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Looking for possible friends on our slice of paradise

 
pollinator
Posts: 270
Location: NW Montana, USA
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We are off-gid on large-ish acreage (depends on your perspective I suppose) in Montana, USA.  We have a small farm and are learning, growing, and endeavoring to create a system and setup that will support us.  Very original, eh?  Nurturing the ecosystem and implementing a wide variety of practical permaculture concepts are all in the works and on the horizon.  We live in a cold climate and winter lasts a good 6 months.   Summers don't usually get above 80º.  It's generally more mild than the lower elevations around us, except we get way more precipitation.  Greenhouses help us extend the growing season.  We have a plethora of livestock and are still working out which species and breeds are best suited for us.

Where do other people come into this?  Well, there's so much to do here and only two sets of hands to go 'round.  We feel that there could be great opportunity to share this with someone/others and really see the farm flourish and inch towards sustainability.  We don't need anyone to "buy in" or be able to contribute financially.  There is more than enough work trade could be done to contribute your share.  Working livestock, building structures and greenhouses, tending and establishing orchards, crops, and gardens, forestry/lumber/fire prevention work, digging and machinery work, firewood gathering and chopping, and even less physical help like domestic contribution helping keep the cabins clean, community meal prep, helping with laundry loads, running community errands, and other regular stuff.  There's so much to do!    Producing what we need is a HUGE task and there's so much room for help on that front as well; brewing and fermenting, canning and dehydrating, putting up foods, milking, butchering,  growing, watering, weeding, harvesting...! The point is that every contribution has its place and value!

We have no presuppositions about what an ideal candidate for this may look like.  It may end up being one or two people, some friends or or a family.  They may be local, or out of state, or from another country.  They may be rich or homeless.  College kids, refugees, retirees.   Temporary or long term... We have no idea who may come into the picture here...!

It is possible to park an RV, dry camp, or even build temporary or more permanent living structures; however comfortable living looks for you.  We have  non-luxury accommodations available as it is right now.  Like... an old camper with a stove, a bucket, and a bed :)    We  intend to build another cabin this year though, which will help the housing prospects.  Otherwise we'd just have to talk and see what we can all put together!
Seasonal living here is also a flexible option.  Hey, maybe you're just passing through and want to try it out for the summer!  We're pretty open to a variety of situations and setups!

We aren't an established, full-production self-sustained operation here.  ...Yet!  There's much to be done and the farm is young.  You will probably need a little bit of cash living up here as such; keep yourself clothed, fed, and what not!

So... yeah.  We're looking for friends, adventure, community, sharing, and  new experiences.  And we're in no rush.  Just puttin' some feelers out there to see what comes along :)  Feel free to message me if you feel excited or inspired- or if you know of someone who may be!   And tell us a bit about yourself!  I might take a few days to respond, heads up.
 
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Jen Fan, If I were not in the process of building my own homestead I might have taken you up on that. I just want to say be careful. I live here in mid Missouri and bought 60 acres of raw land in Southern Missouri 3 hours away. The problem I have now is I was too kind and let a friend move a shipping container to live in here in mid Mo., after a devorse. He is an older man, 81 yrs old and has kids with a younger Phillipino wife, so he wants to stay in the area. I let him add on a structure to the shipping container and let him plant an orchard too, so if I sell the place which I really need to do, how do I handle the situation. He also is far behind in rent that started out only $120 a month and I dropped it to $80 a month and hasn't been able to pay in months mainly because of mismanaged money. Still I can't throw out an old man and good luck finding a buyer who will let him stay.
  So I guess what I am trying to say is, be very careful of people and don't let things get too binding, as cool as it would be to share your place with good people, don't get into a bind where you can't say get on down the road. Not to say don't keep a good and caring heart, but think about later on if thing don't work out.

 Also, and only if you are interested I have a youtube channel if you would like to check it out. I'm not going to post a link but just copy and paste

      Little beaver Creek Homestead william e       Just the way its spelled, hope you enjoy and God bless. I wish you the best of luck.
 
Jen Fan
pollinator
Posts: 270
Location: NW Montana, USA
71
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William Egan wrote:Jen Fan, If I were not in the process of building my own homestead I might have taken you up on that. I just want to say be careful. I live here in mid Missouri and bought 60 acres of raw land in Southern Missouri 3 hours away. The problem I have now is I was too kind and let a friend move a shipping container to live in here in mid Mo., after a devorse. He is an older man, 81 yrs old and has kids with a younger Phillipino wife, so he wants to stay in the area. I let him add on a structure to the shipping container and let him plant an orchard too, so if I sell the place which I really need to do, how do I handle the situation. He also is far behind in rent that started out only $120 a month and I dropped it to $80 a month and hasn't been able to pay in months mainly because of mismanaged money. Still I can't throw out an old man and good luck finding a buyer who will let him stay.
  So I guess what I am trying to say is, be very careful of people and don't let things get too binding, as cool as it would be to share your place with good people, don't get into a bind where you can't say get on down the road. Not to say don't keep a good and caring heart, but think about later on if thing don't work out.

 Also, and only if you are interested I have a youtube channel if you would like to check it out. I'm not going to post a link but just copy and paste

      Little beaver Creek Homestead william e       Just the way its spelled, hope you enjoy and God bless. I wish you the best of luck.



