Need Help with an Idea (if & when you have time & interest)

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Obser, Apr 23, 2006.

  1. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

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    Our “Mobile Homesteader” lifestyle works so successfully for us that we are considering expanding the concept to include other RV people and more homesteaders. It would be of great value to have input from Homesteaders and small farmers to help shape the idea.

    Briefly, what Wonderful Wife and I do is, with RV home in tow, we visit homesteaders and small farmers, “stay a while” and help with projects. It is Win-Win. The homesteader gets help with projects and we have a pleasant place to stay in lieu of RV parks or campgrounds. All of us have an opportunity to develop friendships, have interesting conversations and learn new things.

    We are considering encouraging other full-time RV people to do the same thing. We know many people in that RV “world” who are talented, energetic and personable. Some volunteer to work in the National Forests and National Parks or other places. We have done a lot of such volunteer work, one of us for over twenty-five years; however, we have come to prefer helping individuals instead of organizations or governmental departments. Some of our RV friends like the idea.

    What we envision doing is simply putting RVers and Homesteaders in touch with one another. We assume that they will communicate to learn if they are compatible and if the homesteader’s projects match the skills, abilities and interests of the prospective “helpers”. It is not our intention to “sort out” or “assign”, only to open communication.

    It would help us develop a plan of action if we can learn more about the needs of homesteaders and small farmers, and their thoughts and concerns regarding having “traveling helpers”. With your assistance perhaps we can develop a way to put our RV friends and our Homesteader friends in touch with each other.

    Before you respond:

    We expect that when people first encounter this idea their reaction will be somewhat reserved. As they learn more, it starts to sound better. If we visit and help (and obviously are not “on the take”), people forget any reservations they might have had and become good friends.

    We can honestly say that everywhere we have visited and helped has been hard to leave and our hosts seem to be as sad to say goodbye as we are. We make it a practice to leave before we want to go and while our hosts wish we could stay longer. The amount of time varies with the situation, but two weeks to a month might be about average (sometimes a lot longer when appropriate and desirable for all concerned).

    There are several members of this forum that have been our hosts or have known us at our hosts’ homesteads. If what is said here was distorted they would raise objection.

    Here are a few things you, as homesteaders and small farmers can help us learn.

    1) Are you open to having helpful visitors park on your land? If not, please skip the remaining questions.
    2) What kind of “projects” do you have that could benefit from a helping hand?
    3) How long might be comfortable for you for compatible people to stay?
    4) Is there a particular time of year that would be most appropriate?
    5) Would you feel bad in any way about accepting help?
    6) Can you imagine being comfortable having “working guests” at your place?
    7) What would you NOT want?
    8) What reservations or concerns do you have with the idea?
    9) Could you become at least somewhat comfortable with prospective visitor / helpers through Internet communication?
    10) Do you have other comments or suggestions?

    Who are the “Full-Time RV People”? They are usually retired folks – often “early retired” (and are getting more numerous as Boomers reach the end of their careers). They have optioned to downsize from a “regular” home into a towed or self-propelled “home on wheels”. Most are couples whose children are mature (and may be concerned about Mom and Dad spending their inheritance).

    They are NOT “trailer trash” or "freeloaders" by any stretch of the imagination. Many have had successful careers and have useful skills or expertise in wide-ranging fields. They typically have an adequate income to be comfortable. Some have as much invested in their “home on wheels” as they had in their conventional home.

    Things we have NOT encountered among our RV friends are criminals or aggressive people. An RV is not a particularly suitable “getaway” vehicle. We have never had anything stolen or destroyed in the RV environment (excluding a screwdriver that was borrowed and not returned ten years ago). Most people we encounter are pretty laid back and easy going, perhaps because their life is not overly stressful any longer. They are generally a friendly, happy bunch.

    Why would we (they) want to help someone we hardly know? Many of us have learned that endless leisure is not appealing (in spite of how good it might sound to those who have too little leisure in their present life). Many retirees are accustomed to being busy doing productive things. Quite a few we encounter are in the “give back” phase of life. Life has been good to them and they are returning the favor. Besides, "hardly know" becomes moot when friendships develop.

    Some people, regardless of lifestyle, like to be close to the Earth, to get their hands in the soil, to care for animals, to do something worthwhile, to have some lasting positive effect upon the world, and to do something nice for someone.

    A major consideration for us is to respect the privacy of our hosts and to maintain our own comfort level of privacy. That is one of the advantages of bringing our own home with complete facilities. We typically park a bit away from the main house and do not interfere with people’s lifestyle.


