We are frequently asked the question “How much does it cost to start a homestead?“ so we thought we’d start a homestead expense report series. Every month we will document how much money we’ve spent on our homestead-related activities and also on running our household. This is to track both our own progress and also to give you some insight as what it costs to start a homestead from scratch.
November 2016 Summary
November was quite the month for us. In mid-October, Jesse left to go back to Oregon to get his house ready to put on the market and he was gone for an entire month. This left me solo on the homestead until sometime mid-November.
Because it was on our wish list to get a permanent underground water system installed before winter hit, it was go time from the moment he returned!
Our project was far from straightforward with a lot of hang ups… so basically, all we did from the time Jesse was back in November until the time the snow hit was work on our water system.
Below are a few things we did in the month of November.
Dig a 300′ Trench
The first part to installing our water system was to dig a 300′ trench down the hillside and to our trailer. Part of this was diagonally on a 45 degree slope with loads of trees and tree roots.
Watch the video below to see how we went about accomplishing this task with style! Not only did we beat what a contractor quoted us for getting the job done (by a long shot), but it seamlessly integrates with the property where a contractor would have basically ruined our hillside!!
Place the Potable Cisterns
We actually didn’t get around to placing the cisterns until December, but below is a video on the installation of those as well.
Would you believe that this entire project took the better part of a month, and the system isn’t even finished yet?
Made Bone Broth & Experimented with Organ Meat
Something I’m extremely passionate about is continuously finding ways to increase the quality of our diets and since Jesse was gone, I used that as time to experiment!
My favorite cookbook is called Nourishing Traditions and it really talks about how our ancestors ate to both thrive and have excellent / efficient digestion – two things our Standard American Diet doesn’t promote.
My first experiment was cooking with organ meats. I bought some liver, ground it up, and then mixed it in with ground beef. My ratio was 20% liver and 80% beef which was a little strong-tasting, but in smaller quantities the liver isn’t even noticeable.
This one might gross you out… but I also ground up liver in the blender (it’s pretty nasty in all honesty), put the ground liver into ice cube trays, and I toss a couple in when I make a soup or chili containing ground beef! It’s completely tasteless and easy!
I also retrieved free bones from our local butcher and created a rich, gelatinous bone broth or stock. I then pressure canned it. Huge win over store bought broth… homemade broth is both healthier and cheaper!
Onto the fun stuff (or un-fun stuff depending on who you ask)… money!
- Groceries: $521.82
This was a little high considering Jesse was gone for half of the month. I did my experiments as mentioned above, stocked up on a bit of food that was on sale, and I also tried to transition our kitty from a homemade raw ground cat food diet to Prey Model Raw (PMR). PMR is mimicked after what a cat would naturally eat in the wild in its most natural state possible. This entails feeding roughly 80% muscle meat (some of that heart), 10% bone, 5% liver and 5% other secreting organ such as pancreas, kidney or testicle. In theory, this could be cheaper for us (especially by asking for leftovers from hunters) and healthier for the cat.
- Dining Out: $128.44
We ate out a few times this month… likely once when Jesse came back and then a couple times after a long day of trenching when we were far too tired to even think about cooking.
- Household Necessities: $53.99
Toiletries, laundry detergent, etc.
- Storage unit: $60.00
- Chiropractor: $35
We visited one last chiropractor this month in hopes of straightening out Jesse’s back. The visit didn’t go as we had hoped, and this was the last chiropractor to try in our town, forcing us to look beyond local options! We did a video on Jesse’s back problem, chiropractors, and how we stay healthy while developing our property… check it out here!
- Work boots for Alyssa: $120
I’ve been doing 100% of our work in hiking shoes since we arrived on our property! I’ve been on the hunt for quality women’s work boots (pickins is slim in stores, let me tell you) and I finally found some that seem worth trying out. They are slip-on, have good traction, seem well-built, are comfortable out of the box, my jeans will tuck into them, I can also wear baggier pants over the top of the boot, and they’re versatile enough to wear out and about! Too bad I only got to wear them a few times before it snowed… but we’ll really put them to the test come spring.
- TOTAL: $919.27
- Generator fuel: $74.20
We didn’t have excellent sun in November so unfortunately, we had to rely heavily on our generator for power. Not only that, but we had some hiccups and misunderstandings with our inverter charger, so for a week straight I thought I was charging it for 2 hours a night and it wasn’t charging at all! I wish I could say that all of this money was converted into power, but some of it was wasted. Nature of the solar beast. Check out our solar power setup here.
