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Homestead location  RSS feed

 
                          
Posts: 23
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What in your opinion is the best location within the U.S. for a homestead.  I was thinking a place that does not have a long/cold winter and plenty of sunny days for a longer growing season.

 
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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Hum.... this is a subjective question.  I was born and raised on the west coast so guess what I'm going to say  

And there are some who feel the best homesteading site would have to be where the winters are cold, so that certain pests, mildews and such are killed off each season (I'm not one, but they have their point).

In my opinion - a place with minimal building codes, or none would be best.  This messes with my west coast thing, so I have to move in by one line of states from the west. 

You want lots of sun, so you might want to check into the southwest mountainous regions.  I do not know about their building codes as these areas do not appeal to me.

I'm looking at Idaho right now....

Good luck in your search.


 
                          
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I am trying to make a informed choice so more information is helpful.  Before I can bring in/apply personal biases.

I saw a thread after I posted this one and maybe it was yours regarding this issue in a more limited way.   

The growing season debate that I saw on the other thread mentioned that in the south the season is not much longer.   I wonder if anyone else has any personal experience with growing season differences from say a hardness zone of 4-5ish to like a 7-9.   

I am not exactly a big fan of canning produce in the winter. I have read and enjoyed the solar earth sheltered greenhouse book so I know you can do things to grow in the colder regions of the United States. 

Having lived in Massachusetts and Maine I know very little about growing in the southern U.S.   

So far I was thinking important factors would be:
Building codes
cost of land
climate
water availability
sunny days out of the year
personal bias

For me I would like to know what would be the least physically demanding location to live off the land.  I am sure you can homestead in Death valley or the arctic circle but it would be hard.

I think what i am trying to get at is where is the longest product growing season in the United States without building greenhouses or large and complicated systems for irrigated water.


 
pollinator
Posts: 1109
Location: Green County, Kentucky
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I'd add property taxes to your list of things to consider.  You can get away with paying no income taxes or sales tax if you have no income (or a very low income), but skip paying your property taxes and you'll be out on your ear even if your property has no mortgage.

As far as your criteria of the longest growing season without irrigation or greenhouses, you'd be looking at Florida or southern Texas.  Then it comes down to, can you stand the climate.  If you've lived in Maine and Massachusetts, you are somewhat familiar with humidity, but it's a lot worse, and lasts a lot longer, in the Gulf Coast states.  I was raised in the West, and struggled with the heat and humidity in New Hampshire; flying from Oregon to Florida one year when my ex-husband was stationed down there, when we got off the plane in Florida, it was like having a hot wet towel thrown in your face -- almost suffocating.  People we talked to who had lived down there their whole lives said you never get used to it -- I did eventually manage to get used to New Hampshire summers, although I got 'un-used' to them very quickly when I moved back to Oregon!  It was pretty miserable going back for a week visit in July after only a couple of years away. 

I think before you make any decision, you should probably make a few trips to check out some different areas and see how you handle the climate, how you get along with the local people, what you like and dislike about each place.  It's expensive, time-consuming, and a lot of work to make a major move -- you don't want to go someplace and find out after you get there that you can't stand it.

Kathleen
 
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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My understanding is that a location's effect on your morale is overwhelmingly important.  I've read a lot of accounts of people going back to the land, and finding that the climate was exhausting or the isolation was maddening, causing them to produce very little despite good agricultural conditions.  A different person might be energized by that same climate or refreshed by the solitude.  If the place keeps you happy, there are ways to handle a huge variety of difficult challenges.

All that aside, John Michael Greer makes a good case for settling in the Rust Belt, in areas with good access to trade via boat.  I guess his planning horizon is a little farther out than most people's, but I've read a lot of other thinkers who reached similar conclusions from very different axioms.

http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2009/08/betting-on-rust-belt.html

However, he mentions that California port towns seem to be in the same place now that auto-making towns were in the 1970s.  I'm a lot younger than him, so I'll stay here in Oakland, and if he's right, it will resemble the rust belt's current condition by the time I'm his age.  Also, assuming he's right, this is a time and place where I can do a lot of good.  And I just like it a lot, so I can deal with crime and a sluggish local economy and high rents and low precipitation and...

