Would You Give Up Your Car for a Llama and a Cart?

by Angela aka Farmer Jane on February 15, 2013 · 5 comments

It’s a legitimate question right? I mean, who wouldn’t want their very own llama and cart? Beyond the cute and cool factor, I’ve often wondered what the next evolution in our homesteading experience was going to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I love horses (more than I’d care to share), but llamas just make too much sense for us to ignore.

Would you ditch your car for a pair of llamas and a cart? What if it would save you over $900 per year in insurance and thousands of dollars in car payments…would you do it then?

I guess I wonder what it would look like if Dom showed up to work and had to tie his llamas to a post in the back of his work? Would they mind? It all sounds absurd right?

It is absurd. BUT which part sounds absurd to you? The idea that Dom would drive a pair of llamas to work each day or the fact that he has to go to work away from our homestead everyday?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole rat race we live in, and each time I see Dom leave our home to make money to pay off the house and land, and pay for food we aren’t producing ourselves yet, it’s all starting to sound even more absurd to me.

We keep hitting this wall in our minds. The problem is that we’re “hitting” the wall instead of climbing over it! Why do we need to come to this place in our lives every single time, and bang our heads against the proverbial wall as if it would make things different?

Dom and I talk often about getting rid of any kind of payments that cause us to remain in the rat race. How the heck do you do that?

Which leads to the next thought, “we start working for ourselves instead of making money for others.”

That’s all well and good, but not without start up costs and debts, and then we’re right back to the same situation, banging our heads against the wall instead of climbing over it.

How many unnecessary expenses do we have? Including paying off our home? Do we need it?

I cringe each time I hear about people purchasing or buying bigger and bigger homes. Then I look at our lives and say to Dom, “how do we get out of this crazy thing called modern life once and for all? How do we make it all stop?”

My stomach literally turns at the thought of people building huge luxury homes that are mortgaged to the eyeballs and require more than one family member to work each day.

It makes me want to build a little mud hut and live in the wilderness. I’m not kidding…I want to do the exact opposite of what the crowd does.

Probably because we can see how the economy is going, and people are purchasing homes they can’t afford, carrying two mortgages (sometimes more), have car payments and credit card payments, and think they are living the dream.

Maybe it is their dream, but just as I think it is absurd to make payments on a home you can’t afford, they would probably think it absurd to not work away from home and own llamas and a cart instead of a car.

*I’m laughing at my crazy thought life*

Which leads to my next thought, “Could you live well without a job and with very little money?” I cringe at that thought too. Just as it’s foreign for me to imagine holding more than one mortgage, it’s just as absurd for me to think of living without any payments or other things that we’ve grown accustom to.

I bet it’s possible though! I just gotta get past the cringing part, and start looking for the answers to the questions I ask myself and Dom.

I’m not interested (in the least) of living so far away from community that we are isolated and alone. I’m also not interested in living like the rest of the community or our society. Where do we strike a balance without going overboard? Or is going overboard a prerequisite for living the life you want?

Coming full circle with our thoughts of llamas and carts, I wonder how many expenses we can drop in order to pay our house off in full. Could it all start with reducing down to one car? Both of our cars are paid off, but as older cars start to break down, we need to maintain, pay insurance, gas and so on.

Cars, even if owned outright seem to be a liability. They aren’t an asset. I consider an asset something that makes you money. Cars don’t really make you money, and they depreciate with time. Not so with llamas and a cart. The cart is fairly inexpensive, often ranging from between $600-1500 bucks. The llamas can range in price from $50-1000 and anything in between! There is also veterinarian bills, feed and upkeep, but that can be offset by selling their fiber and/or using the fiber to make warm clothing, saving on the winter clothing costs.

A car can keep you warm in winter if it’s running, and it can also take you to the store to purchase a sweater, but rarely have I ever seen anyone shear down their car’s winter coat to sell or make a nice blanket or sweater. Are you laughing with me yet? :)

This was one of the reasons I didn’t consider horses a reasonable choice for transportation needs. It’s the first animal people think of when they consider alternative transportation needs, but other than companionship, transportation, and lots of big huge piles of poop, what is the return on the investment? Maybe their offspring, but owning a horse (or more) is more for pleasure than anything else. Too many costs involved with little return on the investment.

We’re not looking to get rich. We’re not even looking to make it big. We just want to live simply and we’re trying to figure out how to do that in a society that claims we need electricity, oil, cars, working a full time job, and other things that make the world go round.

What I want is to live so simply that nothing else compares. It seems like a tall order, but that is my dream. Growing and producing our own food was part of that reduction in expenses to bring us one step closer to our dream of simplicity.

I don’t want people asking, “Oh wow you grew that food? Are you going to bring it to the farmers market to sell?” Questions like this just seem like more of the same rat race vicious cycle people end up in. I grow food for my family to eat, so I don’t have to go and purchase it at the store. Makes sense right? So why do people continue to ask if I’m going to sell my family’s food?

