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are there currently millions of permaculture millionaires? (the story of Gert)

 
pollinator
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I have thought and thought on Gert. I have a detailed plan on becoming like Gert.

Sugar - maple trees tapped for sugar in spring and fall

Tea - grown in shady terraces and processed methodically

Grain - corn and buckwheat grown in garden*

Vegetables - 70+ varieties grown in garden*

Fruit - apples, plums, cherries, peaches, and pears grown in forest clearing. Berries grown in fruit tree shadows. Grapes grow on arbor in the summer kitchen complex. Annual fruits grown in garden. Pulp left over from cider and wine pressing is used to finish pigs.

Tobacco - turkish and landrace varieties grown together in garden and freely allowed to pollinate. Processed in summer kitchen complex.

Meat** - fish from nearby river, deer and turkey from the forest, pigs and chickens raised for meat on the farm. Preserved largely by smoking, canning, and freezing.

Eggs - chickens

Dairy -from two nubian goats, excess made into queso fresco and queso añejo, yogurt, and butter. Whey used to soak grain for fattening pigs.

Herbs - from herb garden surrounding house

We have equipment for making textiles, sewing, blacksmithing, carpentry, and ceramics.




* garden is about one acre.

** I am no longer vegan.

 
pollinator
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Mick Fisch wrote:

My wife had a 'wake up' moment a while back.  We had been going to a self sufficiency class in our church.  This class was focused on finances (there are other classes with other focuses).  My wife realized that she had been worrying about the money to buy things we needed.  She suddenly realized she didn't need the money, she needed the stuff.  So she started to focus and pray on how to get the things we needed.  She quickly and consistently found the stuff either free or very cheap from a variety of sources.  My wife told my daughter who is homesteading in Alaska about this.  My daughter did the same thing.  She needed a bookcase, a printer and something else (I forget what it was).  She felt like she should check the dump.  (they have an area where people can leave stuff others might want).  She found everything but the printer there, exactly what she needed.  While she was loading it, a guy drove up to drop off a printer.  He had bought a new one but the old one worked perfectly.  This attitude of repurposing and scrounging is part of the permies mindset.  The reason I tell the story is to point out that needs were met without spending money.  What we need is our needs met, not the money to pay to get our needs met.



yep, this ^^^

dumpster thriving, needing things and not necessarily money, i had the same revelation, and it changed my life.
it gave me the courage to jump into my passions and art, to basically give up wage slavery and decide all i HAD TO DO, was make art, grow food, and build things/find shelter.
so this is what i do to the best of my ability, and freedom from wage slavery is worth at least a million bucks.
directly providing, shamelessly scrounging, growing, building those things instead of buying it all, is not only economical, but empowering.

manifesting is always fun too =) just to have faith in the abundance of the universe, amidst the illusion of scarcity and desperation, to just MANIFEST things...simple magic. =)

well fortune favors the bold, and you have to put it out there, but i have definite used the fates help somehow just simply manifesting the THINGS needed, in fact i have knack for it. anything i need, truly need, i can usually manifest fairly easily, by forming the full image of it in my mind, fleshing it out a bit, and just asking the universe to provide. then i find it randomly, someone offers, craigslist post, etc etc =)
 
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I think the premise that Gert works 48 weeks 10 to 20 hours/week and 4 weeks 50 hours/week is unlikely.  When you look at people living alternative lifestyles, you have to look at energy systems.  Rivers have eddies, and as every Kayaker knows, those eddies are the easy way to move up stream.  Many people in the alternative world use 'energy eddies' to move forward.  Pockets of 'waste' with nutritional value are collected and utilized.  I think these people add value to society, but they must be willing to move to a new eddy if the one they are using dries up.  I don't see their lifestyle as feasible for all.  Their lifestyle is in part made possible by the mass over consumption around them.  I have lived in intentional communities for 40 years.  That can be an interesting game; my advice is to read Animal Farm, because the pigs always move in when things become successful and the Boxer's usually are sold for glue.  The ideal is that you watch everyone else's back and everyone else watches yours.  I have plenty had plenty of disappointment in that arena.  Being of a capable nature, I have never really minded when people draft off me.  Unfortunately, I have had some drafters become opportunists when I am played out.  You can't count on people to always act right.  Much as I would like the world to be different, I walk softly, but I make sure I carry a nice stick.

