Homesteading – Daydreams and Plans

someday - bees?

I came across my old homesteading notes. I started to make plans quite a while ago, and we seemed to have pulled together some idea of our expectations and goals. Now that we are here, I can see how these detailed notes helped shape our decision to move to this porperty.

I was looking for a “small farm, 2-15 acres to start.” We are on about three acres. We were also looking for a “4-5 room house, with a woodburning cook/heat stove.” The house is just about that size, and the stove is on its way.

My livestock ambitions were higher in days past: “2-4 dairy goats for milk and kids; 12-24 chickens for eggs, 20-25 for meat; 2-4 ewes for wool and lambs; 2-4 turkeys for meat; 1-2 horses for field work and transportation; 1-2 herding dogs & terrier for rodents.” I’m thinking now two dairy goats, two ewes and maybe a dozen laying hens. We have one dog. My experience with sheep is that first you have three, then you have seven, then you have fifteen, and you know the mathematical progression from there if none is sold or slaughtered.

While my garden list is reasonable: potatoes, onions, carrots, parsnips, beets, turnips, tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, cabbage, garlic, lettuce, spinach, kale, squash and about 18 other entries, my herb list is about 75 items long and is not exhaustive. If I were to grow all the herbs I would want, I would need a separate storage room just for the dried product.

Our primary goal listed is “self-sufficiency.” We can then worry less about finances. We can earn less, and get by on a fixed income. It gives us a smaller footprint on the earth in terms of energy consumption and waste produced, as complete recycling is one of our goals. We look to be as close to zero waste as we can be, which is impossible in terms of using fossil fuels. We can’t do much about vehicle emissions except stop driving altogether, which would be a foolhardy decision for us. Because of my husband’s health, I need to be able to get to doctors or emergency rooms quickly, so the vehicle and the telephone simply will have to stay. I know the Old Order  Amish manage without them even when someone is in fragile health, but we are not in Lancaster County. We are not part of a neighborhood where we have community telephone access or hired drivers.

Looking at the equipment wish list, I know there are just a few things on it that I really will need: More canning jars, a pressure canner, a Foley food mill, seed-starting materials. The grain mill and a meat grinder would be nice, as would a water purifier for emergencies. And I can just keep dreaming about that marble pastry board.


12 thoughts on “Homesteading – Daydreams and Plans

  1. If you have family in the Toronto area (or other large town) have them check out Kitchen Stuff Plus. I got a marble board there for a reasonable price. Lehman’s have the only pressure canners that I have found (pressure cookers don’t work for canning). I’d love a grain mill too.

    • I do know people in Toronto (stepdaughter, friends) but I wonder how much it would cost to ship it! If I have to make a choice between a second hand freezer I can afford and a pressure canner, it will be the pressure canner. Lehman’s is the only source I’ve found too. I bought one in the States 15 years ago at a department store but foolishly sold it a few years ago.

      • They will just have to come out for a visit 🙂 I’d be afraid of the marble breaking in shipping too.

        I wish you could can meat and such without a pressure canner. They are so expensive. I made the mistake of getting a pressure cooker and they don’t work the same.

      • If we go there or they come here, I’ll see about getting one. We have a local cemetery marker craftsman – I may see if I can get a piece (new not used!) of polished granite from him.

      • Paula, you should be able to purchase a conversion kit for a pressure cooker.

        In addition, Presto Canners are sold at very reasonable prices — around $75 American. I don’t know if that’s within your budget.

  2. It is amazing how writing your goals down, can truly help you form that goal into manageable bites.

    How wonderful that you have been able to achieve so much and looking back, seeing your goal become reality.

    And, hey, there is nothing wrong in wanting a marble pastry board….


    • Nicholas wants to do a little carpentry with me soon, and I may get the pastry board as the top to a new kitchen island. I have some ideas…

    • Got ours off Ebay for $120 used. Cans 7 quarts at a time. Last year didn’t can as much as I wanted, as the deer & raccoons et the beans & corn and one pesky little terrapin took one bite out of about 3 dozen tomatoes over the course of the summer. If I coulda found him, I’d have punted him thru the Goalpost of Life.

      This year I’m fencing the heck out of the garden.

  3. Hey your pastry board could double as the heat reserve in a hay box cooker. 🙂

    It’s great to hear your plans.

    Your keen-ness for herbs makes me wonder if that could be a business part – if you can make space to dry them all, and a postal service? You could do mail order or contract/CSA growing for medical herbalists or chefs.

    I guess I am thinking that way because I love miso and I’m studying how to make it, but it’s a lot of work to supply just one household, so I am considering whether I could set up to make it for several. This essay by Charles Eisenstein illustrates some of the same issues with another fermentation product, but I think these are applicable to many home-based crafts and trades. I don’t know if you have neighbours you can trade with either?

  4. I managed to get some enamelware huge stock pots for canning (although I don’t have a pressure one), but I will have to start over with glass jars when we get moved, as we must lose some stuff to lower the weight of the moving truck (charged by weight). I am finding what is vitally important to me and what I can let go of. I have a decent start in preparing for what we hope to do, I think (which is very much a mirror of what you speak of here). Although I know I will have to remain patient with myself and take things slowly as to not overwhelm with too many projects at once (I am famous for that). We will be on about 5 acres, and have plans of getting the chickens as quickly as we can. I resonate with your comment about the herbs… 😉 me too! Never could have enough, and would need a huge extra space just to process and store them all! I am so happy for you in having made this plan a reality. My family and friends here are shocked that I have really acted upon it, and some are now wishing they could come with! 😉

  5. I did get my pressure canner at Lehman’s. While their catalog doesn’t tell you the brand, it is an All American Pressure Canner. If you look around (online) you can find them at less cost than Lehman’s. There is the tall canner that only does 7 quarts, which will fit under most range hoods. For more money you can get the one that does 14 quarts at a time.

    The All American Pressure Canner is *heavy*! I can’t lift it while full with 7 quart jars anymore, but can slide it over to a thick towel on the counter. If we happen upon one of those metal rolling carts at a good price second hand we will probably get one since it will be easier for me to get the canner on it.

    I used a Presto canner for years and it was perfectly good. I do like to have both the pressure gauge and weighted jiggler. Presto canners need a new rubber ring every couple of years or so. The All American’s don’t use a rubber ring.

    In the winter when I make a large batch of soup or stew I can what is left. I also can dried beans for those days when I don’t need a big batch of beans. Winter keeps those jars in rotation and puts some much needed moisture into our low humidity South Dakota air.

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