Author Greg Pavlosky has honored us with a visit today. Greg has written books on homesteading which focus on practical tips towards money saving, being frugal, parenting, being self-sufficient and self-reliant.
Hello Greg, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview. Let’s introduce you, and I’m sure besides in the US, many people in Australia and other countries would be interested in your how-to books.
I want to thank you for asking me to be interviewed. I am honored since you are such a wonderful author.
You can call me an author, Greg is fine. I am just a simple person and I am trying to help others.
Thank you! Your books contain valuable tips for money savings and self-reliance. Would you be so kind to give readers the summary of each book?
HOMESTEADING: A 21st Century Beginning of Self-Reliance:
My first book is often described as the best place to start if you are interested in homesteading. I try to give a very broad overview of what homesteading means to me. I also try to provide readers with enough information for them to think about what their homestead may encompass. I am using information that I compiled over 30 plus years that Teri and I had wanted to do this. We always thought that this is what we would make our lives about. We also never wanted to be caught up in the rat race where people are constantly struggling to pay for all of that stuff that we really don’t need or feel the need to “keep up with the Jones’”.
I don’t have all of the answers and I certainly don’t want anyone to think that I do. One of the biggest things that people that have read the book told me was “there were so many things that I never considered.” I also give the complete lists that we compiled over the years from talking to so many people and asking what they had and used years ago. Many people tell me that these lists made them realize things that they had never thought about needing for their homestead.
A homestead does not have to be a country property with 10 acres. People tell me that they are growing food while living in an urban apartment building. Some live in a suburban location and others live in a rural area. You basically can make your home wherever you want. Then try to incorporate a self-reliant or self-sufficient lifestyle where you live. The idea is to become less reliant on outside sources for as many things as you can. Growing food is usually where most people start and then go from there.
The early homesteaders in the US often came here with little and then got land from the government to build a place on. They learned most of the skills necessary to do the work there on the homestead. You did not jump in the car and run to the store every time that you needed something. This is why I also suggest to build an extensive library of information so that you will have reference materials when you first start out. We probably have close to 200 books in our library of information. We talked to many family members and friends years ago and they provided us with a wealth of information.
HOMESTEADING: Money Saving, Frugal Tips and Recipes:
When I started this book I was asked how people can start to save money and cut their expenses so that they can begin to simplify their lives.
Many people were hurt bad by the economic crash in 2008 and they have not recovered. The politicians think it is all better and yet the lower unemployment doesn’t account for the large number of people that simply gave up on trying to find a job. Any people lost their homes along with their jobs. Many people were still chasing the American dream and just pushing themselves and their family further in debt. Then jobs were lost and the debts were so bad that they had nowhere to turn. Their mortgage was underwater or upside down. This means that they could not sell it for what they owed on it. So I talk about how to establish a budget, since you will need to see where all of your money goes.
I then talk about ways to earn some extra money, and this can be selling off the stuff you accumulated over the years and turning it into cash. I also go into the idea of using coupons, shopping at yard sales, secondhand stores or scavenging. If you are faced with a difficult situation, you will fight and find every way to win or you will give up. Most people will fight and win, others will not.
If you want to take care of your family, what would you do? I have not had an easy life and we have struggled much of our 34 years to get by. We also know that you don’t keep charging things on the credit cards just to have them. When I became sick 10 years ago and we lost my business (my job and income) and almost everything we owned, I never lost faith that we would get by. We did and it wasn’t easy and we just get by now. But, things are better. I look for anything to scavenge that I can recycle for cash and that makes some extra money for us. Would we like things easier, yes! But we have that survival mentality that we will find a way to get by.
I also provide some simple recipes that will help to save money and some tips about grocery shopping, eating healthier, and using natural remedies.
WHAT We Should Know and Should Be Teaching Our Kids:
This book is the book that I always wanted to write. I felt that there are so many people that just don’t seem to get it. They don’t understand how we are hurting the future generations with the behavior we exhibit. All of these reality shows are just such nonsense and people hang on every word people spew. This is not what we need to be doing. If we don’t get serious and change our ways then we are hurting the future generations.
I also provide a dedication to my dad and convey a story about him. I lost my dad on June 12, 2013. I had started the book and then he passed. It was unexpected and it was difficult to handle. He was a big supporter of my books and was always encouraging me to keep writing.
