My partner and I are currently in a transitional period of our life. We'll be the first ones to move in for the long run, to be the tinder to a new sparking community.
We met this couple/community on here - He's made a few topics about trying to find people (First topic - Second topic) He writes beautifully, and I was willing to meet this beautiful mind to see if we could work and live together.
Let me elaborate and introduce ourselves from a different perspective, because there's enough space for the right people.
We got in contact for the first time with Ross last month. They've been bombarded with people that are serious/not serious enough to jump, so we wanted to show them our commitment to the future community by driving there and meeting face-to-face.
Me, my partner and our 10 month old piled up into the car and took the 900 km journey. A ferry, two wrong turns in the opposite direction, a night over in a hotel, a very bumpy dirt road later, we were greeted by Ross and his partner, Wilma. Talk about pressure: not only did we have to figure out if we like each other, but we also have to be together pretty much 24/7 because we're taking over a room in their house. Add a baby, two dogs, 5 cats inside, and chickens, a duck and a pig outside (yes, it's Mr. Wu! The Post-Apocalyptic Pig). It went surprisingly smooth.
I won't talk much about the property other than saying it has a great deal of potential. I haven't worked on it yet, so I won't talk about something I don't know. Hills and forest and bramble and ponds. Good water. Good view. Cleared space and thick underbrush. It's a versatile property. What I do want to talk about are the personalities that will be on the property. I want you to have a better sense of who we are so you can figure out if this would work.
Peter and I are more homestead focused. We want to live on a property without getting into a mortgage, have a garden/food forest that feeds our family for the year, maybe even have a couple horses again for transportation and hay harvesting. We're looking to live much more simply, using the least amount of outside resources as possible. Now all that sounds dreamy-like, but we know how harsh reality can be. We've already lived on a large property, trying to do the same. The huge mortgage made it impossible. We tried living with basically nothing in a yurt, but it being in the wrong spot, a property that was going to be sold, it wasn't going to work out. We tried living with other people, but without the explicit reason of becoming a community, it became skewed and everyone left bitter. We felt used and tired, and we moved to the contrary of what we wanted: a duplex surrounded by other duplexes. Oddly enough, it helped us focus on what we did and did not want in our next place.
Peter's an extremely versatile, hard-working man. I tried writing down everything that he can do/ had done, but I felt like I was tooting his horn a bit too much. He's so hard-working it makes normal hard-working people look bad. It makes me nuts, but stuff gets done quickly with a person like that around.
On my side, I definitely don't have the experience of manual labor under my belt. I can do something if it's shown to me and if someone does it by my side for a while, but that doesn't mean that I'm always happy doing it. I'm very efficient work oriented: if I doubt it to be a good thing to do, I won't waste my energy on it (LOL). On the other side, I'm an avid learner - I love learning to do new things, get new almost-forgotten skills, jump in with both feet when opportunities show themselves. I like doing different things than Peter - I like planting the garden, fermenting food, making useful crafts. I have a hard time coming up with what I can do sometimes, but that's just because I'm good at the normal routine of what we're about: I render the fat to make the soap, I harvest the wax to make the candles, I make the laundry soap to wash the clothes, I process the produce to make ferments, dehydrate, smoke, or simply to make dinner, I rip the old t-shirts and cloths to weave the next rug, I make some clothes. All that together makes me sound like I'm all peaceful and wise. The reality is that I'm learning and I mostly have no idea what I'm doing. I'm just willing to experiment so that we stop automatically going to the store to get this and that. I like learning from people that have the skills, so I go spend time with them. Now with a kid, I do the same things, just a lot slower.
As for Ross and Wilma, we've just met in person for 4 days. Not a lot of time, but plenty of information come from first contact. Communication is honest and clear with them, conversation is engaging. I can say that the previous topics Ross has written do present them honestly. Mr Wu does in fact come for walks with us. Humour is on the dark side, sarcastic, witty and word-play, just like what we find hilarious. They're more prepper-oriented, getting excited talking about different ways of SHTF, but still down-to-earth, realizing that homesteading is probably the best way of getting ready for it. They don't come from a background of homesteading, so we balance each other out well in that way.
We're looking for people like us to join us - we're certainly not personalities that come by often, but we've found each other through here. I felt comfortable around them from the first moment of meeting them.
