Saturday, July 25, 2009

Look who's farming now...

Great article from and another from USA Today about young people moving into agriculture.

Offer on a potential homestead...

After two showings, the second of which having benefited from having my father (who has owned and renovated several houses) along, I put in an offer on a farmhouse today. It's a great spot with a decent amount of land (6.5 acres) and a lot of potential. The house is 20's era, with three bedrooms, two and a half baths, a summer kitchen/enclosed porch, well and septic. It has a full basement with space for root cellaring, a nice pole barn, a small lake, and a fishin' shed. And there's an established apple tree right next to the house! Just about perfect.

Most of the upstairs of the house (2 of the 3 bedrooms and a bathroom) needs some serious renovation, but the house is fit as a fiddle where it counts... the windows, roof, and siding are all new and well installed.

It's a short sale and there are a lot of other people interested, so there is apt to be some competition. Unfortunately I'm essentially purchasing from the bank and not the seller, which has the potential to turn a short sale into a bidding war that would quickly place me outside my budget.

But I am the first offer in. And I am occasionally lucky. We'll see. I should know in 60 days or less. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

About this blog...

My name is Matt. I'm 26 years old, and as I'm typing this I'm sitting on a small couch in my one bedroom apartment in Columbus, Ohio. I live in the quasi-urban, mostly gentrified arts district known as the "Short North." My apartment is 1/4 of the second floor of an old brick building that once served as a library. The single large window in my living room overlooks High St, which runs North-South through the heart of Columbus, and central Ohio beyond.

I grew up in suburban Cincinnati, the son of an antiques dealer and a stay-at-home mom. I got a full ride to a small liberal arts college in Ohio and came away with a degree in Graphic Design. I'm a self-professed nerd who loves music, modern art, cooking, NPR, and dogs.

I've got a great life. I have a good job, doing graphic design for a major national retail chain. It pays reasonably well. I've made some great friends since moving here four years ago. I live a scant hour and a half from my parents, sister, and grandmother, with whom I'm close and visit often. I can't complain.

Despite this, I've spent the past year laying the groundwork to implement a life plan in which I will switch gears entirely, shifting the nature and focus of my life, towards one that is essentially different, and makes more sense to me than the standard edition of what now masquerades as the American Dream.

Others have done a better job detailing why our once-great nation faces the possibility of decline and hardship; I won't attempt to compete. I will simply say that I believe we now face a crossroads as Americans, and as a species. Having inherited the benefits of past hardships overcome, our once-great national will has soured into complacency, leaving us ill-prepared to deal with the road ahead of us. Most people have no real idea where their food and energy comes from, or the impact it has while doing so. Climate change, peak energy, food/water shortages, and bursting economic bubbles all jostle in line to put an end to the American and First World way of life. What many Americans my age take for granted as the indisputable status quo in which we grew up is indeed only a point moving across a timeline. As is always the case, things can change.

While the circumstances may sound gloomy, the consequences need not. I believe that the problems facing us also allow us a tremendous opportunity to strike out and reclaim what was once the American Dream: the spirit of self-sufficiency, determination, and tenacity that allowed our ascent to such great heights in the first place. The next decades may well be remembered by future generations as the backdrop of a tremendous shift in the way Americans live, the last days of a great and unique age. Each of us may now be offered a potential (if incremental) role in the history that will determine our transition into the next one.

So it is with such humbling thoughts in mind that I commit myself to the tasks ahead. I'm moving out of the city with the goal of true self-sufficiency, in an attempt to learn to live off the grid, to provide for myself and mine in a sustainable way. My immediate goals include a house, some acerage, a large garden based on principles of permaculture, a small orchard, a solar energy and/or wind system, a root cellar, small-scale livestock, a grey water system, and lots of other things which I have undoubtedly neglected to plan for.

I'm planning to keep this blog to maintain a strong link to the internet (upon which I have become so unfortunately dependent), to network with and learn from other homesteaders out there, and to provide a visible measure of my progress for myself, my friends, and my family.

As I write this I am still in the process of hunting for my homestead location, to be located somewhere in rural Ohio. I don't want this blog to be about the trials and tribulations of house hunting in a post-bubble economy, but I will likely be posting significant updates about the process of finding the right place.

Tomatoes, Cherry Red is the title of a story I began writing in college, about a family living on the fringe of a future society that maintains a farm by somehow composting old circuit boards and consumer electronics into a fertile substrate for plant growth. That story remains unfinished, but the concept has remained with me, and it now seems a fitting title for this blog. New things are cycled into old ways, and life goes on.