Comparing Resilient Homesteads in Different Climates

First off…3 notices, then on to the blog post:

Plant sales:  Saturday’s (until the end of spring) from 10am – 2pm at the Eco-Sense Homestead.  Plant list here.

Resilient Food Systems workshop two dates:

Meeting long time FaceBook friends for the FIRST TIME:  We had a wonderful opportunity to spend almost a whole week with a couple we had been internet dating on Facebook for several years.  The couple are farmers from the USA, and for many complex reasons, spent two years in Tasmania.   They arrived here at Eco-Sense on their journey back home to Minnesota where they will take over the family farm.  His parents wanted it to be stewarded wisely and kept out of the hands of Industrial Agriculture.  They had already spent many years working with and falling in love with their land.

30440689_10216008531234107_8722421087402459136_n.jpgOver the years we were often awed by the variety of skills and toughness these two demonstrated on their farm from dealing with holistic animal husbandry, personal injury, and their culture.  Let’s just say it’s a bit different in rural Minnesota than here on the west coast.  A few years back they introduced us to Non-Violent Communication, which likely helped to save our own relationship.  Never did we think we would ever have the opportunity to meet these fine folks.

One of the interesting conversations (among many) that arose was how we all defined “Homesteading”.  Gord was the odd person out while Ann, Stephanie, and Daniel outvoted him.  Gord said that Eco-Sense didn’t qualify as a homestead because life was too easy.  (This is where Ann chimes in and says, “My life is not friggen easy…just saying”).  Does a harsh lifestyle define an intricate part of homesteading, or is it all about building your home, self provisioning your foods, energy and water, all while being proficient and skilled across a broad range of tasks?  Looks like the latter is the case.  (Yes Gord, we do have electricity for lights, fridge, freezer, propane, irrigation pumps, running water and hot showers.  But these last 2 months without much firewood has led to being very cold, and only a hot shower when the sun comes out to heat the water…see post from a few weeks back)


Wilder Family – Ann’s ancestors

I (Ann) have been recently reading the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  Now THEY were homesteaders.  Their life has a lot of similarities to my life…A LOT.  I also happen to have this homesteading thing in my blood as I am a direct descendant of James and Angeline Wilder (Almanzo Wilder’s parents).  My grandmother’s grandmother, Laura Ann Wilder married name Howard, was Almanzo Wilder’s oldest sister.  My dad’s name is Howard.  The book Farmer Boy is all about the Wilder homestead.  Coincidentally, Laura and Almanzo Wilder homesteaded not far from where our friends Daniel and Stephanie live. Link to photo of the Wilders here.


Perennial leeks, (Dug), Josta berries, currants

Back to our story of two climatically different homesteads:  What struck us is that both Eco-Sense and New Story Farm, are trying to acheive the same goals, though here at Eco-Sense, we don’t have flat land, 3 feet of black soil, or rain in the summer to irrigate crops.  However, we have a gentler climate and can grow food year round.  We can also grow lemons and olives and tea.  Their farm is surrounded by industrial mono crop agriculture and a human culture that looks at permaculture with confused expressions as they apply glyphosate to their crops and wonder why our friends are not in church.   Here on the west coast we are lucky to live in a region where we have more in common with the folks surrounding us, and can grow our food all year round making our life easier, but it is so much harder to earn an income from the abundance that comes from three feet of soil.  We have to admit to having some soil envy…but hey…we have rocks and evergreen trees and hills and mountains.


chore time – together

Another interesting discussion was around online identities and the “face” people put forward as part of their online image.  All four of us have sadly learned that many of the permaculture folks that post pretty pictures, or tales of their courses and travels may not measure up in real life.   Very few walk their own talk.  Daniel and Stephanie are as genuine and real as they appeared to be online, in fact more so.  How refreshing.  In fact, they practice Gord’s favorite form of communication… they speak “German” which means they are direct and blunt.   Being asked what they thought of us… well lets just say our feelings were not hurt.

Daniel and Stephanie Zetah visit their crazy ass friends to the north.

A common thread with our new REAL FRIENDS and neighbours slightly to the south, and a couple thousand kilometres to the east of us, is that resiliency looks the same… it looks like building human community and stewarding the land.  No chemicals, poly culture crops, plant and animal systems integrated together, and increasing farm biodiversity.   They, like us, have come from professional backgrounds; theirs being economics and graphic design.  Steph did up a new website for our book, Essential Composting Toilets.  They critique and question the dominant culture and values and compare this to the science around health, climate change, economics, ecology, and over all well being. They  used their critical thinking skills to move away from the single currency of cash, and into a more integrated economic system that includes social, intellectual, cultural, and natural capitals.

So there you go, facebook is good for something…meeting some very interesting wonderful friends.  We hope we meet again…but since we have all vowed not to fly…it will have to be a slow journey.


Ann and Gord



One response to “Comparing Resilient Homesteads in Different Climates

  1. Hi Gord and Ann.
    I really enjoy reading your Eco- sense news and must admit I get a few moments of longing for living back on my little homestead in Mill Bay when I read about all the things you do, even though it is hard work. I feel your commitment to your way of life and commend your perseverance. My time is over as I am “over the hill” (age wise) and know there is a good reason for me making do with condo-living in town, but pleased to still be able to garden on a much smaller scale.
    Greetings from Jytte,
    (Friend of Jan and Nelson Meadows)

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