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Thread: How We Did It.... and tell your story too!

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    United States Avalon Retired Member
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    Default How We Did It.... and tell your story too!

    This thread is dedicated to telling my and your story of how we're are returning to the land....

    Cause over the years as I traveled in rural America I always wondered how people got to be there. I was not blessed with inheritance of land.

    Now we reside in one of those places that I always wondered about .

    We got here after 30 years with our noses to the grindstones in the city. We managed to buy our houses low and sell high, even during this recession... aside from diligent savings we did inherit some cash... but if you are willing to live with much less than us you can find a way... and I will tell you how some of our neighbors are doing it later.

    Now we are on 8 acres in a high mountain community.. Lots of ranchers... no new age folks around.. red neck I would say with a die hard libertarian view... I can live with it.. If you want to go where the yuppies and new age folks are you will pay through the nose. We even probably paid more for land than we should have cause I didn't want to be 15 or 20 miles away from town.

    There is no way to make a living for new comers here for unless you are very highly educated in the sciences or professions that support the sciences. Be prepared to make it on your own. Eventually you may find or develop a niche, or find some kind of job...

    Think carefully about what each community can offer you as well as what you may offer the community.

    Our plan is and we have accomplished developing a place to live with no mortage. We currently live in a studio over the garage as the house is being built at this moment by my husband and one other to help... the house building is a 3 year project as my husband is doing most by himself.

    When we were preparing to leave the city in the middle of the hard hitting recession in 2008 we had this dang BMW that would not sell. A really fine car that my husband thought his profession merited that he have.. but we could not sell it.. after countless hours on craigs list we found someone who was willing to trade their pretty John Deer tractor and some cash for it.... done deal... best trade we ever made. That tractor is worth its weight in gold and when I first saw my husband driving it I could not help but note that I never saw that the BMW made him smile that much!

    BMWs are worth dink squat around here.

    After the house is done the plan is to rent the studio as a bed and breakfast until the SHTF. There is a fishing, hunting and hiking crowd that comes here at certain times of they year. We might also just stay in the studio and rent the house for a year or two for extra cash. There are people around here that make good income working for a huge science laboratory about 40 miles down the road and a bus acutally comes to town daily to pick them up, so if you have a science backround or skills such a large facilty can use there are jobs in this are... that will provide you an in to a rural community that is fairly isolated... So we could rent the house for 900 a month if we wanted to.

    We also plan on building a couple of out cabins that would be rented for B&B. If SHTF my kids will live in them using the house as the central living point.

    8 acres can provide sustenance for 8 -10 people I figure. We have good water and that is something that is essential. NO water NO buy. Have the water rights encryped in concrete before you purchase.

    We are considering purchasing 2 to 3 more acres adjacent to us to create more pasture.

    We plan to pasture Yaks and possibly Kune Kune pigs... Both highly sustainable animals. Kune's do not rut and only like to eat grass... unlike most foul pigs. Yaks.. take only 1/3 the acreage that cattle requrie to be grass fed. they don't care for grain either but will eat it in a pinch... so hay is what they like year round , which is what all the ranchers grow up here, not corn, or barley. ... we are planning for free range chickens and possibly as small organic meat chicken production... at least to cover the costs of our own stock and stash.

    One lama in a heard will protect it from wildcat, bear and fox..so we are looking at that. Only one though.Two develop a pair and they stop being concerned for the crowd.

    There is money to be made from lama and yak fiber.

    I am finding that rabbits are very much like chicken to eat and are much much easier to raise... and reproduce like, well, like rabbits!! so we are looking into that.. it all hinges on if I can cook them in a way that my husband is not thinking rabbit as he eats it..
    I see rabbit as a souce of clothing down the line if needed.

    We have good water...and electric pump. I just had a hand pump placed in the same well with the electric one just incase we loose electricity for any extended period of time.