Because of the time of the year that we went, we ended going to a christmas party. The house was FILLED - and I mean chuckful of people in this house. Plastic on the windows, the house just kept getting warmer and warmer. People were wearing christmas outfits, women were full of lipstick, baked goods was being passed on a tray held by the very cheerful hostess. Jokes about last year's snow was said between neighbors and the motorcycle salesman was trying to convince us that buying a four-wheeler was a must. I was standing in the room with my boy on my back, dressed like I was going to do the grocery, not some special event. I looked at Ross in his black leather jacket sitting in the overstuffed armchair, still taller than some bumbly women passing by with devilled eggs. He looked back at me with this look on his face, and I knew that we were glad to not be the only odd-one out in the room. We didn't fit in, but that was alright, we weren't trying to. I'm just glad I've found someone else that is like-minded enough, more "my people" than not. Ross, Peter and I left shortly after that, chuckling to ourselves.
We'll be on the property as soon as winter lets up on us here - 4 or 5 months from now, in April/May 2016. We're moving back into our yurt, we'll set up a small solar system for lights, carry our water. We'll have to find jobs until we set up our business (jobs are available, but might not be in your specific career). The town and surrounding towns are really awesome - it's rural, but there's some much available in an hour's drive. This is amazing to me - here, the closest city is 2:30 away, and you won't get anything different than what's right around you.
We've found "our people", but we're looking for more of our people. Read Ross's other topics and if you think you might fit in with us, I'm suggesting that you contact me now. I'll go through who's serious and who's not. They've had to do this for a while now, so I'd like to help out.
Ultimately, you are in a solid relationship. You have knowledge and experience about homesteading/living on the land. You have some specific useful skill (mechanics take note!). You're young-er/young-ish, but still emotionally mature. You are willing to invest in the property eventually. You have a vehicle. You need to bring what you want to live in, and hopefully aleady have experienced living in it.
Thanks, Rachel. Yes everyone, Our "Potential" intentional community has just taken the first large leap out of the category of "Potential" and clomps awkwardly into the "It Begins" Phase. I've been trying to find the right people for Four years now. Just when I was reaching the point of giving up, a heart broken community builder bemoaning my lost time investment....Traction! Three days after Rachel and Peter headed back home to start packing...we were sitting down with the next "Potential" member for a first meet and its looking good.
Im hoping we can document a bunch of this for Permies.
If anyone else would like more info to see if they would fit in with us...feel free to ask away. If not here, then in Private Message...or Purple Moosage, that is
After reading this again, I realized that I really didn't say much about us. A property, no matter how good it is, is only as good as the people on it. If we're to have a community, it'll either be successful or a failure because of people, not the land. I don't really know how to start describing ourselves; it'll have to be examples of what we've done. Actions speak louder than words, no? There will probably be more than one post - a lifetime can't really be summarized.
I grew up in multiple places, always being uprooted a few years in because of my father's job. I always found it fun and exciting, but I could never feel like I was truly at home when I knew I was leaving shortly. With the years, I started feeling like I had no roots, and I became unstable and fell again and again. I don't know when I started being interested in "the alternative lifestyle", "living off the land", homesteading or whatever else you call it. It probably came from a childhood and adolescence of having no roots. I want to be rooted. I want to feel grounded, close to the earth, feel at home. I know that by the time I moved out of my mother's at 17, my ultimate goal was to have a farm, a homestead.
I accumulated so much knowledge about it, but I wasn't always happy with the most popular way of doing it. I wanted to be a beekeeper, but I'd have a top-bar hive without pre-made comb. I wanted to live simply, so I looked in traditional Mongolian yurts. I didn't want to use a septic system that would eventually contaminate the water. Not only I wanted to be off-grid, I wanted to use the least amount of electricity possible. And on and on about different subjects. My head was ripping at the seams with theoretical knowledge. I was drooling at the words "vermicompost" "humanure" "no-till" "self-sufficient" and many others.
