So I wanted to add a little more, in regards to our observations and thoughts about expectations and a "good fit" up here:
your age does not matter to us in the slightest. It's just a number that gives no indication to character or capacity. Just want to put that out there.
my main boundaries with physical and mental health is that we cannot be expected to physically or financially take care of someone. In an ideal community folks would indeed care for one another, and in times of need it's only reasonable and practical to help others. But neither of us are in a place of capacity to care for another person on an in-depth level. We just can't do it right now. Mental health; anxiety, depression, spectrum, ptsd, bi-polar, other disabilities or challenges- it's not taboo and shouldn't be a point of shame. I deal with my fair portion. But whether your challenges are physical, emotional, or mental, you need to be in a place where you can provide for yourself and keep on your feet. Before coming to a place like this, which is more remote and isolated than many people are familiar with, ask yourself "am I self contained, self reliant, and ready for this". Even if you're in perfect health, it's something to think about. Whatever is missing, broken, 'disordered', or otherwise atypical is not important, as long as you have the strength and security to pursue a passion for wild and rustic living. If you're looking for a place to heal, that's great and we fully support you! As long as you're ready to do the work of healing- because a radical change of pace will not induce healing. Healing must come from within, and be facilitated by a safe, loving environment.
the majority of folks who we've talked to are interested in a work trade. We are NOT asking for 40 hour work weeks!!! We think 40 hours/week is inhumane, honestly. We value most work at $20/hour; more if it's really dangerous or really unpleasant, less if it's extremely easy, mundane, or requires large amount of instruction or guidance due to lack of experience or knowledge. There are some things here that we would not consider trading for; things we do on our own and do not need or desire help with, like feeding livestock or tending gardens. Unless we're going out of town and need to 'hire help' with very simple daily tasks, they're generally not on our radar for work-trade options. Right now work trade potentials include thinning the forest, piling and burning slash, land sculpting (we'd like to get some more ponds put in eventually), fencing work, future orchard site prep, and building and maintaining structures. Much of which requires experience and knowledge. I'm sure there's much more on the list that's not coming to me at the moment, but it's winter and we're going into hibernation mode, so it's hard to think about work :P I want to reiterate that we don't "NEED" help, but the help is welcome. We're not relying on someone coming here to do things for us, we can do it all ourselves... eventually... haha.
Labor isn't the only trade of value. We're open to cash and also resource trade. If you have sustenance, trade skills, or other things to offer, we're open! We have 5 vehicles and only ever have 3/4 of a working one at any point in time, so hey, if you're mechanically handy you'll have plenty to do. Haha! Honestly though the vehicles are a consequence of not having the time or finances to pour into them. We learn to do most things ourselves, but there's usually room for help. Or maybe you harvest an elk, deer
, etc; we'd probably trade meat for rent, or offer to trade pork, poultry, eggs, or whatever else we may have if you want to share or trade. We love trading! If you like long drives and have a stout truck, we'd also trade a month or two (or whatever works our fair) rent if you wanted to do a grain run in Idaho, where feed
prices are almost half what they are here! We tend to go to Idaho once a year and bring home whatever load we can; one ton of grain more than pays for the gas money in what we save, so it's usually worthwhile. Anyway, there's lots of obscure stuff like that!
: For the most part we have no ability to pay anyone a cash wage. I do run an online business, specializing in sustainably wildcrafted goods. There is some opportunity for making money here, HOWEVER this is my own business and anyone I bring into it must be a good fit. I will not guarantee employment or opportunity, but it is a potential for the right person with the right interest, dependability, ethics, and passion for the work I do.
