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planning to make the move to self-sufficiency

Bentonville, AR

I've been watching these threads for quite awhile, and have a question for those with more experience. I am looking to find me some land that I can build on. I've been studying a lot. I'm a planner, but I was raised very country and a lot of the foraging and hunting and gardening is how i was brought up. I guess what I'm asking is... in regards to building materials. I've read up on cordwood, strawbale, straw-filled, and some others. What's your input on these construction styles?

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

My, I could write a book on the subject, far too much to address here!

A lot depends on overall weather conditions at the location. Strawbale houses are great in the dry SW, not so good in New England or any place that gets a lot of rain/moisture. Cordwood can have wood-eating pest problems. Adobe needs dry conditions too, but rammed earth with mud stucco veneer holds promise, again depending on conditions. A similar structure with glass bottles in a mud wall is intriguing.

In my mountain area, I favor site-oriented passive solar that's earth sheltered and well insulated on 3 sides plus floor and roof. I'd probably use the method the Nearings used in their buildings, local rock in a thick wall, surrounded by concrete.

What ever method you end up choosing, the 2 important factors are insulation and waterproofing.

Bentonville, AR

Thank you, Darius, for your input. I'm in the midwest, and will probably stay close to here. I've even considered the sheds they have that look like barns, like they have in Lowe's parking lots and such. There are some very nice ones, one's a 2 story. Shingle roof and stud walls and all. I've considered pouring a foundation and putting that on there. I could insulate it and finish it out as finances permit. I don't know whether anyone on this thread has any ideas on that, but it seems feasible to me. i like the earth homes, except i really like a lot of natural light. I know a lot of ppl say they're not dark, but it's just a mindset thing for me I guess. I'll have to read up on the Nearings. I'm a 30 something widow, so keep in mind that I don't have anyone to depend on as far as heavy construction goes, besides very good friends and I don't want to lose my friends before the real fun begins, as I know there will be many many projects that I will not be able to do on my own.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

A friend near Gainesville, FL bought one of those 2 story buildings, and is finishing it out as a home for her grown son, as time and money permits.

Keep in mind, the shell of a house is only 20% of the total cost... there's the well, septic, electricity to be brought in if remote ($$$$$$$$$$$$), inside plumbing and electric, insulation, interior walls, bath and kitchen fixtures... and more. But with perseverance, it's all doable one way or another. There's not much a 30-40-50- or even 60 year old woman cannot accomplish with ingenuity. I know, been there.

Lots of good books around (best ones from the 1970's) to guide a newbie; I even have a couple written just for women.... That's assuming you can learn from a book with good illustrations. I can and do, but many cannot.

You said midwest; you staying near where you are? What's the terrain?

(BTW, My ideal earth sheltered home is rather long but just one room wide, with the south face mostly all glass. No lack of light inside! No privacy either, so it helps to not have nearby neighbors.)

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

LOL ~ agreed on the one long room with all windows on the south side and if I can add, high on a mountain side so the neighbors would have to dangle from tree limbs if they wanted to be nosey.

Many here are building metal garage type buildings and then going inside and building an apartment inside. A side benefit is the property tax rate is lower as it is only a metal garage. The metal framework would be more sturdy in serious storms too.

If you intend to stay in Bentonville and don't already own property, you may just look for a fix it up homestead. Or should you own land, I would not hesitate to look at a small mobile home to get your feet wet. Then later, you may have a better idea as to what would suit you.

Glad to have you join in and know that you will at least get moral support from me... pod

Bentonville, AR

I appreciate your moral support and feedback. The terrain here is rolling hills. There is trees and lots of vegetation. We get all 4 seasons here that's for sure, usually not a lot of snow mostly ice. Except this year when we got hit hard with the snow. If I relocate from here, it would be to missouri up around Ft. Leonard Wood area, as my family has quite a spread of land up there with springs, electric, the whole 9 yards and it would only be a matter of building shelter. The problem is, work there is not easy to find. I do want to be off the beaten path though. Not a fan of having really close neighbors. I'm not opposed to hauling water in, or doing without electric for awhile... or indefinitely. I'm prepared to rough it to have the life that I want :D

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Always wanted a place with a spring.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Agreed! A spring and/or a source of good water would be at the top of the list.

Bentonville, AR

Well I know its been awhile since I posted so I will update. This week I signed papers on a trailer and 2 acres:D! The property is on a west facing hillside with an amazing view. Theres lots of trees and I will be thinning some out for a garden and such. The trailer needs work but I've got a good start on it already. Its all very exciting! I hope you 2 are doing well.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Hooray for you!!

