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Moving urban farm - Advice needed  RSS feed

 
                            
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Hi All,

I just found this forum while I was searching for some information on ranch land, Fukuoka, Sepp Holzer, etc. I greatly appreciate the videos I found on youtube of Sepp by the way. I am looking forward to rebuilding our farm along the lines of what he has done.

We live in Arizona and have built a little urban farm over the last few years. I was going to drive up North yesterday and look one last time for land before making a decision, but finding this site and reading some posts about communities (Which in the past I did not think very positive of) gave me pause, and so I have spent some time reading instead.

I absolutely love the time I spend in the garden making little micro climates that produce vegetables even in searing 115 degree heat when most say it cannot be done. I find it so fascinating and fun it’s all I want to do. However I am no longer willing to be surrounded by noise, air, and electromagnetic pollution while I enjoy my time with nature.

So I have been planning to buy a piece of remote ranch land and set it up off the grid with rainwater harvesting, hydro, ferrocement tanks, wind, solar, cob and rammed earth buildings…etc, etc. and now I’m thinking that I would rather share this amazing lifestyle with some other good people, families possibly, that have a commitment to being fair, kind and trustworthy.

Eventually when the smoke clears from the mess going on with world governments I would enjoy having an educational camp for kids and their parents on the property.

From the little I have read here it seems that this is a knowledgeable and a really great group of people, and I am wondering if anyone would be willing to offer some suggestions and help me figure out where to relocate our little farm? And also where to look for people that would be interested in building a farm modeled after someone like sepp holzer.

Water has been the driving force of my searching so far, and although I love the desert, Northern Arizona has a very limited supply. I am becoming very motivated to make a move and have found a couple of decent land opportunities recently, such as one 36 acre parcel with a well that backs to forest for $65k. I had plans to purchase in the next couple of weeks and begin sowing seeds asap.

Now I am thinking of maybe going farther North. I was born and raised in the Northwest and have spent a great deal of my youth scouting, hunting and fishing Eastern Oregon. Ahh the memories of the John Day and the Deschutes…did I mention I love the desert?

I have also found some seemingly very good land deals with year round running water in Colorado and Idaho. At this point I am just not sure where to go, or if I will be able to find anyone out there kind and trustworthy that would also like to do something similar either with me or next door. I am not a big internet user and have spent very little time online in forums such as this. Where does one meet and qualify prospective partners? Any help pointing me in the right direction would be very much appreciated.

Thanks!

Marty
 
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Some won't like this, but...

I would suggest buying the kind of place you want. YOU want. Then start searching for people to share it with, as tenants.  I know it sounds extremely cynical (oh, well!), but as the years pass, I find more and more people who can't be trusted.  They are capable of putting on a really good front, and then you feel the knife in your back.  (I spent two years working with a psychopath -- a whole new world!)

And then, after some years, if you think you have found some people who fit, make a more permanent offer to them.

But, until you're sure, retain ownership and control.

You could put out the word of what kind of people you're looking for, as employees or tenants.  That way, you can get rid of them.  Not easily, perhaps, but eventually.

Or take some with you?

Time wounds all heels.

Sue
 
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I agree with sue. I suppose I am just as cynical. "partnerships" end up being too many chiefs and not enough indians in my not so humble opinion.

I am all for looking for realistic properties for what you intend to do. it is hard enough without fighting for water or a difficult climate. other than that I am the type of person who believes in going with your gut to some extent (after confirmation that a particular properties more tangible characteristics are suitable). you need to feel happy and at home immediatly or it will never feel right.
 
steward
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Finding Sepp fans is gonna be really hard.  Plus, you might find that there are different interpretations for what makes Sepp great! 

If you are gonna try to get a cooperative thing going, it usually isn't something that can be done in a week or two. 

The up sides of sharing land are obvious:  everything costs far less.  every chore becomes easier.  you can have animals and go on vacation.  There is always somebody around to visit with, so you don't feel like you are out in the middle of nowhere all by yourself. 

The down sides are less obvious and ... well ...  Sue and Leah are not bashful about alerting you to the potential downsides. 

And I have loads and loads and loads to say down this path.  It is a rich space worth a lot of discussion.

What an exciting time to have your feelers out for some new land!  For cooperative stuff, you might take a look at ic.org. 

Another thing you can try is to buy the land and make a go of it on your own.  You could then try to entice folks from woofers and organicvolunteers to help ... that's a whole nuther topic. 

Decisions, decisions, decisions and now is the time to plant your peas. 

I suppose that if I had 10 million smackers, I would buy a couple hundred acres near Missoula - with an existing large house, and then start the long path to having people live there to help and maybe have enough housing so that there can be a few good folks that stick around for several years.    I have a lot of odd-duck philosophies on how to get it to all work out between all the people.  I need to write these ideas down sometime ...





