Right now, I’m feeling incredibly proud of myself. I had this moment earlier, when I realized what I’d accomplished. Less than a year ago, this was bare vacant land. There was nothing here, but completely untouched wilderness, save for a single dirt road. Today, I have a hut, a garden, solar-generated electricity, refrigeration, enough water and food to last me a while, and all the tools and assorted materials to build most things. I am comfortable enough, that I can spend my days laying in my hammock reading, and stay up here for months if I wanted to. I’ve done it. I’m living in the woods.
Granted, there’s a lot more work to do, but most of it is non-essential, at least for the time being. One of the bigger construction projects on my list is to build a water tower so that I can setup an automated irrigation system, but that’s mostly so that I can leave my property without depending on my neighbor to water my garden. The other big project is obviously the hut extension, but it’s not something I really need during the summer. It’ll be nice to have an insulated, clean, bug-screened structure to stay in, but I’m actually doing ok without it for now. The hut will become essential when it gets cooler, but I have 3 or 4 months to prepare for that.
I don’t want to call this homesteading yet, though. It’s probably more like pre-homesteading. I still consider it an experiment, and the objective is still to learn. What I’m doing now is also not sustainable in the long run. I’m living off of savings, and burning through cash way too fast. In the fall, I’m probably going to have to find a job again, and this time, I’ll probably take the plunge and get a full time job so that I can pay off all my loans, save enough money for a well, and then some. Once my debts are paid, and I have the bigger comfier hut, and a well, I think I’ll be ready to actually homestead. Without loan payments to make, and big construction projects to pay for, the cost of living will be ridiculously low. The well is also crucial. Right now, it’s not practical to haul in enough water for a garden much larger than the one I have now. But if I have access to virtually unlimited water right here on my property, I can grow a garden large enough to actually become self sufficient, and maybe grow a surplus that I can sell. I’d also be able to raise livestock; the area around my property is an open range for cattle, after all. Even then, I don’t know if it’ll be possible to be completely self sufficient, or make enough money to be cash-flow neutral or better. But I guess I’ll find out, and I’ll let you know when I get there.
Growing enough to become self-sufficient isn’t the hard part, the hard parts are a) making sure you have a varied diet all year round b) growing what you eat c) eating (only) what you grow. Preservation/preparation takes almost as much time as growing.
That’s a good point. I don’t know if I really want to aim for true self-sufficiency, but I think I might (in the long run) aim for cash-flow-neutrality, that is, I’ll buy some things, but find a way to make money off my land somehow to cover those expenses.
You should be proud, you’ve done an amazing thing. Even if it is seasonal, you have made a home independent of most modern conveniences. That is no small task.
Look into rain water collection. A simply temporary system can be made by simply tieing tarps flat from trees and putting a low corner over a large container (like a barrel). A permanent system can be part of your new hut, but even the temporary should at least be a great proof of concept and get some of your water done.
I do hope that you enjoy your time there, but a short stint of full time work should help greatly if it means you’re completely out of debt. Especially if that means that you can take the time to build a new hut solidly for full time, long term, insulated, sealed, and screened living.
Finally, solar panels have dropped significantly. With 200 watt units going for about $500. When you do your rebuild, think about putting one or two of them on your roof. It’s a significant expence, but one that I think will quickly pay off, especially if you’re still running your car to charge your battery for your freezer.
I thought about setting up a small-scale water collection system like the one you described too, but it’s actually not all that practical. With the garden, I’m using around 20-30 gallons a week, and even if I fill up a 55gal drum with rain water, that’ll only last me 2-3 weeks. In a place that gets no rain for 5-6 months, that’s pretty insignificant. Nonetheless, it’s something I’ll continue to think about and investigate…
I do plan on getting more solar panels, though with the longer days, right now even my 60 watt array is producing a surplus (I’m also using my “freezer” as just a refrigerator, so it uses less power).
But, yes, I am very much enjoying myself. It’s simply beautiful up here this time of year, and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be 🙂