Homesteader? Prepper? Prepsteader?


Good Day, All!  Been pondering a topic lately that I’ve seen some debate about online.  There is the school of thought that you are either a homesteader or a “prepper”, and that one is better than the other in some way.  A prepper is someone who basically prepares for circumstances beyond their control with being prepared for those circumstances to arrive.  Unforseen situations, if you will.  Some believe it will be nuclear war, some natural disasters, some grid meltdown, others solar flares, the list for reasons goes on and on.

Now, having grown up in New England, we learned to have things ready for those unexpected ice storms or blizzards.  Even now, when there is a snowstorm headed our way, the milk, bread and bottled water flies off the grocery store shelves in advance of its arrival.  Growing up, my parents weren’t preppers to the max or anything, but we did always have water stored, a filled pantry and a nice pile of wood going into winter. As an adult, I take that to a larger extreme because I have not only my family depending on me, but also animals.  So, I do keep animal feed on hand, dog food, extra chicken layer pellets, bottles of water for them and such. I also put a lot of effort into filling our canning larder with enough food so that we have weeks/months worth of food should we need it in an emergency situation.  This is food we eat through out the winter, and jars that are replenished through my hard work every summer and fall when fresh produce is abundant.  I keep a bit of a stockpile of flour, sugar, beans, rice, lentils and other dry staples, which I rotate when I need to.  I also make sure we have plenty of bottled water on hand should the power go out.  When you live on well water, you need to plan for that so that the animals and people in your care have what they need.

DSC_0715I think the inherent difference between preppers and homesteaders may be merely perception.  Homesteading takes a lot of prepping to begin with.  Homesteaders strive to be as self-sufficient as possible, and some preppers are possibly more dependent on getting the stuff from stores and storing it all.  I don’t need the grocery store, or the 10 years worth of dried goods stored away if I know how to grow a garden and raise chickens for meat.  Those will regenerate themselves.

My brand of prepping is more about making sure I’m buying heirloom seeds so that I can save my seeds from year to year and be able to grow my food without the need for anywhere to purchase those things after the initial purchase.  My hens lay eggs (we are in need of a rooster again to make the new chicks happen) and I will have chicken and eggs when I need them for food rather than depending on cans of dried powdered eggs or cans of chicken meat.  We would also depend on the farmers in our area for milk, at least until our future does are producing their own. Knowing where to get the things you don’t produce is important, too.  Get to know your community, see who is doing what, so you know who can help and whom you can help out in an emergency situation. I don’t think either homesteading or prepping is necessarily any better than the other, being prepared is a good way to go as far as I’m concerned, however you chose to get there.  But the skills and knowledge to get the food back on the table long after the “preps” run out is important to me, and so that’s just the route our family takes.


We also make sure that we keep emergency supplies other than just food and water on hand as well.  We keep an emergency “kit” ready with lanterns, batteries, propane tanks, a propane heater, fire starting supplies, wood pile, sleeping bags, propane camp stove and grill, gas in the gas cans, a generator…the list goes on.  Did you know that you can use birch bark as a wonderful fire starter in a pinch?  It works great, even when damp.  Having a home with two boy scouts and a leader, we definitely have the training to be prepared. When the grid is down, and power is out we try to keep the things we would need handy to keep our family warm, safe and comfortable.

None of it is foolproof, but we have put a lot of energy into being sure we would be okay in an emergency.  The ways in which you could do this could literally fill its own blog (and in the case of many other bloggers, it actually does).  I’m not here to debate the logistics of how you could be more prepared, what makes a person a prepper or homesteader, what the absolute best way to do that is…mostly because all of that is so subjective and would differ with each person.  What one family needs may not be important to another, so I would say you need to do what makes your situation work for you.  But I do say, that being a homesteader and a prepper are, in many cases, the same thing. So much of homesteading is being prepared for what comes your way.   How you get there is your own decision, but I do feel its important to get there, one way or the other.

Spring, Please Spring Soon!


We are at the cusp of Spring actually arriving here.  We had a very dry, hot summer last year and our area had an official drought.  This is something that has not happened in our area in a long time.  We were depending on a lot of snow this winter to replenish last year’s deficit.  We haven’t received enough snow to accomplish that this winter, having only gotten about 4 feet over the course of the whole winter.  That being said, we are very tired of winter here.  Yesterday we had winds gusting to 50 mph and the temps were only in the low 20’s with a wind chill of 2 degrees.  This is on the official second day of spring.  As I look out on the weather, we aren’t going to be out of the low 40’s for the next 10 days.  That’s a long time for spring to arrive here. Usually by mid April we are able to work the soil enough to get potatoes and cold tolerant plantings in the ground.  This year, that doesn’t seem very likely at all since the ground is still solid frozen.

