Chapter 9 – Different Strokes (Land Part 2)

Copyright Michael Bunker 2009

Doug’s Story

Doug was up before the sun.  He didn’t need an alarm clock.  He was so accustomed to waking up at the same time every morning that he knew naturally by the faint light on the horizon and the sounds and smells of the morning that it was time for him to get started.  He dressed quickly and headed to the small milk shed to meet Polly, his milk cow.  She was waiting for him.  He had separated her from her calf the night before, so she was full and very ready to be milked.

After milking he returned Polly to her calf and headed back to his small cabin for breakfast.  By this time the sun was up and the morning was fully underway.  It was shaping up like another glorious day on his land, Praise God.  He needed to go move his small herd of cattle to the newly fenced pasture he had prepared.  Doug had created a workable pasture rotation system on his 80 acres.  80 acres is a lot of land for a single man without children, but Doug had every intention of finding a wife and having a family someday, if the Lord were to will it, and he had arranged his property in such a way that it didn’t take as much work as some people might think.  He had cows, chickens, some sheep, and a few pigs.  He had divided 50 of his acres into ten acre paddocks, so he could keep the animals rotating onto fresh pasture.  Ten acres of his land was a woodlot and the rest, what wasn’t used for his cabin, sheds, and gardens, was left in permanent pasture.  Whenever necessary, he could turn animals out into this area if he needed to “rest” any other portion of his land.

From his land, Doug was able to produce almost all of the food he needed in order to survive.  His garden was a large “truck garden”, where he would produce enough to take a truckload of produce to the farmer’s market every week during the growing months.  He also produced enough “overage”, primarily in meat, eggs, and wool, to be able to pay the balance of his land payment to Mr. Polk.  Two days a week, Doug worked on Mr. Polk’s ranch, building or tearing down fences, cutting brush, moving cattle, or basically doing any “grunt work” that Mr. Polk required.  The arrangement was ideal for both of them.  Mr. Polk was getting older, and he really needed a lot of help around his ranch.  Doug had gone to work for Mr. Polk several years ago.  After he had built up a good relationship with his boss, and had shown him he was a good and diligent worker, Mr. Polk had agreed to sell him 80 farmable acres in exchange for a handy, regular ranch hand.  Doug agreed to pay cash, broken down into monthly payments, for 50% of the price of the land.  For the balance, Doug agreed to work two days a week for Mr. Polk for five years.  The two days every week were flexible.  If he wanted to, he could work four days in one week and then take the next week off.  He picked the days he wanted to work, and if he were to be sick or if he were rained out, he could make up a day or two the following week.  This still left Doug with a significant land payment every month, but he was committed to paying off his land in five years.  In order to ease the burden, Doug started by selling almost everything he owned.  He had hosted a garage sale that lasted nearly a month, and he liquidated virtually everything.  He cashed out his retirement from his last job, and he turned everything he owned into cash.  He also got rid of virtually everything that caused him to make a regular monthly payment.  After simplifying and paying off all of his debt, Doug had enough money to build a very small cabin, a small milking and storage shed, and to buy his seed and his first starter animals.  He began with 4 pregnant heifers (one would be his milk cow to start), 14 hens and a couple of roosters, 3 ewe lambs and 1 ram, and 2 pigs – one female and one male.  After building some rudimentary pens and a chicken tractor, Doug had enough cash left over to prepay his land payments for 9 months.  His agreement with Mr. Polk was that, if some situation or calamity arose where Doug would be unable to make his land payments for more than a few months, half of the land would revert back to Mr. Polk until which time that Doug could catch up on payments.  In a worse case scenario, where there was an economic crash or some other world-changing event, and if Doug became unable to come up with cash for payments, he would be allowed to keep the forty acres, so long as he was able to:

a)    Stay loyal to his obligation to work two days a week for Mr. Polk for the five years, no matter what.

b)    Provide a small percentage of his production of food and material to Mr. Polk.