Bentonville, AR

I have tons of blackberry and black raspberry bushes on my place and up and down my road. So, I see lots of jelly and jam in my future. Also, I'm planning where to put my chicken coop so I can put 1 up right away. And I can already taste my green beans and new potatoes lol.

Winnemucca, NV(Zone 5b)

Sounds great, enjoy it!

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Great news! So happy for you. Can't wait to see pics of the new place!!

Bentonville, AR

I have posted pics on my facebook but haven't figured it out on here yet. I'm trying not to bite off more than I can chew but I also know I have to get stuff ready so I can have some kind of garden this year. I have so much to do its hard to know where to start. I know I want to plant fruit trees as soon as possible because it takes years for them to produce. And the trailer itself requires a lot of tlc. I'm exhausted just thinking about what lies ahead. Lol

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Don't get overwhelmed. Everything will come in time. Just remember that Rome was not build in a day and your kingdom won't be either. :) You might try maing a list of all you want to do with the place and putting it in order of priority. Lists always help me. They are not written in stome but they give me direction and keep me on track.

Bentonville, AR

I have lists and lists of lists. Hahaha. Inside lists and outside lists and in between. I think this year will be mostly container gardens until I decide exactly where the garden will end up. Maybe a couple small raised beds as well.

This week I've got to pick out cabinets and counter tops. Who knew there was somuch to pick from?!? And paint colors? Argh. But it will all be worth it. I just know it will be easier to do the work when I'm living there instead of 45 minutes away from it. Lol

Bentonville, AR

Spent today in demolition mode! Ripped down damaged ceilings and insulation ripped out a wall and pulled up what carpet was left! Stinky stinky carpet and padding. But on a positive I think I found my cabinets and flooring. I have a lot of inside stuff to get done before focusing on gardens and chickens and other critters.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Sounds like you are making real progress. Can't wait for pics of it all. Take them as you go.

Bentonville, AR

I have been taking pics gonna figure out how to post them on here. Yesterday my roof got repaired, which was a major holdup for getting much done. So Saturday I 'm planning on getting the rest of the demolition done. I do have a little mold so I m removing everything that looks questionable. Does anyone know what kinds of trees besides maples can be tapped for syrup? I have plenty of trees but none of them happen to be maples. I also just secured a stack of free pallets.... The makings of myGoat shed :) i saw a really cool retaining wall made by stcking painted tires so that the centers of the tires become pockets for plantings. Since my property is almost total hillside I will be making lots of terraced areas for various purposes. *sigh* lots and lots of projects but I'm taking it one step at a time so I don't get overwhelmed.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

I know there are several trees that can be tapped for syrup, but not specifically. Birch is one, however, and maybe hickory.

Bentonville, AR

According to the University of Arkansas extension i need to plant my carrots this week. Well carrots and a few other things but the carrots is what I'm concerned with this year lol. Does anyone have any experience with planting them in containers? As my gardens not prepared I guess I will be trying containers. I'll let you know how it works out.

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

I have never grown carrots in containers. I'd think as long as your containe was deep enough it wouldn't be any problem. You need loose soil no matter what. With small containers you might try shorter or round carrots. I am going to plant my carrots in the raised bed today. I am planting the little round french carrots. Also going to plant my green sprouting broccoli and my broccoli raab. I need to get my grow light out of the basement and get it set up.

Bentonville, AR

These are some outside shots before I did anything to the place.

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Bentonville, AR

Part of my backyard. Probably where my chickens will end up

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Bentonville, AR

Front yard prior to removing 3 truckloads of trash and clearing brush.

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Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

Is that the back of the trailer? Save the pine straw you rake up. You can put it in a strawberry bed or anywhere you want to keep the weeds down.

I planted my carrots in 2 big nursery pots today. LOL You flung a cravin' on me.

Bentonville, AR

An idea of how steep the less steep portion of my property is. I see retaining walls and terraces in my future lol

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Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

It looks unloved for a while and I am sure you will change it.

On your last photo, there is a roofline on the right... is that an outbuilding? or a neighbor?

Retaining walls and terraces in your future will mean improved soil too and that will be a good thing. Looks like it is gravel-ly.

Fun to follow your hopes and dreams. Take one bite at a time and before long the sandwich will be eaten.

Keep us posted, wishing you success. Kristi

Richmond, TX

Looks like you have a serious project ahead of you! (I love the classic "tire-on-the-roof".) Potentially a beautiful piece of property.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Porkpal ~ do you know why you see that 'tire on the roof' on many mobile homes of that vintage?

Bentonville, AR

The roofline on right is a neighbor. Which is across the holler. The tire on the roof was to hold plywood up till my roof got repaired where a tree fell through last spring. Its repaired now. The only picture of the back of trailer is the last one. And yes I have plenty of gravel. Gravel and trees.