 
                            
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Hey thanks guys. I agree with you regarding trust issues. About 10 years ago I was taken for almost $10 grand by a con-man. I knew him for well over a year and after I realized what was happening it was too late. The degree of detail he had to go through to pull it off was the most shocking part. I later found he had several going at the same time. If he would have put that creativity into something positive he would be a multi-millionaire. Thank you for reminding me of that possibility.

Paul - The thought of 10 million brings a huge smile to my face. Just imagine what you could do! I decided a few years ago to cut way back on producing income and instead focused on produce...does that even make sense?  Anyway building the farm became more important and so now that I want to move it I really don't have the money to do it the way I would like to. Someone with money and no time but with the same ideas would be wonderful right about now.

I am sitting here in Northern AZ ready to go out and walk some acreage and I'll bet there are dozens of people heading to their businesses wondering what they will do when their 10 million becomes worth-less if or when the dollar loses it's value in this game the governments are playing. Why not build a farm while the money still has a decent value?

I would take the chance of a partnership if someone gave me creative control in writing. You said you have loads and loads to say on this path...I would like to hear more of your thoughts if you are up to it.

Have you been looking for something yourself?

In the meantime I will just go it alone like I had originally planned to do, and I will check out ic.org

Thanks!

Marty


 
paul wheaton
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Marty wrote:
I would take the chance of a partnership if someone gave me creative control in writing. You said you have loads and loads to say on this path...I would like to hear more of your thoughts if you are up to it.

Have you been looking for something yourself?



I've been investigating wiki software so I can express all of the stuff I have to say through that.  It's a sort of eco-system of thought.

It is possible to get a good starter property plus infrastructure and initial shaping of the land for, say, a million. 

That's a lot of dough. 

So, suppose there are four people going in on it.  Well, now it's four times cheaper.  And yet, still a bit of money.  You can mitigate some of this by doing what earthaven did:  Allow more folks onto the property provided that they pony up some money.  Earthaven's model was that they needed (this is my rusty memory) 10 people to put down $10,000 each.  The first people got to pick the first spot.  Then each year, newbies would have to lay down $1000 more.  So after seven years, somebody coming to the property would have to lay down $17,000 to get on.  This made it so that the down payment was covered and the mortgage payments were easily covered. 

Then comes how decisions are made.  Consensus.  A beautiful, wonderful thing when it works.  And pretty agonizing when it doesn't. 

I have dedicated enormous tracks of time to this issue over the last four years.  At the moment, my thinking is that the best solution is a hybrid solution.  Even though it would be 90% to 98% consensus, it would have to be called hierarchical.  There would have to be one person at the top that has ultimate say over everything.  And this one person would have to be decent to the core.  The ultimate in integrity.  With some serious depth of character.    And sharp.  And open.  And a good listener. 

Part of this decision is based on the idea (my rambling thinking - nothing more) that with consensus, your community is only as strong as the member with the weakest integrity/decency/etc.   

Hierarchical systems are lousy when the person at the top is lousy.  If the person at the top is excellent, then the system is excellent. 

I think it is easier to find one excellent person than to find, say, ten people that are all excellent. 

So then you bring in the idea of:  if I'm gonna move and get settled somewhere, I want it to be forever.  No more moving.  No more planting trees and leaving the fruit to somebody else.  And yet, we all have a long list of people we have known over the years.  Some are life long friends and some .... well ... have been less than optimal.  As you mention - some folks that seem really peachy for a long span of time ...  well .... it turns out that they're just up to no good. 

Risk. 

Of course, the risk is 10 times greater with a group of 10 using consensus - although, in another sense, it has less risk because things sorta stay the way they are without consensus.  So there is less chance that there will be some big, awful change.  And less change that there will be some awesome growth. 

I think the Sepp techniques are an excellent example.  Sepp wants to bring in a track hoe, put in terraces and hugelbeds.  Then put in 10 ponds.  Total price is $15,000 for the equipment and fuel.  The one leader might be all for it and work it in the budget.  In consensus, half the people want to leave things as is - this kind of digging seems destructive. 

I'm keen on the idea of finding something that I can be a part of .... something Sepp-like.  Something with ponds and terraces and swales and polyculture and pigs and chickens and cows and fish and eco building and shared meals and campfires and music and ... community.    Lots of upsides and minimal downsides.  Something for the rest of my days. 


 
                            
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Paul, I agree with you regarding consensus. It sounds great in theory, and with the right group it probably works great. I spent many years with a group of guys that knew each other for literally as long as we can remember. A really good group of people, average to high integrity. Smart people, real deep thinkers, drug and alcohol free.

We decided just about everything via consensus and even the simplest camping trip for example almost always ended up being a very long conversation with at least one or more people disappointed and or frustrated about something. Then we met an expert woodsman whom we all had great respect for and we all wanted to spend some time in the wilderness with him, so we followed his lead. Things were so smooth and easy during that time.

Everyone had a lot more fun and frankly we got out and did more with him than we ever had before. I personally believe it’s deep in our nature, and that is why there is a kindof deep inner pull to be a part of something like this. Especially for those like myself that do not practice a particular religion and are not a part of any groups or organizations.

