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Harlan Ort

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since Jul 13, 2015
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Recent posts by Harlan Ort

I sent a small list of ideas i have had, regarding ways to use this place, to a member on this forum and realized that maybe I should post them here as well. Here is the copypasta:

Among the concepts I have toyed with are:

-Cheese production (via goats or sheep) We have the barn with milking room already built & just waiting for livestock.

-Eggs/poultry. We have a chicken house already built, although I personally love ducks and the (much) higher price of duck meat/eggs seems to make this a very attractive option.

-Mushroom production. We are already growing shiitake and oysters, and attempting others. If we ramped up production, that might be a profit maker.

-Fermented pro-biotic vegetables (Kraut/kimchi, etc) Selling fresh vegetables at market is a hard way to make a living. A lot of work is required to produce even a small profit, especially with our remote location. Much of the profit would likely be consumed driving the produce to the nearest market, and without refrigeration there is the problem of spoilage. Even traditionally canned produce does not fetch all that much more. On the other hand, natural sauerkraut is currently selling for around $10 a pound at the nearest co-op grocery. That is a pretty amazing "value added" scenario. One possibility I see is creating custom made vegetable ferments by subscription through the mail. A customer could specify exactly what they want based off an extensive menu, and how often they want to recieve them. Even after the cost of shipping, I could be very competitive compared to the prices I have seen- and I could offer far more variety.

-Bed & Breakfast- specializing in wild edibles, wild meat and pro-biotics. This idea is pretty far out, maybe sort of crazy... but it would make use my very best talents. Guests could get a taste the permaculture/homestead/foraging life. Foodies & gourmets could LITERALLY taste this lifestyle and enjoy flavors which are impossible to get in any ordinary restaurant... pokeweed and morels with a duck egg hollandaise, anyone? If I could put my skills as a chef to work while still living on and farming this land, that would seriously be a dream come true.
5 years ago
You can see from the above photos that the place is quite overgrown. We have plans to acquire goats which would help quite a bit with that problem, but for now we simply do not have the funds. Many of the areas which were pasture when I was a child now have walnut trees as thick as my arm. The fences are full of holes.

The main thing you need to understand, if you are considering getting involved with the project is that after three years of attempting to make this place work for us, we are completely broke. We manage to keep food on the table most of the time (I forage for wild edibles, hunt, and fish every day) but other than that we have very little. Anyone who proposes to live here would need their own source of income... or would need to be a skilled forager in their own right.

I also cannot stress enough that this place is REMOTE. Even cellular signal is very restricted and we can only make phone calls on clear days. There is virtually no way to surf the internet out there- even if we could afford the bill. In fact we looked into going "on-grid" at one point (at least for electricity) but the cost estimates ran over $10,000 at which point we discarded the idea.

On the other hand, we have a lot going for us as well. One really nice thing- running water. Shortly before he abandoned the place, my father buried around 1/2 mile of pipe from the pond at the very top of our hill all the way down to our house near the bottom. There is plenty of water pressure to run garden hoses, faucets, etc. In fact, the pressure itself is better than many municipal sources I have used. The water itself is fairly murky, but we do use it for watering the garden and washing dishes. In the future we hope to install some sort of micro-hydroelectric setup to generate power for lights, cellphone charging, and music. The pond has enough runoff from the field around it that it never seems to get very low- even when we had a pipe burst and run wide open for two months during the worst drought in recent memory. With proper management I am confident that it could supply the power needs of my family and probably at least one more. Since the water is plumbed all the way to our house (and to one of the locations I mentioned as another possible home-site) the power generation could happen right next to the battery bank, eliminating the need for any long runs of wire.

I will leave it there for the moment, although I plan to make another trip into civilization tomorrow if my vehicle will make it so any questions should be answered at that point.

Oh, I nearly forgot. Here are a couple more photos. They are a couple of years old, but they show the cabin on our lake which is currently not occupied and would be available for prospective homesteaders to live in while building more permanent dwellings.

5 years ago
First of all, my apologies to those who responded so promptly to this posting. I had no idea that I was to be stranded on the homestead for so long, right after making the original posting. Out there I am able to get just enough data on my phone so that I can tell when there are responses on here but not enough to post replies of my own. I have now repaired my car enough to limp into the local town for supplies, so I will use this opportunity to update.

First of all, here are a couple more photos of our log cabin home and our barn.
5 years ago
Allen- thank you for the swift reply. That is all excellent advice, especially in regards to acquiring goats to eliminate some of the brush/scrub. We intend to do that as soon as we can afford to. Part of our current problem (in addition to needing extra hands around the farm) a lack of funds. We mostly subsist on what we can find/grow on the land, and can afford little else. As a result we are unable to use the land to its potential on our own, and hope that with an influx of "fresh blood" we can begin to see the place thrive again.
5 years ago
Hello all. We are a family of three living on the southern Indiana homestead where I was born and raised. The place was, at one time, 90% self sufficient for a family of 5 but it has gone fallow for around a decade after my father moved away (and before my wife and I returned).

The land is incredibly private, surrounded on 3 sides by a large creek, totally off-grid and includes a pond, orchard, barn, log cabin (where we live), two large garden plots (we only use one of them), and a small spare cabin where my family lived while the log cabin was being built. Most of the 136 acres is forested but there is also lots of space for cow/goat/sheep pasture if- we could only clear the scrub from the land. There is a tractor and bush hog which need some work to get them running again, but which could be used to clear the land as needed. I have located 2-3 sites which would be ideal for building additional homes, if we could find the right people. The pond is FULL of bluegill and largemouth bass.

What we need is an influx of humans who are motivated, have some financial stability, and/or some skills to offer in the process of restoring the land to functionality as a working homestead. We would invite prospective individuals/ couples to come stay for a week or two in order to see if it works for all of us. The cabin (right next to the pond) is available as a temporary dwelling so that you could have privacy during that period, and we assume that any permanent residents would need to stay there until they could build more permanent accommodations.

I will have to leave it there for now, because I have limited time on the internet (we have none on the land & must make do with the local library) but I will attempt to add to this post as often as I can.

For now, here is a photo of the pond (and the little girl who loves it)

5 years ago