Homesteading and farm life in cold Siberia – The story of Justus Walker | Business ideas

[Music] the destiny of russia as a people as a nation has become the agricultural breadbasket of the world like our our destiny is to feed the world [Music] my parents came over in the 90s 1994 right as the soviet union fell apart they were missionaries and so i kind of grew up in russia when we moved over here i was 11 so i spent my teenage years for formative years growing up in a little village up north in russia i was 18 2000 i told my parents that i was going to can my plans to go to the university i was going to head back to russia so that's how i ended up back in russia in the early 2000s and for four years i lived in the city of krasner's i did worked with orphans did some different different kind of humanitarian missions and in 2004 the lord led me up north to help pastor a little church and then i've been working in rural village ministry and living in the villages in rural areas ever since then so in a nutshell missionary kid to missionary to now russian farmer person that's kind of the route when i decided to come back to russia it wasn't a you know i'm gonna build the best potential career that i could have i'm gonna make the most amount of money that i could make like of course if you're gonna do that stay in the states right uh it was a definite call like i really felt that the lord that god spoke to me and said come back to russia you'll be more useful for the kingdom of god there [Music] i did all kinds of different things you know i repaired computers i tried you know importing iphones at some point selling those in the city and all kinds of different things to try to support myself 2009 i was like you know what i've been trying all these things but i'm living in a village like everyone around here does subsistence farming maybe i should just like try farming and so then 2009 i tried we started our first little cow farm we bought three cows and grew that to about 10 10 head of milk little cows then we later on started a little goat farm started with about eight goats then grew that to about 20 goats and just learned the ropes for about six years learned how to farm and became successful at it and i started having some really serious issues with asthma about 2011 2010 2011.

Every fall i was in the hospital i had pneumonia like six times and then asthma attacks that were almost fatal a couple of times like literally just barely saved me 2016 went on a big giant road trip and looked at land all over the place and breathed and we found that the altai region had beautiful air and you could actually breathe and it was great there was land for sale just beautiful amazing place all the kind of things you could ever possibly dream of the air was good there was no asthma villages around you know all those things that we were looking for so uh 2016 that's we bought this land and started building the farm here the new farm [Music] so our land here uh just to give an idea of what we're looking at here from the corner there to the far corner is three and a half kilometers it's like two miles and that is our little land that's a hundred hectares 240 acres main thing is we do goats we have 62 milking goats and 100 sheep and this is our barn uh i always try to do some sort of experiments trying to make things work out differently or better so we try to do this with a underground barn so this is an earthquake who's going to see this is a bunker bar the main idea was to get the cost down so to bring the cost down significantly and also to make sure that it stayed warm through the winter not so much for the animals they can handle like even if it gets a little bit below freezing but to have automated watering so you didn't have to do the watering by hand and stuff like i said this is our experimental underground bunker barn but we built it like kind of ideas that try to do as much as we can automated so you can drive through as you can see you can come in these gates and drive out all the way through we can either drive our horses through or tractor through to do feeding to clean out the animals on the right side here we've got a big long stall for goats we've got 62 milking goats right now on the left side we've got a big long stall for sheep we have 100 sheep right now though running here soon here in the spring we'll start milking again it takes us about two hours in the morning two hours in the evening me and the girls we do all the milking ourselves so i'm like the head milk guy and then my girls help me we also have a pig in the far corner um at the end and a bunch of chickens in the other far corner at the end uh right here we've got our grain grain bunkers there's a secondary grain bunker outside and bring in grain that way so yeah that's the barn [Music] so you're very popular online what do you think is the source of your popularity 2014 there were the sanctions from the west then there was the counter sanctions from russia the agricultural import export sanctions russia channel one picked it up and they came up 45 minutes they were trying to get me to say something uh positive about the sanctions because it was like don't you think the sanctions are the greatest thing since sliced bread for russian farmers and i was like no don't you think it's going to really help russian economy no don't you it's just like this is a long long interview and finally at the very end i just was like well i guess there is one positive thing i told this little anecdote of like before we go down to the city and try to sell our mozzarella people would say why should we buy your mozzarella from up north when we can buy italian mozzarella and i was like well try it it's really good you know like at least give it a try like it's a little bit cheaper and you know give it a try oh you