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Plant tomatoes, the say, they’re easy, they say! So I planted some tomato seeds and would you believe that forty-one of those cute little seeds turned into cute little plants way before the ground was unfrozen? ALL RIGHT! I’M GOING TO BE ROLLING IN TOMATO SAUCE AND SALSA!! Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched. Or rather don’t count your tomatoes before they’re fruiting. My tomatoes grew lush and beautiful, healthiest plants I have EVER seen, in fact they grew into a weird subtropical looking forest of greenery. They shot up towards the sky, some reaching over five feet in height, and billowed outward until all the pretty rows I made for ease of picking were completely choked out with leaves and branches. It all looked so good! But then nothing happened. At the end of the season I ended up with maybe five tomatoes from all those plants!! I still have no idea what went wrong but next year I’ll be planting in a different part of the yard with bunny poop enriched soil.

But this summer hasn’t all been gardening failures and misery. In fact it’s been rich with self discovery. For the most part I haven’t done much traveling, as I usually like to in the warmer weather, mostly because it was so muggy and unbelievably hot my body was just like, “NO.” I felt like it was a bit wasted but it hasn’t been really. I have been taking a lot of time just to myself to work on everything in my life that needs improving. I have learned so much about myself and what I need and want out of life since losing the farm. Believe it or not, even though I am financially at my worst, I am the happiest I have ever been with life. I have learned to take it easy, especially when judging myself. I have come such a long way that even the anxiety that has plagued me since birth has ran back into the hills with its tail between its legs. I have gotten back in touch with my off-beat spirituality, I have decided to be brave and be completely 100% myself for the first time in my life, no matter what everyone has to say, and at the end of the day and  it has fostered the deepest inner peace I think a mere human can accomplish. In the past the only place I found peace was when I was outside watching my chickens roam on the farm. Now my peace comes from deep within my soul. I am calm, confident, relaxed, and in this state of mind I have accomplished far more and continue to do so. I will find myself on my own homestead someday and when that day comes it’ll be a just reward for hard work so thank you for anyone who is still reading about my journey.

In the meantime I have just settled in enough to start enjoying a few pets. So I have started a very little bunny breeding project. I am trying to make a miniature Angora breed – I think they could be amazing for urban fiber and pet enthusiasts. This is just a silly little side project, nothing on the scale of the things I have done before but I am perfectly happy with that as I devote the rest of my time to my writing, my art, and creating good karma to send into the universe.

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It’s easy to forget what all the struggle is for when you continue trudging through the nothingness for so long. I’m still living in a house that I think is physically obliterating my health, where I can’t even own chickens… and it’s been well past the time I felt I should have earned my way out of this limbo, but life had other plans and I am still here, still doggedly trying literally everything I can, and my eye is still on the prize – a tiny home surrounded by as much land as I can muster where I can plant myself and start something new and beautiful, a home, a farm, a whole new life.

With that all being said sometimes it helps to have reminders, just so I don’t forget. Today my reminder came from a trip to Vermont where this year’s Tiny House Fest was going strong. For the low low price of $25 I was able to not only walk through thirty tiny houses at my leisure but also attend several lectures and soak in all that beautiful knowledge!

It was quite a day! As usual Brattleborro is goddamn adorable all on it’s own. I must return someday just to walk it’s quirky little streets. It was raining so the festival wasn’t as populated as I was expecting. All the better! I started by going through the tiny houses one by one. They had everything. There were super tiny houses in vans and buses, moderate RV sized tiny houses being towed on trailers, and at least one large tiny house that was made to be planted somewhere as a permanent building. They also were in all phases of construction with some being little more than shells and others being completely decked out to the max. It was wonderful to see just what people had come up with!

The largest of course was something I was super impressed with and lamented, “Maybe someday! SIGH.” This was the company that was showing it off, they have their own video.

