Posted by & filed under Land.

Let’s get down to business here with land. We are going to break this down into 2 options because let’s face it…you only have 2 options either Cash or a Land Loan.


How about we start with paying with Cash…



This is the preferred way of going about this way of living. I must prepare you that what you have grown to know or way of life will be a little different.


The first thing is you need to have an idea of how you want to live… What does that mean?

GREAT question!

Are you wanting to:

  • Use solar energy?
  • Use wind energy?
  • Heat your home with wood burning stove?
  • Have a garden?
  • How large of a garden?
  • Animals?
  • What kind of animals?
  • House?
  • What kind of house?
  • Stay in the same state?
  • Move to another state?

And now you can see why it is good to start planning this out before you actually begin your land hunt. When you can begin to answer those questions that will start to lay the ground work for what type of land you are going to need.

After you have decided what route you want to take it is time to do some budgeting with the cash you have.

What we did is break everything in to groups like

  • Land
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • Food

And then divided the money up that way…



If we had $100,000 to work with (which we had less than that, but you get the idea) then you would say we are going to spend $30,000 on land, $40,000 on a house and then we will budget $20,000 to get a well drilled, septic system, driveway and money to garden.


Yes, I am aware that the amount does NOT in fact equal $100,000. I left $10,000 to keep in the bank for expenses that you are not planning on since let’s face it… Things DO come up that we did not expect so it is always wise to keep extra in the bank for an emergency or unexpected items.


Now on to the Loan:


Land Loan:

Getting a loan is not the preferred way to go about homesteading however sometimes it is what it is and that is how you can actually afford to make this transition.


I will tell you right now to use caution… Not because a loan is bad, however, when it is a loan it is VERY easy to overspend. It does not seem like a big deal to take an extra $40,000 you really did not need because it does not make your payment go up that much over 30 years.


Remember… the less you borrow the less you have to pay back and the sooner you get it paid off. One thing to keep in mind when getting a loan on land it is getting harder and harder all the time to get a loan on land, the banks are not wanting to invest in land like they use to before the bottom fell out.


The principals are the same as when you have cash in the manner of get only what you need and create a budget.

Also something to keep in mind is that if you have a loan and you are wanting to live more rural then you are GOING to have to drive quite a distance to get to work every day (unless you work for yourself or from home). Even if you do work for yourself if something happens and you have no choice but to drive to work how far is that going to be for you?


Remember that the gas it takes plus the wear and tear on your vehicle WILL add up.


Also one last thing about getting a loan that you need to keep in mind is that it is easy to go back to the old way of doing things.


Our experience was after looking for land for a long time you get frustrated and say…” forget this, I will just get a mortgage again and just move on with my life.”

We have almost fallen in to that MANY times because it is easy and requires no discipline on our part. Let me be clear that I am in NO way saying if you choose a loan that you have no discipline that is just what we struggled with and was something that we almost fell back in to (just want to share our struggle with you so you can understand where I am coming from).


Oh yeah! I almost forgot if you can pay cash for your land and just take a loan out to build your home that will make life easier and your wallet fatter in the long run ;).


Keep your eyes open because the next post is going to be about what you need to look for on your land and why land is so sacred.


What to expect when you are looking for your land is what is going to be up next on the postings. Along with what do you need to be looking for on that “perfect piece” of land that you desire.


With much love and blessings on YOUR Journey!



P.S. If you are looking for a place where you can become part of a community dedicated ENTIRELY to the homesteading life style (weather you go full throttle or you just want to live a more organic life style) please sign up for newsletters, giveaways, and just more information here.

Posted by & filed under Land.

My name is Megan and my husband and I started on this journey of a homesteading lifestyle about 9 months ago.

My promise to you is that in the blog posts that I am writing I will be whole heartedly honest about our experience and know that everything is NOT roses and fairy dust.

This is the journey we are currently on and I just want to be straight forward about our struggles, happiness, failures, strengths and hopefully you can learn from our mistakes and understand that the ONLY thing that has helped us through this is God (and do not worry, I am not going to preach at or to you I just need you to know where my heart is and where I draw my strength from).

It all actually started a few years ago when we felt that we were living in a time where most people cannot provide for themselves and we in fact were are the mercy of everyone else for basically EVERYTHING!

