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Home Forums General Discussion The Riverrat is in.

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    Hello everyone, I figured that I’d go ahead and introduce myself since I prowl here from time to time and give you an idea about myself and my family and our long term plans and what we are doing to work toward those goals.

    I’ve been dreaming of self sufficient homesteading as a way of like for many years. It often times consumes me. But don’t let the way I put that make you think steps aren’t being taken in that direction. My goal you may ask? First and foremost is to get my homestead up and operational. That may take years at the current rate of progress. I inherited my child hood home and 20+ acres of prime farmland in Guntersville Alabama. The house was a train wreck after many years of not being lived in and maintained, the farmland is in terrific condition (except tornado damage clean up being needed), and we already have a well on site.

    I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters (ages 3 and 1) and a beautiful hard working wife that is 100% on board with all of this (some of you may have seen MissJessy lurking around), as we always say to people, “we’re all in, and in it for the long haul.”.

    That’s a good start. Over the past year or so, we’ve been slowly but surely getting that old farm house remodeled and reasonably livable. I mean it’s livable now, but I don’t prefer to live in a place as I work on remodeling it. Once you get all your stuff in a place it greatly complicates working on it.

    At this moment in time, we are to the point of needing to get the plumbing redone,countertops installed on the new cabinets, tile down in the kitchen, utility room, and bathrooms, then get the trim all installed. Once we get that done, we will be moving in, and me and the wife will complete our room and bathroom while we live there.

    Long term plans are to build a chicken coop big enough to house and care for around 20 laying hens and a roo (allowing around half of my hens per year to raise a brood of chics to keep our chicken supply up), have that centered in between two half acre garden plots and rotate the plots where the chickens will range yearly so there is always fresh ground for the chickens to graze and fertilize while the other side grows a garden (garden/chicken rotation). We also plan to utilize guinea hens in the gardens for pest control in conjunction with companion planting methods. Build a Methane Digester to create our own natural gas, build a large greenhouse splitting up half of it with a tilapia pond and the other half aquaponic garden, get my pastures setup into 5 plots to rotate my goats a couple pigs and a couple dexter cattle on every few months.

    Long long term plans are collecting up my solar power system items over time including around 2200w of solar generation, a solar well pump, cistern storage for dry months, solar hot water heating, rainwater collection, a couple of small DIY wind generators to top things off during iffy weather and see how that all holds me up and adjust fire from there until we are capable of going completely off grid.

    I know that sounds like a lot of stuff, and it kind of is. But the systems are proven systems, typically inexpensive if built yourself, and easily sustainable and productive. This is a long tern solution as we are a single income houshold of 4 (now 5 as we’re fostering a teen.). Money is a massive hold back, but no matter how poor we may seem it only makes sense to invest as much time and money toward my goals as I possibly can. It makes no sense to have goals if we aren’t reaching towards them.

    If you have any questions, or wanna pick my brain, or learn anything about anything I mentioned, it’s all easily researchable online, some of it may even be here on this site as this has been a site I have frequented for a couple of years.

    Those of you thinking about self sufficient homesteading with goals toward going off grid completely really should study intensively on DIY solar hot water heating, DIY Methan Digesters, aquaponic gardening and aqua culture, DIY greenhouses, Rotational gardening using chickens on the plot during the off year, also looking into rabbit husbandry (did you know that on average 4 healthy breeder females and a single buck will provide a family with 2 fryer rabbits per week year round?), did you know that 2 Nigerian Dwarf Dairy goats can provide you with as much milk as a typical dairy cow and cost a lot less to upkeep and requires MUCh less land?

    The DIY aquaponics systems, the chicken coops, and the solar water heating are easily affordable and inexpensive projects that almost anyone can create, also consider container gardening if you have a small propery, Rabbits are cheap to get started on and are prolific producers that can greatly reduce your dependancy on the grocery store, aquaponics systems done correctly are typically high yielders of produce and veggies and can take up very small spaces, and we all know that you can keep a dozen laying hens in a small backyard.

    This has become a giant wall of text lol.