By this agreement, Doug had resurrected an age-old method used by poor people for millennia to acquire land and eventually their freedom.  Doug had entered into a gentleman’s agreement that basically created a modern day system of indentured servitude, and he was glad to do it!  In effect, he owned 40 acres from day one of his agreement, and he was working two days a week to acquire 40 more.  He was protected in case of economic downturn or other worldwide crisis.  He was still free for four days a week, and in the morning and evenings on his ranch work-days, to work on and enjoy his own farm.  If things remained stable for five years, he would own 80 acres free and clear, and he would be free to marry and start his family.

Interestingly enough, when Mr. Polk experienced some of the farm fresh eggs, beautiful vegetables, and grass-fed meat that Doug produced, he agreed to buy a good portion of his monthly food from Doug.  Of course, no money had to change hands.  Mr. Polk just took the value of the food he purchased off of Doug’s land payment.  This further reduced the amount of money that Doug had to produce from “off-property” sales.

John’s Story

A few years after Doug started working on his homestead, his friend John and John’s family moved down to live near Doug and to partake in the local fellowship.  Doug had a wife and a young daughter, but he was not interested in operating a large farm.  John was very talented as a woodworker, and he was also passably able to shoe horses and perform some other work with animals.  Doug introduced John to Mr. Polk, who quickly agreed to sell John four acres adjoining Doug’s land.  John was able, and offered to, pay cash for his land, but Mr. Polk convinced him to do some work in lieu of cash payments.  Mr. Polk and John agreed on a sale price for the land, and then, whenever Mr. Polk had some work he needed John to do, he would subtract that amount from the land price.  In this way, John was able to purchase his land outright in only a year or two, and he had the cash he saved from the land purchase to use to start his own small homestead.

John studied a lot about how other people in the past (and even today) had built sustenance farms on only a few acres.  He even traveled to a nearby Homesteading historical village in order to see how they had built, and were operating, a fully sustainable homestead on only three and a half acres.  He was shocked and pleasantly surprised to learn that so much food could be intelligently and sustainably grown on so few acres.  Before long, John and his family were providing almost all of their food and supplies from their small farm.

Steve’s Story

When Steve, another one of Doug’s friends, heard what Doug and John had done, he contacted Doug for more information.  He definitely wanted to move off-grid, and he wanted to have a garden and produce as much of his own food as he could, but his situation was troublesome and he had some concerns.  He felt he had passed his “farming prime” (he was in his 60’s), and though he was still able to work, he wasn’t able to work like he used to.  He was unmarried, so he didn’t have the need for as much land, and he was very likely going to need help doing any building or construction.  At his age, he couldn’t see going out and buying a large plot of land in the country, most of which he would never use.  However, very few people in rural farming areas are willing to sell just an acre or two.  What could he do?

Doug had an idea.  He proposed that, with Mr. Polk’s permission, Steve move onto a small portion of Doug’s land.  They would carve out an acre for Steve, and make him a small homestead on that acre.  An acre is plenty of land on which to have a sizeable garden, and maybe even some chickens, rabbits, or bees.  Basically Steve would be treated as a part of Doug’s family and household, and he would work three days a week for Doug.  In exchange, Doug offered Steve a lifetime “lease” on his one acre homestead.  He could treat the land as if it was his own, and he would have friends, family, and neighbors support in his later years.

As Steve’s small homestead became more productive, he began to earn a little side money from his rabbits and bees, and when he was able to earn some money doing some other side jobs, sometimes he would “buy” work days back from Doug – in effect paying a low rent instead of working for his land.  Doug and Steve worked out a rent payment price, so that on any of his scheduled work days, if Steve didn’t want to work, or had something else to do, he could pay for the privilege.  They both found this to be an acceptable arrangement.

Paul’s Story

Paul was a young friend of Steve’s.  Paul was an artist, and although he loved Agrarianism and desired very much to live the off-grid life, he really had no intention or desire to operate a whole farm.    Paul was a young married man who wanted to live his life working with his hands.  He wanted to engage in some Agrarian art: for the glory of God, for a living, and for the good of the community.  Doug and Mr. Polk suggested that Paul consider blacksmithing.  After some study and prayer on the subject, Paul agreed that blacksmithing may just be perfect for his future.  Mr. Polk, Doug, and everyone else that could afford to do so, gathered some money together to send Paul to a blacksmithing course in a city only three hours away.  Paul loved the course and found that he had a natural affinity and talent for blacksmithing.  He was absolutely convinced that old-fashioned blacksmithing was truly an art form, and it was something he wanted to pursue.

