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Need Help/Intern DIY Homestead - Permaculture, Alternative Energy, Etc. Bitterroot Valley, Montana

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Howdy Ya'll,

Many people have been mystically-spiritually attracted to Montan's Bitterroot Valley (about 50 miles south of Missoula) by some kind of inner prompting.  There are so many desirable features of our area that attracts self-sufficiency oriented type folks.  Though the area leans more to the conservative than the liberal side, the valley is replete with organic farms and a number of thriving farmer's markets.  We do have a few liberal friends and members of our prep group who look past our conservatism because of the unique compatibility of liberals and conservatives alike in caring for the planet via homesteading and self-sufficiency conservation projects.  Personally, if we wore any political moniker other than independent, it would lean toward Libertarian, since Democrats and Republicans seem to be two different sides of the same corporate coin!

There are a multitude of cottage industry type opportunities for self starters here in the valley with or without associating directly with us.  This letter will tell a little more about us in this regard.

My wife, Starr, and I have sponsored a local community service dedicated self-reliance preparedness group, BSOSC, here in the Bitterroot Valley about 5 miles south of Hamilton, Montana, for over 10 years.  We hold monthly meetings with a plethora of homestead skills sets classes.  We have had a blog/forum for over 9 years sharing tons of info to help self-sufficiency oriented folks, which is located at www.bsoscblog.com.  Though quite minuscule compared to permies.com, there are thousands of "How To" and other info postings on the site for which we have had subscribers from all over the world.

Where we differ from typical intentional communities is that we are essentially an independent valley wide group of people with a co-operative style self-reliance preparedness group, each with their own places, yet always sharing information and helping each other.  Some of the members (like us) are capable of offering internships/part-time jobs, etc., with either living or RV facilities available.  

Permaculture is a major area of emphasis in the BSOSC group, probably because a few of us are so gung-ho about it.  We have done a wide array of self-sufficiency projects, along with teaching classes about those developments in shelter, water, food production, alternative medicine, alternative energy, alternative transportation and alternative economy of barter and cottage industries.

Though dabbling around at it for 7 years, only in the last 3 years have I been seriously dedicated to experimenting with different plants and methods in food forest permaculture development.  We have one food forest of a 1/10th acre that is coming along well and a second larger food forest well into development, though not as far along which is primarily focused on nut trees and fruit trees.  We have had for the last 11 years, a huge raised bed, semi-permaculture garden which is about half into perennials such as apple trees, grapes, raspberries and blackberries and others.  I am working toward turning a large portion of it into Hugulkultur beds as we have done in the other two food forests.

We have had 2 attached greenhouses for the last 10 years, one of which is a pyramid (for the energy generation) formerly used for aquaponics that is now temporarily mostly inactive.  Last fall I started our 3rd, our "MAGS" Greenhouse (Modified Annualized Geo Solar)  which is primarily done and in a functional state.  We are excited that this will provide for our cold country (here in Montana, inexpensive to heat) year round organic food  production via the quadruple heating functions of climate battery, solar, geo source and hydronic via wood stove pumping of hot water and hot air through the system.  We started thousands of seeds in it in February.  For the last few months we have been giving plants away to group members and pretty much whoever wants them.

We have completed many other self-reliance homestead projects, with some yet unfinished or in need of more improvement.  The work never really ends on a homestead, but when it is such an enjoyable evolutionary process, the work is more fun than any drudgery.  Being a daily creator of advancing some current project or embarking upon a new one, we never have a boring day!

We have accomplished numerous homestead projects within all 7 of the preparedness task forces of the BSOSC (Bitterroot Survival Outfitting Systems Co-op) which are taught in the lessons of our monthly meetings and are listed in survival hierarchy of importance on our www.bsoscblog.com.  These include mental/spiritual preparedness, shelter types, water source development, alternative energy, alternative (natural) medicine/health, alternative transportation, protection, personal cottage industry type businesses for economic development, gold/silver and barter systems.  These are the primary categories from which we have had hundreds of classes in our meetings over the years.

We have always been open to having people participating on our homestead, but due to some irresponsible, unmotivated people, have grown very cautious in offering an opportunity to live here and work part time for housing and utilities.  Many people talk the talk, but miserably fail to walk the walk.  Three times we have invited people who pompously talked the talk, only to later discover their total lack of accountability/responsibility and lack of industry to simply be the best person they could be.  Maybe we are too gullible in trusting people, that they are telling the truth and will do what they say if we give them the opportunity!

It is obvious that we must check out people more carefully while in turn, gladly offering them opportunity to thoroughly check us out.  With our 22 years of community service/activism here in the valley we are prepared to furnish personal, business, political, activism references someone may want.  We would only request equal reciprocation from anyone requesting the references on us.

Therefore, we request verifiable personal and professional references from anyone before our committing to offer an opportunity again.  At the moment we have somewhat limited living facilities to offer.  We do have an RV spot.  The limitation is that the mobile home we have on the back of our homestead suffered a broken pipe and subsequent water damage over the rough winter, which will require considerable repairs be completed before re-occupation.

Our offer to the right person/family would be:
1) Possibly a mobile home place to live with all utilities furnished if and when we succeed in getting time to complete repairs;
2) All the organic, heirloom fruit and vegetable food they want as long as they do their part to help in raising it;
3) A share in organic free range chicken production (meat, eggs) based upon equal participation in facilities, costs, etc.;
4) Access to use of our variety of shops including: welding/fabrication; woodworking; machine; auto restoration/painting and more;
5) Opportunity to start their own cottage industry business via use of our shops/facilities;
6) Meeting like-minded, community oriented new friends and networking opportunities via our BSOSC homestead prep group meetings;
7) Freedom to pursue their own personal pursuits, business with only a part-time committment on our homestead.

For years we had goats, turkeys, cattle, pigs, etc. which we raised and butchered.  When and if the time is right, these could be easily re-instituted...nothing but work, time and money to get all those endeavors going again!

Starr and I are very, very active in working on our homestead and little cottage industry businesses thereon.  Though I am 72 and she is 69, it seems very few half our age work as hard as we do.  This is why I always tell people we do not expect them to work any harder than we do.  It is fun in seeing that nobody believes our age.

If you are curious to talk about possible opportunities and can furnish references, it would be nice to visit with you.  My cell phone is 406-360-2248.  Our home phone is 406-363-3663 and Starr's cell is 406-546-6639.  My email address is jpf@sosgeneralstore.com.  I rarely get on these forums, so please reply directly as I would not want anyone to ever feel offended because they did not receive a response from us if you receive no reply from this posting.

If neither our possible opportunity offering nor the Bitterroot Valley of Montana location is a potential fit for you, we do wish you the very best in your eco-village/intentional community search!

Happy Empowerment Trails,


Jim Farley
Posts: 489
Location: Nomadic
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That was a nice summary of their homesteading endeavors. I hope they find a energetic and genuine person. The wildfire smoke sure was a turnoff when I went through that Bitteroot area. I had wanted to see more but kept going. Didn’t even stop at the hot spring which is unlike me. My ex girlfriend shared stories of horse packing trips in Montana when she lived there hiding from the law. Maybe someday I’ll see that backcountry.
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