25 June, 2013 19:05

We had a great day yesterday. Worked in the garden for a couple of hours in the morning. The in ground potatoes may not make it, and we’ve lost one pepper plant to – of all things – a tomato worm. Luckily they haven’t found the tomato plants yet. That’s a good thing about container gardening: the pests have a harder time finding the plants. I am amazed that two of the practically dead cucumber plants I bought from Harp’s a few weeks ago are still alive. One is actually doing well. We have a number of tomatoes set and getting bigger by the day. The purple green beans have bloomed. Maybe we will get some purple green beans after all.

After the gardening, we started on the chicken coop/tractor. Pictures to come.

Then it was so hot that we grabbed the dogs; a couple of drinks, a couple of chairs; the most recent copy of Mother Earth News; a personal/family security device; and went to the creek. The temp down there has to be at least 10 degrees cooler than at the cabin. Probably 20 degrees cooler with our feet in the water. No pictures to come. We didn’t take a camera.

After things cooled down, we snooped around the "neighborhood", but didn’t see anyone or anything of interest. Then we went home and I added hay to the container potatoes, one of which mysteriously fell over sometime during the day. I suspect that the dogs could help solve the mystery if they could speak.

Then we cooked veggie fajitas on the grill. Afterwards, we watered the container plants again. Bedtime was soon after.

So, yes, I’d say we had a good day.

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From Genesis to Revelation

(Title stolen from the Genesis album of the same name)

Genesis (of The Gray Homestead)

This post should probably have been my first.  Allow me to tell you a little about us and our homestead.

Who We Are

Genesis richardandjen2

On the Pig Trail

We aren’t your average homesteaders.  We don’t have kids.  We are in our late 30s and early 40s.  We are personally responsible, lazy, non-religious, libertarian, 2nd amendment supporting anti-social socialite wannabes, who happen to be vegetarians.

Genesis richardandjen1

On a WMA

We aren’t conspiracy theorists.  We aren’t plagued by black helicopters.  We aren’t hiding from anyone.  We aren’t fearful of an impending zombie apocalypse (but wouldn’t that be fun?).  We aren’t convinced that the government is spraying us with chem trails.  We don’t think that the world is controlled by a small elite group of super-rich people, the Illuminati, a new world order, or reptilian creatures.  That gives me a great idea for a book:  A new world order ran by reptilian creatures who turn everyone into zombies by spraying them with chem trails.

We do think that the United States Constitution is the blueprint that built a great nation.  Much of the legislation that came after the Constitution, with the exception of civil rights laws, we could do without.  We would like to live with less government regulation.  We want to be more self-reliant.  We want to take care of ourselves and our friends and family.  We don’t like government taking things from us by threat of force and giving those things to others.

And, unlike the man currently living in the White House, we know that most people who own a business did do that.  They did build that.  Government sure hasn’t helped us build our homestead.  But they haven’t gotten in the way, either.

We started dreaming of a time and place where we could do what we want, when we want.  Going to work became boring and monotonous.  We spent a lot of time thinking and planning of personal freedom.

How We Got Here

After years of talking and planning about moving back to Arkansas, we finally decided to just do it.  We quit our comfortable corporate jobs and left the city behind.  Maybe it was the stress of day to day survival in “normal” society.  Maybe it had something to do with “Solsbury Hill”.  Our intention was to find a place to homestead that was remote enough that we could live off-grid.  We stayed with family until we found the perfect place.  We moved onto our homestead about 6 months ago and couldn’t be happier.

Friends and coworkers thought we were insane.  Maybe we were.  My mom thought it was a mid-life crisis.  Maybe it was – I did buy a motorcycle.  But the truth is, we were looking for a more simple, more fulfilling life: a slower lifestyle with more personal responsibility and more personal liberty.  That’s exactly what we found in our little part of a little valley in the Ozarks.

genesis richardandjenimax

Here we are at a Jazz concert at Martinis and Imax

Off-grid homesteading could not be more different than our previous way of life.  We were city people.  We went out to dinner at least 3 times a week.  Looking back at it, that was crazy.  We would spend as much in one night out as we do now for groceries for two weeks!  Sometimes we miss our old lifestyle, but we don’t miss it enough to pack up and go back.

We are making this up as we go along.  To paraphrase one of our neighbors, there is no rule book for living without water or electricity in the middle of Searcy County.  We have found lots of information and suggestions about living off-grid on websites.  We have also learned much from locals who live off-grid or partially off-grid.  There are more people living off-grid in the area than you might think.

Through trial and error and help from our neighbors and friends, we are coming up with systems and methods that are working for us.  We plan on sticking it out.  Spring came just in time this year.  It seemed like such a long, rough winter.  Now we have started our gardens and started producing some of our own food.  We have a goat on the way.  Chickens will follow.  And there is talk of pigs.  Did I mention that we are vegetarians?  This may just be the last big adventure of our lives and we plan on making the most of it.

Our Homestead

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We started with 20 acres, a pond that won’t hold water, a creek that runs year round (well, it runs much of the year and kinda slow crawls through July and August), and an unfinished cabin.  It’s a shell of a cabin, actually.  So far, we have added a makeshift water system utilizing creek water, spring water, and water catchment to provide water to our cabin, garden and animals.  We have an outdoor sink, an indoor sink, an indoor shower, and a sawdust toilet.  We heat and cook with a wood burning stove in the winter.  We have a gas stove for cooking when the weather is warmer.  We use marine batteries to power our LED lighting system as well as to recharge our electronics.  We use our weekly commute to recharge our batteries.

Off grid doesn't mean no water pressure!

Off grid doesn’t mean no water pressure!

We have lots of plans for the homestead.  We want to sell excess produce at farmers market.  We want to grow mushrooms.  We have a whole list of upgrades that we want to make to the cabin.  We want to use our experiences with our homestead to inspire and motivate others to get out of the maze, off of the grid, and onto their own homesteads.

Revelations (of The Gray Homestead)

We learn something new every day.  The homestead reveals much to us, when we are paying attention.  We’ve learned lessons from the weather, from lizards, and from frogs.  We’ve learned that you can always use another bucket.  We’ve learned a philosophy much like Mr. Miyagi’s “walk in middle, you get squashed like grape” philosophy:  When off grid, I can do it or you can do it – if neither of us does it, then it doesn’t get done.

Much has been revealed to us.  We want to share those revelations in the hopes that it may help others, or at least provide some entertainment.  We have already shared a few (Lessons Learned).  We will keep you posted.

Who needs Municipal Water?

Yes, I just stuck a piece of pipe into the hill behind our cabin. And yes, that is clean water coming out of the tap. Cost? As the commercial says, “That’s damned free.” The pipe and valve came from the greenhouse that we took down earlier in the spring. Plain old clay sealed the pipe into the spring.
So, yeah, free. It’s the start of our outdoor kitchen. We’ll post pictures as the kitchen progresses.
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