I would love to find a place and never move again. I have moved so much in my life it’s crazy. But I found some great pieces of land last week ranging from 40 acres to 160. So here I sit with a decision to make. I just do not see myself in any of these spots for the rest of my life. So it will be another learning experience and yes I will probably end up giving all that hard work to someone else in exchange for a little money.

I think my ideal spot would have a lot of water, streams, springs, lakes. I am in a weird spot here aren’t I? I love the desert and lots of water…? I think I need to spend some time further North to find property East of mountain ranges like the Cascades and Rockies that gets enough runoff for a year round creek or stream to truly have the best of both worlds.

I am curious why you would choose Montana?
 
paul wheaton
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Well, first of all, Missoula is an excellent community.  I lived there for nine years and would really like to go back.

Second:  When I had a farm on mount spokane, I would visit with interns and other folks about coming from afar to the farm for a season, or maybe just a month.  "Washington" apparently means "lots of rain and gray skies" and the silver lining was "but Seattle is supposed to be really happening - so not bad for days off."  So I really worried about folks getting the wrong idea. 

If you tell somebody "montana" then they have a really clear idea of mountains and rivers.  Cold in the winter and cool in the summer.  So, when interns are thinking about where they are going to work this summer ...  if they want to work on a farm, do they choose a spot in a hot part of the country, or in a cool part? 

For me, it would be washington, oregon, idaho or montana.  And between the four, I would choose montana.

Besides, I was looking at some property near Kalispell last year and was told that there were no building codes (or maybe it was that there were codes, but not inspectors, therefore the same as if there were no codes?)

I'm not sure how that compares to Missoula. 

Desert + water sounds about right.  Although I do think there needs to be at least enough moisture so that land is naturally forested.  At least, that's what I would want.

 
                            
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I cannot believe six months has passed since I started this thread.

I have learned a lot in the last six months. We have traveled to the coast in California back over to the middle of Texas up through New Mexico and into Colorado over to Utah and back down into Arizona. Frankly the further North I go the more I like it. I have been planning to go clear up into Montana but just have not made it that far yet.

We are loading the ole motorhome for one last trip before we have to make a decision.

The bottom line is that we need to move in six weeks and I would really like to find a place with other compassionate people that enjoy things like permaculture and building with cob or rammed earth. Families - that are committed to integrity and spiritually inclined would be ideal. My boys keep telling me that they really want to build something underground with a tunnel and of course I think it would be fun to build an underground fort as well. Maybe something like those things Sepp builds out of logs for his animals?

We will want to build a bigger and better tree house with zip lines and just all the stuff that creative and joyful kids/people of all sizes and ages would find fun and exciting. So add creative and fun loving to the list in addition to compassionate and spiritually inclined. :--)

Where in the world am I going to find anyone that thinks that kind of thing is fun? Most folks are way too wrapped up in doing what everyone else does to even believe doing such a thing all day would be possible.

I have emailed dozens and have spoke with and met quite a few folks in the last few months that are a part of or want to be a part of a community. So far nothing has clicked. Not usually because of the people, but because of the properties and their limitations. I just have not found the right combination.

I guess I am going to have to start something myself. I really did not want to do that mainly because raising two boys and growing the food to feed them is a full time job. I have been blessed with an income that will allow me to live full time on even the most remote property but my days are still quite full. So maybe if I could find someone that has the time and the skills to organize a small group we could work something out?

Is there anyone out there that is planning to homestead but just have not found the right place yet? Or someone that has property and would appreciate someone willing to make something out of it? Maybe we could be neighbors? Maybe we could go in on land together and legally split it up so that we each have our own place. We can work closely together, buy supplies in bulk, etc. but avoid the challenges that come with sharing everything - unmet expectations and all that.

Or if someone has a great plan to make sharing work I would be open to listening to it.

Paul, I am curious what you have decided to do or are doing now? Did you ever find some land?

Does anyone know where I would place an ad for such a thing? I not only need to find the land but also some partners or better yet, investors. Has anyone ran across people asking what I am asking? Is there other websites like this one where good people can be found?

Does anyone have land and wouldn’t mind selling a corner of it?

I am not sure if I am going to be able to pull this off in six weeks. I may have to put everything in storage….I wonder if I can store a 40 foot cargo container somewhere? Storing a four stall breezeway barn with fencing and tack shed...right.

Anyway - I may be forced to give away or sell the animals and put everything away until I can find the right place to start over. I would really like to make this move be my last…that is probably why I have had such a hard time finding the “right” place. I would be fine with that idea, I guess, except for our pony, I sure would like to keep her and I know the boys will also.

I want to build cabins like this:

A place where children and their parents can come and learn about organic gardening and peaceful parenting. A place where the children can play all day while the parents discover how children really learn, and how they can create a connection, a real relationship that makes any kind of coercion, consequences or punishments a thing of the past.

cobhouse-320x240-vert.jpg
[Thumbnail for cobhouse-320x240-vert.jpg]
 
paul wheaton
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If you are headed to within an hour of missoula, then it seems we should talk. 