Thanks for the reply!  I appreciate you sharing your experience  That is a tough situation!  We definitely are not chomping at the bit to add folks up here.  We've both learned good lessons in life about setting boundaries and trying not to get into sticky situations.  Not to say there's not more to learn in the future

Honestly we'd prefer to leave money out of it.  We're not in need and frankly, it's tough to produce income living in this area, so it's tough to expect someone to be able to pay a rent.  We're fortunate that there's so much that needs to be done on the micro and macro scale that there's ample opportunity for contribution!

I'll check out your youtube tonight, after work is wrapped up for the day ^_^
 
pollinator
Posts: 1899
Location: La Palma (Canary island) Zone 11
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I would also love to share my place and would also have shared the place of others...

Planning what can go wrong is a need, with limits, but too much of a distance can also prevent deepening the link in the necessary way! If you take the other person's point of view, helping and beeing told good bye is not a good prospect either... When we are not from a tribe since birth, this is definitely a challenge... When selling, the owner gets money back, and the helper does not. Ideally, both persons should hope for a long term commitment, because motivation comes from this, at least commitment to be the tender of this piece of land!

I have made some intents too, and the main defect newcomers have is to want to bring their own stuff too quick. This is not about having competence or not, but first about asking the person to sink into the place and suck the energy, in order to become part of it. Initiatives must always be said before they are acted, until the person knows the place enough. So this is not even about being the owner, but how long people have been living in the place.

Good luck!
 
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Hi Jen, I'd be very interested in talking with you about what you're doing up there and possibly in visiting later this summer. I'm beginning to explore making a similar long term plan. Which part of the state are you in?
 
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Hello Jen, I am a gardener from Alabama and within the next year to two years I am looking into moving into a community setting where I could grow food and plants for the community. I am still learning many things at this current time but I am having some good results experimenting on my sisters property, I do not have any money to give for rent, but I am very willing to live in the least comfortable conditions since I am already used to that being homeless for a period of time. I really want to get away from this Conservative Christian society here in the Southeast and live in the Northwest, I hope that where you are is in the more beautiful parts of Montana. I hope I can hear back from you.  
 
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Your post sounds interesting. I am a 39/M recently divorced looking to get off grid and do real work. I have experience operating and repairing any farm-type machinery, a formal plant science education. Some of my other skills : irrigation, light carpentry, plumbing, arboriculture, plant propagation, gardening, food preservation, mycology, soil building, all the outdoorsy stuff. Contact me at tndarkstar1980@gmail.com
 
Jen Fan
pollinator
Posts: 270
Location: NW Montana, USA
71
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Thanks for the replies and messages!  We had a death in the family and have been MIA for a little while here as a result.  Trying to get back in the swing of things...

For those of you who posted above, please send me a PM :)  I'm better about checking those than the forum post here!

I wanted to add a few things to my post; it's hard to know what to say, to pick what info is relevant.  .I wanted to open the door to conversation, foremost.  Community means friendship, and friendship means compatibility.  Folks have been sending messages akin to resumes, and while it's wonderful to hear what others have to offer, the most important thing is who they are as a person!

I mean, to be honest, it's a bit like dating, right?  We could have everything to offer one another, but we need to be on the same frequency to blend functionally.  What we hope for in the long-term is community.  Not like community around a common ideology, or community themed on a certain philosophy.  Community built on our commonalities, our solidarity, our friendship.  A mutual need and appreciation for one another.  Such things take time to grow and nurture, of course, and I'm sure we'll see a few people come and go as this funny adventure in human relations progresses!

Lots of questions about location; We aren't too far out of Missoula, but still pretty far off the beaten path.  Every year is different, but winters can see 7-10'+ of snow.  Last year the snow came lazily until January, then we started accumulating feet.  At our elevation the temperatures are actually milder than in the valleys, we get loads of sunshine, and we actually get fewer storm systems; but the ones that do come through bring a LOT of precipitation.  We have the ability to plow out through the winter but it costs $50-$75 in fuel per plow job on 2 miles of winding dirt road.  So we intend to forget plowing this upcoming winter and just snowmobile out.  Our very kind neighbors down the mountain let us park a rig or two at their place and snowmobile down to the cars if we need to go anywhere.  It's a quiet, magical winter wonderland up here!  And spring, summer, and fall are equally fantastic!

As far as the farm goes, we're raising pigs and intend to breed our own specialty mountain variety pig over the coming years.  We just set up our first bee hives here and so far they're doing FABULOUS.  We've got a mix of poultry and I keep pack goats.  I've got a couple milk goats too, but I don't ever get around to milking them after they kid e_e  we're a little to busy for that.  And possibly undisciplined when it comes to the punctual needs of milking does.  Haha.

We also have 3 large dogs (and we expect calm, amiable, and well-adjusted behavior from them) and 3 outdoor cats that patrol the area for pests. 4-legged friends are welcome only if they're compatible with the entire farm.  It's too difficult trying to live with destructive critters!  No livestock killers, no wildlife harassers, no noisy trouble makers.  

