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johnivanko
#1 Posted : Wednesday, September 28, 2005 5:28:08 PM
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Careful selection of the site where we took up homesteading went a long way in making the start-up both sustainable and practical. Like many homesteaders, we’ve resettled to a place where a thriving local economy exists, balanced with sweeping countryside vistas of family farms and authentic small town life nearby with cheese factories, a brewery (the second oldest in the USA), and the Historic Monroe Square. Based outside Monroe in southwestern Wisconsin and close enough to urban centers (Madison to the north and Chicago to the southeast), we can savor the starry night sky but be near enough to our B&B guests for them to share the view with us. Wisconsin, in general, is a pretty progressive state when it comes to organic farming, renewable energy and conservation of natural places. It’s no coincidence that Aldo Leopold’s shack is just a couple hours north of our farm.

We’re fortunate with the site of our farm, since it offers us the opportunity to power the homestead with 100-percent renewable energy – from the wind and the sun. Our growing fields are quite fertile and neighbors and friends in the area generous in their help as we learned our way around the gardens and with renewable energy. Given the abundance we’re blessed with, we couldn’t think of another place we’d rather plant our roots.
rbailey
#2 Posted : Thursday, September 29, 2005 1:48:12 PM
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Maine has a very strong community of small sustainable farms in all shapes and sizes. The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association is very active in state and federal politics and actions. The growing season is only 4-5 months long. Diversity is key to success here. I would never leave Maine. I am addicted to the cycle of four seasons. I need my down time in winter. I need the shift from seasonal activity to the next one. I love the long days of summer and welcome sweaters knitting and ice hockey in winter.
aschafer
#3 Posted : Thursday, September 29, 2005 4:39:08 PM
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We HAVE recommended this area and have a new friend that has just moved in a few miles away. He came from Oregon. Northern Missouri is a bargain for grass farms. The land prices are much lower than the coasts and yet the soil is equally or more productive. There are plenty of support groups and very friendly folks moving into Missouri from all over the country.

I could be happy living in many parts of the country but I''m very happy here.

svlaun
#4 Posted : Friday, September 30, 2005 3:15:20 PM
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I echo rbaily''s commitment to Maine. MOFGA is a great organization and homesteading has a long and venerable tradition here. Until recently land away from the coast has been very affordable and still is by national standards. Even though the growing season is short, we''ve found that through careful variety selection and use of unheated greenhouses, coldframes and row cover, we can eat fresh greens from April through December without a lot of effort, probably longer if we really applied ourselves. As an avid XC skier I love the snow covered winter here. The arts flourish nearby and Boston and NYC are a couple of hours and half a day respectivly by train when a big culture fix is in order. Having visited a lot of small farms around the country in my work, I guess ending up in Maine was a very concious choice and one we would recommend to other homesteaders.
Bryan
#5 Posted : Friday, September 30, 2005 11:07:19 PM
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We''ve lived in 9 states, so we''ve looked at this puzzle from a number of different angles. I think a homesteader should first of all pick a place that''s appealing, but I''ve witnessed the disillusionment that occurs when a family that planned to raise vegetables as a cash crop discovers they''ve chosen a mountain town with an 80-day growing season. Obviously, the homesteaders should pick a place they like. But they also need to make sure that their crops and/or animals are compatible with the local environment.

Also, if self-reliance is the goal, high land prices are more or less incompatible with the dream unless money is not an issue.
hussery
#6 Posted : Saturday, October 01, 2005 7:03:32 PM
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I''m in northern Virginia, within sight of the Blue Ridge to the west. Nice country--rolling hills, lot of pasture land. Horses, beef cattle, some sheep--not much row-cropping here. Weather is not bad, rather hot in the summer, can be messy (as opposed to just cold) in the winter. Summer sometimes droughty, but we usually do okay with our garden and our pastured birds.

Yes, nice country. But the pressure of development is relentless. Our county government is doing its best to slow growth, has introduced stringent zoning to require 10 acres to put up a house, etc. Doesn''t matter--people with plenty to spend just buy 10 to 50 acres (and in this county, that requires major bucks) and put up the McMansions. I don''t mind new people coming in, but do resent the fact that they don''t move here for a country life. They come for the peaceful setting and expansive views, but bring their suburban mindset with them. Seems to me good usage would mean contracting with local farmers to run sheep on their land, or take hay off it--instead they turn it into 50-acre lawns! And sooner or later, they start complaining about the keeping of livestock, which clashes with their ideals of "country" living, and the established residents have to fight attempts to impose restrictive zoning laws.