    What might RV people want or expect while they are helping a homesteader? That is probably as varied as what homesteaders want or expect. I will venture some guesses based on our own life, but can’t answer for others with any certainty.

    A) A pleasant place to park the RV in a peaceful environment
    B) Reasonable access (though some of us can get into “impossible” places)
    C) Friendly folks to visit and work with and pleasant interactions
    D) Freedom from rigid schedules or excessive workload (or feeling “used”)
    E) Perhaps a place to plug in a LONG extension cord (see note below)
    F) A faucet to attach a garden hose.
    G) A feeling of balance or win-win so that everyone benefits


    What sort of things might RVers do to help?

    We cannot speak for others, but here are things we do regularly. Others may be more skilled at some things and less at others, or they may be physically limited or boundlessly energetic. For the most part we prefer to use our own tools and carry a variety that surprises most people.

    a) Cut, split and stack firewood (one of our favorite activities)
    b) Fell trees, cut hazard branches
    c) Construct decks, buildings, additions
    d) Build and repair fences
    e) Install or repair electrical and plumbing systems (workman level, not professional or licensed)
    f) Repair machinery and equipment, weld
    g) Prepare, plant and maintain gardens.
    h) Although we are not particularly fond of animals of any kind, we have been known to feed them so their owner can take a break or a short getaway.

    We don’t do any of these things all day long. Maybe a couple hours in the morning and possibly one or two more near evening – as we are motivated. For really good friends and deserving people we will undertake fairly large projects. (Not much different that Habitat for Humanity but with a smaller “crew”). We wouldn’t want to feel obligated or to feel that people expect too much (which has never happened). Again, that’s just us – and people are different (some say we are strange because we do not count success or happiness in dollars).


    Note concerning “hookups”:

    Some RVers require manicured lawns, 50 amp or 30 amp electric to run their dual air conditioners, and full amenities. They will not be coming to visit you.

    Others are fully self-contained electrically using either a generator or solar panels to power anything they wish to run.

    Many, like us, are somewhere between. We have modest solar capacity and don’t carry a generator, but use electricity sparingly. We appreciate having 110 VAC available, but only need a standard outlet with 15 or 20 amps (a common receptacle), and we don’t need to be close to the outlet because we carry a couple 100’ heavy-duty extension cords.

    Water supply is usually no problem. Any faucet with potable water is adequate and many of us carry plenty of hose.

    Sewage disposal can be a minor concern. Sink and shower water goes into a “gray water” tank (usually forty or fifty gallons – enough capacity for a few days). In a rural setting that water can be disposed of by watering trees, flowers, grass, etc. “Black water” (toilet) goes to a separate tank of similar size. It is usually emptied into an “RV dump station”; however, astute RVers may carry a macerator pump that will empty black water into any sewage system with minimal difficulty.


    Whew, that’s a long one. I’ve tried to shorten it and have eliminated as much as seems possible while leaving all important information.

    We would really appreciate your help in learning about homesteaders’ and small farmers’ thoughts on the matter. If anyone has comments that they would rather communicate in private, please feel free to PM or email.

    Thank you.

    Obser and "Supervisor"
    Obser1@gmail.com
     
  2. donsgal

    donsgal Nohoa Homestead

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    I think it would be nice if there was someone to look after the place and animals so that the homesteader would feel comfortable about leaving for a couple of weeks.

    Personally, I don't have a problem with having them camp on my land. However, I can tell you that my husband is a perfectionist and "nobody" and I mean "nobody" can meet his expectations with regard to helping out. I am certain that he would not want anyone doing anything around the place unless he was confident that the work was up to his impossible standards.

    Personally, I would welcome anyone who could give me instruction and help on canning and preserving food! Of course, that would mean July - September time frame.

    donsgal
     

  3. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    I think that is a wonderful idea you have thought of. I look forward to meeting you some day.
     
  4. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

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    Same Jnap. Maybe next year at the HT gathering? Maybe early next year after you return home (November or December is ETA, isn't it? When is your ETS?)

    We would graciously accept the money you mention -- then buy you something we knew you needed (and after being at your place any length of time we'd know what you needed).
     
