Slow Steps Toward a Self-Sufficient Homestead

The author describes the gradual progress he, his wife, and son were making towards establishing a self-sufficient homestead in central California in the late 1970s.


| July/August 1980


It's been three years since my wife Carolyn and I decided to start taking steps that would—we hoped and still hope—take us away from our urban life and nine-to-five jobs to, eventually, a self-sufficient homestead.

Well, we haven't completed that journey yet. We're moving in the right direction, though ... and learning as we go. We finally have our own house, for one thing. The dwelling is kind of old—and not very large—but it suits us just fine.

The second big step in our move toward self-reliance was taken when I quit my computer programming job (the results of that decision have been little short of amazing ... I don't even shake anymore!) and settled down—with my wife's help—to the task of making our part-time ceramics enterprise into a full-fledged home business!

As you can imagine, we don't pull down any big bucks selling our handicrafts. Our house payments are small, however ... we raise much of our own food, although we have only about 1/3 acre ... and we still live close enough to town (Porterville, California) to walk to the store when we have to.

A Backyard Barnyard

One of the ways we've kept our food costs down—and even brought in a little spending money on the side—has been by keeping animals. We have two nanny goats (one of which is a registered Nubian, but she's managed to produce only one doe—and four bucks—in two breeding seasons) which supply us with a good bit of milk.

We also raised two pigs last year. The little critters cost us $15 apiece in the spring and—after a summer of fattening them up—we were able to sell one for $92.25 and have the other butchered for our freezer. (We had a delicious 14-pound home-smoked ham for Thanksgiving dinner, and haven't had to buy any bacon or sausage for quite some time now!)





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