After the blacksmithing course turned out to be a success, Doug gathered Mr. Polk and everyone else together and pitched his idea.  Mr. Polk would temporarily donate some acreage with country road access to the community.  The hope was that eventually a small Agrarian village would spring up on that acreage, and that “outsiders” would also have access to the village to buy and sell.  If it grew to be successful, it would be a great way for the off-grid Agrarians in the community to make money to pay for property taxes and other expenses.  The first building in the village would be Paul’s Blacksmith Shoppe.  Everyone in the community would pitch in to build the shop and provide the equipment and material, and in exchange, everyone who was willing or able to help would receive discounted blacksmithing work for three years.  After things were up and running, Paul would begin to buy the lot where the blacksmith shop stood from Mr. Polk.  His home would be behind the shop, and he would keep a garden and some productive animals as well.  Paul was more than willing to exchange his work for food and supplies, and usually, so long as someone was willing to buy the materials, he would barter for just about anything he needed to survive and thrive.  He started by making some artistic decorative pieces for sale in a nearby town, but soon the “townies” were driving out to the blacksmith shop to buy his art, or to get him to do repair or fabricating work for them.

Within two years, Paul had completely paid off the land he purchased from Mr. Polk.  He then bought the lot next to his blacksmith shop, and opened the first General Store, which his wife operated.  The General Store, although it did sell items made and grown in the community to “outsiders”, also served as a barter/trade center for those who lived in the new community.

The Community Grows

During the fourth year of Doug’s arrangement with Mr. Polk, some more friends decided to move into the area and to join in the fellowship.  The Millers, The Parkers, and the Darnells all were prospective homesteaders.  They all wanted to live off-grid, and they all were very eager for fellowship.  The idea of living in a community of like-minded believers was a dream for all of them.  None of the new families were able to find any homesteads for sale that were small enough for what they needed and could afford.  Unhappily, most of the land for sale was usually over 100 acres.  When smaller acreages came up for sale, they were usually priced unusually high compared to the local average per/acre price.  Eventually, the families decided to go in together to purchase 120 acres near Mr. Polk’s ranch.  The new homesteads were adjacent to Doug’s 80 acres, and soon a community road was built between the several homesteads.  The new families created an agreement for the distribution of the land, and they each made payments to Mr. Miller who had agreed to purchase the land on behalf of the group.  They only wanted about 25 acres a piece, so they would have 45 additional acres available to sell to anyone else who might want to move down to join the fellowship.

Not long after that, four single men, friends of Doug and John, also desired to begin an off-grid Agrarian life.  Doug arranged for the men to meet Mr. Polk, and it wasn’t long before the men were at work building a barracks on ten acres of Mr. Polk’s land near the new community.  None of the four men had any money to speak of, or yet possessed any real skills, so Mr. Polk made them a deal: They would each agree to work full-time for him for five years.  Mr. Polk would provide room and board during those five years.  Any of them that successfully completed their agreement by working the full five years, would, upon completion of their obligation, receive ten acres and the materials to build a small cabin and a small barn.  They all found this deal agreeable, and the community grew once again.

Mr. Polk, who had originally planned on just living out his retirement in town, became invigorated by what was happening out in the community.  He was excited to be able to help so many people, and, he soon learned that he was being helped quite a bit as well.  Since he now had so much available labor, he purchased a herd of cattle and had his new field hands maintain and work them.  Within a few years his herd had grown to the point that he needed to haul a bunch of them to market, where he made a nice profit.  Eventually, he became so captivated and enamored with the lifestyle led by his friends in the community; he became so convinced by their Godly worldview and their Biblical doctrines because they actually lived them; and he became so overwhelmed by their love for one another and their joy, that he decided to build a small house on his land and join the fellowship himself.  He had always considered himself a Christian, but now he knew that he had missed it for most of his life.  Christianity, he learned, is a life of obedience, community, diligence, and joy.  It is a life-lived, not merely a profession of faith or some club you go visit once or twice a week.

