I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I sure was thankful for family this past week, as one of our boys and I came down with the flu. Yuck! It wasn’t fun, and I honestly don’t know how I would have taken care of my children without the help of my parents. They don’t read this blog because they don’t have the internet, but they know how much they mean to me because I tell them all the time. I love you, Mom and Dad!
Anyway, onto the blog. A few weeks ago I updated my ad on the Intentional Communities website (ic.org) and was very surprised to find that there are quite a few locals interested in the same things as we are. I have received responses from all across the country, and hopefully have made some new friends to swap ideas with in the future. Three of the people who have contacted me live within a half hour, and we have already met one for Sunday lunch. We are very excited to find all of these like minds, and I really want to encourage anyone who may read this and think “Wow, that’s pretty cool” to contact me.
Like I have said before, my family is prepared to dig in for the long haul and do this ourselves if we don’t end up finding anyone, but it really doesn’t look like that will happen now. Now, our leafy little plans are starting to flower, and will soon be bearing the fruits of our labors and dreams. But what are those dreams, specifically? I’ll admit, I have drawn quite a few plans for multiple families living on the same plot of land. As a matter of fact, I just finished another little sketch in MS Paint the other day while I was laying on the couch feeling miserable and dozing in and out of consciousness. Before I post them, however, I want to assure everyone that I in no way intend to take charge and force my ideas on our neighbors. I just like to draw. I like to think. I get very excited when an idea enters my head, and the only way for me to calm down is for me to lay it out on paper or some other media. This is the result of my “house fever” as my husband calls it. (House fever has filled multiple reams of graph paper already, and is showing no signs of slowing down.)
Ok, so here’s the latest work of art:
You’ll notice the grey road running across the top, which is the Northern side of the property. This is approximately 15 acres shared by three family units, with room for multiple guests at any given time. So, from the top. A small U-turn gives easy road access to a shared farm shop where residents of this small community can sell anything from fresh produce to hand-sewn quilts to homemade breads. This would be a great way to make extra income with idle time all year long. The driveway comes down through a good mix of hardwoods, with plenty of sugar maples tossed in for future generations to use. Heading West, you will notice the first homesite on your right. There is plenty of room for a large yard, kitchen garden, herb/flower beds, greenhouses, small barn, etc. Directly across from the homesite is a large pond stocked with a good supply of meat in the form of fish. The little brown line is a small dock for fishing or loading up in a canoe. The two small orange rectangles are portable duck houses. A sturdy fence surrounds the pond and the orchard, effectively making this area a good rotational paddock for livestock, or conversely – an animal-free area where you don’t have to constantly watch where you step. The orchard would be home to apples, quince, pears, peaches, pawpaws, and whatever other edibles the residents plant. Cherry trees, however, would be best suited near the houses, as they require a closer eye than the others. If you head further West down the little drive, you come to the second homesite on the right. Directly across from this house you will find 8 smaller garden plots and 4 large ones. Each household will use 4 of the smaller (but really quite large) plots, while the four larger ones will be rotated for corn, potatoes/root crops, beans, and grains for the whole community and the livestock. East of the four larger plots, you will find the large, fenced-in barnyard with three adjoining paddocks for rotational grazing purposes. The barn and outbuildings are all located on the North side of the barnyard, to be closer to the residents.
Now let’s head back the other way down the small community drive. Instead of going West at the fork, we’ll check out the East side. Four little guest houses are lined up on the left, ready for use by family members, friends, and visitors to the community. Directly across the road from the guest houses is a parking lot for guest vehicles and the entrance to the community house. The community house is a place to gather for meals, celebrations, food processing, and indoor recreation. It would be equipped with a large kitchen, two bathrooms (male and female), and a large gathering room. In between the parking lot and the eastern-most 4 small garden plots is a large, fenced-in playground for the children of the community and visiting children. Behind the community house is a large, fenced-in yard with a well-built fire pit and plenty of lawn furniture and shade trees. This would be a decent place for picnics, as well as a good starting place for a walking tour of the community. Gates would connect the community house yard with the orchard and barnyard. The last, and largest, garden plot could either be put to use as another rotational grazing area for livestock or as a market garden for income for the community through the farm stand at the entrance.
So, now you have had a small glimpse inside the head of the atheist homesteader. I really think it would be possible to build a small community and successfully become nearly self-sufficient. When there are more hands, more minds, and more hearts… life just seems easier. In these days of families being separated by hundreds or thousands of miles, we all need to come together to make our own local families to lean on and help out. It’s really no fun being alone, having to do everything and pay for everything all by yourself. Sharing what we have is the only way some of us will ever be able to make the dream a reality. With the economy as bad as it is, it would be wonderful to know that there’s a group of people surrounding you that has your back. Don’t you think?