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Looks like a big, but do-able project. Looks like you may have lots of shade, too.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Glad to hear the roof repair has been made. Folks commonly place tires on the roofs of mobile homes because the metal roofing rumbles and bangs in windy weather. The weight of the strategically placed tires will stop the racket.

Shade gardening may be a challenge. You will have to chart the sunlight this summer when the leaves are on the trees to help know how to position the beds.

Bentonville, AR

I will be clearing some of the trees near the road because I think that's where my garden will do best the hill faces the west so the upper part is only section to get morning sun.

Bentonville, AR

Tomorrow I start replacing my floors. I removed my old water heater yesterday and in the process ended up with a rather large hole in my closet floor. I knew it was gonna be replaced soon but was planning on a couple weeks down the road.

Cabinets are almost all out in the kitchen and am finishing removing them tomorrow as well. I have decided to build my own replacement cabinets.
I plan on using lumber to frame them then put paneling on the outside and leave the front open. I can put shelves in some and drawer carts in some. I will get a prefab bar counter for my peninsula where my sink is, and plywood with tile for my other cabinets. I am going to sew curtains for the front of the cabinets and tah dah. As for my upper cabinets I am gonna go with open shelves.

I started primering my walls in my bedroom and kitchen and hallway. Looks so much better! And I'm so proud of my bargain hunting skills! I got a 5 gallon bucket of a beige color paint for 20 bucks, regular 55, and a gallon of grey for 5 bucks regularly 25. Not sure which room is gonna be grey but am thinking my master bathroom. Sounds dreary but the walls are blue in there and after I put my first coat of kilz on they looked grey and I thought it looked very pretty with my red and tan color scheme. But anyway I was excited to get such good deals!

My seedlings have started sprouting in my little seed tray so I am more than a little relieved about that. Hopefully they continue to thrive :)

So.App.Mtns., United States(Zone 5b)

Wow, great progress!

Biggs, KY(Zone 6a)

You are really making major progress. Getting such big things done will have you on cloud 9.

Bentonville, AR

Well I didn't quite get as much done as I'd hoped. But I did get a huge load of trash taken to the dump :) a whole trailer full of icky carpet and padding, panelin, linoleum, water heater, and junk the previous owners left. My dad and brother were there to help soooooo the upper cabinets in my kitchen are now down and gone as well. Also did some wiring fixes. Thats always a good thing to have someone knowledgeable do for me! This week I'm pulling up the floor in my laundry room closet and kitchen and it's getting replaced saturday. And the rest of my kitchen wall where the mice have, at some point, built quite a metropolis. Those, too, are getting replaced this weekend

. I have a young man I work with who is so excited about my place and he's wanting to learn how to do this kind of thing.... So HE ASKED ME if he could come help me. He didn't just ask once hes asked several times and is going to help me on Wednesday. I think thats so cool! He said when I build my goat shed, rabbit hutches, and chicken coop he wants to come help too. He has no idea what he's volunteered for. Hahahahaa

A friend of mine has already lined up a mini donkey, some hens and a rooster and some goats for me for free!!!! when i get ready for them. Keep your ingers crossed that doesn't fall through.

Yes I am on cloud nine. But I'm also a little overwhelmed. I have hundreds of lists and thousands of things to do. On one hand its a good thing I am doing this alome because its my dream not someone else's, but sometimes it's a lttle scary that I'm taking this huge thing on myself. I know I can do it, but there are moments of weakness where I look at a hole in the floor or a pile of rocks and think... Holy crap what have I got myself into? Lol but all in all I'm very excited and can't wait to be living out there and waking up in my paradise every morning

Bentonville, AR

I checked my seed tray this morning and my radishes and carrots are doing fantastic! The peppers and okra are doing good too, just now starting to pop through the top of the soil. And I found a design for a hoophouse that I'm gonna try. Yep another project on my list of things to do! Hehehe

Bentonville, AR

I have several trees that fell on my property in the big ice sso torm a few years ago. Since they have started rotting already I lined them up in a dip that I think will be perfect for a hugelkultur bed. I'm looking forward to see how well it turns out.

I got a really nice compliment today. The man I'm buying the place from has a son in law who does all of his remodeling jobs for him. Anyhow, he knew what my trailer looked like before I got it and stopped by to do some work and commented how much better the place looks... And smells :) it is nice to hear that from someone! Yesterday, I finished with the removal of my kitchen cabinets. Below is a picture of my completely gutted kitchen. This weekend I get my new wall:) and what it looked like when I bought the place

Thumbnail by o_angi2001 Thumbnail by o_angi2001 Thumbnail by o_angi2001

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