So we left Millsap Farms in mid-March. We visited with Jack’s parents for almost two weeks. That was actually really nice. It was like a vacation. Then we started our trip back to Missouri. Really the drive between Indiana and Missouri is pretty easy. So we arrived at Red Earth on April 1st. Funny, isn’t it? We had heard that the best camping time was from April to October, so we were going to take advantage of it. And me being the slightly neurotic planner that I am well it seemed nice to start on the first day of the month. Yes, I am crazy. The first day we were there was really nice, for it being April 1st. It was sunny, relatively warm and well windy. Which made putting up the tent interesting. Very interesting. Here I have some pictures of that. Blogger sucks. I am uploading pics to flickr, hopefully that works. We got this awesome army tent from some guy in Springfield, he actually sells them on ebay and we had driven by his place many times while we were down there. One day I convinced Jack to ask him if he sold all the tents that were in his front yard. Turns out he does. So we bought ourselves a 20×24 tent for about as much money as we would have spent for a 108 sq ft yome. That is dome yurt for those who don’t know. After living in a rv, we felt that space would be nice. I am really glad for that tent also, it served us well. It was extremely noisy while it was windy or rainy, but it never leaked and it never blew away. There were many times that I thought it might. Believe me being in a tent like that in a severe thunderstorm is enough to give you an ulcer. We definitely had enough room also. Okay maybe it wasn’t much fun being right next to our children’s bed, but we lived. April was fun. The second night sleeping in the tent we woke up to snow. In the tent. Yes, it was snowing in the tent. The inside of the tent had frosted and as the sun hit the tent in the morning it started to melt. That resulted in snow, inside of the tent. It was a very interesting experience. In case you didn’t figure this out, it was really cold the first month, maybe a little more than that. We had a small box stove. It didn’t really warm the tent as much as Jack says it did, it didn’t. You could however stand right next to the stove and put your feet covered in wool socks on it. Right next to the stove the temperature raised about 5 degrees. When it is 40 outside, it doesn’t actually help much. We spent a lot of time in our sleeping bags. That meant going to sleep as soon as it started to get dark and even after waking up we would stay in the sleeping bags until either Jack or I could handle getting out of bed and putting some wood in the stove. It was an adventure. We didn’t have running water, we had to catch water off of our tent. That took some setting up. We did have solar panels, but that was just to charge our laptops and our phones. By the way, our phones didn’t really work in the tent, or around the tent. We were lucky in that our neighbor, Penn had wireless internet and we could get online sometimes. That was really nice. Oh but back to electricity. We didn’t have lights. We used oil lanterns. I am trying to think of all the things that people wouldn’t really think about. For the first few months we didn’t even have a sink. Or anything to cook on. We had a turkey fryer. I love one of Jack’s quotes, “Have you ever tried to make pancakes with a flame thrower?” That is what it was like. We had a couple of pots, I really do mean two, and a cast iron skillet. So we would like wake up, make some oatmeal fill up the pot with some water, like a very little bit(the first two months we had very little water available and used just as much as was needed, no more)heated it up and washed our dishes in the pot. Lunch and dinner were very much the same. Thing is, you heard when I said it was a flame thrower, sorry, turkey fryer, right? Well, most of the time our food was burned. It took a lot to make good food on that thing. Our wood stove just never got hot enough. Sometimes we could get food hot and then put it on there to stay hot for awhile, but the wood stove wasn’t even hot enough to make pancakes. Seriously. Oh and refrigeration. We didn’t have it. Which really wasn’t bad while it was cold. We had a 7 day cooler, which really is big and we filled it with ice. So for the most part we could have slightly cool things. Meat if it was only in there for a day. But we knew that it was going to be like that. While we were still at Millsap farm, we canned a lot of food. We lived on that for good while. Of course you do start to get sick of canned food. Just so you know. I remember when we got to eat our first fresh produce. We got radishes. Oh they were so good. Even though we had never eaten radish greens before we gobbled them up. We tried to sprout some greens, but with our lack of water and with how cold it was, we had no luck. So, that is dish washing, lights, heat, refrigeration, stove, amble water, and now I am remembering, clothes washing. Yep. I admit that the first month we ended up at the laundromat a couple of times. We didn’t have approval yet to put up a clothesline. And it rained a lot. Five people equals a lot of laundry. For the most part though, we wash our clothes in a tub, with a wash board and a rapid washer, wring them out and hang them to dry. Washing clothes when it is cold isn’t really fun. Washing clothes in the very early morning during the heat of summer is actually kinda nice. There is something really therapeutic about scrubbing spots out of clothes. With three crazy girls and a dirty dirty husband there are a lot of spots to wash out. Oh bathing!!! How could I forget bathing? Obviously we did not have a full bathroom in our tent. I will get to the toilet part later. How the hell did we wash ourselves? Well, sometimes we just jumped in the pond. I can tell you that the pond is very cold in April. Very cold. It makes you think that maybe you just don’t stink that much. We also had a slightly interesting pond. We didn’t know this until we stepped into it the first time, but it was only about three feet deep. Yep, it is one of the oldest ponds on the land and has filled in considerably. Let me tell you, it is really hard to wash yourself in three feet of water. Sometimes we would get some pond water, rain water was way too precious to use for washing, heat it up and wash in that. Other times we would get a little wet, soap up and cringe while someone threw a bucket of water on us to rinse off. It was cold. Now unto other bathroom facilities. It is kinda nice that at Red Earth it is socially acceptable for both sexes to pee outside. I have to admit that it is harder for women to pee outside, but still. Pooping however. Jack nicely made us a composting toilet while we were visiting his parents. To those who do not know, this is just a frame like box that goes over a five gallon bucket. You poop in the bucket cover it with saw dust and that is it. Easy, right? When it gets full you designate a spot to dump it on. Sounds awesome, right? It is. No more bathroom issues, clogging toilets or whatnot. There is probably more. Really, life is just very different. Easier, though most would think harder. The work you do has meaning it isn’t just because. I don’t think I could explain the difference really. Maybe it isn’t for everyone, but I can’t say I have ever felt more alive and part of something as when we didn’t have much. I’m going to try and put up a link for at least one set that I have up on flickr now, hopefully this works http://www.flickr.com/photos/87708435@N00/sets/72157628039743585/
So this blog kinda didn’t live very long…
Going to try again. We are as many of you know still adventuring. Though sometimes I wonder if you have the right attitude if you ever stop adventuring. I think I’m okay with that. the past couple of years have really not slowed down and though there are rough spots they just make the sweet spots sweeter.
