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

First fact-finding mission

Old tree

First of all, I wanted to thank everyone for your well wishes, both here and via email. It's meant so much to us to be embraced with such positivity and kindness. Please know that your gestures have been noticed and appreciated!

Mark with camera

Now...on to the adventure! Saturday, unable to think about anything other than our transition, we filled all of the feeders and waterers up high and hit the road. Mark's working up a video log with more in-depth thoughts, so I'll keep this post fact-light and picture heavy.

White flower in foggy woods

The difference between land-searching now and land-searching a dozen years ago is astonishing. Nowadays, everything is on the internet, either via Craigslist or realtor sites. So after zeroing in on our intended destination --- Athens, Ohio --- we hit the web and hunted high and low until we found a property we thought would work. Then we got in the car and drove north.

Old house

The first property was a disappointment. Although it was surrounded on three sides by the national forest and had loads of potential, it was going to take a massive amount of time and money to bring up to speed. Since part of the purpose of this move is to take a step ahead rather than a step back, we decided to give this one a miss.


The second property became The One That Got Away. Although there were some downsides (including a price at the high end of our possible spectrum), the property was pretty close to perfect. A small house only a little larger than our current living space but with half of that space consisting of a livable basement, a beautiful shed/barn, and fruit trees in production, plus all of the isolation I crave. We contacted the realtor as soon as we hit our crash space for the night...and found out the property had been sold that very day to someone else.

Foggy pond

Of course, we didn't expect to find our homestead during a whirlwind, two-night trip. Our primary goal during this first adventure was to check out the area and see if we were even on the right track. And, after spending the night in the Passive House and visiting the local Unitarian Church, Mark and I both came away confident that this area would indeed be a very good fit for us. Looks like our to-do list will change from planting and weeding to packing and land hunting for the foreseeable future.

Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Anna Hess's books
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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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thanks for the visit anna- and I did build the house. I hope to finish it sometime in the next 30 years. I think athens and area folks would welcome you if you decided to move here. Take care - jason
Comment by Jason Morosko Tue Jul 4 08:47:12 2017

When i finally move, I will take with me: a pot of comfrey (which I need in the spring, and which represents my Massachusetts roots), most of my records, and a CD player; some photo albums, etc. That would be my "rootball".

I am looking forward to your explanation for the draw of Athens. In actually looking for a new abode, I hope you look at the hrs of sunlight you can receive, both morning and evening. And if there is anywhere to swim nearby!

Try out that park, another time, Hocking Hills, since I think like-minded people do bird and camp...

Comment by adrianne Tue Jul 4 08:58:10 2017

I'm curious to know why you've decided to abandon SW VA and move, essentially, north. Why Ohio? Any other areas you've considered?

Good luck with your move. I went through the same thing 19 years ago when I moved from Philly down to NE TN. I really wanted to live in the Asheville area, but it was so darned expensive then and then there was Federal income tax, state income tax, state sales tax and the wages were abysmal at best. I wanted to make sure that by the time I retired I had the house/land paid for and didn't have to worry about anything.

Comment by Nayan Tue Jul 4 10:13:05 2017
Fingers crossed that you find the perfect home for you and Mark!! Thinking good thoughts!
Comment by Peggy Tue Jul 4 20:53:29 2017
How exciting!! Good luck!!
Comment by Nita Wed Jul 5 10:56:19 2017

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