demand, a totally revitalized eBook edition of the classic "The
Modern Homestead Manual," last published in 1998.
Here you will learn what it REALLY takes to make it beyond the
sidewalks and powerlines, and from successful veteran homesteaders.
You will learn the relationships between responsibility and freedom
and self-sufficiency, you'll learn what skills are going to be
essential for your success and how to achieve them, you'll learn
about alternative electrical and water systems, about the tools
and equipment you'll need and how to best find them, about the
essential nature of togetherness, about the importance of having
a reliable income, and much more. This is more than a nuts-and-bolt
approach to homesteading.
- The discussion
delves into the philosophies of the successful homesteader and
in keeping with a 21st century book on homesteading, how different
the transition from city to country has become in the last few
years, and what of our new technology we want to take with us.
Since almost every other homesteading book in print seems to
focus on agriculture, or at least on raising crops and critters,
this one is especially valid for those folks who are more inclined
to earn their keep with other skills.
Discover the tried-and-true secrets from those who have made
wilderness living a success. This is the rest of the story: the
information you don't see in most "homesteading" publications!
"The Modern Homestead Manual, Revisited" builds hope
and confidence, dispels myths, and tells it like it is. The clear
focus is on what it really takes to make it in a homestead life.
may be the most difficult chapter for many readers to get through.
Unlike what you read in some "homesteading" publications,
this chapter tells it like it is. Owning and old Chevy pickup
and a dozen chickens does not make us homesteaders. Nor does
it make it possible for us to "live off the land."
This chapter might just decide for many whether or not they'll
even give country living a try. It spells out in real-life terms
what it takes and how to assess your own potential in attaining
- Here's and excerpt:
"Are you a self-motivated person who does well with no supervision?
Are you skilled in most of the areas that you will need to make
it on your own away from the city? Can you deal competently with
mechanical things, the things that need to be fixed when nobody
else is around to help? Can you improvise? Could you get the
tractor running without the right parts? Do an emergency repair
on a water pump with whatever you can scrounge up at the moment?
Are you prepared to administer first aid to an ailing person
or critter? Are you ready, willing, and able to let the seasons
and even the day-to-day weather dictate your activities? And
to do it all with a glad heart?
- "If consideration
of any of these concepts puts you in a cold sweat, you need to
become more comfortable with them during your pre-move year,
or you need to rethink your plan to move back to the land. You
need to be especially clear about being self- motivated."
- The Modern
Homestead Manual, Revisited is about building the confidence that
is essential to make a success of real country living. It pulls
no punches. It doesn't try to smooth over the "negative"
aspects, because it is exactly these things which cause so many
would-be homesteaders to toss it in and head back to the rat-race
they were trying to escape.
- If you're planning
to share your homesteading experience with a partner, the first
step is to establish the move as a joint venture. Do your skills
complement each other's? Do both of you have sufficient skills
and talents that one of you isn't going to have to carry an unfair
share of the load most of the time? Lack of togetherness can
make or break a move to the country.
- You can overcome
some incredible odds with the support of your partner. Togetherness
and adequate finances provide the cornerstones of a successful
homestead adventure. With both intact, success is virtually assured.
Shaky capitalization can be worked around, to a point, if the
togetherness is there, but no amount of money is going to take
the place of any missing togetherness.
- This chapter
shows the ways to assess your togetherness, and gives ample red
flags and examples to let you know when things are not right.
And for those who are still searching for their start on togetherness,
it also covers finding a partner (safely) using some of today's
- The Year
Before the Big Move
we set off for a picnic with our family, we have to make certain
preparations if the event is to be a success. At the very least,
we ought to take along the food, right?
- If we were to
set sail across the ocean, our preparations would be a lot more
involved and very much more important. The success of the trip,
even our likelihood of survival, would clearly depend on careful
- Embarking on
a successful adventure into homesteading requires even more planning
than a sailing voyage, but many folks treat it like a picnic.
While a sailing trip requires fairly extensive and very careful
preparation, it is all pretty specific. Much of the information
needed can be taken directly from the many how-to books on the
- Sailboats, regardless
of size or rigging, have lots of things in common. Sailing hasn't
changed much over the last few hundred years, and the rules,
once learned, always apply.
isn't nearly so specific. Since every individual's idea of "homestead"
is unique and each person's experience with it will be different,
there are few rules in homesteading. The requirements for "sailing"
each are unique. This chapter brings to light dozens of areas
in which we can prepare ourselves for this change in lifestyle
of moving to the country and becoming self-sufficient. This has
all changed a lot over the years, and here we'll bring it all
up to date. The change from city-life to a quiet, country lifestyle
has never been more dramatic. The chapter then goes into detail
on ways to use the year before the move to do just that.
in choosing your new location may include weather requirements,
availability of water, access to maintained roads, proximity
to nearest town and schools (not to mention the quality of each),
local building regulations, proximity to relatives, the political
climate of your chosen state or locale, and even such things
as Internet and cell access. You might also want add a few items
of your own to the list, and then sort them all out in order
of importance. Any of these topics can influence the future success
of your homesteading adventure.
- This chapter
will give you the tools for making objective choices in all of
these areas, and more. You'll learn how to make accurate assessments
of each area of interest, so there will be a minimum of unwelcome
- The Big Move!
Big Move is only one step in the process of gaining self-sufficiency.
It is one of the most significant steps, however, if only because
of the rather awesome commitment it involves.