The bank owned our house for about 10 more years (even if you say you “own” your house, unless it is fully paid for and you have no mortgage you in fact do not own it) and we had to go to the store for everything.

We placed our house on the market and it went on and off for about 3 years before it sold. That felt like the longest and most frustrating 3 years of our lives for sure. It just seems like the waiting process goes on forever and was NEVER going to happen, however it did in fact sell and we were officially debt FREE!!!


Ever since we were married we decided that we wanted to live debt free and not owe anyone anything. We only placed on credit cards what we could pay off and if we could not afford it we would not spend it.

Yeah, yeah you are saying I know…It is SO much easier said than done, for sure! We live in a society where when you want something you should just go get it, instant gratification to be straight forward actually. Why wait, just put it on your credit card or get a loan.

Yes, I also know that there are some things that you have to have credit for and unexpected things happen and you will need to use it. I am not saying that using credit is bad you just have to be wise with it.

Well, we were wise with it while we had a house…We had a 15 year mortgage, paid everything off, drove used cars and so on… however something did not feel right, like we were still missing something!


I looked back at how my grandparents lived and I felt like even though we have some pretty cool things compared to them we are not fully living. We are wrapped up in once you make good money you want to make more money, and mortgage payments, car payments, vacation money, credit card bills, utilities, being burned out and the list could go on forever!

They (my grandparents) lived very simple and also worked hard… That is what we decided we wanted to get back to. It is like we are so busy that we are missing the most AMAZING parts of life.

We are all so focused on the end goal that we are MISSING the true journey that we are on and the beauty that is in it.

How cool would it be to know:

I mean the list could go on forever of what would be cool to know. We just really felt in our hearts that we needed to get back to living on and with what we had and could afford along with taking time to enjoy the little things.


Well to be honest, it has been an adjustment for sure! You can only start with baby steps. If you go all out at once that is your choice but I will tell you this IS an adjustment period, a cleansing if you will.


You MUST have a starting point and some kind of outline to follow so things get accomplished in a fashion that will serve you and be for your best good. You can start simple and then get more detailed.


We started simple like this:

  • Land
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • Food

See that was not that hard at all, now to break it all down… We will start with land.

Land is sacred so you must go about buying land carefully. The first thing you need to figure out is: What is your budget?

Are you someone who has saved money and is buying with cash or are you taking out a loan?

I know you did not realize that you were going to be playing 20 questions but this whole process is about asking questions. Why would you ever want to spend your time doing and making the same mistakes others have made…Learn from one another and make your life easier.


In the next post I will break down the difference of using Cash and getting a Loan (I know these might seem like little silly things however it WILL set the stage for how you can move forward in the future so make sure you do not skip what seems like it common sense because you would be surprised what some consider common sense and other would not consider common sense.).


With much love and blessings on YOUR Journey!



P.S. If you are looking for a place where you can become part of a community dedicated ENTIRELY to the homesteading life style (weather you go full throttle or you just want to live a more organic life style) please sign up for newsletters, giveaways, and just more information here: — >>

Posted by & filed under Permaculture.

Can you lower your living expenses with organic farming?

That is a great question. In California, they are working to legislate proper food labeling, due to modified food products being used in processed foods.

This will raise the cost of foods in the stores, as well as put some companies out of business. Lawyers will of course make a bunch of money and the government will once again grow due to increased “policing” all of those requirements.

Does that lower your living expenses?

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of what will really help you lower your living expenses.

Here is the game of choice.

  1. Does the FDA monitor large corporation closely for compliance?
  2. Can they be everywhere all at once to verify healthy food?
  3. Do you have time to read and understand all of the legal language of the new laws?
  4. How do you know if the food you eat is healthy?
  5. How involved do you want to be in your food choices?
  6. What steps can you take to improve your options?

Let me answer these questions one at a time.

