We have no definites yet, not even a location. However, I'd be interested in knowing if anyone might be interested in kinda "sharecropping" where we'd provide the land and in return, have help in building and maintaining a more self-sufficient life.
Edited to say we have narrowed location to SW Virginia. Scroll down to April 21 for more details.
This message was edited Apr 22, 2006 3:36 PM
Another edit! We have a contract (ratified) on a property in Virginia, 19 acres, house, barn, spring house, root cellar, creek, covered bridge, etc!
See post below dated May 13 for details!
For those for whom 'pooters have as great a mystery as for me, use the Find feature on the Edit tab at the top of your toolbar to search for:
"We left the city"
to go directly to the beginning of the book in this article.
The book is titled "We Lived the Good Life" by Helen and Scott Nearing.
We haven't been able to approximate their life style very much over the years, but their ideals of simplicity, sustainable living and free-thinking have been close to our hearts for many years.
One of the reasons, to my mind, for the Scotts' success in their homesteading venture was the educational/teaching aspect that drew many healthy younguns searching for answers to larger issues represented by homesteading. For that, they paid in labor.
Great thread, Darius. Now, if we can just pester you into putting your much-appreciated sagacity on DG into book form that will draw folks inspired by your know-how and ideas...
Ah, I should have known Darius - wonderful books, aren't they?
For those that haven't read the books of Helen and Scott Nearing, I can't recommend them highly enough. The issues that propelled them out of New York City from their academic milieu "back to the woods" in 1932 during the depression, unfortunately, are as relevant today as they were then. In fact, they often quoted from thinkers from many centuries ago whose lives resonated with theirs.
One thing I liked about their endeavor was the way they disciplined themselves to match "bread" time with "leisure" time. Thus, time spent gardening, building, etc. was matched with activities that allowed them to pursue their respective areas of musicianship (Helen was also a flutist) and scholarship (Scott wrote many seminal books on sociology, plus they both wrote the ones we are more familiar with).
But most of all, let me say, that for me, the book Living the Good Life is first and foremost a practical, hands-on, change-your-life book that is a classic in every sense of the word.
To anyone reading this - IMHO - "share-cropping" with Darius will be that and so much more - your life will be as enriched working with her as others were with the Scotts. There's more than one way to divine a Philosopher's Stone.
Darius, My heart longs to homestead, also. Unfortunately, we can't find reasonable land for sale here in CA. But, our central Valley is a perfect place for that as far as predictable climate and such. I'm stuck in Suburbia (much to my dismay), but hope to one day live the simple life. Sometimes, you can find raisin cropland for sale verrrrrry cheap-raisins haven't been doing so well I hear.lol. Good luck.
If you liked reading books by Helen and Scott Nearing then you would probably also enjoy "A Handmade Life" by Wmn. Copperwait. I may not have the exact spelling of his last name but just google it. I have read this book several times, every paragraph seems to provoke thought. Copperwait quotes Scott Nearing in his book many times and had even studied under him briefly.
Keith, I just read the reviews from Darius' link - it's on my wish list, too. Many of us may never be able to physically approximate the life styles of the Nearings and Copperthwaite as closely as we may wish. But in one respect, these books seem to foster that state of mind conducive to cutting through unimportant distractions to what may really matter to each of us.
If the U.S. were suddenly unable to import any oil, I understand that there is only something like 4 years' worth of extractable oil. Since discovering oil in continental North America, we have used up all but 4 years' worth of extractable oil within our national boundaries. Perhaps there's a little more than 4 years' worth - but whatever it is, it is a limited, finite supply - not endless.
So, isn't it time that we rethink how we live with respect to simplicity, energy conservation and community - so well written about in these books? Darius' project could well develop into just the kind of community best suited to meet possible changes ahead for many of us.
Hi, folks! We are trudging right along with our project. Started a list last night of heirloom seeds to order, have been making lists of necessary items for a homestead and self-sufficiency, and have located a county in SW Virginia that looks promising. It's maybe 50 miles north of Boone (NC) and we plan a trip to check it out before May 15.
Bought a converted school bus to save money on moving all our stuff, and already have a contract to sell it when we are finished. We hope today to buy a pop-up camper to stay in over the summer while we house-hunt and wait to close on a property. (That's after this one sells and we have money in hand.)
