Saturday, July 15, 2006

Six Great Things About Moving to the Country

1. Better nutrition.

Since we've spent all of our money and then some trying to get this operation up and running, we have very nearly empty bank account. (Actually it was below empty a week ago. Yikes.) So to reduce our grocery bill, we're eating quite frugally now. Beans and grains and sprouts are healthy!

2. Better food.

Thanks to an amazingly good cookbook (The More With Less Cookbook), it's actually kind of nice to eat the simple, homey foods. It's cool to eat potato soup rather than "Potato Soup," oatmeal cookies instead of "Oatmeal Cookies." Not to mention the fact that we ate a very tasty dinner the other night that had a total cost of about $1.50. Not per person or per serving. Total.

3. Better fitness.

Carrying 60 lbs. of thrashing goat flesh, tossing cattle panels, driving fence posts, dragging livestock shelters, and unloading bale after bale of hay has a way of getting you in shape, whether you intend it or not. And it's a lot more fun and more fulfilling to me than the drudgery of a stationary bike or stair machine. There's a reason you don't see fitness clubs in rural areas. My beloved spouse bought the 80 lb. bags of water softener salt instead of the 40 lb. bags, and didn't notice. (I sure did!) My weight has been holding steady for a while, and yet my belt is on the last notch. They say muscle weighs more than fat...

4. Better mental health.

I see the sunrise and sunset practially every day. I see and hear so much wildlife, it sounds weird when it's not there. I drink milk that was produced the same day, not 30 yards from my front door. On clear nights, I can walk outside and see a few million stars, and the Milky Way is vivid. (It had been several years since I'd been able to make it out prior to moving here.) There are a thousand things to do, almost all of them rewarding. And as long as the horse boarding facility up the road isn't cleaning out their barn, I can breathe in actual oxygen.

5. Better stories.

It gives me endless fodder for this blog. When I started this back in March, I had a lot of ideas of things to write about, but I figured they'd fizzle out after a while. Even now, I have several things written already and several more in my head. Secondly, people who know me in the real world (that really big room with the sky-blue ceiling) are forever asking me for updates and status reports on our crazy little farmlet. And finally, since I'm forever covered in scraches, cuts, and bruises of unknown origin, I'm free to make up whatever stories I like about them.

6. Better finances.

Okay, not really. It's expensive to live out here! Especially if you're starting from scratch (and don't quite know what you're doing). You can't mow by the acre with a push mower. Cha-ching. Hay doesn't cut or bale itself. Cha-ching. Everything is 20 minutes away or more, and you're always outside of anybody's delivery area. Double cha-ching. Cattle panels, lumber, and large quantities of hay don't fit in the back of a minivan. Cha-ching. A snowblower's not gonna work on your 400-foot gravel driveway in January. Cha-ching. Propane needs to be trucked in and stored. Cha-ching. Fences need to be built. Animals need housing, feed, equipment, and medicine. And occasioanl farm calls from the vet. Cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching.

But after you overdraw your checking account a time or two, you really start paying attention to your finances. Oh sure, you always like to think you don't mindlessly spend your money on impulse buys, ("actually, we need this!") but once you really use up your available funds and then some, you realize that despite your desires and intentions, you were still a bit of a consumer zombie...

So I guess it really is a good thing.

I think the biggest difference is that it feels like life, rather than "life". Stop by and sample the oatmeal cookies - if there are any left...

20 Comments:

At 7/15/2006 11:04 PM, Blogger madcapmum said...

The "More With Less" book is kind of a Mennonite staple. So, actually, "potato soup" is "zumma borscht". Sounds even better that way, huh?

Oh, you're making me turn pine-green with longing! Maybe I should send Chive away on a holiday with the kids and sell the house while he's gone....

(Just kidding.)

(Well, mostly.)

 
At 7/16/2006 6:22 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

I can't remember the last time I read a post I identified with more thoroughly. The finances, the unidentified scratches and bumps, the stars...it's all there. :-)

 
At 7/16/2006 7:00 AM, Blogger Eleutheros said...

