Old Fashioned On Purpose

57. Homesteading in Wyoming: Pros & Cons

December 16, 2019 Jill Winger
Old Fashioned On Purpose
57. Homesteading in Wyoming: Pros & Cons
Show Notes Transcript

Although I was born in Idaho, I still call Wyoming my home.  Wyoming is an incredible place, but before you pack up the chickens and head this way, I’m here to explain the good, the bad, and the ugly about homesteading in Wyoming.  In today’s episode I describe why your diet can affect where you choose to establish a homestead, why weather needs to be a serious consideration, and how to determine the ideal situation based on your needs.  If you’re still sitting on the sidelines when it comes to homesteading, this episode will provide a number of important things to consider before jumping in. 

• To begin this homesteading journey, head to http://www.theprairiehomestead.com/grow to access my full library of resources to guide you down the path.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to the old fashioned on-purpose podcast, so if you've ever contemplated moving to Wyoming, maybe after you've been looking through some of the pictures on my blog or you're curious about what it's like to have a homestead here. This is the episode for you. Listen through to the end and I'll also share my biggest pet peeve about living here. I am your host Jill winger and for the last 10 years I've been helping people just like you who feel disenchanted by modern life. I'll show you how to create the life you really want by learning how to grow your own food and master old fashioned skills. It is no secret that I adore Wyoming. I have lived here since I was 18 I have no plans ever of leaving and even though I was born and raised in Idaho and you can get more of that story back in episode number one, when people ask me where I'm from, I still say Wyoming, like this is where I belong. Now, all of that aside, when I get emails from people who, thanks to the pictures on my blog, are ready to move to Wyoming tomorrow, I sometimes want to yell, hold on, wait just a second before they go and load up the chickens. Right? There's a bit more to Wyoming than meets the eye. And although I am absolutely and positively in love with this place, there are some things prospective homesteaders need to know. First, I just got to be fully honest and put everything out on the table. So we're going to dive into the pros and cons of homesteading Wyoming in this episode right now. So let's start with the pros. So first off, this is a biggie, which I think this draws a lot of people to looking at land here, but land is pretty affordable with a little bit of a caveat. There are some areas of the state, primarily the North West corner up Jacksonhole area. It is beautiful. They're stunningly beautiful. It is also extremely expensive. Like that is where movie stars buy their vacation properties. It's up in that corner. So if you're looking for affordable land, that is not the place to go. Okay. However, there are four other corners of the state and some stuff in the middle that is a little bit more reasonably priced. So when we purchased our homestead, which was back in 2008 so it was a while ago, but still we were able to afford our property, which included 67 acres, a small house, a barn, a shop, and a chicken coop for the price of an average mid size home in the neighboring town. Like it was really reasonable. And now granted the property wasn't exactly turnkey like it needed some help. Right. But the house was livable, the buildings were mostly solid, they had a lot of trash in them. There was a washing machine in the pasture. But all of that aside, it was we could move in, right. It wasn't like we had to live in a tent in the front yard before we could get the house livable. Like we could move in and we paid about the price of a lower end starter home in town, which that is what gave us the ability to buy what we did when we did. Now it's 11 years since we purchased this property. So things change right now. The land in our area, which is Southeast Wyoming is a little bit higher, right? There's some of these towns that are, the property values are being driven higher because Colorado folks are trying to move North to get out of the hustle and bustle of Colorado. So our property prices are a little bit high right now. That fluctuates. And honestly, if you go out of the main like city, you can still find decent property cause people, or your average person, their biggest concern is how long is it going to take them to get to work? Or how long is it going to take them to get back into town to the grocery store. So they're not super adventurous living farther out. So if you're willing to buy a little bit farther out and drive a little ways, you probably will have some pretty decent land prices. We are about 40 miles, 40 minutes or so from the closest big town, which is more than most people want to drive. It works for us. It even worked when Christian was working in town and he drove every single day. It wasn't horrible. You know, it's honestly less time than some people in big cities take to get across the big city. So at least here you can drive 80 miles an hour on the interstate, like for reals, literally 80 mile an hour. That's not me exaggerating, so it's not that painful. But anyway, if you're willing to move a little further out, land can be pretty affordable. Another benefit is there is lots of farming and ranching in Wyoming now, although interest in more sustainable agriculture, right? The grass fed the organic, it's growing slowly here, you won't find a ton of existing homestead resources. However, you will find a lot of resources for traditional farmers and ranchers and thankfully some of those things will cross over into the homesteading realm. So if you like kind of the down-home salt of the earth vibe of people and those type of small town communities and feed stores and all of that, you're going to be right at home here. Now again, like as far as organic or cutting edge food options or a lot of people who are going to be super supportive of grass fed beef and pasture raised chickens. We have a little work to do on that here. People are still a little bit suspicious of those new fangled philosophies, but I love hanging out with agriculture people, even if they're commercial agriculture, right? Big time farmers, big time ranchers. It's still really easy to get along and those are still my people. So I really appreciate that. And they're good contacts to have when you are raising livestock. And there's been neighbors who have commercial ranching operations who've been really, really kind to us in our first years helping us with our milk cows or breeding our little herd of cattle and things like that. So there's definitely benefit there. Another thing I love about Wyoming of course is the low population and the wide open spaces. There is a lot of space in Wyoming we're the least populated state you're not going to find a lot of heavy