I'm still looking. 

 
                            
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I did actually plan to go up into Montana on this final trip. I find it beautiful and especially this time of year it will probably be stunning. My concern is what is coming in the next few months....and how long it will last. I am not sure if lows below freezing for six months out of the year is really the best choice for self sufficiency. It seems like that far north, that far in from the coast, is a fairly extreme environment. Maybe I am putting too much on it and it’s really not all that bad?

I would love to live in a place that is snowed in for a month or two out of the year. From what I have read a good long freeze really helps everything along, soil, trees, etc.…I can remember some really great memories of ice storms in the northwest as a kid that had us literally stranded at my grandparents acreage for over a week because of a very long driveway and lots of fallen trees. No power and we hauled water from the creek up the hill to their house…it was fantastic. Oh yeah the hill….that was a solid sheet of ice and we did not own anything that was going to drive down that without a big ole crash at the bottom!

I would need to learn more about how it would work out in such an environment. How do you live off the land when it’s frozen solid for half of the year? I did not want to depend too much on greenhouses. How do the animals do up there? I suppose everything adapts and survives just fine, but I wonder how dependant folks up there are on feed and grocery stores?

How would they do if they did not exist?

 
Leah Sattler
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I suppose that living in that climate takes alot more planning. you can cut your own hay for self sufficiency in animals. store up fuel and food etc....I like the fact that where I am at now virtually all year round the critters can go out and find something to eat on their own. and realistically I could to. it doesn't get so cold here that it is dangerous as long as you have simple supplies and plenty of food. people have managed to survive primitively in some of the harshest conditions on earth. but I am not sure that I would want to make the choice to do that.........
 
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I am convinced that urban areas need the kind of work you have done as much as rural ones do, perhaps more so.  I also think more-isolated areas could be harmed more by the changes we're going through than places with a moderate population density.

I hope that someone like-minded takes over the property you are leaving behind.  It sounds like you are mostly committed to moving away fromthe city, but might I humbly suggest the edges of the suburbs?  Many poorly-planned developments have run out of money and been left half-finished, and it might be that some of the property becoming available as the investment real-estate market begins to collapse would be suitable for what you have in mind.
 
                            
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polyparadigm wrote:
I also think more-isolated areas could be harmed more by the changes we're going through than places with a moderate population density.

....might I humbly suggest the edges of the suburbs? 



I would really like to know more about your thinking on this. If you could clarify what you mean by "changes we are going through" and if you are thinking of a natural disaster, man made disaster, just some food shortages, unemployed people, or what. If I understand you correctly you feel that is would be safer on the outer edges of a large city than a couple of hours out in the forest?
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Mostly, I mean a decline in energy production.

That will have a lot of effects that are difficult to predict, but two that seem likely and important IMHO are the economy becoming less global and less monetary, and the food system becoming much less energy-intensive.

A lot of rural lifestyles take huge amounts of energy even to set up, and what inter-dependence remains between rural and urban, whether the relations are physical or cultural, seems like it will be more difficult to maintain as time goes by.

I'm not necessarily thinking in terms of safety, more in terms of comfort and opportunity.  That is to say, there are more options at the edge of nowhere than there are in the middle.
 
Leah Sattler
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polyparadigm wrote:
Mostly, I mean a decline in energy production.



A lot of rural lifestyles take huge amounts of energy even to set up, and what inter-dependence remains between rural and urban, whether the relations are physical or cultural, seems like it will be more difficult to maintain as time goes by.

I'm not necessarily thinking in terms of safety, more in terms of comfort and opportunity.  That is to say, there are more options at the edge of nowhere than there are in the middle.



I think that really depends alot on your expectations and wants and what you consider options and what you consider 'the edge of nowhere' . I feel much "safer" in my more rural home then I did a year ago in my "amongst the suburbs home".  I have the option of growing alot more of my own food with alot less input and dependence on the financial system and economy. and I don't feel like I would become other peoples "option" if things were to get really bad. that being said I am certainly not in "the middle of nowhere". still near a small town with basic amenties and within 20-40 minutes of a larger town with a bit more. when I think 'middle of nowhere' I think of some places in nebraska and kansas I have drove through where it appears you have several hours drive to get to even a gas station. that is too much for me. I want to plan for bad times but still recognize that most likely we will be living in a world similiar to this for quite some time and take that into account.
 
pollinator
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i am in a very similar situation to Leah, I live 5 miles from a tiny town, 20 to 40 miles from larger cities..but not big cities..i also am able to provide a lot of food for ourselves..but could provide a lot more should the occasion require as we have a lot of wild animals which we don't hunt, and a lot of foodstuffs that we don't harvest..simply as we haven't had the need...

i grow a lot of food crops that i haven't used as food..but rather as ornamentals..but could eat if we had to ..such as daylillies by the hundreds and cattails in my ponds..the list would go on for pages..of things we could eat if we had to..but i also grow food crops that we do eat, freeze, can or dry, and often give away..or allow the animals that are wild here to eat..such as the gobs of excess apples..we could eat if we had to..but we have enough so we don't need them..so some go every year to feed our wildlife.

i am fairly certain we could live off orur stores and our land for several years..it might not be as comfortable as the way we live now..but we could.

also as far as safety..one is only as safe as one is..it depends a lot on the criminal element around you..we do provide for our safety as best we can..but there is always the chance you could be robbed or killed no matter where you live..i feel we are safer than in the city however..all the way around
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Leah Sattler wrote:
I don't feel like I would become other peoples "option" if things were to get really bad.



