The Cost of Homesteading
I wish I could say that self-sufficient homesteading was an inexpensive way to live, but in all reality, the initial start-up cost of setting up a homestead can be very expensive, and the learning curve can be steep at times.
We had a dream to move to the country and live a more self-sufficient lifestyle for many years before it actually happened. We had to sacrifice our living conditions and alter our dream many times along the way.
I do not want to discourage anyone from following their homesteading dreams, but I do want to write this post in a very open and honest manner so you know what to expect.
I know it is not socially acceptable to talk about how much things cost or how much we spend, but I do want to give an accurate look into the cost of setting up a homestead.
If I am going against what is acceptable in your eyes, and you have no desire to know these things, please stop reading here.
What we have learned in the last few years is that whatever we purchase ends up paying for itself in the long run. We do not have large savings to go out and buy whatever we need, and we make our purchases slowly over time. Larger items are saved for or bought with overtime hour money. Smaller items are purchased paycheck-by-paycheck depending on what we can afford at the time.
Any livestock feed is figured into our monthly budget, and we do not raise more animals than we can afford to take care at any one time. The same goes for building our homestead; any improvements made are done piece-by-piece, one paycheck at a time.
Breakdown of homesteading costs
Land – 21 country acres. We live 30 minutes from the nearest town. $66,000 (mortgaged)
$2,800 water well (savings)
$1,800 septic system (savings)
Home – 1,200 sq. ft.
We had to live in a camper for two years to save money for a down payment on the house.
$80,000 (mortgaged) – After using all of our savings for the well and septic we had to save more and dip into our retirement for a down payment for the house.
We downsized from a 2.500 sq ft house in the city to a smaller home that forced us to purge items we had collected over the years. With it came a freedom from owning less.
192 sq. ft. mini barn is still holding up but will need to be replaced before adding any more livestock or farming projects to the homestead.
$3,000 – We build this one paycheck at a time while living in the camper. In our area, we can build this size outbuilding without having to get a permit.
Stores tools, livestock feed, lawn and garden items and building supplies.
Holds 12 hens and one rooster. Our egg hens free-range most of the year, so the upkeep on this house has been very minimal.
$2,000 – We build this one paycheck at a time while living in the camper.
The fresh eggs we get are shared with our adult children and their families, our neighbors and friends. We love sharing!
Tractor – 1950 Ford
An antique by many standards our 1950 tractor has plowed fields, built a driveway and planted corn.
$1,600 – We used a tax return to make this purchase.
$500 – Repairs to the radiator, tires, battery, and water pump.
The joy hubby gets when he spends the day on his tractor is better than any vacation he could ever pay for.
Tractor Implements – Very used planter, back blade, box blade, rake, and single plow.
$1,000 – Purchased from a friend’s grandfather who allowed us to make monthly payments for 3 months.
These tractor parts have been a big help in preparing our soil and taking care of normal farming chores.
Army Surplus Trailer
I am not sure what we would do without this trailer!
$400.00 – Paid for with overtime money.
Used for hauling straw, wood and building supplies.
Three Rabbit Pens
We raise and butcher about fifteen meat rabbits three times a year.
$100 for wire fencing and built with leftover wood from building the barn.
$75 for three rabbits.
We raise all our own meat and never have to buy meat from the grocery store. We always know what is in or meat.
Meat Chicken Coop
We raise and butcher two batches of meat chickens twice a year.
$100 for wire fencing and built with leftover wood from building the barn.
$300 Pen – Paid for with overtime money.
$70 a year for chicks. If you have never tasted a freshly butchered chicken you are in for a treat. The flavor is amazing.
$200 – To keep the coyotes from killing our meat chickens we had to buy and install a poultry net electric fence.
We raise 2 feeder pigs each spring and butcher them when they are about 7-8 months old. Their pen is 20 x 120 with a covered area to sleep and get out of the sun.