Perhaps it’s just the weather sympathizing with our wait for our homestead.  The seller bank needed to accomplish some repairs, which were finally done, then the oil tank went dry and the systems needed to be shut down so that the newly installed plumbing pipes would not burst again in the cold.  It has taken the seller’s bank 6 days to get the oil delivered, then they had to have their plumber go back out and turn everything on.  We then need to have our lender’s appraiser go back out to check everything that was not approved and had to be repaired the last time she went out.  And we have the looming deadline of our rate lock expiring next Wed. It is incredibly stressful to purchase a bank owned property.

When you do this, you are not dealing with someone selling the home willing to meet you half way with things in a reasonable time frame.  You are dealing with an entity that has no leader for your particular property, so talking them into having to do a few things for the buyer to get financing is incredibly difficult.  Especially when you are dealing with their real estate agent only selling foreclosures.  They don’t have any sense of urgency in anything because if they don’t sell it to you, then the next person is just waiting to purchase it. They much prefer cash buyers who are wanting to just purchase and get it off their plates.  The majority of those buyers are flippers who will fix it up in 6 weeks and flip it for a lot more money.  Someone trying to purchase a modest home for a place to finally have their homestead, and a good place for their family to land, are basically a pain in the butt for them.  You need to go into the process of purchasing a foreclosure knowing that there will be major headaches if you need to finance.  We would have loved nothing better then to walk in with cash and walk out with the deed in our names, but that’s not possible in our neck of the woods for a family on one average income in an area where modest home prices are in the $300,000+ range.

We considered moving away from New England entirely.  And, we may still do this once our boys are out of high school.  But they are in a very good school system right now, with some amazing opportunities for education (they have 302 courses offered at their high school!).  We wanted to keep them in the system they have been in and give them the best opportunity for a quality education since private school is not in our budget.  That meant trying to bloom where we are planted.  We’ll be in good shape if we can ever just get this home purchased and be able to move on with our lives, accomplish some modest homestead goals and allow our boys the best shot at a wonderful education with which to start out their adult lives.  Parenting is all about choices, and we’re just trying to make good ones.


Okay, Let’s Get Busy Already!

DSC_0334Hello All!  It’s a wonderful almost spring day here in New Hampshire, and I’m itching to get started.  Thought I would give you a little background on the home we are trying to purchase.  It is a small Cape Cod style home which sits on two acres. The original home was built in 1837, and an addition was added at some time after that.  It’s cute…small, but cute.  It will need some repairs and renovations.  It is a bank owned property after all, and so it won’t be perfect.  We will need to do some things like add a shower, which it currently doesn’t have. It has a claw foot tub now, which though charming, is not going to quite cut it with two teenage boys in the house.  We are removing that tub and adding a tiled shower stall.

The kitchen will need quite a bit of work.  I can a lot of food, cook most of our meals from scratch and need to have counter space and functional room in which to do all of this.  I have had kitchens that are impossible to work in and ones that, though small, were quite functional. My current kitchen is the worst combination of small and impossible, so I’m looking forward to designing the kitchen that will work for me.  Counter space, anyone who scratch cooks knows how pertinent adequate counter space is.

The home we sold last year had a “take out” kitchen.  It was not designed for cooking, but more for people who heated up their take out food rather then did any actual cooking in it.  It was pretty, but not functional for me.  We had plans to remodel it.  One of the wonderful things about that home was that not a whole lot had been changed since it was built in 1755.  It still had unpainted original wood paneling on the walls, some of the boards were over two feet wide! We were having design challenges with it because we didn’t want to be the first people in 260 years to paint that darkly stained wood, or tear down those walls.  We would have had to uproot a wonderful built-in buffet that was in the original dining room to accomplish making the kitchen larger and more functional.  That was a hard decision that we never did make.  As I understand it, the new owners did not have that personal conundrum and are taking down walls and making it what they want it to be.  We always felt a sense of responsibility to the house (and the history of our town!) to not alter it very much, as no one before us had done that either. It was an odd sort of responsibility to hold if you’ve never done it.  The house was here before the USA was even a country, the deed stated that it was paid for in 1755 in pounds.  We could imagine the people who owned it then eeking out their farm, it was originally 100 acres.  It had barns already on it, and a grist mill and a sawmill.  They would have still worried about attacks from Native American tribes that were here before them.  They would have hauled water by bucket.  They would have cooked in the enormous fireplace.  They would have worried about their children who may have been sick with flu or small pox, and maybe even died there.  On the oldest plot map we had, there was an X next to the small pond on the property.  Very near it was an ancient white oak tree.  We know there was no cemetery on the property, but in 1755 it was not uncommon to bury the dead on their own property, and oak trees were very often planted in remembrance of one who was buried there.  On the plot map, they would put an X where the person was buried.  We don’t know who it could have been, or if someone was definitely buried there, but it added to the mystery of the old homestead for us.

