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Couple w/ toddler, Situation Wanted, NC/VA/TN/GA  RSS feed

 
                              
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We are a couple in our 30's with a 3 year old daughter, looking for an internship/farm or homestead work in exchange for housing/farm food/modest stipend preferably in the western area of NC, or in the Blue Ridge Mountain range of VA/GA/TN.  We are looking for a long-term position (1 year or more) and would be able to move in the fall/early winter of this year - we are committed to working a farmer's market till October.  We’d also be happy to caretake a property but those opportunities seem few and far between.  I’ve researched and responded to a couple of prospects, but thought this might be a good way to reach a few more people. 

First, a little about us: we both grew up in suburban sprawl (me near Charlotte, NC, him near Albany, NY), with a little woods to be explored and growing reduced to strictly back-burner hobby gardens, we both enjoyed gardening with our grandparents.  Over time, we have become dissatisfied with mainstream culture.  Materialism/consumerism is really causing us anxiety right now because our daughter is just young enough to catch the “more more more” vibe that most people in our urban surroundings aspire to and it becomes harder every day to thwart her intake of more “stuff” and unhealthy food. 

We currently live in Albany, NY but most of our immediate family is in NC and we are determined to get back down there to enable us to be with them more, but also because the weather here in winter isn’t working for us.  The too-frequent snow and long, deep cold spells are just too much for this southern girl - I don’t mind it until about month 4…then it gets more difficult.  There seem to be a lot of sustainable farming practices in place already in and around the mountains there, similar to our local farms here.  We live in a progressive community of locavores and activists who have helped open our eyes and begin our education in the importance of organic farming, permaculture, re-foresting, composting, rotating crops, hoophouse growing, alternative housing practices, homsteading, off-grid living, bio-dynamics, and living frugally with less on purpose - this just begins the laundry list of topics we're interested in and have researched, but most we haven't yet had the opportunity to put into practice.  A lot of people around here are practicing urban homesteading or finding their own rural acreage to cultivate.  We live now with my husband’s mother and are unable to take over her home and yard to do all we would like to.  She’s an avid gardener herself, but just doesn’t believe that all the chemicals she uses are harmful…our daughter is around so many toxins every day - it bothers us.

We are enthusiastic about slow-food and rural life, learning about all of the issues I mentioned above, spending most of our time outside, working hard to help an operation be successful & caring for animals (we are all dedicated animal lovers and long to be around goats, horses, dogs, cats, sheep, wildlife, cows, chickens - any animal you have you can be sure will take a special place in our hearts).  Oddly enough, my husband still wants to learn about butchering.  We’ve been vegan or vegetarian for several years but have recently begun eating local, organic meat.  We have a sweet 8 year old neutered tom-cat who is a great hunter and would definitely need to come with us.  My daughter and I love to grow and cultivate flowers together (she can name many in our garden already) - and she wants a dog very badly (we do too).  We really hope to make that happen for her.  We would love to learn more about yurt and cob building, cheese-making, herb, vegetable and flower growing and anything to do with small, organic-farm/homesteading operations.  We’re willing to do anything, dig holes, maintain crops, make soap, hang laundry, cut firewood, build, beautify, learn how to drive tractors or horse-drawn plows, pull weeds, can/preserve, work markets, occasional office or retail duty, feeding or milking, we don’t mind cleaning out manure….we like to get dirty!

My husband and I prepare vegan & other artisan-baked goods for the local Co-op (where he is also employed as the head baker) and for seasonal farmer's markets.  We are committed to one until October of this year.  We have worked markets for the last 4 years and have a lot of experience managing our own small, at-home baking and catering business, we’re passionate about customer service, and we’re familiar with all the obstacles that a market sometimes provides.  We’re willing to utilize all the skills we have.  In the interest of full-disclosure, I do have some residual lower-back and right-arm problems from a car accident in 2008 so I might not be able to work as hard/long as my husband, but I’m hoping to barter for a few Reiki treatments this summer to work out the kinks.  I work through the pain to do what I have to.