Maybe someone here can answer this question...how do you know when you are 'homesteading' enough? I value all your opinions so please speak up. I guess what I am trying to determine is how do you know you have reached the limit or threshold of selfsufficiency? When you can only go to town once a year and buy what few supplies you can't make for yourself? once a quarter?...once a month?
I guess one of the design criteria I am planning around is what would I do if there were a real energy crisis such as bluespiral mentions above...or an economic collapse...or a natural disaster...what if there were no town to go to for a year or so...hmmmmm...what then? What happens when Walmart closes for good and there are no more daily stops there? What rules of thumb is everone here thinking of? goals? thoughts of any kind?
The idea of 4 years worth of oil left here sounds about right...crude oil that is. If the price of oil goes much higher then it will become economic to begin to convert coal to oil. The technology does exist. We have much more coal than oil left here in the US.
I think the oil companies should be careful what they do...if they reap windfall profits in the near future then Congress will get involved in their business. I work for a coal/gas company...things are booming for us right now...but the industry is cyclical...its boom then bust. I can't help but feel that a rainy day is coming.
To be able to live as the Nearings, Copperthwaite, or Thoreau did would be noble goal indeed...but one thing I noticed about these writers...none of them speak of raising children while living this lifestyle...hmmmmm.
Another thought about oil and the current high prices we are experiencing. Even if oil were 10 cents a barrel we couldn't make gasoline any faster. The refineries here in the US are maxed out right now. They are running at full capacity. There hasn't been a new refinery built here in 15 years.
I'm hoping to raise enough food to feed us for a year (veggies, chickens) and barter with neighbors. Hoard enough gasoline to run a chainsaw to cut wood. Salt, sugar. I also have a dozen 5 gallon food grade bins storing dried beans and wheat berries in CO2. After we move to a new place, we plan to start buying case lots of canned goods since I doubt we will have a productive garden or chickens this year.
I'm making a list of hand tools I want, like a brace and bit. Get my 2 man saw sharpened along with my other hand saws. And stocking up on heirloom seeds. Bought a hand crank radio with 2 shortwave bands.
Our grandparents, great grandparents raised kids in that harsh kind of environment. I won't like having no stores nearby nor the ability to get there if there was one (unless we have enough grass to have a horse). I will certainly miss the internet but not TV.
I have thousands of books including many on self sufficiency and how-to's.
Those are just some of my initial thoughts on this subject. I'm convinced we need to move NOW into Local Foods & Sustainable Agriculture, and also very much in agreement with Karen (Bluespiral) that Community is necessary.
ps, sent you a link Bluespiral sent me about the history of energy sources up to the current oil situation.
I applaud your efforts! I, as well, am concerned about the future. I live in the city, a mile from downtown on a small lot. I am trying to think of ways to create for self-reliance in my world. This year I am thinking of ways to maximize my lot to plant as much as I can so I can try to preserve it. I have plans to visit an organic farm this spring/summer and get produce.
Heirloom seeds are great too. I look forward to your updates. I welcome suggestions for an urban (hopefully not forever) homesteader.
Virginian asked some essential questions. I sure wish I had answers. The following publication has some well researched articles on energy and related issues: http://www.oriononline.org/index2.html
Don't know why no children, but I do know it takes all kinds to "make a village", so we all probably are harboring some piece of the puzzle within ourselves to add to what Thoreau, the Nearings and Copperthwaite contributed.
About losing the internet in an energy crisis, a friend mentioned to me a few years ago that there is a holographic computer in the works powered by solar energy. I have no idea how far that may have moved from the fairy tale stage, nor about who's working on it.
Neighborhood associations can be a pain, but a necessary feature to cultivate, especially for the sake of children no matter how the world changes or not.
I'm hoping to get a solar panel for my new laptop for the event of power outages that are not global. Seems like I remember that Real Goods carries one. Plus I'd have to hope that sattelites still carry signals from somewhere!
be nice concept.. i thought that when was yrs. yrs. yrs. younger and before bad health but now no way. too old to sick.. the solar panels good to hus. used to sell lots them.. if got ideas can be worked out some how. but.. downsides to..
I fully believe a crisis of huge proportions is looming, and I'm doing my best to get ready, but i also believe it's being created by men in high places for reasons of power and $$$$.
There seem to be several sides to it, one side is economics and oil.
It's easy to see that oil supplys of the world are getting low
Here's the situation that's caused it.