ZEM Home Virtual Tour - YouTube

However it was the smallest of the tiny homes which really took me by complete surprise. I hadn’t even gone to look at them but I ended up attending four lectures about the two buses, one van, and one gypsy wagon at the festival and I fell head over heels in love with the idea of just being able to pick up and go anywhere whenever I wanted, like a turtle, carrying its home on its back. I’ve lived on the road before and once you do that it always calls you back in one way or another, currently I travel New England for another blog Catching Marbles but man… I’d take any of those tiny homes and abscond to the West in a second! The first woman to speak was a youngun’, maybe college aged, who fell in love with the ruin of an old 1954 school bus which she then remade into a home and traveled across the country in. That one had character before any was added! (Including a dead bird in one of the vents, discovered after mummification!) The couple speaking about their 90 square foot van home however had far more of my attention. They lived in the van 24/7 with each other, and their dog, never really knowing where they’d end up next. They both worked out of the van as “content creators.” Their lifestyle absolutely fascinated me. They seemed to work almost as one mind and said they spent much of their time flitting from one driveway to the next. They must have had a hell of a lot of connections! They told us about how in the beginning they were always welcome to park in Wal-Mart overnight but these days towns and cities were making ordinances making overnight parking anywhere illegal so that RVs and tiny homes could not stay anywhere. They lamented that having a toilet right next to the head of the bed was not always the best idea and they didn’t suggest this lifestyle to anyone who wasn’t really good at communicating. As far as I could tell they lived mostly like gypsies going from one place to another, writing about it, YouTubing it, and selling books…. basically everything I have already been working on. I also travel and have been plundering my every life experience to write articles and blogs. I also am working on writing a book – funny and light hearted stories about all the animals I have taken care of over the years. Gee… if I could make enough money someday doing the things I am already doing (which currently pays me nothing) I’d trick out a van and set off into the sunset any day!! Especially knowing how they went from an RV sized home to a van in the hopes of someday bringing it to Europe or anywhere else in the world. Oooooh, I swoon at the thought! maybe someday I could be so lucky! It’s not like I have any pets or children keeping me put. In many respects I am free as a bird.

The last guy to speak about his own tiny house project brought us into a world of wonder. I loved his beautiful mind because he started his presentation by saying, “Somewhere in a drawer of ideas I had written down I wanted to make a gypsy wagon on my bucket list.” How delightfully random! I was ensconced in his presentation, full of both the expected anecdotal knowledge as well as a delightful amount of technical detail. I learned so much about old school gypsy wagons! Apparently their very shapes all had specific purpose. Their base dipped between the wheels for added stability (the bump on the inside was used as sitting places.) Their arched roofs were made by laminating wood or steaming it into shape. The whole body of the carriage was 100% Douglas Fir which was both lightweight and sturdy. The bones of the structures were not covered up and instead were ornately carved and left on the exterior.  Welded wrought iron brackets held up the added lip over the wheels. A drop down porch folded up to keep the back door closed during travel, and here’s where he brought these beautiful creations into the modern age. He encased all the woodwork with fiberglass, essentially making the outside more like a boat than an RV. Super durable, easy to clean, hardy, ready for the road. And to top it all off this was such a unique project he couldn’t find the hardware to put any of the windows in so he made his own hardware. WOW. I was impressed! And completely in love with the whimsy!! The carriage was BEAUTIFUL. Now that’s traveling in style!! I swoon!

In other lectures I learned about “pop up” stores run out of vans bringing life back into town centers, whole communities coming together to build tiny home villages, the many unexpected uses of pee, the ability to garden under solar panels so arable land is not wasted, how to farm methane and use it rather than belch it into the atmosphere, as well as many other fantastic things I’d never thought of before. It all gets me so excited. Someday I will have not only my own tiny home but perhaps a whole village out in the deepest woods, farming, building community, and making this world a better place.

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Well! It’s been a fun day! I decided I wanted I make a play pen for my Angoras. I didn’t want anything too permanent but I did want something that’d keep them in one pretty large space. So when I discovered there was this stuff called Rabbit Fencing, used to keep wild rabbits out of gardens, I figured maybe it could keep a few rabbits in instead of out! So I paid $31 for fifty feet worth of the stuff and butted it against the wall of the house to almost double the size of the pen. I used U-shaped lawn staples ($16 for 50) to pin down the bottom of the fence and four T-posts I already had lying around for stability. It was a quick set up, that’s for sure! And I think the bunnies like it! I’m contemplating getting a couple meat bunnies to breed, allow them to run around in this pen during the day and eat on fresh pasture. It could be a good deal for all…

I should probably note this is NOT a 24/7 enclosure. It couldn’t even hold my Belgian Hare for more then a minute tops but my angoras are profoundly stupid and so long as they don’t start digging it should keep them in OK. I can’t leave them at night thought because there is absolutely nothing to protect them from predators and I apparently have a fox and a skunk lurking in addition to raccoons! So this is really is a supervised play area for the day. Still, I’m super happy with it!

