Categories
Lifestyle

How one couple escaped to live in a shipping container

Tad and Fiona had enough of rising living costs and bills, so they made a drastic life change

Our wandering scribe Peter R went to meet them

A light sheen of early morning frost glistens across the grass and the ribbed markings of tractor tyres are rock solid to the touch. Next to a large metal shipping container stands a thickly woven canvas, doubling as a tent. A small whisp of smoke rising gently from a hole at the top.

Last night was cold. Not quite freezing, but cold. The tent, surprisingly, has held its warmth. For the past year this shipping container, along with the accompanying structures, has been home to Thomas “Tad” Fearn, his wife Fiona, their young son Frankie and not to forget the dog, Juniper.

dog in the forest

The pressures of life led this family to the wilderness

As the crush of life increased, the bills, costs and charges continued to relentlessly drop in to the mail box of their small rented flat on the outskirts of a large southern UK city. Whenever living in a shipping container, in the comparative wilderness, is more preferable than their previous arrangement, it would appear to be a case of society gone wrong.

However they ended up here, the family are happier than ever before. When their rental tenancy ran its course, rather than negotiating a renewal they looked for other options. Better options. Options that many would perceive as being a little wacky.

“This is our second winter here so we are more experienced than before,” says Tad. “The cold weather can be harsh. Keeping Frankie warm and comfortable is the main priority. We’ve worked a pretty good setup though.”

A wood burning stove provides warmth and comfort

A large wood burning stove acts as the hub of the container. Like a de facto aga, providing warmth and cooking capabilities. The tent is a scaled down day-to-day living quarters and more economic during the day as it is smaller and easier to heat.

All of their clothes and linen holds an earthy, smoky smell, but the ventilation means there are no breathing issues. A meaty stew bubbles away gently on the stove, held up by square metal beams, over a fire of sticks and one resilient log.

Life costs are sky rocketing

Tad repaired bicycles in a previous life, spending what he earned on home, heating, commuting and food. Fiona stopped her part-time job in a bakery when Frankie was born. What little money they had was spent on the necessities of life. Cash was tight and there were no luxuries.

“Tad would get up early and go to work, then cycle home and work on doing up old bikes at our flat so he could hopefully sell them on for a bit of extra cash,” explains Fiona. “Everything was covered, all the bills, but we never had anything left over to save or spend on dinners or fancy clothes. It wasn’t like that.”

One day Tad was fixing a mountain bike for a customer who told him about “alternative lifestyles” and people living on houseboats, in garden sheds or lorry trailers.

“It was both eye opening and inspirational,” says Tad. “I knew these things existed but I didn’t think people actually lived that way. At least not in this country. I didn’t see it as an option for us, or something that just anyone could do”.

“It was a shift in consciousness alright!” laughs Fiona. “Tad does have some strange ideas and I thought it was another one. The more we talked about it though it made sense in our situation. If other people like us could do it then why couldn’t we?”

costs of life

Looking for potential new spaces, off the grid

Tad threw out some feelers and was put in touch with a contact who had two potential dwellings. An old bread van or a shipping container. The container was already on a piece of farm land, situated behind some woodland and originally intended to provide winter shelter for cattle. It had never been properly utilized, however, and the farmer was ready to just let it be.

Rather than rust away into an eye sore, that would eventually disappear under the growth of roots and wild plants, Tad pitched the idea of breathing some new life into the structure.

“He thought we were bonkers for wanting to do it but accepted that we were decent, trustworthy people and not looking to squat or wreck the place so he said give it a go,” says Tad.

He continues: “There’s a small stream running behind it for fresh water and lots of unkempt forestry around for us to gather firewood. The natural resources are amazing. It’s not always pretty. The scenery is beautiful in the summer but very intimidating and demanding in the winter months.”

The shipping container is used for storage and sleeping

The shipping container is for sleeping and storage. The tent serves as a kind of living room or daily quarters. Thick rugs, well cared for pot plants and other baubles adorn the area.

“It’s a bit messy, but it’s home,” smiles Tad. “We aspire to be minimalists but as you can see it’s not exactly working out.”

Keeping the tent secured to the ground (using wooden stakes) has been imperative after some strong wins last year nearly took it away. Flooding from excess rainfall is also a concern, as Tad points to the corners that have let in water in the past.

Clothes are washed in pots of heated stream water and the work never stops. Summer will be spent preparing for winter by ensuring there are ample supplies of fuel and food to survive and thrive.

It’s Fiona’s turn this week to clean out the compost toilet. Bag and spade in hand, she pulls on her faux fur boots and trudges off into the woods to dispose of the waste.

She grins back into the tent, “What a glam life!”

Cleaning waste in the woods. What a glamorous life!