I don't measure my millionaire status by how much or how hard I work.  I am successful when I am happy and in harmony with my goals.  I think the Gert premise as given here, is like taking herbal capsules instead of pills.  It is the pill mentality that is wrong, not what is in the pills.  Herbs can be utilized like pills, but the point is to use herbs in your cooking, in your diet, so you don't have to 'take pills'.  In the same way there needs to be a shift from doing things you don't like for money, to doing what you enjoy, for life.  Many people will not want to farm or do permaculture stuff (most of my friends), but they are very positive contributors to the wheel (of life).  My legacy's will be soils I have improved, trees I have planted, kind deeds I have done and hopefully some knowledge that I have fleshed out and shared.  The concept that some people are important and others are not is as antiquated as monarchs, and in my mind, comes from thousands of years of monarch rule.  As a physician, I have yet to meet a human that did not find their own self to have value and did not want to be treated with fairness and kindness.  The Koans I gave myself when I was a young man where as follows:  1.  What if no one has ever been like you?  Looking for other people of like mind could become a lifelong endeavor and you would never have time to accomplish your dreams.  So just be you and get on with it.  The one thing you will always be better at than anyone else is being authentically you.  2.  You are on your death bed and your great grandchildren ask you for knowledge.  What are the timeless truths in life?  Truths that will never die?  Spend part of your life acquiring these.  The only thing I really learned following this path is that the only thing of real value you earn in life is the memory people have of you.  That is my 'millionaire Gert'.  :)
 
pollinator
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I've never been bored in my life.

Maybe that's not strictly accurate.  I have too many interests to be bored.  

I envy people who can work hard.




I am the same way, but unfortunately I have lost my health.

Currently I am in a big holding pattern because I just do not have any stamina. The Doctors in Maine have said there is nothing they can do for me, so if they are right, then I have to figure out what I can do. If the new Doctors I am going to see can do something to at least mitigate my health issue, then I can move forward with our farm plans.
 
pollinator
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siri atma khalsa wrote:I think the premise that Gert works 48 weeks 10 to 20 hours/week and 4 weeks 50 hours/week is unlikely.



Can you explain more why you think it is unlikely?  Do you think the Gerts have to work more hours than that?  Or less?

 
Travis Johnson
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siri atma khalsa wrote:I think the premise that Gert works 48 weeks 10 to 20 hours/week and 4 weeks 50 hours/week is unlikely.



I can assert that Gert working 48 weeks at 20 hours per week is true!

I kept careful track on my labor hours over the last 11 years, and averaged together, it came to 1100 hours per year. I also was able to take my farm from 3.5 acres with 4 sheep in 2008, to hundreds of acres and multiple homes in 2019, with a gross value of $2,079,186.00 as of today. After 8 years I was able to take my farm from Beginning/Hobby farm Status, to Full-Time Status.

Just this fall I took an old house we had that was sitting vacant, invested $1800 into it, and moved in. That house valued at $40,000, but 5 weeks later, I doubled its value by putting in electricty, sheathing,, framing, siding and drywall; all in 5 weeks. I was putting in about 6 hours a day because I have cancer have absolutely no stamina, having to stop at noon for a nap I was so tired. But to increase a persons gross farm value by $38,200 in 5 weeks time is possible, because of sweat equity. In my case I used my time, and my sawmill, and my own logs from the forest to accomplish a lot. If I was working a real job, and just had weekends, vacation, and holidays I could not do that. I still could transform an old house into something useable, just stretched out due to working on the weekends.

This is the point: PEOPLE CAN DO THIS! In fact it really angers people when they say people can't. Have they tried?

Because I kept careful records, I can back up what I say.
 
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I believe that permaculture will soon become very acceptable in the next decade, between the popularity of the survivalist preppers out there and people like myself 30 to 40 year olds who are quite disillusioned with work culture/jobs availablity/low wage standards will be turning other methods more and more just to make ends meet.

