Example of a fairly self-sufficient system

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http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/a733s/iama_guy_who_dropped_out_from_the_rat_race_didnt/

(Important notes from different people messily taken from the thread and organized into sections. They should mostly make sense in context. Most should be in the form of questions and answers. The sections are formatted with brackets, use notepad++ with c++ formatting to collapse sections)


IAMA guy who dropped out from the rat race. Didn`t have a job in about 5 years, and yet I keep a middle class facade. I am 90% self sufficient food-wise and energy-wise. Ask me anything. (self.IAmA)

It took me about 8/10 years to reach this point. I`ve been frugal, disciplined, and focused on this exact goal: dropping out from the rat race, and live in peace and quiet for the rest of my life. Hopefully, of course. It was gradual, planned, and full of trial and error.

My yearly expenses rarely reach the $2,000 mark. That`s in a very bad year. Thanks to my savings, and the fact that I own my home, I can afford to work only when strictly "necessary". (which is never, but I like to keep my stash intact.)

I basically just have to buy stuff I cannot produce or procure by myself: soap, oil, some tools, sometimes soil.

There`s no ideological reason behind what I am doing. I am not an anarchist, survivalist, hippie, or whatever label is usually associated with people aiming for self-sufficiency. If you met me, you would never suspect I was living like this. I keep a middle class facade. I am just a very, very low maintenance guy who grew up tired by the rat race. I find much easier and satisfying to live this way.

I do have, of course, my views on the current state of society and world in general - like everyone else - and they of course influenced my decisions, but there`s no political-philosophical framework I would strictly identify with.

It`s Hakuna Matata (almost) all the way!

I produce my own food and even my own meat. I have chickens giving me eggs, and rabbits giving me meat. I cultivate my own vegetables. I dry both vegetables and meat. I would say that I am 90% self sufficient food-wise. Anyone could live like this, if s/he wanted. It`s mostly about state of mind first, and skills second.

Ask me anything. I will answer any question that won`t reveal my exact location and background.

EDIT: Lots of comments to reply to. If I don`t reply to yours, it`s either because it is low priority (ie. I already answered the question somewhere else) or because I am still replying to earlier comments. I am sure I missed some too. Don`t take it personally. :)


Mindset:{

Contents

[edit] Mindset

Awesome. Can you describe the planning process for this type of lifestyle? In what order did you cover your priorities and how?


The first step is mental. This kind of lifestyle implies dispensing with the normal expectations and beliefs associated with modern society: success, ambition, dog-eat-dog and stuff. If that doesn`t come naturally, it may not be for you. I never really fit it, so it was rather easy as far as I am concerned.

First I examined my own life and made a list of the things I could easily have done without. Which was, most of them, except for books.

Then I basically covered my priorities in this order: food, water, energy, shelter. Once I decided how I was going to provide myself with food, and how I was going to harness my own energy, it became clear what kind of shelter was more convenient to accomodate that. The rest was relatively easy. I learned how to make my own food first by experimenting in the apartment I was living in; then I purchased an extremely small lot of unfertile land to practice on. While I was doing that, I gathered information about how to produce energy, and how much energy I really needed, down to the watt.

Everything is easier if you begin with the goal in mind.


Who:{

[edit] Who

hows your health? are you fat? thin? muscular? Would you consider yourself Skinny, Muscular, or overweight?

Excellent health. I am quite normal, not fat and not muscular. I would say thin, but not malnourished/pencil thin. I lean toward skinny.


I am seriously curious what your largest indulgence is. What`s your guilty pleasure that you spend way too much money for?


I don`t know, internet? Really, I don`t have guilty pleasures of sort. I occasionally buy a chocolate bar or two, but I wouldn`t consider that "too much money".

I think that what enabled me to reach this lifestyle is exactly the fact that I don`t have guilty pleasures or vices of any kind, and never really did.


Is it just you, any family? I am alone, single.


What`s your age? I am 36.


Was this your ambition as a younger person? Do you have any larger ambitions?

I didn`t have much ambition as a younger person. I spent my days drawing, daydreaming, and writing. I imagined that if I could become a writer, or a comic book artist, or an illustrator. I don`t have larger ambitions.

So, now that you have the leisure, do you pursue these ambitions? If not why? Honestly, to me this is the only puzzling aspect in your whole story. Myself, I would go crazy in a year without some kind of creative output.

I write and draw, but nothing special.


I live like this for simplicity, not philosophy. I don`t aim to self sufficiency because I want to make a point, but because I find it easier compared to a 9-to-5 life.


I agree. Just for the record, I don`t preach my lifestyle as ideal. It simply works for me. It fits my nature, my cycles, and my view of life. I never looked back. And as you said, it works partly because my environment is conducive. I don`t care if the rest of the humanity follows my step or not, and I am not necessarily happy when they do, unless I have a clear and definite view of their motivations. It`s just a lifestyle choice like anything else. I use water and pay the bill, and I use the sidewalk and I pay property taxes, which represent the main source of income for most cities.


Q: Would you rather see people try to perfectly emulate you, just take steps towards what you`ve accomplished, or would you outright advise people against your lifestyle? A: About my lifestyle.. It works for me, but I would never advise anyone to imitate me because it`s the "right way to live" or something like that. To each his or her own. If someone wanted to do it by his/her own free will and wanted advice, then anytime. But one thing I will never do will be preaching around. I hated when my friends ribbed me about the whole "ambition" thing, so I assume other people would hate if I ribbed them with the whole "minimalist" thing.

The rule of thumb in my opinion is this: if you feel naturally attracted to the lifestyle, you dread the rat race, and can easily dispense with 90% of consumerism "toys" then it may be for you. If yours is just a mere fascination but couldn`t never renounce to your daily latte and your new shiny toy, then leave it.


what has been the hardest part of living this lifestyle? Maybe learning it.


Others:{

[edit] Others

I`ve done something similar to the OP, but not to the same extent.

House is paid off, minimized expenses, and I basically only do a small amount of "work" (consulting via telecommuting) -- and only venture into town (yes I have a vehicle, but I put less than 3,000 miles on it all last year) for "on-site" work and/or specialty shopping when absolutely necessary.

But I`m also still "on the grid" (electricity & gas are rather minimal expenses -- I did the math on solar/wind power and the ROI is like 20+ years, by which time it would need to be replaced -- and I live further north than the OP, so HEAT in the winter is a required expense).

Likewise, I do not raise my own meat, but find that food is not that large of an expense either -- I grow my own vegetables more for taste and quality than cost, and have lots of fruit trees & berries planned & planted several years ago quite intentionally -- but I find that cooking and eating ALL MEALS at home can be done with significant savings.

The MAJOR savings is in not commuting to/from a workplace (all the money wasted on gas, plus additional vehicle mileage and the accompanying expenses) AND the host of miscellaneous "consumer" expenses that occur with being a part of the "rat race" (i.e. candy and soda from machines, cappuccino & donuts at the gas stations, eating quick "work" lunches when you forget to pack a bag lunch etc).

But even still, living a non-rat-race frugal "homey" lifestyle, my annual expenses are under $10K a year -- which I am able to earn with minimal work (and even at that rate, I have enough saved to cover multiple years of expenses).

The chief gain is the LACK of WORRY I find that even though I am concerned about the state of the economy and all, I am only significantly LESS anxious about things that just about everyone else that I know (and actually am relatively calm about it all) -- to the point that (for example) even when gas hit $4 a gallon, it was a minor inconvenience rather than a major annoyance.

The secondary gain is the ability to pretty much do whatever you want with your time. Some things (like my woodworking hobby) have to be kept "under control" cost-wise so they don`t get out of hand, but alternately because one has more time, they also give the benefit of building your own stuff the way you WANT it to be (rather than overpaying for some pre-packaged "junk" because you need it and don`t have the time/resources to get/build something more appropriate).

Long story short -- I think that like the OP says, with a bit of thoughtful planning and a "mental attitude/goal" accompanied by hard work towards that goal, it is definitely possible for many people to back substantially away from the "consumerist" rat race and live a much better, less worried & harried life -- a lot of it is simply DECIDING what is important in life, rather than going along with the rest of the herd on it`s mindless pursuit of more and more "stuff".


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Family/friends:{

[edit] Family/friends

damn dude, u just need a woman and you have heaven on earth. fack, congrats, hopefully you can find a woman to share your life with. And then make lots of babies so they can do all the work for you while you sit on reddit :)


I really would like a family, frankly. I love kids. I have this picture in mind of the pre-industrial family unit, working together in an equal division of labor, with different generations under one roof.

Still, I think it would be very difficult to find nowadays a woman like that.


I may find some woman on the net, who knows. I am not so interested in travel, I find my life already quite interesting in itself.


I am quite sure that in some parts of Mexico and in most of the Philippines for example would really be the norm. The point is that if I arranged some kind of marriage/relationship on this basis, it would feel more like searching for extra help, not really a mate.


Your expenses would go wayyyyy up. You might acually hav to get a job.

I would certainly need triple the land I actually have, perhaps a bigger house. So it`s obviously out of the question.

Out of the question for now, or for evah?

I would say for evah, unless the wife contributes. In that case, we may be able to pull that off.


do you think it would be interesting/mutually beneficial to have a neighbor living a similar lifestyle? perhaps s/he grows different crops and raises cow, instead of rabbit. that could open a new world of possibilities.

Absolutely, especially if as you said s/he grows and raises different stuff. It would also be useful in terms of skills. It would only work very well though if this happens casually with people doing that for their own self-sufficiency first, and not to fit some sort of planned communitarian grand scheme.

I agree -- I was thinking it might be incredibly useful if it were a community where each member was wholly (or mostly wholly) self-sufficient where trade and barter would be mutually beneficial to everyone in the community.


Do you think your lifestyle would survive the introduction of a partner and/or children?

The lifestyle would survive only and exclusively with a 100% supportive partner with no regrets.


You are absolutely right. I won`t be able to do this with a family, unless I start one with a wife with identical views and needs. It was one of the things I had to let go before taking the plunge. I eventually figured that it was better to be single and free, than to be married and resentful for being forced to be in the rat race just to support the family. I didn`t want to become like the American Beauty guy.


In another post I said that I liked the idea, or better - the idealized concept of a family.

I may want a family now that my lifestyle is pretty much ingrained and apparent. Any woman interested in starting a family with me right now would automatically be interested in this lifestyle, of course. I am already living it.