 
                          
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Thanks for the feedback. I am in no rush to set out yet but trying to gather knowledge. I am planning on saving money for like 5 years provided I have enough purchases the land out right, tools and materials, and money for investments to create yearly income for health insurances, taxes, and small purchases.

Climate wise California is very amazing. Although land and living in Cali is more expensive.
 
                          
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South east U.S.  High Humitiy, more bugs and disease. 

South West U.S.  Extremely Dry. 


North West U.S.  Cloudy, short growing season. 

North East U.S. Cloudy, short growing season.


Northwest Cost more cloudy then North East.  But more mild.  Although Oregon and Washington have a score of 5 out of 6 for least sunny days yearly. (6 being the worst)  While Maine and Mass have a 4.  So relatively close.


Middle North U.S.  Coldest.

South Middle U.S. Texas area ( Desert like on one side and hot and humid on the other).

I love places like Maine in the summer, I am sure I would love Montana and Idaho in the summer but spring winter and fall are questionable (for me).  I love being outside working and I would rather find a place where I could be outside working the longest per year.  Very hard to be productive when there is 3 feet of snow on the ground or deep into spring mud season.

Right now I am leaning towards Kentucky, and Tennessee.  Was thinking of Arkansas and South east Texas but I fear the extra Humidity.  I have fought Fungus in the Garden before and It is a very stubborn enemy.


More thoughts and feed back would be appreciated.

 
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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well i'm prejudiced to Michigan..i love it and wouldn't want to ever live anywhere else..we have hardly any  earthquakes or tornados..we have no hurricanes or tsunamis...and even though we have a heavy winter..i love it.

also you can't beat the cost of living here..can get a house for very little right now with the horrible forclosure rates..my niece paid $30,000 for 5 acres and a nice 3 bdrm house.

you can shop for very low prices..and if you put in a $1,000 greenhouse (or make one from salvage) you can garden all year.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
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travisr wrote:Climate wise California is very amazing. Although land and living in Cali is more expensive.



Land in Stockton and thereabouts is not too very expensive.  Maybe some of the best homesteading, though, would be in Humboldt County: they're famous for a particular cash crop, but the climate is good for more practical things also, and precipitation is enough that you won't be pinched by the horrible and worsening aqueduct politics.  A distant family member is just now closing up a renteur/homesteading lifestyle there and moving back to the city, for reasons of morale.  The setup made practical sense, in that case, but it still wasn't a good fit.
 
                          
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Northern Cali looks expensive using landwatch prices.   Is it logging that your referring to?


Some parts of Michigan have a warmer climate then surroundings because of the great lakes. I think maybe even a hardness zone of 6 in some parts.  I would love Michigan in the summer but I do not know about the winter.  Not much of a winter person.  Don't particularly like winter outdoor activities or spending a huge amount of time indoors.   

Just found this place on landwatch.com

Wish I had the money now.


http://www.landwatch.com/Caldwell-County-Kentucky-Land-for-sale/pid/130000835
 
Jami McBride
gardener
Posts: 1948
Location: PNW Oregon
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So far I was thinking important factors would be:
Building codes
cost of land
climate
water availability
sunny days out of the year
personal bias



one more thing to consider besides water availability is the water rights.

Seems here in Oregon the water that hits the ground belongs to the state.

The Water Code
Under Oregon law, all water is publicly owned. With some exceptions, cities, farmers, factory owners, and other water users must obtain a permit or water right from the Water Resources Department to use water from any source— whether it is underground, or from lakes or streams. Generally speaking, landowners with water flowing past, through, or under their property do not automatically have the right to use that water without a permit from the Department.

Water use and management is a huge factor in homesteading any land.