I cover a variety of topics about things that are so prevalent in society today and they are hurting society overall. The kids today seem so soft compared to us when I was growing up. We did lots of stupid stuff, but some of the things kids do today just drive me crazy. This constant texting, this thing called sexting, bullying kids to the point that they commit suicide. This is why I felt the need to write this book. I have received some great messages from readers about what they thought of this book. Many people don’t understand what sexting is and that it goes on. I talk about some of the peer pressures kids face today and how harmful they can be.
Your explanation really makes me want to read the books and copy your examples, Greg. I’m sure our readers will find them very useful too. You wrote that for a long time you and your wife have longed for living in a rural area and building your homestead. Would you tell us what inspired you? Why rural, and why homestead?
The idea of living in a more rural location always seemed attractive to me and then to Teri. I think I always liked the visits to farms of family and friends, and how different it was compared to where we lived. I have nothing against my neighbors but I would prefer to have some extra land and more distance between us.
We often talked about living further out in the country and just doing our own thing. Not being pressured by daily routines of constantly rushing from one place to another. We are also animal lovers and have always had dogs. We have also rescued and helped a variety of animals over the years. The thought of being more self-reliant and self-sufficient has always appealed to us.
I can fix almost anything. I have saved us thousands of dollars over the years by being able to fix things that broke. This has included our cars, house and almost everything else we owned. I have also built many things over the years. So that was also a part of becoming more self-reliant.
We wanted a rural location with lots of trees, off away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Privacy is one of the reasons, and it is not that we are trying to hide anything. We just want to grow some food (fruits and vegetables) and raise some animals for meat. We also wanted a very simple home that we could enjoy with family and friends.
Your years of researching and reading lead you to write your first book in your HOMESTEADING Series. Would you share some memorable instances?
I think that the most memorable instances that I enjoyed were the stories of what it was like growing up during the depression and then what it was like living during the time of the second World War. The stories we were told of how people did so many things to survive and get by made me long for those times. It was simple and also very hard. These stories helped to shape our dreams of a simple more self-sufficient life. My grandmother talked about how they made meals and used everything that they could to make the most of the meal. Using beef and chicken together to make the broth for soup and then roasting the beef and chicken for other meals later in the week. Soups included lots of homemade noodles and vegetables. These filled you up since there was no actual meat in the soup. The talks about how they had to walk everywhere since they didn’t own a car and with winter and the snow, cold, etc.
The book was a collection of thoughts. I didn’t write the book out in long hand. I basically wrote the book looking at my notes and composed it in my head as I went. Teri does a great job when she sits down to edit it. I will tend to ramble and she can often make sense of what I am talking about. I also don’t use much punctuation when I write, so she has to add much of that. She will tell me that I wrote an entire page and there was only one period.
Thank you, Greg. Could you please tell us about the KISS principle?
The KISS principle is actually Keep It Simple Stupid. I have used that for years as a way to not overthink some of the problems that I have encountered. I have always had a tendency to do much more than I needed to, so I try to remind myself by having KISS in my head. You don’t need to complicate everything in your life, just try to keep it simple…
Starting your homestead couldn’t have been easy. Would you like to share a few challenges? How did you overcome them?
Some of the most difficult times were when we found a particular property and made several visits to it. Then starting the process of getting things ready only to be told there was an offer or some other reason. We would specify that it would need to PERC for a septic system and the owner would reject that as a contingency. We were not going to buy a piece of property and then be stuck without a septic system.
We actually lost our place that we had thought we had bought. We had been told it was going along and that the owner was out of the country and would accept the offer. This lasted for months and then we were told that someone else had placed a deposit with another realtor and the owner accepted that offer. Very disheartening with the number of trips we made to that land, the number of times we walked the land and had invested so much into it.
You just have to believe that there was a reason that it didn’t happen. Otherwise you would go crazy. There was no recourse for us. I believed when I wrote the books that it was going to happen and that the realtor was being totally honest with us. He admitted that he dropped the ball and used several excuses that were plausible. I now know to only deal with the actual listing office and agent. I felt like a fraud as I had already published both books and then we find out it wasn’t going to happen. So we keep looking for that right piece of land. So the moral is, don’t get discouraged. In the meantime we continue to downsize our possessions, work on our home to sell when the time comes and keep adding to our lists of tools, equipment and household items we will need. We keep researching, reading the books in our library and adding an occasional title we feel will benefit us. I have also been picking up various building materials that we will need for our home and buildings. Teri says that I am building my own hardware store. We just look for bargains and if it is something we will need then we get it.