And a blip about us;  We are 2 souls navigating our journey together.  We do not subscribe to any particular religion.  Everyone's beliefs are their own, and of course friendly conversation about faith and spirituality is awesome! But there is no ruling ideology here.  Our shared political passion is a heated dislike of capitalism, tax-funded war-machines, the prison industrial complex, and... well... basically all things that define our governing/control systems in the USA.  And its perpetuation around the world.  I'll refrain from digressing about fascism...  (I don't mind a good debate but I won't fight about anything with anyone, to each their own)  

Our 'ultimate goal' is to phase money out as much as possible from our own lives.  Some folks say 'vote with your dollars'.  We say 'vote by rejecting the idea of dollars'.  That's where the passion for self sufficiency comes in; to be able to live as fully as possible from the land, and to be able to produce just enough money to meet inescapable financial demands.  To be good to the land and nurture it, nurture the ecosystem and the wildlife.  We spend long hours discussing options and possibilities.  And in no way do we expect community members to share our goal (I mean, a little bit would be nice, but it's not like a requirement!); after all diversity is the backbone of community.  Not conformity.  

On that note, we've had a lot of folks eagerly conveying that they're in excellent physical shape, or have 'no drama', or are 'mentally/emotionally sound', etc. etc.  I'm quite happy for them!  But by no means would we dream of demanding the most perfect people.  We all got our 'drama', our issues, our imbalances.  It's a part of life.  If we can embrace one another for who we are, then perhaps we can walk a path of growth and healing together, rather than hide ourselves and insist we're without dysfunction.  That's what I say, at least!  

Hopefully that lays the ground work for some discussion :)   For folks that want to contact me, tell me a little about yourself!  Ask us some questions!  Let's talk!

And yes, we're super busy right now, so responses may take a few days.  I'm happy to transition to other means of communication as conversation progresses, but for starters let's talk here.
 
Jen Fan
pollinator
Posts: 270
Location: NW Montana, USA
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Just an update:

We are currently talking with 2 people about possibly coming up, but that doesn't shut the door on others :)

We've been finishing another big pasture for the livestock and babies are hitting the ground from goats and pigs.  All very exciting!  We've got a half-ton butcher job this weekend and will have some friends and family come help with that.  Today we're building a walk-in mega dehydrator so we can mass-dry meats for storage.  We're talking hopefully being able to put several deer or pigs in it at a time (cut up of course).  

We've got a lot happening all the time!  And there's ample opportunities for people to pitch in :)  The barn will be the next big construction project!  We logged the new pasture area before fencing it off and have most of the logs we need for the barn project.  The barn is designed to have roomy living quarters in the loft/at the peak, which will improve our ability to house others when it's finished!  In the mean time the gardens are flourishing and our first veggies will start to be cropping in, there's a new crop of rabbits ready for butcher, and another pasture to log!
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Jen Fan
pollinator
Posts: 270
Location: NW Montana, USA
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We are just a couple weeks away from our first 'community member' (not sure what term to use there, it's not a membership )  We are all quite excited for the adventure this year!  The door is still open for other folks; there's ample room and much to be done up here!
 
Jen Fan
pollinator
Posts: 270
Location: NW Montana, USA
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Updates!  Autumn is creeping into the air up here, and it's exhilarating!  We've had an AWESOME strawberry and huckleberry season- though to interject, my afternoon agenda was to pick a couple gallons of hucks, but there's now a sheet of torrential pea-sized hail crashing down on the mountain, so... R.I.P huckleberries.  Alas...  Anyway the wild berries have had an awesome year.  We're starting to pick our first ripe tomatoes and harvesting seeds from the early crops.  Potatoes are ever closer to harvest and my meager early corn experiments are coming along nicely, with the first patch sporting lots of promising ears!  The 19 fruit trees we planted this spring are all looking fabulous and strong as well!

Our piggy herd has grown quite a bit and we're hoping to have butcher hogs ready before winter sets in too deeply.  The chickens are multiplying happily and will provide plenty of meat come winter as well, if all goes well (as in, the cougars don't get to them first).  Life on the farm is good.  

We are behind on our barn building project, but it'll still get done before the snow flies.  We helped our neighbors build their house, so they're gonna help us build our barn.  That should speed things up!  We wanted to add about 1,000sq ft onto our best greenhouse before winter as well, but who knows if we'll have time at this rate, with this weather.  We shall see!

But the biggest update yet; our first new resident has been here for about 2 weeks.  Woohoo!  We helped him frame and tarp in a 16'x20' living structure that he is finishing on his own with lumber from the forest.  We've been able to hook him up with most basic needs so he can get settled in before winter.  Part of that has been fortunate coincidence with coming into a free wood burning stove, misc. furniture, and a few other neat treasures unexpectedly!  He has been helping thin the forest and prep a new pasture for the pigs and goats.  In the next week or two we'll all be gathering firewood together for winter and sharing that duty.  He'll need another week or three to finish setting up "home base", but I expect we'll all be well prepared by the time the snow starts to fall!  
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miniature piglets! <3
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Holes for the barn footings
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Footings poured and curing!
 
pollinator
Posts: 195
Location: Nomadic
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Hi,
Might you have a update?  Thanks and best wishes
 
Jen Fan
pollinator
Posts: 270
Location: NW Montana, USA
71
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Winter is setting in and we're finally winding down a bit.  I've been dead to Permies for a couple months in the chaos!

