Originally Posted by Paleobird
I get what you are saying, but can you see the stars at night in San Diego?? Sounds like a dumb question, but coming as we did from NJ, here is what we really, really still like: the stars, the quiet, the animals that we can hear in the quiet, the darkness at night, the obvious change in the land as the seasons come and go (even mud season here on our hill), the fresh air, the fact that we are out there enough that my kids can run and play and scream outside even at 11 o'clock at night and not disturb a soul with their being-a-kid-ness.
Nope - we are not off the grid, even though I hold (probably) overly-romantic hopes of someday being able to do so. Our garden doesn't feed us a whole lot 'cause we were city-slickers and are still learning, although the herb garden is awesome and produces monstrously.
Constant trips for supplies = a poorly managed pantry IMHO. I drive a lot because I take my Third to therapy for her disabilities, but we still choose to live out here because it is balm for our souls.
It is easy to romanticize, but you've got to remember at the same time that different people have different desires in life. When I lived in SoCal I was far more likely to go out to the Anza Borrego desert and spend a day photographing nature than go to a jazz club. It's like the perception of primal as a "strict diet"...it is, if you think it is. Was it Frost who said, 'If a society fits you comfortably enough you call it freedom"? I think that's right. Anyway, the same is true for environment, for diet, for just about everything. If living in a city fits you comfortably enough you call it good...but your neighbor may not be such a tight fit though she lives nearly the same life.
In a semi-funny coincidence, my employer chose today to send me to training on "motivation" (among other subjects). The general thesis was that motivation = dissatisfaction, that the size of the gap between your current state and your wants was the measure of your dissatisfaction, and that as you close that gap (e.g. via success, whether complete or partial) you naturally lose motivation. I thought about this thread (and this forum in general) a few times during the attempted reprogramming session. If you are dissatisfied with your current life you will be motivated to make a change. If you lack any means of attaining even partial success, that dissatisfaction could build until you have sufficient motivation to make a major life altering change. If that major life altering change works (even partially) then the dissatisfaction-driven motivation engine runs out of fuel. It was a really motivation-inducing day for me.
Last edited by Him; 12-11-2012 at 06:01 PM.
Originally Posted by RitaRose
Desert makes for easy free 'air conditioning' though by building partially underground with earthen materials and tires. You use constant ground temperature for cooling and sun for adding heat to the structure for when the temp drops off at night... sadly, not good for growing stuff haha.
That assumes you can dig into the caliche. I've literally gardened with a jackhammer before.
Originally Posted by ryanmercer
But if you have the money to do it, it really does work. There is a community out here with more than its share of celebrities and business moguls. You know, one of those places where they don't allow For Sale signs because, if you have to ask, you can't afford it. They accidentally posted one once, standard size for that area, and it was $8 million. Anyway, the normal size is around 12,000 sq feet, and about 2/3 of that is dug into the side of a mountain with just the first story fully above ground, and the residents tell me it really makes a huge difference. The only problem is that it takes some big bucks to dig into the caliche. Obviously, these people have it.
I think my post from before disappeared, so let me try again.
Heat doesn't have to be (nor should it be) all wood. The earth is about 55 degree F, down under the frost line. Lay some PVC down in the yard, and have it connect to the house, use a muffin fan to rotate the air through. In the summer you have air conditioning. In the winter, 55 is a lot warmer than the 17 degrees that we get for a week or two this time of year. Our summers are regularly about 95-105. I only run the AC a few days a year because I hate AC, and I don't need it. I open the windows at night, put in a fan if needed to draw the air through, and let it get cool. In the morning, I close the windows, and the curtains. I get the kids to close the doors when they go out, to keep the cool in.
Want warmer, how about make a compost heap, (to specific sizes) and run either pex pipe or more PVC through it. Connect the water pipe to your hot water heater and use it for floor based heating. Or, hook it up to the PVC with a muffin fan, and you have air based heat. Compost piles can get up to steaming, so you should get a fair amount of heat. If we stay in our house for a while longer, we plan on doing this. Yes, there are periods of work, but nothing that big. And the compost? Get a hold of the company that trims the trees for the electric company. They love to have a place to dump the chipped wood for free, and that is what makes the bulk of the compost.
