Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

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JamesR
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Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by JamesR »

Does anyone here have land large enough to feed their families 90-100%? Does anyone raise livestock? Does anyone build weird houses like wofati, oehler's earth structure, or cob houses, straw bale houses?

I originally found out about Permaculture through this forum, so thanks a ton for that.

I've also noticed there's a strong tendency for the dedicated ERE'rs to move towards a self-sufficiency mindset. It seems to arise from a combination of factors such as resilience/antifragility thinking, taking cost-cutting to an extreme, and the relationship of The Number needed to retire on.

Certainly living off the land, and farming and producing most of your food seems to be a great way to be self-sufficient. It also seems possible to generate an income from farming, raising livestock, etc. It seems like there's an added benefit that if you're growing your own food you're going to be guaranteed to have surrounded yourself with quality organic healthy food. If you raise livestock, chickens, goats, pigs, cows.. then you can guarantee quality meat and dairy in your diet. Imagine if you struggle with lacto-intolerance, well that's not as much an issue with unpasteurized milk. You can sell your products too. You can possibly even trade with other farmers in your area for the things you don't want to grow yourself.

I'm curious if anyone in this forum is currently or planning on doing their own farming such that they can achieve a 80%+ food self-sufficiency perhaps? Or to a level where they can make some income with it?

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Alphaville
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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by Alphaville »

i did formerly live in a diy house on a ranch but i quit

i hate livestock, too :lol:

jokes aside, we still keep the house, and we’re supposed to go there every so often, but covid got on the way and the work is in the city. so... it’s been a while

there’s no money in being a peasant. you can save money, but making money is highly improbable unless you’re truly gifted. like sepp holzer.

it’s all nice in theory until a bull gores you, and then the ambulance takes 30 minutes to get there if you can get cell signal. then of course you have noninsurance and maybe your medicaid got cancelled because you didn’t submit the paperwork.

https://www.businessinsider.com/deadlie ... ows-2019-8

https://theconversation.com/when-cows-a ... them-79524

https://io9.gizmodo.com/cows-are-deadli ... 1690950434

https://www.discovery.com/nature/cows-k ... han-sharks

unpasteurized milk has lactose too. lactose is not created by heat. it’s created by cows.

and if your unpasteurized cheese kills someone with listeriosis you’ll be in deep shit :lol:

you can do it if you want to, but take my warnings as a vaccine. i’m not gonna lie to you and tell you it’s easy. it’s not. it’s a lot of backbreaking work for little to no profit. the best people for the job grew up accustomed to it. city slickers will require deep adaptation. and food is not even guaranteed: back when everyone was a peasant, we still had famines all over.

if you’re ERE already or have a job, then a farm can be a nice way to live. see @horsewoman.

JamesR
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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by JamesR »

Yeah cows seem like a whole 'nother level of effort.

Pigs at least seems easier (and possibly profitable) based on what I've seen from youtube about Joel Salntin's approach. Maybe for dairy I'd just stick with goats.

About famines that's true, but permaculture is all about regenerating the land and building up reservoirs and so on. And taking the long term view too.

I'm mostly a city slicker I suppose but I wouldn't mind adapting.. go slow and build up the physical endurance for it. I did help build a house once and that involved 11-12 hours of work a day, 7 days a week, for 3 months, pretty intense. It was near home so at lunch time I was usually able to grab a 25 minute nap. But there's probably lots of ways to minimize the work in the long run too, build ways to do things passively etc.

horsewoman
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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by horsewoman »

A pretty similar topic was discussed a few days ago
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=11489

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Alphaville
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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by Alphaville »

JamesR wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 12:07 am
what I've seen from youtube
the problem i see with learning things from youtubes is that there are no smells and no insects and no weather and many aspects of the reality on display are obscured by the inherent focus of the camera and editing, plus the desire of the youtuber to make a profit/get a following.

life doesn’t happen on video, or purely conceptually, but is felt in the body, which is a different experience than just looking at a convenient demonstration.

if you’re interested in farming life, the best advice i can give you is get off youtube and go try it hands-on.

maybe start here?

https://wwoof.net/

JamesR
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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by JamesR »

Yeah I found https://www.workaway.info also and I see some permaculture farms in my areas, definitely worth spending some time trying it out. Paul Wheaton also has a bootcamp in Missoula, Montana which could be cool to check out sometime.

