Escape the City

The kickstarter for my new book is over.

Copies can be purchased at Amazon (vol 1, vol 2).

Escape the City: a How-To Homesteading Guide

Seven years ago I moved from the city to a farm where I taught myself to garden, raise animals & cook “farm to table”. I show you how.

I’m Travis Corcoran.  For 20 years I lived in the big city and worked at tech companies. My heat and water came from city utilities.  My food came from the supermarket.

One of our sheep, Elsif, and her daughter.

Seven years ago I moved to a farm in the countryside.  I still work for tech companies (remotely), but now I heat my house with firewood from my forest. I grow my own fruits and vegetables. I make my own bacon, from pigs I raise and butcher.

A sane, possible choice

This project is for people like you – people who live in the city or the suburbs.  Whether you’re already convinced that there’s a better, more in-touch-with-the-world lifestyle for you in the country, or just want to learn what your options are, this project has the information you need.  

A tomato, fresh from our garden.

The good news is that moving from the city to the country is easier than you think… and it can be a lot more affordable than you think too.  If you have even a modest home in the city or suburbs, you can trade it for a much nicer farm or homestead in the country, with all the conveniences you’re used to, at the same price.  I know, because I’ve done it.  I traded a 1,000 square foot, two bedroom 1950s cookie-cutter house on a postage stamp lot, for a 5,000 square foot, five bedroom recent-construction house…and it came with 40 acres of forest, 16 acres of pasture, and two ponds.

I used to commute in stop-and-go rush-hour traffic and shop at an overpriced supermarket.  Now I work from home, where I eat lamb, pork, beef, eggs, fruit, and vegetables fresh from my farm – all of it higher quality than what I could buy at Whole Foods.

You can do the same. 

A beaver pond on our property. Good land is a lot cheaper than you might expect.

All you need is information

You can move to the countryside, work a good-paying job, see your cost of living drop, and see your quality of life improve. 

Most days half or more of the food we eat comes from the farm. Some days, it hits 100%.

The only tricky part is learning the skills.  When I moved to the country, I didn’t even know what questions to ask. I had to learn thousands of things about tractors, gardens, compost, livestock, and more.  A lot of it the hard way.

Now I’ve put it all in a book – two books, actually, because there’s too much information to fit in one volume.  Absolutely everything you need to know about country living and homesteading, to help you move from the suburbs or city out to the country, and thrive once you’re there.

Whether you want to plant orchards and raise livestock, or just want to have a few chickens for eggs, my books will give you everything you need to know.  They’ll tell you what equipment and tools you need, and show you the skills to use them. 

We planted an orchard a few years ago. The peach trees are already delivering tons of fruit.

Why this book ?

There are endless books on gardening, farming, and homesteading – I know, I own hundreds of them.  All of them have three failures.

They don’t have sufficient breadth.  One will talk about compost but not gardening. Another will talk about gardening, but not tractors.

They all have blind spots. Especially about the basic stuff. They forget that thousands of things aren’t obvious to everyone. The difference between straw and hay, between sweet corn and field corn, discing versus plowing versus rototilling, pastures versus fields, the different kinds of fencing, how utilities differ from the suburbs to the countryside. A book on gardening doesn’t tell you what you really need to know about hoses. A book on firewood might tell you to haul logs with your tractor, but not everything you need to do it safely.

The third failure is the lack of itemized lists and step-by-step instructions.  For every topic that I cover, there’s a conversational discussion, but I follow that up with simple checklists, overviews, alternative choices for different price points or enthusiasm levels, and step by step instructions.  I also included dozens of recipes for every vegetable and fruit I grow, and for every part of every animal I raise, from apple cobbler to red wine, from beef fajitas to T bone steak, from Asian fried pork chop cutlets to head cheese and English black pudding. 

If you’ve never had pesto made from basil picked from your garden minutes earlier, you haven’t lived.

This project delivers

This is not “here’s what I’m going to do” kickstarter.  I’ve already written the book.  …and I’ve done this before.  Three years ago I kickstarted two novels I wrote, released them on time, and went on to win awards for them.  All I need is your help to turn the manuscript into a finished, printed book…and put it in your hands.

You’ll get all the benefit of my experience — including dozens of misadventures, so you can learn from my mistakes.  Broken sheer pins, logs jammed in snow blowers, bent tractor buckets, the wrong way to make vineyard trellises, invasive weeds and what not to do with them, trees falling where they shouldn’t, broken tractor implements, trespassing neighbors, dogs barking at coyotes, dogs barking at bears, escaped sheep, and pig carcasses falling from great heights. 

Things break. But if you have step-by-step troubleshooting instructions and a list of the right tools, you can fix them and get back to work.

And, of course, I talk about the pros and cons of farmhands, and why I really don’t believe the one who told me that the Hopi Indians planted corn seeds 4 feet underground.

