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The Frugal Homestead

May 13, 2014       Within Reach
the Frugal Way

Homesteading is not even cheap.   Even as a simpler way of life, it can tax your patience and you might run out of funds if you are not aware that it is a lifestyle that requires smart use of very limited resources, a lot of hard work, and resilience to unexpected situations.  Growing your own livestock, the feeds, the fencing and other infrastructure, the heirloom seeds, the greenhouse.   All of these require quite an investment of time, money and other resources.

You might have to let go of the idea that things need to look perfect to function, or else you won't be able to afford a homestead; unless you already have the resources to make the dream look as good as it will work.   For everyone else, re-purposing available resources and getting creative makes the work easier and the dream within reach.

Here are a few pointers on how to make costly homestead investments more accessible via resourcefulness and managing with what you have...

Rent Property

If you do not own your own land yet, you can always rent.  We rent our property because we cannot afford to buy yet.   There might be rural communities with land for rent that you can use, just make sure your lease contract is iron clad to avoid any trouble.  Make sure you are aware of the landlord's own house rules on farm animals and  crop planting and fencing off of the areas you will use.  You can still live off the grid without an enormous purchase on property  by renting, just be careful and your homestead rental will be your only focus if you commit to an off the grid lifestyle.

Livestock and Poultry

There are free-range chickens offered by fellow organic farmers at good prices for fellow homestead farmers, and you might start with a trio or two (1 cock and 2 hens).  Goats also make for excellent free-range livestock options because they are very low maintenance compared to swine or cattle and they cna live off weeds and talahib or bamboo leaves and shoots off your bamboo grove.  

One interesting option for livestock is rabbits.  They are quiet, they breed like crazy and you can even sell extra rabbit meat in your area as a delicacy.  The only problem for rabbits is that cats are a constant menace if they are around your place, so you might need good guard dogs or a watch over them hares when you let them romp around your homestead.  Start with a hutch and you'll be swamped in no time.

Chicken Coops and Housing Farm Animals

Coop:   Open air coops can work, and there are cheap bamboo coops sold on the roadside of most provinces to supply all your chicken coop needs.  They won't cost as much as a custom made coop but for a trio or a yard for egg laying hens, it will be satisfactory enough.

Feeds:   Besides free ranging in your homestead, you will want organic, soy-free feed.  Whole grain feeds cost from P30++ and up from a local grain mill.  

Animal Fencing: 
High tensile wire is the least expensive solution over wood post, board fencing   You don't want your free-range livestock and poultry wandering too far from your farm to get poached or preyed on by stray dogs, snakes, or predatory birds.

Plot Gardens: Fencing, Seeds, Compost

Fencing:   Things will eat your crop if you don’t fence them in.  You can use salvaged materials for garden fencing  or plastic netting to keep your own livestock from raiding your crop.  Netting does not require any permanent infrastructure (such as corner posts). A netted plot garden might not look as pretty as a “real” fence, but it gets the job done and lets you grow much more of your own food.

Seeds:   Heirloom seeds may cost a bundle for a starter package (up to $100 from overseas heirloom seed providers) but there are more affordable packages direct from the local Department of Agriculture supported distribution center.  After you plant and reap your first harvest, remember to SAVE part of the harvest for seeds so that you can grow from your own produce the same heirloom varieties.

Compost:   Compost is a great way to get nutrients into your garden soil.  Get composted chicken manure for cheap from any farm supply shop around your homestead.  They might cost around P60 for a large sack or even cheaper.

Are you ready to start your own homestead?


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