  1. The FDA is a large bureaucracy where most of the people are interested in your health. But they are limited in what they can do, due the fact they can’t be everywhere all at once.
  2. FDA also can not verify all of the food to be healthy, and there are so many rules and regulations that I believe that there is not one person that knows them all. A complex system with many leaders is a hard program to manage efficiently. Thus increasing costs to the consumer.
  3. I am not a lawyer and I believe a yes should mean yes, and no mean no. I do not think changing a definition of a word to get your way is an honorable way of living.
  4. The best way to know if the food you eat is healthy is to grow it yourself. If you can’t grow your own food, find a reputable local farmer and go meet them on their farm. Then ask them if they have food for sale on a regular basis.
  5. The more you get involved in your food choices, the healthier food you can consume. We are all responsible for our own choices. If you do not want to be too involved in those choices, you can always hire someone else to choose for you. You actually do that now if you only buy from the local grocery store or big mega store.

What steps can you take to improve your options?

I am glad that you asked! Here are some that you can do yourself:

  • Write down the vegetables you normally purchase
  • Talk to your neighborhood organic food store and compare prices
  • Find a local farmers market and look for the USDA organic label
  • Choose a local farmer who grows organically and join their CSA (community supported agriculture) group, and if they do not have one, ask them to start one and pre-sell you a portion of their harvest!
  • If you want to grow your own garden, choose a good place to put a garden at your home and start growing!

Lowering your living expenses with organic farming or gardening will be an adventure. Our neighbors children and the parents themselves would come over and just spend time in the garden with us. The children learned about where their vegetables came from and what it tasted like right out of the garden.

Healthy food, learning new ways to save money while at the same time educating yourself and your children is priceless.

We have had many “Garden Parties” spontaneously erupt when we are outside in the garden. The joy of the new growth and eating fresh off the vine or out of the earth continues to be “Priceless” moments in our lives.


You can learn for yourself how we experimented and found new ways to garden, just follow the link!

Search and ask questions, it is the best way to know what it is that you want and need.


Turning Your Dreams into the Life of Your Dreams

Chris Downs, the Caretaker

Founder and Ambassador of Natural News and Sustainable Living on How to Live on


Posted by & filed under Permaculture.

I have been reading and studying about the debate on GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) food versus Organic Food.  I have to share this Story that shows the outcome looked for with GMO is specifically for a 15 to 20% increase in flesh to sell.  That story was originally published by National Geographic.

Food Concerns

There are huge concerns on how these animals will affect the ecosystem, let alone the people who eat them.  National Geographic also shared that some of the Frankenfish (GMO Trout) have been released into the wild to see if they could survive.  Amazing!

We know that there are many side effects of GMO products that were not known when they were first released for consumption.  Look around you and see how the health of the people who are consuming highly modified food products.  

Christie, the PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)Lady has shared a lot of information from  her research and personal life:

How Can the Wealthiest Industrialized Nation be the Sickest?
Americans get sick more often than Europeans or people from any other industrialized nation. Since the mid-1990s, the number of Americans suffering from at least three chronic illnesses nearly doubled. Life expectancy has decreased and infant mortality has increased. Illnesses once rare are now common, with some approaching epidemic levels. For example:
Autism now affects one in 88 children (CDC1), compared to one in 25,000 in the mid-1970s
Type 2 diabetes rates in the U.S. increased by 176 percent between 1980 and 2010
Celiac disease is four times more common now than 60 years ago
Alzheimer’s disease is rising at alarming rates. It’s estimated that 5.4 million Americans (one in eight older Americans) now has Alzheimer’s disease, and nearly half of those age 85 and older have it; AD rates have doubled since 1980
~ New infectious diseases are increasing in number, according to a 2008 study
~ In his documentary, Jeffrey Smith makes a convincing argument that one of the primary forces driving these illnesses is America’s changing food supply. And one of the most profound changes is genetically engineered food. Proving GE food is causing Americans to be sick is a tall order, but the evidence presented in this film is very compelling and should not be ignored.



There is a vast amount of information about GMO and how it is far inferior to Organic Food.  Do some of the research for yourself.  Both men and women are affected negatively by lack of Organic Food.  Treat yourself well.

What can you do to heal your body, even if you do not feel sick?