A lot of city-based survivalists are worried about that.  It sounds like your situation right now is not much of a concern, but many people who want to move out of the city in order to protect their wealth kind of get the wrong idea.  A good article on that below:

http://www.oftwominds.com/blogjun08/survival6-08.html

I have lived in a very bad part of Oakland (Ghost Town), and while it had major problems, the 1,500 person town I grew up in was worse.  The people were more heavily armed in that tiny town, passersby were not as good-natured or as frequent, the economy was more centered around illegal drugs, public services were less available, dropout rates were higher, etc.  I have heard gunshots from a few blocks away on a handful of occasions in my time living in Oakland, but back in that little town the violence was not limited to gangs. 

When I was ten or so a couple of our neighbors accidentally stabbed their baby to death when the woman mistakenly thought that holding the child in front of her would cause her boyfriend to stay his knife.  I heard about that a couple weeks after it happened, but lots of other horrific things happened around me when I was little, and I only learned about them from my family later on.  It could be that I grew up in a worse little town than most, and so my opinion of such places is distorted, but my understanding is this: the level of poverty is similar on paper but worse when people are more isolated, and the greater privacy available in the countryside can allow subtle or even obvious evils to fester for generations without meeting resistance.

I'd also like to offer a re-interpretation of the quote above: In the city, I feel that if things get really bad, my neighbors will consider me an option.  Many of us have vegetable plots, a few of us keep chickens, and our community has a lot of other resources to share as well, tangible and intangible.  If I wanted a haircut, or to learn how to design a sewing pattern, or how to use a handgun, or an assault rifle, I know who on my block I should ask about that (four different women, respectively).  And they know I'm the one to ask about sciency things like heat-treating metal.
 
Leah Sattler
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I guess I take a middle ground stance on this. I don't believe in isolation and hoarding and I do think we need others in the community to be safe and survive if neccessary. but what that community is comprised of makes a huge difference in whether or not you need to be on the defensive or part of the community in a survival situation. I guess from my experience the 'community' near my old house I felt on the defensive even when not in a survival situation. I had my measly .22 out several times (the only gun we own that I feel very comfortable with - dh traveled) with the doors locked with one of the the drug crazed neighbors having some hysterical fit outside. very close to calling the law several times. praying that they didn't come knocking on my door and then get ticked off when didnt' answer. had to call the cops on one of the other neighbors kids who thought it was fine to shoot at birds in the willow tree in my front yard. bullet whizzing through the tree whilst I walked out front holding my then 18 month old. and I made it a point to be very nice to those people. the meth heads  still have one of my extension cords that they "borrowed".  they were not interested in being part of a community and I don't expect it would have got better in hard times. I didnt' envision them coming to me to barter for eggs. I envision them stealing and eating my last laying hen. many of them hardly had much capacity for long term consequences. they were the potential roaming predators.
 
paul wheaton
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First, it isn't frozen all year.  It will snow and it will freeze and once in a while it gets freaky cold!  But it seems that the snow is usually on the ground for a few days and then it warms up and melts off. 

Take a look at this page:

http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/climate/temp_graphs.php?wfo=mso&stn=KMSO

Focus on january.  The average temp appears to be a low in the teens and a high around 32.  This last year, they had a week of the lows dipping below freezing and the highs being around 40.  Only two days in january dipped below zero.  And it looks like that for this year, those were the only two days below zero.

 
                            
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paul wheaton wrote:
First, it isn't frozen all year.  It will snow and it will freeze and once in a while it gets freaky cold!  But it seems that the snow is usually on the ground for a few days and then it warms up and melts off. 



No I would not think that it would stay frozen all year...I said my concern was six months out of the year there are lows below freezing. Frankly I was guessing at that point just from an idea I have of that area and research I have done in surrounding states.



Take a look at this page:

http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/climate/temp_graphs.php?wfo=mso&stn=KMSO

Focus on january.  The average temp appears to be a low in the teens and a high around 32.   This last year, they had a week of the lows dipping below freezing and the highs being around 40.  Only two days in january dipped below zero.  And it looks like that for this year, those were the only two days below zero.



Below zero is pretty extreme cold for sure, but my concern is the low 30's, maybe even mid thirties as that is where the frost comes in right? Actually I have suffered frost damage here in the high 30's when the low was not supposed to be below 40.