You are very lucky to reap benefits by growing your own foods which also help to make you healthier with hours outdoor in fresh air. What story would you share about the joy of homesteading?
Gardening is great, and that is something that we did for years. We went into raised beds this year as a way to hopefully increase our yields. We do enjoy being outside, and people ask if I use a tanning bed. I work outside as much as I can, and often without my shirt. I don’t get burned very often and hold my tan for a long time after fall gets here. Our site that we lost was so nice due to the amount of wildlife and we looked forward to sitting on the porch and enjoying the views.
You have received very positive comments and reviews from a broad section of people on your third book. Would you tell us why this book is a must-read?
Some of my friends that read most of the book prior to completion just raved about it. Others that previewed it for me told me it would be called a must read.
Their reasons seemed so different from one another and I think that is what I liked most about it. These friends all came from different areas and professions. So it touched on many things to different people.
I think that the biggest compliment was a friend that said it was “like an updated version of ‘Life’s Little Instruction Book’” due to the various areas that I covered. I remember when that book came out and just how popular it was. I actually never read it. That comment blew me away. This was the first time I had ever allowed anyone other than Teri to read my book. I was kind of skeptical with how it would be received and decided to ask my friends on Facebook if anyone wanted to preview it.
I can honestly say that the majority of my 800+ friends are actually people that I know. I have about 25 that I am friends with due to our love of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The rest are friends and family. I don’t remember the actual number that read it but I told them to be tough and that I wanted genuine feedback.
That’s wonderful! Now, you grew up in a family food business and were bitten by the entrepreneurial spirit at a young age. You also learned that hard work is necessary to achieve anything in life. How much of this background influenced this third book?
I see so many people that don’t get that hard work is the only way to get anywhere in life. People seem to look for the easy way out. I think this is one of the things that bothers me the most about these reality shows. Many of the people don’t really work at their jobs and most of those shows are scripted. This gives people the idea that anything someone does should be on TV. Then they get paid big salaries after the show becomes a hit and become more outrageous.
My dad told me I had to start at the bottom even though I was his son. So I scrubbed pots and pans, while my sisters started later in their lives and worked as waitresses and cooks. I always thought that I would own the business when dad decided to retire. But, I always had so many other interests that I thought about owning other businesses. Hard work was the only way any of it was going to happen.
Thank you, Greg. On writing, when did you first know you need to share your knowledge?
I had been talking to people about simplifying and becoming more self-sufficient for years. Then one day I was talking to some people at some kind of gathering when someone said “How do I get started?” I started explaining where I felt that they should start based upon my own experience. I talked about learning skills and building a library of information. Then someone said, “Why don’t you write a book about this and how to start from square one.”
I thought about this for a couple of months and researched publishers. Then I discovered self-publishing and Amazon. Teri had been working on her book for a year or so and wasn’t ready to get back to writing in spite of the encouragement that she had been receiving. She was sharing chapters as she completed them and everyone was hanging on waiting for the next chapter. We talked about where her story was at and that we could self-publish her book. She had actually sold a short story to a magazine years ago. So I told her that I was going to write a book about homesteading. She encouraged me to write and I actually completed and published it before she was done.
Who gives you the most encouragement, Greg?
Teri was a big supporter and she spends the hours after I am done getting it ready to read. My dad was a big supporter and always asked me how it was doing in sales, and when I was going to write the next book, etc. When he passed in June I didn’t want to think about finishing the third book. But after 2 months to the date, I asked my friends on Facebook if they wanted to preview what I had written to that point. Their words and the words of my mom were what I needed to push me through to the finish.
What would you like to share about the writing process?
My father-in-law was a writer for newspapers and then many books that were never published. He did sell stories to magazines, etc. He told me years ago that every person has at least one good book in them. This was back in the early 80’s and it always stuck with me. At the time I was writing a book about my experience in the fire company.
I am probably so different in the way that I write to other writers/authors. I work from notes and basically compose the page as I write it. Sometimes a single word in my notebook can turn into several pages. Teri marvels at the amount of information that is in my head. My style probably won’t work for others. I tell her that editing my words is probably the toughest part of my books.
Tery has been your wife for over 3 decades and she serves as the editor for your books. How lucky! How wonderful! Tell us about Teri.
