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Go Back   BHM Forum > Homesteading > Homesteading > Your Homestead

Your Homestead Tell and show others with words and pictures how you built or are building your homestead and how you keep things going day-to-day. One thread per member, please.

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  #1  
Old 07-11-2012, 11:16 PM
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Default A Plentiful Farm

I'm a prep'er, so there will be prep'ing comments interspersed with homesteading, here. As a prep'er, I felt an urgent need to get out of the city. Though I've been in the city for 10 years, I have homesteading experience from a previous life (and marriage), so this wouldn't be new to me. And I've never stopped gardening, even when I lived in cities. I wanted for a homestead which would be our retreat should society break down, which meant as far from the city as I could commute and away from the major lines of drift - ie, the routes refugees and looters would take when fleeing the city. Fortunately, I work in the farthest-flung suburb of our city; its all country going out from there. I searched for a homestead within a 1hr commute of work. The realtors thought I was nuts for shunning homes on paved roads.

My initial plan was to live in a camper while we built an earth-bermed, solar heated home. But I soon realized that installing utilities and a driveway would use up all of our savings, and we would be building slowly, as we could afford it. We could be in that camper for quite a few years... I also realized that I would be building solo; with only a 10 year old and a wife with bad knees to help me.

So I started looking at existing homes. Besides my location requirements, I wanted a house which was oriented East-West, so the long side faced South to maximize Solar gain and to allow the addition of an attached greenhouse in the future (hint, you can tell from the pictures which side faces South by looking at the satellite dish).

I found our place 45 minutes from work, located between two major lines of drift and on a gravel road. I had driven by it during the winter and passed on it. We bid on another property, but that fell through. A closer look in the spring showed this one to be very workable. We believe the Lord had held it for us: It was a repo, and the bank had dropped their asking price since I first looked at it. The wiring had been stripped, driving off many buyers. And the gravel driveway had disappeared into the clay soil, causing many potential buyers to get stuck in the mud when they looked at the property. In the first attached image you can see the ruts where they got stuck in this satellite photo from google maps, LOL.

Someone already had an offer on the property, which further deflected other bids. My banker recognized it as a repo, and we submitted a low-ball bid. The other buyer's financing fell through and we were first in line. The bank took our offer. :-)

This was the spring of 2010. The house was less than five years old, based on date stamps on the lumber. It is a log home, and seems to have been built from a quality kit. And the guy who poured the foundation gets great reviews from all the neighbors. The builder owned neither a square nor a level, but the only thing he could screw up was the interior trim and hanging doors squarely.

The second image is another view of the roof from space showing the property line. It is 3 acres, with about one in woods. The remainder is a former meadow. (For some reason I rotated it to match the state-plane coordinates of the property lines, instead of leaving the true North of the photo)

We named it A Plentiful Farm so if anyone asks us where we live, where we came from or where we are going, we can answer "A Plentiful Farm"
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File Type: jpg 1072Satellite-2.jpg (19.2 KB, 304 views)
File Type: jpg 1072Satellite.jpg (16.9 KB, 262 views)
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  #2  
Old 07-12-2012, 01:47 AM
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I think you were very wise to start with a property that has a home on it, it's do-able to start from a camper, but would sure be a lot tougher. With a roof over your heads you can concentrate on the other outbuildings you'll need.
Amazing that it's only 5 years old too - you won't have to worry about upgrading electrical and plumbing.
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  #3  
Old 07-12-2012, 03:18 AM
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Glad you're posting about your homestead, S2! I always enjoy reading your posts, looking forward to seeing your homestead grow.
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  #4  
Old 07-12-2012, 09:59 AM
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Me too! I've wondered for a while what you were doing there. Looks like a FINE start!
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  #5  
Old 07-12-2012, 03:03 PM
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Thanks for the encouraging replies, folks.

DW was pretty disappointed at moving from mature woods to an open field. And the wind sure blows out here. In the woods, I just put a tarp over equipment and supplies to keep the rain off. When I repeated that out here, the wind shredded my tarp in less than a month. Ick.

Here comes the next installment...
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  #6  
Old 07-12-2012, 03:17 PM
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Default Fixing It Up

My wife and I have agreed to postpone upgrading the house until it is paid off. For example, we still have paper shades on most of the windows. But repairs are a different catagory than upgrades. Besides stripping the copper wiring, the previous owner (PO) had taken two bedroom doors, the appliances and several light fixtures. Craig's List supplied a new(ish) dishwasher. Light fixtures came from the discount rack at home depot. And curtains were hung in the bedroom doorways. The kitchen sink was the cheapest you can find, so I swapped it with a premium sink I had installed in our previous, rental home at my own expense. I also moved our water filter from the previous home.

Because of the marginal driveway, we could not get a moving van in right away with the soil all muddy from spring rains. I spent my weekends working on the wiring and moving small stuff on each trip. I was kind of glad I got to rewire it. Without going into details, the electrician had apparently been a friend of the lousy builder and had taken shortcuts. I was able to bring all of the wiring up to code and lay out the circuits the way I wished. It cost me less than $200 to replace the wiring, plus my labor.

