or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Country Living / Off the Grid › If *you* were starting from scratch...
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

If *you* were starting from scratch...

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
... how much money would you need to start fresh?

I'm talking:

- freezers
- stockpiling stuff (jars, canning equipment, dehydrators if you use them, etc.)
- kitchen must-haves (like a food mill. or cheesemaking stuff. or whatever.)
- chicken run/coop set-up & chickens, brooder set-up
- a 2-goat set-up (maybe)
- gardening tools
- animal feed for the first
- rain buckets
- everything else.

Assume you weren't going to hand-make everything. Like building a chicken coop from scratch - not gonna happen. Or building a brooder.

I'm not including fencing as I'm calculating that in as a housing cost.

Obviously everyone's costs will be very different but if you were moving in to YOUR house with YOUR lifestyle and had NO supplies, how much would YOU need, roughly, to replicate your lifestyle? Like, you only had a piece of land and your house. No need for well-digging or anything like that. Just supplies and animals.
post #2 of 23

All of that, all at once, including a chicken coop ready built? Tens of thousands of dollars. I would guess that $20,000 could get you all of that. Or, maybe more, it's tough to estimate that much stuff! It depends of course on a million things- How big will the coop be? How many canning jars? How many chickens & goats? Will you keep your own bucks & roosters for breeding, or rent a buck & buy chicks? How big will the gardens be? Hand tools or tractors? How much land will you have to grow your own animal foods? Can you grow enough to feed them all winter? Will your hire out for the haying/rent a tractor or do it all by hand yoruself (is that even possible)? Or will you buy packaged animal foods year round from the store? Organic or conventional feeds? Is organic alfalfa available in your area?




You know know that I'm thinking about it, perhaps starting all that at once would take $40,000. LOL You'd really need to create a detailed list. The cost for each goat- what breed will it be? How old will it be? Meat or dairy goat? Already bred or will you buy a breeding pair? What season will you purchase it? Each of those things will alter the price. You'd have to break down every little thing on your list to get a good estimate. The brand of canning lids you buy, whether you buy tools used or new, the cost of animal feed in your area..... every little thing. An already built coop can be enormously expensive, even for a tiny one.



My husband & I have been saving up for years & years in anticipation of building up a homestead. We slowly but surely added things to our collection over the years- used cast iron pans, endless books on many farming subjects, canning supplies, etc.  It's a slow process, but it's fun. :)


post #3 of 23

Too many factors missing here to really answer.  Like PP said, so many things cause prices to be higher.  I personally could not imagine thinking about homesteading of any sort w/out planning to be able to do alot of that stuff ourselves.  I don't know anyone at all in this lifestyle who buys their chicken coops already made, etc.  Most people I know use salvaged materials, used tools, or tools borrowed. 


Kitchen must-haves are very different for every homestead.  I would not consider purchasing a cheese press when we can make one ourselves.  But I bought all the supplies I needed for cheese for a couple of years for just $60.  In order to plan how much canning equipment you'd need, you would need to be able to tell me how much you need to can for the year.  How many jars of tomatoes, pickles, jams, etc....I don't know anyone who gets all that stuff at once, either.  Usually that is something that you come across more here and there over the years.  Like when I purchased my honey extractor, the lady tossed in a couple of cases of quart jars.  How big of a canner?  And do you plan to pressure can, or water bath?


Chickens and goats vary by breed.  Ours were $100 each, for registered Nubians.  That was a special deal, though, because my kids were buying them themselves with their own money and the lady was being really sweet. 


There's also just so much you cannot predict.  Such as a fox attack on your first chickens.  Or a coyote, bobcat, cougar, stray dog, etc.  Are you going to go ahead and plan on replacement costs? 


How many freezers?  See, we could not have possibly predicted that we would need 2 large upright freezers 8 years ago when we moved here. 


We would not need as much $ as you are talking about, because we do almost everything ourselves.  We would never hire someone to butcher.  We build our own barns, milking stands, hay racks, raised beds, brooders, coops.  There is no way we could do this if we didn't used found materials, things my mom gives us, etc.


