Halfway Homesteader

by Halfway Homesteader – – this is an entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

No one likes to do things halfway. In or out. Hot or cold. Red or blue. It flies in the face of human nature to try and straddle the middle. It will also earn you much derision from all corners of “purists”. Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world. A world that required compromise and, in general, making do. As my daddy was fond of saying “Just do the best you can with what you’ve got, and you’ll see more often enough that it’s enough”. So when I first got into prepping sometime back in 2007 or so, I had the image in my mind of what a “Real Prepper” , was supposed to be.

He was the muscular man in his mid to late thirties, debt free, running his own off-grid super farm on sixty acres of flat grassland in Idaho with an 80-foot wide river traversing his acreage, 15 miles from his nearest neighbor. He abandoned wage enslavement in favor of one-hundred percent self-sufficiency and self-employment, living on his farm and making his living solely from that. A hundred head of cattle along with an abundance of chickens, horses, and other livestock were his. His freezer was full of venison, elk, and salmon, while his basement and pantry practically bulged with the home-canned bounty of his 2-acre gardens harvest. His gun vault was crammed full of enough firearms to supply his own army, and 50,000+ rounds of ammo to ensure he never ran dry. In a hidden wall cache lay roll after roll of American Eagles and junk silver. In the evenings, he sat perfecting his HAM radio contacts. It was what I aspired to. For years. And it nearly destroyed me, my marriage, and my career.

I don’t believe that I am alone in the community in thinking that the above description is what we have in our mind as the “real” Preppers and that everything else is either a means to get to be that guy, or else just half-measures. I’m going to put this out there, and it is just solely my opinion, and you can, of course, take it or leave it. But that guy, he doesn’t exist. And if he does, you probably don’t want to be him. He’s just not rooted in reality. Two years ago, I was faced with the decision. Roll the dice on trying to be that guy, and risk losing it all, or live in the real world and accept that, the best thing to is just do the best that you can do. I chose the latter, and I’ve now become what I call the half-way Prepper. You may be one too, and not even realize it. My definition

You may be one too, and not even realize it. My definition of a half-way Prepper is “Someone who recognizes that they live in the real world, that has real dangers that should be prepared for, but accepts that life is to be lived for the positive things, and not in a fashion that defies their own circumstances.” Let me explain.

I’m thirty-six years old. My wife and I have lived in five different houses in the last 5 years in 3 different states as I chased and changed employment. Five moves of tons of stored food and preps, all with the somehow far off goal of being the super PrepperI described above. At my wife’s strong encouragement, I finished my bachelor’s degree and began looking for a more stable line of work. I wanted to move west. I was sure I could find some job that would let me telecommute from the middle of nowhere, Idaho while I somehow purchased my eighty acres debt-free and accumulated my livestock. It was just a matter of time. And then my wife, God bless her, put her foot down.

She was unhappy where we lived. Miserable, actually, near a mid-sized town in the mid-west. She had no friends, she was far from home, and did not like her job. She had moved five times for me in five years, and she had one more move in her, but that was it. And if she had one more in her, it was not going to be to some pipe dream 2,800 miles from her family for a job that did not provide us any more security than we had now, just so that we could try our hand farming a piece of probably marginal land and bet on TEOTWAKI happening while we were still young enough to handle it. She wrote a reality check, made out to me, to be paid in full. Now, she never used the “D” word (she didn’t have to, and she’s not that kind of woman), but the writing was on the wall.

It was then that I began considering the ridiculousness overall of the “real Prepper”. What is he, but a myth? Don’t get me wrong, I know that there are farmers and ranchers who prep in the PAC Northwest and do it well. But to think that I, a man with decent gardening skills and some experience with smaller livestock was all of a sudden going to magically find and successfully manage the 80 acre farm and off-grid ranch 100 miles from the nearest city, while finding a job that would support that lifestyle, was the equivalent of winning the lottery, and I don’t play the lottery. It was a
sad realization, but a necessary one. I withdrew from the blogs and the books and all of that. I even became a little depressed. It all seemed like a big sham that I had been working towards. And I had no one to blame but myself. Life, of

Life, of course, goes on, and the Lord works in mysterious ways. Just because I abandoned my dreams of the Idaho stronghold doesn’t mean I stopped thinking. I used my degree and my veterans preference to secure a job in the Federal Government, working for the U.S. Army at an installation in Northern Tennessee. One more move. As the wife and I settled in, we began discussing the house we wanted to buy, and what we were looking for. We made an offer on one home in a subdivision and got nearly to closing before the seller absolutely refused to fix some things discovered in the inspection and we walked away. That same weekend, we found what I called “the Halfway Homestead”. Without going into house details, it had everything my wife wanted, and sat on three acres, with a small seasonal creek running through it. The price was right. We closed that April. So why do I call myself “The Half-Way Prepper” on the “Halfway Homestead?”