Many of the cooks that work with my man do the best they can with their back yards. One lives in a trailer but has a raised beds squished into his insanely tiny plot. The head chief has made his bark yard into a garden and uses the restaurants rooftop for a herb garden. One of the dishwashers keeps pestering my man for some of my little Rhode Island Reds' eggs and would like to be gifted a chicken for his own fresh eggs.

For our own adventures, we put a down payment on  a more then reasonably priced house with 15 acres that was once used for growing hay on family owned cattle farm. There is no infrastructure for animals but I am happy with just chickens should we not be able to afford to build for more livestock other then perhaps keeping pigs over the summer to be butchered at the end of fall.

This going to be our third year here, my man used to be annoyed on my harping on about having land to farm and obsessing over how many acres came with the property while we were looking threw the real estate ads. I started the garden with a shovel and bucket to clear out the top of the field. Second year we an old tiller bought and all the basic gardening tools. This year my man will be taking a vacation to help clear out more space for the garden and have it filled as soon as possible, the best part, he was the one that suggested the working staycation.
 
leila hamaya
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Christine Le page wrote:I believe that permaculture will soon become very acceptable in the next decade, between the popularity of the survivalist preppers out there and people like myself 30 to 40 year olds who are quite disillusioned with work culture/jobs availablity/low wage standards will be turning other methods more and more just to make ends meet.

Many of the cooks that work with my man do the best they can with their back yards. One lives in a trailer but has a raised beds squished into his insanely tiny plot. The head chief has made his bark yard into a garden and uses the restaurants rooftop for a herb garden. One of the dishwashers keeps pestering my man for some of my little Rhode Island Reds' eggs and would like to be gifted a chicken for his own fresh eggs.



agree ^^^ this is THE WAY of the future. whether we call it permaculture, or holistic systems thinking, or EVOLVE OR DIE.

also agree do what you can with what you have. we all bring a little to the table but together we have a lot. Stone Soup is also the way of the future.
 
master steward
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I just found out about this lovely lady in Yakima. She's Gert. Her real name is Lynn Cosmos. Link to news article about her.



Her little acreage of wild plants, food forests, goats and chickens is a certified wildlife sanctuary.

Beyond the gate is a scene from an enchanted garden, with birds flitting in and out of tree branches that have not succumbed to pruning shears, where the wild land has been tamed only enough to make room for the rows of cucumbers, corn, cilantro, horseradish, comfrey, beets, tomatoes, potatoes, parsley, okra, green beans, onions and collard greens that peek up through the fertile soil.

Cedar, pine, Sequoia, oak, dogwood, maple, holly trees — all here. So are wisteria, trumpeter vine, honeysuckle, lilacs and currants. The air is steeped with sweetness, a brew of violet, peppermint, lemon balm and spearmint.

Somewhere, a chicken crows. Then, bleating. Five sleek Nubian goats climb to their feet in an enclosure tucked beyond the garden, wet noses snuffling as Lynn Cosmos, 75, approaches with fresh grass in her hands.

Cosmos has been scorched a deep bronze by the sun. She wears an olive green tank top and loosely flowing pants. She is barefoot. Hard work has made her hands strong. Daily gardening has lined her fingernails with moon-shaped crescents of dirt. Her snow-white hair is piled on top of head, held in place with a scrunchie, and her sea-green eyes, sparkling with laughter, are startlingly clear.





She's been there for 45 years, building and growing resilient systems. It's her refuge and retirement plan. Though the land is valued at only $150,000, it is worth immeasurably more. Her massage studio is there, and she hosts drum circles. It is a place of life and community and health and beauty. It's worth millions.



She gestures at the land. “This is my health plan. This is also my retirement plan. I don’t have anything else.”



Of course, it's about to get demolished and turned into a highway.

Cosmos lives along the proposed route for a county road expansion that will provide an alternate connection from Terrace Heights to downtown Yakima. She is one of three homeowners who will lose their homes in the first phase of the project.

But Cosmos will not only lose her home. She will lose her studio, where she offers healing massage and Feldenkrais body work, and hosts community drum circles and a monthly women’s circle.

She will no longer be able to grow her own food, collect eggs from her chickens, make cheese from her goats’ milk. She will no longer be able to live off the land, like she’s done for decades.



