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Howdy All!
I've been lurking for a few months now and have finally decided to register and join the ranks of the active posters. I was born in Takoma Park MD, but have never managed to settle down in any one particular place, hence the 'Wandering' portion of my screen name. I've lived in various parts of Maryland, Virginia and Brooklyn, NY, all through no choice of my own, following one or another of my parents in their wanderings. Went to college in Berea Kentucky, which is about as far away as you can get from Brooklyn and still remain on this planet.
When I finished college, I had my first experience with homesteading- house-sitting on a retired couple's remote farm while they spent a year teaching. The farm was twenty miles from town, and two miles from the nearest paved road and utility pole. Did I mention that I went to high school in Brooklyn? What's the point of having driver's ed since nobody in New York owns a car anyway? That's right, not only did I not have a car, I didn't even have a license at the time. Needless to say this was an adventure. I was able to bum rides from my neighbor who was even further in the woods than I was. I spent my free time reading back issues of Mother Earth News and Home Power. I also gardened, chopped wood, hauled water, weeded a 1/2 acre fish pond, and explored my environs. I wanted to stay, but knew that I couldn't because I was too remote in an area which didn't have many employment opportunities. I tried staking tobacco once (the only kind of work available), but wasn't very good at it, and I wasn't invited back. Eventually, I had to leave as the property was sold. 160 acres of remote woodland with an organic garden, orchard, barn/workshop , pond, and a two bedroom house- sold for $40,000. Now this was back in 1992, but that still isn't that bad a deal. Of course, I was broke (worse than broke- $4,000.00 in the hole actually), with no car, and no job, and no way of getting either. So, what did I do? What any other red blooded American would do, join the service.
If I had to do it over again, I would have been an officer. After all, I did have a degree in Industrial Technology Management (Whatever the fsk that means). However, the recruiter lied (that's their job ain't it?) and told me that I would need to wait at least a year before I could get a commission. So, I went into advanced electronics and learned how to repair and operate Sonar equipment for the Navy. Spend two years training in San Diego. Learned how to drive a stick shift on the San Diego freeways. When I was done, I drove to my next duty station, Norfolk VA. I spent the next four years Haze Grey and Underway, on board the USS Stump- DD978. Went on two six month deployments- one to the Gulf and one to the Medeteranian. Got to see all kinds of interesting parts of the world. We didn't fire a single shot, much to the dissapointment of some of my shipmates who wanted do do their part to visit a little bit of hell on Bosnia, and/or Iraq. After six years in Uncle Sam's Canoe Club, I decided that I had enough and decided not to re-enlist.
Got a job as a defence contractor in the DC area making three times what the Navy was paying me. At the time, I thought I was making big money, untill I saw what real-estate prices were in the area. After a year of paying $700.00 per month for the privelage of living in Thug Central (I'll bet you didn't know that there were crack neighborhoods in Reston, didja?), I decided to get out. If I'd been smart, I would have quit my cushy job and headed back to the hills that I had come from seven years earlier. Unfortunately, I let the money go to my head, and decided that I could live in the hills and commute to work. That's right, there are hills within commuting distance of the DC Beltway- if you consider a 60 mile drive commuting distance. I've been out here ever since, regreting my decision.
The house that I bought is a fixer-upper, and I probably couldn't sell it for what I owe without fixing it up. I'm on a one acre hilside lot, and I have the option to buy a few more acres. However, this area is technically zoned residential, and has a strict HOA, so the only animals I can have are a dog or a cat. Technically I can't even have rabbits or chickens, due to the zoning regs. I can't even take potshots at the deer eating my tomatoes- discharging of firearms is against the HOA regulations. McMansions are starting to come up in some of the more accessable areas, as suddenly the entire region is becoming a Bedroom Community for DC. Real estate prices are starting to skyrocket, as has the appraised value for my house, along with taxes and insurance. In other words, I've got to get out of here. Too close to the city and 911-esque targets.
I've got a plan to be on a homestead of my own within 2-3 years. Year one- fix up this dump and get it sold. Next summer- migrate northward. I never did like the humidity down here, and it's a lot easier to build a fire than an air conditioner. I have friends in the Watertown NY area who have offered to help me get a job. Fort Drum is hiring contractors left and right. Once I have established a beachead in Watertown, I'll put my ears to the ground to get a feel for the area. I have a friend who spend a year interning at a Commune up in St. Lawrence county- ridiculoulsly cheap land up that way. Farms that went under during the depression or earlier that have been abandoned for decades. I learned one thing in KY- don't try to go it alone, and don't commit yourself without a plan. I had to learn the hard way that I ain't Grizzly Adams, although I may have similar facial fur in the wintertime.
Well, that's my intro. I didn't mean for it to be so long, but it's been a long strange trip.


Tony, AKA WanderingOak
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