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

A May Day adventure

Garter snake

Between getting engrossed in farm projects and Mark having to rush up to Ohio to see his father in the hospital last week, we never did make an April holiday happen.  So May Day seemed mandatory.  Luckily, our movie-star neighbor wanted us to walk over a neighboring property that his intentional community is planning on purchasing, and that seemed like a good May Day activity.  The weather cooperated with beautiful sun but cool temperatures, so we headed out to hike.

Expanded bole

Even though the land is less than a mile and half from our house (as the crow flies), this south-facing slope is about a week ahead of us in terms of leaf development.  I can't explain the huge bole on this tulip-tree, though.


Spring boxAfter our lesson in microclimate (and a walk through a beautiful, maturing forest), we headed down into a sinkhole and then up the other side a little way to see a seep and spring.  The spring had been boxed in so long ago that nature had taken over the spring box and it almost seemed natural.  Until, that is, I peered closely and noticed that the stones were carefully stacked by human hands.  I took a sip since you can so rarely safely drink found water, but the taste was a bit mossy.


Our neighbor found fragments of what was probably a plate in the seep.  We peered at the old objects, then put them back for the next person to find.

Brick walls

MeThe land hosts an ancient barn and a tumbling-down house, both of which we had to explore.  The house had brick walls infilled between wood and then plastered over --- very unusual in our region.  The outside, though, was trimmed with wooden clapboard just like the old house that used to stand on our own property.

We had a fun adventure, and I might have even come out of it with a new author photo for my upcoming book.  What do you think of this shot for the back cover of The Naturally Bug-Free Garden?

(Information on sale price removed since it's not quite sold yet.)

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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The house is not at all uncommon in the area for a pre-civil war construction. Before you were born I salvaged materials from a house near Abingdon with the same brick in wall characteristic. It dated from before the civil war and the bricks were made by slaves.
Comment by Errol Fri May 2 08:27:32 2014

Dear Sister,

I need to figure out if I am ever going to buy land before I do this, but I was wondering about your afterthought about cheap land. Can you offer advice for the many people like me on meager incomes who would be willing to finance for dirt cheap?

I was talking with a land owner in a tiny coal town nearish to you who said he will sell me ONE acre for 100 dollars a month for 4 years. It was more per acre than most land I guess.

I am not buying it, but I am interested in thoughts on financing land on as small as possible each month. How low do people go monthly, which is how some of us live?

Also, any ideas about the decision making process would be cool. I am far from buying land, but I some thought provoking questions that I could ask myself might help me if I ever do buy land. :)

I am glad you had such fun yesterday. It is the best day off.

Comment by Maggie Fri May 2 09:33:04 2014
I like the picture in the previous blog post better. Camera in hand is a nice touch and you look more relaxed.
Comment by Heather Fri May 2 09:55:00 2014

Daddy --- Interesting! Thanks for sharing. I'd never seen a house like that, but it sounds like I just haven't visited old enough houses.

Maggie --- The best advice I have is what I put in the fourth chapter of Trailersteading. I've put it the file in the family annex in case you haven't seen it.

Comment by anna Fri May 2 10:10:47 2014

Hi All,

It seems to me the real issue is taxes.

If the land were given to you, could you afford to keep it?

Many older folks don't really want to own anything. Make a real offer. Such as "I will take care of you until you pass on and then I get the property." Or put more simply I will be your slave :).

I think Anna puts it well. You gotta show you do what you say first! Then the offers come in.

But can I then afford to keep it? How long? Doing what?

Old folks have some pretty good ideas. Fruit, permaculture.

You get the idea?

Just my two cents :).


Comment by John Fri May 2 10:16:46 2014

Sounds like quite a lovely day! Having been trained in Historic Preservation, my thoughts on the home mirrored Errol's. Doesn't look like there is any decoration left, as in many homes prior to the Civil War had painted decorations on the walls. That would have been interesting to see :) A few years ago we visited an Aunt in Tazwell, Va- it was awesome going on our drives through the mountains. There were many such run down farms hidden away. It's been a flight of fancy ever since to move down to one of those old farms. Unfortunately all the family is pretty much here, so its doubtful it would ever happen. Good dream though!

Comment by MamaHomesteader Fri May 2 10:29:56 2014

According to this link:

Goodwin Brothers and the Goodwin Pottery Company operated from 1885 until 1913.

According to the pottery and porcelain of the US, the factory was located in East Liverpool, Ohio.

So the pieces you found are at least a century old.

Comment by Roland_Smith Fri May 2 11:32:28 2014
Wow, that scenery is so beautiful! The plate fragment and old house are amazing! It's so rare to find such untouched areas.
Comment by Roberta Fri May 2 21:23:14 2014

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