The community slowly grew.  Before long, the small village had several small shops, and had become a local attraction.  There were also now several Agrarian tradesmen and women.  There was a seamstress, and a shoemaker; and even a small restaurant.  Word in the community was that Doug and Mr. Polk were helping a new family start a grain mill.  What an adventure!

Different Strokes

As I have said a few times before, not everyone who is living an Off-Grid life needs to own a bunch of land and be a farmer.  Many of you who are reading this got your names from Agrarian trades, and an Agrarian society will always need Carpenters, Millers, Thatchers, Brewers, Coopers, Shoemakers, Shepherds, etc.

This story was designed to get you to think in ways that maybe you have not thought before.  All of these people in our story came into off-grid Agrarian living from a different background and with differing needs and desires.  There is not just one answer, and unhappily that is pretty much all that the modern “off-grid movement” has ever really offered people.  A good and workable land policy requires that we be open to new ideas and new ways of thinking.  If you are looking to get off-grid, then don’t be limited by the modern idea that you have to go get a Realtor and a mortgage.  That way may surely work for some people, but for some people it will never work.  Your solution has to be crafted for you, and the more creative you can be, the better you might find your solution.

So how can all of this fail?  My examples are all based on a few important factors.  You must be willing to work, and willing to keep your word.  This will all fall apart if you don’t take it very seriously  I personally have had several people who have agreed, much like in the above examples, to work for me and study for five years in exchange for land; but I have never had one of those people complete their commitment.  Generally, and it is an unhappy fact, most people are not really willing to work; and they are deceived when they think that off-grid living is just a picture postcard or some idyllic, pastoral dream.  It is amazing to me that people are willing to put on a tie and go to a city to do the most de-humanizing and useless work that you can imagine, but when it comes to actually having the opportunity to live the life they say they dream of, they think it is too hard and they quit.

Working the land means getting up early, often before the sun comes up, and applying yourself to your daily tasks.  Often those tasks are very physical, and very repetitive.  Getting up to milk a cow may seem romantic the first couple of times you do it, but believe me, the romance of it goes away very fast.  That doesn’t mean that off-grid living isn’t pleasant, or that we don’t enjoy our work, because we do.  I’d rather be doing this then anything else in the world.  But if you are not absolutely prepared to give your life over to benevolently stewarding the land, and to daily fulfilling your obligations, then you are inevitably going to fail.

Options

There are options here for just about any situation.  I know that every situation is unique, and it is a given that almost everyone thinks that their own particular situation is the only one that is unsolvable and therefore hopeless.  I have met very few people who have actually examined all of the available options, or who have spent much time dreaming up new ways to make good things happen.

You see now why it is so difficult to answer the question “How many acres do I need?”  I don’t know, because I don’t know what you are for, and I don’t know what your hopes and dreams are.  I don’t know what you can afford, and I don’t know how hard you want to work.  I don’t know what animals you want to raise, or what skills and artistry you are willing to acquire and perfect.

Now, some of you may be sitting back and saying sarcastically, “Yeah, all we need now is a Mr. Polk!”  Well, there are Mr. Polks already out there; it is just your job to find them.  I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at how much God is willing to help those who truly seek to live this life with an honest and sincere heart.  Let me give you a very recent example of what I am saying…