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I’m just checking into this blog to let you all know I am still alive and doing well. It’s been a rough winter for me but this spring seems like a rebirth! I am still living somewhere where I can’t have chickens and it looks like I will be stuck here for quite a while but I am making the best of it.

The yard here, both back and front, are a complete disaster. There’s trash everywhere, the soil is of intensely poor quality, there’s a crazy vine hugging all the trees to death, and any infrastructure I may have had to raise anything is destroyed. Initially my plan was to ignore all that and just move out… seeing as that’s not an option I am doubling down! I am going to make this place functional and homestead friendly! I have started by saving all the bunny poop I acquired all winter long and using it to replenish the nutrients in the soil for this year’s garden.

Today I worked on the dog fence. There’s a little fenced in run used for a couple yappy little dogs that has seen a lot of wear the years. The invasive vine I was talking about took out a great deal of it. So today I worked on cutting the vine off the fence and taking down four trees that had fallen on aforementioned fence after being killed by the vine and/or an ice storm snapping them in  half. That was not easy! I did not have the right tools! But I managed, on my own, as usual. Anyone who says women can’t do hard labor and landscaping never met me!

I hope in the future to really fix this. I want to rebuild the fence but a lot better. This one was only put up with chicken wire and it looks terrible. I found these two ideas [pictured] online and I will probably be trying to copy them with a few amendments. Sadly this pen is not on flat ground and I need to do something to discourage the little brats from digging out, probably a small layer of gravel at the bottom of the fence itself. And I need to figure out how to add a door. But this isn’t my first building project by any means. Last fall I made myself an impressive shelving unit for the laundry room and sometime soon I hope to build myself a couch out of pallets since I can’t afford to buy a real couch and I think it’d be super cute and better suited for my simple needs anyway. The last photo is of a couch that I think would be FANTASTIC for a large family! I love it! Lastly stay tuned because I hope to be building the rabbits outdoor housing for the warmer months as well, European colony style housing, and expanding my gardening efforts.

Thank you everyone for sticking around and continuing with me on my journey.

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Well, my life is calming down a lot and spring is coming up so it’s time to start refocusing my attention on this homesteading blog. Now, I know, I am no longer on a homestead, but I am working towards it again and in the meantime people are still asking me all sorts of chicken questions and I think it’d be a waste not to spread my knowledge! Today I am going to talk about my experience with dual purpose sex links and why this is an important thing to learn for the future of self sustainability.

Here my Silver Gray Dorking rooster Bernie relaxes with some SIlver Dorking Hens – notice their petite size compared to him!

Back when I was on the farm I created my own dual purpose sex links that were bred to suit my needs as well as my customers. My criteria were simple. I wanted a generation of birds that I could sex at hatch and separate. The pullets needed to be great layers and the roosters needed to be large and worth raising for slaughter. Initially all I could find on sex links were based on breeding very light weight laying breeds together to produce sleek low-feed laying pullets and roosters that could be euthanized at hatch so you wouldn’t have to waste any resources or money on raising them. Although I understand this dynamic and why it works in the industrial hatchery business I felt it was not honoring an older tradition of self sustainability. It was far too wasteful.

So I looked into birds used for both meat and egg laying, first settling on Cornish and Dorkings, which were breeds known for their meat but also were pretty decent layers. Cornish are used in the American meat industry to create “Cornish Crosses” also known as CornRocks or just broilers, the same sort of chicken you can buy in the grocery store. However Cornish Crosses take three or four generations to get that ungodly large breast and quick growing. First generation crosses are still very decent if you’re used to heritage birds for the table. Dorkings are known for their large amount of breast meat. They were probably the first breed to have this and I was pleased with the amount they created but they were painfully slow growing. Some of the roosters didn’t reach full size until two years of age! To add a fast growth rate I decided instead of using a Cornish for my rooster I would use my very large heritage Rhode Island Red. He was nothing like the hatchery RIR’s you see in everyone’s backyard flock. He was HUGE, a brilliant Mahogany color, and as docile and friendly as you could possibly want a rooster – unlike the Cornish who had a reputation for having pugnacious roosters. I gave him a number of my largest Silver Gray Dorking hens and I couldn’t have been happier with the results.