If I met a woman while I was a white collar guy, and while the entire plan was not yet crystallized and at a tipping point and we married while still into the white collar lifestyle, it would probably have been hard, hard work to convince her to switch. It would have probably ended up with me accepting that it was no deal, and resenting her for interfering with my freedom.

It requires moving somewhere else - cheaper, and not in a city. If she has a job there, she loses it.


How do you plan in raising any kids (if you do end up having them)? Will you teach them to be self-sufficient but also let them loose in the "real" world? (I don`t know how else to describe it.)

I get what you are saying. I seriously doubt I will ever have kids. But if I end up having them, I will of course teach them how to be self-sufficient. Not that I would have any choice on the matter, since that`s how I live myself. It would however be a disservice if I kept them shielded or unaware of the rest of the world, how it works and what it has to offer. Trying to make your own kids into a carbon copy of yourself is delusional, and probably somewhat abusive at some level.

I would probably homeschool them until college age, using the internet to help them on the topics I am not personally conversant with and focusing on their strengths.

The rest I would figure out as I go along. The main problem would probably be the authorities.


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Others:{

[edit] Others

Why is it necessary to maintain a facade with your friends and family?

They would worry to death. The homesteader lifestyle isn`t exactly linked to abundance and happiness nowadays.

As someone who is reticent about sharing certain details of my life with family I can understand where you`re coming from, but I wonder if you aren`t giving them enough credit. Do you think them knowing about your lifestyle would impinge on it?

The point is that it`s complicated to explain, and by extension to understand. It`s not really being a farmer, because I am definitely not, and it`s not being some sort of hippie. It`s one of these things that requires a certain kind of mentality, which you can surely find in places like Reddit (the very fact that people are here is a form of filtering in itself) but not my family. They are a strange mix of liberal ideas and conservative feelings, and don`t usually tend to accept the fact that some things cannot simply be defined in a single monolithic way.


Why do you feel the need to keep this lifestyle private? You mentioned that as far as your family is concerned you are "freelancing" Why not just tell them about it?

It seems to be the general consensus that you have the perfect life, minus the woman, and your reply to this has been "Yes, I love my life, but I don`t know if there is a woman out there who will be able to live like this." Wouldn`t being open about your lifestyle help you to meet and find this woman?

I guess what I`m really asking, is if there are any good reasons why you keep this private. Legal or otherwise.


You could say that I approach my life organically, like most things. I don`t like sudden change, and I don`t like abrupt news - both receiving it, and giving it. Just my nature.

I am telling them slowly, so that they won`t be scared by the change. They all love me deeply, despite our general differences, and if they knew that I don`t have a "real job" they would seriously worry, which isn`t a good thing when you are young, let it alone when you are quite old. They live on a completely different cognitive plane, if you catch my drift: it wouldn`t matter if you lived in the Eden garden. If I you don`t have a job or a form of stable income, you are going to starve and become a bum.

Regarding the woman thing, of course I would have to be upfront. I am open about my lifestyle to anyone who asks. I probably misused the word "facade". There`s no pretension in what I do really, I simply appear middle class because I don`t dress like a bum, my house is quite normal, and I certainly don`t behave or speak like an hillbilly.

As far as legal reasons go, I am quite sure that there`s more than one thing in my house that isn`t exactly up to code, and I am not sure about animal/gardening laws, so I certainly have no interest in attracting attention.


Ever had any problems from neighbors? No, never any problem with neighbors.


I have an odd question for you. My wife and I are on the same track as you, and would be in your shoes, except we cannot escape the stigma of being unemployed, and uncommercial. I could care less about what society cares, but both of our parents think we are strange when we go off on these tangents. How, if you have relatives who care about appearances, did you overcome this?

If it were up to me, we would be living on a jungle farm, build our house, wire our solar panels, and pay for internet and that`s all.


I keep a middle classe facade, just because they would worry too much. Any city dweller would define this lifestyle as "scary" "dirty" "poor", whatever. We are on a different cognitive system altogether.

Maybe you could do the same. I assume you don`t see your parents every single day, so you could simply pretend you got a freelance job that can be done at home, and that you decided to move in the country for whatever reason.


My parents live thousands of miles away, but I call them every week. We are pretty close, and they know of my plans to live off the grid, grow my food, etc. They are so against it that I find it comical, and we argue about it a lot. We are on our way to retiring before we are 30, and then, we plan on starting a family. I am VERY worried what my parents might do if I were to raise my children like this. I`ve told them to get over it. It does no good. I can totally see why you have a middle class facade.


Is it better to do something more moderate, like working 10 or so hours a week so you can at least afford to date, or liberate yourself from having to do farm-related activities? Seems like it`d be more fun to spend 10 hours a week programming (or painting, or whatever you passion is), than tending to your garden, cleaning, and other chores yourself.

Maybe. Can you find a job which requires only 10 hours of work per week, and still pays well?


Is it better to use your skills in a more socially beneficial way? Is it more moral to balance productivity with a ludic life, such that you are still a contributing member of society?

I think I am contributing already quite a bit by not being a burden, by not polluting, and by not wasting resources.


Do your friends/family know about your lifestyle? Has anyone ever figured it out despite you keeping a middle class appearance?

They know I am somewhat relaxed, but don`t really know every single detail. I always been the silent, introverted type, so they are used to see me doing something different and not talk about it openly.


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Planning: {

[edit] Planning

Money:{

[edit] Money

Work:{

[edit] Work

I didn`t have a big financial windfall. I simply worked like everyone else, and saved like crazy. Instead of living in an apartment, I rented a room. I could usually save a couple of months of rent by couchsurfing. I didn`t go to the movies, bought expensive toys, never ate out and learned to cook while buying food wholesale. If you earn as little as $1000 per month, you can save 60/70% of that if you live like this. In 10 years, that adds up to about $80,000. I earned more than $1,000 per month, so it was considerably faster. That`s how I was able to pay cash for my house, and still have savings.


So, you didn`t ever need to make extra money for the initial "investment", right? You just started working less and less as your expenses became smaller? Not exactly. I kept working more or less the same amount of time, I just began to work less and less during the very final phase. While I was working in the city, I used the extra money (= the money I didn`t stricly "need" anymore due to less expenses) to buy spare parts for the future, as I expounded here. I wasn`t in a rush anyway. I already waited for years, some months more didn`t really affect me.

What did you do before? I mostly had white collar jobs which I hated.


What is the initial price to get it going? How long does it take to "get the hang" of it? The price of getting it started, like buying equipment (solar panels, the house itself, specialized equipment such as the washing machine you mentioned, etc.)

I think all the expenses added up to about $70k. The house was very cheap because it wasn`t exactly in mint condition, and the soil on the land was bad. I didn`t care for both, I restored the house myself and I provide my own soil.


A lot of the reason he has no costs now is from significant investments earlier. He owns a ton of tools, supplies, etc. He has no car, no cable, which are significant, and gets 500W from solar panels. Also, no health insurance. Above he estimated $500 a year for prop tax/utilities/internet ($200 yr for internet) and then $1500 a year for food he can`t make himself. I am skeptical as well but it seems possible.


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Savings:{

[edit] Savings

How much did you plan on having as reserve before you decided to take this step?

I basically waited until I had my house paid in full, and enough to live off for at least 3 years. So, I prepared for the worst assuming the best. That`s why it took me so long.


How much $$$ do you actually have in savings? Do you primarily live off investment income, or do you actually have to earn $2000/year to keep your savings from diminishing?


I have about $40,000 in savings. I earn about $2000/year to avoid dipping into my savings. You never know what I may need.


$40,000 sounds like pretty good savings by 36. Were you wealthy in your previous life?

No, simply tremendously cheap. Anyone making as low as $20k per year can reach that in a surprisingly short time, by saving.


My one big question is how did you acquire a house?

Uh, I bought it?

Seriously, no magic. I simply saved a lot of money, and when I was ready, I bought a house.


You said it took you 8-10 years of work to live this way. I just can`t imagine buying a house in full after a mere ten years of saving. Most people still need to pay for somewhere to live in the meantime at least, and everything else that is required of a full time worker.


If you keep 70% of what you earn monthly by living frugally, you can easily save well over $100,000 in 10 years. You just need discipline and a very long term vision.


Investments:{

So do you actively avoid investing money, or are you growing your savings by investing? Is avoiding the financial system also one of your objectives? I ask, since if you have about $40k, you ought to be able to earn about $2k/year even investing very conservatively.

I avoid the financial system only because I don`t trust it. I prefer to keep my money liquid, instead of invested.

Totally understand the mistrust of the financial system. But you realize by keeping your money liquid, you`re losing money, right?

Yes, I understand that. I do get interest on my account, I simply never diverted any amount of money into formal investments like stocks or bonds.

Well then, you do realize that your bank account is part of the "financial system," especially if it`s FDIC insured (which it should be, assuming you live in the U.S.), right?

Do you mean you just distrust the stock market?


Of course. I just assume that if the system collapses so badly that even normal bank accounts become inaccessible or worthless, we would certainly have more pressing matters to take care of than liquid money.

I was just wondering why you said that you didn`t want to invest in bonds.

I distrust the stock market, in general. I won`t make much with a mere 40k anyway, so I prefer to keep it in my bank account.

Like I was saying, you can expect to get at least 4% return just from "safe" investments. That`s 1600/year, which covers most of your cash requirements. By "safe" I mean your country would have to become Somalia before you lost your investments.

I`ll think about it.

Unless your local bank is giving you a fantastic interest rate, you could be doing a lot more with part of that 40k.

You should read up on how safe investors recommend retirees invest their money. Although you`ll be needing a little more liquidity, you`re basically living like a retiree with a tiny farm.

Getting back to what I originally mentioned (and to what I think unkz was referring), you could probably get a better interest rate buying U.S. Treasury bonds, and, like unkz said, the economy would have to go the way of Mad Max before those go bad. Plus, they`re fairly liquid, as you can sell them whenever you want to.

Of course, I`m no investment expert, but you should really look into doing something more productive with your money. After all, you know for a fact that you will always have certain yearly and monthly expenses: property tax, water bills, etc. Those aren`t going away. You might as well invest some time and money now, so that you can work less to pay those bills later.



You could spring for some gold and/or silver coins as a hedge against inflation.

Somehow I`ve never moved my ass and actually done that.


If you really didn`t trust it, you`d have it in assets (gold), and be doing quite well, as far as investing goes!

Gold is less liquid than you expect. Try to pay in gold at your local grocery store. It may be of some value in cases of real emergency.