Like so many Gerts, she's not famous. She just does what she does, building beauty and community and sustainability quietly. I'm sure the only way we'd ever hear about her existence, is by a news story of her home being demolished. She's such an inspiring person, and to find out about her this way is just so sad.
 
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paul wheaton wrote:Maybe, in time, this community will safely nurture Gert so much that Gert will decide that she is a writer and write that book.



Or, nurture Ferd so much that he will become a lawyer who defends Gert from having her dream crushed under a bypass?

One of the subconscious attractions of impermaculture is that when Bob the Builder decides to nuke and pave, it's an inconvenience rather than a death sentence.  You can "just" move to another place with all your precious stuff, eat the same junk out of the same boxes, and tell yourself things happen for a reason.  Whatever else Gert is, she's also exceptionally vulnerable to forces that only respect power, and gauge that power by the number of zeroes in bank accounts.  

I suspect that the most effective way to nurture the largest number of Gerts over the longest time span is to convince as many lawyers as possible that they personally have something to lose by unhoming them.  If you can convince them that that "loss" doesn't have to mean "cash", so much the better.  Can you train them to reflexively defend Gert?  How?  What would it cost Gert to take advantage of that reflex once it was in place?
 
How much propaganda value would you find in a high profile example of Gert winning a lawsuit after being defended pro bono by lawyers simply because she was a Gert?   Americans fetishize raw political power.  Repeatedly bending governments to your whim in defense of "individual" rights, and being seen to do it, could sell the value of permaculture to people who don't even know there's a dream to have yet.  If you can pull it off, how do you build a simple system that encourages the event to repeat?.

How do you organize a system that turns the abundance of a Gert, who chooses to work 11 hours when they only need to work 10, into legal protection (legal celebrity, even) provided by a Ferd?  Maybe you use automation.  Maybe it's just a data problem.  I have neither an answer or the inclination and aptitude to develop one.  I'm too busy trying to become an 11-hour Gert.

***

When certain types of people find out that I'm a veteran, I hear "thank you for your service".  It's reflex.  I say "thank you for your support".  Also reflex.  They have no idea what my service entailed, or if I was any good at it, but they've been encouraged to believe that it benefited them.  I'd rather have lawyers say it when they find out I'm a permie.  

I know you're not exactly short of things to think about, but maybe this idea can just here on the side of the road and look cute until someone lets it follow them home.
 
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I achieved Gert-dom in my work life,  a few years ago. In theory. I got to where I really need to work about 8 hours a week to get by.
8x50=$400 per week. Enough to cover food,  fuel, land tax and other stuff.

But,  I wanted more. I wanted to move ahead,  not tread water. A new plan emerged, when I met a compatible woman, and we got married. I plan to still do demolition and salvage work, part time,  but to mainly focus on establishing a homestead and business on scrubland that will incorporate many elements of the tropical forest that was cut down. Minimum 25 acres,  but thousands would be better. After 3 or 4 years,  when we have a 40 foot canopy,  build a little motel.

Some of the family, thinks this is crazy talk. I shouldn't want this. I should have exactly the same aspirations that they do. I should keep working, then retire, grow a little garden, travel south to a snowbird community in the winter, then quietly die, without causing too much fuss.

I could stop working and sell my place in Canada, then spend 20% on a nice little place,  and just take it easy.  I would go nuts. I'd look out the window and think, "somebody should work on turning some of this back into rainforest."

Every Gert gets to choose what to do with spare time and money.  Some may want a nice little house and garden. I want a tropical forest. And I want to keep doing useful things until I'm 105. I probably have 20 years of physical work left in me, and I will always employ others, to multiply my efforts.

When I'm 75, I will probably rely mostly on hired help, but will still keep moving forward and expand when possible.

So, that's my retirement plan.
 
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Maybe one of the Permies nearby in Washington can offer to have her live with them and save her? I’m sure there’s a lot to be learned from her if you were shadowing her during the day.

This is pretty upsetting that the city is going to ruin this woman’s life so people can save 5 minutes driving to the country club in terrace heights :-(
 
leila hamaya
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Geoffrey Chew wrote:

paul wheaton wrote:Maybe, in time, this community will safely nurture Gert so much that Gert will decide that she is a writer and write that book.



Or, nurture Ferd so much that he will become a lawyer who defends Gert from having her dream crushed under a bypass?