know we won't even give it a try we can buy italian mozzarella but now of course you know where is your italian mozzarella hahaha i made this big laugh and that little tiny piece of that interview got taken out of context like stuck into a into a video that little piece went viral online um i went out to hay a week later i come back from the hay fields and it's like everything is just overflowing inboxes overflowing sms is just just it just went viral just went wild interviews galore it was just like what happened so then i was like did another video again went up against that same fence did a second video follow up explaining how i'm really not for the sanctions like that was taken out of context and so then that went viral kind of in the liberal side of things they kind of had these pro regime people using my video as like oh look he's for like this is a good thing right and then you had sort of the the more liberal sort of no no actually he's again funny double whammy left right and so that kind of just launched my online i guess um situation and i've kept up the blog since then that's that's kind of long and short of [Music] [Applause] it [Music] now we're on the outside the other side of the barn and we're kind of looking at what i call the tea house and one of the things that was a big surprise for us we moved to the altar region was all of the natural occurring herbs and different kinds of grass that you can use for municipal purposes my wife started really studying that and we just a few years ago built the tea house as a special dryer and we make all kinds of herbs and that turned out to be the least amount of investment on the entire farm and the most profitable thing that we've ever done if i would have if i would have known when we moved out here i would have never bought those goats i just put up a bunch of tea houses and we we put up you know you know a lot of tea every year now and this next year is going to be a huge year for us but like last year we sold out our entire year supply of tea in like three weeks like it was just insane i've got about uh about a quarter acre of garden right there and that feeds the four families that live here on the farm that's my family my wife and my uh three kids there's three other families uh each of those families the heads of the household work uh they're they're employed here yeah and then their wife and children wow that's crazy you actually take on the wife and kids of your work man well yeah because that's actually really cool i don't think i've ever seen that before we provide housing so like they can live here on the farm and we also provide a uh what i call them russian up like a basket of food like so every every week they get you know a certain amount of honey certain amount of you know all the different staples that you need so the salary isn't great like it's not like a big salary but all your expenses are covered so everything you get you can just put into the bank [Music] you have given a lot of interviews met a lot of people these tvs stations what kind of questions do they ask you yeah the first question is like you know what did you forget in russia right connected with the idea of you know we live in such an awful country everywhere is better than here the reality is is that russia probably hasn't lived up to its full potential in the last 20 30 years i mean things could have been done better uh to develop the country better and more rapidly economically and so forth but it's not a it's not a bad place to live my first thing that i try to impress on russians who ask that question is look look around man like you live in this amazing giant country that you know it's just a miracle that exists at all with the amount of lack of population that russia has and always historically has had a small population surrounded on all sides by well not on all sides but at least on the southern border by the you know the billions of asia that that shouldn't be there it's the existence of russia as a nation it's something on the level of a miracle it shouldn't be and yet it is so like that first of all is a huge miracle second thing is like look at the world like one of the main things that we're that we're heading towards and seem to have been heading for for the last 50 60 years like the 1960s green revolution kind of postponed the inevitable tragedy of a food crisis russia has got the largest amount of as as the russians say black dirt that's unused uncultivated black dirt in the world we've got the largest amount of fresh water supply we've got wonderful insulation we've got actually pretty decent conditions for for agriculture like our the russian faith our our destiny is to feed the world like let's stand up and and fulfill that destiny like that is the destiny of russia i bought this hundred hectares uh four years ago for 1.4 million rupees right so that's 1.5 yeah 14 000 rubles a hectare you know that's 200 for 2.4 acres that's that's less than 100 an acre right i can make that back on hay like just using the the grass that's here wild grass not even cultivated grass just mow that and you can pay that back in three years and people are like oh land is a little expensive i'm like yeah right i'm i'm trying to buy as much land as i possibly can anything that comes up around we're trying to buy it 50 years down the road 40 years down the road 30 years down the road how much is this landing gonna cost look at the price of agriculture and land in eastern europe that's how much it's going to cost you know we're talking about four thousand five thousand dollars an acre that's what it's going to cost so so this is the thing you know buy land invest in land and that's what i tell all the russians [Music] so we've been here on the all tie for just over four years uh we bought this land in 2016 october 16 2016.