E4,

I can identify with you points as well, eh ..... the first five anyway. The quintessential homesteaders, the Nearings, said "It's easier to be poor in the country than it is to be poor in the city." The key word here is poor.

It isn't expensive for us to live a farmstyle life way off the beaten path, but then we don't maintain any IC engines except the family van and one small and disreputable pickup. We don't clear the snow off the 2000' "driveway", we've put up 2 acres of hay with hand tools, you see where I'm going.

There's a way for country living to be expensive, but it's not the only way to live there.

 
At 7/16/2006 8:16 AM, Blogger e4 said...

Eleutheros,

I'd love to not be dependent on as many machines as I am, and I have no particular affection for them. But I've got a long way to go in terms of knowledge, skills, and tools. And even those hand tools cost money. Especially since I'd like them to last.

Let's take haymaking as an example. I've actually been wanting the ability to cut hay without a tractor (or without buying it from somebody up the road). It would certainly be cheaper, and I know an acre or two would be manageable.

But until our livestock is sufficient, I have more like 6 or 7 acres to keep under control. And I'm only now starting to understand what tools and steps are required for putting up hay by hand. And where to get those tools, and what to look for.

So, I am moving in your direction. But like most things out here, it's a ways off. To borrow from your lexicon, I'm not yet a mile from Babylon. The good thing I guess, is that it's generally a one time journey.

 
At 7/16/2006 10:09 AM, Blogger Eleutheros said...

E4,

No mistake that it does take some skill and hardness to work to do subsistence work by hand. And I am past the age where most men say, "That's a young man's work!"

I've used machines. I no longer view them as a step toward self-sufficient farming but rather a step away from it.

For example, here abouts a 1000 lb bale of hay sells for $35. For the price of a broken down tractor (say, $3500) I can buy 100 bales of hay which would supplement our livestock very richly for ten years, that is, the hay I'd buy would be sparing that much of my pasture (we maintain about 14 acres of grass without IC machines). Moreover, I'd be brining in five tons of organic material that ends up on the pastures every year. In your climate and mine, rotational grazing reduces the need for winter hay to a very small amount.

I'm suggesting that the idea that heavy machines get more farmwork done than handtools is an illusion, an expensive illusion.

Not only that, the butt in the tractor seat is missing out on the wonderful Tai Chi dance of the mower with the scythe and rake. The hand mower can do 1/25th of an acre that is just ripe and wait on the rest, or harvest in the orchard or roadside, all of which is impractical with a tractor and baler.

As to tools lasting, one of the scythes I'm using is already 100 years old, and the peining hammer and anvil are older than that. And they are just now getting broken in well.

---------------

On The Oil Drum blog (don't have the URL handy) one of the contributers talks about going to a hotel and asking what restaurants are within walking distance. Only one, was the answer. He discovered that the one restaurant was half a block away but there were 60 restaurants within a mile. Greatly depends on one's perception of "walking distance".

For me, crusty old Luddite that I am, working for money for anything that is not a source of joy for the family is Hell on earth. And a stinking, belching, cacophonous, self-destructing tractor is not a joy. Depends on what one's definition of "work" is.

So I adjust my expectations to the amount of pleasure I can get from the work. If the dance and symphony of scythe and spade and bow-saw are not sources of joy, best not linger long on a farm, says I.

The old horse drawn turning plow properly applied neatly turns a furrow 6" deep and 9" wide. I don't do much plowing any more but the rhythm of the sustainable farm is well expressed in the old saw:

"Six by nine, straight as a line
Eleven miles per acre.
One acre for each horse each day
Is their full fill of labor."

 
At 7/16/2006 3:37 PM, Blogger e4 said...

I have no aversion to hard work. If it's meaningful to me, I find it very rewarding.

I'd be fine with a pair of horses to help me plow. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'd love it. But the horses cost money too, and the plow and the equipment, and the training for me and them (or they cost more if they're already trained). And they'd likely require more land than I have. And a barn or some sort of shelter, which I also don't have. And I haven't found a way to make a cheap barn, especially without access to my own lumber, or much epxerience with carpentry. (Though we're getting there.)