I am not sure if you are thinking that freezing is zero or....? It just sounds like from your response that you are not considering that crop damage begins, at least in my experience in the mid 30's. Or maybe just not concerned because you have a solution? I would like to better understand this.

It has been a week I think since I looked at those monthly temperatures, and I went back a couple of years, but if memory serves there are lows that are in the mid to low 30's for five to six months out of the year. Like you said there is a month and sometimes two where the high is barely above freezing.

My concern again is that if the lows are consistently below freezing for say even four months (The soil we be frozen solid for a lot of that time right?), and the temp will drop below 40 for another three to four months....I am curious how people have done it or just even how they feel about the sustainability and developing permaculture in such an environment where outside growing is limited to four months, maybe five?

My idea of permaculture is having edibles growing all around me, and hopefully producing something for us to eat year round as the seasons change.

I love the look and feel of Montana...I plan to drive up there in the next couple of weeks. It reminds me of Frontier House the PBS series...I really want to watch that again! Wasn't that Montana? I remember how badly I wanted them to allow the homesteaders to actually try and make it through the winter! If anyone knows of other shows like that please let me know...We really enjoy those kinds of programs.

If I just thought of Montana in summer and fall I would probably want to spend the rest of my life there. However if winter came on strong in November and did not leave until May......



 
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If you love the look and feel of Montana, you might also scout some of the mountain ranges in central and eastern Oregon and Washington - John Day country, the Wallowas, the Blues. Depending on elevation, the weather is definitely milder than Montana, and the landscape has a similar feeling. Also, it's closer to the ocean!

 
                            
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jacqueg wrote:....John Day country, the Wallowas, the Blues.



Absolutely! - your post brought back some amazing memories. I spend a great deal of time when I was young in eastern Oregon. I once floated the John Day for a week and have spent a week high up in the Eagle cap wilderness area in the Wallawa Mountains at above 8,000 feet. It took almost two days, some of it going up what felt like miles of switchbacks, just to hike into our campsite.

Probably the most beautiful place I have ever been. I have never again seen such amazing high alpine lakes and meadows, bare granite peaks and ridges and a  never ending abundance of wildlife. Huge elk and mule deer everywhere you turn it seemed.

My challenge now is that I have shifted my thinking from how I have always done things….by myself, for myself and without the need or want of anyone else involved. To now I really want like minded people around me to help me build and grow - and in turn I can help them. I have just recently realized that a great deal of the joy in life is the quality and qualities of the people around me. The times I have been working side by side with people going a similar direction as myself have been the most memorable and rewarding for sure.

The Wallawa’s is a beautiful place. If I could find some people willing to go in on some property, or find an old rancher that is willing to peel off a few acres, or….?

Finding the right people and especially the right property is far more of a challenge than I could have ever guessed.
 
jacque greenleaf
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I don't know about Montana, but if you are looking for perma-friendly people in your vicinity, you can find them in even generally conservative areas in both Oregon and Washington. Just look for a town with a bookstore and art gallery...
 
jacque greenleaf
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and yes, there is no place on earth more beautiful than the Wallowas.
 
paul wheaton
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Marty wrote:
No I would not think that it would stay frozen all year...I said my concern was six months out of the year there are lows below freezing. Frankly I was guessing at that point just from an idea I have of that area and research I have done in surrounding states.




Ooops!  My miskake.  I should have said "all winter" and not "all year".  Sorry! 


I am not sure if you are thinking that freezing is zero or....? It just sounds like from your response that you are not considering that crop damage begins, at least in my experience in the mid 30's. Or maybe just not concerned because you have a solution? I would like to better understand this.



Freezing is 32 degrees F.  The average last frost of the spring is around may 31.  The average first frost of the fall is around sep 1. 

Frost will kill most garden plants. 

Zero is really cold. 

30 below is wowie zowie freaky cold! 

One winter I was in missoula and it got to 27 below and the wind was howling so hard that some folks reported that with the wind chill is was 100 below!  And I rode my bike home in that.  That is the coldest I have ever experienced.    But that was one period of a few hours that happened one time out of many decades. 

The growing season for most folks is 90 days.  My growing season was about four weeks longer because I used raised beds.  And I have lots of other tricks up my sleeve to get it longer still! 

But the funny thing is that if you go somewhere that does not get as cold, you will find that the growing season is often not too much longer than that.  For example, in the puget sound area, the growing season is about may 10 to sep 20.  But since it doesn't get really cold, the organic matter doesn't last as long in the soil and there are lots more bugs and fungi and diseases to deal with.  Most people lose their tomatoes in august due to blight.  And the clouds make for fewer hours of sunshine during the growing season.

have spent a week high up in the Eagle cap wilderness area in the Wallawa Mountains at above 8,000 feet. It took almost two days, some of it going up what felt like miles of switchbacks, just to hike into our campsite.