We met in January 1979 on a blind date. Her friend was dating one of my friends and I asked if she had any girlfriends that she could set me up with for a date. My dad would throw a big party every January since his business was slow and invite family, friends, employees and business associates. He would make all of the food, hire a band for dancing, and we would all have a good time. So anyway this is how I came to meet Teri.
She was very stunning when I picked her up and we had such a great time together. I knew when I took her home that she was the one. Everyone at the party thought we had been dating for months and told us what a great couple we made. It turned out that we graduated from the same school, same year and didn’t know each other. We had almost 700 kids in our class.
That was Saturday night and I went after work on Monday and bought the engagement ring. We were engaged on Valentine’s Day that year and married in July on her birthday. We had planned a big wedding for November but neither of us actually wanted to wait. We decided to head out west and see what it was like to be on our own. We loaded my truck and drove to Phoenix 4 days after we were married to begin our life. We returned to Johnstown two years later and then began a family.
Teri was working at the lab in the hospital and she did that in Phoenix. She is a hard worker and a wonderful person. She decided at 37 to go to college for accounting and business. She started part time due to the kids and then went full time and completed the courses in 4 years. She worked 3 part time jobs at one point while going to school and I was working a full time and part time job. She graduated Cum Laude and I was very proud that she was able to be a good mother and still get her school work done. With 34 years of marriage under our belt and all that we have been through we remain supportive and in love.
“She works for an insurance company as a customer service rep now and hopes to make the jump to writing full time at some point. She released her first book “Sometimes” this year under the name Bobbi Rice.”
Her father passed away 10 years ago and His Name was Robert Rice. She chose her pen name as a tribute to him.
What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.
I actually have three books started and they will be the rest of the Homesteading series. I am still not sure which one will be released next at this point. I decided that with the third book done and people asking if I was going to write more I should return and complete that series. I also want to get a web page up and running and hope to get a blog started once we find that piece of land so that I can blog about the day to day chores of building the homestead. I also have so much other work to get done as I have some medical issues that will require a hospital stay and a recovery period.
Thank you, Greg. Let’s talk about you. You were born in Chicago, IL and was raised in Johnstown, PA where you lived with your parents and 3 sisters. How was it like to grow up in a houseful of girls?
It was very difficult since dad worked so many hours and couldn’t be there. But, I had a great group of friends that I hung around with. Several of them were the only boy in the family, so they could relate even though they didn’t have as many sisters. I also had sports to also keep me busy with baseball, football, and motorcycle racing.
You grew up in your father’s restaurants, bakery and catering operation, and you graduated from Greater Johnstown Vocational-Technical School in Food Service and Preparation. Wow! If I came to your place for dinner, what would you prepare for me?
Since I don’t know much about you I would probably go with some of the family favorites and ethnic foods from Hungary and Czechoslovakia. I know lots of “Hunky” and “Slovak” recipes. I also like grilling and also make award-winning chili. I won trophies at Chili Cookoff’s with my own recipe. I also like crockpot cooking since it is put everything in and let it go. I am also known for my chocolate-chip cookies and bake a ton of them at Christmas time to give away.
They all sound delicious! You certainly love cooking. But you also spent years as a member of Geistown Volunteer Fire Co. as an Emergency Medical Technician and as a volunteer firefighter. Would you like to share a memorable event from your time there?
I saw some really horrendous stuff on the ambulance and fought some big fires. The thing that most stands out to me is the 1977 flood in Johnstown. The damage was so bad, I helped to rescue so many people, and lost an aunt and two cousins. Family members lost everything, my dad lost his business and I was on the go for 4 days straight before I got to sleep. I had bought a new truck and received it one week before the flood. I was then using it to the water and mud to rescue people and deliver food and supplies to people. I drove it in very deep water and against rushing water that was up to the hood. It never let me down and the 4-wheel drive was so great. I never got stuck and pulled others vehicles that were stuck.
Also, September 11, 2001 is always fresh in my mind. We were all in the fire company (Teri, Erin, Ryan and myself) and the fact that Flight 93 almost landed here and crashed 14 miles away. I remember the radio chatter and the dispatch for a plane with terrorists at the controls and a bomb on board en route to our airport. I was working at a business next to the airport and was already aware of the other 3 planes being hijacked and crashed. Knowing the loss of life at the World Trade Center Towers, especially the firefighters from FDNY, we (my family) organized a prayer service for all of the victims and brought together firefighters from 20 fire departments to pray for the firefighters. We also organized a collection and raised nearly $6,000 for the FDNY Widows and Children fund.
