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

Possum Living

Dolly FreedIf you're looking for a homesteading beach read, look no further than Possum Living by "Dolly Freed."  The chatty, informative, and learned book was written by an 18 year old who dropped out of seventh grade to live the "possum" life with her alcoholic father (before getting her GED, putting herself through college, and going to work for NASA.)  The duo practiced urban homesteading long before it was cool, raising chickens and meat rabbits in their basement, trapping pigeons, and rescuing wilted produce from behind grocery stores.  They lived on $1,400 per year in 1978, using the library and the garden to keep body and soul together.

There are plenty of gems of information in Possum Living that you won't find in more smooth, modern homesteading books.  For example, the author recommends that you eat seed potatoes and wheat from the feed store to save cash on staple foods, walks you through moonshining on the cheap, and reminds you that gleaning the food left behind in fields after the monster tractors do their harvesting is a tradition that dates back to biblical times.  (Well, without the monster tractors.)

The facts are fun, but the reason I call Possum Living a beach read is because it's really the heart-warming tale of a girl and her father living the good life.  Yes, there are plenty of passages that made me roll my eyes and imagine the book I might have written at 18 before adulthood had given me a critical lens through which to view the words of my smart, opinionated father.  But how often do you read a book by a teenager who is so thoroughly enamored of her daddy?  To best appreciate the bittersweet elements, flip to the back of the new edition to see what the author has to say 30 years later.  And don't miss the embedded video, part one of three.

Our own ebook gives the nitty gritty of how we escaped the rat race and started to live.

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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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I love the way she makes the incredibly simple observation that animals in factories can smell blood and feel fear before they die, and how she and her father dispatch animals away from other animals, quickly and painlessly. She says it like it's the most obvious thing in the world. Yet another reason small-scale permaculture seems more of a right livelihood than the work, consume, work, consume culture.
NB. I haven't finished your ebooks yet. I know I still owe you a review on Amazon! Coming up!!

Comment by J Sat Jul 2 10:58:48 2011
Opinionated? Moi?
Comment by Errol Sat Jul 2 10:59:12 2011

This reminds me of the Scavenger column on Salon, which I had been meaning to point you to, especially the first article here

Comment by joey Sat Jul 2 11:34:44 2011

Daddy --- Of course I wasn't referring to you when I mentioned a smart, opinionated father. :-)

J --- There's a lot to love in those videos. I watched the full half hour, which I'm pretty sure makes up 20% of the video/movie/TV time I've experienced in 2011 so far. I usually can't stomach even youtube videos, so that's saying a lot. The found-meat parts of her book and video were actually some of the most powerful to me --- catching snapping turtles, endless fishing, road kill, etc. Well, and of course the part about not having a job. :-)

Joey --- Great article! I especially liked this series of lines because it reminds me of how I eat. Just replace "store" with "garden"...

"The true budget shopper enters the store with a blank slate, looking for the best deals. The true budget shopper snaps up the best deals and worries about how to marry ingredients later."

Comment by anna Sat Jul 2 13:25:43 2011

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