Dual Purpose Sex links (Heritage RIR Rooster over Silver Gray Dorking Hen) Roosters hatched out white, hens hatched out Mahogany.

The chicks hatched out with gorgeous Mahogany colored pullets and white roosters who’d grow to have black on their heads and wings later on. The pullets were robust and large, favored here in New England for their size because people believe larger birds fair the winters better. They had hybrid vigor which means they laid an abundance of large tan eggs. The roosters were even more impressive. They grew much faster than the purebred Dorkings and made very decent carcasses by the time they were four to six months old. This is still far longer a growing time than the broilers you can buy but the meat was unbeatable. I had far more breast meat than heritage birds usually have and since they were given ample room to run around they had large powerful legs that made for the best dark meat I have ever eaten – almost gamey in flavor. This is something I will continue the next time I find myself living on a farm! But for Dorking enthusiasts that like that really slow growth rate you can also cross a Red Dorking Rooster to Silver Gray hens to produce sex links. You might also be able to create sex links with red Dorking roosters and white Dorking hens depending on if their white plumage is due to the “dominant white” gene or something else. You’d have to test each line and see.

The benefits of sex links are enormous for a small homestead. It allows us little guys to compete with the large hatcheries because we can sex the chicks as soon as they pop out. This allows us to charge more for the pullets while being absolutely assured we won’t be selling anyone an accidental rooster. It also allows us to sell them a lot sooner before we waste any money on feed. Most breeds take a lot longer to sex, sometimes even months, and there are many customers out there who simply cannot have roosters, even accidental ones. This also allows us to either dispense of roosters at hatch or raise them for meat which means we’re not wasting any of our own resources if we don’t want to. It sounds harsh but the sex links you often buy off hatcheries are usually layers and the vast majority of those roosters are put down immediately for exactly this reason – the lucky ones are sometimes used as living “packing peanuts” to keep small orders of chicks warm while they’re being shipped through the mail.

Here is an older sex linked rooster (same as pictured above) Here is an older sex linked pullet (same as pictured above)

Now I have told you my story and preferred cross I will let you know a couple others that may work as well. Here in the US we favor Cornish crossed with Plymouth Rocks to make large meat birds. You can do this in a way to make them sex-linking but it may take more ground work than you may wish. While theoretically a Dark Cornish Rooster over White Plymouth Rock hens can produce sex-links it doesn’t always because it depends on the line of White Rocks if they are indeed dominant white or some other combination of genes that just don’t work. The only way you’d know for sure would be to try it with the birds you have and raise a few chicks to adulthood to see.

Another common dual purpose cross would be a Gold Laced Wyandotte rooster over Silver Laced Wyandotte hens. This will produce gold pullets and silver hens. This is a great way to use extra birds that may not have made the cut to be bred for color or show. This generation will never be able to be used for the latter but most people buying chicks just want eggs and sometimes something pretty that lays eggs so it doesn’t really matter for that.

Cream Legbars make decent autosexing layers of green or blue eggs. I rather enjoyed mine when I had them.

If this is something you’d like to try or you’d like to learn more about it there’s a wonderful far more in depth article on Backyard Chickens complete with charts, how to figure out the correct cross, and why it works. And if you like the idea of having sex links that are easier on your feed bill and more focused on just their laying abilities there are a ton of resources out there for just that but most of those boil down to Red Sex Links and Black Sex Links. Red sex links are most often a Rhode Island Red rooster over a Rhode Island White hen. Black Sex Links are most commonly created by crossing a Rhode Island Red rooster with a Barred Rock hen. All of that can be found on the article I have linked above. And finally if you’d like a chicken that can be sexed at hatch for more than one generation try looking into autosexing breeds like Cream Legbars, Bielfelders, Rhodebars, etc. Good luck and happy chicken keeping!

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I wanted to thank everyone who reads this blog – there seems to be a lot of you. And I wanted to invite you to be part of something big and beautiful – the funding of a new better farm! This time it’ll be educational and I will blog a lot more about it, including any chicken escapades!