Fiona

Ignoring the media and negative culture

As the sun sets they will retire to the shipping container, light some candles, brew some tea or coffee and read a book. Batteries power the clock radio that also brings in the occasional news bulletin. However, both admit to avoiding news, politics and current affairs as much as possible. A wise choice.

“We don’t want that type of negativity out here,” confirms Tad. “Why do we need 500 TV channels pumping in nonsense all day? We have plenty of stuff to do without ceding our imagination, time and attention.”

“We live in the beautiful surrounds of nature,” agrees Fiona. “What more could you ask for?”

— END —

Thanks for reading. If you found some value please leave a COMMENT or SHARE with others who might enjoy the article. 

Do you live on a homestead or interested in this lifestyle? Continue the conversation by sending an email to escapersmedia@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Categories
eLearning Homesteading

eLearning: ‘Raising Chickens’

By Steve W

Back in the good old days I used to raise chickens, ducks and geese. There came a time when I was unable to keep them anymore and they went on to a better place (another farm; we didn’t eat them!).

To celebrate a glorious return to poultry life we have invested in a short eLearning course from Caballo Publishing on raising chickens.

Click on the link below to explore the mini course and let us know how you got on.

Keeping Chickens
Categories
Homesteading Lifestyle

Preparing for growing on our homestead

Warmer weather means it’s planting season

By Steve W

The sun is starting to peak out from behind the clouds. That means it’s growing season. After the bleak snows of winter it’s great to see rabbits scurrying across the fields and the birds out earlier each morning.

As the madness of Covid-19 persists it is more important than ever to secure food personalised sources. The ability to bake bread, can, preserve and freeze foods is vital. With a large garden area there is no excuse to not grow fruits and vegetables on the homestead.

Investing in seeds for growing vegetables

I recently purchased some butternut squash and spinach seeds (see below).

Squash and spinach seeds

I grabbed a couple of bags of compost from the garden centre and cleaned out the compost bin which you can read about here. I checked last week and saw bugs, beetles and creepy crawlies of all descriptions rooting around inside. Perfect!

Composting

A few piles of grass cuttings, neatly scraped together with a rake, were tossed in as well to add some fertilising power. It won’t be long before the literal fruits of labour shine through.

Using a dog bed to grow veggies

I’m not sure if I’m the only person who uses an old dog bed to grow fruit and veg but it works well. It’s a nice size for starters. Drilling a few holes in the bottom allows for the water to escape.

Dog bed for planting vegetables

Keeping pests away from the produce

Creep crawlies of the unwanted kind often find a way into the wrong areas. Slugs are a nuisance so I fill empty tin cans with out-of-date beer to attract them in. It works a treat and they climb in to have a look, attracted by the yeast. Be warned, it can be a pretty messy affair cleaning them out.

Salt always seemed a bit extreme as it makes the slugs swell up and effectively explode. The farmer next to us sprinkles little rings of salt around his plantings to keep them away.

Using an old car to grow tomatoes

Even though it makes for an unsightly viewpoint, old cars littering our fields are useful. As well as providing parts for current models, vehicles like our rusted, vintage mini provide a good option for tomato growth.

The windows create an excellent greenhouse effect. When the sun truly comes out it gets very hot and humid inside, leading to a massive growth spurt and some juicy red tomatoes for tea.

Plan for the worst, hope for the best

Look at whatever space you have available to grow on. Whether it be a few plant pots on the balcony of a high rise flat or a spacious garden. I don’t want to be alarmist but our freedoms are under attack.

Food shortages and supply of commodities will become scarce as and when new crises occur. These could be health related, conflict, civil unrest or similar.

Having your own food source is clean, healthy and helps keep you to be prepared should the shit hit the fan. Plus, what’s tastier and more satisfying than sitting down to a nice lettuce, tomato and carrot salad that all came from your garden, grown from your own hand?

— END —

Thanks for reading. If you found some value please leave a COMMENT or SHARE with others who might enjoy the article. 

Do you live on a homestead or interested in this lifestyle? Continue the conversation by sending an email to escapersmedia@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Categories
Homesteading Lifestyle

Composting on the Homestead

Preparing for growing plants and vegetables this summer

Steve W tackles the composter

With all of the bad weather we’ve been having lately, it was bound to happen. The wind caught our composting bin and it blew away! Leaving behind a huge pile of mushy mud and melon peels decomposing at a glacial pace.

As soon as the bin disappeared, the dog jumped in and started scraping away at the heap left behind. Compost was shooting around all over garden.

I swiftly cut away the (now defunct) electric fence wire and set about clearning up as best as I could.