I haven`t yet invested in gold or something like that, but I may if my predictions reveal themselves as too optimistic. I suspect that produce and meat would be more valuable commodities, however, in that kind of situation.


There was incredible inflation there at that time and the writer confirmed the survivalist notion that gold is how to invest your money BUT he advocated (from his own experiences) to buy small items of jewellery - gold chains, signet rings &c - because they`re easily resold to pawnbrokers and jewellers.


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Supplies/Costs:{

[edit] Supplies/Costs

$2K/yr? I find that very hard to believe. I`d like you to breakout your expenses.

It`s about $500 per year between internet, utilities, property taxes, and $1500 for extra food I cannot grow and the occasional tool. Some years may add up to $3,000 but never more than that.

Consider that before beginning this lifestyle, I already had bought lots of extra stuff for emergencies so I didn`t have to worry about it later. For example, I have 2 extra laptops, memory cards/hard disks/keyboards/mice, tens of light bulbs, extra tools, and such. All of which I had already bought during my transition phase. This way if something breaks I don`t have to worry about shelling extra money, I already have spares. That helps a lot.


$1500/12 = $125/month for food, tools and other household expenses (toilet paper, toothpaste, etc.). Most people spend more than that at Starbucks alone. Even growing your own food, $125/month barely covers essential like flour, sugar, salt and maybe a little supplemental layer feed (otherwise the chickens won`t have enough calcium).

But let`s assume you spent $0/month on food and animal feed. As a full-time farmer, I know that tools alone, even just hand tools, can be more than $125/month. The amortized cost of your laptop and PV system alone are probably more than $1500/yr. Repair and maintenance costs can be significant as things age and start to break.

$500 for utilities+taxes? I believe you said $30/month for Internet, which is cheap. That alone is $360/yr. $500-$360 = $140 for property taxes and other utilities? Not many places have property taxes of less than $140/year. You also mentioned city water, I suspect that`s more than $140/year.

$2000/month, no problem. $2k/yr? I`m afraid you`ll have to break down your expenses more completely before I can believe that.


I don`t buy sugar and use very little refined carbs in general. I almost never use salt, I think I didn`t replenish my reserve of salt for like 2 years. I give crushed egg shells to the chickens for calcium.

I don`t need many tools, and I am not a full time farmer. I have a relatively small garden cultivated using the Square Feet Gardening method, which requires little attention and few tools.

I bought all my tools before starting this life. I commented about this somewhere but I lost the comment. Anyhow, to avoid extra expenses when it would have been inopportune, I purchased a lot of extra tools when I was still working as a white collar guy, and money was still "traditionally" pouring in. I have extra laptops, hard disks, solar panels, batteries, bulbs, wires, and gardening tools. If something breaks, I already have the spare parts ready. I don`t have to buy anything. I considered it an investment. That`s how I avoid maintenance and repair costs. Simply planning. I have nothing to amortize.

I pay around $200 per year of internet, about $150 for water, and about $150 for property taxes. That`s about $500 per year. The rest goes into food and other stuff as you said.


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Decisions:{

[edit] Decisions

A vegetarian lifestyle would require at least double the amount of land, a substantially higher emergency stash fund (what are you going to do if your crops fail?) and lots of skills with pickling, drying, fermenting, and stuff like that. Not impossible, but I would be more cautious. It`s also more exhausting psychologically, since you can`t never really be sure about your crops until you can actually see them grown. A rabbit is a rabbit.

I never tried to make cheese.. for the amount of work it would entail, I would rather buy it. Which I don`t do often, since I am not crazy for it.

Apparently you`ve never owned animals that need to be milked. large animals like goats & cows are a LOT more work to feed, clean, tend AND milk twice a day on a fairly rigid schedule.



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Learning:{

[edit] Learning

I learned mostly from other people. Some guy was great at gardening, another guy gave me great tips about raising animals, my best friend from middle school likes to dabble with electronics and stuff and helped me with the panels, the wiring and so on. Also, books.


How big of a transition was it for you to go from the city working life, to learning how to raise, clean and kill animals?

Not really a big one, since it was very gradual and planned. It took me about 8 years. By the time I was actively doing it, it already felt like something I had always been doing.


can you give a shortlist of books you recommend for getting into this lifestyle?

I would definitely recommend:

   * Square Foot Gardening
   * The Encyclopedia of Country Living
   * Raising Chickens for Dummies
   * Storey`s Guide to Raising Chickens and Rabbits (they are two books, both from Storey)
   * Basic Butchering of Livestock & Game
   * Possum Living
   * The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It

I will edit the comment as I come up with more titles. I don`t have many references book about wiring solar panels and stuff because I got "live" help from a friend.

Acquire those books, study them, and don`t expect to know really anything more after you are finished. Consider yourself merely "informed" until you actually take action and do some of that stuff.



Have you read Possum Living by Dorothy Freed? Yes. It is a bit outdated, and I would take my medical/legal advice elsewhere, but has very good practical advice.


To OP, and new readers. Picked up much inspiration from this one? Possum Living: How to Live Well Without a Job and With Almost No Money http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2006/10/24/possum-living-how-to-live-well-without-a-job/

It`s one of the book I read. Lot`s of good info, but it`s very outdated and I remember that I didn`t exactly agree with several points.

A good collection of information needs a couple of weird outliers to make the rest seem sane.

Right. In that specific book the author seemed to revere moonshine as some kind of panacea or something. It`s a good book about the general practicalities of living frugally (although some topics could have been much more detailed) but I would get my medical/legal information elsewhere.


Have you read Dolly Freeds "book" How to Live Well without a Job and with no Money? Great source for info about how to live more or less how you do.

Yes, I did. It gave me some good ideas.



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Food:{

[edit] Food

Rationale:{

[edit] Rationale

The OP`s chickens and rabbits are what I would call "minimal maintenance" animals as far as feeding, cleaning, etc. -- indeed, depending on how you house/cage them, they can be relatively self-feeding and self-cleaning, with only a minimal additional tending (gathering eggs is typically done every morning, but doesn`t have to happen at any particular time, doesn`t take any skill, and isn`t a huge amount of work to do).

How many meals will a single rabbit or chicken yield through its meat alone? Easily 3 or 4 meals. Depends on the size.


So how often do you eat chicken/rabbit? How much stock did you have to keep to maintain sustainability? I eat meat at least 3 days per week. I always have in stock at least 1 or 2 months worth of meat.


How many chickens and rabbits do you generally have at any given time?

I have 15 hens and a rooster.

Rabbits: 10 does, 3 bucks.


How many rabbits, chickens, and eggs do you eat a month? I`m sure rabbits multiply pretty quickly, but just how quickly?

Gestation period of a rabbit is around a month. He can get a new generation of rabbits every other month, if my memory serves.

Exactly. They fuck all the time. I get so many rabbits I really often don`t know what to do with them. I sold extra, but I really have to get a freezer.

EDIT: Boy, that sounded creepy.


}

Rabbits: {

[edit] Rabbits

Rabbits: It`s easy, and as you said, economical. At first slaughtering a rabbit seems cruel and inhumane, but you get over it. I certainly do it in the most humane way possible: they transition from life to death without even noticing. They never know they are going to die.

The rabbits eat my vegetables leftovers (best recycling ever), fruits, grass, weeds. I mix some pellets in it, mostly so they can grow faster and bigger, but it is less than 20%.


Its my understanding that you can`t really just eat rabbits all the time. I forgot why.

Yes, you can`t because you would undernourish yourself. They lack some nutrients. However, I also eat eggs from chickens, and the chicken themselves. That plus vegetables gives me a quite balanced diet.


Rabbit starvation. Basically you get too much protein and too little of everything else. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit_starvation

It`s only a problem if you don`t eat anything beside rabbits.


Right. Integrate the diet with eggs, vegetables and the like and you`re fine.


Does your rabbit heavy diet ever bore you? What are your favorite rabbit recipes?

Not really, I don`t eat them every single day.. I alternate. I usually go for simply roasted rabbit.


How much meat does a normal size rabbit give you. How many rabbits do you say you eat a year?

I would say that the average rabbit has 2/3 pounds of meat. Much more if you also eat the innards, which I don`t do. I never counted how many rabbits I eat every year, but it`s about 2/300 pounds.

I have 1 more rabbit related question. Have you considered giant rabbits? http://www.spiegel.de/img/0,1020,774187,00.jpg I realize you would need to feed them more, and you`d have more meat than you can probably eat, but you could always sell the meat for profit. I considered giant rabbits, but they seem too cumbersome.


How do you breed your rabbits? Do you separate the siblings and keep track of ancestry to avoid inbreeding and genetic diseases?

I breed four times per year, more or less. I almost always have baby bunnies around most of the year. Usually 6/10 per doe. I keep the males away from the females. No need to keep track of ancestry and stuff like that, I raise rabbits purely for meat and there`s a relatively fast turnover.

I suppose the worst case scenario is that you might start breeding infertile rabbits, causing you to have to buy new ones.

Which is very unlikely.


I know of another guy who uses hamsters instead of rabbits. I don`t know which one is more effective. Rabbits. Much more meat for your effort. Smaller critters make sense if you hunt them, not farm them. In my opinion.


rabbits are illegal to keep where I live (because they are an environmental pest), do you know of any alternatives? I really don`t. I guess you can eat any kind of animal, but as far as low-maintenance, silent, relatively clean animals go, I think rabbits are the best choice overall.

Perhaps you can simply not give a damn and just keep them anyway. You can keep them in a cellar.


How does one farm rabbits?

You simply feed them and let them fuck.

Really, there isn`t much to it. A lot of city dwellers (I was one so I know first hand) have this kind of harsh image of country life, which is untrue. Once you setup the right conditions, both plants and animals pretty much take care of themselves. You just have to keep an eye to make sure they don`t misbehave. Like kids!


Rabbit poop doesn`t actually smell at all. It isn`t even messy. It`s like little, dry balls. You could literally clean it with a vacuum cleaner.


Do you use the rabbit pelts? if you used/saved skins, you could probably make a fairly substantial amount of money- maybe even the full 2k.

I thought about selling some.


He can get a new generation of rabbits every other month, if my memory serves.


}

Chickens: {

[edit] Chickens

What kind of chickens do you raise? (My wife likes Buff Orpingtons) Orpingtons here as well! They are one of the best for both eggs and meat. Good choice.