Accommodations and personal space:
It is RUSTIC here. Emphasis on that. Our last arrangement worked pretty nicely. Our guest picked a site on the property (which is 20 steep acres) that is about 1/4 mile up a private road from our cabin, on an opposing ridge. It's a 5-10 minute walk away. We tentatively allotted 1/2 acre
(100'x100') for personal use and private space. We threw up a pole structure in a day or two and roofed it in tarps as the initial summer accommodation. On his own he finished wrapping it in tarps and greenhouse
plastic, put a counter in, hooked up a propane cookstove and fridge (which are community resources), reinforced the roof a bit for winter, bought a wood stove
and installed it, etc etc. It looks like a cozy little nook, though it will need some work down the road. So this structure is an option for future guests/community members/passers-through, and I'm sure it will morph and transform over time. We also have a cozy camping/RV area near this structure that would work for a parked vehicle. This area gets a lot of sun, it might be the second best grow spot on the property. But it's DRY. Water needs to be hauled or caught from several hundred feet away. Throughout the land there are many nooks and crannies, private places, creeks and draws and ridges. Each has pro's and con's. We're content with keeping the 1/2 acre private space for now, but some of it depends on the site chosen. More space (say you pick a spot with good sun and want a huge garden
and want to put up a little fence
and a milk
goat or something in your own space) would likely just equate to more work hours.
Supplies and Materials:
We have A LOT of resources available in regards to tools and conveniences. We have spare stoves, propane appliances, propane cans, cots & mats, and other things relative to the 'glamping' nature. We are happy to lend these where needed, they are considered community property and have been supplied here as a result of the community effort that made this land possible. However as the stewards of this property, we do have to exercise our best discretion and set boundaries if the needs arise. I mean, it would have to be a pretty crazy situation if we had to set boundaries on borrowing community wares, like someone hypothetically just utterly destroyed ANOTHER propane can or blew up their cook stove or something or caused a fire incident; and if it got to that point we might simply be asking someone to leave, but hey. Who knows what the future may bring! Basically we have a lot of assets that can help get someone started out here. Community property remains community property, it cannot be bought or earned as personal property by any of us. And our stuff isn't "nice", but it works. Haha. In regards to materials, such as piping and irrigation supplies, fasteners, plastics, milled lumber, etc., as I stated in a previous post, anything that is not going to be readily salvageable (like screws in a structure, or covering material that gets damaged, or lumber that gets filled with holes) we have to charge replacement value on. We cannot accept work trade for things that cost us money. We live on a few hundred dollars a month and don't have much to spare; and when we do we spend it on building stuff :P
: We tend to be pretty relaxed about lending personal property, but we also like the motto of "if you're not prepared to lose it, don't lend it". So lending anything of our own (tools, power tools, books
, traps, clothing, appliances, etc etc etc whatev') is our own sole discretion. We do not expect to be allowed to borrow anything that belongs to anyone else living up here
Personal Accountability and Responsibility
: We are rounding out our rental/terms of stay contract right now. It's lengthy, but in short it mostly says "You are solely responsible for your own choices and actions up here". Living here is not fool-proof. It's easy to get hurt or to damage things. Our biggest fear of course would be a fire that starts the whole mountain ablaze :s So there are clauses regarding 'permission to start fires'; until we know someone is TOTALLY competent with something like burning slash or even being smart about their camp fire, that risk is too huge to go unchecked. Anything we've worked into this document in regards to personal limitations and permissions are from a point of safety and practicality. And hey, s***t happens, of course. But we need to cover our grounds, and ensure that anyone coming up here knows the full extent of their personal liabilities and the boundaries and responsibilities of living up here. We do, on personal principle, also uphold a "you break it, you buy it" code. It's no different than when we borrow the neighbor's mechanicing tools to work on our cars and break a punch, wreck a socket extension on a seized bolt, or any number of things we've twisted, busted, or otherwise trashed; without demand we buy a replacement for him next time we're in town. It's just plain ol' responsibility, decency, and respect for others. If you borrow resources like gas or propane, you replace them. Common sense
stuff. And along with that comes the self moderation of knowing "Hm, I can't afford to replace, I shouldn't borrow it then". That's important too :)
: This is an important one we reflected on this summer. Sometimes we forget how far removed we are from the way the average American lives. We make our own soaps and use no chemical fragrances or cleaners
. It is important to us that excess or undue chemicals are not being deposited into the environment. So we would request use of only unscented and all-natural products in all facets of living. This might be the only thing that we insist upon that imposes on personal living choices. We don't want bleach in our streams, toxic soils, and honestly we don't enjoy being around strong chemical perfumes/scents, so using them will make us not want to be around you as much. Haha!