So why do I call myself “The Half-Way Prepper” on the “Halfway Homestead?” Well, there’s a number of reasons, that I outline below, but it’s about halfway to the “real Preppers” ranch, which means it’s all the way to (my) reality.

It’s Not 80 Acres of Flatland In Idaho. It’s three acres in rural Tennessee. And if you’ve ever been in rural Tennessee, you’ve probably noticed that flat ground is about as common as an honest politician. It’s hilly, and about 200 feet off the back deck, it drops precipitously down a bank, where you can then walk 50 yards to another bank where the creek runs, and then goes up and down a huge forested ridge. That’s reality.

There are no growing rows of wheat or corn there. So, we learned how to make raised garden beds on sloped ground, and next year, we plan on clearing some of the trees below the first bank and building a DIY greenhouse. Until then, we get plenty of tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, onions carrots from the raised beds. It’s not perfect, but it’s reality. It’s halfway.

Our Street is Gravel, But Our Nearest Neighbor Is A Stone Throws Away. Our road is about a mile long and granted, it cannot be seen from the main road. But there are eight other families on our road, and I can sit on my porch and see my neighbors. We all have different parcel sizes of land, ranging from just over one to a little more than five acres, but we all have the same terrain. The nearest town is about 8 miles away and has around 1,300 folks who live in it. I have neighbors. We all know each other, relationships are good. During deer season, we actually all team up and combine our contiguous parcels, and split the harvest, making sure we all get what we need, rather than feuding over who shot what deer on what land and chased onto who’s property and blah blah blah. Cooperation is required.

There’s no 100 Head of Cattle to Be Found Here. The property came with a decent sized barn already stalled off and with an attached chicken coop. But the terrain and expense don’t allow for the raising of beef or other major livestock (though the neighbors across the street do raise several horses). We have a flock of chickens that we rely on for eggs and meat as they get older. And last spring we raised our first feeder pig, and that was a rewarding experience, to really raise our own meat. But I’m not a butcher or a processor, so we took it to one to have it slaughtered and processed for us. We also bought a side of beef from that same processor. I regularly fish (our property is right near the land of the lakes, for anyone familiar with Tennessee), so between the venison, the pork, the catfish and trout, and chicken, our freezer stays full. But it’s not completely self-sustained. We make use of bulk purchases for beef and processors for venison. It’s halfway

We Live On The Grid Here. You’ll find no array of PV panels powering a battery bank here, unfortunately. We are on grid power. We have two generators, one powered by gas one by propane, and a transfer switch for when the power goes out (and it does), but that’s not a permanent fix. Poor southern exposure and the expense don’t justify it for us. It just doesn’t work. We rely on the utilities. Granted, we are on Septic but still use utility water as well. There’s is a rain catchment system we have set up. Again, it’s halfway.

We Work Offsite For A Living. As I mentioned before, I work for the U.S. Army. Post is a 30-mile drive one way, Monday through Friday. That paycheck is a requirement for the house. There is absolutely no chance of us making a living on our land. None. My wife works as a maintenance coordinator for a local rental company (also 30 miles away one way). She is able to work from home 2-3 days a week since much of her work involves phone calls and coordinating maintenance calls, but she still must appear in her office at least two days a week, oftentimes more if there is an issue that arises. This, of course, means that we have a mortgage on the property. We put a large down payment down, and our car and truck are paid for. We carry no credit card debt, but the bank holds the note on the house. It’s halfway.

There’s No Basement Brimming with Food. Basements are hard to come by here. Again, it’s the terrain. What we are fortunate enough to have is a crawlspace that I can actually stand up in. It has a vapor shield put down, and under here, we keep what I refer to as the “long-term investment”. This is probably around 500 pounds of rice, 250 pounds of beans, sugar and a few other goodies in 5-gallon buckets sealed in mylar bags. Granted, the pantry in the house is well stocked, and we can quite a few of the veggies we get from the garden, but those are used throughout the winter and spring until they can be replaced with harvest in the summer and fall again. They are rotated regularly. We budget $1,200 every two years for a side of beef, which we stretch with the venison, pork and chicken. We have a budget of $200 per month for groceries, and we sock away what we can, but there’s no underground bunker brimming with tons of mountain house products.

