We left the Peoples Republic of Kommiefornia in 2013 for the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains with a list of the minimum requirements for our new county property. After making this journey of more than 2,300 miles to start the second half of our lives, we opted to purchase a home rather than build one. Our decision was mainly due to time issues and the discovery of a house within one mile and on the same country road that my aging father and step-mother lived on.
What we left:
- 3 bedrooms
- 2 baths
- 1400 sq. ft.
- California city lot
- over $4,000.00 per year in property taxes
- 3 car garage
- over $500.00 per year car registration on a 2010 car
- over $200.00 per year car registration on a 2001 truck
- no mineral rights
- Town population of 130,000
- County population of 360,000
What we wanted:
- 3 bedrooms
- 2 baths
- 2 acres minimum
- water well
- septic system
- stick built house (no modular or trailer)
- wood stove
- mineral rights
What we found:
We ended up with much more than the minimum we wanted.
- 3 bedrooms
- 1 bath
- living room
- baseboard heat
- the best part of the home is that it was built from concrete blocks and bricks and has thick horsehair plaster walls
- full finished basement
- small canning kitchen (no stove or stove plug)
- living room
- 1 bedroom
- 1 bathroom
- laundry room
- 1940’s Warm Morning Coal Stove
- baseboard heat
- carpet in the basement living room (This is the only carpet in the home. The balance of the home is oak, lino, and tile floors.)
- 2,400 sq. ft. total including the finished basement
- 4 1/3 acres
- water well
- septic system
- 2 sheds
- We are sitting on rock and shale, so the only way to grow food is to build lots of raised bed gardens and many 5-gallon buckets to hold plants.
- under $800.00 per year in property taxes
- under $200.00 per year in personal property taxes
- $30.00 per year car registration on a 2010 car
- $30.00 per year car registration on a 2001 truck
- no more water bills
- no more sewer bills
- electric bills that were $300-$400 per month in the winter and $400-$600 in the summer are now reduced to just $75 to $120 per month
- no more natural gas bills
- very ugly 1969 kitchen with avocado green walls and harvest gold kitchen sink and range hood.
- full mineral rights
- open carry state
- no license for concealed carry needed
- we have a local meat market owned by a local cattle farmer so I know where my meat is coming from
- every local non-franchised business is closed on Sunday, except the local cafe to provide breakfast and lunch to church goers.
- every local non-franchised business has a sign on the door “CASH ONLY NO DEBIT OR CREDIT CARDS ACCEPTED”. This has been a refreshing change.
A smaller down fall of the home and property was that we left a 3-car garage to having no garage. We just have an attached 1-car carport and only 2 small sheds. But we do have parking for 15 or more cars in our driveway. The driveway, however, must be shoveled out of snow in the winter. It’s “all uphill at a 30% grade”.
This home only has had two owners prior to us purchasing the home. The first owner designed and built the home and lived in it for more than 30 years. The second owner only lived in the home for two years.
Being on a well and septic system my main concern is water– getting water out of the well and water into the septic system. I want to hold to a minimum the amount of water we extract from our well and the amount we pump into our septic system. This has effected our future plans for projects.
Year 1 Property Improvements
The first day we got the keys, we had the electrician out to replace the electrical panel that had been recalled 20 years earlier. We added the plugs to replace the hardwired stove and dryer and added outdoor security floodlights.
During the year we also added lots of outdoor solar lights.
One of the sheds was built over the clean out to the septic system. We also had it moved five feet away.
The septic system was not serviced for 14 years, so a pump out and full service was performed.
Year 2 Property Improvements
We replaced the 1940’s coal stove with a new modern airtight wood stove and added a 10′ X 40′ concrete pad. The concrete pad holds our camping trailer at the top of our property now. We also purchased and filled a new upright 25 cu. ft. freezer and filled it full with 70% meat, 10% vegetables, 10% cheese, and 10% containers filled with water. Additonally, new white low-flow toilets replaced the original 1969 brown toilets, and all the interior door handles are now the new lever type.
Year 3 Property Improvements
Kitchen Remodel Plan and Budget
This was the big project for me as a housewife and the chief cook and bottle washer. Our new country property was built in 1968/1969. The kitchen walls were painted avocado green. The sink and stove hood were harvest gold and the cabinets were chocolate brown. The lower cabinets had only one full shelf and ½ shelf. (The ½ shelf was useless for any type storage.) The counters were Formica that were coming apart at the seams. The floors were the original lino that was rolling up in the corners.
Our food was stored in the hall linen closet and the basement storage rooms, because we only had room in the kitchen cabinets for dishes and pots. All of our linens were stored atop the dresser in the bedroom because the food was in the linen closet.
The various websites, such as DIY and HGTV, say a minor kitchen remodel is $20,000 and a major kitchen remodel is a minimum of $40,000 and will take 6-10 weeks. Well, we could not afford that amount of money. Even if we could afford that amount of money, I would never spend money that way. I wanted a working kitchen where I could make foods to sell at the farmers market, can food, and process wild game.
A $20,000-$40,000 show kitchen is not the place for a working kitchen where a homesteader can process fish and game or can food. What we needed was a full commercial kitchen. My small eat-in kitchen was only 12′ X 14′. Because the house is concrete block and brick, the sink is located on an interior wall and we could not relocate any of the the plumbing or walls.
Stainless Steel Cabinets/Shelves and Large Sink
I went to a small local stainless steel custom restaurant supply company in town. This company duplicated the layout of the lower cabinets in stainless steel but was able to provide two full shelves. I also doubled the storage in the old lower cabinets. The two shallow sinks were replaced with a single, very large, and very deep sink. (If you have ever tried to wash the vegetable bins or shelves from your refrigerator in a standard sink, you will appreciate my single sink. This over-sized sink also allows me to fill stock pots and canners.) Everything was stainless steel. My new kitchen could be certified as a full commercial kitchen if I had three sinks. This stainless steel lower unit cost us just under $3,200 from the stainless steel contractor.
For the upper cabinets I replaced these with full open shelving (three shelves). This provided an additional 1/3 more storage space than the cabinets that were removed. This extra height was achieved by removing the 12” soffit above the cabinets.
I now have no drawers for storage of items like silverware. However, I solved this problem by purchasing a towel rack and a few containers from IKEA that attached to the towel rack to hold our silverware. I also added a bunch of cup hooks to the edge of the lowest shelf over the new stainless steel unit to hold all of my serving spoons and other large cooking utensils. Sharp knives I have stored in the buffet in the living room.
In the next part, I’ll finish detailing our Year 3 improvements and discuss some of our planned improvements as well. I’ll also pass on a few tips that we learned that might help you.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
This has been part one of a two part entry for Round 70 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:
- A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
- A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate that is good for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,195 value),
- A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
- DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chrome-lined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
- An infrared sensor/imaging camouflage shelter from Snakebite Tactical in Eureka, Montana (A $350+ value),
- Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
- A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
- Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).
- A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
- A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
- A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
- A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
- A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
- A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
- A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
- RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
- American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
- A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
- A custom made Sage Grouse model utility/field knife from custom knife-maker Jon Kelly Designs, of Eureka, Montana,
- A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
- Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
- Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
- Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
- Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a $125 Montie gear Gift certificate.,
- Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value), and
Round 70 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.