Animals do require care. But if you do a lot of research and are careful you can minimize losses, expended energy and impact on the land. Read the book "Everything I Want to do is Illegal." (Great information on how to rotate animals to minimize impact on the land.) Learn about Livestock Guard Dogs. Learn how to build an effective night time shelter for your animals. Learn how to make hay, and how to store it. If you know how to do things right the first time, you save yourself a lot of time, effort and money. If you don't know what you are doing you end up with a dog that is a half breed that doesn't know if it should herd your flock or protect it. You will lose animals to predators. You will lose animals because they got sick and you didn't know what to do. But reading up first can help immensely.
Life providing for yourself doesn't have to be drudge all day every day. And really folk, it is very enjoyable and rewarding for people who want to do it. Just like any job, if you hate it, you shouldn't be doing it. If you love it, it is great. Ask my kids - they love putting up hay, harvesting food from the garden, getting in the eggs and yes caring for all those ducks and geese - even mucking things out.
CCL: you haven't been doing this long enough, because you still sound all happy and smug about how if you do it just right, everything will work. It won't. Mother Nature is a bitch, and she delights in raining shit upon the parade of people who get all smug and happy and superior. LGD's? Yeah, cool. Except that there is zip guarantee that you have a good one until it goes bad, and even then you've spent another what? $700 was the minimum price I was quoted for a Maremma pup.
Those kids of yours won't always want to help. Animals will get sick in ways you CAN'T help, and always when no-one else is there.
I did it for years. I liked it. I'd probably do it again, if I had sufficiently like-minded people: gods know I've got the skills, if not the desire at the moment. However, I like my AC. I like my 75 degrees in the winter house. And I really, really like not chasing 7 300-lb hogs around the front yard at balls-thirty in the rain because my damn fence charger shorted out.
Oh and making hay? First and foremost, you need rain. And then you don't need rain. The two need to happen in something resembling a predictable order. And your haybine needs to work, and the square baler needs to not jam, and the tractor needs to start.......you are cutting it by hand? Huh? There is a reason that there used to be a market for casual labor. It was needed. There was always something to do.
First of all I agree with Rita that Vegas is a place that you couldn't pay me enough to live in. And, no, Crabbcakes, you can't see the stars much here because of the marine moisture in the air most nights if you live near the beaches.
Originally Posted by Him
The thing about being an urban SoCal Grokelle is that I can go to a jazz club AND go out to the Borrego dessert to hike and watch the stars at night. All in the same weekend.
Yes, it all does come down to personal preferences. I have spent some long stretches of time in a very remote area in Mexico where I was living totally off the grid, there was no grid to be off of. I survived hurricanes, rattlesnake infestations and such. Good stories to tell in hindsight but not much fun while they are actually happening.
I feel like at this point in my life I want things to be comfortable and convenient in the place that I live. Now I will still seek out recreation that is not safe and comfy like climbing mountains but that is different from where I wake up every day.
Yep. One of the clichés I miss most, having left SoCal, is going from the mountains to the beach on the same day. I say cliché but it was true.
Originally Posted by Paleobird
I was in my inept way trying to make the general case that our perception of whether an experience is good or bad has more to do with us than the experience. It sounds like fuzzy had a bad experience. Does that mean everyone, put in the same situation, would consider the experience bad? No. The issue is fit, not quality. A natural, but not especially correct, tendency is to project our own fit onto others. To say, "I hated this so everyone will," or, "I love this so everyone will." People like you will. I run into this all the time because, well, a whole bunch of what most people like seems pretty horrific to me, and vice versa. That leaves me with two choices: either everyone but me is an idiot, or what people are responding to isn't "good" vs "bad", but "fits" vs "doesn't fit."
The upshot: personal experience based advice ("I tried it, I didn't like it, you shouldn't do it") can be very misleading if given by people with different "fit", and if you become emotionally invested in an idea without really knowing how its expression fits you, you can end up disappointed. That's true whether the idea is marriage, living in a shack in the woods, or moving to Paris. I would normally consider it too obvious to state explicitly, but in this thread we have people talking in emotionally-invested terms about things they have never tried and we have people giving personal experience based advice with the assumption that if they didn't enjoy a thing, nobody would. So I'm stating the obvious.
And not only does that work, but the tech is at least 5k years old heh as the Greeks were doing it in some areas.
Originally Posted by CrazyCatLady
Originally Posted by Paleobird
Though I'm still bucking for somewhere outside the city, I grew up in SoCal, and I remember the beach being 15 minutes away and the mountains being 45 minutes max. You also had both culture and (relatively) middle of nowhere hickdom within driving distance of each other. That was pretty cool.
Originally Posted by Him
Unfortunately, my personal beliefs and current California regulations don't see eye to eye, so I'll just keep looking and remain misty-eyed when I think about my childhood.