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Cimarron Layne

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since Mar 27, 2018
Retired accountant went home to Maine in 2018 to rehab old house and garden, but last winter (still snow on ground in early May) convinced me that I prefer a more temperate climate. Looked for land to set up small homesteading co-op or land trust in central or eastern TN, western Virginia or south slope of Smoky Mountains in NC. Finally found 30 acres near Jonesville, VA, that I could afford. Looking for a few families to join up with me.
Bought the farm and moved from Maine to western tip of Virginia.
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Recent posts by Cimarron Layne

Jenn White wrote: Last spring I verified they’re made of a food grade plastic!  I decided to use them as grown bags for our potato crop, and it worked out very well. Our plant yields weren’t as abundant as those of our traditionally grown crops, but the convenience of growing in bags was a fair trade off IMO. I was able to grow potatoes right over our leaching field, which normally wouldn’t be used to grow veggies. It also became a great permaculture conversation starter in my town. People who saw them not only inquired about what they were, they asked if I had extras to share as well. A win in my book!  



I really like this idea.  Gonna try it with blueberry plants.

What I have been doing with my feed bags is lining the walls of my drafty barn.  It was originally a tobacco barn, then converted to a hog barn, then double-walled stalls were built to convert it to a horse barn, but the exterior walls were still vertical boards with about a half-inch gap between them, like they'd intended to do board and batten but skipped the battens.  The exterior was never painted, so the boards are too weathered and warped to add battens now.  Stapling the split open feed bags on the inside walls keeps the wind and rain from blowing through and is a lot cheaper than tar paper or house wrap.  I overlap the bags by 6-inches in each direction.  I had converted one stall to a chicken coop, and my chickens seem to be happier without the wind ruffling their feathers.
1 week ago
I'm anti disposable plastic, too, but I also don't like glass: it's heavy, easily broken (I'm on the clumsy side), and I move frequently so prefer something lighter to pack.  I'd never heard of Cambros until reading this thread, so I looked them up online to see what they are made from:  acrylic plastic for the most part, but look pretty durable, unlike Rubbermaid or other cheaper plastic containers.  I think I will buy a few to test out.

My choice has always been Tupperware.  I even became a Tupperware "Lady" back in 1978 so I could buy all I wanted at wholesale.  Filled cupboards, fridge, and workshop with about every size container they made at the time.  When I divorced in 1981, other than our one child, the Tupperware was the hardest joint property to divide up.  We both wanted all of it.  Some items we had duplicates, like 2 sets of cannisters, 2 ice cream boxes, etc., but some things were singles and we did a lot of haggling over them, even trading Hummels and crystal for indispensable pieces of TW.

That stuff is now 43 years old and still performing its job, air and water tight, and I expect it will last longer than I will.  I'm missing a few lids that I accidentally melted on a hot stovetop and some of the harder plastic pieces are beginning to disintegrate, such as my sugar bowl and vinegar dispenser, but only the edges above the push-button caps so they are still usable as they seal properly.   I lost a few pieced to theft.   Since I have been down-sizing and simplifying for many years, I haven't bothered to replace them.  I've filled the gap in my workshop with wide-mouth peanut butter and mayo jars.

When I was considering moving to Chile a few years ago, I asked the shipping company if I could ship some of my favorite American foods with my household goods.  I was told that the Chilean customs inspectors would reject any foods unless they were packed in Tupperware.  No other options were given, just TW.  That's the best testimonial for TW I've ever heard.
1 week ago
Thanks for the apple N. Neta.  Yep, I posted to this thread to inspire others to start NOW at whatever age they may be.  Don't put it off, 'cause it gets harder the older you are.  When I was young, strong, and energetic, I wasted my life sitting behind a desk for 40+ years and my only exercise was hiking, skiing, or cycling on weekends, when I should have been doing what I'm doing now.

I struggle to do the heavy work at 75, but I do what I can every day even if it is only a couple of hours of work, and though I'm not progressing as fast as I would have at 25 or even 55, I am seeing improvements to my homestead every month and learning skills that make me more and more self-reliant.  I was never mechanically inclined, but now I can maintain and repair my tractor, riding mower, and water pumps, etc., and I may take a welding course soon as I see a lot of ways that skill would be useful.