- Propane: $59.01
November was a cool month so we ran the propane heater quite a bit. I also did a bit of last-minute canning on our 3-burner outdoor stove. Here is how I dress warm in winter to minimize propane use.
- Water: $1.25
Check out our water solution progression… but we fill up our 650 gallon cistern twice every month, and that is extremely cost-effective!
- Laundry: $20
Not sure exactly what laundry was but $20 sounds like a good number. We didn’t do too much outside work so our clothes weren’t that filthy overall!
- Internet: $65
- Showers: $5
We splurged on a nice, long, hot gas station shower this month. We chalked it up to a post-trench date night! How romantic!
- TOTAL: $224.46
- Car payment: $187
We bought a used Subaru Forester a while back which was a great investment. It hasn’t lost much of its value in two years and we plan to pay off the loan in the next year. For our lifestyle, this was a much better investment than the brand new car that we sold just days prior to moving to our land.
- Insurance: $78
- Fuel: $111.54
- Truck repairs: $44.58
Our pickup truck was running a bit rough this month so we did some troubleshooting and ended up replacing a couple of spark plugs, the solenoid and also added some transmission fluid.
- TOTAL: $421.12
Land / Development*
- Land: $357.20
Our land cost $45,000 and we put $5,000 down. The loan is amortized over 15 years with a 5% interest rate. No early pay off penalty. We don’t plan to take the full 15 years to pay off the land, but optimistically hope to pay it off in 1-2 years. Learn about our property here and to find out how we found and purchased this land, read this post.
- 1 day of an air compressor: $82
We had no idea if digging a trench with pneumatic excavator (air pressure!) would work on our property, so we rented an air compressor to find out. Turns out it did work and we rented it again for an entire week, but we didn’t pay the the week-long rental until December. There was definitely a bill associated with that.
- Fuel for equipment: $168.86
We went through quite a bit of diesel between the air compressor and the excavator… we had both for a total of a week. We probably had fuel costs in December too… this is what happens when a large project is split up over more than one month.
- Lumber & parts for our diy grizzly: $128.07
Because our property seems to be 50% large rock, we needed a way to filter this out otherwise, we would have to put it somewhere and bring in soil for back-filling. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars for rock-free soil, we instead spent a fraction of that money on lumber to make our own rock separator. It actually worked quite well and we’re excited to do some more filtering after the snow melts and the ground thaws!
- TOTAL: $736.13
- Stupid rain suit: $15
Someone recommended we wear a full-body rain suit when using the pneumatic excavator so we did… and the thing was TERRIBLE! We ripped it immediately!!! So frustrating! We didn’t bother returning it either. Oh… and we bought the expensive one.
- TOTAL: $15
- Wet/dry vac: $99
We thought we might be able to use this in combination with the pneumatic excavator (to suck out the fine soil) but we were wrong. We knew we’d need one eventually so we just invested in this tool long before it was necessary.
- 100′ extension cord: $140
We needed this to run the wet vac to the top of our hill. Again, didn’t work, but we can never have too many quality extension cords.
- Random stuff for water project: $42.83
Other things we had to purchase were face shields, ear plugs, safety glasses, and other random plumbing parts not worth mentioning.
- Pressure regulator for pressure canner: $9.32
We found our pressure canner at Goodwill and this was the only thing it was missing!
- Mason jars: $21.59
We continue to invest in our mason jar collection as we have a need.
- TOTAL: $294.74
* These are expenses that should only happen one time, or at least very infrequently. These generally are quality tools and building materials that are reusable.
Expense-wise, it’s tough mentally to spend what seems to be loads of money every single month.
Some have pointed out that it’s cheaper to just have a mortgage payment with utility bills both in cost and in time and while that’s technically true month to month, it’s not true in the long run. We know that paying cash for our house and property will put us miles ahead in years to come so while it is more expensive in the beginning and we have less than what most people have, there will be a tipping point.
December is when most of our expenses hit us for the water project… I think we’re talking $5,000 or so. Ouch.
However, this is our permanent water system we’re talking about and it’s important to us that we do it right and ONCE. We know that an underground water system will make next year amazing for us as we spend less time meeting our water needs, have a more secure system, and even have a reserve for fire fighting.
That’s it for November! Stay tuned for our next expense report!
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