One of the subconscious attractions of impermaculture is that when Bob the Builder decides to nuke and pave, it's an inconvenience rather than a death sentence.  You can "just" move to another place with all your precious stuff, eat the same junk out of the same boxes, and tell yourself things happen for a reason.  Whatever else Gert is, she's also exceptionally vulnerable to forces that only respect power, and gauge that power by the number of zeroes in bank accounts.  

I suspect that the most effective way to nurture the largest number of Gerts over the longest time span is to convince as many lawyers as possible that they personally have something to lose by unhoming them.  If you can convince them that that "loss" doesn't have to mean "cash", so much the better.  Can you train them to reflexively defend Gert?  How?  What would it cost Gert to take advantage of that reflex once it was in place?
 
How much propaganda value would you find in a high profile example of Gert winning a lawsuit after being defended pro bono by lawyers simply because she was a Gert?   Americans fetishize raw political power.  Repeatedly bending governments to your whim in defense of "individual" rights, and being seen to do it, could sell the value of permaculture to people who don't even know there's a dream to have yet.  If you can pull it off, how do you build a simple system that encourages the event to repeat?.

How do you organize a system that turns the abundance of a Gert, who chooses to work 11 hours when they only need to work 10, into legal protection (legal celebrity, even) provided by a Ferd?  
...

I know you're not exactly short of things to think about, but maybe this idea can just here on the side of the road and look cute until someone lets it follow them home.



well i agree with your sentiment, and agree with what you said here, except i would add (fake) before the word power...in all that you wrote.
thats not power, it's more like abuse
 
Geoffrey Chew
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leila hamaya wrote:well i agree with your sentiment, and agree with what you said here, except i would add (fake) before the word power...in all that you wrote.
thats not power, it's more like abuse



While we may not see eye to eye on where the borders of reality are, I absolutely agree with you that impermaculture is a culture of abuse.
 
Travis Johnson
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I know a Gert that both won and lost her bid for freedom, and farm from eminent domain.

It started in 1965 when a rather crazy woman had her farm of goats and animals on a piece of land in this town. The state decided they wanted to go with bigger regional schools instead of town schools, and so they took by eminent domain her small farm to build the Old Mount View High School, that school served 11 towns. (It was replaced in 2009 with a new school, and yes again used eminent domain to take a ForeverFarm).

Then as she got really old, the State swooped in and wanted to evict her from her new farm that was by me. They wanted to put her into a seniors home, but then the state hired her an attorney to...wait for it...fight themselves as it were. It was insane. In the end the media got involved and it was a huge legal circus. She was allowed to stay on her little one acre farm by a smart judge. She had a heart attack a few years later and died at home, just as she wanted.

I loved Oressa Young.

We really were friends, but I have ALWAYS loved the elderly.

Everyone called her the Crazy Goat Lady because she was a little touched, but not as much as people thought. She confided in me the story...she would tell me things she would not tell anyone else...she fell in love with an Airman named Artie who ended up in the bombing campaign over Germany...she showed me pictures of him and his plane. He never made it home, and being a girlfriend, she was never notified that he died. She was not really crazy, she was a broken woman from a broken heart. She spent her life waiting for a dead man to return. She even had a house (shack) for him and everything, with bed and furniture and everything. It was better than her own shack.

As for the new high school built in 2009...the state had an option; take the farmland to the right that was expensive because it was subdivided into house lots, or take the farm to the left that had just enrolled in ForeverFarm. It was the first and only Forever Farm in the county at the time, and yet the State chose to take that farm instead. Overnight, farmers realized there was nothing forever about Forever Farms, and so a ton of farmers redacted their Forever Farm Plans.
 
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In many cities street vendors have been shut down. The argument is that they compete with businesses that pay more taxes. I see homesteaders potentially facing a similar threat for similar reasons.  We are no longer flying under the radar.  I don't mean this to promote paranoia, but to present a real economic concern. I want to be seen as outside the system.  Because of this, it is more difficult for me to present a case of how I benefit the economic system.
 