How did you come to serve in the US Navy?
My dad had served in the Navy as did his brothers. I decided after high school and an argument with my dad to join the Navy. I didn’t know that an old injury would allow me to only serve a few months before problems occurred.
You’re married and you have 2 children and 4 grandchildren. What would you like to share about the kidlets?
My kids are great, Erin is almost 32 and Ryan is 26. Being a grandparent is much better than being a parent. Rachael is 8, Bella almost 4, Frankie is 18 months and James is two months. Rachael sees us every other week and lived with us for a time and she loves to be with Pappy. They are all out of town. Rachael loves to ride in my truck since we are up higher, and also loves to ride on the tractor with me since I let her steer. We Skype with all of them to stay in touch. Rachael is a very technology oriented and understands so much about all of these different technologies.
Lovely! You enjoy the outdoors, sports and motorcycles with your wife. Wonderful! Tell us more about this.
“This is our 1977 GS-750 Suzuki. We love to ride it and try to get out as much as we can. I also use it for trips to the store when I don’t need a lot of stuff. It’s old and for me it’s easy to work on. I always worked on my own motorcycles and enjoy it.”
We have not been on it much this year with so many things going on and I want to replace a few things before any trips on it. People ask me why I ride an old bike and I always tell them “I am old.”
You spent years competing in a variety of off road motorcycle racing events. Would you like to elaborate?
I don’t have any pictures to share from those days. We had lots of fields around our neighborhood and having a dirt bike was very popular. From our riding we began racing and would travel all over to race. We also tried almost every form of off road racing. I raced on dirt flat tracks, motocross, dirt drag racing, hare scrambles and endures. Races were on Sundays and my dad did not work on most Sundays. That enabled him to take me in the races, and a few times my mom did drive me. There were usually 5-8 of us from the neighborhood that would race so it was great to have friends there. Most of my friends rode in the 125cc class and I rode in the 250cc class. I was taller and a little bigger so that was why I rode a bigger bike.
Tell us a bit about who and what matters to you.
“My wife and my family are the most important people in my life. I am also an animal lover, although we just had to put our German Shepherd down due to her hips. This is the first time in a long time that we don’t have a pet. We have served as foster parents to dogs for the area shelters when someone was needed to care for a dog that was injured or abused. Our dogs always got along with the other dogs and that was good. We always get our pets from the shelters to give a dog a good home. I am also concerned about the ecological aspects of the country as well as the economy and the other problems facing the US and the world.”
What one thing is important for your audience to know about you? Why?
I am not a trained writer and have no real writing experience prior to my books. I find that very important for my readers to know. I am not someone trying to write and make a fortune off my books. I hope that I am actually helping people and get emails and messages of thanks. I write as I talk and that is kind of in a very laidback style. I loved when one of the reviewers of my first book said that I was like the guy next door, easy going. That is real and not a particular front. I am very calm in any kind of emergency and that comes from all of my time on the ambulance and in the fire company.
What you’d like people to know about you apart from the questions above?
I was stricken with some form of degenerative nerve disease in 2003. That led to the closing of our business and losing almost everything. I have suffered 4 heart attacks and 6 strokes since then. In 2004 the doctors told me that my body was failing and they couldn’t give me more than 5 years. Rachael was born in May of 2005 hat really made me fight even harder to live. The tests they were doing every 6 months were worse every time they did them and I decided after 5 years to quit going for their tests. In June of 2009 I hit the 5 year mark and told Teri that every day from here on out was a bonus. That was the day I went and bought the motorcycle. I have told that story to other people that were given months or years to live. They tell me that it was inspiration to them to fight on.
We live in the house and neighborhood where I grew up in for the last 14 years. All of my friends from childhood are gone but many of their parents are still here. I look after them and check on them. I also help with chores, repairs, and taking them to doctor visits, the store, etc.
That’s so wonderful for you and of you, Greg. Wishing you the best of health and good luck in helping others! Thank you so much for your time and the very interesting chat.
And readers, I trust you have enjoyed meeting Greg. Come visit TheScavengersHomestead on Facebook where Greg shares what he is doing any of his book promos. Greg also shares ideas for recycling and repurposing items. Visit also Greg’s Amazon’s authhor page on Amazon. The books are available by clicking the book covers above.