 
Kathleen Sanderson
pollinator
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Location: Green County, Kentucky
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Jami McBride wrote:
one more thing to consider besides water availability is the water rights.

Seems here in Oregon the water that hits the ground belongs to the state.

The Water Code
Under Oregon law, all water is publicly owned. With some exceptions, cities, farmers, factory owners, and other water users must obtain a permit or water right from the Water Resources Department to use water from any source— whether it is underground, or from lakes or streams. Generally speaking, landowners with water flowing past, through, or under their property do not automatically have the right to use that water without a permit from the Department.

Water use and management is a huge factor in homesteading any land.




Water rights will be a factor in most if not all of the western states.  It's less likely to be an issue in the eastern half of the country. 

Kathleen
 
                    
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all those factors are worth considering.  I submit that they are secondary to another issue, and thats the ETHIC of starting a homestead. I got homesteaded at as child; my folks bought beautiful rural land with no blemishes, logged the crap out of it, built a house, made a bunch of mistakes ended up with afarm that they couldnt manage and then thier house burned to the ground.

ad frankly, in many ways, they did better than most- they were able to be off grid, without a well, organic, etc, for 15 years but as they aged the system was too big, and the input requirements too high.

my only advantages are that i saw thier mistakes, and now, on the same piece of land, im restoring habitat and building smaller systems- as well as bring in partners. the lone ranger homestead is doomed to fail; and damaging a  lovely piece of integrated and functional nature - a very real possibility for even the best permie when they choose to design in a functional ecosystem- is a surprisingly common.

I tried to embed the image, but im slow sometimes. here's a link to cartoon that makes a short summary of my thoughts

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Ymx9e66vrGc/SpIlbVBbHCI/AAAAAAAAK1Q/w6psh6WBmx0/s1600-h/SKMBT_C25309082112070_0003.jpg


I submit the ETHICAL choice is to find damaged land near a community you love and feel supported by. then youll have the personal network to refect communally about how to design the site, share meals and adventures, and at the end of the day any mistakes- the inevitable teacher we all live with- will not be banging up an already function ecology, but just another goober in a messy place. in this placewe can take two steps forward for every one back, or even do a 3/2 ratio, and be moving as fast towards real  soultions as the best designers are. and in sharing those you help us all.

on the other hand, at a undamaged local, even the best designs will bang up the existing systems. I;ve seen it over and over again, and its very frustrating to watch habitat and habitants suffer even while the human neighbor means well.

scared wildfire lands, esp box canyons, are common now in so. cal., and present affordable land that needs restoration; degraded farmlands and dead industrial  monocrop lands are another great choice for rehabilitation. or  michigan's detroit-flint wastelands, which is having a huge urban permaculture movement take off from what I hear. lots of empty lots, cheap houses, community gardens, and neighbors who are ready to be neighbors - they need to cause thats all they have. I hear the big easy is having the same issues.

wells cartoon (above) is cute and gets to a point- the house doesnt have to be underground, but its nice if you can pull it off. more important is building with some guidelines, such as the living building challenge (http://ilbi.org/the-standard/lbc-v1.3.pdf)

im a homesteader. i was drawn in almost 30 years ago, as a 12 year old with a couple of wild eyed parents. they were both smart and capable. and they, though no intent of thier own, kinda hammered some soil and forests hard. I wouldnt know half the things I do if i hadnt been with them and watched their mistakes. I love the homestead, and now its a sane choice to be here, to fix it up, maintain what works and start new functional systems. but I would also tell anyone that the most important thing ive learned about homesteading is summed up in the above cartoon: love nature, leave it to its gig, and fix what our forebearers broke by re-inviting nature in. its good work if you can get it.
 
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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Deston,

I couldn't agree more. We have about 800 acres that were cattle land. We never touch the wild areas and replant pioneer species of trees as a business. The key is to always improve. But it takes money, lots of it to do something like that. We have more than 140,000 trees growing.

But it is a joy to walk through the plantations / forest and see the wildlife and see the positive changes.
 
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