The plumbing was plastic, so the PO did not steal that. And the bank had had the house winterized when they repo'd it. So the plumbing was in good shape. But the thieves had taken the copper tubing going to the heat pump. Since finances were tight, and we already had a stack of window air conditioners, we put off having the heat pump hooked up until the next year.

The house was all electric, which was unacceptable to my prep'er instincts. I wanted propane for cooking, solar for electricity, and wood for heat for if/when the power went out. I looked for a 1000-gallon propane tank but was left wanting. The standard tank seems to be 500 gallons. I finally found a dealer who had a customer selling a 600 gallon tank. Since you can only fill them 80% full due to propane expanding when it warms, that gives us a 500-gallon capacity. Now, several years later, we know 500 gallons will last 5 years for cooking purposes. Next I had to find a propane cook stove. Pickin's were mighty slim. Finally, I found a commercial stove for sale at a local school, and the price was right.

By commercial, I mean 60" wide, six burners, two ovens, a griddle and a broiler. This baby weighs in at 800 lbs! It was in a bus barn at the school. DS and I rented a truck and headed down. We stripped everthing off of it which we could. Weee! Now its down to 600 lbs. I also rented an organ dolly (wheels and handles at each end which are held to the organ, or stove in this case, by straps). The stove is on 8-inch legs which meant the dolly didn't work. We had to jack up the stove with a floor jack and remove the legs for the dolly to work. Using scraps of plywood we found in the barn, which had a dirt floor, we manuvered the stove to the truck's ramp. Surprisingly, we were able to push it up the ramp. Unfortunately, when the dolly transitioned from the ramp to the truck floor, the stove high-centered and would not move. Ugh. So close. No way to lift the stove over the hump. We ended up jacking up the ramp, placing blocks under it, putting the jack on blocks, rinse, repeat several times, until the ramp and the truck bed were parallel. Then the stove rolled into the truck. Phew. This took over two hours in a barn, in 100* heat, with no breeze. Double ugh.

Unloading was much easier. When I backed up to the front porch I providently knocked the steps off (backing uphill in mud, step bumper, trailer hitch, can't see in mirror, etc.). That gave me room to back all the way up to the porch, extend the ramp right into the great room and roll the stove in. Piece of cake. We left the stove on blocks in the middle of the great room. The great room was starting to get pretty cluttered.

Last edited by S2man; 07-12-2012 at 03:25 PM.
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  #7  
Old 07-12-2012, 03:48 PM
Aristos Aristos is offline
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Quote:
"I found our place 45 minutes from work, located between two major lines of drift and on a gravel road. "
S2 - I have a question. What did you mean by 'two major lines of drift' in this statement? I also live in Missouri - east central area. I have never heard the term "lines of drift" before.
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  #8  
Old 07-12-2012, 04:29 PM
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Hi Aristos,

I defined that in the first paragraph; "major lines of drift - ie, the routes refugees and looters would take when fleeing the city".

I think that term comes from James Rawles, prep'ing author and owner of survivalblog.com. Also, refugees are sometimes referred to as drifters.

I can't afford to move to Montana, so the best I could do was try to be away from the paths the "hoards" will follow when fleeing the cities.

I expect half of Missouri's population to flee to The Lake if society breaks down in the cities. I don't know why, though, unless they have already prepared a retreat down there. Did you know that on any summer weekend the population at the Lake is supposed to greater than KC or St L? Phew! It will be just as bad down there as in the cities.
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  #9  
Old 07-15-2012, 02:56 PM
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Default Moving In

Attached is a shot of the front of our house-in-the-middle-of-a-meadow, from the NorthEast. This would have been in the Spring, one year after purchase, as I see some roses by the front door and a chimney. This is what you can currently get around here for ~$50k: A newish, repo'd 48x24' ranch house with walk-out basement on three acres (minimum for a septic system around here). No fencing, barns or garage. Of course, we paid less due to the previously mentioned blights.

Once the ground dried out in the summer, we had three loads of big gravel brought in as a base for a solid, 200yd driveway. Once that was in place, we rented several moving vans and spent about a month moving. Though paying a mortgage payment and rent at the same time stinks, it is nice to be able to take your time moving. We completed the move in in July, 2010.

The stove was still on blocks in the middle of the kitchen. Cooking with a hot plate and microwave, and walking around the huge stove in the middle of the floor, made installation of the stove became a priority. Of course, there is not room for a 60" stove in a modern house. Our cabinets were arranged for, from left to right, fridge, small counter, then stove. I swapped cabinets around so it went: counter, stove, The first pic shows how this turned out. the outlet for the fridge was moved up, above the counter. The fridge was relocated over to the other side of the kitchen, in the dining area. Water was run from the filter under the sink, to the fridge for making ice/drinking water.