ETA:  I reread my post and don't mean to come across and rude, I just never ever thought of NOT making a brooder, etc.  I'm honestly a bit shocked that anyone would just buy these things already made. 

post #4 of 23
Thread Starter 
Basically I wasn't trying to get a "tell me how much I'll need for MY expenses" answer - just basically, how much you would need for yours. wink1.gif

And I'm not offended at the idea that you'd be surprised that we'd buy some ready made stuff. Ideally we'd be doing everything ourselves. But, I also know my limitations. I have two little ones (preschool age) whom I care for by myself, essentially, and we're homeschooling. We will be trying for a third right around the time we move into the new place. I also work from home and am NOT handy with tools. I know what I can do, and what I can't. I am awesome in the kitchen, canning, preserving, soap making, knitting, all that sort of stuff. I can care for a garden, even set it up if push comes to shove. I know how to take care of animals, have done so in the past, and I'm not afraid of butchering either (although that's not something we'll be doing right away anyway). But I know that if I went into this thinking that on top of all this stuff I can also then build a coyote-proof chicken coop on top of it all... well, yeah right. wink1.gif Even in the good old days of homesteading, when there were no ready-made things, people did sometimes, you know, ask for neighbors for help to do things. I view buying a ready made coop to be something similar. I kind of view it like, I can certainly do the upkeep in the house, but I can't build one from scratch, you know?

Here's what I'm thinking of buying upfront. Roughly. I'm not saying this is what will actually be bought, just a rough estimate.

I usually do two chest freezers - I'd say about $400 each - or maybe I can buy one used. One is for meat, the other is for produce and leftover type stuff. That usually works out best.

My dream chicken coop / run is at http://www.earthwaveliving.com/products/The_Pull_It_Coop-366-36.html - That's $1500. It looks perfect, but... $1500? Really? Not going to happen. wink1.gif I'm probably going to find someone local to build it. There was a guy who lived near our old house and he built custom ones for about $400. I'm planning on four chickens to start.

I'm holding off on the goats for a few years, but when it happens, I'm thinking two dairy goats. But that's down the line.

Rain barrels - The ones I looked at were $200 each, but that seems high? I want 2 if possible.

For cheesemaking I'm just going to buy some cheesecloth and need to replace my thermometer.

I need to replenish my soap making supplies, too, but that's not too outlandish.

I already have everything I need for canning, though I will need some new jars and lids as I thought those were easily replaced and I'm not hauling across country. I do have a pressure canner though I don't use it that much; I prefer water bath. I have all the stuff for that too.

I'm making my own food dehydrator out of screens and mosquito netting - I've made those before and it worked great.

I do want a food mill and meat grinder. I also want to have one of those electric food processors, the Kitchenaid ones. I've never had one before, always did things by hand, but I'm thinking it would speed a lot of things up. (Like making pasta and bread and ice cream.) I also have a blender and slow cooker I use all the time, and all my other kitchen stuff (pots, pans, utensils, etc.)

I'm going to need gardening stuff, that's what scares me. I hope I can get some of it used. The garden set up is not my favorite part of everything, and we'll need to fence probably as well. So.... I don't know, but that's going to be the hard part, for me. Hopefully the set up equipment I can rent or borrow instead of outright buying.

I want to install clotheslines but hopefully there will already be a tree or something to tie line to - I'm not about to get one of those cement posted high-tech $500 thingies. Might need to put a post in or something but that's about it.

Then there will be baby trees and seeds and such but that's not so bad.
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
I think I wanted to add as well that although we're moving into a new house, and didn't bring everything with us for a cross-country move, it's also not like we're starting completely from scratch. We're just kind of moving from an urban homestead to a country one. If that makes sense. wink1.gif
post #6 of 23
I did (and still am) starting from scratch and I can say that to avoid spending, I spent time on Craigstlist and Freecycle. It is insane to buy everything new or even high priced used items.
I have two chest freezers that I didnt pay a dime for, its one of the most given away items on craigstlist. Many people think will use them and never do. Also, I hit up some awesome country yard sales before I moved out here. I got an awesome canning pot for $7.00. The exact same one sold for $85 on ebay that week.

Check your local lumber yard. A lot of times they have scraps and stuff that they sell CHEAP. Cedar is awesome and almost always pretty inexpensive. For a clothesline, you can get two cedar posts for $35 and some clothesline rope for $15. Concrete mix for $8.00 and you've got a clothesline.

Rainbarrells are expensive if they are sold as rainbarrells. A dairy packaging plant in our nearest city sells 55 gallon plastic drums (food grade) for $7 bucks apiece. (I use whiskey barrells because they are prettier, but they are widely available here in KY) The hardware is altogether around $10 for each barrell. If you want soaker hoses running out from them its more expensive.

