The Money

DSC_0874Ok. So, I want to share some of the disappointments and victories from our undertakings this summer. I want to share some of the realities of the financial end of starting some temporary and small farming enterprises. I will try to make it concise and helpful. And if you want more information you can let me know.

Tony and I have “wwoofed” or helped on over two dozen farms all over the world. We did, after all, fall in love while sorting freshly pulped coffee beans at a remote farm in Nepal. After several years of learning and helping on farms we didn’t own, we decided we needed to head down the road of finding something we could take more ownership of. We want our own land, but are still figuring out exactly where that might be and how to afford it. But in the meantime, we sought a situation where we would still be on someone else’s land, but take full ownership and responsibility of our time, enterprises, and income.

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Mastodon Valley Farm: the first 5 weeks

Hello! I am writing to you from the comfort of the air-conditioned library in Viola, Wisconsin, just a few miles away from Mastodon Valley Farm, our current home. The days have been getting intensely hot lately so we have opted to hide in the afternoons. Time has sure escaped us and we’ve been here just over 5 weeks now. Before too much time passes, I want to share some of our recent happenings. I will highlight a few things from each week:

WEEK 1

our first batch of Freedom Ranger chicks

our first batch of Freedom Ranger chicks

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farewell Oregon, hello Wisconsin

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oregon fern

We are packing up and leaving lovely Oregon tomorrow. My sister and niece will be flying back to San Diego early in the morning, while Tony and I will be packing up our Subaru to the brim with our belongings and as many of our tomato starts as we can fit and heading out to Wisconsin to partner with Peter and Mo Allen of Mastodon Valley Farm. Tony and I will be running broilers, hens, some veggies, and whatever else we can manage to find the time for. We decided to do this after attending the Permaculture Voices Conference in March. We debated returning to the National Park Service or making the plunge and doing some full-time farming. We have chosen to farm. It will be yet another temporary situation, but this time we will be spearheading our own enterprises and will be directly responsible for our own income. We started an LLC and plan to, at the very least, feed ourselves.

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new bikes and plans for the winter

Tony and I have been visiting his family and friends in Wisconsin for the last month, and we will soon be heading to San Diego to spend time with my family. We have had time to reevaluate our goals, and set new ones. We left Wheaton Labs, after almost a year living in the Tipi, and spent a couple of months traveling in the Canadian Rockies and central Idaho where we felt inspired to get serious about our plans to start a farm. We are still unsure of where we’d like to live, but in the meantime realize that we can cooperate with existing farmers and start our own small farming enterprises. We plan to spend this coming winter on a farm to develop these ideas.

One of our thoughts has been to go on a long bicycle tour to visit any potential place to set roots, and to visit other small farmers. So this last spring we decided to buy nice bikes: Surly Ogres:

our new bikes on the back of the tercel

our new bikes on the back of the tercel

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a long overdue update from our tipi in montana

A recent photo of our home for the last 10 months: a tipi surrounded by a garden berm

A recent photo of our home for the last 10 months: a tipi surrounded by a garden berm

Hello from the Tipi in Montana! We don’t actually have internet or electricity (or even water for that matter) at the tipi, so that combined with the fact that we have been keeping ourselves very busy these last months, our posts have become non-existent. It is often much easier for us to pretend the virtual world doesn’t exist, but it certainly has its value. I do think that sharing our story is worthwhile so we plan to update this blog more often when we find the time.

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our winter home: a Rocket Mass Heater in a Tipi in Montana

our winter home: a Rocket Mass Heater in a Tipi in Montana

It has been far too long since our last blog post. We have not been lazy. Once the government shut down October 1, we packed overnight and headed out to Paul Wheaton’s land near Missoula in Montana. We will be spending the winter here, and possibly longer. And there have been many projects. We have helped build the first ever “wofati” (more on that later), attended workshops on building rocket mass heaters and slaughtering, butchering, curing and cooking pork, and are now trying to finish our winter home: a cob rocket mass heater in a tipi before it snows too much. We have a thread at permies.com where we have been updating our progress with photos. If you are interested check it out, and we will try to post more often now that winter is approaching.

arrival in Wyoming: beginnings of our new makeshift homestead

Almost immediately after the March Against Monsanto last week, Tony and I set off for the hills in our packed Tercel for the summer. There were almost 3000 of us marching through downtown San Diego. Tony will be giving an update on our experience there soon. A little over 24 hours later we had keys to our cabin in Grand Teton National Park. We have put in our first week of work, and are gradually building our “homestead”. My little egg carton starts traveled on the dashboard with us all the way to Wyoming:

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leaving the city

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stuff and storage units

Greetings from Palomar Mountain! We are enjoying a sunny day and beginning to anticipate our move in about three weeks. Our wild luffas are drying nicely on the porch and my egg-crate seedlings are sprouting! Probably not too impressive but it really is magical to plant seeds and watch them pop out of the soil overnight: “ta-dah!” they say. My radishes are doing well too. I may get to eat them before we leave. I’ve got a little polyculture in an egg carton!

egg carton polyculture

egg carton polyculture

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