Come the Big Crunch, most of those people are going to need a lot of hand-holding before they''ll even be able to grow a row of potatoes.

My notion of homesteading is not simply about standing tall on my own piece of dirt, but about community, about reaching out to others with similar values and goals for mutual support. That is why it''s disappointing there is so little interest locally in homesteading, even among those who grew up on farms around here--they are willing to trade away that birthright for the mess of pottage on offer in our culture: cheap and convenient foods, 360 degree entertainment, the disdain for physical effort as degrading. The local paper did a piece on us earlier this year. We were excited, saw the piece as a way of encouraging other county residents to try "modern homesteading." We were disappointed that instead it was pretty much, "Check out these two old farts and their quaint way of life!" But we are reaching out to anyone with an aspiration to a more self-sufficient life, especially among younger people. We do all we can to inspire them, to help them climb the learning curves, offering our place as a model.

Sometimes I think we should have chosen a different area to homestead. We''ve toyed with the idea of making a move. But realistically, I think it''s probably too late. Too late because of our age--at early-60''s it seems like an enormous effort--and because the coming economic crunch is probably too close, and making a major transition when it hits could be a disaster.
jstuart
#7 Posted : Thursday, October 06, 2005 3:29:58 AM
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The Northern Rockies area is one of the fastest growing areas in terms of population increase. Property values are going up, and land that was in forest or agriculture use is being rapidly subdivided for rural acreages. I''m guessing it would be difficult to find a 10-20 acre parcel for less than $2000 an acre, and probably twice that. The size of monthly land and house payments can be a big factor in how difficult it is to make ends meet on minimum income. All other things being equal, are there parts of the country where you can still buy land relatively cheaply?

Carol
gdevault
#8 Posted : Thursday, October 20, 2005 1:17:08 AM
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Southeastern Pennsylvania -- the Lehigh Valley, specifically -- is definitely NOT the place to consider homsteading today, unless you''re rich.

So many people are moving here from New Jersey, New York and the Philadelphia area to escape astronomical housing prices and taxes that the valley sets a new record every few months for the price of both new and used homes. County, school and other taxes are soaring along with land values. Within the next two years, about 300 homeowners in our immediate area (including us) will be faced with having to pay up to about $35,000 each to connect to a new sanitary sewer.

No, this isn''t a good place to homestead anymore. If we had to do it again, we would have to look for a small farm at least 15 to 20 miles to the west or north. We might even move back to Ohio or try Maine, as we''d talked about many years ago.
Christian
#9 Posted : Tuesday, March 21, 2006 10:37:49 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by rbailey

Maine has a very strong community of small sustainable farms in all shapes and sizes. The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association is very active in state and federal politics and actions. The growing season is only 4-5 months long. Diversity is key to success here. I would never leave Maine. I am addicted to the cycle of four seasons. I need my down time in winter. I need the shift from seasonal activity to the next one. I love the long days of summer and welcome sweaters knitting and ice hockey in winter.

CRAZY1
#10 Posted : Saturday, March 25, 2006 1:41:20 AM
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cmack, I don''t belive there is much land left at an affordable price. Mega farms/daires have got the most of it, the rest is developers trying to make a million. As to homesteading, I live in SW MI, love the seasons, our growing season is about 6 1/2 mos. Thats from potaoes on Good Friday till a good frost on the brussels.
Terri
#11 Posted : Monday, March 27, 2006 1:13:26 PM
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In Kansas and Missouri, land is high near the cities but reasonable away from them.

In other words, if you are close to a good source of jobs land is expensive!

