Michael and all our fur-kids are here! (and have been for a few days… I just could NOT get around to writing and posting)
After 3 months in the mountains missing him (and my Bailey) he is here and we are officially completely moved! Michael was able to find a temporary job at the college I work at (Yay for lunch together again!) which we’re hoping will lead to a more permanent position. Mountain life is great. Every time I leave the house (or even just look outside) I am awed at the luscious green everywhere I look. It’s nice to not see pavement and civilization everywhere. Large chunks of land are dense natural forest. It’s amazing! Part of the reason it’s so green is that it rains A LOT… I thought I was moving here from the tropics, it rains every day in Florida in certain seasons. This is totally different. It rains for weeks straight. In the last few weeks we’ve only had a couple days that it didn’t rain all day. Turns out, Southern Appalachia is a temperate rain forest! I knew that before I moved here but I don’t think I knew exactly how rainy that was. Not that I am complaining at all, the abundant water is one of the reasons we chose to homestead in this area. I’m sure I’ll be especially grateful once I have a big garden I don’t have to water.
On Michael’s second day here, we put together one of the 80 gallon compost tumblers I got on a sweet deal a while ago. I’m really glad to have that up and running because I wasn’t sure how much longer I could handle the guilt of putting compostable things in the trash… All the seedlings I started died due to an unfortunate accident involving strong winds… I have a few things I am growing in pots on the porch (and in the kitchen) but I think I have given up the idea of having a real garden in this rental house. Honestly, I’m hoping that we will find our homestead property soon so we can move out of the tiny, old rental we’re in. If that hope were to come to fruition, all the work I’d put into starting that garden would be wasted. Besides, with my expanded work hours and longer commute (compared to my previous job), the property search, on top of the usual household and life sustaining chores, I don’t have much time to be putting into a garden. That being said, in the little spare time I do have, I assigned myself some homework. I am reading a bunch of Bill Mollison’s Permaculture textbooks (Permaculture One, Permaculture Two, and Permaculture: A Designers’ Manual). I am toying with the idea of getting a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) but this would only be worthwhile as a knowledge-proving credential if I wanted to make a living doing permaculture design… which I’m not opposed to but I’m not sure if that’s what I really want to do. I think I’ll have a better idea after I finish the books.
A few weeks ago I went to the Mother Earth News Fair in Asheville. I meant to post about it separately but never got around to it, so I’ll just cram it in this post! It was amazing! I got a weekend pass and went both days, although I left early the second day because I was exhausted and suffering from information (and people) overload. We are definitely going to go the next time it’s in town, which I think is annually. Hopefully next time, we will have our land and that will make some of the concepts being taught more tangible. If you ever get the opportunity to attend one of these conferences, I enthusiastically recommend it!
We are scheduled to close on the sale of our house in Florida on June 16th and have already begun searching for a property up here in NC to purchase. I’ve seen about 15 properties in person (Michael has been here to see 4 of them) and I spend way too much of my time scouring the internet looking for other potential places. Finding the right place for us has been, and will continue to be, challenging. From what I gather, buying a home/land is always difficult, time consuming, and a lot of work. Of course, I knew that going into this. But, there are some added concerns that I didn’t really have to deal with when I bought my house in Florida. One is that over half of the places we’ve seen have water problems, from leaky roofs to wet basements… apparently people don’t consider the fact that this is a legit RAIN FOREST when they build houses here and so a lot of people have issues with water damage, mold, and rot. It’s pretty discouraging when some otherwise fantastic houses have an issue like that. Also, a lot of the properties up here are mobile homes/trailers. Securing financing for these is an added layer of complication, and since they won’t hold resale value like a “site built” house it means any mobile homes we consider have to have some other features that will help the land build and hold value.
Because we are buying land that is to be our future homestead, we have a reasonably long list of “needs” and “wants” that we are hoping to find in whatever we purchase. We’d like there to be several “usable” acres, at least two water sources, good sun exposure, good neighbors, less than an hour from where we work, and the list goes on. Some of these things are somewhat negotiable, for example, our definition of “usable” land is probably different from most people. This is the mountains, you can buy 10 acres but there’s a good chance (at least in our price range) that only an acre of it is usable at all. And by usable I mean less than a 30% slope. A lot of people think you mean cleared and flat pasture when you say you want “usable” land; we’re not that picky. If there isn’t a secondary water source on the property, we’d still consider it if we can get it cheap enough that we can afford to have a well drilled later. We will not consider any property that is in an HOA or any sort of restrictions. We’re not going to deal with someone telling us we can’t build a shed, or that our chickens are “illegal” or any of that nonsense. So, that rules out a lot of potential places too. I won’t go into any more explanation right now or this post will end up a mile long (it’s already way longer than I intended it to be) but suffice it to say we have our work cut out for us! We’re scheduled to see two more properties this coming weekend. One of them I looked at before Michael got here and I want him to see it because it meets much of our criteria. Hopefully we find some promising places soon because I am chomping at the bit to start building and living our homestead dream!