traffic even in the big cities. In fact in a lot of places there's not much of anything except some antelope. And honestly that suits my hermit introvert tendencies really well. I like being spread out with a low population. And then my fourth benefit of living here is there's no state income tax. The economy is fairly stable. So yes, we still feel the effects of different shifts. Like we still felt the effects of the last recession, but Wyoming wasn't hit quite as hard as some of the other States. So that's nice. I'm not going to say it's, you know , perfectly stable, but it seems to be more stable than some, which is reassuring. Okay. So those are all the good things and there's more good things, but those are the main ones. Now here are the things that are maybe not so awesome about Wyoming. So the first one, and this is a big one, my biggest beef with Wyoming is the short growing season. And I know you've seen me whining about this all over social media, so this is probably not new news to you. Wyoming is not an easy place to grow vegetables in. Like I'd say, if you are a hardcore vegan who needs a lot of fresh, homegrown vegetables, you probably don't want to live here and try to garden cause you will probably starve. Like it just can be a major challenge. We have years where the weather is extremely erratic. This was one of those years. We often have a giant blizzard on mother's day, which I know everywhere else in the world has flowers and tulips and they're out celebrating mom with barbecues in the backyard. Like literally , three out of five mother's day over the last few years have been with full on Carhartt coveralls, snow boots, shoveling us ourselves out of the house, like brutal blizzards on mother's day. It's kind of a joke, some mother's day blizzards and just the thing. Um, and we can get really early frosts often, as you know, first part of September, it'd be the earliest. And , usually by mid September we're definitely freezing. So it's not a lot of time to grow those veggies. Now. It is absolutely still possible to grow food here. I've done it. I've had some incredible years where I have so much produce. I can't even fit it in my kitchen, but it can definitely be a little extra challenging. A greenhouse would absolutely help here. You just have to make for the greenhouse will not blow away, which I'll talk about that in a minute. Why that's a big deal and then not get damaged by hail. At least in our corner, the Southeast corner, we have some of the worst hail in the country just as like adding insult to injury. I feel like it's just not there , but we do. So we've gotta have stuff , uh , structures outside that won't blow away in hurricane winds and will not get damaged by golf ball hail . So that sounds very attractive. I realize . So there you go. Okay. That brings me to my second point. The wind and the winters, which I've already mentioned a little bit, but the wind in Wyoming is like something you've probably never experienced. We always kind of tease people who come from out of town when it's just like a breezy summer afternoon and they're like, Oh man, it's windy here. They're like, no, my friend , you have not seen wind until you've lived through a Wyoming winter. 60 to 70 mile per hour gusts are not uncommon. Like that's not even notable. Right? The wind routinely rips shingles off of houses. We lost a big chunk of shingles off the barn last year just because of the wind. And semi trucks are tipped over all the time. Like it's not even newsworthy when a semi truck tips over, they literally blow over in the wind. There's actually a certain spots along the interstate in our area , that have wind socks and warnings to trucks and they'll shut down the roads to high profile vehicles because they're so prone to tip over. It happens very, very frequently. So you don't necessarily get used to the wind. Like I've lived here, I dunno , 15 years, I'm still not used to the wind, but you just learn how to deal with it. So there's a lot of times in the winter, I don't go outside a whole lot. We do, I come in and I just keep myself busy with inside tasks. So if you need to be outside every single day and you know, you're looking for sunbathing every single day outside and like, you can't be in the house very much. This could be challenging for you just saying. Okay. Um, my downside number three is that Wyoming can be pretty dry and brown and not all the time. There are times when it's lush and beautiful and I always tell people if you're going to visit, visit between June and August, which I realize is a very short window, but still like that is the most beautiful time here. It is heaven on the Prairie, it's green, the light bounces off the rolling Hills as the sunset. It is heaven on earth, but we don't get a lot of moisture. So that drives up pretty quick and then it's pretty dry and pretty bad Brown for the rest of the time. So if you need green all the time, this could be a challenge. Okay. And then my fourth downside of living in Wyoming, which I think some people could see this as a good thing too. It depends on how you look at it, but Wyoming can be a bit behind the rest of the nation sometimes and like I said, sometimes that's awesome, right? It gives us more of that old fashioned vibe. Other times it's a little bit frustrating, especially if you are looking for organic food or like minded folks. Right? Like minded homesteading folks and I have some interest in homesteading rise and I do believe there are more options available to us and homestead resources popping up and farmer's markets happening, but they're not everywhere. And if you're, if you're used to a community where you've got lots of natural food choices and a lot of organic locally grown things and a lot of farm to fork type of , um , businesses, it's, it's tough to, to source them here. So you have to be willing to be a little bit creative, drive a little bit farther and kind of think outside of the box. So bottom line, if you're looking for the perfect homesteading Mecca with lots of water and beautiful trees and all the resources, eh , this may not be the place for you just being honest. However, if you are game for a taste of the pioneer life with all of its ups and downs, rewards and heartaches and blizzards, well come on over. So wrapping it up. For those of you who live in other places that may be less than ideal for homesteading, I just want to tell you, you're not alone, right? It's still possible to make this homestead life work. You do not have to live in the ideal climate or the ideal community. You can homestead pretty much anywhere, and I'm definitely proof of that, and that's it for this episode. If you enjoyed it, please pop over to your favorite podcast player. Hit subscribe and leave a quick review. I would appreciate it so much because it helps other homesteaders find the podcast. Thanks so much for listening and I'll see you on the next episode of the old fashioned on purpose podcast.