  5. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    LOL! I should be home by Christmas at the latest maybe a little earlier than that. You should not have told me that about the money now I will just have to out smart you. I am getting sleepy here almost forgot to say I will be on terminal leave for a month when I get home then I am ets'ed for good.Good night
     
  6. swamp man

    swamp man Well-Known Member

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    Hi,Obser.I think you are onto something.After hurricane Katrina,I let some roofers from Ohio park 2 RVs at my place for a little over a month,and we got along famously.They were real good fellas.Of course,these guys were my kinda' people.Definitely,I think it's a good idea to take some steps to make sure that the RV folks,and land-owners involved are of a similar enough mindset to not clash.I used to mow the grass at a highway RV park,and have no idea why someone would pay to be at that place.
    As far as what I would expect of an RV guest-Dont trash the place,and be nice to my dog.As far as work,I can do the physical stuff myself,but knowledge,and a guiding hand would sure be appreciated on a few projects I have lined up.I dang sure wouldn't want anybody to feel like they really "owed" me something.
    If I was able to talk with the folks,make sure that we weren't hopelessly,fundementally different,I'd look at it as an opportunity to meet some real nice people.As far as accomodations,The two spots I cut out in the timber(for the roofers to park),just need to be mowed.It's not far from a faucet(at my mobile home),but the mainline runs nearby,and it would be no problem to tie in another faucet,directly on site.I was dismantling a porch/awning the other day,salvaging the materials to build a chicken coop,and scored a gfci outlet,already mounted on a treated post,that I could set up on site,with the help of someone with a little wiring knowledge.I like dogs,and I like folks who like dogs,and would be willing to build a dog pen for any visitors who travel with a furry buddy.
    You have a great idea.Shoot me a PM,if you want.
    By the way,I live in south Mississippi,a few miles outside of Hattiesburg.
    Nick
     
  7. kitaye

    kitaye Well-Known Member

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    Not so many years ago people like you existed everywhere(Papaw called them share croppers) and were very welcome on many farms especially in planting and harvesting seasons. You are one up because you carry your own home. Farmer don't have to supply room and board, just board. I think it is an interesting idea and could very well work great if you find the group to do it and the farmers who need it. Good luck.
     
  8. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ...................I thiMk this is a First Class idea . I've been looking for a Goal for the Rest of my life after I sell my home here in TX. Soon as this place sells I'm going to order\purchase an RV and then I'll be free to pursue any course that captures my interest . I really don't need to own any property but it would really be nice to have some kind of Home base that I could return TOO when it suits me.
    ...................I'd thoroughly enjoy working with others to help homesteaders build fences\barns\sheds\pole barns , etc. to help folks get their lives started on their land . My guess is that there is a Great Need for "Helping Hands" for divoraced mothers with kids , older homesteaders that need home\barn repairs that can't afford to hire the "fly by night" contractors that take advantage of the folks who have no basic experience in construction or plumbing or electricial work . I have a fairly stong Knowledge base in basic electronics , ham radio and Tower installation\erection , guywire systems , rotators , and all this knowledge is also applicable to setting up windgenerators for solar systems I suspect .
    ...................I've acquired alot of general knowledge over the years which I can still access for solving problems both for myself as well for others . I can run a tractor , frontend loader , and a backhoe with a little extra time in the "backseat" . I've always felt that most of US are At our "BEST" when we are helping others in so far as feeling good about we do in life to help our fellow homesteaders . fordy... :dance:
     
  9. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

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    Rose, Thank you for verifying our ideas. You describe doing almost exactly what we do now, except that you were contacting people individually. In the past we occasionally put an ad in local shopper papers saying, "Responsible couple with self-contained RV want place to park on private property." That system yielded many interesting situations. However, it is far more effective now for us to "get acquainted" on a forum and through a network of friends and friends of friends.

    Most people seem hesitant to approach strangers with such an idea. I’m not too bashful and have made arrangements using your system, but many others would rather not make the initial contact.

    Our intent is to make it easy and painless for RVers and Homesteaders or Small Farmers to contact each other and to communicate via the Internet.

    Sometimes when we meet people for the first time in person after corresponding with them over the web it is like “old home week”, and is more like continuing an old friendship than making a new one. We really look forward to sharing this with others, RVers and Homesteaders alike.
     
  10. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

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    Donsgal,

    We’re onto the perfectionists. The first thing we do with / for them we do to our most exacting standards (like building a deck to near cabinet quality). Then we ask why THEIR work is so sloppy. Hehehehehehe. Perfectionists are easy to pick on because they are sensitive about even the tiniest flaws in what they do (and everything humanly done has some flaws).

