Homesteading on a Budget: Broke Like Me

Reader Contribution by Denise
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The last year I’ve been going through so many “homesteading” sites. I’ve even checked out a number of “prepper” sites because some of the concepts apply to homesteading as well. After all, the goal of both is to be self-sufficient.

Beautiful dirt roads, and electric lines, even though on-grid power is not available in this area.

Let’s reverse a bit.

I moved to this area six years ago, the White Mountains of Arizona — a place where Arizona really does have all four seasons. In any case, I thought my research was sufficient, and a few months after my move I started gathering goats and chickens and ducks and turkeys (Oh my!). However, I was NOT ready after all. I sold some off before I moved to my new location two years ago. Others, unfortunately, became coyote and owl food as they wouldn’t stay penned in. (Did you know chickens, ducks and turkeys can be escape artists?)

When I moved into my ranch at the end of 2015, I had big plans as a “regrouped” first-year homesteader. I went back to research and found some amazing sites. What was my hang-up with these amazing sites? It seems no homesteader is a broke as I am. They have huge homes and vast kitchens. Beautiful chicken coops and barns. They have acres and acres of land.

I got really bummed out and, after pricing the things I wanted to do, I realized there was no way I’d be where I wanted to be by this coming spring. I thought I’d hire locals that needed the money to do some of the work they knew how to do.

Antelope off to the side of the ranch, just outside my main inner fencing.

This would have saved me money IF they would have finished the jobs. The chain-link dog area that I wanted to start out with, almost a year later, still is not finished. And I’ve paid FOUR different people to do it and will have to hire a fifth. So, my saving money has actually caused me to pay for the fence twice over.

I’m not making the same mistake with the horse stall I need built. (My first horse experience was a nightmare this summer — I’ll share that later on). This time I checked around a bit more. This guy will get the job done and has a good reputation. He does charge double everyone (but if I hire a bonded contractor to do the job in this area, it will easily cost me four times that amount.), but it will be done and done right.

Budgets around here are very difficult to stick to and there’s never any money in savings. It seems when I get a bit of “extra” money it goes right to the things I’m behind on or needed and couldn’t purchase before then — leaving me broke yet again.

Now this isn’t a “poor me” post, honest.

What is it? A safe place to know that others can do it without an endless bank account as well. Your goal is attainable and with an amount of satisfaction that I think is added to by the struggle and hands-on work we put into it ourselves.

Sunsets are truly amazing and often unique in the White Mountains.

Then it happened again.

The ranch I had been sold made it just under two years before it ended up with serious piping, well, and solar issues. I wasn’t able to afford a $20,000 fix. This lead me to finding another location of completely untouched (other than the cattle grazing it that are free range — and not mine) land. This land is small in acres, but everything is open around it for me to purchase from owners.

This is where I will be starting over for the last time. All piece by piece and on my own — a single mom with teenagers.

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