Got my PDC last winter online with Tom Kendall, a protege of Geoff Lawton, in Australia and used about 10 acres of my land as my final design project.  Still building infrastructure, mowing and sowing to improve pasture, cut one swale so far across the slope and started a food forest with 5 fruit trees, two varieties each of grapes and blueberries, still repairing barn and sheds, and the mobile home that was gutted when I bought the place is now quite livable.  Still need to replace 8 windows, install finish flooring, and install 2nd bathroom fixtures.

My 7 hens and 1 rooster are fat and happy, especially when the dog is tied up and I can let them free range.  My Aussie Shepherd pup is a failure as a LGD, and though he does keep other predators at bay and the deer out of the garden, he is himself a predator when it comes to poultry.  He doesn't eat them, but he thinks they are toys for him exclusively.  Though he wouldn't let any other animals or birds of prey harm them, he loves to chase, catch, and play keep-away with them, toss them and catch them again.   I've been able to rescue several of them, but I'm not fast enough on my feet to catch him, so I have to divert his attention to some other object like a stick or ball while I pick up the traumatized chicken.  A few have had heart attacks and died of fright.  I should have gotten rid of the dog after he got the first chick, but he is so lovable most of the time, that I kept giving him reprieves.  Now I'm trying to rehome him with a family that doesn't have poultry.

Tried pigs last year with a pair of piglets from different parents.  They grew up trained to electric fencing, had a small litter of piglets of their own which I sold for enough to cover a year's feed, but every time the power went off, the boar would head right for the dog house, evict the pup, eat his food and bed down in his house.  He was also very destructive, crushing trash barrels and knocking the front porch posts out from under the corners.  Sold the sow, but the boar is still either penned up or stalled to keep my dog from attacking him now that he is big enough to take revenge.  Always something to keep my adrenaline pumping.

Homesteading is a lot of work, but enjoyable work with many rewards.  The first younger family I brought in to share the land and the labor turned out to be duds, and I had to evict them, but I may try again with one or two singles.  Plenty of land and plenty of projects to work on.   No loafers or parasites though.
1 week ago
I only started homesteading 2 years ago.  I was 73 then.  If I had it to do over, I'd have done it 50 years ago when I first got out of college.  I wanted to at the time, but I succumbed to others' plans for my life and didn't reclaim control over my time until I retired in 2016.  Then it took me a couple of years of prep and land hunting before I bought 30 acres in a beautiful area of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in Nov 2019.  Fell in love with the view, and still love the location, but I didn't really consider the angle of slope, and without extensive excavation to terrace the hillside, most of the land is unusable for anything but grazing Swiss cows or mountain goats.  If I knew then what I know now, I'd have looked for flatter ground even though I would have had to settle for fewer acres at much higher price per acre.
1 week ago
Nope, I can't do that hand sign either.  Never could do the Vulcan "live long and prosper" sign either.  
2 weeks ago
Hi, are you still looking for land.  I have 30 acres in southwest Virginia sandwiched between TN and KY.  I tried to start a permaculture community, but picked the wrong family to start with, and it took me over a year to get them out, so I'm a little reluctant to do it again.  I'm getting up there in age, though, so I definitely need help to bring this permaculture dream to fruition.

It has about 10 acres cleared, mostly in pasture on a south to southwest slope, surrounded by hardwood trees and a few cedars that create a good buffer from neighbors, large livestock barn with currently 7 box stalls, 1 double box stall that I am using for a wood shop, and a tack room.  Also 3BR, 2B mobile home (MH) that I am still renovating, a double shed with half open for small equipment and the other half closed in for storage.  Potable spring water is pumped uphill from where it emerges down by the creek at the bottom of the holler up to a cistern in the lower pasture with hose spigot and on up to the MH and I have plans to put a 4-way mandrel in the pump house to run water to garden area, back yard, and upper pastures.  Previous owner raised and trained horses (as many as 27 at one time), but he died and his daughter inherited the place.  She gutted the MH and started to renovate but decided she'd rather travel, so sold it to me at a bargain price.