A good scythe is already on my wish list, but where to get one? I know where to order a good one online, but it would be great if I could go to a farm auction, look at a scythe and have any clue how much it was worth or whether it was in good shape. Same goes for any number of other items. I'd also like a high wheel cultivator to do some small scale hand plowing, and both fast and slow growing trees for a woodlot. I'm learning the questions to ask and the skills to learn. I am with you philosophically. But a year ago I was living in suburbia, and I was five times more ignorant than I am now. I am still making mistakes because almost every activity is brand new. And every day I discover some new skill that I want to learn. It takes time. And in some cases, money. I guess ignorance has a price.

 
At 7/16/2006 4:05 PM, Blogger e4 said...

Actually, if we're talking draft animals, I think we decided that some small oxen, like Dexters or Milking Devons might be a better fit for us (and better multitaskers).

But that kind of illustrates my point. When I bought my tractor, I knew almost nothing of draft animals, or scythes (or haymaking, or growing grains, or...) I was busy learning about 10 other seemingly relevant things.

That's what scares me about the prospect of oil depletion. I'm very motivated and I still know only a fraction of what I want or need to know. Many people don't have any interest in working hard, or learning new skills, or sacrificing, or changing.

 
At 7/16/2006 9:40 PM, Blogger Mia said...

Take your time, E. You have come so far and have "Six Great Things" to show for it. There's no need to learn all that you need to know overnight. Your changes have brought so many good things to you and your family, and you're continuing to work towards bigger dreams as you live the one you're in. Keep at it!

 
At 7/17/2006 4:30 AM, Blogger Morgan said...

You are my hero and I am proud to claim you and your family as close friends. I am proud of you all for all the hard work you have done. You have achieved so much since I first met you 10 years ago. Love and miss you all!

 
At 7/17/2006 2:15 PM, Blogger barefoot gardener said...

I love this post! Keep going with your "baby-steps" to freedom. I think the best part of living in the country is the ability to appreciate the "little things" in life like being able to see the stars or a sunrise. Too often when you live in town the stars are drowned out by floodlights and sunrises are blocked by your neighbors.

 
At 7/18/2006 9:06 AM, Blogger Eleutheros said...

E4:"That's what scares me about the prospect of oil depletion."

Do you recall the scene in Pirates of the Carribean where Geoffry Rush goes from the shadow to the moonlight and says, "You'd better start believing in ghost stories, Miss Turner, you're in one!"

It's an amazing thing to be living in this age and watch the beginnings of our whole culture collapse because of oil depletion and almost everyone saying "I don't believe in ghost stories."

I wouldn't for the world belabor this on your blog, e4, but since you have indeed expressed an interest in the low tech side of life, indulge me while I say how this all falls on the ears of a confirmed Luddite:

"I got a job a two miles from my house."
"Great, you going to walk there or ride a bicycle?"
"No, I bought a dump truck to use for commuting."
"A dump truck!? Isn't that a collossal squandering of resources? The expense, the maintenance, the fuel. Fuel is getting more and more scarce, you know."
"I know, but I didn't know much about bicycles and I've never ridden one so I thought that I'd start out driving this dump truck to work."
"You wouldn't have to know much about bicycles, just show up at the most expensive bicycle shop in town and buy the most expensive bicycle and it wouldn't cost what one tire costs for that dump truck. I mean, after all, a dump truck to drive two miles?!"
"Yes, that's a problem, so instead of driving the two miles to work, I go the long way and drive ten to make better use of the truck."
"You're boggling my mind.."
"It's simple really, I figure this dump tuck is a step toward getting a bicycle ..."
"Ever heard the bit about 'the shortest distance between two points ...'"

But I quite understand it. In the US our very souls are steeped in gasoline and diesel, the solution to every problem seems to have pistons.