Chickens: mostly corn, insects I collect during gardening, and they also like to nibble vegetable leftovers. I integrate with a very little bit of commercial food and I put crushed eggshells for extra calcium. Some advise against it, but I can`t really see much damage. There`s a certain turnover, anyway. (insert horror movie music) I have always about 15 chickens and a rooster.

Yes, cracked corn.

I knew an italian guy who had a hen house in his backyard, with maybe 2 dozen chickens. The smell was fucking terrible. It was impressive. How many chickens do you have? How isn`t it obvious to your neighbours that you`re raising chickens?


They can`t see them, and I keep things clean enough. They smell a bit, but my nearest neighbors are quite far away so they don`t catch it.

What about the noise? Are you far enough away that the neighbors don`t notice?


They don`t notice, and they are strategically positioned. http://urbanchickens.org/


I have two chicken tractors and they rarely smell. We move them once or twice a week to fertilize the yard and spread the manure around. If you leave it one place for too long they will start to stink.


I had a friend who lived within the city limits of a large midwestern city who raised chickens. The only restriction, in terms of city ordinances, was that the chickens had to be kept a specified distance from the nearest neighbors. I think it was something like 50 feet.


Predators have been a real pain in my endeavors to raise chickens. Neighbor dog specifically. I`m guessing you have a fenced yard, but have you done anything more specific than that to protect your critters? I absolutely love your chest fridge, btw. I`m about 3 years into a transition. Only passive solar so far, but it`s nice to see what one can do with 500 watts. You have me thinking further. Thanks.


I have fences, and the chickens are actually behind a wall. It`s almost a stealth setup. So, no critters to speak of. Chickens can even be raised indoors with some effort.


How do you keep all of the noise from the roosters from disturbing your neighbors and giving you away? I could see keeping hens only inside a house in town if you didn`t mind the smell, but I can`t imagine how you`d keep the roosters quiet.

They don`t really make that much noise. It`s very bearable. I suspect that they know, and don`t care.


I assume that you must keep roosters to breed with your chickens to keep your numbers up as you lose some to old age and chicken dinners.


so your chickens are all "free-range" eh ? mighty tasty aren`t they? Sort of. Tasty indeed.


}

Square foot gardens:{

[edit] Square foot gardens

My garden is about 500 sqft, and I use a method called Square Foot Gardening. It`s very efficient.


The actual boxes are supposed to be 4x4. The soil depth is recommended at 6 inches. You can find these answers in the Square Foot Gardening Book. It`s very cheap, definitely worth the money.


What have you found to be the most valuable crop you grow, i.e. bang for the buck, quick growth, versatility in use?

My favorite crop is tomatoes. Easy to grow, great yield.

How many of those squares do you need for yourself, in your square foot garden? If you added a wife and a kid, would the squares have to tripple?

You can find the "official" answer here. http://www.squarefootgardening.com/index.php/Frequently-Asked-Questions/size-of-sfg-garden.html

I however disagree with those numbers. Too optimistic, they don`t take into account the fact that some plants may under deliver or fail completely. If you are alone, go for at least 4 boxes. I have 10, and plan to add more.



}

Other:{

[edit] Other

Do you eat any high carb foods? Rarely. Some pasta or pies, occasionally.


Do you produce your own grain, or ever buy any? I was thinking more of a diet consisting of mainly rice and vegetables, with maybe some lentils/mushrooms (I`m not a vegetarian, but it seems easier).

I don`t produce my own grain, I buy it, but don`t eat much of it. I like to make my own pies, pasta, etc.



I raise honeybees. It is great to sell the honey. You may want to consider it. However since what you are doing isn`t broke I am not trying to tell you to fix it.


What would you say are your staple/unavoidable expenses? Staples are grain, which I don`t consume much anyway, tools, property taxes, fruits I cannot cultivate myself, water, toiletries.

Where do you get your carbohydrates? Beans and potatoes? Mostly vegetables, and the grains I buy. I am not much of a carb guy.

Are you on a low carb diet? Some people swear by it. I am on a low carb diet because I cannot digest carbs well. I fart all the time if I eat too much of them. I seem to be more of a carnivore.

By the way, there is a difference between "low carb" and "low grain", even though many of the effects may be the same. Sounds like he still eats fruits and veggies.


What about fat? How do you make sure you get enough of that? Do you buy butter or oil, or do you make some yourself? I buy oil.

How about saturated fats? I know the conventinal wisdom about them, but you need some of them for your body to work 100%.. Animal meat give me plenty.

While rabbit is relatively lean, it sounds like he eats some of his chickens as well and they are pretty greasy.


Have you considered learning how to identify and harvest wild edibles? They’re free!

Yes, I have a couple of books around. Will get to that someday.


We need a balanced, varied diet. I couldn`t really eat every single day the same identical thing.


Raspberries:{

If you love raspberries too, they`re probably the easiest berry to "cultivate"- if you could even call it that. They`re just like weeds; just watch to make sure that they`ve got space around them to spread out.


I may decide to cultivate them. Thanks.


LWRellim: A secret tip on cultivating raspberries... ashes (wood ash or charcoal ash, doesn`t really seem to matter) -- they love the more acidic soil, need the extra carbon and the potassium it contains -- so find a shady place where they are naturally growing, and "scatter" fireplace or grill ashes there.

I actually discovered this completely by accident, had a shady spot on the edge of a tree line that used to contain a "burning barrel" with previous owner, when the barrel "died" and the ashes scattered, the wild raspberries took over and multiplied on that particular spot like crazy (and the amount of berries on each vine just "exploded"). When I realized what had occurred, I began scattering fireplace ashes where I had been trying to cultivate a specific "thimbleberry" and it worked wonders (whereas results from previous things like Miracid had poor results).

Note that wood-ash (especially containing natural wood char-coal) can also be useful for other things in your garden (instead of the Miracid stuff) -- but you have to be careful with it there, as the acidity can get too high for some crops.


}


Have you ever hunted larger game to get more meat/more variety of meat? If not, have you considered it?

Or do you not have a way to store a hundred pounds of venison?

I don`t have a gun, and don`t even know how to handle one, so I don`t. I considered it though. Storing venison shouldn`t be a problem, I can freeze and dry.


Have you given any thought to hydroponics?

Hydroponics would be too complicated for me, and would require more energy than I have (for the bulbs, etc). I might have considered it was I in a harsher climate.



}

Cooking:{

[edit] Cooking

Eggs are especially good. Rabbit meat tastes good as well.


What is your favorite way to eat eggs? Soft boiled.


Stewed or braised rabbit is delicious. Have you ever eaten chicken cacciatore? The original purpose of that dish (near as I can figure) was make lean game (i.e. rabbits) and foraged vegetables taste good. Cacciatore is Italian for `hunter`.


I guess my only question is, don`t you ever get sick of just eating basically the same stuff over and over again? Eventually you`d want a cheeseburger or burrito......

No, I see food as fuel, so I don`t. I make chicken and bunny burgers though!


}

Butchering:{

[edit] Butchering

I butcher my own animals (in a much more humane way than your average slaughterhouse);

I now use this device. http://www.therabbitwringer.com/

They die instantly.


How exactly do you process your meat? You said you dry it, what then? Where can I get more info on this?

I kill it, I skin it, I cut it. Really, easy as 1-2-3.


You can find info about butchering animals all over the web.


}

Preserving:{

[edit] Preserving

Do you preserve your food? Yes, I do preserve by drying, pickling, and cooling.

I dry it with a device called Excalibur Dehydrator. Best in the market, if you ask me. http://www.excaliburdehydrator.com/


What`s the point of dehydrating? Can you then eat it without further preparation?

Exactly. It is also handy if I don`t feel like cooking, or butchering, or I want some food to take with me while I work outside. Dried vegetables are excellent for soups.

I would assume, then, that there is no need to freeze the meat, or even veggies, using this method?

Dried food doesn`t exactly have unlimited shelf life. I would say that without refrigeration, you push your luck with 6 months assuming a 90% moisture removal. With refrigeration, maybe a year. Freezing, even more. The food that has the longest shelf life is freeze dried food, which can last even 20 years and keeps all its nutrients. Damn expensive.

Do you often have food for that long?

I would say that I have at least six months worth of food saved at any single time.

I see. Then do you freeze or just refrigerate?

I refrigerate, for now. A freezer would require extra solar panels and batteries, which I may acquire in the future.

How does the meat taste after dehydration? What about fruits and vegetables? Do they lose vitamins? How much electricity does it consume?

The meat has usually a more intense taste. Depending on the level of dehydration and how it`s cut, it may feel rubbery, crispy or even friable. Fruits and vegetables keep most of their vitamins, but lose them with time. They change their taste a bit. Vegetables are good, fruit.. depends. It gets more sugary, but the taste sometimes is strange. Commercial dried fruit tastes good usually because there`s sugar added.


You said you use a solar oven too. You`ve probably tried dehydrating in that. You don`t have a car, but they make great dehydrators too, in a pinch.

The problem with dehydration in ovens and similar devices is that you get uneven results, and controlling the temperature is very difficult (In the case of the solar stove, almost impossible). You have to check and recheck continuously. It`s not impossible, and people have been doing this for centuries but a dehydrator like the Excalibur gives you even results and much more control. If technology makes my life easier, I use it. (duh)


fermentation:{

[edit] fermentation

fermentation is king, in self sufficient sustainability. check out wild fermentation by sandor katz (a friend of mine)

Yes, but I want to take it easy because you can poison yourself if you do it wrong.

I hold a degree in fermentation science, and no you can`t.

Pure curiosity, what on Earth do you do with a degree in fermentation science? Something in a winery I presume?

I`m half thinking you got it just for this moment.

in his comments he indicates that he is a winemaker. also, Pinot 911 is fairly clever.

Haha didn`t pick up on that, thank you.


Right now I`m a research winemaker. In past I`ve been a brewer.

At home I love fermenting things like meats, cheeses, vegetables (pickles, sauerkraut etc). The degree is part of a Food Science program so we learn a lot about biochemistry, engineering, food chemistry, food safety, flavor chemistry and statistics! It`s a good mix of chem and engineering and what`s more fun than making food?

Ever had a salami? That`s fermented.

Fermentation is a wonderful food preservation technique.


The only thing that could possibly go wrong would be to ferment something, and distill it and pull off the methanol and feed it to your buddies and watch them go tits up.


I have a question about this.

If i ferment some sugar water (or equivalent), what are the chances of it having methanol in it? How can I tell if there is any in there? How can I separate it from the ethanol if ideed there is some there?


