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One foot in both worlds? Can it be done? A call for cooperation.

 
pollinator
Posts: 280
Location: Calhoun County, West Virginia
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Hi to all,

Bear with me, the preamble is long, but I think it ends in the right spot.

I will not wax excessively political, but for those of us who live in The United States, I feel we are about to be hit by a giant wave of unpleasantness which dwarves in scale what we have been experiencing the last 18 months. My first point is, can one discuss nature-care, security, food sufficiency and leading a peaceful, pro-social and pro-nature life divorced from the political reality of a growing trend toward FASCISM in the USA?. It reminds me of being a kid at the beach, bouncing about in shallow waters, trying to time the passing of exceptionally tall waves. You bounce off the balls of your feet and float over the swell like a jellyfish. It works for a couple of hours, until the swells get higher and higher, and you find yourself misjudging a particularly oversized wave, if you are lucky it breaks on top of you and sends you spiraling to the beach where you get to pick the seaweed and sand out of your teeth..  Its time to go home, because all subsequent waves will be real face-planters. You call it a day.  But what happens when you are unable to avoid that next wave? I think a good many of us are bracing for such an impact.

I think that the perfect storm of COVID, economies that are failing (many of them rural) and political unrest (said gently because I really am talking about racism, anti-semitism, agism, GLBTQ-hatred and the rise of right-wing militarists) which are making living a peaceful and ethical life more difficult. I am 62 and recently retired. I consider myself lucky although a late-comer. I have yet to connect with the right property, but I think it will happen in the Spring of 2022 and stake my claim.  Real estate is dominated by speculators and people with far more money than I have ever been able to save as a wage-earner. Yet I can still afford a place of my own if I scale down my prior expectations. A five acres well placed, will do.  Its not just about material things, its about creating a peaceful, just, spiritually abundant life.

Unfortunately everything is in flux, including my physical self and I am no spring chicken. At 62 I have arthritis and some encroaching issues of age, and I have lived a less than ideal life that has been hard on my body.  I can still shovel and split wood, but I am less than what I was and in 1 2 or 3 decades what will I be?  I have seed money to start my homestead just as I'm losing my physical ability to achieve some of my dreams. The timing is unfortunate. I feel I am running for the last open boxcar on a moving train. I am determined....

I don't know how young people are going to make the jump in 2021/22 and beyond, I can image being a young 20 something with near 0 savings, and looking at the prospect of saving enough for a property that is not totally HOAd and restricted to anything that is even remotely self-sustaining.  Also the promise of a digital career via the computer no matter where you live has not come true for everyone. Its hard to make a living in rural America without some resources at hand, or as your own businessperson. Not impossible, but requires some stepping stone I think.

I assured you I would end up in the right place.  Therefore, therefore I am interested in having conversations with one or more people or families, with skills and abilities and pro-social and pro-nature values, not as woofers, not as apprentices, but as people who might be considered "friends of the farm" who might pick a season to come and help and live as part of an extended family.  You may not be able to extricate yourself from your urban-existence, but you might retreat to a green place of peace and community for some weeks or months out of the year, a safe haven, to renew and regenerate. Without leaving your chosen career the thing that sustains your bank account.

I have some history and connections with West Virginia and I believe its the place for me. I expect to purchase some land by April 1, wooded most preferably.  I expect to be its full time resident. I need help and I need community. What's your pleasure? Hobbit House? Mini-Earthship? Treehouse? Log Cabin?  I am not seeking quantity but quality. Carrying capacity is a consideration if you will. And living lightly on the land. Feel free to respond here or just "moose" me.  Tell me your story and your dreams. Maybe we can come to articles.

Best,

Mike L

 
Posts: 19
Location: Pacific NW - Oregon
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Michael,
wow, we could be twins in the age/condition/life realm. I have been beat up for a year longer is all.
thoughts and direction also. the politics and direction of this country is scaring me. I remember when it was ok to have a different stance on politics/religion/etc, keeping this place a democracy. the anger from some people because you don't like the same political (insert thing here) is mind boggling to me.
I am locked in to my ten acres - albeit getting closer to town every day - and I would love to escape to a place further out - helping you for a while would be a nice break.
the county now requires me to mow my woods. seriously - or they will come in and of course destroy it and charge me for it.
I have done my best to be a good steward of this ground - even after getting horribly poisoned from a sudden burst of Arsenic in the well. lots of water, pure poison. must have been a lesson I needed to learn, and probably haven't gotten yet - water is still my struggle. I am still recovering from getting hit by a truck at the water station last April.

even some property in Alaska is starting to get HOA's - makes me cringe. they advertise it like it is a plus. if I can get out from under what I am in - I still plan on north. just not as far out as I would and should have done 30 years ago. I started renting this place as I got out of high school. own it free and clear now. developers keep harassing me to try and get it to do their nasty crap with it. I am getting close to caving on it. I will be buying a portable sawmill and heading north if I do.
I sincerely wish the best for you and where you are headed - makes a lot of sense to me.  you can and will catch the boxcar - and my best wishes for your success will be pushing you forward.
be safe and well!


