September 6, 2010

Does anyone know the cost.....

....of living more pioneer-like?

For instance, how much does it cost a year to raise enough chickens to provide eggs and meat for your family?

How much does it cost to plant, harvest and preserve enough food for your family through the winter?

How about a milk cow?  Beef cow?

My husband and I have been discussing what it would cost to "homestead" or live more simply.  Where can we find more information on the start-up costs and the yearly maintenance costs?

I know you can do things like make and use your own candles, laundry soap, shampoo, etc.  Make all your food from scratch, sew, quilt, raise bees.  But how much does it cost yearly to keep those things going?

And how much room does a family of 6 really need in a house?  We have 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 baths, the biggest military house we've had yet!  Do we really need that much room though?  I think we could go smaller IF we lived on a bit of land so we could get outside.

Can anyone point me in the right direction?  How do I find this information out?


  1. I'm gonna go cry now, I just wrote a long response and it all got lost!

    Short of the long: Chicken's are fabulous and save money. Lots of people I know have them including my friend with 9 kids. I have to be smarter about my use of eggs and can only use as many as I have... so, not only am I saving per dozen eggs (it costs me about $15 a month to feed my chickens... and EVERY bird in my city, and they only cost me $4 to start... otherwise it was costing me $3-4 per dozen of the free range variety, and with mine I also get the peace of mind that they're happy and getting exercise!), but I don't get to just run out and buy extra just cause. is fun to peruse, and you can get large shipments of chickens from there for cheap.

    As for homes, ours is a 3 bedroom 2 bath and we're a family of 6 and counting (with mixed genders). I find this to be wonderful! We actually have discussed how we could feasibly have 8 kids here with 2 sets of bunk beds in each room. I recently reconfigured bedrooms and have 1 set of bunk beds in one room plus 1 additional beds (and baby gets his own room :-D), but I really like the room with 3 beds way more! It's actually nice and cozy! We all usually congregate in the living room anyway... so that plus a kitchen that's large enough to put everyone around the table leaves me being a happy momma! So, with all of your kids being the same gender I would say you could definitely do a 2 bedroom, 2 bath (possibly 1 bath, but my husband requires a kiddie free bathroom so 2 is always my default)!

    I think your questions are fabulous! I think about these things all the time, but don't always consider the monetary repercussions in concrete terms. I just tell Nathan that we should run off and go build my dream farm... then he reminds me that we need money first, kill joy! ;-). Anyway, I think my biggest thought is about water sources/costs. I think we'll be retiring to the pacific northwest, so rainfall will hopefully take that burden off to a certain degree, but that's definitely a concern. If we do cows they'll be out in the pastures eating grass, so that should take care of them. We'd also look into getting calves on "loan" to keep them producing milk and to take the pressure off of daily milking. We also have looked at Alpaca's quite a bit (we visited two farms while we lived there in TX, loved that!), and they have the potential of generating funds. We'd also like to get Great Pyrenees puppies to raise with our animals to keep them safe. Oh, and don't forget the horses that we'll ride as we check fences on the property every morning!
    I think homesteaders are able to enjoy and sustain themselves best, as opposed to falling into a money pit, by having some aspect of their farm be self sustaining in some way. So, whether you're trading with neighbors or raising animals, products, or something's hair to sell, there is enough coming in to take care of needs then going out.
    I've thought that our retirement money would be put into our farm and then whatever income comes from subsequent employment would handle other needs. Or, you could be independently wealthy... otherwise I tell Nathan that he just needs to make General so won't have to worry about the money! *laugh*

    I hope you find some concrete answers (or semi-concrete as I know pricing will fluctuate depending on acreage, geographical location, homestead sizing, proximity to resources, desired crops/animals), and then I hope you'll update us!

  2. We have 2 bunk beds in one room which works wonderfully. Then a play room and a separate school room. We could probably do without those. Maybe!

    I did find that they are breeding "miniature" dairy and beef cows. The dairy cows produce around 1 1/2 gallons a day. And both kinds eat a bit less since they're smaller. Very interesting!!!!!

  3. The first thing is to find good land that: 1) You can pay off quickly, 2) Has good soil and 3) Has water. After you have the land you can add the house, the animals and the crops.

    So the question is how much land do you need? This will be your biggest expense. Then you move onto the house....

    So we've got the land. We just need to start the house. It's going to be much smaller than we ever planned on now that we know we really don't need a lot of space!

    Oh, and we sold our house and so we have to move into a 2 bedroom rental for a year while our house is being built. Good thing I've gotten ridden of so much stuff. I have more to get rid of now though still! Grrr.

    Oh again, very nice thoughts Cheri. Thanks. : )

  4. I'm thinking we'd need no more than 3 acres. I grew up on 5 acres and we just didn't use it much. About an acre for the house, garden and some berry bushes/fruit trees. And each cow needs about 1 acre of land. So if I had 2 milk cows, or one beef and one milk, they'd need that other 2 acres for grazing. And I'm guessing the chickens could just go where they want!

    What an exciting experiment to live in a 2-bedroom house! Please keep us updated. And I'm interested in how much it costs to build a house. We're trying to figure out how much we need to save for that too.

    I don't think we'll ever get into growing "crops" like enough wheat or oats for the year. That seems to take a lot of land and equipment that I don't want to deal with. I'm looking mainly to provide the produce we need for a year at at time and our own meat, eggs and milk. Maybe honey too.

    So much to learn!!!!!!

  5. Me and my husband have been thinking and discussing all the same things as you. We started with chickens about 6 weeks ago for eggs. Because of the time of year and their ages probably won't start getting eggs till next Spring. We have 7 chickens and it only costs us about 10 a month in feed. The coop was built with all repurposed items and ended up costing about 35. Gardening is not a real option for us, we live in the middle of a forest. Not enough sun. The strawberries did okay. This year we planted blueberry bushes will have to see what they do for next year. We have discussed aquaponics (alternative method for growing veggies and fish to eat), solar paneling, and ducks for the new year. Last year we turned off the electric heat and tried to heat the house only with our two wood stoves which is exactly what we will do again this coming Winter. Already live in a small house on one acre in a small community. Each year we plan on adding another item/thought of self sufficieny to our lifestyle. Looking forward to hearing about your thoughts and what you end up implementing.