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

Eight years later

My first chair, salvaged out of the creek in March 2004.I thought you all might be amused to see my ten year plan, written right after purchasing the property in October 2003.  Many of my goals were later mitigated by Mark's realism, but it's still fun to see how far we've gotten.


1. To have repaid the totality of the cost of the land.  (Need to hurry up and pay off the other $5,000 I owe my friend.  I seem to have forgotten about that debt in the excitement of living on the land.)

October 2005: Mark joins the team2. To be relatively self-sufficient, growing the majority of the food I eat. To live simply, cut off as much as possible from the consumer economy.  (We do grow nearly all of our vegetables and an increasing amount of our fruit and meat.  I know we don't live as simply as I had planned when I wrote my list in 2003, but I think we've reached a good compromise.)

3. To have a small cash crop, probably ginseng, possibly art or writing, to pay for cash expenses.  (Well, the ginseng got stolen by hunters and the art and writing don't really pay the bills, but the chicken waterers do.)

4. To make no more money than I need to pay for immediate needs and to put a small amount away for retirement.  (I guess this would be a failure --- we're making more money than I planned to.  On the other hand, we're doing our best to give a lot of the excess back to the local community with projects like our internship.)

December 2005: Building the ford5. To have half of my time free to draw and write and take care of the woods.  (This would be a total win.  If the week is divided into 14 work periods, we take four of those off and I write for three of them.)

6. Once my immediate needs are met, to give surplus food to family and neighbors.  (Yes, we're giving away some surplus, although we could do more.)


March 2006: My familiy clearing what would become the mule garden7. Buildings - A house for me to live in. Barn roof replaced so that barn can be used for tools, food storage, and animals. A loft in the barn built for guest housing in summer. A root cellar. A composting toilet. A greenhouse to grow food in winter. Electricity to run a computer and lights. A phone line. A mail box.  (We're partway there.  The trailer made the house easy and we've saved the cash for the barn roof, even though we're still talking to potential roofers.  Joey's yurt has taken the place of a loft in the barn and I decided that quick hoops are better than a greenhouse for my uses.  We've got the composting toilet (or a semblence thereof), electricity, a phone line, and a mail box.  All we're really lacking is a root cellar.)

June 2006: Hauling in the electric pole8. Garden - an acre of garden and orchard. The garden will begin by growing vegetables, and will work up to supplying all berry fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans used by me and my animals with enough to store for the winter and for guests. The orchard will provide tree fruit.  (We've got about two acres of garden and orchard which feed us well, although we're still in the early stages of growing food for our animals and haven't really got our grains figured out.)

September 2006: Hauling in our trailer with a bulldozer9. Animals - Chickens, probably about three, to feed me eggs and to live primarily on scraps from me with some grains grown for them. A goat (possibly 2) to provide me dairy products. To set up arrangements with neighbors to give away/sell the kids and mate my nanny once a year.  (We've got a lot more chickens than that and don't have the goats.  On the other hand, we have figured out meat animals a lot better than I thought we would have, so it evens out.)

May 2007: Our first garden10. To heat the house and cook with deadwood from the property.  (We've got the wood stove, but we do buy firewood.  This is one goal I'm happy with letting slide --- buying firewood puts money into a local entrepreneur's pocket and gives me time to write and Mark time to invent.)

11. To provide a means of entry to the property for those who require a road or other un-walking method.  (So-so.  If it's dry enough, we've got the truck, and we also have the golf cart if we can figure out what that noise is....)
August 2007: Huckleberry watches our first chickens
It's also interesting to see what I completely left out.  Husband?  Naw, not on my ten year plan.  Community?  What's that?  I guess I know what will be on my next ten year plan --- making our sustainable homestead reach beyond the boundaries of our property.

Our chicken waterer provides clean waterer so your chickens can lay more eggs.

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

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.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

Wow, it sounds like you guys are really moving along with your plans (and even getting a bit of a start on your next "10 year plan," as I would argue that you've already started reaching beyond the boundaries of your little homestead - not just with your internship and your use of local merchants, but also via this blog). Great job! I wonder if I could stick to any 10 year plan I made nearly as well as you two have . . .

And on a side note, I love that picture of Huckleberry peering down at the chickens in the tractor! Now is he thinking "See, I'm a great watch cat; just watch me watching them," or is he thinking "Yum, lunch!" :)

Comment by Ikwig Sat Dec 10 11:18:15 2011

Well, we didn't really sit down and decide to follow the plan. Actually, I'd forgotten about it until I stumbled over it a month ago and Mark had never read it... :-)

I think the "Yum, lunch" option is much more likely.

Comment by anna Sat Dec 10 16:18:38 2011
Great work on the goals, even if you had forgotten about the list, it was still on the hard drive in your mind.
Comment by Eric in Japan Sat Dec 10 19:08:26 2011
Maybe more like the motherboard? Somewhere so deep-rooted that even if I don't know that's what I meant to do, I do it anyway.
Comment by anna Sun Dec 11 10:42:01 2011
How does one 'seem to forget' a 5 grand debt to a friend?
Comment by Anonymous Sun Dec 11 19:55:07 2011

Well, it started as a lot more money than that, and I was paying it off a thousand at a time when I went out to see her every year. And then we moved onto the farm and I stopped making long trips (and my friend doesn't open paper mail, so I was afraid to mail her a check), so I had no way of getting the money to her. Plus, she didn't need the money, so she never asked for any.

Now that I think about it, though, I'll bet in this modern era, I could paypal her the money and it wouldn't disappear into the junk mail...

Comment by anna Sun Dec 11 20:48:06 2011

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.