I lived in Wallowa county for many years.  The climate is almost the same as the missoula area.

I have never again seen such amazing high alpine lakes and meadows, bare granite peaks and ridges and a  never ending abundance of wildlife. Huge elk and mule deer everywhere you turn it seemed



Which lakes did you go to?  I've been to about eight or nine.  My grandad used to be a guide up there.





 
                            
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paul wheaton wrote:
The growing season for most folks is 90 days.  My growing season was about four weeks longer because I used raised beds.  And I have lots of other tricks up my sleeve to get it longer still! 



It's worth having a look at http://www.chelseagreen.com/bookstore/item/the_winter_harvest_handbook:paperback , "The Winter Harvest Handbook". The author explains how they grow throughout a fair bit of the winter (slower when it's cold) in Maine using unheated greenhouses.

(A review of the book: http://gaiatribe.geekuniversalis.com/2009/04/21/book-review-the-winter-harvest-handbook/ ; more reviews can certainly be found - this just happens to show up highly ranked as I was looking for a URL for the book itself)
 
                            
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Your grandad was a guide up there? Lucky man. Uh...you want to know what lakes? Um....that was like *cough* thirty years ago. I can see them like it was yesterday, but I don't know their names. I see this huge natural bowl of jagged granite at the top of a mountain with one way in...a little stream winding through a meadow with trees around the base and snow on the tips of the ridges...stunning. I want to go back! I need to invent teleportation  poof - there...ahhh

Oooops, forgot my coat.

Oh hey...something I saw up there...what looked like a rock wall. Nobody knew what it was but it definately looked man-made...and it went on for what seemed to me to be hundreds of feet, maybe longer. It was much taller than an adult..I was like 12 or maybe 14 I guess and it seemed huge to me. It was probably like maybe twelve or fifteen feet high and crumbled down in spots. Does that ring a bell? I always wondered what such a structure was doing so far back in the wilderness.

Growing season 90 days?? plus a few weeks? What are you going to do the other eight or nine months out of the year? What are the animals going to eat?

Seriously Paul, if there wasn't a feed store down the road, or a grocery store, wouldn't that be an extremely difficult life?  - it seems like you would need the eight months to recover from the work you would have to do in the four months to store enough food for everyone to survive the winter.

Do you plan to use heated green houses?
 
paul wheaton
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I plan to have no green house.

You preserve food for the winter.

In the winter you do your woodland work.  You set up your plans and designs for the following growing season.  You arrange for interns.  Attend/provide workshops. 



 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Marty wrote:wouldn't that be an extremely difficult life?  - it seems like you would need the eight months to recover from the work you would have to do in the four months to store enough food for everyone to survive the winter.



That reminds me of this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/25/opinion/25robb.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=graham+robb&st=nyt

In the mountains, the tradition of seasonal sloth was ancient and pervasive. “Seven months of winter, five months of hell,” they said in the Alps. When the “hell” of unremitting toil was over, the human beings settled in with their cows and pigs. They lowered their metabolic rate to prevent hunger from exhausting supplies.

 
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Some food for thought on the urban (suburban) vs. rural sustainability question - http://energybulletin.net/node/3757 .

There are pros and cons to living rurally vs. "in town". My biggest concern is dependence on automobiles. If you need to drive (to work, school, the store, etc.) on a daily basis then I don't think your location is very sustainable.

I think finding the right community of people is very important and that can happen either in a city or in the country.

FWIW,
Tim
 
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Hi All,

First post here.  This looks like a very nice site.  I wanted to post first in this thread due to similar interests to the opening post.

Marty - your ideas sound great, and I'm curious if you are still looking around.  Our info is below if you or any others here may be interested in working with us to get a community going in SW Oregon.

My family and I are interested in relocating to southwest Oregon to establish a homestead.  We are currently living in North Carolina.  We would very much like to connect up with one or more families - either joining in with an established community or working to establish one from scratch.  To that end, let me describe our family and interests to get things started.

I am 38 and my wife is 36 and we have been married for 13 years.  We have three boys who are 10, 5 and 2 years old.  I grew up in Michigan, and have lived in Colorado, Oregon and Illinois before ending up currently in North Carolina.  I tend to be active, but not in a sport sense.  My time outside of keeping the family functional and work is usually spent on things such as:  raising fruits/nuts/vegetables, brewing, beekeeping, raising rabbits, martial arts, landscaping projects and reading.  My educational background is in the scientific disciplines – Microbiology, Neuroscience, Molecular Biology and Pharmacology.  My wife grew up in Oregon and has lived in New Mexico, Colorado and Illinois before North Carolina.  She also has a science background as well as a strong artistic/creative skill set.  Her other interests include:  photography, graphic illustration, biking, painting and reading.  We all enjoy hiking and generally spending time outdoors.

We are homeschooling 3 boys - ages 10, 5 and 2.  We've been on an independent path that pulls together the ideals of John Holt's "unschooling" along with the respect and self-responsibility articulated by Maria Montessori.  We homeschool with a group called FIAR,  which is a literature based group that organizes learning around a shared book list and schedules field trips throughout the state. It is a lively group that provides for good socializing and exposure to new places and ideas.

