Pollinator meadow at the Lockeford Plant Materials Center, Lockeford, California
Here are a few of the reasons Rob and I have decided to move to the country, in no particular order.
We want to own and control our time.
We’re moving back to New Brunswick specifically because there it is possible for us to buy a house and property with our existing savings and live mortgage-free. That will reduce our expenses to the point where we can realistically live off income we earn as self-employed artsy types. After decades of desk-work this is, for us, a significantly better way to live.
We want to grow as much of our own food as possible.
We haven’t set an actual goal in terms of what percentage we want to grow, or when we want to get to that percentage, but it’s something we’ll start relatively small and expand over the years. Our hope is to get some raised beds and a greenhouse constructed before winter so we’ll be able to get started growing vegetables in the spring, as well as planting fruit trees, rhubarb, asparagus, and berry canes.
If all goes well, we’ll also start raising chickens for eggs in 2017, and bees for honey in 2018. Beyond that we’re not sure — goats have been discussed, as have meat chickens, but we’ll see how things go over the first few years. If we’re super lucky, we’ll find property that has existing sugar maple trees and we can nerd out and be even more ridiculously Canadian. With the snowshoes and a sugar shack.
What we don’t make ourselves we’ll try to get from local producers, of which New Brunswick has many. We already know where we can get local grains and flour, maple syrup, cheese & other dairy, meat, poultry, beer & cider, and seafood among other things.
We want to lessen our overall negative impact on the planet.
This will take a bunch of different forms: being more energy efficient, building solar/wind generation systems, reducing how much garbage we output, composting our own food and yard waste, using more green/eco-friendly products or methods, etc. Again, this is something that we’ll expand over time as we settle in, get some infrastructure set up and build new habits.
We want to explore a bunch of new hobbies…
…and many of them require a bunch of space. We are both interested in various forms of woodworking, so we’re hoping to put together a wood shop. I want to learn how to dye my own quilting fabric, which is a messy sort of thing to do. Rob wants to build a whole bunch of automated systems for the farm, as well as set up solar and wind power-generation systems. I want to expand my canning and pickling skills, which requires a bigger kitchen. We both want to actively work on our photography and other visual arts. We both want to expand our cooking skills (there are definite plans for an outdoor wood-fired oven sometime in year 1 or 2). Etc, etc. Space and time are required for all of these.
We want to leave a little chunk of the planet better than we found it.
Depending on what sort of land we end up getting, this can take a few forms:
- Build and improve the soil we use for growing food.
- Create a large (ideally multi-acre) meadow for pollinators, including native and honey bees, butterflies, and birds.
- Build safe and clean habitats for bats, who are currently under threat from white nose disease.
- Build safe and clean habitats for birds, particularly migratory birds and birds under threat.
- Build a bunch of bee hotels, because bees are awesome.
- Turn a chunk of random woods into a well-managed woodlot & permaculture food forest (if we manage to find land with woods on it).
- And so forth…
Is any of this even remotely realistic?
We think so. We’ve been thinking about doing this for years, reading and learning and planning and thinking and reading and learning and …it’s just time. We are both pretty smart and resourceful people, and while we know it’s going to be way harder than we think, we are also pretty sure we can pull it off. So we’re going to give it a shot, and we’re going to blog & podcast about it all the while.
Want to help?
If you think this is all pretty cool and you would like to help, the best thing you can do is buy Rob’s book or some of my art, or tell some of your friends to check ’em out. We’re pretty reliant on word-of-mouth, so anything helps! <3