  • Grow your own Natural Organic Food
  • Purchase only Organic Food from a local Farmer or gardener
  • Join a CSA (community supported agriculture) group
  • Read Labels
  •  Look at the stickers on fruit – there is a PLU code with either 4 or 5 numbers. If your fruit’s label has 4 numbers, it is conventionally grown. 5 numbers starting with a 9 means it was organically grown, and 5 numbers starting with an 8 means GMO.
  • Avoid the Top Four GMO Crops of Soy, Corn, Canola and Cottonseed – most blended oils in North America contain canola and cottonseed. Replacing these with 100% extra virgin olive oil is a safe alternative.
  • Conventional Sugar – Over 90% of this year’s sugar beet harvest will be Monsanto’s GM Roundup-Ready Sugar Beet. That means if you are using sugar, or eating anything with sugar in it, you’re eating GMOs.
  • In California you can vote on Prop 37 on Nov 6, 2012 to force companies to label all genetically modified food.
  • Choose packaged food wisely.  Up to 75% of food in a grocery store has GMO products
  • Encourage your favorite food providers to label their food GMO-free
  • Drink filtered water


My thoughts:

Having been through decades of health issues, I finally chose to take control of my health again.  Eating Organic Food has made a huge difference in my life.  Remember, Healthy mind + Healthy land = Healthy Body.

Remember, October 16 is World Food Day, and in the United States, October 24 is National Food Day.  In an election year, we are empowered by voting to choose the people who represent us as a nation.  Every day, we get to vote what kind of food we eat and what we want for our health and happiness.

Today, May you Choose Live Healthy Food!

Turning Your Dreams into the Life of Your Dreams

Chris Downs, the Caretaker

Founder and Ambassador of Natural News and Sustainable Living on How to Live on

Posted by & filed under Composting.

What Bedding Material is Best for Horse Stalls and Composting?

I started working with horses in 1968, and we always looked at what works best for horse stalls as the material composts.  It can be a mess to choose what to use, and how to make it pay in compost, as bedding can be expensive.

What are some of the options?

My Observations:

I had encountered all of these while I was growing up, except the peat moss.  Everyone had their favorite idea on what was best for their horse.  I worked at a race track that had been turned into a boarding ranch, as well as for high end quarter horses trained for show halter.  We used shavings.  But we also had 200 stalls that we maintained for horse shows in the pacific northwest right at the border of Washington and Idaho near hwy 90.  Every trainer had their own idea what was best.

The good and bad part for me, was that I had the job of cleaning each stall, for a fee of course, and making sure that they were stripped of all material.  Some of the stalls were easy, as they did not use much material, especially those that just let their horses sleep in the dirt.  And then there were those trainers that threw in about 4 or 5 bales of straw for the horse to make a comfortable bed with.

Since we had a big compost pile, we would spread it on a field, or give it to whoever wanted to take it home for their purposes.  Landscapers or gardeners would come and take it if it was 3 years old, but some of the hay had not fully composted properly yet.

We did not turn it or work the pile at all.  The next ranch I worked on, we took the time to turn the manure pile about once per month.  It speeded up the composting process, and we used shavings.

It took us two years to get a good compost to spread on the hay fields.

Chance to Experiment

While managing a Thoroughbred Breeding Farm, We tried an experiment using Peat moss as the bedding in the stalls.  Peat moss can get dry, but the farm is in the Pacific Northwest north of Seattle, and if you have ever heard of the “Seattle Blues”, it is because of the constant high humidity.  Or in other words, lots of rain!

The Peat moss, once the packaging was opened, would stay damp and not produce dust.  It was such a great option for us!


  • Acted like Kitty litter for horses
  • Decreased the smell of urine in the stalls
  • Was great for daily pick up of manure and urine
  • Cut back on time to clean the stalls
  • More time between complete clean out of stalls
  • More desirable compost for sale.


My thoughts

Getting rid of the smell in the barn, as well as making the barn smell and look more professional,  made a great impression on visitors.  It made it easier to work with the horses, as I was not spending as much time cleaning stalls, or paying someone else to do it.

The horses seemed to enjoy it, as it is a soft bedding for them to lay down on.  If you live in a dry area, it may not work for you, unless you can mist the bedding if it is dusty.

For us, it even helped create an atmosphere clean and elegant enough to hold “Kentucky Derby” day parties in and around the barn.  A wonderful experience for all attending!

Where you can find larger quantities to save money.