Just a quick word about canning. Most jar lids have BPA in them. The bpa free lids are worth the price because they are also reusable.

Gardening stuff is hard to find used. People are more likely to lose or break a shovel than they are to find one at a yard sale.

Here is how my breakdown would go starting from scratch:

Kitchen supplies: $500.00
Cost for two dairy goats, 100 chicken eggs, the equiptment to hatch, materials to build a chicken tractor, and feed: $800.00
Gardening tools including a gas powered small tiller $800.00
Trees from the US forestry department 200 for $35
Outdoor stuff (picnic table, clothesline, good axe, big ladder, rainbarrells, water hoses, materials for compost bins, ect) $2000

So all in all, about $5000 would and I'd be able to start all over, along with lots of yard sales and craigslist.
post #7 of 23
Originally Posted by seawitch View Post

... how much money would you need to start fresh?

I'm talking:

- freezers A couple?  I'd check craigslist and local appliance shops for their used inventory.  I have a HUUUUGE chest freezer I got for about $150.  Budget $500, probably. 
- stockpiling stuff (jars, canning equipment, dehydrators if you use them, etc.) Not a lot on this stuff really- Maybe $200?
- kitchen must-haves (like a food mill. or cheesemaking stuff. or whatever.) I guess it depends on what you 'must have'. Again, $500 would be high. 
- chicken run/coop set-up & chickens, brooder set-up This one of those things where I would not pay for someone else to do it- it is such a big  difference in cost, and they are not hard to make. Max $500 for everything, and even that would be a lot. 
- a 2-goat set-up (maybe) Without fencing? I would buy grade goats unless I planned to breed for showing and  (preferably a little older and experienced milkers) and a milking stand. $300 would be high. 
- gardening tools If I were going to do a substantial garden every year and had a lot of land to take care of, I would have a small tractor. Craigslist it and you'd be looking at a couple thousand. 
- animal feed for the first Ongoing expense- for just a couple goats and some chickens?  $100/month would be a high estimate. 
- rain buckets Not sure what you mean here- as in rain barrels?  You can make them inexpensively. 
- everything else. Figure a couple thousand anyway.  Something will come up.

Assume you weren't going to hand-make everything. Like building a chicken coop from scratch - not gonna happen. Or building a brooder. I can't fathom not building these things as they are SO much less when you make them yourself and it's not hard.  I about died when I explored the cost of buying them nd found it in the thousands.  The Coop we built was largely salvaged material-  the investment was about $50 total.  The chicken tractor- all new materials- about $20. 

I'm not including fencing as I'm calculating that in as a housing cost. If you want goats, this will be a lot.  Goats can get out of EVERYTHING. 

Obviously everyone's costs will be very different but if you were moving in to YOUR house with YOUR lifestyle and had NO supplies, how much would YOU need, roughly, to replicate your lifestyle? Like, you only had a piece of land and your house. No need for well-digging or anything like that. Just supplies and animals.

Up above- most of my estimates were really high, but I can tell you how it played out in reality for us.  I got three goats for $75 total-  I agreed to take a 4th- a big whether who LOVED people and got them all for free.  Two of the does were milking, one was bred.  The family favorite was the foolish whether who kept coming to my front door to beg for snacks after he broke out of the fence. 


Our chickens- we loved our chicks, but I wouldn't get chicks again unless I also had year old layers at the same time.  If I'm buying feed, I want to be able to go get eggs in the nest boxes. 


Gardening.  I don't do an in-ground garden here.  The soil quality is iffy at best.  I use container and square foot gardening extensively. I pa about $100/year in expenses and get HUGE yields.


When we moved to this sort of a situation, we didn't HAVE money to invest really, so we found ways to make it happen without much money.  I am thankful for that because if I had been able to spend the money, I would have.  We spent less than $1000 getting everything set up.  



Start slowly.  So many people want to do what you are considering, but they take on too much too fast and they feel trapped by it.  


post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
I <3 you, I think! There are so many good ideas in that last post. For example, the US forestry department 200 - I've never heard of that! And the rest sounds good too.

Just a stupid question - 100 chicken eggs? How many would you expect to hatch?

Would you mind breaking down your gardening category a bit further?