A month or so ago my daughter (who is now sixteen) came up to me and asked me if she could seek a job cleaning someone’s house a couple of days a week.  She had come up with a whole plan of how it was going to work, how much money she was going to make, and what she was going to do with the money.  I gave her my rules for the endeavor, and I told her that her mother and I would have to approve of any job, and that our family rules and community ordnung (rules and order) would still apply.  If she could not find a job that would work around all of those rules, then she could not get a job.  Well, she plowed into the challenge.  She had a friend make her some business cards, and she put up signs in the small towns around where we live.  She had other members of our community begin to ask around, and before long, there were some opportunities.  One job in particular she really wanted, but the lady of the house was not willing to work around our very particular rules of order.  Tracy was heartbroken, and she felt like our rules might be keeping her from ever getting a job.  I sat her down and explained that our God is completely sovereign over everything in her life.  If God wanted her to have work, he would send the perfect job for her in His own time.  Our job is to be obedient, to keep moving forward, and to not take our hand off the plow.  We pray to God and let Him know our wants and wishes, and if He sees fit to make them work out, we praise Him for it; if He doesn’t, we praise Him for that too.  I told her what I have told literally hundreds of people in counseling over the years.  I said, “Tracy, if God wants this for you, there is nothing you could do to stop it.  While it is nice to have the signs and the business cards, He can send someone out of the blue to you whenever and wherever he likes.”  She smiled at me like a sixteen-year-old does, and agreed to be patient.  Well, not two weeks later, Tracy and her mother were picking up Mesquite pods on the side of the road when an old man drove up to see what was going on and to ask if they needed any help.  My wife explained what they were doing and they had a short chat with the man, explaining how we process and make coffee and flour from the seed pods.  When he was getting ready to drive off, he asked off-hand, “Hey, by the way, do any of y’all want to clean my house for me?  I’ll pay you.”

That really happened, and it has worked out just fine.  The man has two houses he needs cleaned fairly regularly, and he is willing to work around our rules and regulations.  He’s very happy with the work as well.  The greatest thing to come from this experience is to see my daughter’s faith grow.  She is learning to lean on God, and to seek obedience and diligence in His Kingdom first.

I know that this story didn’t have anything to do with land, but it was given for your encouragement.  This doesn’t mean you sit back and wait for someone to “miracle” you some land.  It does mean that you need to be aggressive, creative, patient… and you need to have faith.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions or to make offers; and don’t be afraid to have rules either.  If you are truly willing to work, and if you truly want to live this life, and if you are truly committed to doing it right, I am convinced that there is an opportunity out there for you.

Property Taxes and Other Bothersome Details

When I write and talk about living off-grid, inevitably there are people who will use some pretty troubling logic to try to dismiss what I’m saying.  One of the arguments goes something like this:

You will ALWAYS have to pay property taxes, so you’ll ALWAYS need money, which means you’ll ALWAYS have to work and have contact with the “system”, which means you’ll ALWAYS be, in some ways, hooked to the grid.  So why bother?

I really have no problem with the question “what about property taxes?”, unless it is asked, not in search of a real solution, but to dismiss off-grid living altogether.  This is an example of how “some” truth, and some bad presuppositions, can be added together to come up with an absurd result.

To conclude that it is better to stay on the grid (where you will pay property taxes), despite all of the horrible negatives involved with that worldview and lifestyle, and despite the fact that living such a life is unsustainable and perilous, just because if you move off-grid you will have to pay property taxes, is foolish.  The idea that I should keep living a life in the urban or suburban sewer, because no matter where I live I’ll have to pay property taxes, is an example of some pretty scary logic.  That is like saying I should live in my outhouse since I can’t escape having to go in there every once in awhile.

It is true that, so long as our system remains corrupt and in its current condition, we do have to make property tax payments.  But property taxes are not the same everywhere.  There are areas with very low property taxes and very limited government intervention, and there are areas with very high property taxes and very high levels of government intervention.  In general, if you live in an area where the government believes it ought to be able to control every area of your life, then you are probably also living in an area where property taxes are going to be high.  Property taxes have to be high in those areas in order to pay for all of the government busybodies and pencil pushers necessary to make your life miserable.