There are many ways to purchase peat moss, but for use as Stall bedding, you will want to go to your local feed store or co-op.  We purchased it through our local feed store and found it best to purchase a tractor trailer load at a time.  We averaged 25 horses of which 14 stalls were available for Mares.  We also had one birthing stall that we could use for daily use.

Note that we would lay lots of straw on top of the peat moss during birthing to ensure the baby would not inhale any accidentally.  We would also clean the stall out completely after the mare and foal were outside the first day.

The more we can experiment and make our own lives easier and healthier for the horse, the calmer and more relaxed our four legged friends become.

Turning Your Dreams into the Life of Your Dreams

Chris Downs, the Caretaker

Founder and Ambassador of Natural News and Sustainable Living on How to Live on

Posted by & filed under Organic Gardening.

I recently got asked this question: “what organic pest control options do I have for aphids?  Aphids  are a herd of food providers for the ants.  Some ants go out of their way to ensure the health and wellbeing of the aphids.  Similar to a herd of dairy cattle for the ants.

The aphids eat the plants and provide “Milk”, actually a sugary honedew they excrete, and the ants eat it.

Insect Ranchers

Sounds a bit strange, but not much different in overview than humans and other animals.  The ants will sometimes even bring the precious aphid eggs into their nest for the winter to keep them healthy, then in the spring when they hatch bring them out to their “fields” (plants) to feed and produce their bounty.

How does this affect your plants, and in Aquaponics (the mutual growth of fish and produce) your fish also.  If aphids get on your crops, it can be devastating.  The aphids eat and excrete their sugars.  This depleats the nutrients of the plants and devastates them.

If you are growing Naturally or Organically, what are your options?

  1. Chemical sprays:  Not a good option if you are going to eat your crops, or if you want to be considered “Organic” or Naturally Grown.   The chemicals are not really the way to go.
  2. Natural or Organic Sprays
  3. Predatory insects

Aquaponic Considerations

But if you grow Aquaponically, what do organic pest control sprays do to your fish?

  • Some Biodegradable soaps will kill the fish
  • Soaps kill soft bodied insects by suffocating them, however, they can also kill fish if they damage their gills.
  • Natural Plant concoctions, using chopped, shredded and steeped Tomatoe leaves has been brought to my attention by JR Comito.  He shared that it is the alkaloids that kill the aphids, but is not sure of how it affects the fish.

For soil gardens, or hydroponics, those restrictions would not be a factor.  However, I always err on the side of caution.  If it can kill the fish of an Aquaponic system, how will it affect me and my family.  Even more important, how will it affect my customers health?

As Gardeners and Farmers, whether we grow in the soil, raised beds, hydroponically or Aquaponically, Healthy food and a healthy lifestyle is what I have found most people want.  There are some growers that only care about the bottom line profit but they are not as prevalent as they use to be.  Especially now since our customers are becoming more aware of the dangers of chemicals.

My Favorite Solutions

Here is what I have shared in the past about organic pest control:

The Lady Bug!!  Yahoo, for me, they do the work and they are cute.  I do not have to do any work, the bugs eat well, and the aphids are layed waste by the lady bug!

You do not have lady bugs?  What to do?

  • Purchase some lady bugs
  • Create a solution of a good quality organic dish soap and mix a solution of 1 tablespoon of soap to 1 quart of rain water or filtered water.
  • Spray it on the plants and around the plants to wash away the chemical trails that the ants leave while driving their herds of vampiritic aphids to your plants.  Keeps them guessing.
  • You can also mix some cayenne pepper into the mix, and it will also help keep the ants and aphids at bay.
  • Use tomato leaves and allow it to steep as a tea!  Then filter and spray your plants
  • Make an organic soap from the Agava Plant.  I have not tested it on fish yet, but it works in the garden.

Bottom Line

All in all, there are a lot of options to control aphids organically on your plants.  You can also work on confusing the ants to keep them away by “erasing” their trail to your garden or crops.

Join our newsletter feed to discover more great information.  We area always searching new and old ways that work organically to produce more great food and share our findings with you!

Turning Your Dreams into the Life of Your Dreams

Chris Downs, the Caretaker

Founder and Ambassador of Natural News and Sustainable Living on How to Live on