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And when we first moved into this area this this field was just a field like just hay field nothing here no power no water nothing and we unpack these yurts set up three yurts set up a generator dug that toilet put it in and that was that so this is where we started with was with this homestead we my family there was five of us so me and my wife my three kids we lived in that year for two years as we built everything else around us and then from here we built the banya which is the you know russian bath house it's like an absolute necessity on every farm yeah and then we built everything else um the barn everything else out from there [Music] i'm not asking for government handouts i basically just don't want the government to bother us but at the moment as things stand today you have a three-tiered regulatory environment for farmers which basically means that if you're a very small operator you can almost do almost zero regulatory oversight like literally you know the vet visits you twice a year and you can sell your meat and milk and everything and it's just fine right there's a second level which is like for medium-sized producers there's a little bit more paperwork and then there's a large level for like corporate entities like this is a very sane agricultural policy and it means that somebody small like us can come in set up shop and actually build up a business before you have to jump onto this huge regulatory bandwagon and it's it's really a good thing this year it looks like we may um get some equipment subsidized like right now they have a program where the russian government will pay somewhere around 40 to 50 percent on if you can buy new equipment another big subsidy program that they have for us we're right now off the grid which is great we're fine with that but we applied for a rural electrification like two years ago and it looks like it's actually gonna happen which is insane because like to bring power out here uh by just you know uh just by paying for it like a hundred fifty thousand dollars like it's an impossible like but they'll bring it out here and it's gonna cost us like 500 bucks i'm not i'm not looking for the kind of handouts that a lot of russians think of like i'm not getting free land i'm not getting grants money grants i'm not getting that kind of stuff but the subsidy that's a big thing the regulatory environment that's a big thing low taxes that's a big thing electric rural electrification that's a huge thing like what else can you ask for right on this property here we paid last year uh 2020 we paid 150 like 10 000 rubles in property tax um so that was for you know the four house the houses all the whole farm that you guys just saw and then of course the 100 hectares 240 acres [Music] so right here we've got the powerhouse it's the sort of as far as energy goes the main driver of everything on the farm so uh we have 10 solar panels that's 350 watts each on a you know theoretically three and a half kilowatts but the main thing that keeps us going is the hydroelectric station which is down in the creek bottom that i put together myself so that system is really the the saver because that gives us you know right around 15 kilowatts a day um so with the kilowatts that we get from the panels which is on a sunny day is about 10 uh with the 15 from the hydro electric station it gives about 25 kilowatts a day and that gives us about what we need to run the whole farm we also have a couple of little generators that we run for backup if we need that and i also have a you can see it right there there's a gasifier where i use it to convert wood materials into uh a burnable gas that i then can run into an internal combustion engine and produce electricity off of ah i've been around this planet a lot and that's the first time i've ever heard of that yeah it's an old uh technology that was actually mass-produced in world war ii but uh but we rebuilt that machine from um plans i'm gonna get what's called a sterling engine i've already ordered it uh there's a russian guy who makes them they're awesome and they're it's a it's a external combustion engine like a steam engine except for not steam it's a hot air engine so you can just burn the the fuel on the outside from the gasifier even if it's kind of sticky it doesn't matter because you just clean it off with a brush and it ha and it runs and it's going to give us about 700 800 watts so that'll be our new backup and i'm really excited about that so solar uh hydro and gasifier that's our main yeah that's cool so that's the energy set up here on the farm [Music] are you getting sick of being far away from civilization at all i mean civilization is where we're at we bring civilization civilization is a state of mind not a not a place on the map i've got power i've got running water you know i've got radiators that give me heat you know i stoked the fire once once a day and i got plenty of all everything that you'd that you'd kind of associate with living in the city or what the russians would call civilization school we home educate i would do that anyway even if i lived in downtown moscow or especially if i lived in danielle moscow the one thing i guess for us that is the medical care is a