"Three Little Words"
There are three little words that every homesteader needs to know and practice, unless of course you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, and those three words are, ADAPT, ADAPT, and ADAPT. Most the true homestead-minded people I know of have a very tight budget to get by on and when you’re just starting out it gets tighter. For me the fun part about homesteading is being able to adapt to any situation that presents itself while trying to start a homestead. Adapting is not always pretty but is almost always functional. If fact adapting is what puts the fun in functional.
Let’s take for example gates. The traditional gate will have a swing post, a green round gate fastened to the swing post and some sort of stopping post with a latch of some sort. The traditional cost for this gate at today's gas prices and your 50 mile round trip to the nearest hardware store , you may be looking at gas $15, gate $70 (for a 8 to 10 ft. gate) , treated gate posts $20, gate swing bolts $15, chain and connector $10. So we have $130.00 and a wasted day going into town. Now we adapt saving time and money. Most homesteaders will already have a chain saw or bow saw. Cut two cedar or tamarack posts, locus if you have it is best; pine will work in a pinch also. Put your posts in and put in a traditional barbed wire gate. Actually any strong wire will do. Most homesteads will have some old barbed wire lying around they can use. So far no cost. You could also build a slider pole gate. Instead of one post on either side, you would put two spaced just far enough apart to slide a jack pine pole through that is about two feet longer then the width of the gate. Nail a short length of 2x4 across the gate post for the poles to slide on and you have yourself two gates that cost almost nothing except a little sweat and a nail or two. Does it look as nice as the pretty store bought tubular green gate? Probably not to a flatland city dweller but it will keep the cows in just as well and you just saved $130.00.
Need a coat rack or a cast iron skillet holder? Here’s what I did by accident. Last year I was burning, and I like to use a four blade pitch fork to cast limbs on the fire. My fires get pretty hot with a big pile of red hot coals. Well I tossed some limbs on and the head of the pitch fork flew off the handle and landed right in the middle of the coals and sank out of sight. After the coals died the next day I fished it out and put it back in the handle and there it sat. Yesterday I wanted to get some sod moved so I got my trusty pitch fork and stuck it in the ground and pressed down and nothing happened. I took the pitch fork out of the ground and it looked like Phyllis Diller with a bad hair day. You guessed it, the temper on the tines were totally gone. I could actually take my bare hands and bend the tines with very little force. I have always wanted a cast iron rack to hang my skillets on so I took the pitch fork and stood it on end with the forks pointing up. I spread the forks out and bent them forward into a nice little arc, and then I did a reverse bend at the tips to form a hook. Now I have a nice little unique hanger that could hold skillets, hats, fire place tools or just about anything. I can pick up another pitch fork second hand for 2 or 3 dollars but to buy a one of kind custom skillet holder would cost at least fifty dollars.
The three little words again are ADAPT, ADAPT, AND ADAPT.