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Just getting started is discouraging

 
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So my dream is to go off grid and live a minimalist lifestyle. My obstacles are. I have less than 20k to my name. I'll be doing this all alone. With zero skills in carpentry or most other skills. I can farm and take care of animals. That's my strong suit. At 36 I'm being discouraged every time i do research. Such as which state to move to, how far I want to be from people, how hard it will be to find a partner and such.Or the fact that i simply cant live without internet. Its a resource i cant live without.

Any word of advice or encouragement.
 
Posts: 53
Location: Wilderness, South Africa
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I was in a similar situation recently. The pandemic did a real number on my life. Lost my job, my partner, a huge chunk of my savings, and the opportunity I was relying on to achieve my dreams. I had to move back in with my parents a few months before my 30th birthday. Not cool. Luckily, I already had a piece of land. That was my saving grace. But I couldn't get to it due to travel restrictions and the fact that I had no income and dwindling savings.

Eventually, my parents essentially kicked me out, but in a nice way. They could see I was suffering and that I wasn't making any progress while I stayed with them. It was the best thing they could've done.

Long story longer, I've been living on my land for about 8 months now. I lived in my van under a tree for two months. I didn't have power for three. I still don't have hot water. I haven't made much progress in the self-sufficient homestead aspect. I sort of have a veggie garden and a composting loo. That's about it.

But I'm much happier now than I was when I was stuck. I've created a job for myself that's given me freedom (location and time freedom, no financial freedom yet). I rely on the internet for work too, and that was nearly my undoing. Internet is not easy to come by when you're surrounded by mountains and valleys in rural South Africa.

Anyway, I guess the point is that it's not easy. In fact, it's pretty damn difficult. But anything that's worth it is. Just take small steps each day to move closer to your goal. If you don't give up, you'll get there eventually
 
gardener
Posts: 315
Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
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Osman Daguy wrote:So my dream is to go off grid and live a minimalist lifestyle. My obstacles are. I have less than 20k to my name. I'll be doing this all alone. With zero skills in carpentry or most other skills. I can farm and take care of animals. That's my strong suit. At 36 I'm being discouraged every time i do research. Such as which state to move to, how far I want to be from people, how hard it will be to find a partner and such.Or the fact that i simply cant live without internet. Its a resource i cant live without.

Any word of advice or encouragement.



Don't be discouraged by the discouragement. There are very few people that will encourage you. We encountered the same thing before we took the leap. There is some human compulsion to point out all the dangers and obstacles to anyone attempting to wander away from the herd. It is demoralizing at first, then amusing. Once you've successfully gotten yourself free of the tethers, you'll find those same people telling you that they wish they could do the same, but, but, but. They always have something they could not do without that keeps them from doing what you are doing. It is their safety blanket.

If you're as determined as you seem to be, then you'll work through the challenges that you currently see, and each new success will make any remaining obstacles shrink into nothingness. You've already taken a huge step by just dreaming outside the box.
 
steward & bricolagier
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I read your post right after you posted it, been thinking as I work...

Look up problem solving processes, it might help. My quick version of some of the bits that you might want to use (there's a LOT more to it, look it up, it will probably help a LOT!)

Define the parameters of the problem. (The problem is the solution if you define the problem correctly.) What EXACTLY do you want?
Why do you say off grid? You might think about what parts of off grid you are attracted to, and which you aren't.
What kind of urban/vs rural do you actually want? Obviously not way in the back country, as you want internet (incidentally, most of the US can get net of one sort or another, especially if you use a cellphone hotspot.)
What do you actually want to do all day? Animals and plants? What about the rest of the day? What do you NOT want to do?
What kind of people do you want to do it with? (Hint, a partner is only one person involved, family, neighbors, local people, people you talk to on the net are all relevant too. If you hate your neighbors, things get bad.)
What is the goal? To make a living? Subsistence survival? Have a family? What about what you consider fun? What do you want 20 years from now? What would you want it to be like if you got sick or injured badly?
What other thoughts besides "get land and go off grid" might fit the answers you are getting?