Your chances are 100%

Methanol is a byproduct of yeast fermentation. However, without distillation, you cannot get high enough concentrations to cause problems.

I`m not sure what the ratio of methanol to ethanol is. Let`s say it`s 1:100. In a 5% alcohol beer, you`re going to have 0.05% methanol. No big deal. This only gets problematic when distilling. Your 0.05% solution just went to 0.95% and it comes out of solution (lower vapor pressure) than ethanol first, thus the "heads" part of the distillate, this is always discarded because this heads component will probably be in the 90-100% methanol percentage.

Edit: I just looked it up and it looks like it`s about a 1:200 ratio.


you can`t poison yourself making sauerkraut or kimchi.


Failed beer, mead, and wine don`t make poison, they make vinegar.


Have you considered hydroponics? Supposedly it`s more efficient and you can grow indoors with a compact fluorescent bulb.

Yes, I did, but it seemed more complicated, even if perhaps more efficient. Not to mention more expensive, since I would have to feed energy to the bulbs. I would probably have considered it if I had harsh winters.


} }

}

Land/House/Shelter:{

[edit] Land/House/Shelter

Area:{

[edit] Area

What geographic region? North America.


You said not much of a winter and i wanted to try to compare it to my local winter to see if it would be reasonable to do the same thing.

I would say that any winter which doesn`t go lower than 66/68 F is suitable.

whats the weather/envirnment like where you live? Mild winters, hot summers. Could really be anywhere in the far southern US, especially if it`s coastal.

What sort of climate do you live in? Good climate. Not very rigid winters.

How good is your climate? Do you need to use heating or air conditioning? I don`t need heating, and I use an electric fan in the summer.


Are you in a sunny part of the country? Quite sunny, yes.

Can I assume you live in a place that has no winters? There`s something like a winter, but not very hard.

Do you live in the suburb? Suburb: Kinda.

How many square feet is your house? How do you heat/cool it? What sort of climate do you live in? House is approx 600 sqft. No need for heating really, but I have a stove. If it`s really hot, I have a fan. It`s a quite temperate climate.


You say you have rabbits and chickens, so obviously you can`t live in a very urban setting because of laws against that kind of thing. How far away are you from an urban centre? Is it a city or a town or what? Do you own a car? I am quite far away from the urban centre, but still near enough not to consider myself in the country. It`s a relatively small city. Technically speaking, I couldn`t raise animals. The point is that.. I don`t care. :)

Really, the only way someone could discover that I am raising chickens and rabbits is by inspecting my house, and nobody has really any valid reason to do that. I keep a middle class facade partly for that reason (I don`t want to attract attention) and partly because I am still, mentally, middle class. I didn`t exactly step down, and I didn`t exactly step up. My friends and family didn`t exactly notice much of a difference. I always have been a frugal, brainy guy more focused on books than anything else.


No, I don`t live in a farm. I live in the city, which is probably the real "accomplishment", if we can put things this way. What I do doesn`t require acres and acres of land. Just planning, preparation and optimization.

Yes, it`s relatively warm all year, and I selected it exactly for that reason. I won`t reveal the exact location, though.


I don`t live exactly inside the city, but close enough not to consider myself outside of it.

You may be surprised how easy it is to raise rabbits and chickens. I know about people who do that at home, in a condo. They are extremely low-maintenance, and quiet. The rabbits, especially, don`t make a single noise.


Would you or anyone here have advice on the best place to do this? Money, people, temperature, sun, rain, cost, farming wise?

If you could move to South America, that would be excellent. Great climate and food prices. It obviously entails leaving behind everything, including friends, family and job. If not, I suppose any place in the south warm enough and cheap enough would be fine.


I actually considered moving to another country where life is cheaper, but I ultimately decided against it.

I was thinking more about South America, in one of the stable and quiet countries such as Ecuador.


You mentioned that your location is in an area where the weather is relatively warm all year. Do you think it`s possible to live out your lifestyle in a location which has a winter that drops below freezing, or is a location that always stays above freezing a requirement?


Generally, a temperate/good climate is better than a wintery one, for several reasons:

   * No heating expenses.
   * No extra clothing expenses.
   * Definitely more options and choices in gardening
   * Less house maintenance required (the cold can cause damage)

So, given a choice, I would go for a warm location. If there`s no choice, ie. you already live in a cold climate and moving isn`t economical/feasible, you simply have to adapt. It`s not like life stops completely when it`s winter. There are less choices, but with due preparation it`s possible. People live comfortably in cabins in the middle of nowhere in Alaska.


Nope:{

[edit] Nope

You should move to Alaska. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_Permanent_Fund


The fund money would then go into heating and extra solar panels.


i imagine a stove furnance and lumber could be cheap -- but i`m not sure how scarce lumber is in alaska.


Actually the biggest problems would come from the relative scarcity of sunlight (you would need more efficient and numerous solar panels) and the climate sucks. More clothing, and less options for gardening unless you build a greenhouse or something like that.


ah, i see. thanks for the info.


}


Taxes:{

[edit] Taxes

If you own your home, how do you deal with property taxes? They could easily double or triple your annual expenses.

I own my own home, but it is small and property taxes don`t hurt me much. That`s one reason why I still have to work, at least for a while.

Do you include property taxes in the $2000 you say you need per year?

Yes. It`s a small house.

Where the heck is this place? I have a small falling-down house on a 10th of an acre and I pay nearly $1k a month in property taxes. What is your annual property tax bill? Did you inherit the land, or do you have some special tax break, or what?

It`s just a not central place in the (relative) middle of nowhere. Is a relatively big city, but not the kind of city that you would read about on the news. Property taxes are low.


How much are your property taxes? What is your tax assessment? I`ve never heard of a place where you can own a house on enough land to grow your own food with a tax bill under $2k/year.


I used to own a 5 bedroom house in the country that sat on an acre and another 16 acres in back field. The taxes for the house and yard were $350 a year, and the back fields were about $200.

Within city limits, 1/4 of an acre, about $500 in property tax a year for myself. YMMV

I live in a spendy town full of rich people, and my taxes are about 1200/yr and my yard is big enough to sustain my wife and I.


You need to get out to different areas of the country (i.e. OUT of the city and beyond the suburb to the rural "countryside" -- main thing is to locate an area that is a plain "township" and away from areas with city/village or other "municipality" things like expensive fanciful school buildings, redundant libraries, parks, pools, full-time city police & fire depts, and their & accompanying "administrative" costs).

I have an acre, a 2-1/2 story house (w Garage & Workshop, shed, paved driveway etc) and my prop taxes are around $2,500 annually (and this in a fairly "high-tax" state that depends heavily on property taxes, and less so on permits, fees, & licenses, etc).

I know people in rural areas of other states that think my property taxes are insanely high, they pay under $500 a year, but they also have much more expensive annual state car license fees, etc. (so in the end it`s pretty similar total cost).


Does the word "township" actually mean anything?

All the "townships" I know are in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and there everything is a township. And people there pay waaaay more in property taxes than I do.


Get away from the heavily populated "original 13 states" areas and into the rural areas of the states that were "gridded" (Ohio & west) and yes, there is a big difference.

The rural townships in the gridded states tend to contain a whole lot of nothing for official infrastructure -- maybe a small town hall building for voting & meetings, a 1/2 dozen township "farm roads" to maintain, a volunteer FD, and at most an elementary school or two (normally consolidated with other schools into a nearby village or city municipality for high school)... and that`s about all.

People in the municipalities then have to pay for sewer and city water and parks and such -- but the people in the surrounding townships (provided they live far enough out to not get "annexed") can be spared all that (of course it means maintaining your own well & septic system -- but if they`re kept in good shape, they are actually relatively cheap compared to city water/sewer).


}


}

Size:{

[edit] Size

How much square foot of vegetable do you need to grow in order to feed yourself, rabbits and chickens?

Square Feet: About 500. It seems like almost nothing, but I am very efficient with gardening. I use a method called Square Foot Gardening. it`s incredibly easy and gives great results. http://www.squarefootgardening.com/


How much land do you have/need to become self sufficient? How much land is required for everything you do (living, animals, and crops)? Depending on your lifestyle, 500/1000 sqft. 500 sqft is sufficient, if you use it efficiently.

Whats your acreage? That`s the biggest reason why it`s not practical for most people I know to do this. Can you tell us a little bit about how you have your agriculture setup? How do you manage your food so that it lasts all the way through the year? I`ve always been somewhat into gardening but have never been able to come close to growing enough food to live off of.


500 sqft, which is actually more than adequate for my Square Foot Boxes. I have 10, spaced so that I can walk among them easily, and actually raised so I don`t even have to crouch to tend them. It`s awesome. I usually eat directly from the garden, and can/freeze/dry about 30/50% of the produce.

It doesn`t actually take land, but space. If you use Square Foot Gardening, or any form of "raised bed" gardening, you provide your own soil so land availability is irrelevant. You could theoretically garden on a balcony, or roof.

The animals don`t require "land" either, especially the rabbits. The chickens don`t care much. They like to pick the insects and pluck the occasional weed, but they would probably be fine everywhere. I mean, if chickens can survive the industrial farming treatment, I don`t see why they couldn`t survive anything else.

Don`t take my word for it. Try for yourself, and then decide. This stuff isn`t theoretical. You have to experiment.



}

House:{

[edit] House

Is your house anything special as far as construction goes? Or is it the typical Chicago-framed American-style house? Absolutely normal house.


}


}

Energy:{

[edit] Energy

Solar:{

[edit] Solar

I produce electricity with solar panels. I plan to acquire one of those Human Power Generators as well. Solar panels. I just have to power my laptop, which consumes about 60 Watts at its peak, and some lights. I also have a flat screen tv which I sometimes hook up to the laptop if I wish to watch some movies in something bigger than 15", but that`s rare.

How many KW do your solar panels produce? I get about 500 watts from my solar panels, which is really overkill. (although sometimes.. not so much.)

Can you sell excess electricity back to the grid yet where you live?

I never investigated that. Maybe. It wouldn`t be much, anyway. 500 watts is overkill (I really just have to power a laptop, the fridge and some lamps) but not that much.

How much was the initial investment of your solar panels? I think it was about 3k.

is that 3k with batteries, regulators, junctions, cables, etc? If we include all the nuts and bolts, I think it was more around 4k. Ballpark figure.


how did you hook up your solar panels? how much did it cost you? where did you get them? Wiring? :)

It cost me about $3,000 if I remember it correctly. I got them from a local store.