1922, synthetic gas patened, very cheap to produce, oil corp bought patent and sat on it. 1930's fuel processor patented that increased vehicle mpg by 5 times, oil corp bought patent and suppressed knowlege of it. WWII, long range tanks had them installed, got 70 mpg. Various inventors ever sence have improved on the processors till they're perfected, the latest one causes a normal jeep cherokee to get 138mpg with no modifications of the vehicle, just the processor installed in the fuel line. But every attempt to manufacture and market them has been met with heavy oil corp opposition. (even to assanation of inventors) It's an artificial oil crisis created by the industry to generate trillions of $$$. they knew how to make vehicles get 10 times their current mpg, but they won't do it. It's actually quite simple, I'll be the next one doing it. But don't expect to hear about it on the news. when i do it I'll have to quit talking about it or I'll make myself the next assasans target.
did ya hear about the pickup that suddenly started getting 60-80 mpg? (running normally otherwise) normally got 13, with investigation they found a malfunctioning fuel pump causing it.
if a fuel pump overheating can cause that, couldn't they have done it intentionally long ago? of course.
Then there's the religious side, the prophecies written thousands of years ago that were recorded in the bible have been fulfilled accuratly up to now, and the world leaders of todays nations are implementing the fulfilment of the rest of them without realizing it.
Meanwile the religious leaders are teaching doctrines of men professing them to be the teaching of the bible, thereby throwing the population off guard. they refuse to believe what the bible really says because it cut's across long established tradition.
Makes it obvious this world's history is about to wind up and come to an end. It's plain as day to me that this country of ours is fast heading toward a repeat of what happened in Russia in the first part of the 1900's. and this time there will be no safe place to flee to. The only safe thing to do is the exact same thing these russian families did. here's an interesting story of that time from a man who was born about the time his family was escaping it. http://restoringthevision.com/Russia.doc.htm
I do think it would help a lot to get as far out from the population centers as posible and become as self sufficient as posible.
Things are all set up for mass starvation and mass murder, and 99.999% of the population is blind to it.
Reuben, while I agree with many ideas you posted, I should remind you of the Acceptable Use Policy here. (It's a link at the bottom of every page.) There are strict guidelines to keep away from political debate (among other things).
I'm not trying to offend you (or anyone), but I have seen too many people removed from DG from not following the AUP.
it's just my reasons for doing the homesteading/self reliant lifestyle, not intended to start a political debate. i won't intentionally post anything against policy, but if it is i'll deleat it if i can.
Reuben, thank you for posting the link above. Very thought-provoking. While I am not motivated by the fear that things will become as bad as they were in Russia (although who ever knows), I think we Americans especially need to live more simply and with more respect for our finite earthly resources.
It would also be great if our little economies, when combined, could really knock back large mortgages and free us from debt. I think I need to do a lot more research and mostly take more action!
debt is something to avoid if at all posible, we were in it for years and it was like being a slave to the bank, finally sold and bought a place further from population centers for less $$ and got out of debt. just fuel prices going up too much could cause a crisis, everybody depends on trucking for their food, if the trucks stopped for even as much as 3 days we'd be in trouble. i finally decided to turn the growing of food into a business. we're about to go get a refrigerated truck to deliver salad ingredients. then I'll have the options of hybred, fuel processing, and wood gas to keep it going on little to no petro. I've been told by someone in the "know" that at some point food prices will rise suddenly and scare everyone.
Yes, I'd strongly recommend to do what ever it takes to get out there on some land and get it in production, and do it soon. even if it isn't much land. and go for the areas of lowest population, that's where land tends to be cheaper anyway.
We used to live about 20 mi. from a big city, about 20 years ago we sold 17 ac for $2000 an ac and bought 5 times as much land 60 mi from the same city for $240 an ac. of course prices are running at least 4 times that now.
Good luck darius,
I kinda grew up that way in northern Minnesota - "if we didn't grow it, catch it, or shoot it, we didn't eat it."
Traded fish for eggs or bread sometimes, harvested all the wild berries we could find. Wild mushrooms, too.
Did buy fuel oil and gas/oil for cars and boats. Canned in tin and still have the canner - requires using the proper can for the product being preserved.
Being on a chain of lakes helped - lots of game birds, rabbits, etc. Had an ice house made of logs - including the roof - cut huge blocks from the lake in the winter and covered with sawdist from a local sawmill then tarps. Some of the ice was 2-3 years old without melting.
Remember using a "spring-house" at a neighboors for clloing and keeping dairy products. neighboor had dug a hole beside the spring and built a cedar box to keep things dry. Spring ran about 50-60 degrees until winter freezeup.