I think $5000 is going to be our limit as well, roundabouts... what doesn't get used immediately to be put into a homestead savings fund for repairs etc.
post #9 of 23
To hatch, around 90. To live past a week, 75. To live past 4 weeks, around 70. But if *I* were doing this, it would be for eggs for myself and eggs to sell. Plus meat for myself and meat to sell. IMO, if Im going to have to build a chicken tractor and feed and let birds in and out every day, I might as well do it for more than just my kitchen table.

My garden catagory:
Small Gas tiller: $200 (mantis, used)
Decent Shovel $75.00 (im serious about this, Im short and it is HARD to find a good shovel that doesnt cause back problems)
Hoe: $25
Rake: $25
Weedeater : $140
Lawn Mower: $250
Small Hand Tools: $50
Seed broadcaster (which I actually use for things like corn gluten or diatomaceous earth) $25

Thats about what I would need to have a good garden. Around $800.00.
post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
Adaline's Mama - thanks! That's great.
Originally Posted by insidevoice View Post

Start slowly.  So many people want to do what you are considering, but they take on too much too fast and they feel trapped by it.  


I'm a bit confused, er, what exactly would feel trapping? It's a bit of work to start up a garden and to get chicks started, yes, but I'm not sure if that's what you mean. I do know what it takes to have a garden, and I do know what it takes to keep chickens when they're established. Not sure what else you're referring to. Getting the house set up? The goats I'm going to wait on until the kids (human!) are old enough to be a help instead of a hindrance... The biggest work I can see is getting the garden set up, fencing, getting the house in good repair, getting the chickens started. I mean it's a lot of work, but that would probably be the case wherever we were moving to. It takes a while to get settled in. But, again, I'm not sure what you mean by taking on too much too fast. Perhaps you could explain?

And I agree with the above ground gardening. I'm not sure what our soil quality is going to be like but I prefer above ground gardening regardless and square foot gardening.
post #11 of 23

When you have livestock- it is harder to go away.  Also, some people discover (usually in the middle of a blizzard) that they really don't LIKE going out to feed and water every day a couple times a day.  I've seen a lot of people start out with good intentions, then find them overwhelmed with the day to day realities of it.  Does that make sense?



post #12 of 23
Thread Starter 
Go away where? You mean, like if we moved somewhere? I don't plan on moving any time in the foreseeable future but I imagine that if we were to do that we could find new homes for the chickens? shrug.gif If you mean as far as traveling or anything... we don't go anywhere. It'd be lovely but we don't have the money to travel. And we have no family anywhere to visit, either. We basically stay put. I'm a homebody anyway and the happiest times of my life was when I was a kid living in a village where there was no where TO go. It had like two streets. Sometimes we'd walk "downtown" (i.e. the village square) to use the phone when it was working. Or go to the store there once a month when it had a shipment in. Or walk to church on Sundays. That was about it. It didn't feel trapping, it felt like we were home. But I'm weird like that. redface.gif

But yes, it makes sense. Kind of how like DH didn't like the realities of having kids once we already had them. wink1.gif
post #13 of 23

I would recommend that you buy things as you need them. Also, if you know you'll need something, keep an eye out at garage sales, craigs list etc. It can be daunting to think of everything you need and going out and buying it right at the beginning. If you buy as needed, items won't be sitting around unused and it's not as much money to come up with at once. 


Also, it's a lot easier to build things than you'd think. :)


I kept track of the cost of gardening the first year and believe we spent roughly $400. Half of that was the cost of the deer fence. We borrowed/rented a tiller the first year and this year I prepped most of the garden beds with a pitch fork. . Don't bother buying things that you will only use once or twice. 

post #14 of 23

It would be very hard to go back and estimate cost.  Like others, we rarely bought new, and at least in our community, most people don't.  Craig's List and the notices posted at the General Store or feed store are the best bets for many of the things you'll need, including labor.


I think the biggest issue, if you are going to have animals, is actually your land/pasture, and very, very good fencing.  If you have old pasture it can take a while to get something solid in for grazing.  We did rotational grazing.


Big $$ went to a generator because it's just super hard to be without water (well water, electric pump) in a blackout, which happens more often than you would think.  Also, the tractor, and tractor upkeep.