There’s No Onsite Armory. I love shooting and hunting. And I own a number of firearms, both for protection and for sport. And I’ve made a few bulk ammo purchases in my life, but if the Zombie Horde ever wanders down my gravel road, well, we’ll be able to hold ’em off for a bit, but I sure hope the Calvary arrives. Around here, more than anything, guns are tools to keep the livestock safe, the freezer full, and us menfolk entertained. Sure, there in every house, and no one would look twice at a couple thousand rounds laying around, but there’s no Hillbilly Brigade to be armed here. We have what we need and some of what we want. It’s halfway.

We Don’t Worry Too Much About Money. Sorry, no silver trove to be found here either. We work to pay off the house and provide for what we need. I expect to receive criticism for this, but I sought out and took the job I have for security and its purpose, not for the excess income. My wife and I rely on our savings, TSP, 401(k), and the pension I am working towards for
our financial security in he coming years. Perhaps this is foolish, but I think not so much. I don’t expect a full-blown government collapse, and my job is fairly secure barring anything but that. Is hyperinflation occurs, I should be able to probably count on inflation indexing and selling off some tangibles (vehicles, guns, etc) to pay the note on the house and just manage as best I can from there. I’m not an economist, and I could be wrong here. But we’ve tried to make ourself as self-sufficient as we reasonably can. Money is only just ever that, money. It’s a halfway approach.

We Spend Our Leisure Time…Leisurely. I don’t have a HAM license, don’t really want one. Now, this is not to knock anyone who likes HAM radios or any of those things. But I know there are some folks who won’t do or take up any hobby that they can’t relate to prepping. Around here, we sit on the back deck or the front porch. I’m liable to light a cigar and pour a dram
of Makers Mark while the wife reads or crochets with the radio on in the background and the dogs laying around. Or there’s a good chance I’m in my shop listening to a ball game and playing with my welder while the wife is inside watching TV. We just try to live.

So what’s the point of all of this, you may ask? Why share all of this? Well, it’s to maybe encourage some folks out there and remind us all that the vast majority of us will never make it to that Idaho ranch. We’ll never be fully off grid. We’ll never telecommute or stock a brigade. If it all ever fully 100% falls apart, I won’t be super Prepper. But I really think, we’ll be ok. It’s ok to put the effort in, and understand that things could turn south in a hurry. It’s ok to know you should do something. But it’s also okay to just do the best you can with what you have, and otherwise just enjoy your life and what it is. I’ve never been happier than when I bought this land and turned it into what we have now. It’s a good life, a good mix of self-sufficiency and modernity. It’s good to be halfway. And once you accept that, I suspect that you’ll find prepping far more enjoyable, and much less stressful. God Bless.

Prizes For This Round (Ends on June 30, 2017) In Our Non-Fiction Writing Contest Include…

First Prize a $999 value:

  1. Numanna Organic Family Pack Bucket a $399 value from LPC Survival Ltd.
  2. CampingSurvival Gear Pack a $400 value from Camping Survival.com.
  3. A $200 gift certificate of prepper books from Prepper Press.

Second Prize a $650+ value:

  1. A case of .308 ammo or $300 off Ammo selection of your choice from LuckyGunner.
  2. A Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Mill with the Masa/Nut Butter Auger, Drill Bit Attachment, and Bicycle Sprocket Kit a $325 value from ChefBrad.com

Third Prize a $310+ value:

  1. $300 gift certificate from GunMag Warehouse.
  2. A copy of The Prepper’s Guide to Surviving the End of the World, as We Know It: Gear, Skills, and Related Know-How

Comments

  1. michael adams says:

    Wonderful article!!
    Life is about compromise, it’s not a dirty word. Do the best with what you have, what you worry about almost never comes to pass. So you’ve wasted a lot of energy for nothing. Halfway can be a good place.

    • Halfway Homesteader says:

      Michael

      UES, I learned I could not have everything, so I just had to learn to live with what I could have/achieve. Nothing but respect for the folks who do manage to reach that level, but I believe they are the exception and not the rule.

  2. One of the best articles I’ve ever read here. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Carrie Ann says:

    Thank you for this very balanced view. Not all of us have the re$source$ of others or the freedom to pick up and move somewhere. Your neighborhood sounds like it’s a ready-made “group” without necessarily intending to be. This is good. Blessings to you!

    • Halfway Homesteader says:

      CA

      Thank you! We’ve been blessed to this point, for sure. I’ve always had a bit of wanderlust. But we are far from rich. Some of the moves have been paid for by employers. But this last one to TN was on us, and I can tell you, it out us up against it. If we hadn’t sold our previous house as fast as we did, it would’ve never worked.