    The house is passive solar. We are building a large sunroom which will function much like a green house as well as keep our use of wood or electrity for heat reduced. We are considering passive solar hot water but no decisions made yet. Wood heat is the main source of heating and part of the smoke pipe will go into the sunroom to boost it an exta 1 degree hopefully...Wood heat is great all it costs is for the chain saw and to go get it... which we did everyother weeked though the summer... my goal is to store up enough so we are two years ahead in wood supply.... which is not uncommon around here. Its like.. if you have nothing to do there is always wood gathering... and a beautiful weekend in the high mountains....next season we will camp when we gather wood, allowing us to make less trips because we can bring more home on one trip

    I am working on developing garden space... based on Findhorn.. if they can grow anything there I can grow anything here.. with proper application of science, agriculture and spirit. Winters are long and hard... So another green house will be built eventually to extend the growing season by 4 weeks at each end. Lasagna gardening is the way to go for building soil. All your compost material generally grows within eye sight. Having animals really helps with soil enrichment.
    Last edited by Arrowwind; 25th January 2011 at 23:16.

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    Default Re: How We Did It.... and tell your story too!

    You sound happy, satisfied and secure. Thank you for your story! I will share mine later!
    Last edited by Pam; 25th January 2011 at 21:24. Reason: spelling error

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    Default Re: How We Did It.... and tell your story too!

    Thank you for posting this Arrowwind! I would LOVE to hear more, especially about how your neighbors are achieving this dream.

    I long for an opportunity to live off the land and off the grid. I am fortunately able to help (read: work for food!) friends who maintain an organic farm and sell at farmer's markets - a start at least. Each animal and plant - even the stinging nettles that we make soup with - is loved and there's so much abundance it's incredible. The work is never finished, and my toenails will never be clean again, but my heart sings. Thank you for the visual and inspirational post.

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    Default Re: How We Did It.... and tell your story too!

    My neighbor, who had signficantly more limited funding than us now is working toward sustainability. His motivation is his Christian religion.. and reading the signs of the times... Although I am not christian we are not too different in much of our perspectives.

    He purchased a used double wide trailer and placed it on his 6 or 7 acres. Over the past 10 years he has fully enclosed it, further insulated and added on a large kitchen and family room doing the construction himself. He salvaged much of the materials needed. He has been on disability for medical reasons as he tends to collapse frequently but when he's good he can work... so ultimately disabiltity payments is financing his movement into sustainability. His wife works one day a week at the post office and manages a fitness gym part time that really is only in this community because the owner is a rich guy who doesn't care that it operates at a loss. He wants the town to have it and it has been a benefit to residents here.

    He has moved into raising goats with a herd now ranging from 20 to 40. He just completed his second year of the endeavor and he has broken even and even made money this year. Due to the increase in Muslim population in the USA goats are a developing market. He mostly raises them to sell at auction where they are shipped from this interior state to LA and Chicago. It is truly a viable method for those not very familiar with farming. He does have a 5 acre pasture and a 3/4 acre one to raise hay for them but he also has to purchase supplemental hay... still he is making money. His goal it to have a product that can be easily bartered when the SHTF. Most people here are not too into eating goat meat but I think that will change quickly when food supplies are short. Until then he has an expanding market and his herd will expand as he developes his resources for a larger herd.

    The goats tend to give birth 2 times a year and they frequently have twins so you can grow a flock pretty quick. They are cute and affectionate animals and not too hard to manage. I have helped him move them from pasture to pasture a couple of times and it really is fun.

    They also have a milker and they provide raw goats milk to neighbors, as well as chicken eggs and rabbit meat. Due to laws in this state they cannot sell milk without a lot of inspection stuff.. so most of it is for barter... I trade 1 massage for 10 quarts of milk... and they seem to really like the deal.... being farmers there is always a back problem going on.

    If you want to raise meat, rabbits are the easiest for the amount of care required and how prolific they are. Their poop does not need to be composted and can be thrown directly into the garden. I really want to stress how easy rabbit production is... and if you have cats and dogs if is a food supply for them too. Skins can be made into clothing if needed.

    This family also makes homemade laundry detergent, as well as barter and sell labor service with their tractor and other farm equipement. None of the farm equipement is new... tractor is a 1960's model.. We found out this past year that well maintained farm equipment will hold value for a long time, they are relatively easy to maintain and don't break as often as cars do.