Pile of Compost in Hedge
The stormy weather blew away the composting bin

Don’t put tea bags in the compost bin

There are a few harsh lessons I’ve learned from keeping a compost bin. Firstly, don’t put tea bags in because they don’t break down at all. I should’ve known this. I didn’t. Let’s move on.

Also, melon rinds might break down eventually but they take an awfully long time to decompose. Next time I’ll slice them into smaller pieces before throwing them in.

Egg shells are apparently good for adding calcium to the soil. Smash them up with a hammer first though or they’ll just sit there. Recycling bags don’t really decompose very quickly either. Emptying the debris out first would’ve been a better option.

Spade and Cart of Compost
The compost got loaded into a cart for transportation

Secure the composting bin in a safer location

Even though the bin was tucked inside a hedge it was still vulnerable to the elements. Clearing up the mess was a laborious and time-consuming job but with spring on the way it was necessary. I am hoping to plant some vegetable seeds soon so needed to get the garden into some sort of order.

As the grass gets dryer I plan on bringing out the lawn mower more frequently and adding grass piles to the relocated composter. The goats can hoover up any excess trimmings.

Grabbing my spade and pull-along cart I loaded up the compost and did a few runs back and forth to the new location. I used a power hose to wash down the bin as best as I could and, aside from some oil splashed on the corner, it looked a lot cleaner.

Relocated Compost Bin
The bin is now connected to a tree

Using the compost bin

Now safely secured to a tree, the bin is about three quarters of the way full. The broken hatch at the bottom has been replaced. Any excess compost was put into my growing area, which is an old dog bed with holes drilled in the bottom.

I bought a couple of bags of soil from the local garden centre. The seeds have arrived in the post. Butternut squash and lettuce will be on the menu this summer hopefully. I’ll keep you posted.

— END —

Thanks for reading. If you found some value please leave a COMMENT or SHARE with others who might enjoy the article. 

Do you live on a homestead or interested in this lifestyle? Continue the conversation by sending an email to escapersmedia@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Categories
Homesteading Lifestyle

5 lifestyle and agriculture channels that I follow

YouTube has a wide variety of farming, prepping and homesteading content available

Our editor Steve W picks out his favourites

Farm life on just a few acres of land

Pete Larson lives with his wife Hilarie and their three children on “Just a Few Acres” of land outside New York. Pete quit his job as an architect after becoming increasingly miserable and dissatisfied with corporate life.

Now the couple farm the land, keep cattle and livestock, run a farm shop and much more. Pete clearly knows what he is doing and (dodgy jokes aside) watching each episode is always an education.

The Neals’ Homestead

The first thing that stands out about the Neals is their vibrant zest for life. They are constantly active. I’m not completely sure about the family dynamics but the family matriarch does most of the talking.

She is often accompanied by “old guy”, who clearly holds decades of experience and can tell a yarn or two. These happy homesteaders offer a wide variety of skills and are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.

Bush craft gets bush radical

Hanging around in the chilly woods of Alaska may not be everybody’s cup of tea. Off-grid experts Dave and Brooke Whipple have turned it into an art. Dave openly discusses life issues such as accumulation of material possessions and debt.

His story has been picked up by many media outlets. He is clearly very talented at building strong structures. The couple were originally discovered on American reality TV.

Growing Hazelnuts in Ireland on Gubb Farm

One of my more recent discoveries and closer to home too. Gubb Farm is based on an island in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

The channel is designed for those interested in organic food, hazelnuts, regenerative agriculture, soil biology and learning how to generate an income from a small farm holding.

It’s farm life – unfiltered.

Survive the apocalypse with essential prepping

I’ve always had an uneasy relationship with the term “prepping” for some reason. The media often uses it as a loaded term to describe people who run from zombies or load up on ammo and tins of dried beans to avoid government restrictions.

Dave from Prepping Essentials seems disappointingly normal. There’s not a firearm in sight. All he focuses on is good old fashioned hard work and plenty of ingenuity to make his small holding dream a reality.

— END —

Thanks for reading. If you found some value please leave a COMMENT or SHARE with others who might enjoy the article. 

Continue the conversation by sending an email to escapersmedia@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Categories
Homesteading

How to keep warm on a homestead

Gathering sticks, chopping wood and burning coal

Our editor Steve W goes out gathering fire wood

Any homesteader will know the feeling. You wake up early, look out of the window and the fields and lane are covered in a thick blanket of white snow.

If you are staying at home then great. Snowballs, snowmen and snow angels await. If you’ve got to dig the car out and drive to work then it suddenly becomes less enticing.

It’s not only the prospect of snow that gets me shivering. Any sort of cold weather seeps right into the old bones these days.