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One thing that isn't often discussed is the pre-Gert phase.  I worked really really hard writing software code for 14 years in order to set up my finances in a way that allows me to live a permaculture life now.  It was pretty rough in fact, especially the last few years when I was juggling managing my land, commuting long distances to the city, coding all day, and doing all those money-saving tasks like cooking meals and fixing my own stuff.  It was not very idyllic at all.  My health suffered at times, my attitude suffered at times.  But it was worth it, because earlier this year when I got laid off due to Covid shutdown economic repercussions, I was able to say "close enough!" and dive right into a "Gerty" lifestyle.  I'm living on a shoe-string budget, but thanks to those 14 years I put in, I'm able to cover the essential bills even though my land isn't producing much yet.

It's really important to talk about this stuff for the benefit of those who are just beginning their journey, and not pretend that everything is easy.  I remember when I was a kid studying music, I read some article about how Mozart played piano very intuitively even before taking any lessons and it sounded like it all came so easily to him.  Meanwhile, I was practicing very hard.  I felt inadequate because I was struggling while someone else didn't have to struggle.  Of course I'm not the musical equal of Mozart, but that doesn't mean I can't make beautiful music.  And if Mozart didn't work really hard, whatever talent he came by naturally would never have amounted to anything.  Really good things in life rarely come without a struggle.  So if you're at the beginning and you're wondering how you could ever achieve Gert-hood because you have student loans and no land yet and not much money, that's okay.  Take it one step at a time, do what you have to do to overcome each obstacle, work hard, and be patient.  It might not be easy, but it is possible.

For further reading on money-accumulation, I recommend checking out Jacob Fisker's work http://earlyretirementextreme.com/ and Peter Adeney's work https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/
 
John F Dean
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Everyone is born in to different circumstances with different skills and abilities.  I had one false start on homesteading.  I made a point of moving to a better location and getting more cash and more options regarding income streams.  It has been my experience, in talking with others, that these things seldom follow a smooth path.  Even with my property paid off, there have been tough times.  I suspect that is part of the attraction of this lifestyle.
 
pollinator
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Laura,

I agree with what you're saying. My husband and I worked for many decades to be able to afford the land we bought. We consistently lived below our means and put away as much money as we could every month. We didn't take vacations then so now is our vacation time. We didn't live like paupers all those years, but we did make sure to really think about what we were spending our money on, and make adjustments as necessary. It helped that we didn't think that eating out was a necessity. What we did though, was buy quality ingredients and learn how to cook them. Better food at a much lower price.

One really important aspect of saving money that I don't see mentioned very often is how the little things like eating out or a daily starbucks cup of coffee (let's use $5 as an example) or other "small" purchase can add up to a very large amount of money over the years. For example, if you're 20 years old and plan to retire at 60, buying one cup of coffee on your way to work is $25/week or $1300/year. By itself that's a lot, but when you calculate compound interest at a modest 4% on average over 40 years, the interest is $5,122. So that coffee for one year cost you a whopping $6,422 that you could have had for your property purchase.

Of course all of these numbers are subject to dispute, so anyone can apply their own values to this calculation to see the impact of what many people consider to be incidental expenses. Those things add up fast.

 
John F Dean
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I am having a flashback to a lecture by an economics instructor back in the 70s.  This guy was as conservative as it was possible to be at the time. He held there was minimal differences between the ultra rich and the lower middle class.  Each could own a TV, car, and house. The differences were in quality. I am not buying his point in its entirety, but it appears to apply to Gert being a millionaire.
 
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Stumbled onto this thread this morning. @Mike Haasl How does it feel now you are more years in?

Mike Haasl wrote:

paul wheaton wrote:
I think that there are homesteaders that are not using permaculture techniques - they work a lot.  Year after year to keep it all moving forward.

I think that there are homesteaders that are just getting started with permaculture.  The first few years is a lot of work.  Then it just gets easier.



I agree wholeheartedly.  I'm the second one but I'm still in the first year...

 
steward
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Good question Zoe...  I believe it held true.  And I'm sure it's dependent upon how many things you try to do, especially with livestock.  The more livestock, the better things would go (I think).  If I ignore all the things I'm doing on the side (remodeling a house, building a greenhouse, etc) I think the core stuff is easier.