Other than that, it is a pretty good place to be. Most of the land can be worked, smallish parcels are usually available, rainfall is good except for late summer, and living costs are moderate. Grpwong season is 6-7 months, and we are in zone 5 over most of the area.
ListerD
#12 Posted : Monday, March 27, 2006 1:50:20 PM
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Posts: 134,494
quote:
I don''t mind new people coming in, but do resent the fact that they don''t move here for a country life. They come for the peaceful setting and expansive views, but bring their suburban mindset with them. Seems to me good usage would mean contracting with local farmers to run sheep on their land, or take hay off it--instead they turn it into 50-acre lawns! And sooner or later, they start complaining about the keeping of livestock, which clashes with their ideals of "country" living, and the established residents have to fight attempts to impose restrictive zoning laws.


VERY WELL SAID!
Last Wolf Standing
#13 Posted : Wednesday, March 29, 2006 3:55:52 AM
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Posts: 134,494
quote:
Originally posted by mphelps

Would you recommend the area of the country where you live for homesteading? If you had to do it again, would you choose another location?


In ansewer to your original question, I might suggest Google Earth and its views. Not only that you can toggle the crime statistics and it will show crime rates for larceny to rape. These are the facts I
consider important.
Keep It Simple but do your homework.
That is what I am accomplishing as I write.
Last Wolf Standing
chad
#14 Posted : Wednesday, March 29, 2006 4:42:08 PM
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Posts: 134,494
quote:
Originally posted by rbailey

Maine has a very strong community of small sustainable farms in all shapes and sizes. The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association is very active in state and federal politics and actions. The growing season is only 4-5 months long. Diversity is key to success here. I would never leave Maine. I am addicted to the cycle of four seasons. I need my down time in winter. I need the shift from seasonal activity to the next one. I love the long days of summer and welcome sweaters knitting and ice hockey in winter.



Hey, rbailey, where are you? My wife Susanna and I are in Woolwich, but moving at the end of May to Monticello to start our homestead. I''m going to be depending heavily on this forum in the months to come (after, that is, we get the electric in)!
Emily Lah
#15 Posted : Tuesday, April 11, 2006 5:05:21 PM
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Posts: 134,494
Does anyone know about the central PA area? My husband as a job offer in Lewisburg and we are thinking about taking it since it would financially help us reach our goal, but we don''t know much about the area and community. We grew up in rural northwest Indiana (farm girl) then moved to Austin TX for the jobs after college. Four years later we are doing everything we can to leave the city and move back to the county. Growing up I never thought that I would miss the farm, but I was wrong.
Thanks!
davisonh
#16 Posted : Wednesday, May 17, 2006 2:25:22 AM
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Posts: 134,494
Hi Chad,I live in NH now but we used to have 2 acres on Westport Island near Wiscasset in Maine a few years ago...getting pretty pricey there now...
Dar
#17 Posted : Wednesday, May 17, 2006 6:42:38 PM
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Posts: 134,494
This is awesome!

I just sent email to rbailey and now I discover several folks from Maine! You''ve made my day!!! :)

For at least 20 years my husband and I have been looking and trying to get things put together to finally move out of suburbia and back to the country (I''m originally from a very small village in western NY)... We''ve looked from one end of the country to the other (and about everything in between) but keep coming back to Maine. Specifically, the mid-coast region (though not directly on the coast but not too far inland either).

The reason for this is that we also are very much into various crafts and will be subsidizing our income via lost wax (custom) jewelry, stained glass, leatherwork, possibly some clay, etc.

However, it''s extremely important to us to find an area where the people are somewhat of like mind when it comes to environmental issues, proper use of resources - eco-friendly lifestyle, organic gardening, etc

The hardest part thus far (besides finding the exact location), is trying to determine the quality of the area... former land use, current political and social tendencies (e.g. attitudes towards allowing polluting enterprises to move in for "the sake of the economy", growth indicators, etc)...

So... that brings me to... Any suggestions?!

Although we''re still debating whether to buy an existing homestead or building from scratch, I suspect, for us, our best bet will be to buy an existing place with a small, but ''livable'' space so we have someplace to land and then custom build to suit our needs since we''ll be moving almost from one side of the country to the other.