You`ve mentioned you have solar panels. Could you tell me a little more about them? I`m not interested in doing anything like what you`re doing, but I`d love to get some of my energy from renewable processes, and you seem like you`d know how to do it cheaply.

There isn`t really much more I can`t tell you that you can`t already find on Google. Do you have a specific question?

One piece of general advice I can give is to calculate down to the watt your energy needs, add a 20% (you never know) and then try to acquire devices which consume even less than that. If you use a desktop computer, acquire a laptop. If you use incadescent bulbs, get LEDs. And so on.

   * Where did you get them?
   * How much did they cost?
   * When was this? Do you know if technology has changed since now and then?
   * What will I not find on Google?
   * What is maintenance like?


are solar panels your only source of energy? which brand/manufacturer did you use (or where did you buy from)?

Actually they are my only source of energy. I bought from a local company, and I forget the brand.


have you considered other methods, i.e., wind?

I considered every method available, including Stirling Engines, and ultimately solar power is the most efficient for my very limited needs. Every other method, wind included, wouldn`t be worth much. Localized energy production is highly dependent on the environment.


Agreed. Do you have any kind of backup (Generator?) in case of excess energy needs? Or perhaps thats what the batteries are for.

The most demanding thing I have is the dehydrator. Most days I rarely reach 200 Watts (laptop, lights). The "excess" goes into batteries.

So you`ve got a set up where when you`re not using electricity they`re stored in some form of battery/capacitor? Clever. How much nrg can those batteries hold?


}

Other:{

[edit] Other

Most days I rarely reach 200 Watts, which mostly go to the laptop, lights and the occasional appliance (ie. electric razor, fan in the summer). If you are alone and go manual whenever possible (ie. hand cranked washing machine) 500 Watts are plenty, but I wouldn`t mind some extra for when I have to use the dehydrator.


Batteries:{

[edit] Batteries

Absolutely invest in good batteries such as Trojan. http://www.trojanbattery.com/

Thanks for the battery link. RE, AGM or Gel?

I am sure battery technology has advanced by now. Don`t expect them to be eternal, but good batteries should give you 5-8 years of good service if treated right. This is a very informative site. http://www.windsun.com/Batteries/battery_comparison.htm

}


Bike Generator: I am not an exercise freak per se, but if you can generate 150 Watts by simply pedaling for a bit (or 60 Watt for the hand cranked version), that`s a lot. Hook it up to a battery, and it`s potentially days worth of LED lighting or laptop power. Great for emergencies, if the solar panels fail for any reason, or if there`s little sun.


}

}

Utilities:{

[edit] Utilities

Cooking:{

[edit] Cooking

How do you cook / refrigerate stuff without much electricity? I cook with a stove. I also have a solar stove.


}

Waste:{

[edit] Waste

When I go number two I collect it to use as humanure, and I usually take a piss outside, for example. Do you use toilet paper? Yes, that`s included in the toiletries.

There was something on reddit about how to poop without needing to wipe. Could possibily reduce your cost a bit more if you practiced it.

Wiping is one relic I want to preserve. For future generations.

http://www.reddit.com/r/YouShouldKnow/comments/9rzm7/ysk_pooping_and_you_a_guide_on_how_to_poop/


   I keep my own shit for humanure

How exactly do you pull this off? Just shit in a bag or something?

The Humanure Handbook, my dear Sir, will answer your pressing questions about handling fecal matter. http://weblife.org/humanure/default.html


What do you do with the innards? In a related area, do you pay for garbage collection? Innards go into the compost. I really don`t have much garbage, since I produce most food myself.


What do you do with the bones and carcasses?

Compost.

}

Water:{

[edit] Water

I have water at home, it`s part of my expenses. I don`t use much of it, anyway. I have clean water from the city, and I also use filters. I rarely spend more than $150 per year in water. I may switch to a well if it was economically viable to do so.

In most places it would cost you over $5.000 to drill a well and get the necessary pumps/tanks/etc. Actually, when it`s all said and done it will be closer to $10.000. So, if you`re already hooked up to the city ...


Are you on city or well water? I am on city water.

Are you connected to town water, and/or have your own water tanks? Town water.

}

Washing:{

[edit] Washing

To wash my clothes I use a formidable invention called Wonder Wash which is a crank-powered washing machine. Saves about 90% of water. Yes, I could learn to make soap, but it is infinitely easier to simply buy it, considering how cheap it is.


considering how cheap soap is, I would rather buy it. Dr. Bronners is like $5 for a years worth and it works as shampoo as well. Borax and baking soda also work. Toothpaste, too :)


}

Refrigeration:{

[edit] Refrigeration

What kind of refrigerator do you have? I use a chest fridge which roughly consumes 0,1 Kw per day. http://mtbest.net/chest_fridge.html


Regarding the chest fridge, any modern one would do. I would advise against buying second hand in this case, better to shell a $100 more and have the warranty and latest technology. As far as the brand goes, get the one which is easier to service and with abundant availability of spare parts. (Really almost a non-issue nowadays, you can find spare parts through the web) You can buy the assembled unit here. http://mtbest.net/freezer-to-fridge-thermostat.html


}

Compost:{

[edit] Compost

I assume you have a composting toilet- any advice from experience? The best advice about compost I could make is: invest in some commercial plastic tumbler compost which can be closed. It avoids nasty odors, and you can bury new stuff.


}

Heat:{

[edit] Heat

What do you use for heat? Or are you in an area where that isnt an issue?

Not really an issue, I simply wear warmer clothes.

}


}

Living:{

[edit] Living

Free time:{

[edit] Free time

Anyway, I don`t spend all my life tending to my stuff. It`s very light work, 1 or 2 hours per day, plus one day a week of general maintenance.

I do what I want when the work is taken care of. I would say I can do whatever I want 70% of my time. I mostly read, write and do random things at the computer.

What do you do on your free time? I`m sure you do a ton of things compared to people in the rat race. Mostly read, browsing the web, talking/socializing with friends, and playing videogames.


Do you have any daily schedule, or do you just do things when you want? (Like feed chickens and tend to the garden)...

I basically do whatever I have to do. I rarely have to keep a To-Do list, but there are things I have scheduled.


How much free time do you actually have? I would imagine that you have very little free time. Have you ever thought about writing a book about this experience? I have lots of free time, actually. The animals and the gardening don`t take much effort really. Just discipline.


How much of your time is taken up by your sustainance and how much by leisure? I would say it`s 80% leisure. Maybe 70%.


What do you appreciate the most with this simpler life? What`s your average day like? I appreciate mostly the freedom, and how close I am with what I live on.

I don`t really have an "average day". Depends on what I have to do. Some periods are more hectic than others. I feed the creatures every day, check on them, check the garden, cook, and then read/browse the web. Or socialize with friends.


You mentioned books, how you love them generally. What type of books do you read, fiction, non-fiction, or genres.

I read both fiction and non-fiction.


How much of your time do you spend online? Where do you hang on much? Do you have any social networking site like facebook?

I spend at least 1 hour per day online. I am not in any social networking site. I especially don`t like Facebook, it looks too shady, especially when it comes to personal information.



You mention that you stay healthy. To that end, do you or do you have to , exercise? How often and all.

I sometimes do some bodyweight exercises.


Do you have a hobby? As you mentioned you keep physically fit; what do you do to remain mentally sharp too ( apart from reading) . For example, are you learning to play some instrument? Or perhaps you write. Basically I am curious if you have a intellectual passion you engage in.

I mostly read and write. I don`t play an instrument, but would like to.


Does it ever get bland?

No, it never gets bland.


Do you travel? If you need to travel, do you have someone to take care of the animals?

No, I don`t.


How time consuming is this lifestyle? I imagine it is, but is it worth it? I ask this because me like many other lazy/busy individuals who try and live fulfilling/comfortable lives, we may want to live like you.

I would say a couple of hours of light work per day, and one day per week of relatively "hard" work (butchering, scheduling, preparing food, etc.)

When you begin this lifestyle you basically enter a period of very hectic and hard work which lasts about 6 months/1 year, during which you adjust your living quarters, your schedule, understand the cycles, and get a "sense" of the whole thing. After that period, it`s really mostly maintenance.


h) how often do you get bored? h) Never, really.


When was the last time you`ve traveled or gone on a trip of some sort (if ever)?

It depends on your definition of a "trip". Do you mean overseas?

Hmm. Yes overseas, but also more generally, have you gone for leisure in say... outside of a 100 mile radius (or out of state)?

I only ask because your lifestyle sounds incredible and I can`t believe it`s possible, and the only thing I would personally miss out on is traveling (something I love to do).

I`ve taken lots of trips and jaunts, out of state and not out of state. Never been overseas.


All this does sound fantastic and I am glad you are enjoying your life. However, this lifestyle does seem like just as much if not more work than having a job on the "rat-race". If you enjoy living this way all the power to you but you cannot deny that you seem like a very hard working individual.

Not really. Peruse the whole topic and my comments, and you will get more information about what I do. It really sums up to a couple of hours per day or work, and a day per week of "maintenance". The rest is leisure.


You`ve replaced the rat race (corporate job) with a full time job as a farmer. That still seems like a lot of work. It kind of cancels out the whole point of "work only when strictly necessary". Care to explain?

It`s not a "full time job". I work a couple of hours per day doing useful stuff.


Still, that means you can`t go on a vacation or just go somewhere anytime you want. You have a bunch of animals to take care of.

Vacation implies some kind of leisure time away from a job. Technically speaking, I already am on one.


That`s great, but given the choice between working 8 hours and then coming home and playing some GTA vs. spending all day pickling beets, I choose the former.

My average day is a couple of hours of light work. And I do play GTA too, although I don`t have a PS3 so I`ve yet to play the 4.



}

Friends:{

[edit] Friends

Somewhat related too. How often do you have visitors? And who? Yes, my friends.


What do your friends / family think of your choice? They don`t really know, they just notice that.. well, I don`t work as much, and I am much more relaxed. Officially I am freelancing.


socialize with friends.

Can you expand?

Do you drink beer/wine? What do you do to socialize and what are the expenses for socializing?


d) what do you with your friends? do they not get mad for you not having money? d) We simply talk and discuss. They don`t care. That`s why they are friends.


Most people don`t even have 1 friend that they can completely confide in. In that respect, you`re much better off than someone making millions and most likely friendless.

Actually, this reminds me of a philosphy video I stumbledupon a few years back. It was about Epicurus and his 3 key points to happiness.