It took two months to set up a good chicken system but now I spend under 10 minutes per day on them.  The annual gardens took a while to get set up and fenced in but now they are relatively easy to maintain with permaculture principles.  Mulching, volunteers, chicken compost, dedicated raised beds that never see a foot print, etc.  Growing a lot of our food only takes 1/2 hour a day (if memory serves).

I'm in a cold area so my food forest and perennial plants are taking their time getting established.  I'm 6 years in and got a proper crop of aronia berries this year (4 gallons).  But the hazelnuts and remaining fruit/berries are just getting their roots under them.  

So the answer is that it's much easier after the initial infrastructure is done.
 
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I’ve loved reading this thread. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the permaculture lifestyle and the roads travelled to get there. For us, getting out of the rat race was ultimately achieved by jumping in. And it was the jumping in, that led to jumping out. My husband and I are both country kids, with more time spent on crappy dirt roads than pavement, our playtime in the woods. As adults we have continued to prioritize a life lived outdoors, both making a living as fishing guides, which is how we met. It was hard work and good work, but seasonal, and so tough to get ahead. Neither of us come from money.

Then ten years ago, opportunity knocked. So we made a detour and took on an extremely demanding job. Three years ago we stepped down, exhausted and numb, broken shadows of our former selves. But with enough savings to purchase twenty acres off grid in a remote corner of Montana. We found the perfect spot in the fall of 2018.  It is in a small mountain valley with a spring creek bordering one side, no infrastructure. We’ve been living in a 1968 airstream that’s been rebuilt for off grid, with solar panels and propane appliances. We’ve been taking it slow, spending much of the first year living on and observing the land, making trails, clearing by hand. In the second year gardens were more established, a quonset hut installed, a building site cleared, a cabin foundation laid out. In the spring of our third year, we hope to begin ground up construction of our small 1200sq foot cabin.

In these early stages we are spending all the time and energy we have meeting basic needs: light, warmth, water, food. Problems that the civilized world  has long since found immediate push-button solutions for. Except, the push-button life comes at a cost. And in the long scheme of things, the currency to be exactly the same: one’s own time and energy. Excluding the born-rich set, most folks have to work to be able to afford to have such things as hot water on tap and fresh food from twenty faraway nations stocked in the fridge, curbside trash service and a house with a thermostat permanently set to 70. We’ve lived both lives now and thus far have found the cost to be higher in the so-called civilized world. We gave our energy and got money in return. But while our money may have multiplied, our energy did not.  Like water spilling through a breached dam, there was no getting it back. And money was a poor substitute. It turns out that our very life force was the cost of a life lived and brokered for by middle men.

We are still recovering, three years later, from total burnout. And yet we could not be more grateful, for the whole long road: the opportunity to see things from the other side, to have been able to get in and get out again, to be able to afford the land debt free. There is nothing easy about this new life. Our forty plus year-old bodies ache. Our hands bear permanent wounds. We marinate in dirt. There is never enough time, and there is so much to learn. Which means we mostly do things the hard way. Our rat race money has gone into the land, and as cash doesn’t grow on our trees, (yet), we are fishing guides again.  And we are happy.  
 
pollinator
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Remember, being a permie is as much a state of mind than anything else. There is no law that says you MUST be off grid, produce all your own food, build your own shelter etc. Perhaps a modified version, rehabbing a solid but derelict structure; finding locals for whom you can barter, trade or purchase from; raise a few animals, or enough to swap for what you need.

It is often better to honestly look at your abilities, skills, physical/mental health, and of course finances very carefully, first. Then decide a path that makes the most sense for your circumstances. This is YOUR life, and there is no point subscribing to a dream that for whatever reason(s) is not reasonably attainable. This does NOT mean, do not take the plunge, only to make sure you can swim and not drown by being unrealistic.

I have given up being self sufficient in food - I am apparently NOT a gardener and my wildlife rescue work simply does not allow for follow through at the height of growing season as that is also the height of baby season. This is my passion, therefore I instead purchase from those who have the time and skill to grow surplus. This way we are both utilizing our talents and passions in the best way possible.

Again, please, do not think I am suggesting no one should or can take the full permie plunge - I am only suggesting that you be brutally honest with yourself, your skills and desires BEFORE jumping in. The old adage "be careful what you wish for" is a very wise sentiment.
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