I was doing great with the renovation until the aforementioned family moved in with me, and then neither helped with the rehab nor started building their planned tiny home.  Once they finally moved out last month (Oct 5), I went back to work on it.   Meanwhile I'd built several raised beds and started a garden, bought a tractor and several implements, brush hogged the overgrown, weedy pastures, dug out a culvert at the top of the driveway and lowered it 3 ft, so I could shave that high spot down and taper it more, and graded the drive down to the road and up to the barn, built animal shelters, including a Justin Rhodes Chickshaw, bought several electric chicken fences and a solar energizer for movable paddocks, replaced part of the barn roof and trimmed the overhanging black walnut trees, excavated my first swale and started a food forest in the berm below the swale, and other projects with little to no help from my cohorts.

If the location appeals to you, we might be able to work out some way for you to lease or purchase some or all of this property to build your own homes and share the labor.  I could stay on and help you all or if we don't mesh, I can look for a smaller place for myself.  If you will PM me with your email address, I'll send you more info and pictures.
2 weeks ago
Hi, D,

Unless you've bought and sold a few properties on your own, I have to agree with Anne, you need a buyer's agent to look after your interests.

Just looking at the pictures of these 5 properties, I don't think any of them are suitable for homesteading if you want gardens, orchard, or any kind of livestock.  The water features (pond or creek) are all at the lowest part of the lots and it is mostly steep hills above them with hardly any land flat enough for a homesite and yards, gardens, or pastures.  Just excavating a road in to terrace a small area for building will be expensive and time-consuming.  Even finding an excavator willing to do the job might be an insurmountable obstacle.  You'd have to cut down a lot more trees if you want to go solar.  I don't know much about using hydro-power.

I have 30 acres in SW Virginia (sandwiched between east TN and east KY) on a south-facing slope with 2 terraces for the house and the barn, and even the 10 acres that were cleared and in pasture when I bought the place in 2019 are too steep for my tractor to cross on contour.  I've already rolled it once while grading the road up to the barn.  Not fun.  Thankfully I had my rollbar up and seatbelt on so I wasn't thrown off and crushed.  I'm currently looking for a flatter farm but not finding much of that in this region.  Worse in hilly KY and northern east TN.

All of these lots have a lot of downed trees to remove and not much left of marketable timber to use for building, mostly young spindly trees competing for sunlight.  And most of the downed trees won't even make good firewood.  With that much moss, they are bound to be punky to half-rotted, probably will break apart when you try to drag them down the hills.  Best use of them is probably hugelkultur, but not without terracing the hillsides like Sepp Holzer in Austria.  Lots of large boulders to deal with too.  Not only on the surface but under it as well.

There are plenty of reasons that these lots are inexpensive.  Their owners couldn't do anything with them so carved them out of their bottomland farms to sell to some other sucker to recoup part of their investment.

I do wish you luck finding a workable piece of land.  Took me a year to find this run-down old horse farm, and everything I've looked at since makes me grateful for having it.  Prices have really jumped up in the past year and a half even for the so-called bargains.  So don't rush it.  Now and then someone will get desperate to sell, like this seller had, and drop the price right into your range.
4 months ago

I appreciate your sentiment and understand you're just trying to warn me of how bad it can go. My wife and I have been through very hard times, we got this. <3

I sat on this message all day before I sent it because I was afraid I sound like an A-hole. Sorry if I do.



No, Jae, you don't sound like an A-hole, but you do sound very defensive.  We have pretty much the same skill set and apparently have done the same research into eco-communities, etc.  I've visited several but didn't find one I'd want to live in, so decided to start my own.  I've learned from this fiasco that compatibility is crucial.  So is communication.  Hopefully you are better equipped to deal with all sorts of people than I am.  I doubt I'll try this experiment again because I'm too old and set in my ways.  I'd rather do it alone or hire an occasional worker than build a community.  Maybe when I get out of this mess and get my earth bermed passive solar house built, I'll try hosting WWOOFers or mentor an apprentice or two, but won't take on any more long term commitments.  Good luck with your start-up community.  I wish you well.
7 months ago
Unless you have family in Vermont or other reasons for moving there, I'd suggest you rethink that.  I'm from Maine and I love Vermont and New Hampshire for hiking in the mountains, skiing, and water sports, but farming, not so much.  Growing season is too short and winter too cold and long.  Two years ago I set out to do what you plan to do.  Buy a large enough piece of land somewhere in a temperate climate with a longer growing season and much less snow to shovel or plow.  I searched all over western Virginia, TN, KY, and NC and ended up buying 30 south-facing acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains of SW Virginia.

