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New here and to homesteading need help

Morley, MI

Hi I am new here, glad to have found the forum thats for sure. I have a ton of questions. I read a post about hard times, and we have surely fallen upon them. It was my husbands and my wish that we could one day live off the land however not this way. We live in a trailer that needs alot of work, with a little plot of land that we can garden, on sand. ARGH!! We have no power pole, there is a stab well and a septic. For those I am thankfull, however the plumbing all needs to be redone. Oh and we have two wood stoves, one is an old wood furnace that has the top that lifts off so that i can cook, thank goodness. I have a propane stove, no propane. We have a generator, but can seldom afford the gas to run it. We are trying to find a way to buy a true sine inverter in order to run things, we have 2 - 300 watt inverters, 1 battery, a vehicle generator that is to be the basis for a small 12 volt wind generator.However i guess it needs work done to it, not real sure to be honest. The property is not ours, but we are being allowed to live there for very little in way of rent. We also have somewhat of a community living lifestyle elsewhere where our garden is located this year as we cannot keep enough water going to take care of our needs. Ok now that i have filled that all in so you have a bit of where i am coming from. Money is from whatever odd jobs we can get. Oh and I have 5 chicks, 2 dogs, 4 kids that do not reside with us full time.
I have found plans for a sun heated hot water heater, at least for summers, have had the thought to wrap wood stove with pipe for cold weather. I am lost after that when it somes to alternative energy, my husband has all the ideas for that, but putting them into practice is a very big problem. there anyway to obtane a few solar panels, and a good inverter, and batteries by doing barter work? or for low cost or small payments? We cut firewood for others and ourselves, however, this is not the time when people are buying so, funds are low.
OR are there other ways in which to create electric? My biggest problem is no water, and no fridge. I was told that we could find a camper fridge that will run off propane, so that is is where I looking next. I have the tin to build the fins for wind generator, it will basicallly be a larger concept of the squirrel cage. Now I have a queation about building, has anyone ever thought of building the external part of an addition with tar paper and slab wood? I can get long slabs from amish sawmill for $5.00 a truckload, thought that i would use it for the siding and outerwall. I know that it will not be the greatest looking,but it would provide desperately needed room, i thought that if i had one built i could put in wood stove and water storage tanks. We also have a 12 volt pump, that pumps 2.8 gallon per that i could use that instead of always running water from well. However winter is the problem for that, without electric, pump will definatley freeze. Any ideas as to what i can do on a very little budget?
I have a ton more but gee think this is long enough for a first post.except to add, that i do know how to garden quite well, do alot of herbs,enjoy farming, have milked goats and cows, have made goat cheese, really want to make cow cheese. basically a farm girl. Also know how to make soaps, and some herbals. greenhouseing, We are well suited to the lifestyle, just trying to get the things we need to get going, put into effect. any ideas, or advice would be appreciated. This is not really a choice for us anymore, it is a must do and i have less than 5 months to get it done.

North of Heber, AZ(Zone 6b)

Re the tarpaper & slab wood addition, if your zoning and your landlord allow you to build anything I should think you can start with that and it would work okay. In my county you can build a 12x12 or equivalent structure in the nature of a non-connected shed without a permit. Several people out here have started with that as a temporary thing (and yes, connected them to their trailers although that is not strictly legal). (As an artist I recommend getting a gallon of "ooops" paint at one of your local hw stores for $5 or so and slapping a coat of paint on the whole thing, it will make it more enjoyable to come home to!) $5 a truckload for any kind of wood sounds fantastic! Remember you will need a floor and roof and _everything_ should be insulated! I wonder if you could use wobbled up newspapers for insulation, remembering that they are very inflammable so just be careful not to set fire to your room! I hope you have skirting around the bottom of your trailer, you will need that for the winter. Check out every possible local source for used building materials, roofing, & windows etc., also go to garage sales and auctions if they have them in your area. I ruined more than one water pump by leaving it connected during the winter, just plan your plumbing so that you can drain the outside pipes and bring the pump indoors overnight. Clumsy, but it works.

Re getting used solar & propane equipment etc., check the Craig's List in your area, and put "wanted" ads up also, and I think there is a "barter" or "trade" section also. If you have a small local newspaper that allows free ads, put your ads there too. I assume you are using a friend's computer or the free ones at your library? I don't think you need a true sine wave inverter, a modified sine wave inverter runs most things okay and they are much cheaper (you can get them at auto parts stores), but not the old outdated square wave inverters. You should definitely get a controller -- the simplest ones for small systems are very cheap. The cheapest useful batteries are 6V golf cart batteries, not car batteries, they won't work. I started with only two golf cart batteries connected for 12V, and a used set of "quad" solar panels that I got for about $75 fifteen years ago, and had lights, radio & TV but not enough electricity for much else. In those days I didn't have an inverter but just went with 12V stuff, which uses so much less electricity, but household AC equipment is so much cheaper that I got a small inverter after awhile. A small used solar panel will do just as well as the quad panels I had. Remember that you can always add solar panels and batteries as you can afford them, and upgrade your inverters & controller as you go, too. Building a solar water heater is a great idea, wish I had one! Propane is expensive.

Lots of people started out this way. You are a step ahead of most people because you already know how to raise your own food. Good luck to you!

Morley, MI

wow thanks for the input, i was thinking about cardboard insulation, i saw it online that a person did it that way, except for where i am piping out wood stove, that area will be done correctly, along with insulated stove pipe to reduce chance of fire. the entire place that we are staying in is under radar, so doing anything should not be problematic. Of course if i were smart I'd run addition out to well house, which is not far, and even though it is a no no, enclose the darn thing, and save alot of hassle.I am glad to know that the inverters should be ok, i can find the cheaper ones all day long. I have alot of ideas on how to do things to get by, but getting the cooperation of others ivolved is a real pain, or should i say getting them motivated. of course if they were smart they would help before i do it myself, because my carpentry skills are pathetically horrid. (grin)

Hayden, ID

Hi bluegray,

After reading of your challenges, it reminded me of my grandfather's saying when one had a real corker in front of them. "That's a real character builder he would say." :)

You might try the following on-line source for solar supplies:

Also here is a great do it yourself site for building solar projects:

Best of luck to you and remember that your dream is worth it all!


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