  4. Jesse Mathewson says:

    Good article, I’ve always said, prep for what you can, learn what you can but dont ever change who you are based on fear of major catastrophe or some unknown potential- people are nuts that do that, I knew a guy (loved Rawles to the point that when I had my falling out with that fake my friend of several years dropped me) he had three mortgages to buy the things Rawles told him we’re necessary-

    He recently lost his house, job and is basically alone in a town full of people, all of whom know him as that “crazy prepped guy”

    Worse part is, he hasn’t learned, he flipped it right back on again 🙁 sad so sad- amazed his wife is still with him.

    Glad you learned before it was too late.

    Prepping is a mindset, a daily thing, a lifestyle a mental reality that we know bad things can happen but it doesn’t and shouldnt control our lives … 100 years from now Baldwin and Rawles will be seen just the same way that Charles T Russell is by most of the world, crackpots who suckered a whole bunch of people.

    (Jehovah Witness founder lol)

    Anyhow, happy to see you made the stop before going “full preptard” 😉

    • Crazy Joe in South Jersey says:

      Howdy JM , a year or so before writing some prep articles for MD and a few others I met Rawles online first . Our emails on one of my topics became a battle back and forth and from that day on …… the heck with him . Many of his contributors wrote good things but I did not like know it all supply officer 2 nd LT s when I was in the Army and when I found out that is what he was ………. it simply made my case .

      • Jesse Mathewson says:

        Crazy Joe, exactly! Zero life experience other than what others have paid him to try…:)

        • Jesse Mathewson says:

          I do agree many of his contributors have good info!

          • Halfway Homesteader says:

            I agree. I frequent both this and his site. I’d be lying if I said I never learned anything there. Just like anything else, I just take what I can use, what I think will help me, and discard the rest. I’ve never had any personal interaction with the man, so I can’t really speak to that.

  5. Soggy Prepper says:

    Great article! Very “real”! Thank you for sharing!

  6. jaywalk says:

    nice garden areas a little more flat by doing lots of tree/brush clearing using huglekulter-ing. been at it 16 years now … our nearest “supermarket” is 72 miles away … our nearest neighbors are well within walking distance as is our mailbox!!! Halfway Prepper definitely & defiantly describes us. we do what we can to the best of our abilities & praise God for what He has provided for us. (ps…we are from the pacific NW in first place & chose Idaho simply because that’s where our families are located but wanted to come inland further away from the big metro areas)

  7. jaywalk says:

    GREAT ARTICLE … thank you … we too are 1/2 way “somethings” living in Idaho by the way & very happy with our small 2 acre paradise thank you very much – it’s not perfect but we’ve created nice garden areas on a steep hillside a little more flat by doing lots of tree/brush clearing using huglekulter-ing. been at it 16 years now … our nearest “supermarket” is 72 miles away … our nearest neighbors are well within walking distance as is our mailbox!!! Halfway Prepper definitely & defiantly describes us. we do what we can to the best of our abilities & praise God for what He has provided for us. (ps…we are from the pacific NW in first place & chose Idaho simply because that’s where our families are located but wanted to come inland further away from the big metro areas)

  8. GeorgiaPeachie says:

    Fabulous article!!! Halfway Prepper describes us too. Like you, we don’t have enough land to be 100% off the grid. Don’t have solar, but we do have the means to survive without electric. We do have enough food stored to keep us eating for a long time. Years, unless every family member shows up. We have small animals too, but no cows. Halfway is a good place to be.

    Best article I’ve read!

    • Jesse Mathewson says:

      GO, exactly- even my almost off grid friends are not entirely self sufficient, it’s simply not possible these days

      • Crazy Joe in South Jersey says:

        It is with sufficient investment capital and not having a ton of electronic nonsense . Been there , seen it . Back in my day off grid meant no electric but these new people have changed its meaning with their DESIRES , not wants . They do not understand the difference . Modern Society Syndrome is the downfall of most .

      • GeorgiaPeachie says:

        Jesse, so true. Land, even the land away from cities, is simply too expensive for most folks to own 80 or more acres. Both sets of my grand parents had large farms. How I took those for granted growing up. Wish I had realized the real value back then and made sure the land stayed in the family. Sigh.

  9. Crazy Joe in South Jersey says:

    YEA ! ! ! Welcome to the real world HALF WAY . Better late than never learning what is real .

    My network of survivalists has been partying since 1970 . We could care less about TEOTW . Prepping is simply what our ancestors have done for 50,000 years . I encourage having fun prepping whether it is gardening or having a cookout of fresh deer on the grill .

    Pass the Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce .

  10. Crazy Joe in South Jersey says:

    PS ………………………..CREEKMORE ……….. This article gets my vote for achieving and mastering common sense .