Need to be an expert hunter, too. Not only the price of petroleum, but ammo (even black powder) has really gone up - don't want to waste any.
If you could find property with a hillside that could be excavated, placing some or most of the house inside would save a lot of expense for heating and cooling.
Saw a lot of underground dwellings as a kid, then again in 4-corners states. Logs and earth are great insulation.
Reuben, my desire for an earth sheltered house has more to do with minimizing heating and cooling costs and having a low profile to the land. I'd do a greenhouse on the south side to augment winter heating and of course, have some winter garden. Shaded in summer...
Reading these posts reminds me that there ARE people out there that think like I do.
Must be the area I'm in but when I talk about recycling, alternative fuels and alternative power for my home; people around here just DON'T get me. I have yet to run into 1! person who can hold a decent conversation about these things. Even my DH doesnt understand that we need to start investing in alternative power sources NOW.
I wish we lived a bit more rural. We live in a sprawling town. (Only about 20 miles from Detroit.) But I am lucky enough to have my 1/2 acre complete with some woods and a stream. Although should there be a crisis, I'm sure the stream couldnt be relied upon. As I could definitely see people up stream trying to divert it or something. And I wouldnt drink from it without filtration.
But this area happily sustains rabbits, mallards (counted 60 in my yard one day), hawks, blue herons, woodchucks, woodpeckers, bats, fox, even seen coyotes, etc. Quite a nice little ecosystem going. I feel very grateful for these gifts.
And I am very saddened that every one of my neighbors take it for granted. None of them have more than 3 trees on their property. And they never have a problem tearing whats left out, and converting shrubs, scrub, wildflowers etc to lawns.
Sometimes I think I have such a wonderful array of wildlife because they have nowhere else to go. This is one of their few pitstops along the creek.
Luckily since i moved in with DH, he is slowly starting to think like me. (Now wether that is because I have had fits in the past when he cuts down trees,etc. and he doesnt want repeats or weather he actually is understanding the importance of a natural balance, I'm not sure. But whatever works right?)
I do know that now he gets excited as i do, when we have new animal visitors. He really seems to appreciate natural beauty since I took him on vacation to see the Canyons out west- Zion, Bryce, Glen, and Grand. As well as Lake Powell, etc.
Anyway sorry to hijack your thread DARIUS and I hope all goes well on your quest! This probably isnt even the right area to post BUT:
Its nice to see other like-minded individuals out there.. Even if I cant do it at your levels. You all have my utmost respect. I'm just tryin to save my little piece of the world and influence a few people to think of the big picture along the way.
We actually have almost 12 acres and lots of wildlife. Half is protected saltmarsh though, rest is woods and a lot of that is highly regulated buffer zone that can't be legally cut or planted. So the wildlife will always have a home here, and includes osprey and box turtles and other scarce or threatened animals and plants. It is a good feeling seeing hundreds of trees out there (even though I have very little cleared area for growing veggies) and having a fireplace insert. Would like to figure out how to incorporate solar, wind or even turbine power if the little stream or tidal power could be utilized, but I'm not mechanical. Lots of blueberries and checkerberries. I've planted a few little fruit trees - peaches and plums seem to do well (so pretty right now!), and cherries probably would if the deer didn't like them so much. Tomatoes and eggplant and beans do ok, with other crops I don't do so well, I'm gradually amending my little plots of sand and making coldframes out of old windows so I can grow greens when its very cold. Need to get chickens soon to help with the ticks, don't know what if anything could be done about mosquitos - I hate chemicals and they would kill my bees (2 hives). Lots of mussels and oysters in the saltmarsh but my area is permanently closed to shellfishing because the water isn't clean enough (bummer). Being next to the ocean I could spend time shellfishing, fishing, and crabbing if I didn't have to work so many hours because of the huge mortgage. This is one of the cheaper areas in eastern Mass., too, but taxes keep going up. It's kind of a good feeling knowing that, push come to shove, we could provide somewhat for ourselves. However, until I can figure out a very profitable crop or livestock and get into higher gear, we're not keeping up with the mortgage and taxes enough to call ourselves anything approaching sustainable, and retirement looks very very far away even though I've got grandbabies coming now. Hurricanes could knock us back a lot too, or the town deciding to take the land for public use of some sort (sure hope that law is gotten rid of soon). I sure do appreciate the fact that we have options though!