 
Michael Littlejohn
pollinator
Posts: 280
Location: Calhoun County, West Virginia
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Hi Rob,

Thanks for responding and sorry about your troubles, the encroachment and probable eventual absorption of your homestead by the nearest population center.  At least you have the resources to make a change. I thank you for the well wishes and hope you find something that satisfies you.

Alot of people dont like West Virginia but its the number one place in the USA that is losing the most population (largely due to lack jobs) and its still possible to get some land there even a fixer upper house at a little less than scalper's prices. Ground water contamination can be an issue, but there are indications that West Virginia is trying to reorient its economy (private initiatives not so much public ones) to tourism and green tourism. Whatever one may think about hunting and fishing, reproducing healthy populations of wildlife need healthy ecosystems to support them and WVA must go that route to make it happen.  Green tourism could be its savior.  I happen to think bioremediation from contamination from mining to be a little easier than greening the desert type projects on the scale of difficulty and West Virginia has a workable amount of rain for catchment, and even cold pockets in the East/Central part of the state for anybody looking for a chilly microclimate as a hedge against planetary warming. FYI to anyone who was thinking in that direction.

Id only drink filtered rainwater there but Id do that practically anywhere in the USA.

Id add that the terrain can be challenging but a steep cliff face to me as a neighbor is better than an encroaching suburb or a golf course----- and a well placed homestead might last a while longer than the average.

I will post here to keep any interested persons up to date. You are welcome to visit, you might like it. And best of luck in your life's journey!

Mike L
 
pollinator
Posts: 357
Location: New Hampshire
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We knew we wanted a permaculture homestead and we wanted the option to retire and age in place on the homestead.  We put a lot thought into how we could do both and  here are a few thing to consider.  I had also moved to my current state to be near more of my like minded friends and I built my personal community before I started homesteading.

Take a good look at your wants verses needs in a home and property.  
What on both of these lists are items that will allow you to age in place?
What items will you need to pay someone to build, install, or maintain?
What items are easy to outsource at low cost and easy to find in the area you are settling in?
Will these needs and wants be flexible enough to be redesigned and adapted as you age?
Can you figure a way to do the day to day stuff now that will also allow you to do it when you are in your 80s and 90s?
How far away are they from you social network, stores, and services?

I had to take a serious look at what I could and couldn't handle in terms of running a homestead before we bought our current home.  We took a PDC right before we started property shopping and it opened our eyes to allow us to evaluate our wants from our needs and look at from the perspective of aging in place.  I have a rare connective tissue disorder that has me on a fast track to falling apart and making my day to day life harder. We not only had to consider could we retire here but could we live here if I needed to use a cane, crutches,  walker, or wheelchair on a daily basis. My physical decline started in my  30s so I had look at all of this a lot sooner than most people.  Homesteading is good for me and my health but it will only slow my decline so I am planning for and adapting the homestead so I can do all the things as long as I can.

We went with a smaller property outside a small city that is zoned agricultural.  It is 2.5 acres with a late 20th century ranch house on it.  This way  we are a 20 minute drive to shops, hospitals, most services, and most of our social network.  This turned out to be a very wise decision when I developed vision problems and stopped driving.  If we were farther out of town I wouldn't be able to get a friend to drive me, Uber, or Lift ride when needed.

I suggest settling near people you like having around.   Being near good friends and in our case really good neighbors has been a huge benefit to us in terms of getting help for projects and staying social in the era of quarantines. My in laws are out in the country and becoming more isolated as their friends and family are moving away or passing on.  They are also struggling to find contactors and other help for things they can do by themselves anymore. No one wants to drive out to the middle of nowhere for a smallish job.  

There are a lot of homesteading chores I can't do and my husband doesn't want to do. Buying meat and dairy from local regenerative farms is easier than raising and processing our own.  It is easy to have firewood delivered than to talk my husband into harvesting our own firewood.  Eliminating those 2 things meant we only needed a couple of acres to do all the things we like to do.  We haven't even touched the back half of the property.  We will get to it but we can only handle adding one project at a time.  Each one of those projects makes a us little more resilient while improving the quality of our life.  

We have been at our place for 8 years now and we find we need to keep redesigning and changing this has we figure out what does and doesn't work.  We are always looking to find easier ways to do things and streamline our day to day chores.  As we do home renovations I try to make the changes more ADA friendly so I can do things standing or sitting.  Our garden pathways are wide and flat as possible so I can navigate them when I am not feeling well.  

We design things so chores can be done more efficiently by my able bodied husband and they can be also done by me in a slower, lighter weight, and more time consuming manor.  It is really important that we can both do the day to homesteading chores so things don't come grinding the halt if   one of us is traveling, sick, or injured.  