I looked at tractors, oh, it's been fifteen years ago now. In a moment of lucidity, I realized that I could adopt a 'money is no object' attitude, get the best scythe, best snath, peining jig, whetstone, rake, and fork for less than the cost of a disreputable used siclebar for the tractor. If the starter or tie rod or such went out, I could buy all the hay I needed for a year for less than the parts for the repair.

Ah, but be careful, e4, the path you tread ... once the spell of machines is broken, it is most often broken for good.

 
At 7/18/2006 9:59 AM, Blogger ~Lori said...

Ok, at the risk of embarrassing my husband, I have to respond to this.

"In a moment of lucidity, I realized that I could adopt a 'money is no object' attitude, get the best scythe, best snath, peining jig, whetstone, rake, and fork for less than the cost of a disreputable used siclebar for the tractor."

The key here is that you had the knowledge of scythes, snaths, peining jigs, etc., and how they could be used. In this case we had several acres of land that needed to be tended now, and virtually no knowledge (and certainly no experience) of what could be done with hand implements.

What if you were starting your new job tomorrow, and you lived in a society where everyone you had ever known drove a dump truck to work? What if you had maybe seen a bicycle a couple of times but, until very recently, never knew it was any more than an antique curiosity you've seen in museums? You certainly could go and blindly buy one and try to learn how to ride it by 8:00 a.m. when you're expected at work. Does it seem reasonable to expect it, though?

Your analogy is seriously flawed; in fact, I'd call it flat-out wrong and a bit insulting. If I seem to be bristling here, it's because I am. You seem to be implying that we've done something foolish, irresponsible and irrational in buying a 30HP tractor to maintain 9 acres of land. Guess we missed the boat to lucidity.

At least we're interested in finding out what these old implements do and how to use them. We're aware that they're probably a better option for us in the long run. It's on our to-do list along with about 84 billion other things.

PS. What's a "confirmed Luddite" doing with a computer and Internet access, anyway? ;P

PPS. I love you, E4. You kick so much ass it's ridiculous. :*

 
At 7/18/2006 10:21 AM, Blogger Beo said...

E4-
The amount of mistakes that are made by those of us taking our first tentative steps into relearning agriculture by hand tools is daunting-I just pulled my carrot crop to see that the nematodes beat me to it. Eleutheros means well, but he is also years ahead of us in practical knowledge. Preaching isn't the answer: we get the joke. You are a Bioneer, for cripes sake! Farmers switched to tractors because they added a level of security and ease. We are trying to go backwards fo rdifferent reasons, but for the most part lack the network of mentors to help us learn the critical skills that we have forgotten in less than 2 generations. Our kids fell countless times walking, but it is hard to 'get up' when you watch 3 months hay composting on your well meaning, but ineffective haystacks. It CAN be done, we just need to learn how again. I have the luxury of making mistakes on a 1/16th of an acre with no monetary ramifications to me or my livestock (I don't have any). I do agree with Eleutheros that mechanical baling on micro farms looks to be a waste of money-but finding a way to dry the hay should be possible yet even this year-we still have some time. Your tractor will be a huge help for planting/cultivating and the innumerable odd jobs around the farm, but money on baling equipment could be hard to justify.

E4-email me your address at free_companion@yahoo.com. I want to send you a book or two...from one Bioneer to another. Oh, and some triple antibotic for those cuts!

 
At 7/18/2006 10:31 AM, Blogger e4 said...

It's not like a scythe replaces a tractor. It replaces one function.

To eliminate this tractor from our lives, I'm going to need a scythe, sure. But I'm also going to need asome draft animals. And as I pointed out already, they have much more substantial requirements - requirements that cost several times more than a 60 year old tractor. So there's the money factor I was referencing.

 
At 7/18/2006 11:38 AM, Blogger Eleutheros said...

Lori, I only responded to e4's assessment out of respect for his understanding of the current situation and expressed interest in turning away from it. Otherwise I wouldn't have bothered. You have but to request it and I'll take my views elsewhere.

And you are way off base.