    Few people are off the grid here. All generally have 2 or 3 ways to heat their houses. wood, electric, gas. There are some solar panels around, and passive solar construction. Mostly people are trying to find ways to make a living on very limited income and barter and producing something of value.

    They are talking of building a root cellar this summer as they don't currently have much storage space.

    so his barter/sale items are:
    Laundry soap
    goat
    goat milk
    goat cheese
    chicken
    eggs
    rabbit
    technical repair skill in electronics
    farm equipment maintence
    tillage and bailing

    ¤=[Post Update]=¤

    Getting off the grid is still very difficult. If you dont' have the skills to build machinery to make energy yourself the costs are still largely prohibative for most people who don't have a trust fund.

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    Default Re: How We Did It.... and tell your story too!

    I've been working to be able to live on my own land all my life. I am nearly there. Here's a list of what I've done to get ready

    1. Had organic gardens in every place I have ever lived
    2. Raised rabbits with red worm bins beneath where the pellets end up
    3. Raised chickens
    4. Learned how to make homemade wine
    5. Made homemade sauerkraut
    6. Learned canning and drying food
    7. Learned how to shear sheep, and spin and weave wool and other fibers
    8. Learned how to make soap
    9. Joined farmers in butchering their animals in order to learn (although I am primarily a vegetarian, I thought this would be practicle)

    I have never been able to make the jump from dreaming to doing for 2 reasons. Money was the first problem for years, however when this hurdle was covered I discovered that my spouse really didn't wish to make the dream a reality. By then I had a home, 2 dogs, and a daughter so I didn't walk away for many years. I am 'pretty long in the tooth' now (a saying which originated in deciphering the age of horses by how long their teeth were) but this long time dream is about to become a reality.

    Now completing a divorce after 38 years of marriage and seeing the end of a lawsuit I became embroiled in.. it looks like there may be enough funds to purchase land and a small home. I'd rather an earth integrated home which building codes won't allow. The plan is to start with an existing house or mobile home, then it will be easier to build something small and call it a 'shed' or a 'barn'.

    My new partner has been doing his own preparation for years and has learned about and lived on solar power. He has acquired deep cycle batteries 2nd hand from the cell phone companies as they replace old ones for a fraction of the cost. He has created a battery charger which actually refurbishes old batteries and makes them 'new' again. He also had a 1967 car which he has made many modifications to in order to work towards having it run on water eventually. Right now he is outside installing a plasma generator he has created.

    This is pretty exciting. I already know that working close to the earth is the key to experiencing total abundance. I am never so filled inside as when my arms and hands are full of my own home grown produce. It causes a deep inner smile and my heart flows over with gratitude. However, it there is a big shift, I need to face the idea that the climate may no longer be friendly where I am and the land may be changed dramatically. Therefore I am going ahead anyway, like a dancer who knows that the dance will end when the music does.
    Last edited by Dawn; 7th September 2011 at 22:14.

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    Default Re: How We Did It.... and tell your story too!

    I missed this thread in January when all that other stuff was hitting the fan.

    I love the way the OP said "this is red neck country - but I can live with that". hehe, You are in exactly the right spot for hard times. Even if you'd had a fortune to spend and moved into a "new age" rural community you wouldn't have had as good and reliable neigbors as you have where you are.

    When the going get's tough....you know the rest.

    I grew up in a hard working rural no nonsense sort of area and I value it as a good background even though I've slithered and slid sideways into a pretty grotty situation now by my own stupid life choices. I wish you all the very best of it and, of course, I wish I was there, too.

    I can only assume that "someone" had different ideas for me, in a crisis. It's looking like I'm going to be surounded by a million people with no idea what's happening. Wish me luck!

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    Default Re: How We Did It.... and tell your story too!

    to all of you that have your own land , and live simple , back with nature, off the grid so to speak . You are real HEROES. I am in awe of you all. way to go . May the great spirit bless you with health and long life and peace my brothers and sisters......
    Raiding the Matrix One Mind at a Time ...