So if you like this blog and would like to see me start adding to it again please consider donating to my GoFundMe. Thank you all so much in advance. Happy chicken keeping everyone!

https://www.gofundme.com/help-fund-an-educational-farm

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So I no longer live on a farm, that doesn’t mean I can’t still sell my goods at farmer’s markets and craft fairs, which I fully intend to do so long as I can afford a table. I started this year sharing a table with my mother at the market in town. It was ungodly hot, 86 degrees, and to add to my troubles it was also insanely windy which resulted in the tent nearly blowing away. My mother had to leave me to hold it up as she went home and got anchors for the thing. Did I mention she didn’t leave me with the change box or a chair to sit on? Yeah. That didn’t really end well… but hey! I made it!

My mother wanted to set up a sale table for her soaps which were made last year and were losing their smell and had lost their labels. I asked if I could share the table and put out some of my hand made magnets and some stroopwafels (which are these amazing Dutch cookies that are completely addictive.) I was shocked how many people knew what stroopwafels were – all were world travelers and I felt I was selling them happy memories. It was a really wonderful feeling. Sure there were only seven vendors and about the same amount of customers but I don’t think this was a bad start to the season… not for Rindge anyway. I am going to check out the markets in Peterborough and New Ipswich next and if they are to my liking I will do my rounds weekly whenever I can to see if I can get those elusive repeat customers.

In the meanwhile I have started my garden. Believe it or not I have had to keep all my plants in the house until now because even though yesterday was 86 degrees while I was at the farmer’s market the nights have still been getting cold enough to freeze things! My gardener friend in town laments, “It’s going to be a short growing season.” But that’s OK. I have cucumbers, several types of squash, pumpkins, watermelons, several types of tomatoes, several colors of bell peppers, Brussel sprouts, parsnips, carrots, and beans. I haven’t even started in on the herbs or flowers yet but that’s still in the planning stages! And so is my little future home. I am still looking into shipping containers and it’s still looking like the cheapest and best option right now. I even went out yesterday and marked out a 40 foot by 8 foot space, which is the measurement of a shipping container, and proceeded to see if I had room to do everything I wanted. I have different needs than most people who move into tiny houses. I need a large kitchen for canning and old school food prep, I insist on a bathtub for sanity reasons, and yes, I demand a washer and dryer because I am not driving to a laundromat whenever I need to do the wash. But with that being said I don’t care if my bedroom is literally just a space for my bed and the entertaining area can be very minimal for now. I’ll be too busy working on the place to have many people over for dinner! Besides, when the weather is nice we should all be outside anyway! I look very much forward to all this and can’t wait until I see the day where it comes together. I am still aiming for that 30 acre teaching farm but I realize this might be reaching to far and have made a whole series of plan b’s. The fact I was able to make so many back up options has given me great comfort and faith that I will not languish in my mother’s probably radio-active house for long. I will have a homestead — or I’ll die trying!

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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.

BCS Model 853 walk-behind tractor with CAEB mini-haybaler - YouTube

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.)

The Ultimate Chainsaw Sawmill - The PortaMill PM14 by Norwood Portable Sawmills - YouTube
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It’s a sad day but Rindle Ridge Farm is no longer a thing. I moved off the farm a whole month before I was scheduled to because things were getting hostile and I didn’t feel safe there anymore. I did what I had to do. It was one of the hardest decisions of my life but I packed the rest of my things, loaded the car, and fed and watered everyone one last time with enough food and water for twenty four hours before giving my notice that I was gone. I offered to drive back and feed and water everyone again if I had to, at least a few more times, but I was told to stop dealing with the animals and that I was lucky I wasn’t being prosecuted for abandoning them. From here I was publically blasted on FaceBook as being the horrible wench that “suddenly abandoned” the animals. I didn’t bother to reply to this with the above information because I felt saving my reputation wasn’t as important as getting those animals the care they needed, even if it was from people who clearly didn’t have all the information on the situation. The goats were whisked away by someone thinking this was an emergency after being told they didn’t have any water (which was literally in front of the gate in front of the pasture. How these people checking in on them didn’t trip over it I will never know.)

I regret not being able to get the chickens in a better situation. There’s nothing good coming for them… but with that being said I have no regrets. I did what I had to do, I did it as respectfully, morally, and lawfully, as I could have. Now I am looking to the future!  And this time when I get back on my feet and running a farm it’ll be for real, for myself, without the overwhelming pressure of someone who wants me to make it profitable two days before yesterday.