1) Financial freedom, not being rich but just having the freedom to do as you pleased. Not being economically tied down or constricted. 2) True friends and having them live with you(i interpreted it that way, not sure if that`s how it was, i`ll search for the vid) 3) Hmm... can`t remember 3rd.

Here`s the link, it`s still up, yay: http://www.stumbleupon.com/s/#1n2RF9/video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3535764476733084568/

Ah, the 3rd was an "analyzed life". Yeah a bit tricky to remember. Anyways, after watching it again, it`s more relative than I thought.

Do your friends live with you? Do you think that could be a possibility?

Have you ever read epicurus before?

Hehe, it seems I finally came up with some questions for you.

Fucking epicurus was a badass. It`s pretty crazy how his philosophy from thousands of years ago is just as relevant in today`s world.

This will probably have a big impact on my life.

God damn, he even had advertising as being one of the main reasons ppl were unhappy!? I didn`t even know there was advertising in ancient greece lol.



They come to visit, or we keep in contact online. Sometimes I visit.

I don`t drink alcohol alone. Sometimes I can have a beer with friends. No real expenses, just traveling if I go visit (ie. train) or food/beverages if I entertain.


With regards to friends, what do you do when they ask you to go out to dinners or go for drinks somewhere? I have never be the type who goes out for dinners or drinks often, so that really didn`t change much. I can still afford the occasional meal out, but I really just do it for the company than anything else. I often entertain people at home.


When was the last time you made a new friend. or friends. I dunno whether it needs a clarification, but this is a genuine question.

I haven`t made a new friend for quite a while, but it`s also my fault.


If you entertain, surely your friends notice the lack of some conveniences?

Not much. I always have been frugal, and they know that for me a "convenience" is a well stocked library.


What did your family/friends say when you told them about your plans? How do they feel about it now?

I didn`t say anything. I just said that I wanted to "change my priorities" and focus on other things. It has been so gradual that nobody never noticed a drastic change.


What`s your social life like?

Normal. I have friends who mostly come to visit.


}

Maintenance:{

[edit] Maintenance

Work:{

[edit] Work

It sounds like a dream life, but it`s not always like that. There`s lots of maintenance to do, I "work" at least a couple of hours per day, and once a week more than that.


That seems a fucking insane shitload a lot better than getting up at 6am, sitting 2 hrs in traffic, then sitting in a cubicle for 8 hours, 2 more hours of traffic, back home, watch tv and pass out.

I do hope I can get to where you are soon, currently saving up money to buy a house and land outside the city :)


You say you work a little to make up the money... what kind of work do you do? Internet based? Selling your excess produce? I either work as a temp, or in construction, or general menial jobs. I usually work until I rake 2/3k and then stop.


}


}

Internet:{

[edit] Internet

How much does your internet cost?

Roughly $200 per year.

wow, that`s almost 1/5 of our yearly internet budget?

Whats your speed/quota like?



}

Health care:{

[edit] Health care

What do you do about health care? Do you have catastrophic insurance, or just hope you don`t get sick? When I think about retiring early, health care seems like the biggest obstacle; one stroke of bad luck can completely wipe you out if you`re uninsured, and insurance is either astronomically expensive or unreliable due to rescission (at least for now, anyway).


I hope not to get sick, but I may reconsider insurance.


Actually, since medicine often causes as much harm as good, and the body itself has amazing healing powers (doctors don`t "heal" -- at best, they assist the body with the process) -- there is a solid question as to whether modern health-care is really that much of a benefit.

Clean water supplies and good sanitation systems (septic/sewer) along with sufficient food supplies are probably MORE of the reason why people live longer, healthier lives than the fanciful techniques of modern medicine. (And if you are living in a health-deprecating, stress-filled rat-race mainly to pay for medical care you`re basically digging a hole only to fill it back in again; a much less stressful life eliminates a LOT of what people use medicines for... think everything from high-blood pressure to depression to diabetes [from modern HFCS diet]).

And everyone will die anyway... no matter how much expensive medicine you throw at them. (Personally, I`d rather die quietly from a heart attack at home than live a torture-like last six months in a hospital attempting to recover from a heart bypass surgery, a MRSA infection, and hacking through nosocomial pneumonia).


Actually what you are calling "ordinary" pneumonia is not really so ordinary.

The pneumonias that are so deadly are typically either the rare fungal pneumonia (typically only a concern in certain parts of the country, and then mainly to those with depressed or damaged immune sytstems) OR they are, as I cited already "nosocomial" (hospital acquired) pneumonia [HAP] -- which CAN spread beyond the hospital via friends/family of hospital patients (and are then falsely called "community acquired" when in fact they are still HAP-related).

These are the BIG problem. Pneumonia that is acquired in or from the hospital or another type of institution tends to be far more common (around 5% of people who enter the hospital with OTHER problems contract pneumonia) and are not only far more severe but also far more likely to be fatal (10% to 50% ) whereas a "true" community acquired pneumonia is not only fairly rare, but has a death rate of less than 1%.

Antibiotics are only effective against bacterial pneumonia; they are utterly worthless against fungal, viral, parasitic, or idiopathic pneumonia (and failure by doctors to properly diagnose before blasting away with antibiotics often leads to further problems, especially as the patient is often "hospitalized" and thus put in a situation of increased exposure to further infections.)

If you are an average person working and living in the average world, your chances of dying from a pneumonia acquired in the community are so low, that seriously so long as you avoid being hospitalized (and especially avoid being put on a ventilator) then you NOT be worried about pneumonia, and instead should be a lot MORE worried about a host of other things -- like car accidents, tripping on ice -- things which might put you IN the hospital (where you are THEN much more likely to catch a nasty pneumonia, etc.)


Insurance is not about reducing health care costs. It increases average cost in the long term, but smooths it out, so you don`t have to pay large amounts on short notice. This seems valuable if you have no savings and are living paycheck-to-paycheck.

I`m living on savings + occasional short-term work. Smoothing my monthly cash flow is not important, but reducing overall expenses is.

My strategy is to get "catastrophic" health insurance. I got a plan with the highest deductible I could find. I pay for everything out of pocket, and will only go to the insurance company for something really big.


Ever wonder why great-grandma was still spry at 78 years of age, despite squirting out 6 kids and raising them on a backwoods farm?

Exercise and a healthy diet. It works marvels.



id like to know what you plan on later in life. most people live for 20 plus years after they are no longer able to work, would you like to do this forever? what about medical expenses? does this bother you? It would scare me.

It doesn`t scare me. I find it stupid to live on fear. Am I supposed to torture myself in a cubicle for the rest of my life just because, someday, when I am older, I may get sick? Nah. I`d rather take my chances now, and see what life has in store for me. For my part, I try to live healthily and safely.


Ironically working your whole life typically induces injuries and sickness.

True. Lots of people slip into depression when they retire as well.


Do you have health insurance or money that you have set aside for medical emergencies? I don`t have health insurance, but I do have money set aside.


Is there any particular reason why you`re not answering questions about what you do for health care? Is that something you just haven`t thought about? Being 36, you`ve probably got another 10 years or so of care-free health, but once you get near 50 and beyond health concerns take more time and resources, no matter how healthy you try to live.


Uh, I have actually discussed it already. Maybe you didn`t notice the comments, which is understandable considering the number.

I am currently uninsured and I am taking my chances. I may consider a very basic form of insurance (emergencies) in the future. I live a relatively safe life. I am rarely into potentially dangerous situations, and my immune system is extra healthy because I basically grew up in grime. I cannot remember the last time I had a simple flu.

I am under no delusion of being immune to everything, but probably only something like cancer would justify a costly hospitalization/medication.

It`s surprising the number of chronic conditions that creep up as you age: blood pressure, arthritis, gout, etc. Not any great danger when treated, but can be problems when left undiagnosed/untreated.


}

Money:{

[edit] Money

How do you handle things like property taxes? I`m also curious to know how you cover utilities (electricity, water, etc).

I have savings and sometimes I work. I also sell extra chickens and rabbits when I have them. They reproduce all the time like.. well, rabbits.

I cover electricity with solar panels, water with normal utilities, and so on.

Don`t you need permits and such to sell your animals? You`d be at the mercy of a whistleblower.

I don`t do it publicly.

Could you elaborate? Are these similar to back alley crack deals?

No, more like word of mouth.


How much do you pay in utiity bills (internet, electricity/gas, water?)

My only bills are internet and water, which add up to about $300 per year.


Maybe I could start a blog someday.

Please do. It wouldn`t surprise me at all if you could earn >$2 000/year from it, and as a fellow construction worker, I know it would a much more pleasant way to do it.

I actually don`t mind construction, if I must be sincere. Despite my brainy nature, I like to do some hard work occasionally.


You`ve mentioned working a small amount of time every week to help sustain your savings. What is it that you do for work?

I don`t work weekly, rather.. annually, like 1 or two months.

Menial jobs mostly. I sell extra animals on the side, I may help in some farm, or construction, or even white collar jobs as a temp. Whatever. Just to rake in enough money to pay for the year.


If you chose to work in addition to living that lifestyle, how much time do you estimate you could work each week without burning out? I guess I could bear 10/15 hrs per week.


Do you miss being `productive`? Maybe you have some hobby where you create something? For me just spending all my time reading and playing video games would get old after a while

I am productive. I work to support my lifestyle.


Welfare:{

[edit] Welfare

Have you ever considered going on welfare?

No, I would really feel like a leech. It`s not like I can`t work.

I think your situation is fairly unique. IMHO, anyone who can be almost completely self-sufficient shouldn`t have to pay property taxes. So, in my slightly twisted logic you should take welfare to pay your taxes.


I don`t pay much property taxes anyway, around $150 per year. Another reason I don`t want welfare is that I would basically allow the state to mingle with my own affairs. If they give you welfare, they automatically have the right to pry why. I`d rather have the peace of mind.

They might find your illegal chicken/rabbit operation. Gotcha.

Exactly. Not that I am breeding anthrax, but one thing may lead to another and I really don`t want any trouble.


I bet he still uses public roads when he travels, is glad to know that a firetruck would be on its way if his house ever caught fire, and enjoys the peace of mind in having a military to defend him.


Normally, I would totally support people paying their taxes and not being leaches but it just bothers me that someone who is trying to live completely off the grid has to pay taxes on their property. Do the Amish pay property taxes (honest question)? He should definitely pay sales tax (not really a way around that one) and if he ever chooses to work again his income should certainly be taxed but I think there should be some kind of exception for people who choose to remove themselves from conventional society.