: We tried to explore vehicle sharing but in the end it's not legally feasible to do so. So anyone up here should really have a mode of transportation available to them. We agree that all community members should be open to running errands for one another if they're going to town (we even do this for each other as neighbors up here), but it can be a point of conflict at times if someone has to rely solely on others for this. June through October you generally don't need 4WD, but in the snow months 4WD, AWD, or chains are needed in many areas. We no longer plan to plow out the property due to the fuel expense, so arranging with parking a vehicle with one of the neighbors lower on the mountain is the best way to stay mobile. You could then hike/snowshoe to your vehicle, or use a snowmobile. We cannot afford to lend our snowmobile, it's off limits. It's our only way out in the winter and if anyone's gonna break it, it needs to be us...
: We don't intend to demand community participation. With our last guest, we saw him every couple days, sometimes once a week or less. That was cool with us. However, I think the better we get along and the more we enjoy one another's company, the better suited we will be to co-existing up here. We're totally open to folks showing up on the porch and hanging out, popping in for dinner (especially if they want to contribute, haha), or coming with us on recreational adventures in the wild. But we are a bit hermit-y and respect others' right to privacy as well. As someone who shopped around for 'intentional communities', I didn't like the expectation of X hours per day of community presence. Who knows, maybe those things exist for a reason and we have yet to learn it. But for now we're not demanding anything like that! We'd love to establish some loose traditions like community meals every so often or whatever, but it'll just depend on the chemistry up here. As far as community with neighbors; there are just shy of 10 residences up here, and for the most part we get along and help one another where we can. We're all very far apart and don't often see one another, but we do occasional get togethers or meals, especially for the holidays. With the folks who have moved up here in 2019, I expect we might get to establish even more of a community bond, as a few younger people and families will be up here who are craving community. We shall see what the future brings.
Opportunities for Farming
: We are not restricting access to the farm or gardens (unless someone constantly forgets to close gates and doors, haha). We're endeavoring to balance how the farm bounty is shared if someone were to become involved with it. We try to look at it from the perspectives of "how much time and work was shared" and "how much expense was shared". For example, if someone comes in the spring and helps rear and feed piggies, they can't expect to get a big cut of piglet sales. We have almost 2 years and $5,000 into our pig stock; we had to buy quality piglets and raise them to adulthood, then raise their babies, so on and so forth. We're not in the black yet (hopefully we will be this next season). So it's not cut-and-dry. But things like greenhouse
and garden work are a little more straight forward. Whatever share of labor someone puts into a garden should be the share they reap. This includes pre-season soil building and post-season cleanup, alongside the actual growing and weeding and harvesting. However, if they want meat or eggs or food from the farm without contributing, we'd probably ask monetary replacement value (unless we had huge abundance, but we don't yet). Anyway. It all has a lot of room to be worked out and refined. But we're not against incorporating new livestock, nor sharing the greenhouses, nor even throwing up new greenhouses, gardens, and pastures. As long as we're not put in the position of paying for and taking care of someone else's critters, and they're not negatively impacting our livestock, we're pretty chill. And as long as those critters aren't being destructive (or if they are, the damage is accounted for and/or repaired... thinking about goats right now... naughty destructive goats... gr....)
I need to take a break from typing, but I may add more when I have time. Again, these are some of the reflections we've had this year. We've got a better idea of expectations and possibilities than we did when we first started looking.