While I began reading Mother Earth News in the 60’s but let my subscription run out in the 70’s when I enlisted in the US Navy. I love living in the country. I lived on 4 acres in the 80’s but work required me to relocate to Houston, TX in 1989. My wife and I are engineers working in the space program. Although we have a very nice home in suburbia, I still longed for the country. My wife and I recently purchased 10 acres in a rural part of East Texas that is 1 1/2 hours from our home. The property is absolutely beautiful with large trees, an all-season creek, a pond, springs, a large pasture and a single-wide. We have our own well and use propane for cooking and heating. The first time we walked the property it spoke to both of us and we knew this was “it.” We’re in the process of completely renovating the house from the ground up and spend our weekends working our tails off and loving every minute of it. For now, this is our weekend retreat but I hope to make it a retirement home in a few years, gardening, building furniture, raising some livestock, and enjoying the country life…again. Some day we hope to build an off-the-grid home and make the present home a guest house. While rummaging through the barn, I found two issues of Mother Earth News from 1986 and realized that it’s time I re-subscribe to your wonderful magazine. Thank you for producing a magazine that never seems to get old. This time, I’m a subscriber for life.


gordon sampson_2
4/28/2010 2:22:47 PM

It’s Been a While I began reading Mother Earth News in the 60’s but let my subscription run out in the 70’s when I enlisted in the US Navy. I love living in the country. I lived on 4 acres in the 80’s but work required me to relocate to Houston, TX in 1989. My wife and I are engineers working in the space program. Although we have a very nice home in suburbia, I still longed for the country. My wife and I recently purchased 10 acres in a rural part of East Texas that is 1 1/2 hours from our home. The property is absolutely beautiful with large trees, an all-season creek, a pond, springs, a large pasture and a single-wide. We have our own well and use propane for cooking and heating. The first time we walked the property it spoke to both of us and we knew this was “it.” We’re in the process of completely renovating the house from the ground up and spend our weekends working our tails off and loving every minute of it. For now, this is our weekend retreat but I hope to make it a retirement home in a few years, gardening, building furniture, raising some livestock, and enjoying the country life…again. Some day we hope to build an off-the-grid home and make the present home a guest house. While rummaging through the barn, I found two issues of Mother Earth News from 1986 and realized that it’s time I re-subscribe to your wonderful magazine. Thank you for producing a magazine that never seems to get old. This time, I’m a subscriber for life.


wendell freeman
3/21/2010 5:43:51 PM

read my first copy of MOTHER EARTH -in a doctor's waiting room !..was amazed by all the "old school" wisdom,as my family came from eastern kentucky,and many of the things being taught in these articles were still being used by my great-grandmother and her family..a big garden with my (still) favorite-string beans,canned with a bit of bacon -just t o flavor it,along with pickeled beans/corn/eggs..all those old tyme recepies..she lived in that holler-with her secound husband well into their -80's..my aunt,and her husband now take care of the family farm..with a anual gathering..it's a great way to expose the younger generations the mountain way of life,and the beauty of the mountains.. and mother earth news helps keep this lifestyle thriving,especially with the newer innovations sutch as off grid living,renewable resources,recycling, -keep up the great work!,and many thanks for all the great information..






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