Lori:"What if you ...you lived in a society where everyone you had ever known drove a dump truck to work?"

Then I'd suffer for my culture and my ignorance as we all have indeed done. I wouldn't, however, feel insulted and bristle at someone for pointing out the alternatives. OK, I might. But eventually I'd be glad to have had the other point of view no matter how comfortable it might have been.

Lori:"...buying a 30HP tractor to maintain 9 acres of land."

I maintain 20 acres of land with hand tools. The horse puts in maybe a total of 20 hours a year in harness, never was there a draft horse that more enjoyed the 'Life of Riley' than this one. Here there are 16,000 sq ft of gardens, orchards, 16 acres of pasture and hay, 2000 feet of dirt road, a wood lot, etc. all maintained with hand tools and I am at least a generation older than you. And while I have my moments, it's not all that difficult not takes all that much time. Under our method of operation, nine acres would be a vacation!

What I have attempted to dispell are two myths:

1) Machines are necessary to maintain a farm of the size of yours

2) Machines are a step toward a sustainable farm rather than a step away from it.

Yesterday while coming back to the farm from town, I saw a neighbor in a small lot maybe 40' x 60' with his 120 hp huge tractor and mowing deck trying to manouver the beast to hog down the summer weeds. The house beside my aunt's was furiously spinning around on a riding lawnmower mowing his 10' x 15' front lawn. Eigher job could have been done by hand tools in the time it took hook up and power up the equipment. Machines are an addiction and they addle people's brains enough to make them lose their temper and say rude things in their defense. I understand that.

Lori:" What's a "confirmed Luddite" doing with a computer and Internet access, anyway?"

Ah, the old 'you have to sit in the wilderness in a hair shirt knapping flint tools because if you use even one bit of technology you have no right to critique any of it.' I'g guess you have no idea of the origin of the term Luddite. It's not someone opposed to technology or innovation, but someone who understands the human cost of its misuse.

 
At 7/18/2006 11:51 AM, Blogger Eleutheros said...

E4,

Just a parting clarification here:

E4, "To eliminate this tractor from our lives, I'm going to need a scythe, sure. But I'm also going to need asome draft animals. And as I pointed out already, they have much more substantial requirements - requirements that cost several times more than a 60 year old tractor. So there's the money factor I was referencing."

More suppositions stemming from the brainwashing of our motorized society. For a very gentle, extremely well trained, harness broken horse we paid ... let's see .... nothing. He was a bit lame in one foot and somewhat blind in one eye. On a serious Amish farm, he was, although young, past his usefulness and we got him saving him from being dog food. He has not had a barn for five years (he dosses down in a thick grove of hemlock trees) although he will have one later this year .... assuming he wants it. He's an overkill, almost a dump truck, for 20 acres. He costs nothing to keep, browses nearly year round and provides several tons of manure for the gardens.

Most of my hand tools (cross cut saws, hammers, spuds, dogs, etc.) I got at antique shops for a few dollars.

You will find, my friend, that your 80 jobs at once leaving you with your toes pointed in one direction, nose in another, and trying to walk in a third... you will find that it stems not so much from the reality of the situation but instead from applying a mechanized, industrial, "git 'er done" mindset to it.

The first step in getting off the machines and into sustainability, and in fact the ONLY step, is to change that mindset. I was offering you an insight into that.

I did not intend to trouble your house and will do so no longer.

A very good luck with it. 'It' being finding your way in and among the times to come.

Eleutheros

 
At 7/18/2006 12:29 PM, Blogger ~Lori said...

You seem to have missed my point. Maybe you should go back and read my entire comment more carefully.

I didn't "feel insulted and bristle at someone for pointing out the alternatives." I felt insulted because you implied, with your analogy, that we were doing something as stupid and socially irresponsible as driving a dump truck two miles to work. Again, I feel your analogy was not a good one. The entire paragraph starting with "What if ...?" was meant to demonstrate why. To put it more plainly:

- No one drives a dump truck to work (except perhaps a dump truck driver?). Lots of people use a small tractor to maintain a small acreage.
- Most people in our society have plenty of experience with bicycles, know how to ride one, and have a bike shop in their vicinity. Very few (none that I know of in our neighborhood) own or use, for example, a scythe; and there isn't any shop near us where we can go to look at scythes, talk to scythe experts, and troubleshoot our scythe.