The basic premise of all of this is that we believe children learn best by following their innate curiosities and asking questions.  Each child is on his own path - and family teamwork allows for the boys to see the power of cooperation and benefit of each others strengths in the reality of day to day living. 

This style of learning allows for infinite paths... Our oldest is very structured and enjoys games involving math, sci-fantasy, and chemistry.  He needs music - whether piano, cello, or just humming.  Our 5 year old needs nature - especially insects.  He spends most of his time capturing, reading about, or playing insect or animal related games.  He learns best visually and is a motivated self learner but does not want anybody to "teach" him.   Finally my 2 year old is very organized and verbal.  He can speak at length and is presently fascinated with self-teaching the alphabet.

This summer - we put on an 8 part nature class that invited kids from our neighborhood to join us in exploring our acreage.  The older boys each were responsible for contributing to the success from compost critters to monarch butterflies, and we split the modest $ earnings from the camp as well.

I treasure that we live in a neighborhood that is bustling with children and homeschool families.  Doors are open, yards entwine and playmates have become extended family.  We have fun parties, learn a lot, and are very open to new friends.  Creating that in a new setting will be difficult, and I would like so much to have a village of self reliant people who can also ask for help, offer a meal, share a responsibility and offer guidance as well.  Setting festivals to coincide with harvests and seasons - from blueberries to salsa - to pumpkin fests.  Letting the children be themselves - with great respect for others - and the self esteem that comes with self responsibility and grounded passionate interests.

We are looking to build to the next level on what we have created here in our home in NC since moving here in 2001.  Our property is a bit less than an acre and about half of it is in mature hardwoods.  We have built up a large portion of the shaded area as a kids place to play and own.  The immediate neighborhood has about a dozen kids who are homeschooled, so there is almost always a group for them to play with once the chores and school time is done.  The other portion of the property is built up almost completely as an orchard for fruit and nut trees and berry bushes and large areas of raised beds for annual vegetables.  I have tried to incorporate as many permaculture concepts as possible, but I still consider myself a novice in this area.  We have a large diversity of types of producing plants ranging over 80 different types of edibles not including the annual crops.  I am a member of NAFEX (North American fruit explorers) and Seed Savers Exchange (an organization dedicated to maintaining and exchanging open-pollinated seeds).  We grow ~95% organically.  This has been to experiment and not only see what will grow well here, but to see what our family likes.

Ideally our next place in SW Oregon would be substantially larger, at least 5 acres.  Having additional room for more orchard and vegetables and grains is very important to us.  The soil in our area in NC has been a real challenge (red, acidic clay) so we are looking forward to fertile well drained soil.  In addition to flat land for growing crops, a woodlot (flat or hillside) would be great to have to provide additional nutrient capture, diversity and construction material/heating options.  I think we will continue to raise rabbits both for their fertility enhancing manure and high quality meat.  Chickens and dairy goats would be welcome additions to the homestead, if there are enough other folks working together to allow this to be feasible.  The honey bees have been very enjoyable to work with and I look forward to establishing a new set of hives.  A water feature is another area that we would like to have present on the property.  We currently have a small pond that is part of a swale/rain-catch system and the diversity of aquatic and insect life it has enabled has been fantastic.  If a stream/creek is not an option a pond in the new location would be a must.

Our thoughts on the timing for the move is in the early to mid part of 2010.  I am still wrapping up some pieces at work which will allow me to continue to work with the small pharmaceutical company that I have been with since moving to NC.  I think having me work (remotely) will allow for the family to just have one income and open up options for locations for the homestead.

Having one or more families with kids similar in age on the same property (separate houses) would allow us to all enjoy homesteading life more fully – through a tight knit community and better access to a wider set of skills than just one family can provide.  If something can’t be worked out on the same property, perhaps adjoining parcels could be purchased by each family to allow for a more “traditional” setup, but still allow many of the perks of an intentional community.

Eventually I would enjoy seeing a good sized village grow out of this with 100+ acres and ten or more families involved.  In this way we could provide a near sustainable setting with minimal transportation requirements to obtain other essential items or skills/services (health care, technical trades, etc… could all be represented in the community).  However, I am realistic enough to see this is a very unlikely near term possibility.  Starting with one or two families working together – and the networks they bring along with them, may make the difference in facing the challenges of the coming years. 

We are very interested in “alternative” construction options and are open to either retrofitting an existing structure or building from scratch to create a home(s) that are independent of utility tie-ins and comfortable, peaceful places to live.

Please contact me either by PM or posting in this thread if you are interested in talking or have any questions regarding further information.

Thank you!
Kurt
 
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Marty - have you seen this post
http://www.permies.com/bb/index.php?topic=2307.0

You might want to contact this guy, David about your quest.

Blessings,


~Jami
 
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