Back to the Land in the Florida Everglades

A new homestead can be confusing, challenging and rewarding deep in the Florida Everglades.


| March/April 1984



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Hospitality and self-reliance in the Everglades.


ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Every time I get a new issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS, I eagerly search out the latest "Report From Them That's Doin' ". Funny how long it takes for things to sink in with me sometimes: You see, I only recently realized that we—my husband Paul and I—are among Them That's Doin' . . . and have been for some 14 years!

Back to the Land

I can't exactly say we did things the right way when we made our move back to the land. For example, we didn't follow the good advice about having "nest egg" money to fall back on in hard times . . . and we weren't particularly prepared in terms of tools or knowhow, either. In fact, our decision to up and leave Miami wasn't based on logic at all. It was made because we were long on overdue bills (mortgage, car, and credit card payments, plus utility and food costs) and short on cash. With no jobs and a total of $336 to our name, we reckoned the time had come for a change.

The only thing we had going for us was a piece of land on which we'd paid religiously, and therefore owned, in preparation for our retirement. It was remote—situated back in the Everglades—but it was ours, and we figured we could resume our lives there.

So we sold most of our household belongings and called the credit companies to come pick up all the items that we hadn't finished paying for. By the time the "purge" was over, we were broke and sorely lacking in personal possessions . . . but we were free. We packed what little was left into our 1961 Ford truck and—looking a bit too much like the Beverly Hillbillies—departed the city.

Three hours (and two breakdowns) later, we lurched to a halt on our new homestead.

A Bad Start

Using a machete to hack a path through our property, alongside a canal we finally found a spot that was clear enough to allow us to set up a tent, build a campfire, and try to get some rest.





dairy goat

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