Here’s a funny scenario:

Stand outside of Walmart, and as people leave the building, ask them if they plan on selling anything in their bags. Find out if they plan on taking their produce to the local market to sell. What? That’s not something people do?

Sounds bat-shit crazy to do something like that right? Yet, for whatever reason, there are people that will ask if I’m planning on selling my family’s food. If I had a surplus that went beyond what I could preserve and save for my family throughout the year, than YES, I might sell some at the market, but I have never believed that growing food would be the “money maker” for us.

I would much rather share my surplus with my neighbors than to sell it to them. When you hand $10.00 in produce over the fence to a neighbor…that is a gift. Why charge them? I would rather my neighbors not want to make eye contact with me because they are afraid I’m gonna give them another 3 1/2 foot long cucumber rather than take it to the market and make a few bucks. The lack of eye contact is priceless. ;)

So, in wrapping up my thoughts about llamas, carts, and living a simple life, what does your dream life look like? What would be the ultimate life for you, and how will you work toward making that dream into a reality?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Melonie K. February 15, 2013 at 10:30 am

We are studying this issue very closely too, as I think you already know. There’s a lot of security in my husband’s field, compared to other jobs – but with the government and the economy today, there’s not as much security even there as there used to be. Much less on the “outside” though.

The mortgage thing is a real killer. Having no mortgage for the past 6 years has been wonderful, but being off base again and having one makes me feel very insecure (UNsecure?). But without owning our own home (with a bank’s help) there’s no way we could have the space to garden, raise some animals, and hopefully come up with a way to cut down on the other cash expenditures. It’d be nice to get to where we could sell extra food for some cash, or better yet, barter it for products and services – but at this stage the garden isn’t even in yet, so I can’t count on feeding US, let alone anyone else.

Side note: in-depth conversations with “my” alpaca breeder have given me a little extra info on fiber vs. feed – llamas do not provide as much fiber in ratio to the feed they require. Since you would potentially be using them for hauling and other tasks, you’d be better off… but if you want to go into fiber production more, just something to be aware of. (Which makes sense, of course – they are larger than their ‘paca friends so of course they eat more.)

As always, thank you for sharing so much of this – I always learn so much from your insights and ponderings. (And I’m just speechless about your father, so that’s why I don’t comment there. {{HUGS}})

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Angela aka Farmer Jane February 15, 2013 at 10:44 am

Hi Melonie,

We’ve wondered whether selling the house and downsizing to something half the size with more land would be more appropriate for us to do in a few years. I just don’t see us making enough money to pay off the house in a timely manner. We can however, get this place to shine (its well on its way) and sell it for a lot more than it was purchased for. Having looked at the comps for our area, it’s possible if the real estate market stays a bit stable over the next few years.

If we were able to make a little cash off the deal, there are some places I’ve found that would work for us, AND we could pay for it outright…that is all predicated on our home selling for the market value. :)

If not, there is always option “C” which really should be “A” in our book, and that’s doing it Bunker-Style! LOL Land is relatively cheap here, and it wouldn’t cost much at all to build a walapini greenhouse to live in temporarily during the winter, and a root cellar to live in-in the summer until an earth bag home was built.

Bunker-Style definitely appeals to me more than anything else.

Llama fibers wouldn’t be used as a money maker at all, just a way to offset finances. It would fetch some fibers which could be made into something for us to wear or even for young kids and lambs to wear. I just like that they can be dual purpose.

It’s okay not to leave a comment about my situation with my dad, most people send me private messages instead rather than openly comment…especially if they are someone who knows my dad.

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Melonie K. February 26, 2013 at 8:48 pm

“Bunker-style”…love it. I get what you mean but the turn of phrase gave me a chuckle. We were looking at shipping container homes if we hadn’t come here, or if we had been able to get land only here. Oil is big here and getting bigger, which may well help the home sale situation here if we have to move in a couple of years. We’ll see.

I figured you knew I was reading and thinking of you on the family situation… just wanted to figure out a way to verbalize that support without blowing up and adding anger as fuel to the fire. Your posts about it have brought out the mama bear friend in me but I truly am trying to stick with “nothing nice to say” rule. LOL

So much you could do with the fiber for the home too – warm rugs and blankets, even window blankets, and of course the clothing. Ohhh the possibilities. *happy sigh* Although you may want to go ahead and keep your bunnies – they would really add some lovely fiber to the mix! (She says as she is torn between hoping you keep them and hoping you say come get them. HAHAHA)

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Angela aka Farmer Jane February 27, 2013 at 8:19 am

We looked at shipping containers too, but they want way too much money for the ones I’ve found.

Mr. Bunker has got it going on when it comes to understanding off-off grid living. :)

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Melonie K. February 28, 2013 at 9:35 am

I found some very affordable ones in our area, but the place we wanted land wouldn’t allow the non-traditional housing soooo… we didn’t buy their land. ;)

He. Does. Indeed!

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