Defining the base parameters will help you rule out a lot of things, which will cut down on the overwhelm.

I just looked up problem solving processes, and I'm not impressed with what I see. I posted this here on permies  https://permies.com/t/138241/Teaching-solving-jigsaw-puzzles perhaps it would help you think of words to look up. Everything I typed above is in the first item on my list there. There are other items.



And one more thing: realize all of us went through what you are doing to one extent or another, and we found our paths through it, you can too. :D

Suggestion: Read a LOT of permies. There's a lot to learn here, and lots of neat ideas. I like the All Forums view to see what exactly I might be interested in.

:D
 
master steward
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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While I think researching a subject is a great idea, like you seem to have found out ... sometimes it is just confusing.

Why not rent something with land near you to get started.  By doing this you can find out what you like a dislike about the different aspects of homesteading.

When we bought our homestead we both had jobs we needed to get to so we drew a circle on the map that would get us within 30 miles of our jobs.  A 30-mile commute is not bad.

We looked at places that had houses, water supplies, electrical because those are the high dollar items.

I hope some of this information has been of some value.

Best wishes for your search.

 
Posts: 75
Location: SW Alabama zone 8a & 8b
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There are a lot of farms out there looking for good help.  There are many posts on here looking for people for communities and partners in existing permie farm enterprises.  Some of them are off grid...ours is.   We are looking for people to come live with us and build the farm and profit with us.  Stay forever or take your earnings in a few years and move to your own farm.  I think I have seen many similar ads on here.  Take some positive steps towards your goal and do not listen to Job's counselors.  You can do it!!!
 
pollinator
Posts: 640
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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Being off grid, alone, and in the boonies takes a LOT of self care, self reliance and self confidence. This is NOT the lifestyle for the easily cowed, easily frustrated or those who are unable to view obstacles as "challenges".

I am all for being realistic, BUT I also feel that if you are a "cup half empty" (rather than viewing the cup as half FULL) personality this sort of lifestyle may not work for a single person.

Take stock of your strengths - use them to barter a work/stay situation or income. Similarly identify the weaknesses that may be a hindrance in the lifestyle you desire, and find ways to strengthen them. Being alone, even initially, means you are everything from roofer to vet; architect to builder; landscape designer to chef...and everything in between. An ability to "think outside the box is critical as daily you will need to create solutions to problems with no tech, gear, money, supplies or help; if this does not sound invigorating or fun, you may need to redefine WHAT exactly you want - before you leap into the abyss with a dream that may not be fully thought out or clearly defined.

As an example, I am considering raising ducks; researching pro's and cons, breeds, ideal set ups...I may decide ducks are NOT for me, but without investing some time and money to REALLY determine if they are a fit for me, I won't know. Many said "just get them, you'll love them" but to me that is a gamble. Until I am confident they are right for ME I will continue to research and educate myself, before making a decision.

Self reflection may well be your best friend at this time. Good luck.
 
pollinator
Posts: 181
Location: South-southeast Texas, technically the "Golden Crescent", zone 9a
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Howdy!
As you can no doubt see, you aren't alone. Yeah, I understand that you, currently, are very separate from other people in a  physical sense, but many of us on the forums have been or are in similar situations.

You're getting all kinds of very good advice and I hope you will pick and choose your way through it. I'll throw out a few more "ponderables" that I use on a regular basis.

1. To reiterate some previously made comments - what do you really want Right Now?
2. What of that is actually doable with your current resources?
3. What of that is easily broken into steps so that you can do *something* today that puts your feet on the path?
4. What do you need to get going?

I have had to do this often. It seems every time I think I have my feet on solid ground, something unforeseen happens and I need to re-evaluate. That's Life. It's hard and brutish, and Not Fun, but it can also help you to see what your true priorities are.

Take notes in some form or fashion: legal pad, back of scrap paper, computer word processor, whatever. Sometimes looking at your "thoughts made form" helps you to take a step back and really think about what you're saying.