Over the last decades millions of people have become more interested in gardening, ethically raised meat, becoming more self-sufficient, and having a lifestyle that doesn’t feel consumerist, fake, and constrained. I’m guessing you’re one of them. Whatever your dream of living in the country is like – a small vegetable garden, eating home made bacon in an off-grid compound, or just having a bigger house than you have now and heating it with a wood burning stove – I’ll tell you everything you need to know to plan realistically, and how to make your move to your country dream home a success. 

Heating with wood warms you three times: once when you log the trees, once when you stack firewood, and once when your burn it.

Collaborative writing and early access

In these crazy times, a lot of people are looking for information RIGHT NOW.  It’s my intention to share early drafts of the book, and invite conversation with the first 300 backers.  You’ll get access to the content immediately, to help you make decisions about your own life in summer 2020 and beyond.

The books

I expect the finished project to be around 1,000 pages of information – 800 pages of text, and 200 pages of photos, though that ratio could change based on a lot of factors).  I’ve already written almost 700 pages of text.

The book is split across two volumes because no printer can bind 1,000 pages, but this is, in essence, one large book.

The books will be professionally printed.  The trade paperbacks will be 6″ x 9″.  The hardcover books will be the same size and have dust jackets.  Pictures will be black and white (though all hard copies come with complimentary ebook versions which will have color photos).

Stretch Goals

The problem with writing 800 pages is not coming up with enough material to fill it all – it’s deciding what to prune (because longer books cost more to print).

As stretch goals, I’ll add extra content. 

There’s no party like a farm party. Especially when you roast a pig and serve it with a variety of sides and four different BBQ sauces.
  • $ 10k – plans for a general purpose 12′ x 12′ utility shed 
  • $ 15k – feast recipes #1: how to throw a pig roast for 50 friends
  • $ 20k – everything is negotiable: a primer on haggling
  • $ 25k – feast recipes #2: how to throw a viking farm party for 50 friends
  • $ 30k – LOCKED 
  • $ 35k – LOCKED 
  • $ 40k – LOCKED 

Table of contents

The full table of contents is much larger than this; to make it manageable I’ve trimmed this to just top tier and second tier topics.