    Once when WW and I were doing some contract construction (to gather funds to buy land), we built a deck for a man who was known to be “impossible” to work with. Several people who knew him and us advised us to not take the job. We learned exactly what he wanted and did things that way. Money was no object for him and quality was everything. He spent over $11,000 on that deck and was an absolute sweetheart to work with. We didn’t let him get away with even the smallest deviation from what he had said he wanted. <contented smile>

    I’m sure that there are RVers who are experienced in the care of animals and who would welcome the opportunity to make some arrangements to look after your critters. WW and I like animals – mostly baked, smoked or barbecued – but are not particularly adept at their care.

    As an alternative (which might or might not involve RV people) one could consider the Caretaker Gazette http://www.caretaker.org/
     
  11. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    Obser,
    congrats, an excellent idea, well thought out. I used to RV full time, and they are some of the best and most helpful people about. They get somewhere to stay for a while and the farmer gets some help, awesome idea. Can you tell I'm impressed? LOL

    Carol K
     
  12. fricknfarm

    fricknfarm Well-Known Member

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    jnap you devil, JANUARY??? all of us MO folks know that January is ice storm season in the Ozarks. Should be ahoot watching the rver's navigate the roads.

    4) Is there a particular time of year that would be most appropriate?
    This January would be ideal
     
  13. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Pyrnad...
    I have a friend who works for a guy in New Portland (rt27) if you really need help....carpentry animals etc...he works for cash by the day...he is 60yo but quite capable...he lives in Fayette....

    But if y'all want to come to Maine, we will be building a house in a couple years in Lexington....about 30miles from Pyrnad....and I know others in the area that might let you park in exchange near Rangeley. Pretty country...nasty bugs!

    What if you get hurt while working? You planning on getting my homestead that way? I know its rude but I HAD to ask....no offense :)
     
  14. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

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    If I get hurt it is MY problem (and I have full VA coverage if it is anything serious). My wife is covered another way. We would sign a waiver of responsibility if that issue troubles anyone (but it never has).

    Perhaps a waiver wouldn't be a bad idea in the big picture. I'll ask my attorney / friend about how protective waivers are in cases like this. Are there any attorney homesteaders that can address the issue?
    If I were to get hurt I would consider it MY problem (and I have full VA coverage if it is anything serious). My wife is covered another way. We would sign a waiver of responsibility if that issue troubles anyone (but it never has).

    Perhaps a waiver wouldn't be a bad idea in the big picture. I'll ask my attorney / friend about how protective waivers are in situations like we are considering. Are there any attorney homesteaders that can address the issue?

    My opinion regarding anyone other than myself would be just an opinion -- and layman opinions about legal matters are notoriously inaccurate.


    My opinion regarding anyone other than myself would be just an opinion -- and layman opinions about legal matters are notoriously inaccurate.
     
  15. margo

    margo Well-Known Member

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    Very cool idea, Obser. Yep, there are times when an extra hand or two would be most welcome. An exchange like this would be ideal when the mix is satisfactory as to length of stay and compatability factors. I would think 1 or 2 weeks around here would be enough for both parties. No big projects, just sometimes get behind or things when garden season overlaps with other activities.

    I'd like to hear others ideas on this. My only reservation is the security factor, what with not knowing much about the folks. I suppose it's like any other situation where you meet someone, just htat they don't stay in your home or yard... :)

    Margo
     
  16. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    1) Are you open to having helpful visitors park on your land? If not, please skip the remaining questions. Yes, but we only have one acre and there's no shade. We had my mother and step-father here with their travel trailer for several months while they got their new house built, and it worked just fine.

    2) What kind of “projects” do you have that could benefit from a helping hand? Hmm. Fencing; I need to set up irrigation for a little pasture/hay-field; several building projects; would love to have some help with our vehicles (someone to teach me how to maintain and fix them). I can think of a few other odds and ends, too.

    3) How long might be comfortable for you for compatible people to stay? A few weeks to a few months, if they were nice folks!

    4) Is there a particular time of year that would be most appropriate? It's hard to do anything outside in the winter (though if we get the garage finished, we will have space for some projects in there).

    5) Would you feel bad in any way about accepting help? Not if we could also be of some help to our 'working guests'!

    6) Can you imagine being comfortable having “working guests” at your place? Sure, if they were down-to-earth people. Grandma likes having people around to chat with, too. I've heard all her stories too many times to really want to listen to them any more, LOL!

    7) What would you NOT want? Drinking, loud music.