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Alphaville
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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by Alphaville »

JamesR wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 6:13 pm
Yeah I found https://www.workaway.info also and I see some permaculture farms in my areas, definitely worth spending some time trying it out. Paul Wheaton also has a bootcamp in Missoula, Montana which could be cool to check out sometime.
do it. it’s the only way. empirical knowledge beats mental speculation. you can always go later to horticulture school or animal husbandry school or something else, but with no real experience your permaculture homestead is all vaporware.

i think paul was looking for boots and @JenAR here lives at the labs. some people who’ve been there haven’t liked it, but i wouldn’t universalize their particular experience. i love seafood, some people hate it; i hate margarine, some people love it.

if you’re young and have dreams—pursue them.

and if you’re old and have dreams... pursue them too cuz not a lot of time left :lol:

JamesR
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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by JamesR »

Alphaville wrote:
Tue Jul 21, 2020 7:21 pm
some people who’ve been there haven’t liked it, but i wouldn’t universalize their particular experience.
I'm not super familiar with the permies forum, is there a good spot to see the negative reviews?

I get the sense it definitely caters to people that are willing to work hard.

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Alphaville
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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by Alphaville »

JamesR wrote:
Wed Jul 22, 2020 5:03 am
I'm not super familiar with the permies forum, is there a good spot to see the negative reviews?

I get the sense it definitely caters to people that are willing to work hard.
yes, there is no farming without labor. that’s just a fact of life whether it’s a tractor or a worker doing it. it’s just one vile f— task after another.

the boot camp requires 40h/week as i understand. you gotta carry your own weight.

same with the organic farms i assume: nobody wants to house and feed a slacker when they could hire a honduran migrant unafraid of sweating.

when i was a kibbutz volunteer in israel they’d bring thai laborers to work in farms. those guys were small but *tough as nails.*

i was originally going to say get off the internet and just do it, but then i read your old posts and saw that you’re an app developer?

if so then maybe you’re more inclined towards cerebral pursuits, in which case maximum output from minimal input is a nice mental experiment, but in practice no farm survives without labor.

nevertheless if you’re willing to get into shape and do some practical farming you could join one of these things for a month’s vacation or something. you’ll be sore, you’ll feel great, then you’ll be like “ok i need to get back to my life.”

you could always look into developing apps for farmers though... someone has to.
Last edited by Alphaville on Wed Jul 22, 2020 12:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jacob
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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by jacob »

I grew up in a 35 acre hobby farm. I actually know how to drive a tractor and run a harrow. We also had ducks, chicken, and a couple of goats. On top of that were 10 acres of forest and a 10ft wide creek with fish in it (theoretically).

I have noticed a certain drive for people to FIRE and run off into the woods in order to become homesteaders---at least for a few years. In my opinion, if you're looking to spend most of your time on endless maintenance and upkeep with no possibility of any break (who is going to feed the animals?) and the risk/reward is subject to nature with PnL basically set by the market rate of 6 billion global competitors, go for it. As far as I'm concerned, it's the best way to give yourself a job that you can never really escape and which pays close to nothing unless you have a youtube channel or a government subsidy.

In short, you really really have to love being outside at all times, digging around in the dirt, taking care of animals, and spending half a day a week mowing giant lawns. You have to be in it for the process rather than the results. You can never put it aside to do something else. There's no off-button. There's no reset-button. IOW, the dream is often >> the reality of it. Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2Z4FAmZA0c

That said, we've turned 3/4 of our backyard into a garden. So far this year we've already harvested 66 pounds of vegetables. That's nowhere near self-sufficient, but it is really nice to have fresh/organic/free vegetables that doesn't require driving somewhere to get them. It was particularly nice during the peak of the COVID lockdown. However, gardening a ~1000sqft lot is very very different from farming.

Lucky C
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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by Lucky C »

Totally agree with Jacob. Plenty of maintenance to keep me busy on my 1 acre lot which is mostly just grass and trees without trying to do food production.

However, the more you research native plants and the established plants you already have on a manageable property (around 1 acre), the more you will find that they have benefits for humans even if they don't give you many calories or vitamins. Then you can just be satisfied with those plants and plant more if they're low maintenance. Do what's easy in your area.

In my yard there is very acidic soil which is great for blueberries, and I've found wild blueberries which I hadn't even noticed the first year, and now they're spreading. We have black birch trees which can be used to make oil of wintergreen, and birch sap can be harvested for syrup, birch beer, or just drank in watery form straight from the tree. Wild garlic grows here and there. Oaks and hickories (not the kind with big nuts) could provide us with food in desperate times. There are some maples which could also be harvested for syrup. Even our typical landscape plants have edible parts - hostas, day lilies, rose of sharon, echinacea. Finally there are uses for many types of weeds such as dandelion, violets, purslane, and oxalis. We aren't really using all these plants for these uses now, but they have the potential in a depression or major shortage situation if we aren't getting enough nutrition or if we can't get a certain type of medicine. We could also trap squirrels, possums, etc. if we really needed some protein.

So consider a "supplemental" food forest rather than trying to maximize calories.