The chilled winds and freezing rain that hit Spring Farm make me question whether this is such a good idea. A couple of hours and the work is done. A glowing log fire roaring and the whole project seems much more appealing.

Blocking up the old chimney

We are lucky to have not one but three open fireplaces. Two are in operation, with the third chimney closed off. A piece of lead was laid on top and hammered down to stop any inquisitive winged locals from having a nose on down.

We have bird guards on the other two. These allow the smoke to escape out, without anything large creeping in. I’ve seen them called chimney cowls as well. Regardless, they come in all shapes and sizes but do an important job.

three chimneys

After a thorough sweep we stuffed a lot of old cardboard up to block it off. Then we slotted some wood in to where the grate had been removed. Occasionally on windy days you hear a slight gust of wind whistling through. It’s not really a problem, and the chimney is secure.

Sitting in front of an open fire

There is plenty of dead wood outside to collect for a winter fire. As soon as the weather starts improving and we head in to spring, we then start gathering wood for the coming year.

In all aspects of homesteading, preparation is key

Escapers

The yield of suitable firewood is always plentiful, but we have a few stacks of pallets down the yard in case we run short. At the local agricultural merchant you can buy kindling in little sacks. A couple of these, surrounded by some cardboard, is great for getting the fire started.

Whenever we first started out and were wet behind the ears we bought fire logs. They were very easy to use and lit very fast. However, they became pretty expensive over time and we don’t need them now we know how to light a fire properly.

Some people use flammable liquids. We have never done this, in case the children were to get hold of it. In can be effective when used safely.

Fireside

Outside chopping up firewood

Going out with an axe, chopping up firewood can fairly work up a sweat. Like any fuel gathering, it is best to collect it when you don’t need it so you aren’t left scraping around the homesteading yard in sub-zero temperatures desperately looking for fuel.

The children found out some logs for us to burn (see image below). Even though there is a bit more life left in these than I would like, I grabbed the saw and cut them up anyway. They burned just fine when used to top up an already hot fire. Using this type of wood to start it off would be more difficult.

When sawing always make sure you have a clear space (easier said than done in this homestead!). We use a pair of gloves too. These provide an extra layer of protection in case the saw were to slip. They also keep the hands warm outside.

There is an old saying that sawing wood warms you twice. First in the cutting and again in the burning. It’s true!

Fire wood, saw and gloves

Burning coal on the homestead

A big 25kg bag of coal can be heavy to lump around so watch your back when lifting. Once the fire is heating up, using some special fire tongs to place a few lumps of coal in and around the heat source is beneficial.

Don’t add the coal until it’s hot enough though or it will smoulder. Once the fire is blazing we use a little shovel to scoop four or five lumps on at a time. The coal scuttle has a handle so is useful for lifting and emptying straight on.

Remember that towards the end of the bag there is a lot of accumulated coal dust. This gathers at the bottom of the scuttle too and can blow back on to your clothes or all around the fireplace if you aren’t careful.

Coal bucket and shovel

— END —

Thanks for reading. If you found some value please leave a COMMENT or SHARE with others who might enjoy the article. 

Continue the conversation by sending an email to escapersmedia@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Categories
Homesteading Lifestyle

Six benefits of homesteading

Hard work and a variety of skills are needed to thrive as a homesteader

Izabela H identifies some of the main features of homestead life

Recently Steve explained how he is ready to move into a new way of life. Below we will cover the basics you should know about homesteading. I mean, wouldn’t self-sufficiency be an amazing thing to implement in your life? 

What about preparing and preserving food on your own, with no preservatives?

We will explore these and more in just a moment.

#1 Preserving food on a homestead

Many people underestimate how beneficial and easy food preservation actually is. There are so many reasons why it is indeed such a fantastic thing to do that it is hard to count them all. Here is just a small list of them:

1. Saving money. It is really easy to save up when you either grow your own fruit and veggies or bulk buy from the store. That way, you get a low price and plenty of in-season fruit and vegetables to enjoy!

2. Enjoying seasonal fruit/vegetables. If you crave a strawberry parfait in the middle of winter, you are not going to get any good strawberries, as they are out of season. However, if you preserve the produce in summer, you can enjoy it all year round without any issues!

3. Healthier for you and the family. Through preserving the food yourself, you are aware of anything and everything that is in it – no hidden flavourings, colourants, or preservatives. It is much healthier to eat that way and you will feel better in no time, thanks to the decrease of foreign chemicals in the food.

4. Prolonging the shelf-life. Yes, canned food from the store can last ages sometimes, but that is mostly thanks to artificial preservatives. Home-made pickles, jams, etc. can last much longer than you think! It is a very efficient way of storing food for later use while making sure it is still as healthy as possible.