little bit lacking what we would like the local hospital is kind of below par we just had a situation with my youngest daughter who had a russian appendix and we had to run her to the hospital we actually ran her to bisque that's 200 kilometers three hours it's a little bit far so we provide the civilization for ourselves and and that's i think this is the most important thing is like what am i as a human being am i a thermostat or a thermometer do i reflect the temperature in the room or do i set the temperature and my desire is of course to myself be a thermostat and to train my children to be the same that we we are the ones who set the temperature not the ones that just reflect it and we can live almost with no money here on this land uh because we grow all of our own vegetables we have all our own meat we've got all our own milk we've got all our own eggs we've got our own power like all of those things like literally i could retrench and live for a couple years on no money this is our sort of heat source everyone's all crazy about alternative energy like oh you know great solar power and i think alternative energy is pretty cool as long as you don't have any other alternative and this uh basically outdoor boiler is the solution for most of our heating needs so we pipe into the house and we heat our domestic hot water with this we heat the house with this we also use this as a heat source to do all of our cheese production so we we moved in and like i said and lived in the yurt for two years and built the whole infrastructure the barn the all the stuff and then also at the same time we're building this this is our house slash production facility so the first story is completely production there's a cheese kitchen and a meat kitchen and then the second story is like a just kind of a general sort of dining room kitchen and then our my bedroom and our children's bedroom [Music] upstairs [Music] you know you live in russia as a foreigner as an american like you're on a visa and then okay well i guess i get my temporary residency permit might as well and okay well i might as well get my you know residency permit permanent residency permanent visa still and to get all that done but still you know i'm just a foreigner you know that's fine they started thinking like i spent 18 years of my life here i might as well like am i am i really going to do something different am i going to go home like home like this is a strange thing like where is home is home where your children are it's home where your wife is where you're where your house is where your business is where your church is where your work is but yeah that's definitely home for me so the idea of getting citizenship came to mind and i started working towards it it was just like this nightmare of bureaucracy where one thing was wrong then another thing was wrong and like continue getting it but long story short this year i'm finally yesterday actually i just finished the submission process finally submitted the last level of documents to get citizenship and hopefully within three months the results of that will come back and if all is well then sometime mid-summer i'll have a russian passport i'm very happy with the level of the size of farm that we have i want to make it efficient i want to make it as profitable as it possibly can be at this size i'm not interested in growing it what i am interested in growing is the rural culture showing russians that look having a you know a nice place having a farm being a landowner there is something noble and awesome about that not just grow my farm but grow farmers like produce a spirit of agriculture and like country rural kind of spirit the most important thing is to produce a vision of a noble farmer the noble gentleman you know farmer not the you know collective farmer worker who's just completely you know up to his knees and as the russians say like up to his knees and manure you know but but a real person who lives on the land and and thrives doesn't just survive but thrives and and the scripture says that the people perish for lack of vision and i guess my great dream would be to help provide that vision because again like i said i'm not going to feed asia on my own like but 10 000 100 000 million russian farmers who catch that vision and you know buy acreage go out there start doing it that's what we need that's what i hope to provide okay friends so bad situation here despite renting an extremely expensive car the tires on it are garbage so the situation looks like this we were leaving his home late at night we pulled 9 30 late at night by our standards we pulled to the side of the road made a turn and kaboom the tire explodes right so what do we have to do he lives in complete and total isolation in the middle of the night after screwing around with all these tires and stuff we had to walk five kilometers all the way back but thank you very much for not being angry for waking your kids and all that so we slept in your cheese making room yeah yeah so that that was an adventure guys so uh one thing i don't recommend you do on your vacation five kilometer hike through the darkness of the all-time mountains all right that's the story thank you again oh boy you

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