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



I have been reading Walden Effect for several months now (maybe more) and I love it. It is probably my favorite blog. I love the idea of simple living/homesteading and it is great to see others of like mind living the dream. I live in Calgary, AB, Canada, which is about 80 miles east of Banff, AB, which is a huge tourist spot in this area in the gorgeous Rocky Mountains. Calgary had the 1988 Winter Olympics and now Vancouver will have it this year. Vancouver is about 12 hours west of us (by car) and on the Pacific Ocean.

My husband, Barry, and I moved to the country on a small acreage (1 acre) a few years after we were married in 1991. We were there for 4 years where we were introduced to raising chickens (I love them) as well as geese. They were just for eggs mainly but a few nasty ones made it into the pot. We did try growing meat chickens as well but we had planned for someone else to butcher them (being rather green ourselves) but when this fell through we had to do it ourselves. We left it a little late because the poor souls began laying eggs. We had some big birds too (no kidding) but the taste was clearly the best. All-in-all we figure they cost us about $10/lb. as we had to buy another freezer to keep them in, failing to realize our freezer was not big enough to hold all of the birds.

We then bought 13 acres of bald prairie about 30 minutes closer to Calgary (as we commuted every day). We sold our little place and took our old VW Westfalia onto the land and proceeded to build a one-bedroom house that would suit our needs. We did not know a lot at the time about building so we hired a friend of ours who was a licensed carpenter and Barry and John did all of the framing and built the place to lockup stage. We learned how to contract out the services we could not do through trial and error and lots of library books. It was the most fun I ever had. I got my own tool belt and helped build our salt-box shed.

After living on the acreage for 9 years, Barry got really tired of driving and we were pretty exhausted with all of the yard work we had to do. We began noticing that we did not do anything else with our time except work on the place. Now this would have been just dandy if we did not have outside jobs/commuting that sucked away about 50-60 hours of life per week. We had visited PEI in the past and had just fallen in love with it. It is on the opposite coast, near Nova Scotia which is near Maine. We hoped to move there and when Barry got a job there (lab work) in 2006 he moved out and I was left to sell the acreage. That proved to be a bit of a nightmare so he had to come back after a month and we decided to stay put here for a while longer. He changed careers and became an apprentice carpenter, working for our friend John who had helped to build our house before.

We moved to Calgary from the acreage. It was a hard adjustment being back in the city and the sirens took some getting used to. We don't notice them as much now. I am not sure if that is good or bad. It gets really cold here in the winter, sometimes down to -40 C. or F. We do get lots of sun though so the area is great for solar experimentation. We are hoping to build a solar heater that we can attach to the south side of our house, when we get a chance.

In the meantime, we bought a small cabin out in PEI with 55 acres of woods and we dream of moving there in the near future. I can't wait to see the butterflies (I am going to pee in the yard to see if what Anna says is true - using the pStyle, of course). :) Barry is just finishing up his apprenticeship and in a couple of weeks, God willing, will be a journeyman carpenter (4 years of working and school). We're pretty excited about this.

I have also been reading a lot about the small house movement. It intrigues me except for the fact that country living requires a lot of equipment. The house can be tiny but the storage building will have a lot of cool stuff/tools in there for gardening, chickens, and whatnot.

When we move, hopefully in a few years, Barry will look after the building stuff on the farm (I'm dreaming of chicken tractors and such) and I will work a few hours a day from home. Presently, I work part-time (2 days/week) for a small graphic design firm which is a really great and fun place to work. The other 3 days I work at home doing medical transcription. We hope to find a little niche business we can do (love your E-book on this) down the road.

Well, I do have a tendency at being a bit verbose so I should probably wrap it up. Best wishes.


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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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Now I feel like I've really met you --- thank you for being verbose! (Doesn't help, though, that your last name starts with a W just like my college friend's last name! :-) )

You will be awed by the butterflies, I promise you!!!

Comment by anna Mon Feb 8 09:00:08 2010

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