1. The answer I have (from last year) to the first question was "I want to be more self-sufficient."
     The Pandemic put the fear of government into me and I want to be less dependent on the good graces of politicians and the availability of long distance hauling. That means I need to make decisions about what I'm willing to do to make those first steps.
I had a mixed flock already (chickens and geese) and decided to sell their eggs to pay for their feed and upkeep, and start a garden with some easy, quick results of edible plants.

2. With my then current resources, I was able to contact some people I knew in the local area and see which of them could use a steady supply of easily prepared protein (eggs) and would pay for the steady and reliable supply. Consumer Supported Agriculture at the "Farmer's Market" level, only a little more personal, helped me to define my market and allowed me to re-evaluate my plans for upkeep of the flock. After the rethinking, I was able to use that money to slightly expand the flock against future needs, cull some cockerels and sell the carcasses, and start a very small and ultimately massive learning experience of a garden.
     
3. I was able to break my process into steps and do small things every day so I could feel I was making progress toward my ultimate goal. I broke the whole "flock marketing" plan into steps, did some soul searching and was able to come up with a price for the eggs that was profitable for me and competitive with all other egg supply in the immediate area. That involved some research, but it wasn't a delay. Reading up on my state and local laws as regards egg sales and limits, and how I could comply with all the governmental restrictions was another project, but I was able to find all the information online.  Devising long term support and shelter structures for the birds, to keep them happy and healthy, was another project that I took in steps. And, finally, the garden was the work of several days, plus seeds saved over from years back, and a purchased packet at the feed store.
     With all of that, I was able to take small steps forward and felt like, while I wasn't where I wanted to be, I was closer than I had been previously.

The best time to have started something is yesterday. The second best time is today. Do a singular thing that moves you forward.
Whether it's scanning the online real estate listings, scanning the "help needed" sections of those with a similar mindset. or foraging edibles in public right of ways, Small things can build up quickly into large things.

As you try to decide where to go and what to do, make lists (I like lists,) of where you have family and friends who would be willing to put you up for a few days/weeks;
                                                                                                                               what skills you have, all of your skills - Maybe you can play harmonica while balanced on a unicycle. There might be a time when that skill comes in handy. -
                                                                                                                                        and how you "rank" with that skill (professional level of fire dancer, or expert on deciphering Olde English, or really good weaver or basket maker);
                                                                                                                               what resources you have - and list all of them (Think Princess Bride wheelbarrow stuff. It does matter.);
                                                                                                           and finally, what do you really *need* to get you from where you are now to where you want to be.

Forget the books and financial advice, or the concerned questions from friends and family. This is for you.
You are doing this thing. Own it. Name it. Keep it as a goal.
You might change certain elements of your vision from time to time. Maybe you decide you don't like goats, or chickens and would rather have ducks, or pigs. That's cool.
Maybe you don't want any livestock for food, but you want to go the fiber route (angora rabbits and goats, sheep, bison, yaks) and be vegetarian. It's your decision.
Take a deep breath.
You got this. This is doable.
 
pollinator
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To echo Lorinne, if you are seeing this as discouraging rather than challenging and exciting, maybe take a step back and really weigh your options.  Living alone off the grid in the wilderness like a mountain man sounds romantic and appealing, but make no mistake, it's hard work.  Keep in mind, those obstacles you think you have?  All of this has been done before, by people who started with no skills and no money.  You can do it if you want to, I would just urge you to be sure you really want to.

If I were in your situation, with the goals you stated as I understand them, I would find a small town with a climate I liked and buy an acre of land at least semi-wooded.  I would live in a camper or van or tent or make a small Oehler type underground house and live in it while I learned how to do the things you think you don't know how to do.  I would cut firewood, I would build a small woodshed, I would plant a garden, I would read, I would do all the things that lifestyle entails.  I would use a bucket toilet system.  Most of all, I would just live.  You may be surprised how much you will learn and will figure out when you need to.  Hopefully that small town will have a library with internet access since you need it.  If you try it for a year or two and decide it's what you want, you can stay, or you can buy a bigger piece of land and move up.  If you decide you don't like it and don't want to do it, well, that acre of land cost you a lot less than a college education, you learned valuable skills, and most important, you learned a lot about yourself and what you want.
 