Money isn’t everything. It’s just a string of pretty numbers that can give you what you need, sometimes what you want if you have more. I am so happy to be away from that sort of goal keeping. You know what my monetary goal is from here on out? Getting enough money to get settled somewhere on a teaching farm and having enough to pay for my meager bills to live a simple rustic life. Anything beyond that is icing on the cake, not something that desperately needs to be achieved.

So I am living back at my mother’s in a far from desirable situation. I love my mother and get along very well but her house? I think it was imported from Chernobyl. At least that’s the only reason I can figure so many weird health problems happen here with every pet I chose to keep and myself. I struggle to keep my head above the water but I am remaining positive. I feel like I need to be here right now no matter how bad a situation it is because something better is coming.

I have yet to set up a work station for my art but I have started taking little road trips to keep my mind sharp and to get out of the house. I am starting to record my journeys in a new blog Catching Marbles. 

And of course I continue to figure out my campaign to raise money for my future homestead. I also am continuing to look into all the options. Are shipping containers really cheaper? Can I manage to bury one so I don’t have to insulate it? Or is buying a tin “arched home” cheaper? Or maybe just going all out pre-fab tiny house is cheaper since everything is included? My mind whirls but I am getting a better grasp of what I need. I need a place with a large kitchen as cooking will be a big part of my life and I really would appreciate a full bath tub and a spot for a stackable washer and dryer. However other things in the house, like a bedroom can be compromised. I don’t feel I need a bedroom, just a place to put a bed and maybe a lamp if I decide to read in bed. Everything else is excess. I will also need a working space for my art which will likely take over the room traditionally used as a living room. Should I have need for entertaining space there is always the great outdoors or the possibility of adding on later. Of course all this depends on how many square feet I end up with and what I can do with it.

Thank you all for continuing to come with me on this journey. Feel free to stay tuned as I continue to make art and go to Farmer’s Markets, travel, and get on with my life. I am sorry there won’t be any more fun chicken photos for now but I have great hopes for the future.

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Well life here has been chaotic and intense but I have faired each wave well. I can’t say I appreciate living amongst such massive uncertainty but there’s little I can do about that. Instead I continue to plot…. sadly due to money concerns I have had to change my donation prizes to something I can actually afford to make…. Apparently resin is not as cheap as I had once been led to believe so the candle holders are likely a no go and I am still unsure about the light switches. I have started making animal shaped charms and pins. I feel a bit like a sell out but I got to do what I got to do. I will be posting photos of all that soon.

In the meantime I have learned of an even cheaper housing option than making my home inside a barn kit. Apparently you can buy used metal shipping containers, the kind that cargo is placed in to go across the sea on a ship, for about $2000 a piece and if you want to dig around you can buy them in bulk for cheaper. Each container is forty feet long, eight and a half feet wide, and eight and a half feet tall. They are wind and water tight and people do make them into homes. Initially I thought they’d be a pain to insulate but after realizing I could get six for half the price of the barn kit…. Well! My views softened. WORST case scenario I can get one for 2k and work my way up from the bare bottom. BEST case scenario I raise the money I initially wanted to and invest in six – four for myself and two to create a barn.

I don’t need four units for myself to live in, two will be very sufficient, but four allows for some interesting possibilities. I could stack them like Lincoln logs in a square allowing for a courtyard as well as four interesting spaces….. The bottom two spaces could make great areas for a greenhouse/shed/dry storage for stacked wood. The top areas could be made into porches, greenhouses, or eventually I could board them up into rooms in their own right. This would be a truely massive house but here’s the reason that could be great 1) I could make it a duplex with each living space taking two shipping containers, and rent out the other half. 2) If I had to I could forgo getting thirty acres, settle for ten or so, build this big house perfect for a large family, setting up the property as a starter homestead and sell it to earn the money to buy a bigger plot of land and start my larger plans from there or 3) I could use the extra space as work space – a wood shop, a classroom, a pottery shop, perhaps even a chapel! Here’s a crude illustration I made with butter. Just imagine each stick is a shipping container and the blank spaces in the bottom are greenhouses, the blank spaces on the top porches at the very least.

There’s another exciting bit about this and that is the additional two shipping containers which I would use for an instant barn since barns do not need to be insulated. They can be used as is or if I have the money I could put a roof over them and have space for a car port in the middle. Either way things are looking up.

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