Get By With Little and Barter
We slept on the floor on blankets for two years, used a Coleman camp stove to cook on, bought a $25 used fridge and a $50 yard sale clothes washer, dried our clothes on a line, traded a .22 pistol for a freezer, and hand dug and turned in a new garden with pitchforks. We have put many deer in the freezer that were taken off our land every year with no cost of a hunting license. We can everything possible from the garden. We stopped getting sick, because our food is simple and wholesome and as homemade as it is possible to do. I spend two weeks each fall with my backpack digging Ginseng, yellow root, and other herbs. That pays all our taxes, plate fees on our vehicles, and a few other things. I worked at a saw mill for seven bucks an hour for a year and a half. I saved for my 80 hour miners card course, passed the test, got certified, and became a coal miner. We traded a year’s supply of eggs at two dozen a week to a cattle farmer for our first two piglets. From laying hens, which we got in trade for blueberry and black raspberry plants that grow wild on our land, we traded one pig out for an old wood cook stove. We cut and split by hand our firewood off the spot our garden stands in now the first winter. That was some gut busting work getting those stumps and roots out. But with things like this, slow and steady perseverance pays off, and this wins the day. As for vehicles, we trade for Chevy pickups, 88-90 year models. The parts are incredibly inexpensive, as they made millions of them. They are a legacy work truck that use many wear and tear items and have a commonality of parts from a decades long series of model runs. A 1/2 ton Chevy pickup costs us around $3000 to refurbish. That entails an entire new brake system from springs to master cylinder, new exhaust, water pump, alternator, radiator, a good used engine or tranny, all u-joints, fuel pump, battery, starter, hoses belts, full tune up, rust repair panels, tires, and a sundry of bits and pieces. Sure, it will look like an old beater, but you end up with a sturdy, reliable, and inexpensive-to-repair work truck that gets 15-18 mpg, with a pittance in taxes, plate fees, and insurance. Do the work yourself, of course. It is time and money that is an investment, because the intrinsic value is all yours. There is no bank, insurance co., or tax revenue eating out of your wallet. We set up a metal working shop in our garage. Welding, machining, blacksmithing brings in not only extra income but is an asset and a resource with friends and neighbors.
A New Mindset
There is so much more, and it only gets better, but every drop of sweat we turn into equity instead of lining somebody’s pocket, if we can find a way. Remember, you have to work for it all somehow. Why expend hard earned fiat money, if you don’t have to? Being frugal is a state of mind, not a standard of living. We live within our means and make do. Don’t waste nothin’. It is so easy to do now, because it is second nature to us. We changed our thinking. There is so much more, and it only gets better as time moves on. We cultured a mindset to where it is now how we think.
When it came to finding property, we had to be realistic and practical. Farmsteads are nice. We would have loved to have found an established homestead. Yet we had to find another way to do it. We figured a minimum of an acre or three in a rural or country setting is enough land to live off of with some good old elbow grease. So can you. As the saying goes “5 acres and independence”.
Then, there is raising critters. A couple of $50 piglets and some laying hens can be had for the taking because they are not laying $0.75 eggs a day, but you only need six hens for you to have more eggs than you can eat.
Till a garden spot and plant some seeds, or ask a neighbor with farm land if he is interested in share cropping. It is an ages old, tried and true, traditional system that can supply two entire families with garden food for a year on a 300 by 150 foot garden. The land owner cultivates and tills with his equipment (or you operate it); he provides the cow and chicken manure and sometimes the seeds and the fuel maybe. You do the planting, tending, and harvesting, and you all split the harvest 50-50.
We began a share crop with a cattle farmer, plus we have a small garden on our six acre piece of land. Share cropping is a time honored way. We get so many veggies out of it that we give away and barter the extra. We trade seeds and seed roots, too. Last year we traded for sugar cane seed, seed potato, corn seed, horse radish, sweet potato, and squash seed. All I have is a tiny Rototiller, a wheel barrow, and bunch of hand implements. We raise two pigs every year, butcher, and can, cure, and smoke one up for ourselves, and sell one to pay for the other. The only cost is labor and a small grain bill to take care of raising them.
Build Intrinsic Wealth
That farmer I share crop with, paid me an entire side of beef for running his brush hog over his pastures, helping him with his firewood, and doing weld repairs for him. Plus, he gave me a whole winter supply of wood for our house and lent his tractor to us to till an extension on unbroken ground to increase the size of our garden spot. In return, we give them things they don’t have or do stuff for them they can’t do. And all these things of self-sufficiency and self-determination pay us back from the investment. Nobody takes a piece of it from us. It is wealth, intrinsic wealth. Components of this way of life just expands slowly, steadily, in this system of give and take. The reciprocity factor is self-sustaining and propagates.
And it all started by choosing to do it. We buckled down and decided to never say “die”. We are cash poor as church mice. We don’t owe a cent to a soul. We eat like kings, have friends and neighbors who we trade, barter, and mutually give and take help. We are humbled beyond compare. We are richer in so many ways than in that previous life, which is difficult to remember. We have become a part of a small community. People know we are honest and trustworthy. Our word is our bond. It is in someways our most valuable asset.
Did we take risks? Yes. However, the risk we did not take is not making these choices to begin with. We mitigated the “risks” by establishing the bare essentials that must be acquired– a base to spring forth from, where if the worst came to pass we had a roof over our heads and a way to feed ourselves. It does take faith, a leap of faith in something larger and better. I think it is all you can do. Yet, Providence is a powerful ally.
Sometimes, it comes to you that you got to give it all up. Nothing is stopping you but you. You got to decide if you’re gonna make lots of sacrifices and accept the hardships, yet keep your eye on the prize. Because regardless of the accepted societal norms, I can say to you that it is an investment that bears the fruits of tangible wealth. It builds tangible real assets. However, the best thing is the dignity of liberty you win.
And, brother, you do win. Jefferson was smack on target about Agrarianism. It is why America became home of the free and the brave in the first place.
I couldn’t trade this life now for anything. I feel as if I’m a rich man. I have it made. We have serenity and peace. We have vision. We know exactly what we are about, what we want, and we do not want. We see the future, where we are heading, and it is simple and humbling. We know what matters most and are prepared accordingly, with no doubts and indomitable faith to not only keep it but to thrive.
We joined the “honorable existence” and never looked back. I hope you do also!
With kind regards.