5. Minimising waste. Food preservation is not only great for your bank and seasonal cravings, but also for the environment. Reusing is always above recycling, so give those old jars, bottles, and glassware a new purpose!

Preserving food in tin cans and jars

#2 Raising Livestock on a homestead

Raising livestock does not have to be exclusive to farmers and breeders. Of course, if you want to keep cattle or larger animals, they will require a large plot of land to accommodate their needs. However, what about the other kinds of livestock?

Chickens are very popular to keep, as they do not require as much space as one might think. All you need is a coop and an enclosed run and you are ready to go! The space required is, of course, dependent on how many chickens you want to keep.

Chickens are surprisingly cosmopolitan when it comes to food and are known to enjoy a wide range of tasty treats! However, it’s super important to do your research before you get your girls as there are some foods that they definitely should not have! 

Chicken Guard

Chickens are fantastic, as they lay eggs every day (or every other day), so you will not need to worry about buying eggs ever again! They can also be kept for meat, which guarantees top-quality meat for you and your family.

Rabbits are another popular option, as rabbit meat is very healthy and has very little fat. There is a wide variety of breeds you can keep, but the most recommended is the New Zealand White rabbits, as they are very calm and grow to a decent size (9-12lb). The furs can also be used in many different manners, if tanned correctly, making rabbits a good choice for crafty people too.

There are many other animals, but chickens and rabbits are the most common amongst people with smaller gardens and not much time to sacrifice on animal upkeep. You have to be aware of proper ways of slaughtering your animals if you choose to keep them for meat, of course.

Chickens on a homestead
Various breeds of chickens are often found on a homestead

#3 Gardening around the homestead

Gardening can not only be therapeutic and relaxing but also very beneficial for you and your family. Gardening does not only involve planting and caring for stunning flowers – you can prepare your garden to accommodate herbs, vegetables, and even fruit. Here is why:

1. Exercise. Gardening provides plenty of outdoor exercise, which is a fantastic way to do something productive and stay in shape. Whether it is more movement or an increased dose of vitamin D, you will feel much better after a nice gardening session!

2. Top-quality produce. The food you grow will be much healthier and more delicious, due to the lack of harsh chemicals used on mass-grown produce. Thanks to that, you will have nutritious and fresh herbs, fruit, and veggies that you can eat in-season or preserve for later use!

3. Smaller shopping receipts. There is no denying that growing your own food is going to drastically reduce the cost of your shopping and make your receipts much shorter. Yes, gardening requires work, but it pays you back with the sense of accomplishment, saving in the long-run, and delicious food!

4. Less waste, more food preservation. As mentioned above, whatever leftovers you have from your harvest, you can preserve for later! We also covered this topic in previous blog posts when discussing the freegan community.

5. Better for the environment. Transporting produce around the country (and the world in general) produces a lot of toxic waste and pollution. By lessening your contribution to that, you will positively impact the environment and get delicious food!

Gardening on a homestead
Growing plants, fruits and vegetables

#4 Life without electric: Off-Grid Living

Living off-grid means having your own power source, water source, etc. Basically, it is living without the need to pay your bills. Sounds impossible, right? The good news is: it is entirely possible!

However, you need to be prepared to face the challenges that will come with the start of your independent life. For example, how will you deal with sewage and waste?

The first thing to tackle is power.

Solar panels are most commonly used, as they can be simply installed on your house or property. Between 2,000 – 3,000w is needed to power a standard house with a 2-4 person family. The other options include wind and water turbines.

Those two are dependent on the location of your property, as water turbines are best in bodies of flowing water, while wind turbines are not only quite big but also generate noise and can be dangerous to some wildlife (not mentioning the large upfront cost). The more “old-fashioned” thing you can use is a generator.

Those are relatively cheap to run, depending on what you use to power it (petrol being the cheapest option). Unfortunately, they produce a lot of pollution and noise, which renders them the least favourable option.

The best way to save on your power usage is to purchase efficient lightbulbs, appliances, and batteries. Grade A+ appliances are the best, especially when it comes to fridges and freezers, as those use up the highest amounts of energy in our households.

The recommended lightbulbs are LEDs, with between 8-20w of power, while batteries should be rechargeable for reusability.

The second issue to tackle is water.

Living off-grid does not mean you have to find a lake in order to bathe or wait for the rain with a bar of soap, ready to shower. The easiest way of having a steady water supply is to live by a body of water, such as a lake or a river. However, this is not always possible, so there are alternatives.

Collecting rainwater is very common, but can be quite an expensive installation – costing over £10,000. This is due to the need to store water in an underground tank and to filter it, in order to make it safe for consumption. Another alternative is to have a borehole drilled.

This, however, requires a geological survey as well as a company to drill the borehole on your land for you, which adds to the initial cost.