pollinator
Posts: 663
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
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Osman, Here's a few things to think about:
About uncertainty: I think about hikers preparing for a big hike like the Appalachian Trail, doing shorter hikes in varied conditions, trying out their gear, clothing, food, skills, camping out just in the back yard even... That way you know how to deal with the varied situations on the trail, since you've faced them before in short outings, close to home. The daily stuff about your survival is important to be routine for you handle while being on your own, but you can practice it at home or close to home, with the "security blanket" of the grid, hospital, grocery, friends and family, all nearby. How will you store, prepare, cook, and clean after up your meals? How will you stay warm and dry, and clean? How will you stay connected (phone or internet?) and charge those devices? All things that you'll face "off grid" can be lived while "on the grid", just unplugged...

About skills: Learn any chance you can. Watch, ask questions, read... maybe volunteer for Habitat for Humanity? Look for opportunities to learn, free demonstrations, or an open house at a maker space; paid courses like community education, or vocational night school... And skills take practice... learn to tie four or six knots, carry two short lengths of cord with you, and practice... (riding the bus/passenger in a car, waiting room, other idle time.) A great outlet for practice is to make small gifts, a keychain, a spoon, a birdfeeder, a basket, a tote bag.

As far as where to go? Someplace you like? not someplace you hate? Do some research and travel? Somewhere you "fit in" (ideologically, culturally) may be easier? Make an educated guess and find a seasonal work/housing opportunity and go?
 
Trace Oswald
pollinator
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Kenneth Elwell wrote:All things that you'll face "off grid" can be lived while "on the grid", just unplugged...

...



That's a very good point.  I could be off-grid right now if I wanted to.  Just flip off the "main" in my fuse box.  Hello off-grid.  I just got rid of electricty, and with that, water, sewer, heat, air conditioning, basically everything but my cell phone, and I can't charge that once it's dead.  That would be a very quick way to identify exactly what my most pressing concerns would be.  The only thing I would have that I would need to figure out if I were truly off-grid is shelter.
 
Kristine Keeney
pollinator
Posts: 181
Location: South-southeast Texas, technically the "Golden Crescent", zone 9a
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I like this philosophy.
Simple. Neat. Do-able.
I can't think of a part of the world where preparing for a potential annual disaster (that would knock out power and maybe some other support utilities) isn't a part of the yearly plan.
You have to figure out how you will take care of yourself and your household and prep for whatever might happen, and keep those supplies fresh against need.
It's an annual thing. There're lists for "necessities" and government recommendations for supplies they'd like you to gather.

I used to do the "camping in the backyard" part. Or the short and preparatory start to a long journey so you can run home and pick up the stuff you forgot, or drop off the stuff that you don't need.
Any of the historical recreationist groups do this sort of thing for fun, and strive to be the most accurate for their time period. It does take some skill to cook over a campfire or, for that matter, *have* a campfire.

I have met some of the nicest and most interesting people while teaching a skill to my muscle memory (playing with string in many different ways - crochet, knots, etc.) while waiting for something.
Thank you for your calm advice. I have three projects I flip between while I'm waiting, and that's something that I forget about recommending to people. I even carry my handwork around, if it's portable, so I can work on a small patch or bookmark for a gift.  I don't think about that as being something unusual, so I never suggest it.
I hope y'all have a great weekend!
 
Posts: 27
Location: Saskatchewan, Canada
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Keep your chin up! I went through a hard time and spent 14 months living in an 8x15 camper (including two zone 3 winters). It was tough but I learned that as long as you have food and shelter, everything else is extra. I just started over and I get discouraged too. But we are alive, still have our wits and things will get better. Keep on keeping on!
20210130_193308.jpg
Any port in a storm...
Any port in a storm...
 
Posts: 145
Location: Zone 4b Ontario, Canada
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Hi Osman.