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    Default Re: How We Did It.... and tell your story too!

    re the OP

    The only issue I can see is that is the SHTF scenario did happen, then the neighbours who I assume would be gun orientated may not be so nice any more and plan to take over with force everything you have accomplised. Typical MADMAX scenario. If a local community was loosely formed, then the neighbouring community may take over with force. (Jericho scenario). Either way I dont see any real pleasant future in the SHTF scenario self sufficient or not. Lets hope SHTF never happens.

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    Default Re: How We Did It.... and tell your story too!

    Quote Posted by fox.mulder (here)
    re the OP

    The only issue I can see is that is the SHTF scenario did happen, then the neighbours who I assume would be gun orientated may not be so nice any more and plan to take over with force everything you have accomplised. Typical MADMAX scenario. If a local community was loosely formed, then the neighbouring community may take over with force. (Jericho scenario). Either way I dont see any real pleasant future in the SHTF scenario self sufficient or not. Lets hope SHTF never happens.
    I think you need to also factor into your thinking that the mental health of that community, and it's mental connectedness to it's spirit, is likely to be way above average. I'd venture to suggest, from a deeply ingrained gut knowledge of such communities, that they would only lash out if you were a complete S h i t .

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    Default Re: How We Did It.... and tell your story too!

    Thanks for this thread. After years of universities and tracking the course of human civilization, I have reached a point where I crave truth and honesty with every resonant fiber of my being. I read in the news; I see mostly dissimulation, posturing, half-truths. All the while I sense lurking somewhere in the shadows are the nefarious, insidious plots designed to shackle truth forever. I yearn for an honest interaction, an honest conversation, such that two or more people could come together and just "be" who they are, without playing the game. How wonderful it would be to have a modest plot of land, situated amongst like-minded people, all of whom were working for the imminent revelation of the eternal good that inhabits us all. Need a hand, Arrowwind?

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    Default Re: How We Did It.... and tell your story too!

    I have been studying farming systems, aquaphonics is better than hydrophonics. then there is also the permaculture but I think the easiest way is to convert the forest landscape to food forest via Seed Bombs. that is to save all the seeds you can and make seed bombs scater it on your land and wait till they grow all the while continue throwing seed bombs and follow up with progressive trimming that is to cut a none food producing plants gradually. Read about forest succession in permaculture articles they will be helpful. You don't just clear off the bushes it will kill your land cut only when there is replacement. Sea water is the best fertilizer ocean water is best for the body. To make the move easier learn to eat grass. Make biosand filter if you need clean water. charcoal is good for the plants when mix with the soil. Terra preta farming. Hope this helps.

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    Default Re: How We Did It.... and tell your story too!

    Hi,
    While I didnt have enough money to buy acrege when I moved out of the big city with my three kids, I did manage to get a house with most of its 1/4 acre in the backyard.
    We learnt to grow own vegies and pretty much lived out of the garden over the summer months.
    The kids have all gone off now and for awhile I didnt really continue with the garden.
    4 Years ago, I decided that it was not only foolish but rather wasteful to have all this area and not use it productively.
    I decided to rearrange the layout of the yard in order to start growing all of my own fruit and vegetables.(I have always had chickens here).

    I was given a book on permaculture and started to learn more about this concept.
    The first attempt along these lines was to use the Linda Woodrow's method-moveable chicken tractors.
    This was brilliant in turning the lawn area into garden,without having to dig it all over, but due to the differences in climate I ran into differculty using it.I kept with it just in case it was just my being a newbie foodie.

    I've learnt how to make kim chi and saurkraut.I think I prefer kim chi more in summer and the saurkraut in winter for some reason.
    I was going to have a go at making miso this year if it were not for the chickens eating the whole crop of soy beans.I had grown a small 'lets see how they go and can we get seed from this sort?' crop, last year and they didnt even look at them-
    so that was definitely annoying.
    The culture for this is still in its foil pack in the fridge waiting patiently for the next crop
    I was making sourdough and got quite good at it, but we dont eat that much bread, like almost none now, so I stopped feeding the neighbours and the hens.
    If I ever need to make it from scratch- just flour and water, I now know how.