Your analogy seems to imply that we have access to the same resources in using hand tools as in using a bicycle, and hence that we are being as obtuse in using a tractor as we would be in driving a dump truck to work.

What would you have suggested we do, rather than buying our little tractor? I'm not saying (and never said!) that a tractor is the best tool for us in the long run. But do you really believe we should have eschewed internal combustion engines and tackled doing everything with hand tools from the very beginning? I just don't think that's a reasonable point of view.

"I maintain 20 acres of land with hand tools... and I am at least a generation older than you. And while I have my moments, it's not all that difficult not takes all that much time. Under our method of operation, nine acres would be a vacation!"

That's great. I'm impressed, truly I am, and I aspire to a similar way of life. If I may ask, how long have you held your 20 acres? Have you always done everything with hand tools? Are you self-taught or were you mentored in their use?

"Machines are an addiction and they addle people's brains enough to make them lose their temper and say rude things in their defense."

I'm sorry - did I say something rude? Did I really lose my temper? I'm genuinely confused. I don't believe it's rude to express that I felt insulted and angry. I don't believe it's rude to try to show you why I feel your analogy was wrong. I do believe it's rude to say that I'm 'addicted to machines' and call me 'addled.'

I meant the computer/Internet comment to be tongue-in-cheek, hence the goofy emoticon, but I can see where you'd think it was a malicious, low-browed jab since you thought I'd lost my temper AND you apparently think I'm wrong in the head. Sorry about the misunderstanding. :)

The two myths you were attempting to dispel:

"1) Machines are necessary to maintain a farm of the size of yours

2) Machines are a step toward a sustainable farm rather than a step away from it."

The first, I don't believe, and I'm pretty sure I never said I did. (I felt it was a necessary evil for us starting out, which is where we, apparently, disagree.) The second, I can't quite agree with, considering we went from having no farm at all (and driving to the grocery store to buy our mass-produced food from thousands of miles away) to having a farm with a tractor (and a certain rudimentary measure of self-sufficiency). The next step, once we have the knowledge and equipment, is to start replacing our machines with hand tools. I'm sure these aren't the steps you took, or the steps everyone should take, but they are the steps we're taking.

 
At 7/18/2006 1:15 PM, Blogger e4 said...

I don't mind the conversation. But you are repeating points that we essentially agree on. You obviously know what you are doing. I will say right here and now that we don't.

If you don't mind my asking, did you grow up in suburbia? Did you learn everything you know from reading about it? Because that's where we're coming from. We don't have a mentor or experience to help us along.

I think you're taking for granted that we know a lot of things that we are very clueless about. Serioulsy.

Don't attribute to stubbornness what can be explained by ignorance. Would I buy a tractor today? Probably not. If I knew then what I know now, I would have done many things differently. It's hard to choose an option if you don't know it exists.

"I maintain 20 acres of land with hand tools."

I know it can be done, and I know we could do it. I just don't know how. What tools do I need? Where can I get them? Who can show me how to use them? I've already bought the wrong tool more than once, because I thought or was told it was the right tool.

"I am at least a generation older than you."

I'd be surprised at that, but if so, you'd be a generation removed from an upbringing like mine, and have a generation more experience at doing what you do. I'm starting from scratch, and learning as I go.

"nine acres would be a vacation!"

Again, it's not the labor or the motivation that's the problem for us, it's the knowledge.

"Yesterday while coming back to the farm from town, I saw a neighbor in a small lot maybe 40' x 60' with his 120 hp huge tractor and mowing deck trying to manouver the beast to hog down the summer weeds. The house beside my aunt's was furiously spinning around on a riding lawnmower mowing his 10' x 15' front lawn. Eigher job could have been done by hand tools in the time it took hook up and power up the equipment."