    8) What reservations or concerns do you have with the idea? I'd love to have help with a few things, but it's hard to imagine that anyone would want to park on our bare lot for several weeks if they had anyplace better to go. Also, my daughter is autistic and can be difficult to be around.

    9) Could you become at least somewhat comfortable with prospective visitor / helpers through Internet communication? I think so -- references would help. Maybe an initial trial visit, a short one, would be a good idea, too.

    10) Do you have other comments or suggestions? I think it sounds like a good idea. It could also be a ministry to elderly and disabled people, so they could stay in their own homes a little longer. Or to help churches with various projects (I think there are already 'missionaries' who do this sort of thing, actually.)
     
  17. Boleyz

    Boleyz Prognosticator, Artist

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    I wouldn't personally have a problem with having you...Obser & Wife...but I dunno about the "Network".

    My problem is that I have small, beautiful children (I know everyone thinks theirs are beautiful). My Wife is worried about child molestors & such. I don't think she'd be too comfortable with internet acquaintences living on our place, around the kids. You know, you've heard the horror stories too.

    Maybe when the kids are grown and gone. It is a nice thought though, and should be workable in a lot of situations.

    I would also recommend you guys try to mobilize for the Gulf Coast. There are a lot of small lanowners there who are completely overwhelmed. Best of Luck to Ye!
     
  18. Red Devil TN

    Red Devil TN Well-Known Member

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    1) Sure... kind of, see answer #5.

    2) Um... not sure, I'm still clearing the land, but probably just that, maybe some firewood. I do need the area that used to have a mobil home on it cleaned a bit. And mowing the grass with a push mower is killing me! Lol!! Extra hand when I'm working on stuff. I'd be more into learning what I could from people like you Obser. I'm a bit of a nerd so I'm into the thinking and ideas thing. lol! I always loved hearing stories of 'how it was' from my Dad and his friends. Tips and tricks, talking shop.. granted, this goes back to the chemistry stuff.

    3) 2-4 wks sounds good, but I think it would mainly depend on the chemistry between the people visiting/hanging out and my family. I usually can get along with anyone.

    4) Umm.. depends. I have an area at the top of my property that used to have a small mobil home. Perfect area and easy access to the road... but may be too close to the road for some? Figure spring so they don't die in the summer heat and skip winter unless they just need a place for a bit as it's only certain people who can work in the cold. ;)

    5) Yes. Don't know why, but I do. I love to help people, even with big projects, but can't stand asking or receiving help, even when I need it. Just the way I was raised I guess?

    6) Yep, just like neighbors, so long as they are good neighbors I don't see a problem... that and they'd likely still be farther away than my neighbors back north! :)

    7) Overbearing people with entitlement issues. Excessive drinking, late parties, destruction of land... and too much help. I hate feeling like I'm taking advantage of someone.

    8) Umm... not knowing the people in any context before hand, I have three small children and the wife is very, very shy. And of course liability issues.

    9) Sure, just depends on what's available. I don't think I'd mind one bit letting you and the Boss come stay a while as I've some context to base that decision on.

    10) I think you covered it pretty well. Septics should be able to handle a little extra, power usually isn't an issue except for the long distances you may encounter. Well take offs over hoses may be an option as well. The liability issues certainly sit in the back of my mind. From what I saw of the MA cases, the waivers generally weren't worth the paper they were written on. Granted that ran the gamut of hockey rinks to hospitals.
     
  19. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

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    Boleyz, thanks for the positive affirmation. We can certainly understand your concern regarding safety of your children. They come first, no matter what.

    We have not heard much about Gulf Coast landowners' problems. After the hurricanes we had considered going toward the Texas coast to see what was needed. We attempted to contact people or organizations without success. We were not inclined to go toward New Orleans or the other affected urban areas. Helping small landowners would be much more appealing to us than doing anything in cities.
     
  20. Tabitha

    Tabitha greenheart

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    great idea. Hey, anytime you feel like it. It is pretty here, no bones about it. If I had an RV I would love to park it on our hill.
    To tell you the truth, I would love the company because I am a social person coming from a different culture, and we live very isolated.
    We need help clearing paths in the woods and building benches in strategic locations. There just is so much to do. Right now building fences is vexing us, among a list of other things.. (we were not exactly born to this way of life, although we love it). I could not stand someone blasting heavy metal music or the like, telling dirty jokes also goes against my grain. And I do not like the idea of taking drugs. An occasional beer does not bother me. Does it you?