Ever since I started telling everyone about my plans to start a homestead on my own, preferably on a large acreage, I have been told the same thing over and over and over again, “Are you sure? That is a LOT of work!” And you know what? It really is, but I have found it to be the most fulfilling and happy-making work I have ever chosen to be a part of and it’s not even all that bad because I am not talking about going all Amish on you. I mean yes, I will be growing and preparing my own food, but I’ll still have electricity and creature comforts. Even better I hope to have new labor saving technology at my homestead! Think about it, solar panels and wind turbines are just becoming available to the small homestead owner for an almost reasonable price. I believe this trend will only continue as technology advances to help us all do what we need to do to live a sustainable life.
One of the biggest problems with homesteads is not being able to raise animals in a 100% sustainable way. I have already chosen to buy a wooded lot and have some milking goats out there cleaning up the shrubs for me and possibly giving milk as well, and should I have a pasture I’ve been looking into mini milking cows for my dairy needs, but both these animals require hay to sustain them through the winter. Hay used to be produced by most farms and fed back to the animals from the property they lived on but these days most farmers find the process too labor intensive and too expensive. People who grow small hay fields for personal use often find that by the time they are done growing and hiring someone to come over and do the baling they’re spending the same amount of money they would have just buying hay at the feed store. It’s a frustrating prospect, tied up in the fact hay baling equipment is enormously expensive and makes no sense to buy unless you are producing hay commercially. This whole mess is all the more aggravating when one learns that hay varies drastically and if you buy it off the feed store there’s a pretty good possibility you’re getting very low quality hay. This is how breeders find themselves driving rented hay trucks through many states to find a source they like. All this could be avoided if we grew our own hay but the problem still remains – how does a small producer bale it without going bankrupt?
I think the answer is in small single bale hay balers, the kind you can push like a lawnmower. And you know what? They do exist! This one here attaches to a walk behind mini tractor which retails for – $4275 on it’s own, the baler is separate at $11.5k) $15,000 is still a LOT to spend on machinery but it could be done if purchased by several people cooperating to use it through a season. If you could get 15 small farms to employ this machine it’d only cost $1,000 which would make up the investment in no time! What homesteading is lacking these days is COMMUNITY. We all need to get together and work with each other to get these things done like we used to in the days of our grandparents.
Even more fascinating to me is the portable saw mill. It allows for you to create lumber without having to haul your trees off the property! This could be the ultimate in self sustainability for those of us buying wooded lots and building our own homes – be they tiny or otherwise. And the cost is only $1187 (plus the cost of a chain saw and ladder or platform which come separate.)