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Too Much Is Enough

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By Renee-Lucie Benoit | Jun 26, 2019

I touched on this topic when I wrote about my advice for getting into your first country home. Now I want to go deeper: back-up supplies and systems. I’m simply going to share with you what we’ve done, and maybe it will give you some ideas about how to run your little homestead so it isn’t such a pain. Sometimes, and I’m telling you the truth, living on a ranch, farm or homestead can be a pain. We want to minimize this so we can have more fun faster!

Having back-up supplies and systems is a good thing when you want to be self-reliant. This is especially true when the shopping and services are a long drive away. If one system goes ka-putt, there are back-ups that can be pressed into service, giving you time to fix the problem.

We started out with no water storage tank. We relied on the well alone. This is kind of a risky proposition living in drought plagued California so we added a 500 gallon storage tank. We also added rain barrels to catch rain off the roof during the rainy season. If I could dig a cistern I would! That old-fashioned way is very handy indeed. We live in sort of a ranchette subdivision near the edge of town but if we lived way out I would be even more adamant about back-ups. The day we moved in the well pump croaked. Our neighbor Hector watched over the fence as the well guys fixed our well the next day. He said if your pump ever croaks again I would be happy to run a hose from my well over to you guys to get you by. Now that’s neighborly! If we were out in the boondocks we would be driving to the nearest water source to fill up tanks in the back of our pick-up. And we’ve done that! The first summer we were at The Ranch we ran out of water. To make the best of a bad situation I decided to consider it an adventure to shower in the back yard with my husband holding a hose over my head that was attached to the tank sitting in the pickup bed.

I wish I could pop for owned solar. I would not lease solar equipment. It has a life span of about 20 years so unless you’re planning on living in your house 20 years I would not advise to lease solar. Most people don’t know that when you sell the new owner has to qualify for taking over the solar lease in addition to the mortgage. This can be a turnoff for many buyers. Until we can afford solar or a wind turbine, we have a generator in case we ever lose power for a significant amount of time like in the event of an earthquake and we need to pump water to the livestock.

We have two lawnmowers, two chainsaws, two tillers, and two light duty weed-wackers. If I could have a back-up tractor and back-hoe I would but that’s too expensive! This is equipment we use almost every day and if one breaks it would be a real bummer. Here’s a little piece of advice: for those two stroke engines please use the appropriate gas! We buy cartons of the special 50:1 at the big box store. If you put ethanol gas in a 2 stroke the alcohol-based ethanol eats at your rubber parts and then you’re fixing them way too much! We found this out the hard way and now we’re converts. Nothing worse than needing to use equipment and finding it doesn’t work!

We have a decent pick up and a used SUV. We’ve been known to have three, at times.

We get our food from the neighbors and our back yard as well as the store. Bartering works great!

We had plenty of excellent firewood at the Ranch. One thousand acres of Blue and Valley oak trees with a smattering of cottonwood and who knows what else. Here we have only what small trees die and they aren’t the best firewood. However, we have acres and acres of nut trees all around us. The trick is to plan ahead and cut the wood with two years in the future in mind so the wood has a chance to dry out. Recently a windstorm damaged our gigantic Sargent cedar so badly we had to push it over with the backhoe and cut it up. That giant tree was reduced to rubble in about 3 weeks and now the bigger pieces are laying out in the sun to cure. We used a log splitter for the bigger pieces. That’s another piece of equipment I wish I had two of but the price tag is too much for me!

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