Once again I jacked up the stove and reinstalled the legs. I took all of the removeable bits outside and blasted them with industrial grease remover (Think of what would build up during 20 years in a school kitchen ). I looked all over for a pallet jack to rent to move the stove into its final resting place, but alas, none was to be found. I found wheeled legs for the stove available but learned that, as the parts guys said, parts for a commercial stove cost "one million dollars a piece". Finally, I jacked it up again, put Murpy's under the legs and on the floor a path in front of the feet. Amazingly, DW and I were able to slide 650lbs of stove across the wooden floor and right into place. A week later, we tried to move just a bit for asthetic reasons. No way. It is there until we have an earthquake, the floor collapses, or I can find a pallet jack to rent.

The propane dude calculated the pipe size I would need for the stove and a possible water heater and space heater. I ran black pipe in the house to the stove and had the seller of propane and propane accessories run a line from the tank to my plumbing. Everything tested out fine, and we were cookin', literally.

This chronicle will move faster, I promise. But so much happens during the move to a new homestead, its taking several posts to document it.

If anyone wants links to larger pic's, let me know.
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File Type: jpg Stove.jpg (24.1 KB, 241 views)

Last edited by S2man; 07-15-2012 at 03:04 PM. Reason: spelling
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  #10  
Old 07-15-2012, 03:35 PM
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I LOVE that stove!!! Been trying to catch a deal on something like that for years. Commercial/industrial appliances definitely make sense in a homestead kitchen.
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Old 07-15-2012, 08:29 PM
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I'd take out cupboards to have a stove like that! What a dream to can on.
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Old 07-16-2012, 12:03 AM
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I will chime in and say, now THAT'S a stove! I've enjoyed reading this thread S2man, it sounds like you're doing everything right!
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Old 07-16-2012, 02:22 AM
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I like the straight lines of the roof on the house. No valleys for snow/ice to build up on.
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Old 07-16-2012, 01:03 PM
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Default Chicken Run

I've had a request to see our chicken setup, so here it is.

The coop is ~8'x8'. I'll detail that in this thread when I get to it.

The fence is Premier 1, 42" electromesh. This comes with an attached post every 12'. I've put additional posts between them to help eliminate sag. Some folks pull the fence real tight and just add a post at each corner for support. But I don't like to stress it like that. Premier1 also offers a new version with posts every 6.8'.
http://www.premier1supplies.com/deta...4022&cat_id=53

The sag in the first panel is intentional. That is where we step over it for access. When we leave, we hook it back up on that post. I'm energizing it with a ParMak solar energizer.

I saw the fence scare off the neighbor's dog, and we have had no issues with predators. I close the coop door at night because I've heard owls will walk into a coop, and I have seen some big owls in my yard. We have not had any problem with hawks, though a neighbor raising bantams does.

I have it set up as a 24x58' enclosure here because of space constraints. I set i up as a circle in the orchard, which encloses more area.

Our pasture is better up in the orchard, but we moved them down here by the woods, last week, so they get some afternoon shade. You can see a couple of bare patches in the grass on this side of the coop. that is the last two places it sat. I move it when the grass inside the coop wears thin and the poops build up. Very easy; only takes a few minutes.

Since I don't like thumbnails, here is a larger version of the pic:
http://themillers.us/images/ChickenRun2.jpg
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Old 07-16-2012, 01:41 PM
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Thanks for the encouragement, Folks. And I'm glad you like our stove.
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Old 07-16-2012, 01:54 PM
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You don't have a problem with the chickens flying over the mesh fence?
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Old 07-16-2012, 03:07 PM
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No problem so far. I clipped one wing on our four chickens when I moved them out there, and I noticed one wing had been clipped on the additional 11 we bought. I hope by the time that wing grows back they wont' know they can fly over it. And they've got plenty of space on fresh pasture, so not much incentive escape.

My friend has just as many chickens in an ~16x16' pen, with a fence which looks shorter than mine, and her's have not flown out either.

Someday, when I get our property fenced, I'll let your chickens free range. But the neighbor's dog is an issue right now...
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Old 07-16-2012, 04:46 PM
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In my experience younger birds are more likely to fly out than older one are. I've had to clip a few wings to keep them from flying over my 6' fence, but usually by the time the feathers grow back they aren't a problem.

I can relate to your neighbor problem dog. Had a similar issue here, spoke with the owner multiple times but she refused to take steps to restrain her dog. Every time she'd let it loose it'd make a beeline to my backyard. Long story short, it ended poorly for the dog, all because its owner wouldn't invest in a $10 chain. The issue I had was that the dog was traveling over a quarter mile to come kill my chickens, so it wasn't like my birds were right across the fence from the dog. Once they get a taste for chasing animals they're tough to break of it.
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Old 07-16-2012, 04:48 PM
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OMG
For that stove I would have torn down the bus barn.

What a beauty!!

Now you'll have to expand the kitchen,LOL

You done did good.

Txanne
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Old 07-16-2012, 06:01 PM
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The neighbor's dog is a sweetie. She come's over to say hi when she is patrolling, and to play with our daughter. But she is a hunter; she digs up voles and moles in the field. And she drags home carcasses from the woods.

She learned to respect our dogs and rabbits, but we thought free range chickens would probably be too much of a temptation. So we've been proactive with the electric fencing.

Come to think of it, she hasn't been by to visit since the fence bit her. LOL
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