I''ll be more than happy to supply specific information and will welcome any and all input from any/all of our hopefully soon-to-be fellow Mainer''s out there! :)
cujobuster
#18 Posted : Thursday, June 08, 2006 11:24:19 PM
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DAR - where are you from in Western NY? I lived in a small town called adams..for 10 yrs, also Henderson..on Lake Ontario...My Husband is talking about moving back to Maine...all I can think of is "it''s cold up thar!" We now live in Florida...hate the summers, the crowds, the traffic..I''m born and raised in FL and wouldn''t give you 2 cents for it anymore...wonder if land up in Maine is still less expensive - he has a sister that lives in Waldeboro, and he is convinced that he can still find Maine land/farms cheaply - he is a retired old farmer, mechanic, mr fixit..I am in health care..
Dar
#19 Posted : Saturday, June 10, 2006 3:35:31 PM
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Cujobuster,

I''m originally from "Nile/Friendship", NY... about 70 miles SE of Buffalo... Moved to Phoenix, AZ in ''62 (when I was 6 years old) and have been trying to get out ever since I was old enough to know better. ;)

Compared to FL, AZ, CA, CO, OR, NM etc I think you can still find some reasonably priced places in ME, especially in the less populated areas but the longer you wait, the more it''s going to cost.

A friend of mine moved there in the early 70''s and called me about a place she said would be "perfect" for us... my husband responded much the way you have (his exactly quite was "Hey, remember me?! ...The Italian you married??? No way can am I going to freeze my b*lls off in Maine!") Several years later his best friend moved there and we visited... My friends showed us the place they had called me about... it was up for sale again but this time instead of being 28K it was now close to /12 mil! Jer turned to me and said, "Great, so why''d you have to pick *that* time to be the only time you''ve ever listened to me?!" LOL

Obviously, that was a prime piece of real estate but since I''m not interested in developing nor living QUITE as close to the ocean, missing out on that one doesn''t bother me. ;)

For the past 20+ years (ever since I first got him back there) we''ve made several trips and have set our sites set on the mid-coast region (give or take 25-30 miles) and, truthfully, I think your husband''s right about Waldeboro... It''s a very nice area and, again by FL standards, not extreme in pricing.

Obviously, like everyplace else, it''s costing more and more every day and there *is* the cold/four seasons that neither you nor I get at the present time... But I personally do a lot better in that climate and am looking forward to *finally* finding our patch of land, moving out of suburbia and settling in before I''m too old to fully appreciate it. ;)


Good luck,

Dar

PS. I''m not sure of the medical facilities in/around Waldeboro, but as I''m sure you know, just about anyone in the medical profession is in big demand just about everyplace and quality "mr fixits" these days is probably equal to that or a very close second.)



quote:
Originally posted by cujobuster

DAR - where are you from in Western NY? I lived in a small town called adams..for 10 yrs, also Henderson..on Lake Ontario...My Husband is talking about moving back to Maine...all I can think of is "it''s cold up thar!" We now live in Florida...hate the summers, the crowds, the traffic..I''m born and raised in FL and wouldn''t give you 2 cents for it anymore...wonder if land up in Maine is still less expensive - he has a sister that lives in Waldeboro, and he is convinced that he can still find Maine land/farms cheaply - he is a retired old farmer, mechanic, mr fixit..I am in health care..

cujobuster
#20 Posted : Thursday, June 15, 2006 5:36:52 AM
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Posts: 134,494
DAR...hi, Adams is about 45-50 miles north of Syracuse..closer to Watertown...AKA...the snow capital of the world! Watertown being about 30 or so miles from the Canadian (Ontario) border..Any place has to be better than Florida now...I''m just hoping I can sucessfully sell my house, at my actually very reasonable price, with the homeowners insurance costs being as they are now..(due to sinkholes and hurricanes) The Mister is going to fly up to Maine in the next month or so...then I will find out what his plans for us are...I no longer have any ties in FL., so am ready for a new adventure...at least I had foresight to keep the majority of my winter clothes/coats etc., from my stay in NY...we shall see what he finds, my requrements are simple...give me land, some kind of house to start with, and not very close neighbors...I was in Waldeboro, when mum passed on, but not for long enough to really check out the town...as I remember it was small, seemed quite cozy, but I don''t remember any medical facilities..but it was such a short visit, I could have missed everything..I definately do remember the countryside, and it was beautiful, even in March...a tad on the cold side - but invigorating! Miles and Miles of countryside, so different from the city - sigh....cujo
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