How to Avoid Letting Your Homestead Turn Into a Prison

When thinking of starting a homestead, it can be temping to go overboard and implement every idea you can think of. Before you know it, your homestead can be set up in a way that keeps you imprisoned to it because therea re so many chores to keep up with that you couldn’t possibly find someone willing or knowledgeable enough to run things if you need to get away for a period of time!

This subject is dear to our hearts at the moment because we’re getting ready to attend a timber framing workshop in Maine (in preparation of building our debt free home) and will require us to be away from the homestead for over a full week!

Not only that, but in the past year, Jesse and I have each had to leave the property numerous times and due to the current state of our property, we decided that only one of us should travel at a time because things are too complicated for most people to do simple check-ins on our property.

Jesse and I are in a transitioning period of our life, so how things are today are by no means permanent, but there is lots to think about if you’re planning on starting a homestead or building an off grid home, some we hope to cover in this article.

Packing for our timber frame workshop in Maine!
Packing for our timber frame workshop in Maine!

The Value of Community

First and foremost, no matter how self-sufficient your property is, never forget the value of community!

We should all value community highly whether we’re deep in suburbia or whether our nearest neighbor is 30 miles away. The matter of the fact is – there are always times where we need to lean on our community and neighbors for a helping hand.

Jesse and I have prioritized becoming quality neighbors since we moved to our property because we want to be someone that others can depend on, and we also hope that the same care would be returned.

A county road worker giving us a much-needed tow in winter! Thanks neighbor!
A county road worker giving us a much-needed tow in winter! Thanks neighbor!

When Jesse is gone, we have numerous people we can both call on that would be over to our property in a heartbeat if anything was wrong or if I needed a helping hand with something. Those relationships are priceless and will help us regardless what stage of life we are in.

As covered in the video, we find ways to say “thank you” and “I value your friendship” whether it’s stopping by to say hello from time to time, bringing by homemade mead, canned goods or huckleberry ice cream, or taking friends up for plane rides as Jesse has to pay for the entire plane when he’s doing his flight lessons, so we might as well fill up the seats!

Flight lesson with a neighboroo in the backseat having a grand old time!
Flight lesson with a neighboroo in the backseat having a grand old time!

Setting Up Your Property to be Managed Easily

From day one, we set up our property (even our temporary systems) in a way that it was easy to manage as a solo person, as a woman with not as much strength as a man and by someone with not a crazy amount of experience in the off grid life. A big thanks to Jesse for his ingenuity!

When I was alone for an entire month last fall, we realized just how good of job we did with this as I was able to meet my basic needs without a problem.

If you’re able to find someone kind enough to watch your property for you, and by someone with a little bit of knowledge and experience, try to set things up in a way that you could leave them detailed instructions and they could figure things out if they needed to.

Doing some basic battery maintenance,
Doing some basic battery maintenance,

Make The Caretaker’s Job as Easy As Possible

If you are fortunate enough to have someone keep an eye on things when you’re gone, try to make their job as easy as possible!

For us this means topping off the water, generator fuel, propane, and even making sure we have plenty of homemade cat food for Bugaboo.

Topping off generator fuel.

This also means making sure the property is tidy and chores are done that could pile up easily, such as making sure our solar power system is functioning properly and is up-to-date on all maintenance!

In the case of being fortunate enough to have Jesse’s sister willing to stay at the property for an entire week, we will make sure to thoroughly clean our RV, cabin, ensure sheets / towels are clean and stock up the fridge with her favorite foods!

Think About Making Permanent Systems Easy to Manage

While things feel somewhat “micky-moused” together right now, we’re planning for smooth sailing when our house is built and permanent systems are put into place.

Living off grid, it’s more challenging to make things as simple as pushing a button like living on the grid with modern utilities, but we can strive to get as close as possible to that! Not because we’re lazy, but because you never know when someone will be watching your property for a while or when you might want to sell the home to someone with less technical knowledge.

Our biggest challenge now is that even though our systems could be MORE complex than they are, it’s still difficult to find friends that are available and have the knowledge to do basic troubleshooting with generators, electricity, pumps, propane, etc.

Fixing our interim water system - not something that's intuitive to everyone!
Fixing our interim water system – not something that’s intuitive to everyone!

Farm Animals & Other Homestead-y Things

Let’s cover this point really quick… everyone wants farm animals and an extensive garden, but those are just more things that you may potentially need babysat when you are away.

 

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have those wonderful things – you should! – but really think about where you’re at in your life and how difficult it will to get that additional care and oversight when you are traveling. We are all in different positions.

Milk cows are awesome but there's a time and a place for them!
Milk cows are awesome but there’s a time and a place for them!

For us, even something as simple as chickens would make our life just a little more complicated. We will have chickens one day, but for now, we need to stay as “light” and low-maintenance as possible since we’re still working on building our community and still have a bit of travel in our future.

Here’s our gardening playlist to see what low-maintenance things we’ve been up to!

Homestead or Prison? You decide!

I think a homestead and a prison could look similar on the outside, but whether it’s one or the other really depends on how you set things up and how your homestead fits into your overall lifestyle and life plans.

We just wanted to give you a few things to think about since our homestead’s complications, as small as they are, have greatly affected our ability to travel together over the past 18 months!

We don’t fear being enslaved to our homestead, but we will continue to be mindful of how things progress to ensure that we have maximum freedom with our life!