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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by JenAR »

I've ranched and made money ($30,000-$60,000/year net, almost certainly could've made more if I were more ambitious), but that was on an established property where I grew up, so not starting from scratch. I also produced sufficient net calories to feed myself and many other people. But I was also on bottomland in the humid subtropics--easy living, agriculturally speaking.

The downside is that you're tied to it and it's nigh impossible to find reliable help to so much as feed the animals for a few days, never mind manage the place for a substantial amount of time if you want to do something else.

I typically swear to myself I'll never look at a cow/tree/garden annual again, so help me God, and then after a year or so I get to missing them and thinking, "What about dairy goats? They're not so big . . . and wouldn't it be fun to grow a polyculture that would feed us both?" I grew up in the woods and on the ranch, and find it hard to stay away from that sort of thing. The permaculture dream is that it will be low maintenance and really productive at the same time, but not sure if it will turn out that way. I haven't done what I'd consider mature permaculture--only start up.

I am currently living at Wheaton Labs, like it a lot, would enjoy having you out if you decide to pull the trigger.

JamesR
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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by JamesR »

Good points about the work involved. Hopefully there's room for the lazy farmers that can find creative solutions to reduce the overall person-hours required to keep a farm going. Especially after the startup work involved.

Could possibly create some weird limits and constraints and then try to solve for that. Constraints like only using goats or pigs to mow your lawns. Or finding a way to have your livestock survive for weeks on the pasture without any human supervision.

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Alphaville
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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by Alphaville »

JamesR wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 12:01 am
Or finding a way to have your livestock survive for weeks on the pasture without any human supervision.
in the big rock candy mountain the hens lay soft-boiled eggs

ertyu
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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by ertyu »

JamesR wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 12:01 am
have your livestock survive for weeks on the pasture without any human supervision.
local wolves, foxes, etc. would love this. also, local poachers.

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Alphaville
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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by Alphaville »

ertyu wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 6:48 am
local wolves, foxes, etc. would love this. also, local poachers.
yep, we get coyotes and mountain lions in the american southwest. and cattle rustlers of course, while heavily penalized, still do their thing.

but also cattle needs water, magic pastures are easily overgrazed (huge mistake, which is why one rotates pastures), fences need tending, feed needs supplementation, etc.

grazing cattle in open ranges (public lands) is more or less “free” but has legal requirements, requires travel and constant supervision to protect from predators, and it’s usually a seasonal thing.

of course globally also one can just burn the amazon and unleash the herds :roll:

JamesR
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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by JamesR »

The pig raising and rotation of paddocks with Joel Salantin's system seems interesting. The pigs are trained to respect a simple electric wire (you have to get them early, weaners might be too old by then?), and they are rotated every 5 to 12 days. Apparently someone does check on them every day and that takes about 20 minutes and then other days require a couple hours of work to get them to the new paddock, move the water/top up the feed, and other stuff.

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Alphaville
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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by Alphaville »

sure.

i like solving problems, and i like getting help solving problems, but this thread seems to me more like idle speculation about vague unrealized notions than actual work on something.

which is a valid form of entertainment i guess, but i must bow out. 🖖

horsewoman
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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by horsewoman »

We keep our horses in a large paddock (1000 square meters) with some stables for shelter (mostly used when it is very hot). During summer and autumn they have free access to (rotating) pastures.
In the paddock there is a large bail of hay (protected from rain) with a net to slow down feeding. We need to fill up this feeder with a new bale every few days with our large front loading tractor.
Every other day we clean up the poop, this could be done less often but we don't want to let pile up too much of it.
our system has been optimized over the years with the goal to spend very little time on the regular chores for the horses. I suppose one could keep a couple of cows or goats like this.

This only works because we have invested a lot of money in our tractor and fencing, and electronic water basins the horses can operate on their own (with heating in winter!). also, we are fine with sacrificing most of our land for the horses - obviously we cannot plant food for us in that space, and need to fence in any valuable trees.

And still, after all this money and optimization we are never away longer than 2 days. It is nigh on impossible to find someone willing to take the responsibility for your farm for a few days.

So my heartfelt advice, don't get animals if you are a) lazy or b) like to get away on a whim. It can easily turn into a millstone round your neck in that case...

JamesR
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Re: Do you farm? Permaculture? Do you pasture raise livestock? Do you build your own tiny or eco house?

Post by JamesR »

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqAj_m-RG-A

I was just watching this and shortly after 12:30 minutes Paul Wheaton says that a hundred pounds of food were harvested from a 2 year old berm, which is mainly composed of poor sandy dirt, and never irrigated (except probably at the very beginning).

Does that sound reasonable? Not sure how many square feet he'd be including. I suppose it could be anywhere from 500 to 1000 square feet.

Still seems like good return for low effort if true.
Last edited by JamesR on Thu Jul 23, 2020 9:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

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