Okay, I guess I rambled on about the old homestead a bit.  As I said, we really loved that old house, with all it’s warts and faults and ghosts and defects.  It was a dream come true in a lot of ways, but a nightmare in others.  We let it go, but it was not an easy decision, nor a pain free one emotionally.  However, we are not people who dwell in the past, and so our new homestead is where our focus and energy lie.  We are within a week or so of closing on the house and finally making it ours. I can’t wait to dig in, clean, demo and rebuild it to be what we want and need.  I love a good challenge and this one is going to be a lot of work and a lot of fun all rolled into one.  We are luckily going to have a couple of months to get some work done before we move in as our lease here doesn’t end for a while.  I’m anxiously awaiting the day we sign our names on the lines that will make it our own, just can’t wait.

A New Beginning

DSC_0340Though this blog is brand spanking new, I am not new to blogging.  I had another blog, once upon a time.  This one will be similar to it in content I guess, but that one held more personal views and information then I would like to present here.  This one is just one huge guilty pleasure for me as it’s going to mark the beginning of our new homestead.  Or, at least, I hope so.

We have been on a long quest for a homestead of our own.  We live in southern New Hampshire, which if any of you know our region, is VERY expensive to live in.  My husband has a decent job that pays an average wage, I stay at home on the homestead raising our two loud, wonderful and precocious teenagers and taking care of most everything else.  We sold a home last summer that was to be our forever home, but alas, it was not to be.  It was a 1755 farmhouse on almost 3 acres.  It also had a barn on it that was quite large and needed about $50,000 worth of work to repair the structure and put on a new roof, and had an aging in ground pool that was huge and needed work to its machinery and a new liner soon.  We dearly loved that home.  We sold it to a young couple who had the time, energy and money to bring it back to it’s glory.  They were the right people for the house, and in fact have done many improvements on it already.

That brings us to our current situation.  We are renting a lovely old farmhouse that belonged to the oldest resident of our town for most of her life.  She passed away a few years ago, and it was purchased by our landlord as his soon-to-be retirement home.  So, we were waiting to see what would be our next step towards the homestead that we would be able to afford.  In December our good friend and realtor told us about a home that was bank-owned here in town.  The price was right, it’s got personality (read: it’s OLD, too.  We love old houses) and the square footage is just the right size for our family.  So, we went to take a look at it.  This is not our first rodeo trying to buy a bank owned home, and it’s never a quick or easy process when you aren’t paying cash for it.  Finally after three months of getting the bank to do some repairs to it so that we could finance it, we’re in the home stretch of actually getting our names on the deed.  Should this actually happen, I’ll be updating this site with pictures and details soon.  My goal is to show the progress of the house, the renovations we will be making to it as well as the outdoors parts of the homestead.  And there will always be the cooking, canning, sewing, knitting and crocheting that I also spend most of my days doing.

We are already the happy owners of 9 spoiled, freeloading hens.  One farm dog, Brady, and we hope to be getting a couple of goats to help with brush and poison ivy removal.  If all goes according to plan, they should be providing us with milk in the coming seasons as well.  We’re going to be looking to get a couple of pygmy goats as our new homestead is only a total of two acres, some of which is fairly impenetrable currently.  Hence, the need for the hair bearing landscapers.  We will also put in a large garden and grow a good portion of our food for the summer and fall seasons.

I hope you’ll come back and visit me often to see the progress of our homestead lives.  We strive to have a genuine life with lots of handmade things.  To me, authentic means not just running to the store to buy what you need, getting creative with what you have and putting effort and pride into relearning old ways to do things.  Instant gratification is rarely authentic in my mind.  If you’d like to join me on our path, I’d love to have you along.  Perhaps we’ll even sit for a tea on the back porch one day together, you never know how this journey will play out.