Ultimate Fantasy Homesteading League (resource sharing and speculation on building our Ideal Homes)

Discussion in 'Make It So' started by vegacoyote, Dec 1, 2019.

  1. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    Some Day, I am going to own and operate my own farm. Until Some Day comes, though, my favorite game is to fantasize about how I will bring that day about!

    I imagine a lot of us enjoy that pastime, so I figured, why don’t we do it together? After all, one of the major resources we need to make our dreams reality is other people who share them!

    So I’m starting this thread to do just that. To paraphrase @keltka: It’s like a fantasy football league, only for farming, and we’re all on the same team! ^x^

    Realness Attribute of our plans may be rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being, “Eff yeah, we can do this!” and 1 being “Well, first we have to figure out the logistics for the closet teleporter and the unicorn that shits gold coins.”

    I’ll start us off:

    Right now, my Fantasy Farm is a modest acreage with orchard trees. I’ll keep alpacas, hand-rear exotic chickens and other birds with fancy, fancy feathers, and Do Science breeding different kinds of silk moths, feeding them on mulberry leaves from the orchard.

    I would also love to do conservation work! Possibly I can use the experience I gain rearing silkworms to breed and release native wild silk moths- for instance, Luna, Io and Polyphemous moths... or maybe even native wild bees!

    Hmm, my Relevant Skills & Experience list is kinda starting to pile up, and I wanna get this started, so I’ll leave that for later, and just skip to showing you the two pieces of land I’ve been drooling over most recently:


    Five acres and change just south of Nortfield, MN. Comes with a 4 bedroom house and outbuildings, but the listing has no interior pictures, and the blurb describes them only with “needs work,” which in Realtor Speak translates to “basically uninhabitable,” so any farm starting out here would need someone who knows how to Build Things.

    Of course, depending on how effed up the structure is, once you have someone who knows construction, it may end up more economical to start from an empty lot, which brings us to the following:


    47.5 acres of unbuilt land on the opposite side of the highway from Northfield and Fairbault. Lake and prairie and wood and scrub and a parcel of tilled land. You guys. There’s land enough here for like 10 little acreages, and it costs less than the one with 5 acres and change.

    Look at the pretty pictures. Looooooook at them. *drools*

    (Realness Attribute: 3.)
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
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  2. vuatson

    vuatson [delurks]

    my relevant skills are not too many but waaaaant

    in my dreams I’d like to keep chickens, bees, possibly ducks as well, and ideally have a property with enough maple trees for syrup-making because that is one thing I do know how to do! though on a pretty small scale lol.
    • Like x 2
  3. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    Sounds awesome, you get one of the lakeside plots, then! ^x^

    Our nature center back home used to tap maples for sugar every year, and sold syrup and maple candies, alongside honey from bees they kept on property. It was pretty cool. Super neat that you know how to do that!

    Hmm, I think I’ll break my resource-listing down even further, and start off with Stuff I Have.

    Physical Assets: A well-functioning car (2012 Ford Fusion hybrid, red;) various furniture and household sundry.

    Financial Assets: An IRA inherited from my father, currently containing something in the vicinity of $100K.

    Things I know how to do, in order of confidence:

    Arts and Crafts

    Nature illustration in numerous media types (been doing this all my life);

    Ceramics- throwing, decorating and glazing clay vessels (been learning to do this in the past two years and I’m getting pretty damn good at it. Recently I’ve been combining the nature illustration and the ceramics, and have been quite proud of some of the results. @jacktrash can vouch for me there; he has a bear mug I made.)

    Sewing and various textiles (Also been doing this a long time, but am pretty amateurish about it; I know roughly how to operate a sewing machine or serger, am fairly solid with various hand-stitches; have enough of an understanding of knitting to make a warm, fluffy scarf, and enough of crochet to make cute toy animals and big fluffy yarn circles.);

    Animal Husbandry

    I have experience caring for, raising and training the following: Horses, dogs, cats, chickens and toddlers.

    I also have some experience caring for small passerines and psittacines, turtles, small reptiles, goldfish, koi and bettas- all but the koi in what I now know were in less than ideal conditions, but I kept them alive.... and now I think about it, I’ve also done some basic aquaculture with both indoor aquaria and outdoor water gardens, so that probably counts too.

    Ecology & Field Biology- I am a few credits and a final project shy of a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science; I did an internship at the local Nature Center doing conservation work on prairie ecology; I did ecological surveys of forests and streams in high school and college; did some vertebrate ecology in college. Caught voles and mice and chipmunks in live traps, it was so much fun.

    Friggin’, I’m basically all about animal behavior. Love watching critters, always wanted to be An Real Scientist and study animals for a job.

