Making a Living on the Doomstead

As many of you probably know, I’m not a big fan of the whole “Bugging Out” thing, or remote emergency bunker locations. Most people espousing this strategy are trying to have their cake and eat it too. They live somewhere that they know isn’t going to to do well in a SHTF situation. Usually they are there because they make lots of money doing something that probably won’t survive TEOTWAWKI. The siren call of easy paychecks and evenings spent watching American Idle are too hard to resist.  And I understand, I do. I love Thai food and salsa bands and public transportation as much as the next Millennial. But I also love that for practically any SHTF event other than a direct hit by an F5, I don’t have to bug out anywhere. I’m already in my bugout location, 7 days a week.

Now, that said, I do in fact have a bug out location of sorts. My TEOTWAWKI crew has a doomstead on a 5 acre plot, a few hours away from where I’m living now. We have grand plans for that plot of land, but right now we’re all a bit scattered. We all had an excess of debt and a paucity of skills to make a good go of things when the land was acquired 5 years ago. So we went our ways, to pay off debts, learn some trades and make babies. We got the house built. It’s an Insulated Form Concrete house, bermed on 3 sides.  One family was even living in it for a couple of years, then a spring storm and some poorly placed hills of construction dirt flooded it.  Have you ever tried to dry out a subfloor in a concrete bermed house? Yea, it’s been a 2 year project. But it’s nearing the end. The arable land has been covered in an oat/clover mix for the past few years. That should have helped it recover from the years of row cropping.

It has always been the plan for some number of our crew to make a living off the Doomstead. Eventually, ideally, we’re all getting benefits from it. That way it’s not an empty bunker waiting around for thieves to rob dry. It’s a living, growing, active part of our SHTF strategies. Growing food for the local markets seemed like a likely option. Storage for our woodworker to dry his board stock seemed likely. A big wood fired oven. Perennial crops. Things like that initially.

We’ve all got various amounts of practice growing food at this point. I’ve definitely taken the lead in this area, with the most square footage in cultivation and my foray into the farmer’s market. It’s gotten to the point where I really feel like the only way I’m going to learn more at this point is to actually do it. Actually grow food, for real people and see how things go. And that itch has been growing stronger. I worked for a few years running my own company and my own business, before starting this corporate position I’m enjoying now.  Health care was a big plus, and steady paycheck. But really, the appeal is fading.

Is Calamity going back to the land? Yes, like a shiftless hippy, I’m preparing my family to leave my shiny corporate job. The key word there is preparing, because I can’t do anything without first prepping. Financial prep is high on the list. Lifestyle prep is the other big one.  Even living as we do in a small rural town here, trying to make a living as a farmer will mean large changes to our lifestyle and routines.  Those espousing the Bug Out plan or emergency bunker would do well to consider this. If they think they are going to show up in the country side one day and survive well past their initial 3 months of stored food, they may be fooling themselves.

Financial Prep – 3 months worth of expenses in savings, would be ideal. We’ve got our New Years resolution for our budget and savings. We’ll see if we make it as quickly as I want to. I may have to stay the course through the summer and I’ll miss the growing season and opportunities for this year. There are some advantages to a fall start though, so that would remain an option.

Bye-Bye cubical-ville – I’ve been keeping my body in proper shape, so that a switch to a physical occupation shouldn’t break me. In fact, I’m actually looking forward to the physical workload. I get antsy in my cube, even after changing to a standing cube. Again I’m reminded of those hanging their hopes on remote bunkers and some magical future where their beer gut won’t be a liability and ticking time bomb of death during a time of stress.

Hello Veggies – Vegetables will be the backbone of my initial plantings. There are a few nearby farmers markets we can get into. The first year I will be happy if the vegetable money covers some of the money I expect to have to put into this venture. Both hubby and I will need “off farm” or “off doomstead” paychecks coming in for the first year or two. Fruits are part of the longer term plan.

Gnomes_plan

Step 3: Profit – I just had to put that in, I’m sorry. I’m hoping we make some profit, probably not in the first few years, but it would certainly be nice if we could get things to the point where a couple of people in our crew could make most of their yearly money from the doomstead. But it’s not like we’ll be selling the place if that’s slow to materialize. It may mean a lower standard of living than most Americans are comfortable with, it is only vegetables after all. I’m a doomer though and I figure in another decade most everyone is going to be living with a lower standard of living than what we find ourselves accustomed too. I like to be a leader.

It should make for an exciting year, or two. I imagine I’ll share thoughts and tidbits. Anyone feel like you are living on your doomstead? How are you integrating food production and revenue streams? Shout out in the comments!

– Calamity Jane

10 comments… add one
  • ORRN on LI January 16, 2014, 10:06 am

    I too am the bugging in type, with a cold frame properly set up I could probably grow veggies 9 months of the year. I’ve got my chickens, and I’m also giving the Guinea Fowl a try. I agree we’ll all be tightening up the belt, I can’t believe another bill had to be passed to keep this crappy govt running. I have noticed around my area people are becoming more interested in buying local, veggies, fruit and even meat are sought after. Good luck with your growing endeavor, I would never have the guts to give up my 40+ hour paycheck, health bene’s, hubby would be out of a job before me, I wonder how he would feel about weeding? I will continue to hone my gardening skills, chip away at my debt, and make my suburban doomstead as viable as possible in a TEOTWAWKI situation.