It is probable, unless you happen to be independently wealthy, that you will have to do something to produce enough money to pay your property taxes.  If you have been wise in choosing the location of your homestead, hopefully this will not be a very large amount of money.  Where I live in Texas, it would be very easy to pay our property taxes for the whole year (on nearly 40 acres) by working for one or two weeks earning cash.  Unhappily, with the reality of ad valorem taxes (taxes on the value of the property), the more you improve and build on your property the more your taxes are going to be.  It is good, then, that homesteaders have so many good and viable options when it comes to making a small side income.  Here are only a few ideas:

1.    You can grow a “truck garden”.  A truck garden is where a farmer grows some type of produce for sale locally.  You can be very creative in marketing and selling your produce.  Talk to local restaurants and grocers to see what you would have to do to sell directly to them.  You can also sell your produce at a farmers market, or directly to the customers on the side of the road (provided it is in an area where this is safe and allowed).

2.    You can open up a small store, either on your property or in a nearby town, for the sale of items or products you make or gather from your land.  This type of store could be open only a day or two a week, or even just seasonally.  You can also discuss the option of selling items in local stores, or on a consignment basis.

3.    You can build useful things or create art.  Many early Agrarians were also artisans.  Consider learning a skill or trade, or practice any natural artistry you may possess.  Your creations can be advertised in the newspaper, or by word of mouth.

4.    You can do day labor, fence work, clean-up work for local farmers or ranchers.  This type of work can be seasonal, perhaps in the winter when there is not much work to do on your land.

The point is that, if your property taxes are reasonable and manageable, you shouldn’t have to do much to earn enough money to pay your property taxes.  If your taxes are so high that they necessitate you working full time (or even part time) throughout the year in order to pay them, then I hate to be the one to tell you, but you are living in the wrong place.  Consider relocating.  Which, by the way, brings us to a major point…

As I mentioned earlier, high property taxes are a product of a few variables:

1.    Property taxes are high because there is a large city either nearby, or in the same county.  It is a fact that rural people are taxed in order to pay for services enjoyed mainly by urbanites.  If you live near a big city, your property taxes are likely going to be very high so that the Smiths and the Joneses can have police protection as they live their lives in an artificial habitat that breeds crime and antisocial behavior.

2.    Property taxes are high because you live near, or in, some area noted for its natural beauty.  Since most people are dead on the inside, they require natural beauty and life on the outside in order to make them feel more complete.  Unhappily, the more carnal and depraved a man is, the more he is likely to sell out everything else in order to live somewhere with natural beauty.  This is not to say there is anything at all wrong with beautiful areas of the country.  It is to say that beautiful areas attract busybodies and politically loathsome people who move there and then decide that they ought to be able to tell other people what to do.  Paradise-on-earth is expensive, and if you choose to live in one of these areas, you will pay through the nose for the privilege.

3.    Property taxes and government intervention may be very high because the area is subject to natural disasters.  If you live in an area where there is likely to be a major earthquake, or that is probably going to be destroyed by a hurricane, it is likely that the government may require you to build to certain “codes”, and your property taxes may reflect the idea that the government feels the need to protect you or to come and save you if things go wrong (and they will).

4.    Property taxes are high because of poor governmental management, and some really bad political philosophies.  You may live in a rural area, far from any big city, where there are no tourist attractions, and you still might have high property taxes.  Why?  Because the locals have some very socialistic and tyrannical ideas about who owns the land.  In this case, land covenants may restrict what types of animals you can own, and what you can do with your land.  The local governments may require that you get approval and licenses to build on or improve any of your property.  My general philosophy is this: If I have to ask permission from some local governmental body in order to build a shed, then I really don’t own my property at all.

I receive communications from people all the time who tell me that they live in the most beautiful area in the world and that the soil is so productive they really don’t have to do any work.  If you listened to them, you’d think they lived in Eden.  They ask me, “Why would you live in Texas?  It’s so hot, and there are bugs, and there are snakes, and it just doesn’t seem conducive to farming.”  Well, that is really a cartoonish representation of where I live.  I’ve traveled all over America and all over the world, and believe me, there are pluses and minuses in every area.  It is easy to talk yourself out of a place that might be challenging to your flesh if you can only list the negatives about that place.  It is also easy to talk yourself into some area that solely panders to your desire for comfort, when you never consider the negatives at all.  Remember, the human mind is capable of rationalizing anything.