    I’ll just copy and paste that into my text reader because I’m lazy. Well, just glancing over your post I see you have some great dreams there that we all share. I am no where near self sufficient. As a matter of fact my gardening attempt failed completely this summer so far, heat, drought and insects killed it. I did manage to get a few messes of greens out of it. Anyway I learned a lot getting the garden boxes setup and planting, and watching everything come up.

    From what I see so far in all this what is needed is A. Money, B. Time C. Free or Cheap and strong labor D. Readily available materials. Some combination of that anyway. You have already stated your lack of money, my problem as well. So you need to focus on Time, Labor and Materials. Design your projects based on what you have on the property or nearby. Your career will dictate how much Time you have, and to have free or cheap labor you will need lots of time.

    Understanding this will bring the scale and scope of your projects into clear view. An metaphor for project management I once heard goes like this.

    You are in charge of a water filtration plant on a space station. Your control panel has 4 dials. Each read Quality, Quantity, Resources and Time. You can not usually adjust one setting without affecting the others in some way. If you increase quality you must also increase either resources or time or you must decrease quantity. If you increase quantity then quality may automatically go down, unless you also increase resource or time or each.

    Increasing resources in this metaphor would be adding extra filters. Get the

    picture? All types of projects require managing those 4 elements.

    One thing I have learned in my project management is to keep things simple at first. Even if they are not the most efficient way to do things.

    If you have not read my articles you might want to.


    Well luckily the time I currently have I use doing extensive research, studying plans, and reading about what has worked and what has not. That way I can filter through the crap.

    For about 8 years before I joined the military I was a construction worker specializing in framing and roofing, but I also dipped into hardwood floors, trim work, and masonry. So those skils and the knowledge to do it right the first time will come in handy no doubt and take the fear out of diving into projects.

    At this point I have already laid out or chosen plans for almost everything I intend to build, there is a house down the road from my farm that needs torn down and I have permission to tear it down and remove all the usable items I can salvage for use in my projects (never hesitate if you see a structure not being used to contact the property owner and offer to remove the structure completely in return for keeping the usable materials) You’d be surprised how much free materials you can get salvaging it from a no longer used structure.

    I also invest a small portion of my money into books that relate directly to my dreams, Like I’ve never raised goats so I might wanna find a good book that’ll be on hand knowledge when I need it in relation to that, etc.

    I’m no garbage digger, but if I see an old hot water heater outside someones home, I kindly stop by and ask them if they’d like me to remove it. Those tanks inside those things can be handy for many projects, I see piles of wood laying on the side of the road, I kindly stop and ask if it’s ok for me to remove it for them, I keep an eye on craigslist for cheap or free materials such as pallets, barrels, metal, fencing, etc.

    Yeah, I’m short on money for sure, but that’s of no big concern. Being resourceful will allow me to get the maximum completed with minimal investment. My biggest issue is time. The beauty of this project is, there will be a point as long as I keep digging for it that time will become less and less of a concern. I will start being more and more self sufficient in turn requiring me less and less time invested in a job to support my family and put toward buying the things I need, I can move to part time and greatly increase my time investment into seeking my dream until it’s all stood up and running efficiently. I may then be able to go back full time and go hard into investing a lot of money into Solar power and finishing up th eoff-grid part of the dream.

    Since you were kind enough to read my wall of text and reply to it I will certainly be reading your articles. There is something to learn from everyone and knowledge and focus is key to reaching your goals


    Hi, Riverrat! I see you have the same Vogelsang wood stove that I have. You are ahead with having trades knowledge. I also used a lot of scrap with my off grid home project. It certainly helped that I was the framing foreman. I always replaced the 1×4 they sent me for catwalks with 2x4s and took the 1×4 home seeing it couldn’t be returned. Scraps of other lumber became blocks and concrete forms. Bottom plate door cutouts became redwood railing material. Leftover rebar was used to reinforce my rammed earth tire walls. I did 30 different trades to make it so only the materials I bought, the well, some special tools, and the land were in the low mortgage, which was paid off in a reasonably short time. That low mortgage and no power bills really were a Godsend. Sweat equity, and using indigenous and recycled materials, is the way to go. Good luck!

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