    I have a Bachelor’s in Art- tried to double major, but my crap brain had other ideas, and Art turned out to be the more forgiving program.

    ... Also, I spent 2.5 summers doing classes at the Wilderness Field Station in the Boundary Waters and know how to camp, portage and paddle a canoe.

    Hm, leaving aside the science-major fail, on paper I actually look kinda badass.

    (Wait for it, though, I haven’t gotten to the list of Stuff I Need, and there’s a few doozies on there.)
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
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  4. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    ... OK, know what? I’m gonna break down the Stuff I Need list to one per post, because breaking down problems makes them easier to solve. Also, to stay positive, I’ll preface them with something I already have, and post-face them with something cool that I want.

    Something I already have: An offer of expertise! When I was talking about this in my status bar the other day, @Artemis volunteered the fact that they know carpentry, and could probably learn electric and plumbing given time for trial and error.

    Woot, someone to share the dream!

    On to thing one on Stuff I Need:

    Income. The properties that most draw my forager’s eye tend to cost around $200k minimum. While my inheritance means I could afford a down-payment on that amount, paying off the rest of it would require a steady source of cash.

    Unfortunately, I currently have no job, have next to no idea how to go about getting a job, and even less certainty about whether I’d be able to hold it down once I got it.

    Now, most recently, I have been making tentative jabs at maybe starting to try and monetize my ceramics; unfortunately, to produce ceramics, I require access to the facilities at the local ceramics center, which means I have to buy classes, which, because this is The City and everything costs more, cost about $400 for a 2 month course. (My old place back in Cedar Rapids cost between $75 and $150. Sad trombone noises.)

    So, to problem solve on that front, I wonder if I can get discounts on classes if I offer to volunteer there? And that way, too, I can start learning how all the behind-the-scenes stuff works, so someday I will know how to do it myself! .... And maybe someday they might even pay me? The ceramics center pays some people, yeah? Who knows, I might even start breaking even that way!

    ... I should go ask about that. Yeah, I’ll do that when they open again on Tuesday.

    And that’s also another on the list of Things I Want On My Farm: My own studio space, with a potter’s wheel and kiln. ... It can be in and/or adjacent to the greenhouse, where we grow fresh herbs and fruit in the winter. The kiln room can help keep the mulberries from freezing!
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
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  5. Artemis

    Artemis i, an asexual moron

    -excited vibrations about thread and nts to make real response when not in bed-
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  6. paladinkit

    paladinkit brave little paladin

    I'm so excited this thread exists!!!!!!

    My family & I (me, wife, my sister) have wanted to start a small farm for years. We're getting closer to being functional adults, so that means we're getting closer to Farm Life, right?

    The Dream: a larger plot of land split with some trusted local friends who also have the Farm Dream. Partially wooded, to get good good local mushrooms and other delicious forage, firewood, and to attract deer to hunt. An orchard nearer the house, both for fruit and to provide dense flowers for the beehives. Rabbits (French Angora, possibly also a meat specific breed altho I'd heard the French Angora specifically can be dual purpose), for handspinning fiber, meat, and manure for fertilizer; ideally also vermiculture bins kept under the rabbit hutches! Big compost piles in general. Compost and vermiculture bin production goes on the vegetable garden, and if we have lots of excess can maybe be used for land improvements for small hay fields (for animals) and flax fields (flax makes linen fiber for handspinning, flowers for dyeing, and flaxseed for eating!). Longer term, I desperately want sheep, even if I end up only keeping 1-3 wethers as fiber pets; the Big Dream is sheep breeding for my personal ideal spinning fiber, but that's falling down the Realness Quotient quite hard.

    All of this production means preservation and making things too! Obviously, we're fiber farming to spin yarn (and subsequently knit and weave, and pass off woven fabric to a friend to sew), ideally ending with a largely-to-entirely homemade wardrobe. I have great big piles of food preservation methods in mind, from canning to smoking to many fermentation experiments. We will continue our sourdough starter and home baking, and hopefully return to homebrewing beer and cider as well. Bees will not only give me honey, but beeswax and propolis I can use to make skincare, cosmetics, and some simple home remedies (especially combined with an herb garden.)

    The other Big Dream, mid-low Realness Quotient dream is having an outbuilding on the property that is the Irish Polytheist equivalent of a retreat center with chapel, for temporary emergency housing, spiritual/mental health retreats, and religious gatherings for my friends & coreligionists who don't want the farm life full time but could benefit from a place to Go. This is super inspired both by small monastic traditions and also the church retreats I went on as a kid, and is possibly a silly idea but one I am incredibly attached to nonetheless.