We are beyond excited to attend this timber framing workshop in Maine and in the end, we’re happy that we’re leaving our property in the best of hands!

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I am an aspiring homesteader on a journey to become self-sustainable and free. In my past, I've worked corporate jobs to make ends meet and get ahead a little; it didn't make me happy or confident in my future. Since taking the leap to self-employment and living a more simple life, my happiness levels have increased greatly and I've never felt more alive. I finally understand what I want in life and how to get there, and that is what this blog is all about.

Comments

  1. Larry Haney says

    Been following your journey since the beginning, love your videos. On collecting coffee grounds you might hand the people an empty bucket when you pick up a full bucket to make it easier on them to collect the grounds for you.

  2. Sunny Seacat says

    “… Maximum freedom with our life.”. That says it all. Well written and honest post! You two are going to make it. Simplify is the key. ‘Keep it simple.’. Both of you have acquired, by sheer enthusiasm, vision and elbow grease, a MASSIVE amount of knowledge in a short amount of time, relatively speaking. Better than cubicle work, that’s clear.

    Please get that house up and vegetable garden going. Seems the U.S. and world is heading for economic turbulence of immense magnitude. Community is utterly, absolutely key. You’re almost there … In a year, with lots of extra hands to help, you could be sleeping in your new home.

    All the very best. You both are inspirations!

  3. says

    I have also been following you since you started and now you are coming to my state, just about 60 miles north of me, I live in Gray Me. Good luck at your classes. This group is considered the tops in this type of education. Safe trip.
    jon hedman

  4. Marc says

    Every well written. When living with thing we forget that sometimes we have to stand on one foot when plugging things in to make them work. Once I was trying to get away from my place and my dad was going to feed stock. I was going crazy trying to get feed ready and all the little thing so go smooth for him. I was in hardware store getting something ran into an old neighbor and I said didn’t know if it was worth it. He came unglued said don’t ever think that way because you always need change even for couple days.

  5. Victoria McHaffie says

    Hey guys! I just found your blog with a link on Facebook. My family is looking to purchase our home soon with the mindset of going off grid gradually. Thanks for sharing so much useful advice I’m sure your blog is going to be one of my go to resources

    May abundance bless your home,
    Victoria

  6. says

    Been waiting to see all the Timber Frame vids. Seems the class didn’t chisel you for Filming them. They’ll Never forget or forgive you, either way it was very interesting. Was it their first YouTube Class?

  7. brianO says

    We are about to go off grid, with water system, power, housing, and garden(s) all at once! We are spending a massive amount of time watching you guys, reading, and organizing before we go. All of the information is valuable and intensive. Though I must say your “fears” & concerns are real, do not falter. The decisions you make today were not made in haste or misinformed. We do not expect a “cake-walk” at the outset, but we also do not expect walking into a prison without our consent. Everyone has to understand this is not going to the mall with a bag of popcorn. It is also not being tied to the rack being beaten with a whip. I suppose the best one can hope for is sort of a middle ground. Myself, I look forward to the experience. And for being over 60, trust me, I have no mistaken illusions about this road you have taken or the road we are ourselves are about to take. For those who look at this as a “prison”, all I can say is you have been in a prison all of your life and they will continue to barely exist in a prison. So, for that I look forward to a whole new “prison”. One that I agreed to and am determined to exist in. Cheers and much success.

  8. Patricia Garner Jones says

    I just came across your page and was very excited on what I had read so I clicked on it to read more. The more I read the happier I got..lol. My husband and I have been wanting an talking about going off grid especially for electricity by using solar panels. Now that we know we have someone to turn to with any questions we may have, helps me to breathe alittle easier..lol I will have to catch up alittle bit on y’alls journey but that’s alright. I just want to Thank Y’all for what y’all are doing!!! It makes a huge difference.

  9. alan crone says

    I have been watching your videos on you tube and find all that you are doing to be thoughtful and I most admire that you do not seem to just jump in you think it out. kudo’s to you both! remember to take time to smell the roses I am sure you will grow soon. I wish you the best of luck in all you do. My home town is Spokane WA even though I am stuck in Kansas so god bless and keep you safe

  10. says

    I love your vids but I’m not a big fan of googgle and seldom subscribe though I give you clicks. I’m so impressed with what you have done and you seem just a tad beat down because LIFE and stuff is hard. My gosh in about 2 years you have gave up the middle class life style and went homesteading. You have gone mostly off grid, lived in a small trailer, made a garden milled lumber, made/started a compost heap, built a great hot tub and deck. You are freaking phenomenal! Take a bit of time this summer and just putter for a week or two and re-build yourselves physically and emotionally. Trust me I know how getting stuff down can make you a bit mental.
    Remember your project is for many years and will not happen next Thursday. Do it right the first time and take a break when you push to hard.

  11. John Duer says

    You two are awesome, I have been following you off and on on YouTube for around a year and a half now. You are living the life of the Explorer in life and love. You have set the experience bar high for yourselves and you beat it every time. You don’t let the job beat you, you let the job teach you and learn from it. You hav3 found out that there is no wrong way to do the job right. Just different ways. I lived and raised my family in Alaska for over 23 years. My youngest is still living there. We learned a lot from the experience and have enjoyed the adventure. Here is to hoping you have a wonderful life with this adventure of yours. Have any questions I maybe able to help with just ask. I have seen and done a lot in my life time and enjoy passing on the knowledge to those who enjoy living.

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