$600 Pen – Bought supplies one paycheck at a time until we had enough supplies to build the pen.
$90 for two feeder pigs.
$500 a year for feed. We supplement their feed with table scraps and garden waste.
To grow enough vegetables to feed our family for a year we have to put a lot of time and money into the garden areas.
$1,500 – This cost covers lime, fertilizer, seed replacement, canning supplies, extra water usage, gas for tractor, raised beds, irrigation, fencing and overwinter crops for a year.
The produce we put up each year keeps our pantry stocked all winter long. We preserve about 300 jars each year.
To keep the chickens out we had to build a cheap wood picket fence for $200.
We continually add to the growth of our homestead land.
We budget about $500 each year to grow. This includes planting new trees, grapes, berry bushes, landscaping, and irrigation.
We see the fruits of our labor grow each year. Even though we have a limited budget for growth we do see our land gowning in value each and every year.
Living on a farm and homesteading requires that you have basic tools at your disposal.
Over the last few years, we have purchased over $5,000 worth of basic tools, such as a lawn tractor, rototiller, weed eater, chainsaw, axes, wedges, saws, shovels, picks, forks, a post hole digger, wheelbarrows, fencing, and building tools.
There have been times when we needed to borrow items but we have a good network of other homesteaders we can borrow from if needed. It is all about helping out your neighbors and forming a homesteading community.
One of my favorite things we do here on our farm is raising bees. We had some trials and errors when we first were learning how to care for our bees, but each year our hives get better and we pull more honey.
Over the last three years, we have invested $575 in bees, and $500 in hives, foundation and bee clothing. Not to count the unexpected emergency room visit for a bee sting reaction.
The golden honey we get to pull from our hives twice a year is worth more to me than any diamonds or gold and girl could ask for. We have three hives and average about one-gallon honey from each.
As our homestead continues to grow we are always having to add pastures. Fencing is a big job and requires more than money, it requires strength and stamina! Who needs a gym when you have to pick up 200-40# cedar fence posts?
$1,500 – It took us almost four full weekends to install 1900 feet of fence. We used 4″ woven fence with cedar posts. We cemented in the corner posts and have two 10″ gates installed.
There is a sense of accomplishment when we pull in the driveway and drive past all those lined up cedar fence posts. Long hours, sore backs, and lots of fun doing a big job like that together.
A dream come true! – Adding these adorable alpacas to our homestead has been a long time plan. As with everything else on the homestead they must earn their keep. We raise them to sell their fiber.
$950.00 – 3 Young Male Alpacas$1,200 a year for feed, hay, shearing, and preventative health.$650.00 – Three sided shelter
The feel of their fiber between my fingers while spinning their fleece. The snuggles and kisses they give our grandchildren… priceless! I can do without the spitting, but it is a small price to pay for the joy they give us.
This is just a peek into the cost of setting up a homestead.
We started with a blank piece of land that had no outbuilding or home already standing. The land had not been lived on or taking care of for over 20 years. The land was overgrown, in bad shape, and had no nutrients left in the soil. Over half of it was an open field that had no trees, no water and no source of power. We started from the ground up and have been building little by little each year as time and money allow.
What are we saving for and planning for the next five years?
Finish sunroom – $3,000.Completed the above budget. Actual cost $8000.00 and it took us two years to finish this project, one paycheck at a time.
- New raised garden beds – $500
- Fruit orchard and irrigation – $2,000
Solar additions for power sources- $5,000.Completed above budget. Actual Cost 18,000. Rebates from Federal & State of $12,000. Choose to make monthly installments that are in the place of our regular power bill.
- A newer used tractor – $10,000
- A bigger barn – $20,000
Beef cows $2,000.Completed under budget. Actual cost $950.00 for two heifers and one bull.
While homesteading can be very tiring at times, the satisfaction we feel at the end of the day is priceless. We continue to live frugally and recycle, reuse and make do with what we have to continue living this lifestyle.