Our first newcomer spent 4 months here.  His situation up here turned out to not be a good fit and he decided to throw in the towel.  We had fun with our first 'member' experience and we learned a lot!  We have stronger and clearer ideas of what it is we're looking for- and also what it's going to take for someone to live up here.  We are in USDA zone 3, it's not a cake walk in the winter.  Isolation is a reality without reliable transportation, and without a love for peace, silence, and the outdoors (or a Southern home to fly to), cabin fever might show itself.  So this is something we're going to discuss more thoroughly with folks inquiring.

We've had a blast this fall harvesting the gardens and prepping the new barn for winter.  We've butchered and sold 6 pigs and still have 5 more to go, along with scores of chickens and rabbits.  There will be no shortage of meaty foodstuff this winter!  The snow is flying and the season of wood chopping and big bundled coats has arrived.  We've also welcomed several new residents on the mountain; parcels that have sold and folks moving in full-time.  Our next community meal will be this week.  It's always a vibrant atmosphere!

When I have more time I can post a longer update.  But in short, we're still open to growing our numbers here on the property.  There is currently just the two of us (and dozens of 4 legged friends).  I'll be more prompt about checking Permies and responding to messages this winter
 
Jeremy Baker
pollinator
Posts: 195
Location: Nomadic
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Sounds good, thanks for update, living the dream on a mountain. The pictures were enjoyable. What heritage piggies are those? The vegetables look happy enough. The soil on a Montana mountain can use more improvement I imagine. I’m spoiled currently staying on a friends farm with Skagit peat bogs and best soil I’ve ever seen by far. Black Gold. I should be gardening more. Spend most my time getting vehicles ready and doing solar.
You mentioned a big walk in dehydrator. I’m curious more about that. I’d be interested in learning and helping with dehydrating meat for my semi Nomadic lifestyle. Is it a smoker also? My friend here has a mini ranch with heritage cows but doesn’t seem interested in drying meat. He is into his freezers and frozen meat. I can’t do that as semi Nomadic weight and energy are concerns. And it’s so tame here. I’m interested in places closer to the huckleberries. At least I think I am. Please educate me lol. My previous girlfriend used to tell me stories of Montana and her youth hiding out lol.
No thanks to the Winters. I’m clear on that. I grew up in East Africa and liked it. Though I have a curiosity what a real Winter with dry snow is like. I do miss snow shoeing. After we moved to Oregon from Africa I used to trudge around in the mucky wet Oregon snow. Even went winter camping a few times. It’s beautiful, just not my cup of tea, but I’d do it if I had the pride of ownership and and animals or family to care for.
It seems to me the perfect fit fo you would be someone who has some money for land there but needs a place to stay and work while looking for land. I would steer clear of folks who are running from something and steer towards folks who share the dream and passion and are motivated self starters. With my life it’s similar. I choose to live in a vehicle. I read about some people who do it but don’t like it after a while. I keep coming back to it because I miss it. It does seem like the world is getting more filled with vehicles and complex. So sometimes a cabin on a mountain sounds great. But then again a vehicle is a moving cabin.
 Happy seed sorting and firewood gathering.
 
Jen Fan
pollinator
Posts: 270
Location: NW Montana, USA
71
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Here's a few photos.  Will add more and write more when I have an hour to spend doing so.  Busy day today!

We have mangalitsa sows that were bred to a hampshire boar this year.  We butchered the boar when he hit like 1,000lbs and could barely get around to eat anymore.  He actually got stuck on his back a week before we butchered him; we found him by following the excited ravens that were moving in on him.  They knew he was a doomed piggy!  Took us a bit, we had to dig a trench out behind him and flip him over on the downhill side.  Thank goodness he got stuck on a hill, otherwise he would've been toast...  Anyway, the Mangalitsa girls are now bred back to our KuneKune boar.  Our KuneKune sows are also due this winter/spring for purebred kunekune piglets.  All very exciting.

The barn isn't finished but it's serviceable for the animals right now.  We've put a big wood stove in it for them for when the cold snap sets in.

Anyway, that's my blip for the moment, will add more soon, and respond to your post, Jeremy :)
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Mangalitsa sow with her babies + kunekune piglets at the trough
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Piglets in the draw
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Mangalitsa sow in the first snow
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Firewood stacking in the fall
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The current scenery from the cabin
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Summertime at the 'RV' camp area, best huckleberry spot on the property!
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Our cabin-greenhouse at its peak this year
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All 19 of our new trees made it to winter, we'll see who comes back in the spring!
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Part of the lower greenhouse in summer, with early crops gone to seed
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Our new barn wrapped for winter (I'll post some building photos later)
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The walk-in smoker/oven. Recently smoked bacon/ham/loin from 5 pigs, about to fire it up again today!
 