But before I bought, I spent two years seeking like-minded people who had enough money to buy a couple of acres and some usable skills.  Most were just wannabes who thought they could get a free place to live and had no conception of the amount of physical work required. The first family I selected had gotten themselves out of debt and saved up enough for a couple of acres.  He talked a great talk about living off-grid with solar power, gravity-fed rain water catchment system, gray water system, and composting toilet, etc.  Though not really interested in living off-grid myself, I was eager to support his ideas.  He seemed eager to build infrastructure and start gardens and other stuff I was interested in.  Once we agreed to join forces, he set aside the portion of his savings to acquire the farm and still had enough to build his "tiny home."

It looked like it would be a symbiotic relationship.  What I didn't take into consideration or do an analysis of was his family.  I knew that he was high-functioning Autistic and thought I could work within his limitations.  His wife had some experience with gardening and wanted to learn ways to preserve and store food.  But it turned out that she was addicted to Rx pain killers, was being treated for multiple ailments, and was literally unable to function most days.  Their two children were learning disabled and the younger one had multiple physical disabilities.  I think I felt sorry for them and thought they would all benefit by moving out of the Boston area to a more healthy environment with real food instead of the Franken-foods they'd lived on all their lives.

With my savings and theirs, we had just enough to close on the property.  I bought the farm in mid-Nov 2019 and moved there in early Dec.  I spent the winter rehabbing the mobile home on the property, cleaning up trash, repairing the barn and other chores, and they joined me in May 2020.  The idea was the trailer would provide temporary shelter for all of us until we could build our own homes and would then be available for the next family until they built and so on until the community filled up and then the trailer would be used as our community center and housing for WWOOFers or visitors or something.

The day they moved in, all renovations on the trailer stopped.  I'd left the walls and cabinets unpainted so they could pick colors and do some of the painting.  It was so crowded with their stuff and my stuff that there was no room to work, barely enough to walk from front door to back.  They had the master bedroom and 3rd bedroom, all of the living room but a space for my recliner which they took over.  We shared the eat-in kitchen and the one bathroom I had rehabbed.  I moved my tools and other stuff I could do without up to the barn, and gradually over the next few months, they went through all their boxes and moved enough up to the barn to create a little space.

But living together was an exercise in frustration.  I'm neat; they're slobs.  I love peace and quiet; they are all loud and anything but peaceful.  I have an abundance mentality; they have a poverty/scarcity mentality.  I eat a lot of fresh or frozen veggies; they eat a lot of fried meat and junk food.  I had to build a doghouse for my dog and relegate him to outside-only because the girl is allergic to everything.  I eat at the dining table; they take off to their bedrooms with dishes full of food.  I wash dishes after every meal, dry them, and put them away; they toss their dirty dishes in the sink or leave them all over the house, porches, or elsewhere.  I take responsibility for my animals; they think the livestock can take care of themselves.   Over a period of 9 months I became so angry, resentful, and frustrated, that I had to take off for a week to regain my perspective on life.

There's a lot more to this story, but I'd already come to the conclusion that either they or I had to go.  I didn't have the cash to buy them out, and they didn't have the cash to buy me out, so I decided to sell the farm, pay them off, and go find something smaller for myself and forget about the permaculture community idea.  I soon found a buyer for the farm who was willing to pay my asking price.  But, I couldn't find anything comparable to replace it.  Even 10 acres with no barn and a fixer-upper house or trailer was asking more than I was for 30 acres, barn, and nearly fully rehabbed trailer.  After a couple months of looking, I called my buyer and told her I was taking the farm off the market.  I'd have to find another way to buy them out.  I'm staying right where I am.

This may sound like a rant, but what I'm saying is, IF you decide to build a community, make sure you vet your candidates completely and don't share your living accommodations with strangers.  You just never know what they are really like until it's too late to do anything about it.  People sometimes aren't truthful about themselves.
7 months ago