All of the above examples may have an initial cost that will scare your wallet or bank account, but they will save you a lot of money in the long run. It is a worthy investment, as you will not have to pay bills anymore (or at least minimise them)!

Living off grid
Solar panels can be part of off grid living

#5 Cooking And baking your own food

Cooking and baking are those everyday activities we do not really pay much attention to. Oftentimes, they just have to be done and that’s the end of the story, while we go to carry on with our busy lives. However, it does not have to be a chore.

Both of those activities are very good at relaxing you and have similar effects to meditation. They are also an outlet for creativity. Alongside reducing stress and increasing your confidence, there are plenty more benefits.

Cooking your own meals as compared to buying ready/frozen meals or ordering takeaway lets you put in only the ingredients you want – no artificial substances or preservatives!

Including fresh ingredients will allow you to cook up nutritious and delicious meals while enjoying your time in the kitchen. Cooking is a great way to bond with your children too – it is a fun way to spend time and create something together.

The same goes for baking – it is very rewarding. Baking is therapeutic and lets you try out new recipes to recreate your favourites – from basic bread to fancy cakes.

Just think: how healthy would home-baked bread be? How about homemade buns and croissants for breakfast? Doesn’t that sound appealing? Besides being much healthier, you can fully customise your baked goods. Want to put some poppy seeds on the bread? No problem.

There are so many options that make both cooking and baking incredibly versatile and better than store-bought alternatives, so why not give it a go?

baking your own food
Grow, bake, eat

#6 Building With Wood

How many times have you gone to a furniture shop, looked at this lovely, wooden table and then left the shop in a hurry after seeing its price tag? We have all been there at one point or another. Fortunately, you do not have to sacrifice your dreams of a cosy, wood-filled home – try building it yourself!

You do not have to be a master craftsman in order to create something out of (seemingly) nothing. We have all had some spare wood or furniture that can be renovated. Building with wood is not only going to save you money, allow you to experiment and try stuff out but also to reduce your waste!

With practice, you will be able to create an even better-looking coffee table – and a unique one at that. Who knows, maybe it will turn into a hobby and a potential career prospect?

You will, of course, need some tools in order to be able to measure, saw, sand, and cure the wood. Therefore, the initial cost of preparing for making your own wood items may seem high, but it will save you a lot of money in the long run. For example, you can purchase a chicken coop for about 2 chickens for around £300.

However, you can purchase chicken wire, wood, and other items for either less, or purchase more to save for other projects and build it yourself. That way, you can ensure the safety of your animals and customise the structure to your needs!

Building with discarded pallets is a favourite of ours. Keep an eye out for more wooden pallet-related suggestions in future blog post entries.

building with wood
Wood is an incredible tool for homesteading

The above are some of the basic starting points on your journey to homesteading.

We thank you for reading this article because homesteading is such a beneficial and fascinating matter, especially for people who want to live self-sufficient lives.

— END —

Thanks for reading. If you found some value please leave a COMMENT or SHARE with others who might enjoy the article. 

Do you live on a homestead or interested in this lifestyle? Continue the conversation by sending an email to escapersmedia@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Categories
Homesteading Lifestyle

Is it time to live on a homestead?

Changes to worldwide circumstances are making prepping essential

By Steve W

To say it’s been a strange year would be an understatement. Goodbye 2020. Good riddance. We never want to see you again! Unfortunately, we have a slight problem. The early stages of 2021 are shaping up to be much of the same.

Unless you’ve been stationed under a very large rock for the past 12 months you’ll know that the Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the globe. As masks, social distancing and financial furloughs become part of everyday life, we are truly entering an uncertain era.

Covid-19 has made for a strange 12 months

My introduction to Homesteading

Throughout the entire pandemic I’ve been working as usual in my regular job. The hours might be slightly reduced and the circumstances different but I’ve had to travel each and every day to a physical location. At the end of each shift it has been a great comfort to return home to a place that is more or less isolated.

No longer a functioning farm, our property is set off-road, barely visible from the surrounding lanes, beautifully barricaded by a fortress of trees, fields and hedges. Streams trickle gently around those fields. An enclosed glen, affectionately named “the enchanted forest” by my children, lies just a five minute walk away.

Despite living on a former farm, and adopting many of the daily practices congruent with a homestead, I’ve never actually considered myself as a homesteader. Livestock has come and gone, fruits and vegetables get planted each year, wood is chopped, winter prepping takes place every October/November. This is what I’ve always done, never thinking too hard about the labels.

The accidental homesteader

As the madness persists and a desire for self-sufficiency grows, I am starting to think it might be time to come out of the hay shed and become a part-time “homesteader”. While I previously categorised anyone diligently preparing stock and supplies as one of those types who waited for a zombie apocalypse or were creating some sort of military bunker, I now realise it could soon become a necessary activity.