Jen Fan
pollinator
Posts: 270
Location: NW Montana, USA
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Jeremy Baker wrote:Sounds good, thanks for update, living the dream on a mountain. The pictures were enjoyable. What heritage piggies are those? The vegetables look happy enough. The soil on a Montana mountain can use more improvement I imagine. I’m spoiled currently staying on a friends farm with Skagit peat bogs and best soil I’ve ever seen by far. Black Gold. I should be gardening more. Spend most my time getting vehicles ready and doing solar.
You mentioned a big walk in dehydrator. I’m curious more about that. I’d be interested in learning and helping with dehydrating meat for my semi Nomadic lifestyle. Is it a smoker also? My friend here has a mini ranch with heritage cows but doesn’t seem interested in drying meat. He is into his freezers and frozen meat. I can’t do that as semi Nomadic weight and energy are concerns. And it’s so tame here. I’m interested in places closer to the huckleberries. At least I think I am. Please educate me lol. My previous girlfriend used to tell me stories of Montana and her youth hiding out lol.
No thanks to the Winters. I’m clear on that. I grew up in East Africa and liked it. Though I have a curiosity what a real Winter with dry snow is like. I do miss snow shoeing. After we moved to Oregon from Africa I used to trudge around in the mucky wet Oregon snow. Even went winter camping a few times. It’s beautiful, just not my cup of tea, but I’d do it if I had the pride of ownership and and animals or family to care for.
It seems to me the perfect fit fo you would be someone who has some money for land there but needs a place to stay and work while looking for land. I would steer clear of folks who are running from something and steer towards folks who share the dream and passion and are motivated self starters. With my life it’s similar. I choose to live in a vehicle. I read about some people who do it but don’t like it after a while. I keep coming back to it because I miss it. It does seem like the world is getting more filled with vehicles and complex. So sometimes a cabin on a mountain sounds great. But then again a vehicle is a moving cabin.
 Happy seed sorting and firewood gathering.



The 'soil' here on the mountain is primarily rotten granite gravel.  The pigs help immensely with soil building.  They eat rock and substrate as a main part of their diet, they turn tough patches of stubborn earth into fine-sifted powder.  Their poop is hot and composts very well- and they make lots of it!  We compost heavily, using all the spent spoiled bedding and poop from the critters.  We've introduced red worms up here and they've exploded in population in our compost heaps.    I also made some compost teas for my potted plants this year.  Every year I amend my grow areas with several inches of soiled animal bedding and compost.  There's much to learn yet, and ample room for experimentation!  

I posted a photo above of the dehydrator/oven.  It's basically an oven, and if you want smoke, you just put your smoking wood on top of the stove and let it puff away.  We can safely get it up to about 300ºf and maintain it there, even today we are smoking and it's am extremely windy, snowy day below freezing, and the oven holds its temp with very little fuss.  This summer we dried about 200lbs of pork jerky and organs in a day in the oven.  We hope to try drying/smoking whole quarters of larger animals so we can more easily put up dog food long-term.  For now we rely heavily on freezers.  We could get rid of all but 1 freezer if we had the time for more projects.  1 freezer is mostly full of hides I need to salt, for example.  They're just sitting in there waiting for me...!

We have huckleberries instead of grass.  Huckleberries in the open areas, strawberries along the roads, and thimbleberries in the creeks.  It was a stellar year for berries this year.  The wild strawberries boomed and we spent hours crawling around on all 4's, nibbling up the red sugar nuggets from the ground.  We picked a few gallons of hucks and of course ate nearly all of them as fast as we could pick them.  It was a great saskatoon year, too!  We have loads of june berries above us at the top of the mountain, I picked about 8lbs this year in one outing.  Darn near everything growing up here is either edible or medicinal.  About the only useless thing growing is the false hellebore.  I'm evicting that from the property, rather spitefully.  It nearly killed one of my goats last year.  The dummy still nibbles on it when he finds it, too!  Gr!

Huckleberries and other blue berry varieties are cold-climate lovers.  Glacier National Park, North of us, is famous for huckleberry pickin', too.  But Montana law is no more than 1 quart per person per day of wild edible forage from the parks.

I didn't think I wanted long snowy winters either.  I grew up in the sage-filled Idaho desert.  Our temps here are pretty much the same as Southern Idaho in the winter, but we get way more sun, and the snow makes winter so much more enjoyable.  I've always known soggy, muddy, gross winters, and having clean white snow, sledding and snow shoeing, and enjoying just the visual of the white blankets topping the ever-greens is very fulfilling.  To a very real extent, the snow keeps us entertained and busy in the winter.  The exercise of clearing roofs, shoveling trails, etc. is something you end up looking forward to.

I hear you on looking for folks with a natural passion.  I know from experience that you can't run from anything; you have to grow through it.  A sudden change of pace and a new environment isn't going to change anyone.  But a safe, secure place to live while you work on YOURSELF is a great vessel for positive change.   We have to want to change ourselves if we want to see change in our lives.  
Also, someone who likes nice, new, fancy things is not going to do well at saving money here; when you're in transition and trying to save, it will become expensive and resource heavy trying to maintain a high living standard if you're starting from the ground up.  So even someone with a passion for change and natural living, there has to be an understanding of what the progression and lifestyle is going to look like.  To live in a wall tent, tarp structure, or other make-shift home- or a car or trailer, even- means sacrificing many luxuries.  And those attached to modern comforts will probably find the transition a little bit difficult, if possible at all.    You have to LIKE dirt, sweat, physical activity, and hard work.  Even if someone's work-trade here wasn't based on manual labor, or even if someone wanted to pay cash rent and do no work trade; these challenges are going to come with the territory of remote off-grid living in terrain like this.

