As the rural dreams loom closer to actuality, there are practical measures that must be considered. From a personal standpoint, the reality of living a rural existence is a far cry from my dreams. I had a “Gone with the Wind” view of Scarlet O’Hara wiping her brow and saying:
“I’ll never go hungry again!”
Yes, there would be hardship, but I would look beautiful through it. And when the labor was over I could start my own lumber mill.
Preparation is the most important part of the decision-making process.
Disclaimer: Now if anyone has read just how we ended up here, you’ll know it wasn’t exactly as planned. But the truth is that we had our checklist as a constant companion for years. And although I dug through my old papers to find it, I already had the list written without mistake or oversight.
Here’s our checklist on order of importance:
1. Source for Drinking Water
Nicolae grew up in an area that the only good drinking water source was a quarter mile away. He worried that the local drinking water may be unsafe. *Be sure have the well tested*
2. Water Rights
Land is only as good as what it can grow. Without solid water rights, your land may not be valuable as a producing farmstead. Irrigation is required to produce your own fruits, vegetables, and to water the animals.
3. Equal parts Forest and Pasture
Having your own lumber source on the property was important to Nicolae. I like having the mountainside to climb and ride my horses. I didn’t take this item too seriously until we discovered that a wood stove was the only thing that heated our home.
4. Soil Quality
This focuses on quality and type of soil, but also addresses erosion and/or abuse of the land. History has shown us that we can overwork the land. Our farm had been overworked in the back 40 where it was used to support too many animals, and the land was compacted. With time and care, the land quality has vastly increased.
5. South-facing – Sunshine
Another requirement for production of plant and animal is sunshine. South facing land without too much mountain or tree coverage is a must. I think it is extra important during winter months to stave off depression. In mountainous terrain, a house may be without sunshine all winter as the sun sits behind the mountain, low on the horizon.
6. Water on the Property
This is just a quick access to water source for animals and plants if needed. I cannot tell you how often we find that dunking a bucket in the stream is the better alternative than dragging a hose around. Plus it allows our ducks a great place to swim.
We’ve heard too many people talk about theft. It’s as common in rural areas as it is in the city. Our long driveway has helped us considerably. We are also surrounded by BLM land and national forest, which makes us feel more protected.
8. Neighbors and/or Distance from Neighbors
When we lived in Ashland, our neighbors were just too close. They were good neighbors. It’s just that when we built our barn, they were concerned that it would block their view. It’s just the little considerations that could become a big deal.
The good part is that our homestead is wide enough that we do not see a single neighbor. It’s nice and private.
The bad part is that our homestead is wide enough that we do not see a single neighbor. We didn’t even know a neighbor’s house burnt to the ground. (Nor would they see ours if it does.)
Every checklist can be improved. After our time on the homestead it is natural that our checklist would grow longer the next time around. I’ll include those items in part two.
As a means of sharing with our fellow rural-hearts, please share any items that you see missing above. Thanks!