Our work flow for chores is in constant evolution.  We have the trash cans, garden shed, oil delivery, out door spigot, and the chicken run all on the same path so there is less snow shoveling that has to be done in the winter and it is easy quick to do the daily chores all year.  

One thing my husband and I do is mentor a high school level robotics team.  We have been doing this for over a decade and it has had a great side benefit.   These kids who were interested in permaculture have helped with various work projects on the property over the years.  Once they graduate they become various skilled professionals including various engineers, machinists, carpenters, HVAC people, electricians and other careers that we may need to hire in the future.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 917
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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Although slightly off the point of your post, this statement is what resonated most loudly with me.

"I think that the perfect storm of COVID, economies that are failing (many of them rural) and political unrest (said gently because I really am talking about racism, anti-semitism, ageism, GLBTQ-hatred and the rise of right-wing militarists) which are making living a peaceful and ethical life more difficult."

All the hate, blame, finger pointing and down right selfishness that is currently abounding is, to me, horrifying.  This divide and conquer attitude seems so counter to what will be successful, and I simply cannot fathom how folks cannot see that their fear is breeding hate.  Fear of the unknown, fear of illness, fear of financial ruin...  It is like the planet is frozen with fear, and be damned if it is THEIR fault, so they are looking to anyone and anything to blame.

Although not a candidate for your community, I think the key thing is to ensure that no hate or scaremongers are permitted entry - they will literally poison the well, in my opinion.  After that, the key is to ensure that what you want to do is legal, and you will not be constantly "fighting City Hall" to achieve your goals.  Lastly, take the time to put EVERYTHING in writing for the residents; codes of conduct, waste stream (sewage, gray water, garbage, compost etc), ownership, succession of ownership (I highly recommend you look at a CO-OP model;  when someone dies or chooses to leave their successor(s) and their plans MUST be approved by the existing members BEFORE the sale or transfer can occur, and that all successors agree to and sign the code of conduct).  This sounds like nirvana...but only if you can keep the negative folks far, far, far away.  Good luck.
 
Michael Littlejohn
pollinator
Posts: 280
Location: Calhoun County, West Virginia
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Thank you Kate, thats a very good outline on needs assessment. Yes indeed I think about aging in place and for me that means a custom home which has some very therapeutic features (heated ceramic furniture, whirlpool to name a couple) mental health and spiritual needs met (a chapel, meditation spaces certainly) exercise (a bike path, a walking path some external exercise equipment) but most importantly as you pointed out bringing people into the environment who can keep things moving ahead and provide fresh prospectives as well as a spirit of pitching in when needed. I like to combine the enthusiasm and sheer energy of youth with the wisdom of the elders and the synergy is usually magical. Everybody wins. Of course not everyone is lucky enough to have the financial resources to simply live where one wants, its no coincidence I am seeking one of the most economically depressed environments. Im working with a modest budget and so we make lemonaid when we have lemons and cherry pie when we have cherries.  I have spent half my life in the large urban areas of the USA, and the result is no-thank-you, I will not trade easy access to consumer goods and hospital down the street for a deep place in the woods and those are my priorities. All else is negotiable.  Going to a state which is far behind others in terms of medical care behooves me to consciously work to encourage both traditional and non traditional healers to participate, and yes that's dicey but again, I will be healthier longer and more joyous in spirit in the place I want to live, and I will work out the rest. As for friends and people i want to be with, not all things are possible, and I would welcome people who would also be at home where I want to be, and those shared values and shared labors may make for new friends and family.

Good thoughts all, Kate and I appreciate you sharing them, it definitely helps the discussion..

Best, Mike
 
Michael Littlejohn
pollinator
Posts: 280
Location: Calhoun County, West Virginia
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Thank you Lorrine, I am right with you...

I dont feel I was off topic as much as I was too obtuse, but I think declaring myself particularly sensitive to issues of social justice puts my intentions clearly out there, that my home would be no haven for bullies or oppressors or a harbor for all the isms that seem to afflict society in full display lately. Diversity is healthy for nature, its also good for communities and I believe that sincerely.

As for hatemongers, aka "energy-vampires" as I sometimes term them, I have had a brush or three with intentional community before, and I have witnessed very good and very bad examples of communities and how one or a couple individuals may make life a living hell for the rest.  All I can say is that an invitation to visit, stay and live would be a bit like dying fabric, that it may take a number of dyings (and dryings) to get a good look at what a thing actually is. Its the same with friendships. Too fast too soon is a recipe for trouble. I appreciate patience as a quality in my friends, and I would appreciate those same qualities in a member of the community as we feel each other out. That may take time. Yet relationships are everything, no?

As for documentation and spelling things out Im all for that, memories can fade, a moment of awkwardness and a signature to assure the "meeting of minds" can alleviate many future ills.

I appreciate your perspectives and taking time to offer them....

Best  Mike
 
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