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

The Walden Effect hits the road


I never thought I'd write this post...but Mark and I have decided to sell the farm and move on. The reasons are many and varied, but what they boil down to is --- we're ready for a new adventure.


Ever since fourth grade, I've wanted a big, sprawling homestead where I could raise every kind of plant and animal imaginable. And this farm was the perfect solution when I grew old enough to make that dream a reality. It was cheap enough that I could afford the price while barely out of college, and  its size allowed us to make huge mistakes with relative impunity. I've loved growing food, taking the goats out to graze, and playing in the creek, and Mark has loved the independence the farm provided for him to create a microbusiness and scratch his inventing itch.

Fig leaves

But they say that we become entirely new people every seven years. And the new person I've become wants something slightly different. I still crave isolation and room for a garden...but it doesn't need to be as huge of a garden and I'd like more cultural and social opportunities nearby. Writing fiction has become a much higher priority for me in recent years, which has led me toward simplifying my homestead life so I have the leisure to pound away on the keyboard without guilt, and Mark feels the same way about his film aspirations. Meanwhile, we also want to plan for aging, which meant either pouring money into the driveway...or pouring that same money into something smaller somewhere else.

Red raspberries

To cut a long story short, we're beginning the long, scary process of severing ties here and building new ties somewhere new. We plan to offer this farm to our neighbors first --- it is, after all, the neighborly thing to do. But if they're not interested, we'll be posting about a ready-made homestead for sale soon. So, if you'd like to slip yourself into fifty-eight acres of potential (some of it already realized), start counting your pennies and thinking about a change of your own. And for everyone else --- don't worry, the Walden Effect will continue...we'll just be opening a new chapter on a slightly different life. More details on that to come in subsequent posts....

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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 applaud your wisdom to see that things must change, and the courage to act on that insight.

Don't rush the process. But don't be afraid of seizing the moment when opportunity presents itself.

The only thing that I would caution against is debt. As the saying goes: don't buy what you cannot pay for, and don't pay for what you cannot buy.

Comment by Roland_Smith Sun Jul 2 06:52:49 2017

I'm temporarily closing up my homestead after only 3 wonderful years. I'm moving to Mozambique for the time being, to focus on work and make money (I have plans to build a 'real' house on my Oregon place, rather than continue to live in a shack), and have a bit of time perhaps for some personal travel, which I haven't been able to do in those 3 years. I look forward to continuing to follow along with you! If you get to the Oregon Coast, send me an email. You would be welcome to camp out and explore a bit of the wild rivers coast whether I'm there or not.


Comment by Charity Sun Jul 2 08:54:19 2017
WOW!!! Though I didn't see it coming, in hindsight I can see the seeds of change developing. Good for you both that you're seeking your next happy place. I hope it's all that you want it to be for the next 7+ years--and thank you so much for taking us all with you.
Comment by Jennifer Sun Jul 2 09:51:31 2017

I was really shocked to hear that you are giving up the farm, but you know what is best for you! I look forward to hearing about your new adventures!

Comment by Eric in Japan Sun Jul 2 09:56:31 2017
Best of wishes on your new endeavors! I look forward to following along on your new adventures.
Comment by Pam Kaufman Sun Jul 2 11:43:02 2017
This may be a very fitting culmination of The Walden Effect, after all I believe even Thoreau returned to society and culture after his experiences at Walden. You'll travel on with the richness you've gained here.Thank you for everything!
Comment by Lincoln Hull Sun Jul 2 16:10:39 2017

Could you post whatever links you might have to other similar sites out there please.

And maybe make your posts and the comments received available somewhere so I can download the whole collection.

Thanks, John

Comment by John Sun Jul 2 16:59:52 2017
Congratulations on coming to such a momentous decision! With all that you've shared, you've provided inspiration and knowledge to a lot of people who want to fulfill their own dreams of self-sufficiency. I hope you'll continue to blog and keep us updated on your new journey. Good luck to you and Mark!
Comment by Rhonda from Baddeck Sun Jul 2 22:34:27 2017

We had a similar train of thought, at the end of last year. Due to a myriad of reasons, aging being one of them too, we considered selling. Only as we got down to the business of making our house sellable, we realised, we didn't want to be anywhere else.

I can understand why you two, want to change directions though. Good luck on your new journey.

Comment by Chris Sun Jul 2 23:19:15 2017
Thanks for all that you have shared with us. I can't wait to see what is to come. Follow your dream.
Comment by K Mon Jul 3 09:48:18 2017

Hi there. I thought long and hard before sending this comment, and I expect it to have no better reception than any advice, nor to deserve it. I found myself thinking a couple of things when reading your post: first, that there is a very, very big difference between having a homestead and having a garden. Moving away from self-sufficiency, however slightly, seems a scary thing to me in these times. Also, both writing and filmmaking, though absolutely essential to a civilized society, require that people have disposable income to allow the writer and filmmaker to make anything like a living. Our economy continues to stumble on against all odds this last decade, and it may well continue another decade or more. But a cautious person will be prepared for the worst, and I hope your new home will be another true homestead. Good luck.

Comment by Julie Mason Mon Jul 3 13:08:35 2017
Wow! Sure will miss your blog but best of luck in your new adventures.
Comment by Katherine Mon Jul 3 22:51:52 2017
Thank you for the years of posts! Best wishes, and I fully understand the need to move on and scratch the proverbial itch, and at a place a tad less "rough and remote"
Comment by Eric Tue Jul 4 23:23:34 2017

I wish you both all the best! I've enjoyed following your homesteading journey and hope you continue to share on your next adventures.

Thank you!

Comment by Brian Fri Jul 7 16:04:12 2017

I'm shocked! But also relieved to hear you'll continue the blog. I love your small Posts about the little things you fix day to day. Good luck! I hope your farm sells for a million bucks!

Comment by Neil Tue Jul 18 15:26:41 2017

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