I think it was the Daily show who made fun of a representative who was talking on the house floor about how some people from the Amish community came to him troubled by the jail time for those w/o healthcare provision of the house bill. John was trying to make a joke, but it really touched me. It`s just not right that they could be threatened with imprisonment while their lifestyle is probably a net positive on the earth or at least far less in the red than our modern one.


Yeah, but you make it sound like he NEVER paid taxes.

All the years that he DID work in the "rat race" he paid plenty of taxes (and as a single guy, he did and still DOES pay a lot into the system for a lot of services -- like public schools for other peoples` children -- that he receives no real benefit from).

As to the military -- most of the costs there have nothing to do with defending the US itself -- they are too busy defending allies and the "empire" that primarily feeds the needs/purposes of multinational corporations (which themselves pay the bare minimum of taxes).


Well if his house is on fire, I`m sure the fire department will show up to put it out, and if he calls the police, I`m sure they respond, and if he has a child he can send them to school.

Property taxes are how a lot of these things are paid for.


Depends. In a lot of rural areas (like my own township) the local fire department is entirely "volunteer" and they tend to raise money for operations by having annual "fireman`s dances" and other fundraisers.

As for local police -- we simply don`t have them (for the township) -- the county sheriff is more than sufficient (very low crime rate, which to me is both a cause AND an effect of not having a local township police force, as too many times they end up being more like Barney Fife than Andy Griffith, and they MAKE the crimes in order to feel important).


}


}

Stuff:{

[edit] Stuff

i) what do you say when asked what do you for a living? i) I am a freelance.

When do you get up in the morning? Usually at 4/5 AM.

Do you still have a phone? I do have a phone, for emergencies. You never know.

Alcohol and friends. Those are my two favourite things. Have you had to sacrifice those? I never was into alcohol, so it wasn`t a sacrifice. Friends, no.


Do you ever scavenge? (Dumpster dive?) Have you ever had any problems with homeowners associations etc. because you are raising chickens and rabbits in a suburban setting? (I`m guessing)

No, I don`t scavenge and I designed everything in order to remain quite stealth. It`s a semi-suburban setting anyway.

e) can you afford a dog? e) Probably I could, but I`d rather not have one.

Ever thought about getting a dog for companionship? Then I would have to keep him from the chickens and rabbits. Also, it would add to the expenses.


what happens if you want to build/buy a new computer or eat creme brulee?

I dip into my savings, then work a bit more to make up for it.


When I was really young my parents had a goose, ducks, chickens, cats, and dogs. They all got along just fine.

In fact, one of the dogs (a black lab) was best friends with the goose. I still have home videos kicking around somewhere of the dog carrying the goose around by its neck (black lab = soft mouths).

Just pointing out that it is possible for dogs (especially passive dogs like labs) to be shown which animals to be friendly to.

Yes it would be more expensive, but I cannot imagine living without a dog.


f) seeing life from that perspective has teach you something that the rest in the rat race miss? f) Maybe.. I suppose I learned that we can be happy with much less than society has conditioned us to think.


Do you brew your own beer? If yes, what style? If not, do you drink beer? If yes, favorite beer?

When my friends come over they often bring some beer, but I am not partial to any particular brand. Whatever. I don`t drink alone and don`t brew anything.


Have you ever had to steal from anybody in "the system" (perhaps as an emergency measure) to support your life outside of it? If not, have you / would you ever consider doing so?

I never had to. Frankly, I would have to find myself in that position to give a honest answer. Desperation is a big motivator.

What about software / TV / movies? I know that, were I on your budget (and if I didn`t have cable), I`d find it hard to avoid. I suppose things like Hulu and Linux/open source could probably used to deal with most of that, though. Games, though ... cry ... I`d sure miss playing some of the blockbusters (actually I`m just now getting around to Mass Effect, since steam was selling it super super cheap a few weeks ago).

Torrent for almost everything. Including games. Of course, last generation consoles are out of the question.


how come you can afford a computer then?

Bought before entering this lifestyle, and computers are quite cheap anyway nowadays. I actually have spares, in case the one I am using melts.


I have type 1 Diabetes, I cannot live like that.{

[edit] I have type 1 Diabetes, I cannot live like that

I cannot see the correlation. Because you won`t have medication?

Actually, you probably could -- see here for info on diet to normalize your blood sugars (yes, even for type I).

This isn`t for entirely avoiding insulin, and it seems pretty extreme. 6 grams of carbohydrates for breakfast and 12 for other meals? An apple is 14 grams, though the diet does not allow fruit Or starches(goodbye grains and potatoes). Yes this would greatly alleviate much of the need for insulin, but maintaining the diet while providing your own food would be difficult.

   but maintaining the diet while providing your own food would be difficult.

Actually the opposite is true -- it would be EASIER if you ate a diet similar to the one the OP does, you would be eating mainly proteins, good fats and home grown vegetables and thus would be avoiding the short carbs of processed grains and starches (ergo significantly reducing the need for supplemental insulin).

Overeating of cheap processed carbs is the primary cause of not only the current obesity problems of much of our society but also the epidemic of type II diabetes (and a significant factor in the problems that type I diabetics have as well -- the ADA diet and its recommended carb levels are absolutely insane, and likewise with the FDA food "pyramid" -- it`s all a big fat lie).

}

}

Future:{

[edit] Future

How long do you plan on living like this? Any thoughts on what you`ll do when you are no longer physically able to produce your own food, etc.? How will you retire?


Forever, ideally. I am already retired, in case you didn`t notice! :)

I don`t think I will ever get so decrepit not to be able to produce my own food anymore. It`s not very time consuming, nor hard.


nobody plans to become decrepit / disabled. It does happen though. Good luck.


Living a healthy lifestyle will usually keep you strong enough to take care of yourself until you die. Usually. But if not, substantial savings or family are easy covers. And by family I mean kids. If NoWorriesRules ever has any, and brings them up the way he is living, I`m sure they would produce more than enough to take care of him and still live the dream.


Have you considered finding a job that interests you? This is what interests me. I may start a school, bootcamp or something like that.


c) what would you do if you had 100, or 1000 usd extra and you had to spend them on something and not allowed to save them in a bank c) I would buy books, or food, or tools if I need them.


Getting old:{

[edit] Getting old

You do know that at some point you will get old and...you won`t have much to fall back on, don`t you?

How is that any different than a large percentage of senior citizens who are reliant upon medicare and social security? Not being able to afford a nursing home would be slightly disconcerting, but there has to be some option out there. Besides, that`s decades away.

Oh no, he`ll have to kill himself and end his life with dignity and on his own terms instead of a slow humiliating death in an old folks home! While also draining the emotions and wallets of his surviving family! The horror!

Joking aside, that is one thing I will never get about people in this culture. Why do you WANT to be alive if you`re unable to live your own life?

You said that jokingly, but I wouldn`t exclude that if I was really incapacitated. I really think that euthanasia should be legalized, and not exclusively on terminal illness grounds.

Or one could die tomorrow. Better to have one`s last memories not be of a cubicle, no?


A friend of mine`s grandfather was working on his farm past his 70`s. I wouldn`t expect that that`s the norm, but I would also say that it`s possible that that point is a long way off for this fellow


For someone who has done it for a great portion of their life, it is not too hard to imagine. My 65 year old father-in-law can still work circles around me and he has battled cancer and other ailments throughout his life. Not that I am the picture of healthy living, but I do maintain acreage and chop my own wood for our only source of heat.


There`s a guy near me that is 83 and sells firewood he cuts and gathers from his wood lot. He`s in great shape. He has a comfortable routine and schedule that keeps him active, engaged, and happy.


Unless he plans to live to a 100, I don`t see maintaining a garden and a few rabbits/chickens being of any great difficulty for an old man.


My grandfather was 89, almost 90 when he died. As far as I knew him, I don`t think he would have had any trouble maintaining a garden and a few rabbits and chickens at his age. I don`t think he would have had any trouble maintaining it if he had lived 10 more years as well.


What to do you plan on doing when you`re an old man? Go into care?

Doing what I am still doing. If I can. If I can`t, I`ll see.

(By then there will be robots that can do everything you can do. The robots will also be able to kill you. The robots will take care of you in one way or another. )


What about health care? Retirement for when you can no longer fend for yourself or produce enough to stay alive? What about harsh winters and the unexpected? Do you collect welfare due to the low income? There has to be mandatory fees you are charged even if they aren`t warranted by virtue of simply existing. I can`t imagine these being less than $10,000 a year, especially as a landowner. What if something fails (like a furnace, solar panel, etc)?


Health care/retirement: Already answered. There`s really nothing I am doing now that I couldn`t do as an old man. Health care, I`ll see.

We don`t have harsh winters here. The unexpected is covered by savings and planning (ie. I have a shitload of spare parts for everything). I don`t collect welfare. I pay property taxes.

If something fails, as I said, I have spare parts. I can service 99% of the things myself, including my computer.


}


}

}

to-do list; {

[edit] to-do list

so far here`s what I have:

Buy one of these dehydrators: http://www.excaliburdehydrator.com/product.php

Build one of/several of these gardens: http://www.squarefootgardening.com/

Get one of these super washing machines: http://www.laundry-alternative.com/



}

Notes:{

[edit] Notes

LWRellim on reddit: Very smart }

Path:{

[edit] Path

Save up $110,000.

Leave $40,000 in savings.

Buy:

$70,000:

Land: ~$46,000 + $24,000 (for everything else) = $70,000

Solar panels: ~$3,000?

500 watts: $2000 - $2250

Batteries/electrical equipment: ~$1,000?

equipment: ~$1000

Shelter:

Solar cubicle 8 sq/ft (cu/ft?): $100

x2 16 sq/ft: $200

x4 32 sq/ft: $400

x8 64 sq/ft: $800

x16 128 sq/ft: $1600

x32 256 sq/ft: $3200

x64 512 sq/ft: $6400

x128 1024 sq/ft: $12,800

x256 2048 sq/ft: $25,600

x512 4096 sq/ft: $51,200

Liberator CEBs (+ tractor/engine): ~$3000 (+ ~$9000 tractor) + ~$3000 materials = $6000 to $15000

Gardening tools: 20x$100 = $2000

Soil: ~$500

Chickens: 16x ~$30 = $480

Rabbits: 13x ~$30 = $480

Animal Infrastructure: ~$500

Equipment: ~$2000

}

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