After living on my own for two years and moving three times (habits don't change quickly!), I quit college a quarter way into my Recreational Therapy program. I loved the program, but the pull to live what I was talking about was too much for me to ignore. I got accepted into an unpaid farm internship in southern ontario, and I was to be there 7 months. "Farm internship" might even be strong of a word, now that I look at it from a perspective with more experience. Two young women were renting the house and land, and were growing a garden for market gardening. There was 12 chickens that came with the rental, and we (I) raised 6 pigs from piglets to time to butcher. I was the woman to do the free labor to help. Sure, sometimes I felt like I was being taken advantage of, but the experience was rich for me. Plus, not being paid meant that I was to do my share, but I didn't feel forced to do anymore than that. I got to do lots of exploring the area, plenty of adventures were had. I really enjoyed getting up extra early Saturday mornings to go to the farmer's market, I loved taking care of the chickens and pigs, harvesting the produce, even weeding the beds (after having a small doobie). I layed in my bed at night sometimes wondering what I had gotten myself into. I grew up with basically no work ethic, never being asked to do anything. I didn't know (and am still learning) how to work. I got frustrated at times. On the other side, all my sleeping problems disappeared. My large frame started to fill in with muscle, finally. My skin was golden, my hair was growing, and I was finally sweating. How addicting.
I can't really go on more about myself, because this is where I met Peter. Basically, everything I did before going away on this farm internship amounts to very little movement forward towards how I wanted to live. I could even say that life was happening to me. It sure didn't feel like I was taking advantage of my time. That is, before Peter catapulted me in the roller coaster of the ups and downs of LIFE.
I thought I would add a bit more here since people are reading it. Sitting down with Rachel and Peter helped us flesh out a few things. I didn't have a "Master plan". I wanted the first few people to be together to work out the plan so we could see what their needs were and how we could facilitate that. Once we have a few people together, we will do a course together in "Consensus Building".
Things have already changed since our first theoretical plans. Selling off parcels just wasn't going to work for a bunch of reasons. Mainly surveying and legal costs which turned out to be substantial. Starting a community land trust was even more expensive than that. We seemed blocked by finance every rout we took. In the end, a Buy In was the all round cheapest and easiest...but also the most risky. We wanted this to be as cheap as possible for anyone entering because, I personally wanted any members to be as financially secure as possible. The point was to have people get access to secure land without the slavery of a 25year mortgage that they will slave at a job for the majority of their lives simply for the right to have a place to sit still. Don't even get me started on the poor slaves stuck in 40 year mortgages. We wanted to offer a price that a hard working person could save up for and pay fully. Done. "Free at last. Free at last".
So, The buy in would be 15000. Sort of the price of a new car.
To mitigate the risks, there would be a 1 year probationary period incase something came up that made it clear we couldn't live together. The first year would cost 1200 (as a rental fee that would only feel like 100 a month). If everything is working out, that 1200 is subtracted from the 15000 buy in. If it didn't work out for some reason, the person simply paid a 100 dollars a month to play on a woodland farm for a while and learn what they didn't want.
To keep land taxes down (presently, we pay under 250 a year. It would jump way up if people started plopping down houses) we want people that do mobile structures. Mini homes. Mobile homes. Shipping container homes. Platform homes, etc.
We also have to have people that will realise we may hit hurdles in pulling this all off. There has to be flexibility if problems arise in the process. There may be more changes as we hit snags or find out what the group needs.
That's enough for now
LOL. I suddenly realised We haven't told you folks where we are doing this (unless you read the other posts). This is near the North Shore of Nova Scotia. That little piece of information might be helpful to people.
After 18 months of not working (due to pregnancy and maternity leave), I'm going back tomorrow. I won't have very much time to write, so I figured I should tell you more about Peter now, or it might get forgotten.
Peter. What a complicated man. I've never met anyone like him. Of course, this comes from someone who loves him, so you might say that it's through pink colored glasses. I'm not going to talk about his qualities and defaults though, so my subjectivity (Is this even a word?) won't matter as much.
Peter's always been a country boy - raised in a little rural town outside of Kingston, he grew up haying, having his garden, playing in and on the lake. The first time he had a near-death experience was when he had a snowmobiling accident going way too fast. He recovered well, but when he dances, his hips won't move. When he was in college, he would wake up extra early to go to his job, milking cows, and then go to class smelling like a barn. He got his Forestry technician certificate. During the summers, he was working for the Ministry of Natural Resources in fire control - after he was done his program, they wanted him as a team leader, but he refused. He still talks about it, saying that he would have been "set" if he had accepted. "Set" for money, but definitely not happy.
He went back to school for urban tree something or other - started climbing trees, pruning, doing difficult technical tree removals and whatnot. Hydro Ontario picked him up and he was their little golden boy for 2 years. When Hydro was having to lay off some people, they offered Peter a farewell package since he was so new. He hated working for someone else, so he took the money, bought a house and started his own company. For the next fifteen years, he worked for himself and employed 4-6 people year round.