My dream is to get the mortgage paid off, to be able to cut down on the amount of hours I work for a company which only cares about making money (I often put in extra, unpaid hours on nights and weekends) and to be able to spend more time with the grandbabies and in the gardens providing for us.
My advice would be to maybe get a decent amount of high land when you're fairly young and have lots of years to pay it off, and lots of years for fruit trees to mature and soil to be improved.
Lots of good ideas there, mayflwrhem. Especially about buying the piece of land early. My parents did that, and my brother and I still have it. As for mosquitoes mix up a batch of "Vinegar of the Four Thieves" - the recipe that Darius gave us. I'm using it, and glad to have it! Yuska
taxes must be really high in places, we pay about $150 a year on 80 Ac. a days work takes care of it. but of course it's 60 mi from the closest major city, I run into people who think they couldn't survive being more than a few minutes from shopping centers. but it's no big deal really, i like it. my choice shopping center is some good deep rich dirt that grows good food.
OhmyGod, Reuben, I think I need to move to Tennessee. Latest tax yearly assessment was for 3.5K, I managed to talk them down a bit cuz can't plant in or anywhere near all the saltmarsh, but re-assessment supposedly is increasing everyone's taxes much more. :( Real hard for folks to afford the basic house, too. But it's an awesome area, to have both ocean and mountains, swimming and skiing, country and cities not too far away, and I like the change of seasons if only winter wasn't so long. I bet NC area is very nice that way too though. (I try to avoid malls whenever possible, they vacuum cash right out of my pocket.)
Trouble is, family is here and I like being close.
Reuben my sister and I now have a ratified contract for 19 acres in Marion, VA. 3/2 house, large barn, chicken coop, root cellar, workshop, potable spring and spring house. Taxes are $409 but will no doubt increase after closing.
i set up a little hydro system for a friend in NC, it was simple but took some work and expense. he had about 150 ft fall and 10 gpm. but electricity isn't the most important thing, people lived without it till the last 50-100 years, food, water, and heat in winter are the main things.
Reuben, what about someone like me who possibly could harness tidal energy???? Have a tiny stream with no fall but have a tidal pond that goes out onto an estuary to the ocean. Any pointers to the right info would be appreciated. Our town has ok'd windmills for >5 acres but I imagine the engineering plans for anything on that saltmarsh would be prohibitive. (BTW I have almost no bucks available; would have to see if my SO wants a little project.)
Darius - Congratulations!! Looks great and sounds like an awesome place :) Hope you'll be very happy there.
it was a pelton wheel on a semi truck size alternator charging a 24 V battery bank. a tidal generator seems like a huge project, would take a dam across an opening to a tidal pond with a 2 way turbine in it. But if you have wind, that's a good posibility, wind turbines can be made for next to nothing.
I browsed the postings here...good points you've made! DH really worries about our inability to homestead and be more self sufficient given the rapidly changing way of the world. It does indeed sound like we'll have worse times ahead. I find it so helpful (and motivating) to read the way you guys have made homesteading possible and it is exciting that more and more people are starting to care where their food comes from and wanting to take part in its production.
Taxes: Were you talking about taxes on farmland? We have one of the highest property taxes in the nation here in good ol' Texas. On our house of $130+ K we pay almost 4 grand a year...on a lot of 7,000 sq ft. Luckily if you can claim more land and have livestock your taxes are reduced quite a bit.
Tir_Na_Nog - I hear you on the high Texas taxes. I have almost 2 acres and I live outside the city limits and pay about $4,000 (split between two counties - hrmph!). Every year my dwellings increase in value which is laughable... :-) I think at some point I'll get annoyed enough to have a professional come out and do a "real" asessment and challenge these guys.
I wish I could allow myself to homestead "full-time". I am tied to the security of medical, dental insurance and other things you have to have full time regular employment for. I hate that I'm so apprehensive about life.
Thoughts on an underground home - I lived in an underground home for 12 years and would NEVER do it again. Even with a dehumidifier running 24/7, lots of things molded - books, suitcases, shoes. I got so sick of only being able to see only the tops of trees out of the windows. When I finally left, I moved into a home where I didn't put anything at all on the windows, I was so starved to be able to see out! (Luckily there were no neighbors to see in).
Just have a southern exposure... the whole face of your house could be windows. Knowing you like a feeling of openness, just design for it. I've seen some lovely bermed houses that didn't have a cave feeling to them.