Here's my take on the situation:

* You need internet, and your cell phone, for research and in case of emergencies, respectively.
* You need to acquire more skills towards homesteading; basic carpentry, butchering if you're a meat eater, etc.,.
* You'll need some sort of support system;  neighbours who can lend a hand now and again.

** I suggest being near a small town as previously mentioned, find a work/trade arrangement with a local land owner/farmer/homesteader where you could pick up the skills you need for down the road.  
** Find a part time job in that small town and save your $.  In time you'll build your skills bank and your bank account.  
** You may meet a local woman of like mind who can help introduce you to the locals, get you integrated as it where with the ways of that particular area.

Such a plan as this would help you sort out your "must haves" vs what you "think you need", it will build your preparedness and your confidence in a practical manner.  It may take you 5 years, but you'll increase your chances of success each step of the way till you're ready to purchase your own property.

Set your goals in workable stages, one at a time as it where, remain focused, learn from the mistakes, be proud of the accomplishments,...and of course enjoy every moment of your amazing adventure.

Cheers!  K

 
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Well damn,

Swing by Kentucky and I'll throw my money into the pot and we can see if two broke, green, permaculture want to be's can do what one alone can't?  

Don't give up or give in. Freeing yourself from the joke that is "modern life" will definitely be worth it. Even if some times its difficult to figure out how.

(I looked at several of your other posts. San Francisco Bay area? E-X-P-E-N-S-I-V-E!)
 
pollinator
Posts: 1352
Location: Green County, Kentucky
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You've got some good advice on this thread.  I was sitting here trying to think if it could be put into permaculture terms -- zones, stacking, and so on.  And I think it can.  I've got some pain stuff going on (getting old sucks), so my brain isn't working all that well this morning, but I'll try to get it started, and maybe someone else can take it and run with it.  I'm thinking that this is a question that gets asked so very often, that there ought to be a book in answering it.

If zone 0 is your house, then that means the first thing you should take care of is your shelter.  In your case, if you are in an expensive area such as San Francisco, you might need to move away to someplace less expensive to live.  Shelter doesn't have to be a house.  It can be a van, or a camp trailer, or a tiny house, or an old bus, or a tent, or a brush shelter you build on a piece of land, or.... Think about what kind of cheap shelter will be comfortable for you to live in.  If you've done some camping a tent may be comfortable for you (I'm talking about emotionally comfortable -- some people don't feel comfortable sleeping outdoors with only fabric walls).  A van can work quite well, but a camp trailer has more stuff already built in (but an older camp trailer that you could afford to pay cash for might be falling apart).  A camp trailer would require a tow vehicle.  An old bus may need engine work, and the tires are expensive.  And so on. Evaluate your options, and make a decision, and figure out the best location for purchasing what you've decided on.  

After shelter, consider income.  Your savings is enough to get a good start in some locations, but it won't last forever and you need to have a source of income.  If you can work on-line, that's great.  If not, you need to choose your new location with finding work in mind.  I've been browsing land in the Deep South and you could easily afford a couple of acres in that area, but most of it is pretty rural and job opportunities might be scarce.  So job opportunities may help you narrow down your new location.  

Once you have a cheap shelter and a job, you can work and save and focus on the next step, Zone 1.  I think I would include both finding land, and finding 'community' (like-minded friends) in Zone 1.  The land could be borrowed or rented; finding that community may be helpful in finding the land.  

Zone 2 might include improvements to your shelter/land to get you more and more off-grid, plus starting to plant some things.  That will eventually make you more independent of having a job for income, but it takes a while.  

Hope someone else takes this and expands on it.  
 
Posts: 7967
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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My take is......if you are hesitating you're probably not ready to take the leap

Coming from another place in time, my experience was to follow my instincts and inate optimism.

...and 'trust' myself to be flexible and in tune enough to change direction if need be.