The zombies are coming – and they want your toilet rolls!

Happy Preppers

Indeed, people were queuing and fighting over toilet rolls just months ago. Therefore, stocking up on beans, rice, porridge and some dried goods, as suggested by Dave from Prepping Essentials, might not be the worst idea in the world, given the current situation.

Will the shit hit the fan? Yes, quite possibly. If becoming a homesteader can help mitigate the potential impacts of a worst case scenario then I am well placed to take on such a challenge and embrace the homestead lifestyle.

I have a few decent skills, but will need to brush up a lot more if I am to retain any kind of self sufficiency. Baby steps at first, but here my journey begins.

A tractor for homesteading
Tractors can be very useful for homesteading

I am not going to be tough on myself. It takes time and years of failure and experience to get to where I need to be. While I am pretty underprepared at present -lacking in certain skillsets- I have picked up a few tips and tricks over the years.

After scribbling down my “assets” on a piece of paper I’ll end with a short list of things I have in my favour…

  • I’m not afraid of hard work.
  • I can light and sustain an indoor and outdoor fire.
  • I have moderate growing experience and plenty of space to grow food in.
  • I have a good set of tools and equipment, including a tractor at my disposal.
  • I am a decent cook, with experience in preserving, canning and baking from scratch.

— END —

Thanks for reading. If you found some value please leave a COMMENT or SHARE with others who might enjoy the article. 

Do you think I’m bonkers?! I might be. Either way, continue the conversation by sending an email to escapersmedia@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Categories
Personal Development

Speed reading and ‘showing up’

A recent podcast brought up two valuable lessons in one

By Steve W

I was recently listening to the latest episode of the Copywriter’s podcast. As somebody who consumes hours of podcasts per day, watching a new episode pop up on the RSS feed is a joyous experience. I’m not a copywriter but I do aspire to be able to write my own copy one day, capable of selling and promoting a message.

I’ve been following the host, Nathan Fraser, for a while now and am part of one of his online groups. Fraser acts as the foil for David Garfinkel, a former journalist and current author, described in the intro as the “world’s greatest copywriting coach”. I’m not clued up enough to dispute that. However, given the standard of guests and general quality of information, I’ve learned a ton off both men already.

The reason I am mentioning this is because, on the latest instalment, Fraser mentioned not one but two little nuggets that piqued my interest.

Speed reading, slow reading or something in between

I am an avid reader. Ever since I was small I’ve consumed books as quickly as possible, on a daily basis. Even though a as a society we are drifting towards a greater dependence on digital devices, the honest beauty of a physical book remains. A few years ago, with the bite of family commitments and less time in my life, I realised I was no longer piling through books as swiftly as I desired. Every New Year’s resolution contained something resembling “read more books” which required making more time and missing out on other activities.

Skillshare course on speed reading

It was at this point that I spotted a speed reading course on the Skillshare platform. The grand subtitle promised that I would read more books, get through them quicker, miss out unimportant words (seriously, it said that!). There were a variety of techniques to fly through text books, novels, short stories and more, in record time.

I took the course, implemented the techniques and it worked. I was indeed flying through books in record time as promised. However, I soon realised that I was hardly taking anything in. Whole books were consumed and I could barely recall a couple of major points. True, I’d already picked up the next one, but how beneficial was reading the book to me?

Makes notes and highlight your books

I know some people make copious amounts of notes, highlight whole paragraphs, use sticky notes and all sorts of colours to pick out important points. Books sit on shelves and are brought down multiple times to be read and re-read. I never got this. Why would you go back and read over and over something you’d already completed?

This is where speed reading had let me down, while teaching me an important lesson. I was wasting my time. If I could not take any value or knowledge from my books why was I even reading them at all?

Read one book or ten books?

This is where we return to the dulcet tones of copywriting king Garfinkel and his partner in crime Mr Fraser. “You’re better off reading one book ten times than ten books one time,” said Fraser. And suddenly it hit me. He’s right.

While Nathan may not have coined the phrase (see link above) when it comes to retention of information his advice stands to reason. After listening I immediately went back and re-uploaded my Kindle versions of Atomic Habits and many other titles I felt deserve at least a second chance. I’ll not be speed reading either. It might take longer to finish a book, but that’s probably the point.

80 per cent of success is showing up

The second chunk of wisdom thrown out in the Copywriter’s podcast was attributed to a quote by the film maker Woody Allen. “80 per cent of life is showing up,” said Allen. Naturally, it has since been debated as to whether Allen first came up with this quote. Others suggest he said 99 per cent. The numbers are largely irrelevant.

