Most Asked Homesteading Questions

We get so many questions from our faithful viewers and readers. Thank you so much for your interest! We love sharing what we are doing and learning with you. And it encourages us so much to know that we are an inspiration. We wish we had time to answer all your questions and respond to your encouraging emails. What you see in our videos and everything we write about is how we really live! So we just don’t have time to sit in front of the computer all day. We have put together a list of our most asked questions. Before you email us, check out this list. You might have your question answered!

We have been so blessed with the response we have received from our website. It is amazing! There is a movement going on to learn how to live more self-sufficiently and without all the trappings of a “normal” American lifestyle. We love this movement because that is where our heart is. We want others to know that living more simply is possible! Thank you for visiting our site and watching our videos. If we have helped you learn something, encouraged you to try something, or even just entertained you, please share our articles and videos with your friends. It really helps us to support what we do.

Why don’t you power your home with solar?

homestead-solarSolar is expensive! In order to power our home with all the electric conveniences of most homes, it would cost thousands upon thousands of dollars for a solar energy system. We function just fine without electricity in our home. It is been so worthwhile to learn to live without it rather than buying and maintaining an expensive solar system. Instead, we use our limited solar power for our aquaponics system, as well as our office needs (internet, laptops, and phones). These are things that we simply could not have without electric power. I really am perfectly capable of washing clothes and kneading bread by hand. You can read more about our solar set up here.

Can I visit your homestead?

We get this question a lot. Sometimes more than once or twice a week. We love it that you are interested in what we do and how we live! This is why we have put together our articles and videos. We really want to share what we are learning and help you to learn too. But this is our home and we don’t have the time to be constantly entertaining guests. It is not that we don’t appreciate each and every one of our readers and viewers. The fact of the matter is that we moved out here to get away from it all and the rat race of life in the city. We love our peace and quiet! Keep watching our videos and reading our articles. Sift through the wealth of information on our website. That really is the best way to learn about our off grid lifestyle.

What curriculum do you use to homeschool your kids?

Joshua-school-desk I use a combination of a number of different curriculum programs. There are so many options to choose from. I’ve included a list of what is use here.

Why do you have a manufactured home?

We originally had plans to build our own home. We even had the blueprints in hand! But after living in a travel trailer for almost a year (including a winter without heat), before we located and moved to our property, we decided that a manufactured home was the best choice. We wanted to be in our home before the next winter came! A manufactured home can be a great option for people who are looking to live remotely. It is often hard to get construction crews and materials out to the country on winding dirt (think snow, ice, and mud) roads. Manufactured homes and single/double-wide trailers are actually very popular out where we live.

What kind of fish do you have in your aquaponics system?

growbedsWe have blue gill in our system. Many systems in warmer climates use tilapia. It definitely seems to be the fish of choice for aquaponics systems. Unfortunately, our winters are too cold to keep tilapia alive. After losing them all on two separate occasions, we decided that we needed to find a different kind of fish. Our blue gill have done fine even when temperatures drop into the teens. You can read about our aquaponics system here.

How much money does it cost to start an off grid homestead?

We receive this question all the time, in many forms. It really is an impossible question to answer because it includes so many different variables. Everyone’s situation and needs are so different, making it necessary for each person to come up with an answer for themselves. However, we can suggest some things to think about when making the decision.

    • How much debt do you have? You will obviously need less income if you have less debt. Living debt free also means that you are probably used to doing without or making do until you can save enough to afford what you need/want.
      What do you expect that your quality of life will be while you are building your homestead? For example, could you do without and live in a tent for a year or even two? Starting a homestead from scratch means a lot of roughing it while you build your homestead infrastructure.
      sheep-pasturesWhat kind of animals do you want to have? Is your property already developed to raise animals? For livestock, you will need fences and pastures. Fencing can be expensive and it is something to consider when saving to finance your homestead.
      Is your property already accessible by a road? From our experience, building a road can add thousands of start-up costs to your homestead.
      Do you have a source of water? Drilling a well and installing a pump is another expense.
      Do you truly desire to live off grid? As I’ve said previously, solar power is expensive and there is a large learning curve when setting up a system. Finding a property that can be easily connected to the electrical grid may be a better option for you if you are not convinced that you can live without electricity or even on limited power. For example, I’ve heard many stories from women who were convinced that they could wash clothes by hand indefinitely. After a few months, they were done and looking for other options. One woman told me that she runs her washing machine on a generator. That is a perfect option for her. It is important to think realistically about the extent to which you really want to be off grid and how you plan to accomplish your everyday tasks.
  • Where can I find the building plans for your chicken coop?

    chicken-coopTim is the designer and builder of our chicken coop. He built it to incorporate many elements from others that he had seen and added some designs of his own. He basically built if from plans in his head. If he ever decides to put them on paper, we will definitely sell them on our website. You can read about our chicken coop here.

    Why don’t you have a milk cow?