We hoped to leave 'power structures' out of our dynamic up here, but we've learned that to a degree it's unavoidable when you have the reality of land ownership, and a property and its systems that had tens of thousands of dollars invested in them over the last 15 years.  There comes an unavoidable priority and order with that.  We do not have the ability to provide a welfare system, there is no long-time established community up here.  So what we've come up with for the time being is simply a fair-trade system.  For example, on the one hand, we're happy to accept work-trade hours, valued at a fair living wage, for "rent" and in exchange for other materials or provisions from the farm and property.  On the other hand, if there is a need for using materials that we paid out of pocket for (fasteners, tarps, plastic, tools, equipment, etc), we would need to sell those items for the same price we paid; we can't accept work trade on something that takes money to replace.  For use of 'systems' here in our cabin (pressurized hot and cold water, hot bath or shower, washing machine, internet, electricity, etc- all of which would be voluntary use, and non-vital to someone living up here), we learned that even just 1 extra person using these systems puts a lot of extra wear and tear on the systems.  So we're discussing what a fair approach to that would be; say $x per month for full access to these systems.  That money isn't a paycheck for us; it's contribution towards the inevitable replacement of failed equipment and parts.  If our water pump goes out, no one has access to that pressurized system until we fork out another $300 for a pump.  If the washer goes out, no one has access to a washing machine until we fork out another $150-$200 for a replacement washer.  So on and so forth.  Pipes break, connections wear, motors die, electronics fry.  Basically we're just searching for ways to keep everything fair, without costing ourselves undue money in the long run.

That said, there is ample running mountain spring water all over the property.  Our cabin is not the only source of water by any means.  It must be caught and tamed, but it's here.  So we're not asking a fee for access to basic needs.  These systems simply provide "ease and convenience"- for a price.  It cost us to implement it, and it costs us to maintain it.   Hope that makes sense.  We're not doing this to make money off anyone, that is in no way our goal.

Anyway.  You know, I aspired to live nomadic for a long time.  I had a van I travelled tens of thousands of miles in.  I liked having a 'home base' with the freedom to roam.  My van was replaced with a trailer, my 'turtle shell', a little home that came with me.  I loved every moment of living in the trailer!  My desire to roam has tamed intensely living here in a place that's 'wild'.  I don't need to go find wild places, I live in one.  And my love for growing and farming has helped me root in one spot (though I had plans for awhile to have a mobile farm, have no doubt!).  Now I don't know if I'd be as satisfied being nomadic, having learned to enjoy these things and having a space to farm in.  I do get the travel itch now and again though...
To each their own, of course!  We're all on a unique journey :D   There's no best path.  But as long as we're making efforts to help one another, we're at least on a right path, IMO!
 
Jen Fan
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here are some photos of the barn building this year...
it's got an upstairs apartment, a hay deck (not a loft as it's only a few feet off the ground!), an 'underground' animal area, and the old structure it was built off of  (the original living shack built 10+ years ago) will be turned into a  greenhouse next year.
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First row of posts in
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second row of posts in
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all 3 rows of posts in
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stairs up to hay deck in
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hay deck joists and girders in
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hay deck flooring in
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our stacks of logs dwindling as the barn grows (we logged several acres clear of dying trees for the barn)
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up and up we go!
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roofing work started
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grain shed in place and most of the roofing underway
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apartment windows framed in, flooring down
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'underground' barn portion getting dug out
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our forklift beast made the whole project possible
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thank you, forklift!
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with the roofing done and the snow flying, we wrapped the barn's skeleton in plastic to keep it dry
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the hay deck before we filled it with 8 tons of hay
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more of the empty hay deck
 
Jen Fan
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Location: NW Montana, USA
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So I wanted to add a little more, in regards to our observations and thoughts about expectations and a "good fit" up here:

Age: your age does not matter to us in the slightest.  It's just a number that gives no indication to character or capacity.  Just want to put that out there.

Health: my main boundaries with physical and mental health is that we cannot be expected to physically or financially take care of someone.  In an ideal community folks would indeed care for one another, and in times of need it's only reasonable and practical to help others.  But neither of us are in a place of capacity to care for another person on an in-depth level.  We just can't do it right now.  Mental health; anxiety, depression, spectrum, ptsd, bi-polar, other disabilities or challenges- it's not taboo and shouldn't be a point of shame.  I deal with my fair portion.  But whether your challenges are physical, emotional, or mental, you need to be in a place where you can provide for yourself and keep on your feet.  Before coming to a place like this, which is more remote and isolated than many people are familiar with, ask yourself "am I self contained, self reliant, and ready for this".  Even if you're in perfect health, it's something to think about.   Whatever is missing, broken, 'disordered', or otherwise atypical is not important, as long as you have the strength and security to pursue a passion for wild and rustic living.  If you're looking for a place to heal, that's great and we fully support you!  As long as you're ready to do the work of healing- because a radical change of pace will not induce healing.  Healing must come from within, and be facilitated by a safe, loving environment.  