Everything else seemed like gravy after the above!



post #15 of 23
As far as "go away", I think she means it's hard to make spontaneous decisions. DH and I really struggle with this, and as the PP said, sometimes we feel really trapped. We used to be able to do things like say, "Hey, lets go camping at Cumberland this weekend." Now we have to plan everything. We cant just go, because we have a ton of responsibilities around here. We are going on vacation for a week in August and we have to plan who is taking care of everything while we are gone. For us, its not that big of a deal because we have amazing friends/neighbors who we do the same thing for. But a lot of people have to pay someone to come and house sit. And you cant sleep in if you have to milk, you have to get up and go do it whether you "feel" like it or not. But, since you've raised animals before, you know how this goes.
post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 
Re: Grazing - Yep. That's one of the reasons we're putting off goats for a while until we get whatever land a little bit more habitable (including fencing costs, etc.). Chickens aren't going to have the same land requirements.

One last note on the going places - I envy people who have the freedom to take off when they want. Due to financial concerns and the fact that DH has been pretty much home-bound for the entire time we've been together, and the fact that our son has special needs - yep, we never go anywhere. That said, I'd rather be "stuck" out in the country where I love the surroundings. smile.gif

And as far as, well, I have to get up whether or not you feel like it... That's kind of the same with kids too, isn't it? There's no sick days, there's no off days. We get up between 4:30 and 5:30 every day, EVERY, DAY, because we can't get the kids to sleep longer than that. If I get to sleep in until 6 am it's a great start to the day. Even if you're deathly ill with the flu, you still HAVE to get up with the babies, you know? It's kind of the same thing with animals. You just do it, because you can't not. There's no one else to do it for you.
post #17 of 23

Goats browse rather than graze, and they can actually be very helpful in clearing land.  Three goats cleared a few acres for us one summer.  We used portable fencing to move them around.  I would also suggest CL when you are looking for animals, especially in the fall.  It's lots of fun to have animals in the spring/summer when feed costs are lower, but in this economy, folks often panic when they have to lay in hay/grain for the winter because of cost and storage issues (not sure where you are, and if this is an issue for you).  People also thin their flocks in the summer.  It's worth checking the farm/garden section of CL.

post #18 of 23

I haven't read all the replies. We just did this, actually. We bought 20 acres 10 years ago and we've been building on it ever since. First the shop, then the barn, then the house. We put up the barn roof before we got the sides done, and we did the goat part first. Then the chicken coop, finally, this spring. I have no idea how much it has cost. My dh is a builder, so he does all the building stuff, and we have a sawmill and buy timber in the raw, so I know it would be costly if we had done it differently. We also browse the farm/garden section of CL a LOT. We bought all our goats and chickens that way, or via someone else on CL who pointed us in the direction of someone else. We are going to lease some pasture to some gal we found on CL, to make enough money to actually buy a cow this year, and hopefully have babies next spring. 


I call it a labor of love. There is always something to be done. Dh is outside today, on his day off from building, building a fence to keep the cows out of the sawmill and lumber. Tomorrow he will work on the coop addition. I NEVER get a break from the daily grind of things either--kids/goats/chickens/sheep are my responsibility. I want to do a garden, but we have to have some kind of raised beds, b/c we have such a short growing season. Maybe next year...

post #19 of 23

Brooders are VERY easy to make.  Heck, you could use a rubbermaid tote to start, especially if you only want 4 birds...  SIde note, if you have the land, I'd plan for more chickens - Not only are they addictive, but for my family of 4, 4 chickens do not provide enough eggs - I just added 3 more hens because of this and I'm in suburbia.  

post #20 of 23

I won't comment about the whole expenses, but for chickens.


We've raised layers from chicks and from pullets.  By the time you raise the chicks to point of lay, the food cost equals the little extra you paid on buying pullets at point of lay.  I do raise chicks now that I have lots of mature layers, and my own chickens are the brooders, but it's really easy to make one, as the above poster said.


We spent $800 dollars on a shed kit and converted it for chickens, because we new we'd end up wanting more.  Right now we're at 24, with chicks on the way!


And about gardening tools : I spent 35$ on a hand tiller and it is indispensable.  I got through all kinds of rock with no noisy machinery.  We also save on labour by planting right into the compost once it is soil.


And the biggest continued canning expense is good lids.  Your jars will last over and over.  Save the ones the neighbours gave you, too.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Country Living / Off the Grid
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Country Living / Off the Grid › If *you* were starting from scratch...