It’s hard to believe a couple can uproot themselves, downsize most of what they have, find a vehicle, outfit it, plan a six month long trip and head out the door on departure day as planned in just three weeks, but that’s what we did. Now that the 13th marks the passing of one month on the road and we’ve crossed about half the country, the significance of what we’re doing is sinking in even more than before, which I wouldn’t have thought possible.
From the 13th on we’re only going to have three days of ten not behind the wheel until we reach Maine for a little respite. But Maine will be far from a slack-off session. There are two farms we’ll be helping on because they have had setbacks of one kind or another, then a series of “classes” from friends-of-friends and friends-of-family that will hopefully shed light on such matters as canning, cheese-making, bread-making, even off-the-grid electrical (and perhaps water?) matters. I have a work shirt that needs repairing; I’m hoping someone with a sewing machine can teach me a bit about sewing and stitching. We do hope to get some hiking in Acadia in as well as some good old fashioned chill time with family. But we’ll have a lot of research to do at the Common Ground Country Fair and finish planning the entire eastern seaboard section of our trip.
Once all that is done the fun continues as we hot-foot it to Daufuskie island in South Carolina for our sixth WWOOFing assignment before the end of October, all the while not missing our key adventure/fun stops in Concord, and Provincetown, MA; Washington DC; and hopefully a stop in at Dogfish Head in Milton, DE as well!
What have we learned so far? We definitely know what vegetables we’d like to grow (more or less). As a bonus I think 90% or more work as “permaculture” in the northern US. We’re increasingly eating vegetarian and really enjoying it. We’d still want chickens for eggs and possible a dairy goat for milk and homemade cheese (paneer, here we come!). But you can’t have just one goat, so we might look for two. If we can’t use that much milk we could either find a place where we can trade milk with a neighbor for something we don’t have or care to grow (hay? feed?) or get a wether (neutered buck) just for companionship. The animals and gardening requirements are getting us thinking about how much land we’d need and, of course, the kind of zoning such land would need to be. Agricultural is a slam-dunk type of zoning, especially in certain counties, but finding a small parcel zoned that way and fairly the coast (a dream of mine) could be a difficult challenge.
We know we need to learn more about canning, cheese-making, bread-making and independent homesteading logistical matters such as supply and conservation of water and electricity. We also need to know a lot more about composting and “humanure” disposal. Sewer or septic are wonderful things. And if they’re available options, great. But if we’re homesteading where such things are not readily available we need to know more about waste. Even if waste disposal is readily available, it can never hurt to know more. In one way or another, everyone can improve regarding the areas of generating and disposing of waste.
Of course there’s always the question of where does one actually settle down and, if you’re not in a place that allows homesteading, you have all the code to navigate of building requirements/inspections and/or “trailer” living (i.e. tiny homes)… to say nothing of keeping chickens and goats in places zoned non-agricultural.
So many questions. So many unknowns. Yet we set out having zero idea of what was next. Now at least we’ve got to the point of really appreciating what we don’t know. We’re also feeling some level of confidence in identifying what avenues we still need to explore.
One month down. Five (or so) to go. I’m very happy with how things have gone. I think the answers to everything else are coming…