    I'll do more posts on what I have and what I need later :) possibly just in a bit, but I am going to make myself knit more on this holiday present sweater first instead of spending an hour daydreaming, lol.
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  7. paladinkit

    paladinkit brave little paladin

    What do we have & what do we need?

    Well, for starters, we don't have land or own a home yet. We also don't have much saved in terms of down payment :/ We've had some verbal discussions about financing with our potential farm friends, but no solid agreements. We do have decent income, will have more income next year, and will hopefully pass the phase where a currently important part of our savings structure is no longer necessary, freeing us up to save more aggressively for a down payment. Progress!

    In terms of plant & land management (woodlot, orchard, pasture, garden, fields), our family has some experience and a few tools and resources. Kai grew up on a small farm (10 acres mixed use) and thus has a little bit of experience with what her family did, although they apparently did only middling woodlot and garden management, very little intentional pasture improvements, and no larger fields of crops. My sis got a partial degree in forestry, and got quite a bit of field experience in a program that primarily prepared students for private woodlot management, AND walked away with some textbooks and a little bit of their forestry gear. Both my sis and I have done some reading on permaculture as it applies to land management, but we could stand to do more. Also, my sis and I grew up vegetable gardening, I grew some herbs through college in various windowsill locations, and my sis has successfully done patio gardens at previous rental locations, although we don't have a space here. We definitely need more education in this area, and we have some gardening tools, but primarily specialized for said patio gardening.

    In terms of livestock, we have a tiny bit of experience and a lot of enthusiasm. Kai's family raised chickens, but it was not a good experience for her and she's only recently come around to the idea that chickens can be happier and easier to manage and thus possibly worth having. Kai's only experience with ruminants is with a horse. Both Kai and I briefly experimented with raising meat rabbits a few years ago when we lived in a place with a backyard, but we did not have the support we were promised from our backer, and were pressured to use substandard housing, and I was severely nonfunctionally depressed... Yeah, most of our rabbit experience is "what not to do." I've read a lot about rabbits, I'm starting to study sheep, and I've been studying beekeeping for ages! (Shoutout here also to my sourdough starter, the tiniest of livestock.) We plan to attend a fiber festival this coming summer where we can hopefully meet people raising fiber animals locally and network.

    In terms of fiber studio, we're going strong and about halfway there! My sis and I are both very skilled knitters & Kai is a beginner, I do a lot of pattern design, I'm becoming quite a decent spinner, a decent dyer, and am just beginning to learn to weave. We're due for some tool upgrades, but we have what we need to do impressive production scale work for all above fiber crafts except 1) weaving, and 2) processing raw wool. The most desperate need in the processing category is a drum carder, but as our current apartment is verrrrrrry small to deal with wet wool smell from washing a fleece, we wouldn't absolutely require a drum carder just yet. We'll also ideally upgrade our knitting needles, add one or two more spinning wheels to the herd, develop a setup for larger batch dyeing, and learn more about weaving!

    In terms of homestead kitchen, here's where we've really been able to prepare no matter our living situation. Right now, we bake 80% of our own bread from our sourdough starter, we're eating more and more seasonally as time goes by, I have a whole sustainable system set up for extracting everything I can from any roast (usually chicken), we minimize kitchen waste as much as humanly possible without compost, and we own excellent kitchen gear, up to and including a full homebrewing setup. I need to get more canning experience, but I have a friend on tap for that and I'm eager to put my learning into practice.
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  8. keltka

    keltka the green and brown one

    @vegacoyote would you be able to make it work with a home built kiln and a pottery wheel? I'm almost certain there are how-to videos for the first out there, and the second, maybe buying a secondhand one?
    also volunteering at the pottery place would probably be effective, and/or finding out what it takes to teach a class? if they don't have one marketed at a specific group, you might be able to slide in there

    also one thing re: the realism scale—the more people sign on for the farming fantasy team in any specific area, the more separate/group houses needed and the less space on hold......unless there's surrounding area land to be added to the "purchase" column later on
    • Like x 2
  9. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    Heh... re: teaching- I’m not that good yet. They’ve already got people whose art degrees specialized in ceramics to do their teaching. (I double-specialized in mixed media and Wall Of Crazy.) My current qualifications lend more towards carrying buckets of mud from point A to point B, and maybe helping load and unload kilns.

    (Also, one of the things on the list of Stuff I Need is not flippin my shit every time I have to interact with another human being increasing my stress tolerance and working on managing my social anxiety.)

    But yeah, a big part of the reason I’d want to volunteer there would be to start learning how to work a kiln myself, so I could get a better idea of what I need to run my own.