    Another project I started last year, was learning how to make cheese and yogurt.
    I found a farmer who was willing to sell me farm fresh milk,oh forgotten how good real milk tastes, that went well to although the chickens got alot of extra protein on occasions-they loved the whey too.
    I'm getting back into that again when the new milk season starts up.

    The chickens now have their own home outside of the garden.
    This consists of a central run with their house at the end of it, off to each side of the run are 2 forage areas that they will be rotated through.This should stop the soil from being ruined by giving each area a rest from the chickens and hopefully will grow alot of their food.
    Last year we hatched out some bought fertile eggs and kept the rooster-we had to find him a new home when one neighbour let us know it annoyed them.

    Before he went off to greener pastures, one of the hens went broody so we had our own eggs to hatch out and yes these had mostly roosters too.
    My brother got 2 when we gave him what we thought were baby hens- nephew learnt how to dispatch of them humanely and they enjoyed eating them, one rooster has gone to live with one of my bosses.
    We learnt to dispatch of another and did quite well at it, I think and we kept the last one, hoping that the new pen system would be far enough away from 'grumpy neighbour'....so far so good.

    Year before last, I went off to a farm to learn from one of my mothers' friends, how to kill and dress a pig.(silly name, shouldnt it be undress?)
    Umm... you might find Kunekunes are alittle too fatty. Kune means Fat in Maori and this one that I learnt on was definitely fatty.
    That could well have been from what it had been fed- I learnt later that those pigs got alot of processed foods like bread, rather than just free ranging with the odd treat.
    I like pork fat but it was even too much for me.I wound up cutting most of it off and rendering it down.
    Part of the learning curve was to learn how to make sausages, so I also learnt to clean out the intestines thoroughly.
    I chickened out of making the actual sausages but did use the casings to store the fat in, and popped these all in the freezer.Lovely to cook in.

    Over the last 4 years, I have been bit by bit adding fruit trees and now have fruit for most of the year.
    This year, I planted out my first winter grain crop.I chose a naked oats because I like porridge and muesli rather than wheat-dont eat much bread.

    I have been looking at the whole exercise as a living experiment rather than a concerted effort to grow food.
    I wanted to know if there was any truth in companion planting theories for example and because its just me and my new partner here, I also wanted to grow things that created habitats for birds and insects.
    So.... sort of been playing at it for alittle while, good learning curve though.

    We've just got the money together to buy a concrete water tank which we'll get in late spring/early summer and use this time over winter to move a couple of citrus trees from where the tank will go.
    The roof is large enough to catch all our water requirements and we recently found an older style washing machine that will use less water than the modern automatic ones use.
    Next on the list is getting a small solar powered pump to pump the water from this up to the garden- its higher than the house is.

    I've been thinking about rabbits and guinea pigs but so far havent got any.I had been told that Guinea pigs are actually easier to raise and dont stress out like rabbits can do, plus they arent so cute looking.

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    Default Re: How We Did It.... and tell your story too!

    Good Day !

    I built a radiation shelter in my basement in one of the corners where I had 2 walls of concrete with dirt behind it already.

    Search FEMA radiation shelters and Joel Skousen has a book on it too but fema is free and on line.

    Basically, put bricks in the ceiling while adding wood boards as you go to hold up the bricks but you also need to add wooden beams (mine are 6x6 cedar) across the ceiling to hold up all the new weight. I used 4.....6x6 beams in an
    area of about 15'x15'.

    You also need 2 new walls which I built using concrete block filled with concrete and rebar and with rebar drilled into the floor for additional support. I have doors in one wall so I can use the room with the finished basement and have 75 bags of sand under the work bench for that rainy day when the rads from Fukushima come.

    This is not a blast shelter, only radiation though the 4 walls are strong as can be and with the stone veneer on both sides they are about 12" thick.

    You will need different sizes of bricks to fill in the gaps so there are no gaps.

    I intend to add bricks to the room above the shelter when that day comes right after I add 4 new vertical support beams below it to give even more support to the floor/ceiling.

    There are other ways to add more mass to keep the rads out away from you if you have questions.

    Good Luck as I think you /we will all need it.

    Eagle Scout

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