  11. jaywalk says:

    if we had more articles like this from 1/2 homesteader … there would be fewer of us with tears & a super guilt complex ‘cuz we just aren’t “good enuf or rich enuf” … just simple folks with old fashioned values & practices learned from our grandparents…

  12. 1/2 way beats over 90% of the country.

  13. Oh geez, help, M.D. I can’t post. I’m just getting into a loop about wait x seconds.

  14. Brian F says:

    Ah! Someone rooted in the real world! Bravo!!!

  15. test dummy says:

    Great article! We are in the same small acreage situation as well. We have paid off our homestead and only have a small amount of cc debt(helped one of the kids) and now are trying to pay that off. we have fruit trees a garden and raise goats sheep turkeys ducks and chickens. its not fancy but its Home.The best is that we can afford it even though we are living on less than 1/3 of the income we had 3 yrs ago. We are blessed! Glad you have been blessed as well!

  16. cndnathan says:

    This post gets my vote for best practical free prep mindset !

  17. Antique Collector says:

    Halfway Homesteader
    I truly enjoyed your story of what you had been raised to think, and coming to understand it does not happen except in stories.
    Along with the fact your wife stood by you without a cast iron skillet in both hands to wake you like the Gong show is a miracle. 🙂 ‘odd sense of humor’
    Prepping as someone is always stating, “Is a LIFESTYLE”, not a race to a unfathomable conclusion.
    Best of luck to the both of you, you are now on the right path.

  18. Daddio7 says:

    Moving, what’s that? At nineteen I moved onto a place my dad gave me on our farm and have been here for 46 years. No farm anymore but I have 10 acres of pine woods and three cleared acres around my home.

    I’m a quarter way prepper. I have enough basic foods to last a month and hand pump on my well. I spent a few months slowly removing trees from around my house spot. As finances improve I plan on putting some solar panels in.

  19. Labgirl says:

    Halfway Homesteader
    Great from the heart article. You are not alone in your quest. Many of us are halfway homesteaders. I have learned that you do what you can with the resources you have.

  20. Great article! Truth be told, most of us are real world peppers. And never discount the skills you’ve developed. A person (or family) with strong skills will outlast the person with deep pockets who has all the gear and never put it to the test.

  21. Greyhawk1970 says:

    A great article!!! I think this describes most of us out here. We just continue to prep as we can and live life while plodding on.

  22. What a great article. It gets my vote for the big award and I would hope to see more from HH. I too, just keep going from day to day. I am 73, live alone and just keep doing the best I can to be prepared. I have purchased about 3 months worth of survival food over the past year. However, I have dehydrated and canned twice that and will keep on doing so. Next week I will be ordering two 50 gallon barrels for water storage along with the smaller 5 gallon containers that I try to buy once a month. I am disabled, so I can only garden a little, but I have tomatoes, beans, peppers and two kinds of summer squash in my Grow Boxes and Potatoes in a 5 gallon bucket. I plan on doubling the containers next year. I sometimes get discouraged because there is so much I cannot manage due to age and abilities. But I do what I can and at least I can now aspire to be halfway, someday.

    • GeorgiaPeachie says:

      IDPam, sounds like you are outdoing folks half your age! Way to go!! Everyone gets discouraged at times. You should feel very good about everything you’ve accomplished!

      • Thanks, GeorgiaPeachie. Most of the time I am content, but when I read something new that someone is doing I sure wish that I was 25 (hell, even 45) again and was able to do more.

    • You wrote my letter for me. Same age, same health, same resources. I live alone, do what I can and hope for the best. With luck my kid will get my preps unused and can save them for his safety, but if it hits the fan, I’ve prepared as best I can. There are a lot of us old, single folks duct taping our lives together and watching for the incoming storms.

      • Well, Dave, I don’t even have kids to get my preps. My sister is only a couple of years younger than I am and she lives several states away. Just as well, since she doesn’t really believe anything will ever happen and she is too busy bashing Trump and hating everything he is doing to think clearly! But I do have friends here who I have told to take the good stuff if the world as we know it lasts longer than I do. However, I don’t plan on leaving soon, so I will keep on keeping on and learning from the others in the pack. PS. Thanks for the reminder. I just put another roll of duct tape on next weeks shopping list. :>)

  23. Grammyprepper says:

    HH, EXCELLENT post! And love all the positive comments too! I am 53, and will never realize all my prepper dreams. I got burned out on all the doom and gloom, and moved away from most prepper web sites, finding a much happier home with homesteading focused sites. (of course, I still lurk here, LOL) Making do with what you have, and making it work for you is what matters. We can never be ‘totally’ prepared. And trying to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ will only drive you crazy.

  24. Who was a 2nd louis supply weenie Crazy Joe?

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