    ... Great idea about getting a used potter’s wheel, though. I’m gonna go look that up now! :D
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
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  10. albedo

    albedo metasperg

    While we're pipe-dreaming... man, I would love a place like this. https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/2640-Bench-Dr-Aberdeen-WA-98520/55050185_zpid/

    Usually cool and rainy, which means I could go outside regularly without getting sick! Maybe, like, some raised pathways with sloped planks to help the water run off, so I could walk around without getting my feet wet.

    Cute older house, which appeals - we'd probably have to do some renovations, but the floorplan and hardwood on those old houses is so nice, and it'd be cute and have plenty of space for expansion if we needed it. And a wood stove! And a neat attic!

    And we could actually afford it, whereas prices around here are crazy-expensive, and something like this would probably cost a million dollars.

    But ach, honestly... it's the climate that's getting me right now. I would love to live in a temperate rainforest, with the greenery all rioting, and rarely having the heat or wildfires that keep me cooped up indoors.
    • Like x 2
  11. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    Oh hey, looks like a good used potters wheel has about the same cost range as 2 months pottery lessons at the NCC.

    Realness Quotient of Project: Get Potter’s Wheel bumped to 7-8.


    Ooh, that is a darling little house. And you can tell from the street-level cam the view from the top of the hill is awesome!

    *edit again* oh also, @Lizardlicks is already doing the thing! their bloggette thread has links to youtubes of their actual, realness-attribute 10 for realsies homesteading efforts, go see!
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2019
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  12. albedo

    albedo metasperg

    Yay, wheel! I know zilch about pottery, but I do remember this cool anagama kiln which the anthropology department at my university built every summer, which you might find neat! https://lakeshorepreserve.wisc.edu/visit/places/art-and-anthropology-kilns/

    And look at that firewood shed in streetview! Clearly, that's the home of someone who's heating their house with wood - which I could do back in WI, but which is super problematic in California for obvious reasons. Those lazy curls of flame inside a woodburner are just... #aesthetic life goals.

    You can tell the floors were redone at some point, and in Long Term House we're definitely going to want to replace carpet with hardwood or something similarly easy to clean, given the four cats. But I wonder if there's hardwood under there, just waiting to be refinisheddddd.

    I have such a thing for early 20th century houses, with their cracked and repainted plaster, dinged-up hardwood floors, and heavy wood construction. I really hope we can get a vintage house someday. I had... formative dorm experiences; first place away from my parents, and it was aesthetic.

    ... swoon. Going to binge those now.

    I've been a little flinchy about hunting down homesteading blogs, because it's so easy to run into the libertarian survivalist fringe, but do want.
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  13. Artemis

    Artemis i, an asexual moron

    disjointed rambling aHOY

    My fantasy farm 'idealness' is very unclear, because I'm obnoxiously indecisive and like... so many ideas. I like everything. So I mean in terms of flexibility I am an 11/10 in that regard.
    Things at the top of my personal interest list I guess: please let me have a pond ;w; koi! pond plants! loaches! frogs! I have a minor interest in raising dart frogs, specifically, but those would have to be kept in an enclosed tank because dart frgs are delicate as fuck. Butsotinyandcuteandcolourfulandtheycouldrecognizeme. Babies.
    Also I don't know anything about bees YET but I 800% support bees. beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees.
    oh man sugar can I would love to grow sugar cane. and uh. tobacco. tbh. my georgia-born ass: WHERE ARE THE CASH CROPS Y'ALL. but also like. foodcrops. berry bushes *u*
    Random skills I know:
    (these are all on a level of 'absolute beginner' to 'moderately confident' and sadly no Guildmaster level skills, I am very much a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none because TOO MANY THINGS grab my attention)
    Leatherworking!! Would LOVE to learn the entire process include skinning and tanning the hides, but I've had a bit of practice and already own some basic tools for small projects.
    Besides dart frogs I've done decent at keeping bettas alive, and have managed to take care of up to 3 cats without anything suffering from the experience, so while I don't have experience in training dogs/cats, I am comfortable with raising them and handling them.
    I guess technically I've also fed goats and chickens but that was literally "here is your food bucket you adorable goblins eat up".
    As mentioned, I know some carpentry and general woodworking! I also know Too Much about paint now as per my paint specialist thread, so like. I can paint the shit out of any buildings that need to be made. or stained. or sealed. and I mean, employee discount on supplies... >_> hey it's better than no discount lol
    Which continuing, I do indeed have full confidence I could learn electrical and plumbing, given enough time and allowance for errors along the way. I can learn literally anything reasonably quickly. Grouting. Tiling. I can spline screens really quick. etc.
    Would love to expand on woodworking and like. Build furniture? I don't know why I'm just kinda into that concept lately. OH I guess I also have something vaguely resembling landscaping experience, in that I used to work lawncare for a whole ass cemetery lmao so I can mow/trim for HOURS on end and know how to repair the equipment. Tho at the size imagined i'd probably go in for a riding mower instead if needed instead of a push mower.
    In terms of assets, I have... more capital than I like to acknowledge (it gets really easy for me to spend A Lot and to spend it Really Fast so I consider my savings account non-existent when regularly assessing how much I have) but it is technically there for some kind of investment like this.
    Do we want horses? I know a person who knows A LOT about horses. And owns a couple. Woo.
    • Like x 5
  14. Artemis