After falling out of trees multiple times, his body was way out of balance, and he got really hurt lifting up a Santa Claus-shaped bottle of maple syrup out of the fridge door. Couldn't walk anymore. The dr told his he had 2 seriously herniated disks in his spine that he could have a surgery where they shave off what is sticking out. He refused, wanting to keep his body intact. He got alternative treatments, let go of his business, moved to a big property, and started crawling in the garden. He did what he could - weed, plant, whatever. His body became better with time, and when I met him, he was unstoppable. He had made a body-products workshop for his girlfriend, renovated the barn, made a workman's fence using logs that he had ax-split himself, was doing the hay by himself for his 6 horses, logged on his property with the horses and made his firewood, and on and on. He was only there for 3 years, but so much had been done that you could have sworn his family had been there for generations.
Well, by the time we met, his girlfriend wasn't anymore, he was going out with the "lead renter" where I was at. Anyways, after having a summer full of fun getting to know each other as friends, things fell out with the lead renter, we started being a thing, and I got kicked out of the house before the internship was over because of it. Oops.
So Peter had a mortgage on this place - a crazy big one, too. Something like $1000 a month for 40 years or something. It was HUGE, alright? Eventually, the property was sold, but we had stopped living there long before.
Multiple places with multiple adventures every time:
1 - we went to Northern Quebec and lived on the beach for a month in early June in a prospector's tent(it was soooo cold!)
2 - Northern Ontario in the tent, next to a lake for 2 months.
3 - Met a guy at the tent location that would rent us his tiny cabin for $100/month. Stayed there for 2 months.
4 - Moved to a neighbor's in the middle of the field in our new yurt
5 - Moved to another neighbor that had an eco-lodge in a log cabin, then in the yurt
6 - Moved to Northern Quebec in a basement apartment, then a friend's place, then our current place.
Peter made a space for a garden at locations 3-4-5-6(two places). He made a spot to set up the yurt in 3 places in location 6. We've been in this current place for 2 years, in this city for 3. We've known each other for 5 1/2 years, but with the amount of things we've done/went through, it feels like 15.
We're tired of being in the wrong place. We want to root ourselves where we can be ourselves and work WITH people. Peter's been taking advantage of so many times because he's always willing to help. He's a bit more wise now that he's done so many things for others and gets no help in exchange. I don't know what the contrary of lazy is, but that's what he is. A lazy day for him is going to the chickens in the morning, shoveling the snow in the yard, doing the firewood for the next week, doing the dishes. He'd almost be depressed because he doesn't feel like he's moving towards his goals. Living in the basement apartment in town was the worst for him. He had nothing to do, and so he felt useless.
So there you go, a small history of the man. He has lots of stories about his past that he likes to tell - arborists shove a lot of living in a little time, and I agree. Life certainly hasn't been boring since I've met him.
So what steps are we going through to establish ourselves in our new community?
Stop accumulation of anything. When we're to move 900 km away, we would like for it to be in as few trips as possible. It's painful enough to have to do 10+ hours one way, but multiple times that just to move STUFF? Nope. I won't have it.
There are things that we currently don't have that would be useful for the yurt, but for everything else, the flow of stuff coming in needs to stop.
This, to our general sadness, includes our compost-making. We've been collecting our humanure extensively for many years, but when we're about to move, it doesn't make sense to keep doing it. Our landlord, although our friend, doesn't want our shitty compost (pun intended). Ahhh, fecophobia. It's real, yo'.
We've decided to keep composting our kitchen scraps with an inside vermiculture, which we've successfully done before in a tiny apartment. And so, the cold, lifeless porcelain throne gets more attention than the bi-monthly flush. Our warmth is sucked away from our bums by the poop-sucking thing, but alas, it doesn't make sense any other way in our situation.
The only person that gets to use it on a daily basis is this little guy:
We want to keep the bucket/elimination relationship happening in his mind, because that's the one that makes the most sense. Plus, the toilet-room is at the other end of the house where there is no heat, behind the door. Overall awkward to change the diaper, so why complicate things even more?
That's all for now. Bummed out to say goodbye to our bucket.
The Greenhouse of the Future ebook by Francis Gendron