We would love to homestead on our own, we just can't afford the property and housing and everything that goes along with it - but we really want to help someone else on a long-term basis with their farm, with the hope that eventually we will one day join our own community with our own place.  We don’t carry a lot of debt (we don’t have credit cards), we just don’t take in that much money.  While we believe in the importance of cultivating community, we do like our privacy and would need our own residence.  We're not yet experienced living in primitive conditions - we do feel our own structural residence would be the best option for us.  We're not averse to a smallish (heated in winter) building or yurt, outdoor compost toilet/shower is fine, but we don't want to take up space in someone's house with them or room in a boarding house.  A small, separate room or loft for our daughter would be ideal.  We have a reliable 1978 VW Bus (Westy camper) that one day we’d like to retrofit into bio-diesel.  We are musicians and like to enjoy a hoppy beer after a hard days work (only after, and not a lot).  Conversation, shared meals and occasional acoustic jamming is welcomed.  We have beds and a few bookcases and other household things we could bring or leave here – we’re in the process of donating a lot of our “stuff” so that we can travel lightly.  We’re adjustable.  We have already pared our spending/intake way down and are essentially already “homesteading” without the land or animals. 

My husband is a self-taught chef and baker, he's been doing that since he got out of high school.  I have been looking for my calling for a long while- I've worked mostly customer service jobs, in restaurants, retail and as an executive assistant.  I’m very happy being a stay at home mom, wife and baker, but I don’t want to go back to another cubicle ever again.  I would if our life depended on it, but we think there’s another way.  We could be providing for ourselves much more sustainably but really feel the need to get out from under all the buildings and cars.  We've become very passionate about providing a life for our daughter that isn't as consumer-driven, and one for all of us that involves much more of the natural world.  We were supposed to move to an eco-community in Cowee, NC this spring, but their funding has fallen through.  I stay at home now with our daughter but my husband is getting a bit burnt out on the baking schedule (it’s the 2am wakeup that does it) - we are faced with a turning point in our lives - do I go back to office work and he stays at home, or do we continue to pursue our goals of working together as a family, living on an organic farm in a rural area with animals to care for, living more connected to our food source in a community of individuals with similar goals, where our daughter can join us and learn?  We've opted for the latter.  We hope to homeschool her by the way. 

Our weekly Natural Parenting group just met with local “Radical Homemakers” author Shannon Hayes, a 3rd generation farmer, to delve deeper into the transition issues of reclaiming our sense of living in a way that’s more beneficial to us & the environment, and how to move into rebuilding our lives in our community of choice, with our values intact.  We’re committed to pursuing this way of life.  We’ve looked into eco & intentional communities/villages but so many are cost-prohibitive to join.  That remains a possible option for us, if we could find the right one.

We are non-religious - but we are spiritual, we need to live in nature, near trees, water and wildlife, learning how to become self-sufficient.  We have a sense of humor, we're intelligent, we’re forward thinking when it’s appropriate and backward thinking in that we want to revert to a more connected, natural life, we love to help.  We're positive and enthusiastic, considerate and peaceful.  Challenges have come our way, but we’re trying to attain more of a sense of well-being in our lives through these mindsets.  What we lack in formal education, we make up with life experience and common sense.

Do you have a situation that might work for you and us?  We'd love to start a dialogue with you.  We are planning a trip to NC near the end of the season and could come visit a prospect or two at that time.  We hope that by the end of the summer, we will have made a few connections and with any luck, make a move before the new year. 

In peace,
VWMama, Captain Sparky & KK
britincharma@yahoo.com
 
                              
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I probably should have posted this in the WWOOFing section, but I can't figure out how to move it.  We have made a couple of connections we are checking out now that we found on ATTRA, Local Harvest & growfood...hope it was okay to post here, even though we're new to this forum.  Have been lurking and learning   It's very encouraging to see that so many people are willing to share their experiences and advice.  Thank you.

Best,
VWMama
Albany, NY

 
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