We’ve been trying to find some land around here for… well, geez, a couple of years now. It’s been tough. The things we’ve found have usually had some sort of environmental issue- inconvenient location, high tension power lines too close, a landfill nearby, neighbors too plentiful – that caused us to nix those properties immediately. Others have been more interesting, but fall short at a closer glance. There’s one we keep coming back to. It’s not our “perfect” house, but it is very interesting- an A-frame on 65 acres, about 20 minutes south of us. The location is pretty nice, with lots of farms around and a small town not too far away. Hubby thinks the property is just on the edge of too far, but I think he’d be okay with it once he got used to having 64.25 acres more than we currently own.
Oh, the things we could do with 65 acres! (Or 5 acres, for that matter!) We could grow enough food for our own family, instead of driving 45 minutes to the closest free-range farm. We could fish in the little lake. Our kids could have animals.
We could eat the kids’ animals. The possibilities are almost endless.
The house itself is not something we really would have considered, were it not for the land. It’s an A-frame, sort of like a chalet, which means that the kids (and now the realtor) call it the Triangle House. Weird, that. The layout is a little awkward, and I don’t like that the master bedroom is on a different level from the other bedrooms. The kitchen is tiny and will be difficult to do a lot of cooking in. But it’s a sustainable place, and could be heated easily with the two fireplaces on the bottom and main levels. And there are two good wells on the property, plus a small lake / large pond.
Why, I’m sure you are asking yourself, are we looking for so much land? Why are we concerned with how easily the house can be heated? Who cares about the water supply?
Sigh. If only I had time to write all the jumbled thoughts in my head. Let me try to explain, without sounding like a complete freakazoid paranoid.
We are actually approaching this from two sides. On the one hand, we are looking at life as we know it, where quality food is getting harder to find. Our USDA is allowing companies a lot of latitude when it comes to what suspicious substances are allowed in the food supply. Things that haven’t been tested, like cloned animal products, growth hormones, preventative antibiotics, unnatural feed, and the like, are rampant in US agricultural products. And now, the USDA feels it’s unnecessary to label these foods as such, so unless you truly know where your food is coming from, you have no idea what, exactly, you are consuming. It’s no wonder some countries don’t want our food exports. I don’t really want them, either.
On the other angle, we are looking at life as we know it, in a (relatively) stable economy with lots of willy-nilly growth, lots of excess, little thought about “down the road”, and a lot of uncertainty ahead. Oil prices are rising, and we Americans just aren’t going to know what to do when the SHTF, if you know what I mean. Our entire lifestyle, whether you’re rich or poor or somewhere inbetween, is based on [relatively] cheap oil. From the gas we put in our [inefficient and copious] cars, to the trucks that bring our [overly processed] food and all the other [completely wasteful and unnecessary] cheap crap we insist on buying, to the packaging packaging packaging we’re so fond of, everything is based on oil. We need it to get ourselves from here to there, as well as our food. When the oil runs out, or becomes prohibitively expensive, what will we do?
My husband currently drives an hour each way to get to work. We are lucky, in that he only goes in to the office two days a week. The rest of the time, he’s able to work from home. In a pinch, I’m fairly certain that he could go in even less often. But what about everyone else? Most people don’t have that sort of arrangement. Many can’t have that kind of arrangement. Most people around here, truth be told, are in some sort of service job that requires not just them to go in to their place of work, but customers, as well. Because we don’t make much of anything anymore. Our society’s economy is based on a lot of money spiraling around, with a few rich hands continually skimming some off the top, all based around a vat of endless, cheap, consumer goods and services.
Most of my friends and family work in some type of sales, retail, or service job. The vast majority of them will lose their jobs when people can’t afford to even go to the shops, let alone buy anything in them. What happens when people can’t get to the mall to buy the latest and greatest “must-haves”? What happens when families figure out it’s better to eat than to buy a new pair of jeans?
So we are thinking that we need to become a little more self-sufficient. Even if you don’t believe that the economy is going to come crashing down and a huge pair of pinking shears is going to divide the country into Those Who Can Drive And Eat and Those Who Can’t, there’s still the issue of megacorporateagribusiness injecting all sorts of nasties into the food supply. In either case, I think I can take care of my own with a little bit of acreage.
Now, 65 acres is a lot. It’s a lot to take care of and a lot to manage. This is particularly true since I am not a farmer and have only the vaguest ideas about gardening. Fortunately my husband grew up on a small farm, so he at least knows a tad about animals. Between us, we can probably subsist on eggs, steak and lettuces. Maybe we’ll get a tomato here and there, too, if S-almost-4 doesn’t snap them all off while they’re still green and tiny.
I don’t know that we could do that much farming by ourselves without some sort of fuel. Or mule. That’s it! Maybe we’ll get some mules, and a plow, and we’ll just be out in the fields all day.
Not a bad way to live, if you ask me.