We are lucky, extremely lucky and I am thankful for that.
So to catch anyone up I can sum up my family and our life in a very short sentence. We are crazy and we love each other.
But if you really want an idea as to what we have been up to since the last postings on this blog…well I will try to sum it up.
We interned at Millsap Farm. Or well Jack interned, I was just there mostly helping where I could. We learned a lot. Mostly though it made us yearn even more for a place of our own. We really felt that there was something out there for us and we were looking for it. Springfield was amazing and we made tons of great friends. Really it seems slightly impossible how great it was. Not to say that there weren’t bad parts but that is the cool thing about time, it kinda erases those spots. We were offered many great opportunities. Some really great opportunities. They were hard to say no to. When we really got down to it though they weren’t really what we were looking for. We tried to be truthful to ourselves and what we wanted. We also found that what I wanted and what Jack wanted are just slightly different. Oh well, we wouldn’t have been together for as long as we have been if we couldn’t compromise. So in our adventure in Springfield we talked and talked, dreamed, and dreamed very big. We met people, we talked to them. There was always this dream that we would end up in a community. The community that we had in Washington was amazing. I loved it. I wanted that again. So yeah, I had seen what our little parenting community was like, we had read about intentional communities but was that what we really wanted?
Hmmm? I’m looking to you for an answer now…waiting…
Anyway, as odd as it seems, there are a asswhack(Jacks fav word) of intentional communities in Missouri. We we looked around at some to visit. Oddly we came around to one that really fit to what we were wanting. But really was this the step we wanted to take?
Well, we wrote them. And we visited. I was scared, really am I ever not scared/freaked out? No not really, just in case you didn’t know. But really. The reason for the slight freak out was, that on paper at least, these were my people. They weren’t just farmers, they were people who were trying to tread lightly on the earth. That is the main goal here. While I had been around people who for some reason or another were doing something I was interested in, these people had the same goal. It makes a difference, at least in my mind. These people chose to live in a very different way. They were living their dreams. It is really inspiring. Not in a way that most people get. I see it a lot now. People look at something and while they are saying, “Oh that is really cool” in their mind they are saying, that person is something special I could never do that. I don’t believe that. Everyone is special and there are very few things people can’t do.
But back to my story. While we were visiting we didn’t actually think that we were serious about this. At that point we really didn’t think that we could do it. Isn’t that funny? So we went with an open mind and no expectations.
We were blown away. It was an amazing experience and one that we had never had before. The openness and acceptance of everyone blew my mind. We had a blast and went back to the real world.
Or as real as you get living in a RV with three kids, a dog and two cats interning on a farm. That is most everyone’s idea of the real world, right?
We couldn’t stop thinking about our experience though. We kept looking at our options(there were a few) and kept comparing them to community life. This actually went on for a month. It hit us then. Did we want to spend our life trying to attain the kind of life that we saw at Red Earth? We drew up lists and compared everything. One of our last lists had two columns and they were; Do farming or Be Farmers. That really put things in a different light. It made our decision pretty easy though.
We contacted Red Earth and asked for residency. It felt like forever while we waited for them to get back to us. They did though and they accepted us. We were thrilled and then started about a six month wait.
It took a lot to prepare. We had to figure out how to live on the land with three kids, a dog and two cats. We needed to come up with water, heat, shelter, a place to cook, a place to poop. There is a lot of things that need to happen.
Since this is already a book and it is crazy for me to sum up a year in one post I am going to take a break now and tell the tale of our Red Earth residency on another post. I am hoping to update this at least weekly now. I will also be working on getting pictures up. We have a good number of them.