The Walden Effect: Homesteading Year 5. Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

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In what ways has the "Walden Effect" life differed from what you originally had envisioned? What was romanticized that turned out to be totally different or more difficult? What unexpected pleasures did you find?

--- Everett

Broccoli seedlingI took a look at a little essay I wrote in 2004 while dreaming of (and saving for) land.  Here's the short version of what I envisioned --- eating strawberries and homegrown tomatoes, rescuing minnows out of buckets of creek water before using it to irrigate the garden, hunting down fencebreaking cows, and visiting outhouses with a view.  As you can tell, most of the specifics of my dream were limited to buying the land and moving there.  Still, I can definitely say there were some surprises after arrival.

When I dreamed of moving back to the land, I always imagined living here alone.  Then Mark fell into my life, and now I can't imagine doing it without him.  As I've said before, it's amazing to be part of team working toward a common goal.  Good surprise!

My dream timeline of self sufficiency was way off.  Everything takes at least twice as long on the farm when you're working part time and trying to spend as little money as possible.  That means twice as much hard work as I'd imagined too.  Bad surprise!  This year, I'm working on developing a ten year plan to reach our goals rather than the Right Now plan we'd formerly been working toward, but in reality I think that we'll be building up infrastructure for the rest of our lives.  But that's good --- farm infrastructure is a hobby I love.

Pete, the muleIt was impossible for me to imagine how amazingly safe I feel to own my own property and have a half mile buffer between me and the neighbors.  There are days when I can barely breathe because of the sheer beauty around me.  Good surprise!

Livestock turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be.  Chickens are easy, but our ill-fated attempt to keep mules probably scared us off of animals bigger than we are for a long, long time.  Bad surprise!

I never knew how much I'd love bathing in sunwarmed water in a washtub the middle of the garden, one of my new favorite things.  I never imagined how satisfying it would feel to chop my own wood or pull homegrown veggies out of the freezer.  I didn't realize how nice it would be to have likeminded neighbors --- in fact, when I envisioned land, I don't think I ever planned to leave it again after I got here.  All good surprises!

All told, it's probably a good thing I didn't try to imagine what life would be like after I reached the land.  One thing the land has taught me is that it's good sometimes to live in the moment, not planning too much.

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