Sunday, March 30, 2014

On a Dime Pt. 1

The Name of my Blog is Homesteading on a dime..... So I guess I had better expound from time to time on that particular subject matter. In no way am I a person of means. At least not in the way I used to be.
My life has totally changed since I moved to Alaska. Although the changes actually started before I made the move up.
Living here, out in the sticks, I have kind of reverted back to an earlier time, though "that" is not exactly unique in this area. It is somewhat like depression era living. You think twice about throwing anything away, lest you find a use for it later. Tin cans are saved until you determine you have to many. Juice jugs become your water jugs for your backpack. plastic bottles with long necks become funnels for fuel and water transfer, etc. Sometimes I get somewhat self conscious about doing this. But I can't justify buying something whan a perfectly acceptable substitute sits right in front of me.
Once you get used to the reality of living on meager means you begin to shift your priorities. You become a cash and carry person. you would like to have a big bank account, but the reality is that you will begin investing in your needs almost immediately. You will prioritize your needs for the year and buy accordingly. Rarely will much money reach the bank. You will collect your payday, and head to the grocery store, hardware store, army surplus store etc. If you don't buy what you will need, you may very well find your money going to non essential items insead. (Ask me how I know)...
In the old day's people were more focused on buying a lot of staples at one time rather than the constant, nearly daily trips to the store. Going into town was an event, and you made the trip worthwhile. My personal recommendation would be to try and accumulate an amount of cash that makes a trip to the nearest bulk food or food warehouse feasible, and spend wisely. The bigger the lot of food the cheaper it will be.
Learn to cook from scratch. Avoid prepackaged foods and overly processed foods. Chips will be a treat, not nightly fair. Focus on what it takes to go the furthest for the leastest, if I may borrow, and adapt that famous civil war comment.
I focus on, beans, rice, potatoes, and flour first. I buy a variety of beans, primarily, pinto, navy, and garbanzo beans in bulk bags of at least 20lbs. Same with the rice, both white and brown. I stick with dark flour. Whole wheats, and rye flour.
Canned goods are next in priority. Your dependance on these, will lessen as your homestead gets establshed, but until you get a good garden and preserving process established you will need canned goods. I focus on tomato products, diced, and sauce, to make both spaghetti sause and adding to other dishes.
Canned peas, and carrots follow. I avoid canned corn or and corn product as 95% plus is GMO... I only buy these if they are labeled organic.
Every time I go to the local grocery for those small items, I'll add a box of baking soda, jar of yeast or bullion cubes etc. They won't break your weekly food budget and it will add up rapidly.
You will determine the amount of condiments you need as well.
You wait for sales, specials, and you will scan the end caps for clearances.

Daily durable goods, such as rubber knee boots, tools, etc, you will find at garage, and estate sales. While most garage sales seem to specialize in baby clothes you can still find man sales out there. So it it worth your while to inspect every sale you pass.
I am fortunate in that I have found a full time garage sale (during summer), where I have been able to find many items that I have needed. Everything from DVD's, to oil lamps, snow shoes, etc. The people who run the sale have become close friends and I get special deals...
Forming a network should not be underestimated.

The number and amount of items you will need to live a simple life is astounding.. And you won't get there over night. But you will find that gradually, you are doing more, for far less, and with far less, than you would ever have imagined. 
Now in reality you don't need to live in the sticks to adopt any of the advice I have mentioned here. Regardless of where you live, being frugal will at the very least put a few extra scheckles in your pocket.

If you determine you need a snowmobile to drag in your firewood from the back 40. Do you really need a brand new Skidoo scandic? Or will a several year old machine do as well, and save you a few thousand dollars. If you are more impressed with impressing the neighbors..... well.... there ya go....
Don't worry though.... That shiney machine won't look new for long!! And you'll wonder why you are making payments on a machine that looks like it's been nuked.... I'm not joking! The machines owned by people who live remote look like holy heck..

How will you make that money to keep the homestead going? Beats me! I'm still trying to figure that out myself.
What I do know is that I do have to leave the homestead in order to stay on it. I do some little construction jobs and make and sell items of leather in order to keep things going.
It can get interesting, and I'm always trying to improve. But I've had some very lean years. Having two dogs (now three), to feed is a big worry, and I have had long periods with little to eat but beans and rice, and buckwheat pancakes. One thing I can tell you about buckwheat pancakes... make sure you eat them while they are warm!

The vision of walking out into the woods with an axe and a frying pan and making it any length of time make a good movie. But you'll give up soon...

My suggestion, like anything else is to research your area well, before moving there and learn what the local economy is, and adapt! If possible travel there beforehand and make some contacts.
Dump as much debt as possible beforehand and don't acquire more in the move! In the poorest year I had so far I made approximately $3000 (maybe a bit more), in the course of a work season... It's not something I recommend. If you figure about $600 of that was dogfood. I was still able to buy the food needed and some fuel, kerosene, etc. But it wasn't easy and if something breaks don't even worry about getting it fixed.

Well, if you aren't worried by now, it should at the very least give you something to think about. Plan well.... do your homework..
And please!!!!!!! don't watch those TV reality shows!!!!!