When Allen says “showing up” I doubt he means just literally showing up. Appearing somewhere doesn’t get things done. Rather, I expect he meant showing up, being consistent, doing the job to the best of your ability, over and over. It ties in with a less succinct phrase I use myself: “If you say you’re going to do something, then do it”.

80 percent of success in life is just showing up

Woody Allen

Be reliable, consistent and show up

Being reliable, offering quality work consistently is an important trait to have. People soon notice if you repeatedly promise the earth and fail to deliver. Everybody misses deadlines, makes mistakes and fails to do stuff they agreed upon at one time or another. We are all flawed human beings.

I’ve know a lot of genuinely good people over the years. They are skilled individuals, whom, with the best will in the world, would buzz with ideas and suggestions and then – just fail to show up. In a physical sense, or at the point of delivery. Nothing would happen. They talk big and deliver small, or in some cases absolutely zilch.

Being consistent, enhancing your reputation as a person who delivers and “shows up” time and again is an important behaviour to adopt and perfect.

— END —

Thanks for reading. If you found some value please leave a COMMENT or SHARE with others who might enjoy the article. 

Continue the conversation by sending an email to escapersmedia@gmail.com with your thoughts.

Categories
Business

Escaping the office to become an entrepreneur

Julian used his tech skills to set up on his own

By Peter Riegler

According to Investopedia, an entrepreneur is defined as “an individual who creates a new business, bearing most of the risks and enjoying most of the rewards”.

Yet to describe Julian Li as merely as an entrepreneur feels like a big part of his story is being left out. After all, leaving mainland China at such a tender age, Li quickly found that hard work, correctly applied, would help him achieve his life goals.

Despite all of his achievements so far, Julian is only getting started and escaping the office to start life as an entrepreneur was a nudge towards even greater possibilities.

“One day I want to be the CEO of a major company,” he told me when we met earlier this year. “If I can build my business up to a certain point and sell it, then I can use the capital to fund my next venture.”

Always thinking ahead. Just like he was when, aged only 21, Julian left Jiangsu to study in a UK university to receive a solid education and realise his family’s educational aspirations.

The culture was different, the food bland and the weather difficult to deal with, but Julian recalls many positive experiences from uni life.

“Everyone was very friendly and welcoming,” he said. “It helped that there were quite a few students over from China so we had other people to talk to – people with things in common. We all cooked together and chatted about life in China, our upbringing and whereabouts we were from.”

After securing a visa, post-studies, Julian was able to get a job in an IT firm and put his computer programming degree to good use immediately. Jon Fleck, a colleague at the company, remembers a nervous, shy young man coming into the working environment and gradually getting to grips with all that was going on.

“It’s fair to say it was a shock for him,” agreed Fleck. “Coming from another country, studying in England and getting used to things from an educational perpective is one thing, but going in to the working world was entirely different.”

While the office banter and some aspects of working culture were hard to grasp at first, Julian soon settled in.

“He became part of the team and we could see his talent straight away,” added Fleck. “His skills with coding and problem solving were excellent. That was clear to see.”

Working Monday to Friday, 9-5, was suiting Julian Li but the straightforward nature of the work might have stifled his innate creativity if he had allowed it. Always seeking out new problems to solve, Li worked on various projects in the evening and at weekends.

“One of the bosses asked me to code a new website for him and I did it in a couple of days,” said Li. “It looked great and he was really happy so he told his friend who ran a high-end fashion store and the next thing I was improving their site too.

“They paid me really good money but more importantly I enjoyed the work. It felt good creating something and adding a touch of flair to these boring sites, as well as greater usability.”

Being an entrepreneur means working for myself, learning new things every day and being responsible for my own success

Julian Li

Just a year in to office life and Julian was already getting itchy feet. Beginning to think more and more about his future and the type of legacy he wanted to create, he worked with a coach to help design his pathway.

“Getting a coach or a therapist isn’t something I would’ve considered before, but I was given a number of a guy who specialised in career guidance and money coaching so I gave him a call.

“It was a great decision from the start. He made me think about the bigger picture and what I wanted to do with my life, what made me happy. Our conversations shaped a lot of decisions for me.”

Helping Julian with investment options, as well as designing a clear route to personal success, the coach’s impact is already being felt. Starting in China, ending who knpws where? Julian is one step closer to his dream of owning a running his own business.

“I’m already happy with where I’m at but becoming a full-time entrepreneur is my next goal,” said Li. “After all, there is no risk without reward.”

— END —

Thanks for reading. If you found some value please leave a COMMENT or SHARE with others who might enjoy the article. 

Continue the conversation by sending an email to escapersmedia@gmail.com with your thoughts.