  •  Intro
  •  Intro: How to Read this book
  •  Intro: Welcome
  •  Intro: Organization of this book
  •  Intro: Types of Farming
  •  Farming Scenarios: Which Is Right For You?
  •  Farming Scenarios: Suburbanite In The Country
  •  Farming Scenarios: A Garden With Chickens
  •  Farming Scenarios: Market Gardener
  •  Farming Scenarios: Homesteading
  •  Farming Scenarios: Commercial Farmer
Life in the country is great – but there’s a lot to learn.
  •  Life In The Country
  •  Life In The Country: Things To Consider
  •  Life In The Country: Distance From Civilization
  •  Life In The Country: Taxes Vs Services
  •  Life In The Country: Zoning, Landscaping Laws, Noise Ordinances
  •  Life In The Country: Internet Access
  •  Life In The Country: Neighbors
  •  Life In The Country: Cultural Fit
  •  Life In The Country: Jobs
  •  Life In The Country: Buyer’s Remorse
  •  Planning Your Move
  •  Planning Your Move: Figuring Out What You Want
  •  Planning Your Move: Ten Year Plan For Young Adults
  •  Planning Your Move: Buying Your Homestead 
That’s a not a “nuisance tree” – that’s free firewood!
  •  Utilities
  •  Utilities: Heat
  •  Utilities: Water
  •  Utilities: Electricity
  •  Utilities: Internet / Phone
  •  Utilities: Garbage
  •  Utilities: Septic
  •  Utilities: Freight
  •  Buildings
  •  Buildings: House
  •  Buildings: Workshop
  •  Buildings: Bunkhouse
  •  Buildings: Barn
  •  Buildings: Coops
  •  Buildings: Run-in Sheds
  •  Buildings: Sugar Shack
  •  Buildings: Garden Shed
  •  Buildings: Tractor Shed
  •  Buildings: Fabric Buildings
  •  Buildings: Greenhouses, Cold Frames, High Tunnels And Low Tunnels
  •  Buildings: Firewood Sheds
  •  Vehicles
  •  Vehicles: Intro
  •  Vehicles: Tractors
  •  Vehicles: Tractor alternatives
  •  Vehicles: Riding Mowers
  •  Vehicles: ATVs / Quads / RUVs / ROVs / UTVs 
  •  Vehicles: Skidsteer loaders (“Bobcat”)
  •  Vehicles: Backhoes
  •  Vehicles: Excavators
  •  Vehicles: Bulldozers
  •  Vehicles: Trailers
  •  Vehicles: Maintenance
  •  Raising Animals
  •  Raising Animals: Fences
  •  Raising Animals: Chickens
  •  Raising Animals: Turkeys
  •  Raising Animals: Geese
  •  Raising Animals: Goat And Sheep
  •  Raising Animals: Pigs
  •  Raising Animals: Cattle
Pumpkins are easy to grow, make delicious soups and pies, and can also be fed to pigs and chickens.
  •  Raising Plants
  •  Raising Plants: Orchard
  •  Raising Plants: Berry Patch
  •  Raising Plants: Vineyard
  •  Raising Plants: Lawn
  •  Raising Plants: Garden
  •  Raising Plants: Pasture
  •  Raising Plants: Field Crops
  •  Forestry
  •  Forestry: Maple Syrup
  •  Forestry: Firewood
  •  Forestry: Mushrooms
  •  Forestry: Management
  •  Invasive Species
  •  Invasive Species: Japanese Knotweed
  •  Invasive Species: Oriental Bittersweet
  •  Invasive Species: Poison Ivy
Garlic is also easy to grow, and keeps well all winter long, if stored properly. Hold back a fraction of your harvest and replant it for next year.
  •  Soil
  •  Soil: Texture
  •  Soil: Structure
  •  Soil: Chemistry
  •  Soil: Maps
  •  Soil: Amendments
  •  Soil: Rocks
  •  Meat Processing
  •  Meat Processing: Introduction
  •  Meat Processing: Equipment
  •  Meat Processing: Slaughtering
  •  Meat Processing: Butchering
  •  Household
  •  Household: Clothes
  •  Household: Food Storage
  •  Household: Kitchen
  •  Farmhands
  •  Farmhands: Recruiting
  •  Farmhands: Management
  •  Farmhands: Safety and Legal Concerns
  •  Selling Products From Your Farm
  •  Selling Products From Your Farm: Stage 0 – Giving Gifts
  •  Selling Products From Your Farm: Stage 1 – Sell As A Small Merchant
  •  Selling Products From Your Farm: Stage 2 – Sell As A Commodity Farmer
  •  Selling Products From Your Farm: Laws
Learn how to make home-made soup in large batches, then pressure can it, so you can have a wholesome meal in just minutes.
  •  Recipes
  •  Recipes: Fruit And Berries
  •  Recipes: Vegetables
  •  Recipes: Beef
  •  Recipes: Pork
  •  Recipes: Goat, Mutton, And Lamb
  •  Recipes: Chicken, Turkey, Goose, and Duck
  •  Recipes: Sausage making and Charcuterie
  •  Alcohol
  •  Alcohol: Brewing
  •  Alcohol: Distilling
Learn what tools you need for typical farm chores – and what tools you don’t need to spend money on right away.
  •  Workshop
  •  Workshop: Hand Tools
  •  Workshop: Chains
  •  Workshop: Bolts
  •  Workshop: Lubricants
  •  Workshop: Fuels 
  •  Workshop: Rust
  •  Workshop: Painting
  •  Workshop: Welding
  •  Workshop: Compressors And Pneumatic Tools
  •  Workshop: Storage
  •  Workshop: Manuals
  •  Irrigation And Drainage
  •  Irrigation And Drainage: Drainage
  •  Irrigation And Drainage: Drainage: Legal Concerns
  •  Irrigation And Drainage: Drainage: Ditches
  •  Irrigation And Drainage: Drainage: French Drains
  •  Irrigation And Drainage: Drainage: Downspout Adapters And Catch Basins
  •  Irrigation And Drainage: Drainage: Retention Basin
  •  Irrigation And Drainage: Drainage: Dry Well
  •  Irrigation And Drainage: Irrigation
  •  Irrigation And Drainage: Irrigation: Pipe Thread
  •  Recommended Vendors
  •  Essays
  •  Essays: Near Mode vs Far Mode
  •  Essays: Critique of the Open Source Ecology Global Village Construction Set

The full table of contents is much larger than shown here – as an example, the one bullet point “Tractors” above expands into almost two dozen sub sections, covering options, accessories, safety, connecting implements, choosing tire types, and more. Most of the above chapters are the same – as another example, “Irrigation” covers sprinkler types, pipe type, drip tape, pressure regulators, fertigation, and more.  The level of detail is intense.

Extra copies, BackerKit, Shipping

If you want multiple copies, or more than one type of copy (e.g. two sets of trade paperbacks for Christmas gifts, plus a set of hardcovers for yourself), select one reward and pledge the appropriate dollar amount for everything you want.

When the kickstarter ends all backers will be directed to BackerKit, at which point you’ll be able to specify exactly which items you want.

BackerKit will also ask for your address and charge you actual shipping.  I will use USPS Media Mail for US shipments, which I expect to cost around $3 for one book and $4-5 for two books.

Free Upgrade to hardcover

If you pledge at the “both trade paperbacks” level, and tweet a link to this kickstarter with the hashtag #EscapeTheCity, I’ll enter you in a drawing for a free upgrade from paperback to hardcover.  One upgrade will be awarded per 50 people participating.

Thank you

Thank you for backing this kickstarter.  I spent decades dreaming about moving to a farm, then I did it and spent another seven years learning what I need to know.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to share what I’ve learned with you, and I appreciate your help bringing this project to fruition.

Check it out now.