I have developed a list of things that are important to me and that are crucial to me living the life of obedience and diligence that I want to live.  You should produce your own list as well, and then honestly examine how different areas match up to your list.  Here was my list:

1.    I wanted to live in fellowship and communion with like-minded people.  I’d rather live in a desert with friends and family who work together and serve one another than live in a paradise alone.  If I lived on the most productive farmland in the world, and had the most beautiful weather and the most beautiful scenery, but I couldn’t live my life in community with like-minded people, I would be miserable beyond words.  Too many people want to call “independence” what is actually selfishness and pride.  We know the importance of fellowship, and we value how God has commanded us to live, so we put fellowship at the top of the list.

2.    We wanted to homestead, homeschool, homebirth, and homechurch.  This means that we wanted to the freedom to live our lives according to our consciences without unnecessary and unconstitutional government intervention.  We wanted to live in a place that not only encouraged our freedoms, but protected them by law.  I know people who live in carnally beautiful areas, but who are not permitted to homeschool (or if they can homeschool, it is heavily regulated), or who live in areas where the government is well known for interfering in the family through regulation and heavy-handed behavior.  It seems strange to me that someone would balk at living in one area because of snakes and bugs (which are everywhere in the world), but wouldn’t think twice about living in a state that has shown a willingness to take away the children of parents who don’t “toe the line” of the modern society and culture; or whose government will force the parents to subject their children to indoctrination in beliefs contrary to their own.

3.    We wanted to live as freely as possible; which means that we don’t like intrusions and usurpations by meddlers and busybodies.  We wanted as little government intrusion in our lives as possible.  We value the freedom to build what we want, where we want, when we want, without codes and permits.  We value low taxation and few if any limitations on our freedom to work and to travel.  We want the right, if we choose to, to defend ourselves from animals and/or people without onerous government restrictions (this means good, pro-freedom gun laws).

4.    We knew that we needed a sufficient amount of rainfall per year, both for our crops and gardens, and for water catchment.

5.    We wanted as long a growing season as we could get, which meant that we wanted to live in the south, if possible.

6.    We wanted to be sufficiently far away from any large cities, but near enough to some medium and small sized cities so that we wouldn’t have too far to travel for building supplies, etc.  We wanted to be at least 3 hours away from any metropolis, but were desirous of having some very small towns or villages fairly close, so that when we move towards traveling by horse and wagon, we will be able to do so.

I learn a lot about a person when they explain their criteria for where they want to live.  You probably have your own list running through your head, and some of you may be shouting “SOIL!  What about the soil!?”  Well, if there is anything the Amish have proven, it is that you can build soil anywhere in the temperate zones.  If you receive enough rainfall, and you can raise animals, you can build soil.  I am convinced that, with proper care and with the proper application of soil amendments, good workable soil can be built in only a few years. just about anywhere.

I think location selection is critical, and I hope that you will spend the appropriate amount of time in considering what is important to you in your life.

Land is a crucial element of our philosophy.  Land is a crucial element to our freedom.  Not everyone will own land, but everyone ought to have an opinion and a philosophy about the land.  Modern political parties and social and cultural movements that neglect a consideration of land and how important it is to life and living, build their houses on sand.  In the long run, their philosophies cannot stand.  Any political party or movement that does not have a complete and consistent land philosophy and land policy cannot stand for true freedom.  Land is not just crucial to our lives; the health and care of the land is crucial to the lives and futures of our children and their children.

One of the essential elements of my religion is the understanding that God gave us benevolent dominion over the creation.  The modern consumer/industrial system not only rejects this concept of benevolent dominion, it turns it on its head and replaces it with a greed based malevolent tyranny.  Industrialism and the consumer economy sees the land as nothing more than another thing to rape and pillage for profit, which makes it contrary to the teachings of the Bible, and of Christianity.  Any religious philosophy that supports and enables modern consumer/industrialism, is Anti-Christian and is contrary to the Word of God.  That is a heavy condemnation of the foundation of modern society.

In the next chapter, we will talk about another topic that is essential to our lives and our future… Water.

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