    We would love to have a milk cow! But…we have learned to take on one thing at a time. There is a learning to curve for raising animals. When we invested in our sheep (used for meat production), we realized that we needed to take it slow and get good at raising one kind of livestock before adding another. We hope to be able to add a milk cow to our homestead in another year or so. Homesteading (especially off grid) can be a lot of work and it is easy to spread yourself too thin when you have dreams of everything you want to accomplish. We try to focus on thinking realistically about what we have time and resources to do and not try to have everything overnight.

    What do you do for lights?

    lanternI have written an article on this very subject. Check it out here. Replacing electric lighting with off grid solutions is actually one of the easiest things you can do! It is definitely the place to start if you have a desire to dip your toe into off grid living. Refrigeration…well..that’s a whole other thing! And surprisingly, something that is very rarely asked about! You can read about how we handle refrigeration here.

    How do you earn a living?

    We really have two families living together on our homestead: Zac and Jaimie’s family of four, and Tim and Joann (Jaimie’s parents). Tim and Joann are retired. Zac is a freelance graphic designer and website developer, doing all his work from home. Jaimie is one of the writers for the Molly Green magazine. Of course, we all work hard to bring you quality articles and videos from An American Homestead! We hope that one day we can fully support our families with our self-sufficient homestead as well as the income generated from this website.

    How do you bathe without running water?

    shower-bagA shower bag! You know…the ones used for camping. They work so well. We simply hang it from a hook installed on the wall above our bathtub. My entire family of four can get clean using around four gallons of water. That’s not enough to even cover your ankles in a regular bathtub! You can read about my shower bag recommendations here. Our shower bag and our compost toilet system make our water usage in the bathroom very minimal. Believe it or not, most of our water needs come from laundry, cooking, and washing dishes.

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    About JaimieB

    Jaimie lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead known online as An American Homestead. They live with their two sons and her parents Tim and Joann on 50 acres located deep in the American Ozark Mountains.

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    1. Good Morning Zac and Jamie. You are truly a blessing to me and I’m sure to many others. As I was reading the questions, somethings came to me. I’m sure that you may know about them already. As for the washing machine, many of the Amish have ringer washing machines powered by gas lawn mower motors. They take very little gas and are pretty cheap to run. Lights are another thing. There are so many options. There is a pipe with a mantel that attaches to a 20lb tank of propane. These burn along time on a tank. My 90 yr. old mother and dad live up on a mountain top in WV. Their electric is off l for hours at a time. I found the neatest solo light for them. It has its own solar panel to charge it. It can be used outside or inside has a remote control to turn off and on. You can unplug from panel and use it as a carry light. stays charged for hours. the first one was $28 Later we were able to get them for $9. They put enough light out to light a room and yard. In Delaware we have a place to buy 200gal plus white canola oil tanks with cage around them for $50. They would be good for a water system for your house. Suspend on an elevated rack so that that the water will gravity feed into the house so that you have running water. two would be good one painted black for solar hot water. Also, good for fish tanks with aquaponic trays on top for growing plants. You can use your wind mill to pump and fill the tanks and when there isn’t enough wind a lawn mower moter can be used once a day to pump water. As for refrigeration, I have a way to fix old refrigeraters to freeze ice without electric. Hopefully this is information that will be of help. Appreciate hearing from you if you find any of this information useful. You can also pump water with air pressure.
      May the Lord continue to bless you and your family in everything that you do.

    2. Saved as a favorite, fantastic web page!

    3. Good work Guys From Jim in Scotland.

    4. Crystal Friedman

      Thank you for all your hard work producing this website and videos. Your videos are very professional and entertaining. We love watching them as a family. We are not off grid (yet) but still find your advice to bed useful in our lives. Our dryer quit working and I found the laundry tips on line drying to be very helpful and cut down on my drying time making laundry more efficient. I love reading the blog as well. Thanks again for all the inspiration!

    5. I saw that you don’t use electric lights. I also live in the Ozarks (Waynesville Rolla area). I find it is too hot in the summer to use kerosene. I use 12 volt electric LEDs during the summer and use kerosene in the winter to supplement my heat and provide light. How do you get around the heat problem? Also have a good 12 volt fan for the summer, I don’t know how you do it with out one. It helps suck the hot air out after the sun goes down .

      • Joann and I (Tim) have a 12 volt fan for those really hot evenings. We also have a few solar lanterns, but still mostly use our kerosene lamps. The heat from the lamp is not an issue for us, but have lots of windows to open.

    6. Just a heads up if you look at OFF GRID with DOUG & STACY on you tube he had a dirt floor in his root cellar, but he ended up pouring concrete because it had too much moisture in it. He also had to install a sump pump.

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    9. i saw the episode where you build a hydrogenerator by having a water wheel spin an alternator. my questions are how fast does the water have to flow and is it possible to be done with a sump pump.

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