Work Trade:  the majority of folks who we've talked to are interested in a work trade.  We are NOT asking for 40 hour work weeks!!!  We think 40 hours/week is inhumane, honestly.  We value most work at $20/hour; more if it's really dangerous or really unpleasant, less if it's extremely easy, mundane, or requires large amount of instruction or guidance due to lack of experience or knowledge.  There are some things here that we would not consider trading for; things we do on our own and do not need or desire help with, like feeding livestock or tending gardens.  Unless we're going out of town and need to 'hire help' with very simple daily tasks, they're generally not on our radar for work-trade options.   Right now work trade potentials include thinning the forest, piling and burning slash, land sculpting (we'd like to get some more ponds put in eventually), fencing work, future orchard site prep, and building and maintaining structures.  Much of which requires experience and knowledge.  I'm sure there's much more on the list that's not coming to me at the moment, but it's winter and we're going into hibernation mode, so it's hard to think about work :P  I want to reiterate that we don't "NEED" help, but the help is welcome.  We're not relying on someone coming here to do things for us, we can do it all ourselves... eventually... haha.

Other Trade: Labor isn't the only trade of value.  We're open to cash and also resource trade.  If you have sustenance, trade skills, or other things to offer, we're open!  We have 5 vehicles and only ever have 3/4 of a working one at any point in time, so hey, if you're mechanically handy you'll have plenty to do.  Haha!  Honestly though the vehicles are a consequence of not having the time or finances to pour into them.  We learn to do most things ourselves, but there's usually room for help.  Or maybe you harvest an elk, deer, bear, etc; we'd probably trade meat for rent, or offer to trade pork, poultry, eggs, or whatever else we may have if you want to share or trade.  We love trading!  If you like long drives and have a stout truck, we'd also trade a month or two (or whatever works our fair) rent if you wanted to do a grain run in Idaho, where feed prices are almost half what they are here!  We tend to go to Idaho once a year and bring home whatever load we can; one ton of grain more than pays for the gas money in what we save, so it's usually worthwhile.  Anyway, there's lots of obscure stuff like that!

Paid work:  For the most part we have no ability to pay anyone a cash wage.  I do run an online business, specializing in sustainably wildcrafted goods.  There is some opportunity for making money here, HOWEVER this is my own business and anyone I bring into it must be a good fit.  I will not guarantee employment or opportunity, but it is a potential for the right person with the right interest, dependability, ethics, and passion for the work I do.

Accommodations and personal space:  It is RUSTIC here.   Emphasis on that. Our last arrangement worked pretty nicely.  Our guest picked a site on the property (which is 20 steep acres) that is about 1/4 mile up a private road from our cabin, on an opposing ridge.  It's a 5-10 minute walk away.  We tentatively allotted 1/2 acre (100'x100') for personal use and private space.  We threw up a pole structure in a day or two and roofed it in tarps as the initial summer accommodation.  On his own he finished wrapping it in tarps and greenhouse plastic, put a counter in, hooked up a propane cookstove and fridge (which are community resources), reinforced the roof a bit for winter, bought a wood stove and installed it, etc etc.  It looks like a cozy little nook, though it will need some work down the road.  So this structure is an option for future guests/community members/passers-through, and I'm sure it will morph and transform over time.  We also have a cozy camping/RV area near this structure that would work for a parked vehicle.  This area gets a lot of sun, it might be the second best grow spot on the property.  But it's DRY.  Water needs to be hauled or caught from several hundred feet away.  Throughout the land there are many nooks and crannies, private places, creeks and draws and ridges.  Each has pro's and con's.   We're content with keeping the 1/2 acre private space for now, but some of it depends on the site chosen.  More space (say you pick a spot with good sun and want a huge garden and want to put up a little fence for chickens and a milk goat or something in your own space) would likely just equate to more work hours.

Supplies and Materials:  We have A LOT of resources available in regards to tools and conveniences.  We have spare stoves, propane appliances, propane cans, cots & mats, and other things relative to the 'glamping' nature.  We are happy to lend these where needed, they are considered community property and have been supplied here as a result of the community effort that made this land possible.  However as the stewards of this property, we do have to exercise our best discretion and set boundaries if the needs arise.  I mean, it would have to be a pretty crazy situation if we had to set boundaries on borrowing community wares, like someone hypothetically just utterly destroyed ANOTHER propane can or blew up their cook stove or something or caused a fire incident; and if it got to that point we might simply be asking someone to leave, but hey.  Who knows what the future may bring!   Basically we have a lot of assets that can help get someone started out here.  Community property remains community property, it cannot be bought or earned as personal property by any of us.  And our stuff isn't "nice", but it works.  Haha.  In regards to materials, such as piping and irrigation supplies, fasteners, plastics, milled lumber, etc., as I stated in a previous post, anything that is not going to be readily salvageable (like screws in a structure, or covering material that gets damaged, or lumber that gets filled with holes) we have to charge replacement value on.  We cannot accept work trade for things that cost us money.  We live on a few hundred dollars a month and don't have much to spare; and when we do we spend it on building stuff :P  

Personal Property: We tend to be pretty relaxed about lending personal property, but we also like the motto of "if you're not prepared to lose it, don't lend it".  So lending anything of our own (tools, power tools, books, traps, clothing, appliances, etc etc etc whatev') is our own sole discretion.  We do not expect to be allowed to borrow anything that belongs to anyone else living up here