Don't lump me in with that.

"For a very gentle, extremely well trained, harness broken horse we paid ... let's see .... nothing."

Great I'll take one. Where can I get it? Where can I house it?

"Most of my hand tools (cross cut saws, hammers, spuds, dogs, etc.) I got at antique shops for a few dollars."

I don't know a spud from a dog. I don't know a good spud from a useless one. I don't see hand tools in the local antique shops. I don't know anybody who knows how to use them. In fact I'll have to go look up "spud" and "dog" when I'm done here.

"You will find, my friend, that your 80 jobs at once leaving you with your toes pointed in one direction, nose in another, and trying to walk in a third... you will find that it stems not so much from the reality of the situation but instead from applying a mechanized, industrial, "git 'er done" mindset to it."

I beleive the reality of the situation is that the clock is ticking.

"I did not intend to trouble your house and will do so no longer."

I won't speak for my wife, but I'm not troubled.

We make decisions with the knowledge and information we have available. We are babes in the woods. Three years ago, the idea of me owning nine acres and raising livestock and food would have been laughable. But even then we were starting. We got by with one small car. We grew our first vegetable garden. We didn't put chemicals on our lawn. We used a reel mower. Baby steps. Each month that passes adds volumes to my knowledge. I've always been a reader, but in the past 18 months, I've read more books and learned more in the past 18 months than in the prior five years. But I still know nothing.

 
At 7/21/2006 3:03 PM, Blogger LuceLu said...

Hi e4 and lori, I wish you all patience. I don't know if I could do what you are doing straight out of the suburbs. I might fantasize about it but when 18 acres of land is sitting in front of you the fantasy and great ideas are still yet castles in the air, time to let go and acually deal with the reality of it. The reality is a lot of work and it is a struggle learning it, you are always certain to make mistakes and false starts or actually have things going well only to have to field some crisis or another. I really admire you for your efforts and intentions.

I pretty much know my own limitations, with dh traveling so much, and being a city girl in the suburbs.... I thought I could find some land down here in Tennessee but as fate decided, my suburban home upstate would not be sold and my dad fell sick, so it is back to NY I go. I am very inspired by the Path to Freedom site and I think if I can follow it little by little, I won't feel so overwelmed by the scope of it.

We actually looked at a home one 11 acres in a hollow up in Cheatham County. The seller had about 5 kids out there with weed wackers tending the grass. He had a very small garden, some chickens, a stray pony and a tractor. He also worked fulltime as a mechanic and his wife was a teacher. The kids (there were about 6 of them) were mostly foster kids. They were looking to move closer to church with a bigger piece of land. He was a sweet guy--as they say down here very "country" but had grown up on a farm. The land was creek, woods (very tickey), and some pasture and hill.

What struck me was that there was so much to learn to just get where he is, at a mainstream kind of country living level. Nevermind gathering the skills for organic sustainability using methods championed by Logsdon et al, esp. with a full time job and family to raise. Color me totally overwelmed. I guess I must be too much of a city girl.

So I plan to start small, on my little suburban lot. I love the More with Less Cookbook too. Funny thing about urgency and worrying about there not being enough time, it causes a lot of stress. With this life change, I think it is best to start at the beginning and allow yourself to let it take the time it takes and enjoy the process. i wish on you patience with yourselves.

 
At 7/20/2008 11:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi just want to comment on the horse thing even if Eleutheros is not reading this blog or the comments any longer. You know, there are things called animal welfare laws. Maybe there are, indeed, some areas in USA where you can keep the horse on pasture all year along. But NEVER without proper shelter and never without proper fencing! It all takes money.

It is very true that you can get a horse practically free from auctions or rescue shelters but I would never recommend this option to someone without years of equine experience. E4 is right: keeping a draft horse requires knowledge and money and these guys are really wise to wait and learn instead of making hasty decisions.

Just wanted to say this, so that random readers would not think that having a horse is really that simple...

 

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