    Reply
  • Anonymous January 16, 2014, 11:16 am

    I’d really check out your future markets before taking the plunge. What are the other vendors selling? What are they not selling? Find a niche and fill it!
    You want to find the best market with lots of customers, and find out if there are any requirements. At our market, a person has to fill out an application, have all of their licenses and permits and pay the membership fee, if approved before they can begin selling.
    If possible, spend weekends getting things like irrigation lined out, and equipment. Will you need a tractor? Plows, cultivators, rototillers, etc..
    A greenhouse is essential. You can extend the season on either end and that means more money.
    A high tunnel would be a huge benefit for your colder climate, and again it will extend your season on either end, or allow for year round growing which means year round income!
    Then comes the fun stuff of figuring out how much can you grow/should you grow/can you sell.
    We have about 3-5 acres that we plant each year. And, we are constantly succession planting to keep as much going as we possible can.
    My greenhouse is cattle panels arched over and held in place with tent stakes. Covered with a double layer of poly with an inflation fan to keep the poly inflated. It’s small and sometimes very cramped but I’ve been using it for 12 years now and it works. I had the cattle panels so very little expense went into it.
    Grants: Our state offers grants to innovative farmers. We received one a few years ago using shade cloth on lettuce. The grant paid for all of the shade cloth and we use it for more than just lettuce. There are also grants available here for hoop houses and season extension.
    It’s free money if you are willing to put in the work.

    Reply
    • Calamity Jane January 17, 2014, 9:22 am

      Yes grants for high tunnels/hoop houses are on my radar. I hadn’t heard of the shade cloth one, I’ll keep that in mind. I’ve never applied for any grants, but one of my doomstead crew has, so I’ll be picking her brain about that over the next year.
      I’m very familiar with the markets around the doomstead. I’ve shopped for my own food at 2 of the 3 for years. I totally agree about finding a niche. I’ve got some ideas about that, but I’m keeping them close to my vest.
      I’m a big proponent of succession planting and season extension, it really is the only way to do things this far north. Greenhouses have to be chosen carefully here due to our wind and potential snow loads. But I’ve been eyeballing those cattle panel ones. I need to talk to more of my local farmer friends on this subject.

      Reply
    • anonymous February 26, 2015, 7:23 pm

      Sell the vegetables out of the back of your truck in a corner in town somewhere, or sell to a friend who owns a community story. Maybe he would allow you to display your vegetables in his business. I personally enjoy selling out of the back of my pickup.. To hell with licenses, permits and other means of keeping up with my income that conniving pigs invent..

      Reply
  • Pineslayer January 16, 2014, 5:24 pm

    We are living in our initial BOL. We could stick it out here for a while, maybe indefinitely, but living at altitude isn’t for the soft. I wanted to be away from the potential chaos. I love the idea of owning some flat, black dirt land and have my eye on some, but I don’t trust….yea I don’t trust. It is a problem. I feel that if it does hit the fan, I want to be away from humanity for a while until things calm down. If it doesn’t, then I made the right decision. If it does, then I can move or stay put and I made the right decision. This is all assuming that we can sustain ourselves. It is a constant struggle to predict how bad things are going to get and make educated decisions about time and money. This spring I am going to triple my plantings.

    Onward and upward!

    Reply
  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. January 17, 2014, 8:29 am

    There is an excellent blog named “The Ultimate Answer to Kings” who has an excellent post on several points on what it takes to live out in the boonies and maintain sanity. Not business advice, more the attitude. The post was titled “One Year Later” – its worth reading.

    $$$ is definitely a big factor – most people who move back to the urbans do so because they ran out of money to keep it up.

    I hope it all works out – you certainly have the ‘can do’ attitude.

    Reply
    • Calamity Jane January 17, 2014, 10:58 am

      Well thanks for the vote of confidence J.R. :-) I feel like I have the right attitude.
      That blog is most excellent, as is that post, thanks for that. He’s exactly right about the neighbors and the workload.

      You’re right about the money. That’s the only part of this that I still worry about. But if hard work can make it happen, I’m going to make it happen.

      Reply
  • Road Warrior January 17, 2014, 4:41 pm

    I’m not gonna lie, I love this. I love the straight-up brass cojones it takes to say, ‘We’re going to do this and make it work.” The possibility of me doing something like this would have been much higher if my wife wasn’t, y’know, in love with her hair straightener.

    Reply
  • irishdutchuncle January 18, 2014, 7:19 am

    good tasting, locally grown fruits and vegetables. what a concept!

    maybe a local inn or restaurant would want some of your produce also.

    Reply
  • noisynick January 18, 2014, 8:33 am

    I live at my BOL we decicded this would be our choice about 20 yrs ago. We raise cattle commercially for an income stream although for years it required an off farm income as well not so much now though. we raised vegtables but we don’t sell any anymore we do sell beef to quite a few customers retail as well as commerciallly.
    I see lots of folks growing goats and sheep and small aniimals such as rabbits chickens and such who apparently do rather well they stay in business and expand……..
    The old Adage ” don’t Quit your Day Job” really applies when trying to get established unless you have very deep pockets.
    Make sure both people in this are really really onboard. I’ve seen several relationships end becasue the dream didn’t belong to both parties. Another old Saying “When the Going gets tough The tough get Going” Its in reverse when the going gets tough the un committed go back to whats most familiar.
    Being prepped doesn’t mean much if your family is fragmented and destroyed………

    Reply

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