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Youth or Money

The Amish and Mennonite communities universally succeed at this homesteading thing, while 99% of English (non-Amish/Mennonites) will fail, most within a few years. The Amish and Mennonites have some obvious advantages—they have been doing this from birth—and some not so obvious (to modern English) advantages.

Their first advantage is that they grow into functioning adults at least a decade before their English counterparts. At 14 years of age, the men begin an apprenticeship in a skilled viable trade and are expected to act like a man. The women begin their own apprenticeship with their mothers in how to run a functioning home in which three meals must be on the table for 10 to 15 children, all without the convenience of turning a dial or flipping a switch. By 20, they are pairing up and marrying and gearing up to stock a productive homestead. They need land and shelter and a barn. They need teams of workhorses, a couple of buggy horses, buggies, wagons, plows, cultivators, and tools.

And they find a way to get them.

By age 30 they have a half dozen kids, a business, and a productive homestead. By age 50 they are starting to plan the hand-off to the next generation of homesteaders. By contrast, the average 30-year-old American has no money, no land, no family, no capital equipment, and no tools. But he/she does have a degree in psychology. The average 50-year-old is not much better off.

But some people might have been provident and they might have saved some money. These people might be able to take a shot at making a living on a homestead. People who have no money cannot homestead. They can call a shipping container and a rocket stove a homestead if they want to—I am not judging—but for our purposes that lifestyle is not what we are after. Real homesteaders are not interested in going off-grid and living under a bridge. We are after the comfort and security that comes with this lifestyle—and we are willing to accept the heat and the flies and the work and the manure to have it.

And it takes money. It takes money, and it takes a willingness to give up conveniences that come with a monthly bill, at least in the beginning. After you have built the operation into a profitable enterprise you might be able to allow those conveniences and bills back into your life—but not at the beginning. Unless you are rich. Then you can do as you please and call it anything you want.

A little over $230,000 cash (no debt) or so will get a real homestead up and off the ground with 40 acres, a reasonable home (nothing fancy!), a good barn with paddocks and fencing, a team of workhorses or a 50 horsepower tractor, a workshop with all of the necessary tools, and most importantly, a water well and pump. $230,0000 is chump-change compared to buying a home in a nice suburban neighborhood. $200,000+ cash is what it takes if you are going to start homesteading at age 30. At age 40, it will take a great deal more money (I am speaking of couples with children. Childless "homesteaders" can homestead anywhere and anyway they wish).

Here is how I arrived at the above:

A productive family homestead needs a woodlot of five to ten acres to supply all of the firewood the family will need for heat, cooking, and domestic hot water. If the woodlot is only five acres, it will likely be gone in 20 years. Ten acres is better.

A productive family homestead needs livestock and must grow their feed—hay and field corn. Two milk cows and two workhorses, a few hogs, a dozen sheep, 100 to 300 meat chickens, and 25 layers (it all depends on how many kids you have) will need 25 acres of pasture and hay ground (15 pasture, 10 hay ground) and three to five acres of field corn, and a half-acre of garden for the table. If you do not have the ground you will have to buy feed. Of course, if you do not have the ground, what the heck do you need livestock for? Buy fossil fuels for heat, cooking, and domestic hot water, buy your meat at the grocery store—or go vegan—and put up a big garden around your suburban home. "Urban homesteader" sounds cooler than "gardener." But that is not the life I am talking about.

40 acres in the countryside east of the Mississippi will run you about $3,000 per acre—$120,000. A small, DIY house will run $50,000 (no fancy appliances, no HVAC system. A woodstove, and that's it). $30,000 on the barn and fencing. $30,000 for a team of workhorses, their tack, and all of the equipment, implements, and tools you will need to work the land.

This is what it takes to get out of debt and have the homestead provide most (but not all!) of what the family consumes, thereby cutting the monthly bills down to an extremely manageable number so that the family can get ahead. And you will still need an income!!! (For more on the reasoning regarding the socio-economic strategy of real homesteading, you are going to have to invest $17 and buy a copy of "Prosperous Homesteading" at Amazon.)

Or you can start at age 20 with absolutely nothing and work your tail off, and by age 30 you will have at least $230,000 in homesteading assets. As I have said a couple million times: If you are older, you are going to have to make up for the time you lost with cash.


This is a horsedrawn, round bale mover. We cut, ted, and rake the hay and hire someone to bale it for $10 each. Note the steel wheels on the mover and rubber tires on the forecart. I hate rubber tires. Steel never goes flat.

This is a horse-drawn cultivator covering up field potatoes. A good team and the right equipment turns back-breaking labor into some old-fashioned fun.

A buggy horse or an "all around horse" come in handy for small moving jobs.

Self-sufficiency means horse-drawn snow plows.

Kerosene lamps put out pleasant light and welcome heat. We only use them in winter. In summer, we are in bed by twilight and up at first light.

My best selling book, "Prosperous Homesteading," is available on Amazon.

My latest novel, Seven Years of Famine, will rock your world. You can get it Amazon, and if you are a Prime member you can read it for free if you have a Kindle or the Kindle app (Amazon Prime members get one free Kindle Unlimited book per month).

#homesteading, #debt free living, #self sufficiency, #homestead finances.


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