Saturday, October 9, 2010

Personal Note

Yesterday, we entered into a sales contract on a pretty old farmhouse with a barn, a pond, and ten acres or so of mostly pasture.  It's a gorgeous piece of land right next to a lovely unspoiled creek that the beavers have turned into a wetland, and with state forest and land-trust land on either side.  We weren't really planning to buy until the spring, but I biked past the For Sale sign on my Sunday bike ride a couple of weeks ago, we fell in love with the land, and the FHA is willing to make the thing happen (at least so our bank tells us).  Yes we can.

The five year plan is to build our straw-bale super-insulated home next to the existing buildings, retrofit the farmhouse to a higher building performance standard, heat both with geothermal sourced out of the pond, install PVs on the barn roof (or wind if we have enough, but I doubt it), replace our cars with electrics, and get to overall fossil-fuel-free carbon negativity for our extended family.

The long term plan is to have our kids grow up with dogs, goats, mountain bikes and cross country skis, and fishing in the pond, and to help shepherd this particular very beautiful piece of a very beautiful planet through all the changes that are coming.  So far, my telecommuting arrangement is working great and I am convinced I can make it work long term.  So I propose to stay on this land until I can't ride my bike any more and they wheel me off to the nursing home.

The short term will involve a few compromises including an existing coal stove, a riding mower for the extensive lawn, longer drives to school, etc.  But you have to have a short term to get to the long term.

As a weak agnostic, I request those of my readers who are religious to pray that nothing comes unglued during the sales process, just in case it helps!

10 comments:

JCamasto said...

Perhaps your first electric "vehicle" can be a battery electric riding mower. Pricey, but many models can be found.

Then, wood stove...

-Jim

risa said...

Very best Wishes.

JD Walters said...

Congrats on the move. Was it precipitated by the attraction of the lifestyle or by the creeping conviction that the 'doomers' may be right about the worst consequences of peak oil?

Stuart Staniford said...

JD: 50% attraction of the lifestyle, 40% desire to do something about our personal carbon emissions and having the sense that it will be a little easier to take the kind of individual actions we want in a rural setting. I guess the other 10% might be that there's some little sense of comfort that if society ever does come to a grinding halt, we'd have a head start on coping. But I see that kind of risk of abrupt change coming more from cyberwar attacks than peak oil. As I've articulated many times, I expect peak oil to lead to high oil prices and recessions, but fundamentally we have so much fat we can cut that I don't anticipate it leading to abrupt changes.

Stuart Staniford said...

I should have said "abrupt collapse" not "abrupt changes".

Hal said...

Hey, Stuart, I somehow can't see you living without a lawn... HaHa, just a little joke from N St days.

Seriously, there's a lot worse things than a riding mower. They really don't use much fuel for all of the work they do, and if you can come up with a good bagger or raking system, you will have lots of green material for the heap. I know I'm talking to someone who's walked the walk on studying compost, so this is nothing new. But check out Elliot Coleman's ideas for growing your own compostable material in The New Organic Grower. (I'm sure there's a way to put titles in italic, but IDK.)

Just make sure you buy a good mower, no Craftsman, Yard Machine, etc. junk. Go with a John Deere, Cub Cadett, or, if you're really hard core, Gravely. You can find good used ones on Craigslist all week. Keep it properly maintained and learn basic mechanics of small engines. Really, just keeping the carburetor unstuck and the filters clean is half the battle.

I know someone as skilled as you with hands-on crafts should have no trouble.

When you get ready for a real tractor, just one piece of advice: don't ever, ever buy an antique. Seriously, voice of experience here... Mr. Haney lives.

Alexander Ac said...

Hi Stuart,

OT but might be of interest. Following your discussion on "PEAK NPP", here are interesting results which (paradoxically) shows also "PEAK ET" (evapotranspiration).

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19565-water-cycle-goes-bust-as-the-world-gets-warmer.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=climate-change

In spite of warming climate, ET is declining (since 1998), which is in line with increasing drought. There is demand, but no supply Interesting!

Stuart Staniford said...

Hi Hal - wow, blast from the past - good to hear from you. Thanks for the words of sage advice.

Hal said...

Thanks, Stuart. I've been following some of your stuff for a few years, now, I always always appreciate the good, rigorous thought. I remember trying to bring peak oil into the N St consciousness back in the late 90s and getting the cricket chorus response. Maybe would have been better to start with something besides dieoff.org, but that's about all that was around back then.

I also realized I neglected to congratulate you on the upcoming purchase. Sounds great, though probably too cold for my bones. Can't say I'm that tuned in to the prayer thing, but I do attend pretty regularly these days (it's a Southern thang) so I'll send a few thoughts your way next Sun. when we get to Prayers of the People.

Now I gotta get back to working on a shooting house for the new food plot. We're already a week into deer season...

Greg T. Jeffers said...

Hi Stuart:

We bought a similar property some 5 years ago... Perhaps I can save you some of my errors...