Having hitchhiked to the Ozarks at 22 with no money, and few possesions and even fewer skills I can say that there are all sorts of ways to reach your goal
 
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We bought an old farm that sat for 20 years being used as summer house. We are the third owners. The place was filled...and I mean FILLED with so much useless crap. The yard was grown up. The barn was full of crap and is dilapidated. Yes, there was floor damage under the Pergo someone tried to put over the rotten wood. OK. But it came with 6 acres of land with lake rights, it had a well, a nice brick oven in the kitchen. I can deal. We bought as is.
It took months for us to get everything out.
Then we discovered the minor floor repair needed in the log house was actually rotted sills (2) on the exterior logs and interior logs. We're talking 40 grand if we want to live in the house. The 2nd owners completely enclosed the bottom of the house without proper ventilation. They poured concrete in the kitchen, hall & sauna. Apparently placed a vapor lock or something backwards so that all needs to come out. They built an indoor sauna. Our sauna has (no shit) 12 corners!!! They put a toilet in without water. I think I might start crying going through this crap again.  The nice brick oven wasn't built properly so the smoke came in the house instead of up the flue. It took 3 months for me to dismantle it. Only because much of the mortar was soft.
I started having health problems because of the mold so we had to buy a used barrack to sleep in and keep our clothes.
But the thing that totally boggled my mind, was when we hired an excavator to do some digging. There is garbage, plastic, metal, glass, clothing all around the property. In the middle of our forest, we even found an old plastic shopping bag with plastic food packages inside. I found 4 disposable shavers pocking out of the dirt. Our neighbors said that's just the way people lived back then. WTF
I have no clue how to handle this. Every place we dig, there's plastic or glass. I think the dream of living in our own little permie world is just a dream.
I'm not looking sympathy, just some opinions on what can be done.
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Future Library-1 2017
Future Library-1 2017
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Future Library-1 2017
Future Library-1 2017
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Old McDonald had a drive through barn. e,i,e,i,ohh
Old McDonald had a drive through barn. e,i,e,i,ohh
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Front of house 2017
Front of house 2017
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Michael Helmersson
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Posts: 315
Location: Geraldton, Ontario -Zone 1b
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It sounds discouraging and bewildering in the present tense, but I can easily imagine reading a follow up post from you, sometime in the future, wherein you talk about how overwhelmed you were AT FIRST, but how you overcame it. It may be hard right now to see into the future, and it may be annoying to have people like me telling you it'll all work out, but many of life's challenges seem insurmountable at first.
 
gardener
Posts: 703
Location: the mountains of western nc
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forest garden trees foraging chicken food preservation cooking wood heat homestead
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could you use this time of not yet being off grid to explore how minimalist a lifestyle you could reach for in your current circumstances?
 
Rex Reeves
Posts: 27
Location: Saskatchewan, Canada
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kids forest garden building
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I'm not sure what to say about the garbage everywhere. But my first thought on the house is to build a wofati. If you can arrange a workshop it could be built pretty cheap by making the students pay enough to cover material and excavator costs. I believe that once you have a solid house everything else would probably seem less stressful.
 
Posts: 33
Location: MD, USA. zone 7
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I dunno what to say about the house, but you've got a safe mold free space to sleep. That is a good thing.

The neighbors aren't wrong about the leftovers from the trash shedding, many rural spaces people were responsible for all their trash disposal needs and they either burned it or just dropped it where they stood. You might also find a couple spots where they dug a hole and piled it in for a while, then covered the hole.

When I've been working garden space that had sheddings, I'd keep a bag or bucket with me and just gather them up as I went along. Think of it like weeding or washing dishes, it's not something that can be truly finished, but you'll get a good bit done today. Six acres might be way too much to face today, but if you focus on just one small area, maybe right by that one window, or that corner right there... that's doable.

If they're reasonable for your climate, consider adding a couple gardens that build on top of the existing ground (keyhole, raised beds, a collection of pots.)  Or things like a rock garden or some hardscapes - you might well find a spot or three that are more broken glass or sharp metal bits than you're up to dealing with, and it might be safer to entomb it.

When motivation struggles, turn it into a bit of a game. Maybe take a picture of your gatherings each day and show it off! Or weigh it and share something like "Today I got 2.3lbs and this red plastic spork!"  



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