Personal Accountability and Responsibility: We are rounding out our rental/terms of stay contract right now.  It's lengthy, but in short it mostly says "You are solely responsible for your own choices and actions up here".  Living here is not fool-proof.  It's easy to get hurt or to damage things.  Our biggest fear of course would be a fire that starts the whole mountain ablaze :s  So there are clauses regarding 'permission to start fires'; until we know someone is TOTALLY competent with something like burning slash or even being smart about their camp fire, that risk is too huge to go unchecked.  Anything we've worked into this document in regards to personal limitations and permissions are from a point of safety and practicality.  And hey, s***t happens, of course.  But we need to cover our grounds, and ensure that anyone coming up here knows the full extent of their personal liabilities and the boundaries and responsibilities of living up here.  We do, on personal principle, also uphold a "you break it, you buy it" code.  It's no different than when we borrow the neighbor's mechanicing tools to work on our cars and break a punch, wreck a socket extension on a seized bolt, or any number of things we've twisted, busted, or otherwise trashed; without demand we buy a replacement for him next time we're in town.  It's just plain ol' responsibility, decency, and respect for others.  If you borrow resources like gas or propane, you replace them.  Common sense stuff.  And along with that comes the self moderation of knowing "Hm, I can't afford to replace, I shouldn't borrow it then".  That's important too :)

Chemicals: This is an important one we reflected on this summer.  Sometimes we forget how far removed we are from the way the average American lives.  We make our own soaps and use no chemical fragrances or cleaners.  It is important to us that excess or undue chemicals are not being deposited into the environment.  So we would request use of only unscented and all-natural products in all facets of living.  This might be the only thing that we insist upon that imposes on personal living choices.  We don't want bleach in our streams, toxic soils, and honestly we don't enjoy being around strong chemical perfumes/scents, so using them will make us not want to be around you as much.  Haha!


Transportation
:  We tried to explore vehicle sharing but in the end it's not legally feasible to do so.  So anyone up here should really have a mode of transportation available to them.  We agree that all community members should be open to running errands for one another if they're going to town (we even do this for each other as neighbors up here), but it can be a point of conflict at times if someone has to rely solely on others for this.  June through October you generally don't need 4WD, but in the snow months 4WD, AWD, or chains are needed in many areas.  We no longer plan to plow out the property due to the fuel expense, so arranging with parking a vehicle with one of the neighbors lower on the mountain is the best way to stay mobile.  You could then hike/snowshoe to your vehicle, or use a snowmobile.  We cannot afford to lend our snowmobile, it's off limits.  It's our only way out in the winter and if anyone's gonna break it, it needs to be us...

Community Atmosphere: We don't intend to demand community participation.  With our last guest, we saw him every couple days, sometimes once a week or less.  That was cool with us.  However, I think the better we get along and the more we enjoy one another's company, the better suited we will be to co-existing up here.  We're totally open to folks showing up on the porch and hanging out, popping in for dinner (especially if they want to contribute, haha), or coming with us on recreational adventures in the wild.  But we are a bit hermit-y and respect others' right to privacy as well.  As someone who shopped around for 'intentional communities', I didn't like the expectation of X hours per day of community presence.  Who knows, maybe those things exist for a reason and we have yet to learn it.  But for now we're not demanding anything like that!  We'd love to establish some loose traditions like community meals every so often or whatever, but it'll just depend on the chemistry up here.   As far as community with neighbors; there are just shy of 10 residences up here, and for the most part we get along and help one another where we can.  We're all very far apart and don't often see one another, but we do occasional get togethers or meals, especially for the holidays.  With the folks who have moved up here in 2019, I expect we might get to establish even more of a community bond, as a few younger people and families will be up here who are craving community.  We shall see what the future brings.

Opportunities for Farming:  We are not restricting access to the farm or gardens (unless someone constantly forgets to close gates and doors, haha).  We're endeavoring to balance how the farm bounty is shared if someone were to become involved with it.  We try to look at it from the perspectives of "how much time and work was shared" and "how much expense was shared".  For example, if someone comes in the spring and helps rear and feed piggies, they can't expect to get a big cut of piglet sales.  We have almost 2 years and $5,000 into our pig stock; we had to buy quality piglets and raise them to adulthood, then raise their babies, so on and so forth.  We're not in the black yet (hopefully we will be this next season).  So it's not cut-and-dry.  But things like greenhouse and garden work are a little more straight forward.  Whatever share of labor someone puts into a garden should be the share they reap.  This includes pre-season soil building and post-season cleanup, alongside the actual growing and weeding and harvesting.  However, if they want meat or eggs or food from the farm without contributing, we'd probably ask monetary replacement value (unless we had huge abundance, but we don't yet).  Anyway.  It all has a lot of room to be worked out and refined.  But we're not against incorporating new livestock, nor sharing the greenhouses, nor even throwing up new greenhouses, gardens, and pastures.  As long as we're not put in the position of paying for and taking care of someone else's critters, and they're not negatively impacting our livestock, we're pretty chill.  And as long as those critters aren't being destructive (or if they are, the damage is accounted for and/or repaired... thinking about goats right now...  naughty destructive goats... gr....)

I need to take a break from typing, but I may add more when I have time.  Again, these are some of the reflections we've had this year.  We've got a better idea of expectations and possibilities than we did when we first started looking.
 
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