Homesteading 101: Search for Land

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Ini & I have been traveling for nearly a week now. Town to town; campsite to campsite. Some remote and full of solitude, some cared for steadily by camp hosts. We are looking for land, see. In Clayton, GA, we stopped at the visitor’s center to use the WIFI and attracted realtors like flies to stink. We heard from one man that realtors are bloodsuckers, taking a fee of 15%. Yet could this be one good & necessary way we can find land? Yet, all of the land we’ve seen here is round abouts $150,000 (for as little as an acre at times!), and, truth-be-told, that is way above & beyond of what we are in likelihood going to pay. I don’t want to take out some loans or finance for 50 years.

This is becoming a reality-check for what people are up against as they want to buy land. Now mind you, this is mainly in Western North Carolina, which we are learning is replete with tourists & vacation-rentals, making the cost of land raise significantly as it takes on commercial value instead of being solely agricultural. The Mountains in the this region are beautiful and it’s no secret that many people want to live in their shadow and amid their plentiful streams. 

Up in towns near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (the NC side), each whitewater rafting tourism skid flashed like a lure in spring fishing season. I do not want to live in the midst of shiny flashy lures competing with neighbors for the tourist’s dollar, property prices rising each year as more people get their summer mountain rental. Nor do I want to live isolated on 1/2 acre up in the Mountains on some piece of $45,000 land that rests currently as an abandoned mountain dream home where all that remains is the cleared home pad. Nor do I want to live in any place that is so backwards that two people within a day tell us that “They’re aren’t many minorities here — I don’t know if y’all care about that,” or “At least you’re not Iranian or from California!”- Well, I may not be, but I have lived in California and I love it & what do you have against Iranians?! (one of my best friend’s dad is from Pakistan)…

That brings in the question, if the land is ripe for the baby-boom generation that has $200,000 saved for a retirement dream-home and any area impoverished/not well known enough to not be attracting that type wouldn’t be friendly to my non-white friends … How is the young person … or any person not willing to go significantly into debt // take out a mortgage or loan // or who does not have a large sum of money on hand, supposed to endeavor this dream of 5 acre homesteading? We are in touch with a wonderful supportive woman named Cameron of the Western North Carolina Farm-link and she says, “You have to think creatively.” One option is to set our sites on another region that is not so currently desirable as a vacation destination — a place that is either yet undiscovered or remote or x enough to not be on the commercial radar, although one potential problem with that is close-minded thinking. Another option is to consider a team-up with a farmer, leasing land, 99 year lease options, or taking over an older person’s homestead that is in a land-care trust in perpetuity. 

This begs the question for us — are the days gone (such as that of Helen & Scott Nearing and many other homesteaders who followed in their footsteps) of setting off for land and finding it for a reasonable sum – a sum of small means? Or is land a pricey, out-of-reach commodity unless we want to live in Nebraska, some other place without resources or difficult conditions, at an ecovillage or intentional community or take out a loan? 

We are not ready to give in yet, but it is humbling to realize that land is so expensive. We are thinking creatively and we are supported by many. It rained 4 inches last night at our campsite here near the border of NC & GA in the Nantahalah National Forest, but we’ve made peace with the fact that everything is wet and will be until the sun comes out again. After all, the plentiful rain is one of the reasons we’ve started our search in this region. It is one of the most important facets for the homesteader. 

It takes all of our focus to remain holistically prepared to stay on our mission, at peace &not freaking out! Are we crazy? Unrealistic? Simply idealistic and hopeful? Magic has transpired for both Ini & me so many times in our lives. We are pairing magical possibilities with the hard, persistent work of the search.

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the mountains fill with fog in the morning. burned off by midday. the hills hold promises of beauty along the way. how to tap into that ancient well of “being on the land” hoping for some direction, hoping for a lent hand.

with a whistle & a song, living our dreams; send-off message

we are heading out tomorrow. we have all of the paperwork printed off & signed to get ini’s permanent residency into the country (he is from Canada). truly, it feels as though a chapter is closing in this journey i call my life. like i came here to live perhaps many different layers of life- to live many different lives, really. and, as we have been here at my parent’s house amply preparing, organizing, releasing so much, i feel it is time to let go of the chains, reigns, handles… of past lives … and begin the next chapter. this is a big step!

that will be taken each step at a time. but this clearing out i am doing is more than just a move on the surface – it is a step into a new life. and that means letting go of old ones. so, with all that i am, i release these attachments to old parts of self reflected inner/outer … i’ve done this before … in modicums … and now, again, larger.

yet this time, i am not wandering. i am intentional. haha, this is a big difference! haha!!!! before, i jumped off of the familiar ground from which i walked as a child –> adolescence –> young adulthood … i had things to leave – in response to. now, i am not-so-much leaving in response to, but from this deep well from inside of me. this deep well of dreams, visions, belief and hope.

my dreams propel me. they feed me. it is said of a visionary that they are successful, or the way being a visionary works, is to have a vision & believe in it so fully that it becomes real, it manifests. this is why i leave this time. last time i was the fool in the way that i left “the known” for “the unknown” with nothing in mind. i was searching, a seeker. i needed to see the world. to test if “the way things were” in the way i was raised, is truly “all-that-is.” or was my hunch true that the world is not a scary place, that people can be trusted, that it is okay to believe in my dreams…? i was truly wandering “to see all that i could see.” this was met with varying responses- but surely i learned that the world is so good (if not that many are a bit lost as well and that there are dark caverns of human ugliness). that people are generally “doing the best they can where they are.” i learned that this is true.

one time a leader at an ecovillage i visited called me out in saying, “i’m not wandering around exploring; i know what i came here to do.” it hit me a bit harsh at the time, but i see that i am coming more into that stance as well. perhaps she was in her 30s or 40s before she really started manifesting her vision. but age doesn’t matter. i do know, however, that where i am now- i am not exploring anymore (in the way that i was- i will always be an explorer!). i have a firm resolve inside toward what i feel i need to do/came here to do. i am certain it will shift over time; that it will grow, become more complex, more simple, more refined, etc- this is necessary for evolution.

the truth is that i see enough of my vision, solidly enough, that it is time to live from within it. it is time again to cast the nets from the side, pick up my journeyman sack, cast caution to the wind and become the fool again. she who starts on her journey with an open mind. this time, however, i hold many more treasures inside. and intention.

we are going to homestead. we are looking for land. we have so many ideas and a complexly simple plan. it’s all very clear, except when it’s not… but that can’t stop us from waiting another day to fully invest in the visions we’ve got. it’s time, it’s time, ho one and all. it’s time it is time, we will not stall. so give a whoop if you feel me and feel your own courage grow … we must lives our dreams and trust me, it will show!

we are currently in indiana and are heading south… to the appalachian region of western north carolina, eastern tenn, n/w s. carolina and northeastern georgia. we will focus on creating garden beds this year. building a simple straw bale house. focusing on water- for ourselves, for tea, for animals, for crops, for bathing… rainwater, greywater, mountain fresh stream, possibly a pond or a lake. composting toilet. food forests. permaculture gardens. multiple green/hoop houses. perennials. starting a nursery business. we wish to find people to collaborate with, but not form an ecovillage where we have to meet every week and have such tight community standards. more like, one neighbor grows this crop, we grow another, etc & complement each other. we have potlucks and share saunas. this neighbor has a tractor, we have knowledge about building great compost, etc, we share itThis is where we are: dreaming of these things and stepping off fully confident that, if the dream is meant to be in the big scope of things, it will happen.

with love in our hearts, bells on our toes, whistling songs of hope & resilience all day long. hand in hand with the land and each other we stand. ❤ wren