    Artemis i, an asexual moron

    oh cool it deleted all my line breaks when i copied it form my notepad cool cool cool cool thanks computer cool
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  15. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    For the record, I frickin’ love honeybees. I never actually took care of them, but a friend of my mother’s kept a few hives on our land, and they were so awesome to watch. And like... almost friendly? Not, like, affectionate or anything, it was just a Vibe I got around the hive. Maybe just a reaction to how surprisingly safe I felt around them, compared to how I have historically felt around large colonies of flying hymenoptera? I dunno, they just made me feel happy.

    Oh, also, our nature center had a hive set in between two panes of plexiglass. I loved that thing, it was so cool! Warm to the touch, I used to press my face against the side when I was a kid, as a kind of self-dare. ... Not so sure how good the bees felt about that, ofc.
    • Like x 2
  16. Wingyl

    Wingyl Allegedly Magic

    My family used to have some hives on our land! We have a beekeeper friend who would come over and clear out their excess honey every so often for us since we didn't have the equipment, so we had a giant bucket of honey.

    That thing was huge.

    They really are kinda friendly. They don't want to hurt you unless you're threatening their hive and ours very quickly figured out that even if we were hanging around their hive it wasn't to plan an attack on them. (It probably helped that we had fruit trees near there and the bees would see us tending to the trees.) So they just hover around you or land on you or go around.
    • Like x 2
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  17. aetherGeologist

    aetherGeologist Well-Known Member

    My mum keeps bees, so if anyone wants any info about them I can provide that
    • Like x 2
  18. idiomie

    idiomie I, A Shark Apologist

    *camps in thread*

    at the moment, lebesgue and i are looking at getting a nesting home in the city (because the effort of ensuring proper socializing of Smols on a farm is too high for us), but i've been specifically looking into the zoning laws around that! we're going to get bees (PERMITTED! AND I GET TO DEMAND MY NEIGHBORS STOP USING PESTICIDES), rabbits, and i'm debating chickens or pigeons as a meat/egg bird. realness factor like 10/10? the only thing we're stuck on right now is what house we want (she wants move in ready, i want something that needs renovation because... i'm picky and i'm gonna want to renovate whatever we move into, so might as well not pay the premium)

    once the Smols are Not-Smols, we plan on getting a small acreage on the outskirts of the city, and having sheep and cows, too

    also i'm trying to convince lebesgue that we can totally raise silkworms
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  19. Re Allyssa

    Re Allyssa Sylph of Heart

    I need to actually read the rest of this thread, but I have to pop in to say:

    Today, my Facebook memories showed me my "I want a castle and if we get enough people,process aren't too bad send help" post I made a few years ago. The comments are filled with my friends going "hell yeah let's do it".

    Coincidence or a Sign? You decide!

    (I have since thought real hard about the realness attribute, which does change depending on a few variables: if we get x bunch of people, if everyone gets along, if we have stable incomes etc.
    Even setting those variables most favorably, I've come to the conclusion that I like indoor plumbing and would probably do better with like. A mansion or apartment building/campus. The outside can always be made to look like a castle)
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  20. vegacoyote

    vegacoyote dog metaphores and pedanticism

    @idiomie You should get eri silkworms too! We can be Samia ricini buddies!

    (Actually my realness quotient on the silkworms is still hovering around 4ish, because, though rearing them requires neither money unicorn nor pocket teleporter, 1) it winter; 2) sister’s not necessarily on board with the whole idea of worms in the house yet.)

    But seriously, check these guys out, they’re so cool-

    You don’t have to boil them alive to get their silk like with normal silkworms, so, 1) that’s nice, 2) you got the vegan fiber market cornered, and 3) they die right after mating, and are supposed to make good chicken food!

    (Boiled Bombyx mori pupae are also supposed to make good chicken food... and I’ve also heard good people food, too, in some places.)
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2019
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