Greetings from Mt. Doom! Dawn and I made the transition from city life in PDX and Brooklyn, NY before that to Western New York State. It took a lot of getting used to. The air is much cleaner and I don’t remember the last time I heard a car alarm. Although, I do hear gunshots on par with when I lived in Oakland, but without the sirens and helicopters. In fact, the law has only been up in these parts about six times in the 4 years we’ve been up here.
Things run differently here than in a lot of places. Folks seem to come up here to be left alone, so people don’t really interfere in each others’ business too often and things work themselves out. For the most part everyone is really friendly. Everyone waves when a car drives by and is usually willing to lend a hand, bulldozer or manure when needed. The only problem we seem to have is that we are the only punks for miles around and it strikes some folks a little odd when they see a fella with face tattoos mowing the lawn in a Utilikilt and a Profane Existence shirt. Who would of guessed? That said, things have been nice and peaceful.
We are on six acres of mostly wooded land and have a (roughly) 35’x50’ garden in the front yard. The soil is crappy consisting of mostly clay and rock so it takes extra effort to produce food. We’re learning, though. We’ve got two composts going and are building a much taller fence to keep the deer out.
They seem to like our property, probably because everyone else hunts but us up here. And with the low garden fence we had last year, the deer had quite the buffet available to them. Aside from the garden, there’s a lot of other interesting things growing wild around us: mint, wintergreen, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, lady slipper orchids, burdock, chickory, dandelions, chanterelles and many other useful plants making the landscape not only beautiful, but delicious. The only downside to this area and altitude is that the growing season is rather short so we can’t grow certain things like sweet potatoes. We can, however, grow corn, red and white potatoes, onions, garlic, black beans, soy beans, kale, lettuce, carrots, beets, radishes, Brussels sprouts, chard, cucumbers, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, cabbage, turnips, green beans and many other things.
We have a few fruit trees and plan on adding more this coming year. This time of year we do a lot of dreaming about the garden, completely forgetting how much don’t enjoy the weeding after the second week, since the wind is howling and it’s a snowy 11F outside. Fortunately there’s always something to do out here, whether it’s yard work or working on the house since we don’t live anywhere near a coffee shop or a movie theatre. There’s a gas station about five or so miles from here with a Harley dealership across the street from it, but no real food stores, shops or bars nearby. Our local food co-op is within 20 miles north of us and a city full of prisons 20 miles south.
Unfortunately, there’s not much of a hardcore scene around here. I think we’ve been to 3 shows in the past 4 years and the only good one was ATAKKE. Oddly enough I did see an 8 ft AMEBIX tag under a bridge a few years ago that has since been painted over with a huge happy mural. There’s one good local punk/metal band called LUX CARENTES with ex members of CHAPEL PERILOUS and DISSUCKS. Enough about the (lack of) music scene here.
So, as I write this, we are in negotiations to buy this property, which will bring about a lot of changes since the current owners are not into the little tweaks we want to make such as installing a wood or pellet stove, integrating some solar panels, adding a manual pump for the well and doing some grey water conversions. The power tends to go out pretty easily out here so it would be nice to have some alternatives. We aren’t exactly high up on the power company’s priority list. It’s a work in progress, though. I’ve fantasized about living this way for many years, but never realized how much work it would actually be. I always pictured more of a homebrew/Mad Max type thing without the bills and outside job ruining all of the fun. Haha! There’s almost nothing that could convince me to move back to a loud, smelly, crowded city. I know of some cheap property up here if anyone wants to be neighbors! The only thing that is hard to get used to is all the hunting and large number of veal/dairy farms.
Veganism isn’t very common here, but Farm Sanctuary is only about a 30 minute drive from the house and finding veg nibbles at local eateries and watering holes isn’t too difficult.The only all vegan place that is still open is called Gekas and it’s home style soul food cooked from scratch owned by 7th Day Adventists. The food is really good and the prices are reasonable. So, all in all, we’ve adjusted fairly well to backwoods living. Even though cable and DSL don’t reach us out here, BBQs, clothes drying on the clothesline and cats running wild is a nice way to live. If you want to share any stories or have any questions you can reach me firstname.lastname@example.org or backwoodsvegan.wordpress.com
Remember to slow down once in a while appreciate nature.