- Since this move
is intended to bring you to the realization of a degree of self-sufficiency,
there will be planning involved that goes beyond that required
for a regular move from one place to another. That planning will
make it possible for you to have in your possession--before your
move--most of the tools, equipment and supplies that you will
need to see you through until you are thoroughly settled in.
If you are moving onto bare land, your list should include everything
you'll need to get your living quarters, electrical- and water-systems
in place; plus building materials, unless they're as easily obtained
near your new homesite.
- This chapter
covers the nitty-gritty of the move itself and the variables
depending on what kind of environment you're moving to. It also
covers options for actually getting your things from one place
to another, some of which can even make the move absolutely expense-free.
Also discussed are some options for temporary shelter while building
your house or developing your property.
- Country Neighbors
neighbors are generally wonderful folks who are happy to lend
a helping hand. Your own thoughtful planning will make it possible
for you to become a good country neighbor as well.
- It really is
important to get to know all of your country neighbors. You will
no doubt find that you have neighbors who live and think much
as you do, and you'll also have neighbors who live in an entirely
different world. You don't have to have a lot in common with
a person to be that person's good neighbor. The essential ingredient
here is co-operation. Matter of fact, we've watched some of the
most interesting, if not downright unlikely friendships develop
between our country neighbors.
- This chapter
discusses the philosophical differences between country and city
neighbors, how to get to know your new friends and neighbors
and some of the interesting customs and quirks common to most
country folks in America. It covers a lot about the philosophy
of co-operation and community that is pervasive beyond the sidewalks.
- Country Kids
contemporary city family is often a working dad, a working mom,
and a youngster or two. The kids are trucked off to child-care,
and are with mom (and maybe) dad for a few hours each day and
on weekends. The children are never involved with whatever it
is that mom and dad do for a living; they only know that they
are "gone" all day, every day, except weekends. In
the evenings, quality time is hard to come up with because mom
and dad are toast from the day's work. Sometimes they're even
(imagine this) grumpy when they finally get home in the evening.
- The normal,
contemporary homestead family is together a lot. Unless the kids
are being home-schooled, they are away at school for the usual
daytime hours, and except for that time, the family is together.
Mom and dad work together to make their homestead function, and
the kids are right there, not only able to see how it all happens,
but to be a part of it. From a very early age, they are intimately
involved in what makes a family run and how that family works
within the community. From a very early age, homestead kids start
developing that priceless commodity, common sense. They also
learn that all-important value that many adults have never learned,
- Discussed in
this chapter are the considerations parents need to look at when
moving out of the city, including the quality of country schools,
the parental participation that's often involved, transportation
issues, and the concepts of loneliness and socialization of your
- Money Matters
difficult to separate the discussion on money from the one on
independence; as reluctant as we are to admit it, money and independence
are closely related. We know a lot of good old hippie-types who
do not hesitate to tell us that we've sold out to the establishment
for admitting such a thing, but (and we're about as much old
hippie-types as they come), there it is.
- It is not impossible
to live entirely without money; there are those who manage to
pull it off. They might live somewhere where they can exchange
some work for the rent, or even move from place to place house
sitting. They might be lucky enough never to be presented a tax
bill, and might also be able to swap chickens or eggs for whatever
they can't provide for themselves.
However, it takes a pretty sharp barterer to wheel-and-deal for
doctor bills, insurance, auto or truck purchases, tires and repairs,
and the other fairly spendy expenses we all seem to be faced
with from time to time. It is possible. It's just not likely
for most of us.
- In this chapter,
you'll learn how to figure your expenses, do some financial planning,
and you'll get some options for financing your new adventure.
You'll discover lots of opportunities for earning your keep at
home. Many homesteads depend on agricutlural pursuits for their
income. We don't suppose that everyone wants to be a farmer,
so we discuss this perspective from the point of view of those
who have other marketable skills and would like to utilize them
in their homestead adventrue. Also discussed are the financial
pros and cons of building your own house as opposed to buying
a place with an existing dwelling, the concept of bartering,
the need for a sustainable income, and even some ideas on a retirement
- Buying Your
very complete chapter covers all phases of inspecting a potential
house for every conceivable defect, the special considerations
of inspecting a recently remodeled house, how to present an offer
so you will be buying the house for the least amount the seller
will take for it, how to use contingencies for your safety in
presenting an offer, some notes on "fine print" in
offer-agreements and contracts, some considerations unique to
"view" properties, and even a discussion on the ups
and downs of antique houses.
Your Own Home
when you could go buy a piece of land way out in the woods, and
just go ahead and build yourself a house are gone. Even if it's
your land, you paid for it, it's big enough that your house will
not be visible from anyone else's property, and the house is
for you and your family, you will probably be required to go
to the county building department and ask their permission to
build your house.
- Along with a
discussion on the politics of building permits and the attendant
hassles and restrictions, this chapter guides you through the
process, introduces the Uniform Building Code, tells you what
you need to take into consideration before even putting pencil
to paper designing your house, gives you some tricks to circumvent
a lot of the restrictions, tells you how to deal with building
inspectors, and explains the permit system. Also covered are
considerations and cautions on easements, which are plentiful
in many country areas.
- All this is
followed with a section on plans and planning, and a discussion
on whether or not you should hire a contractor. Owner-builder
options are covered, along with the special considerations for
site-preparation. Included in the section on site-preparation
are some thoughts on how to find the equipment operators who
will do the job exactly how you wish, with the minimum of damage
to the surrounding terrain.
- There's a section
on dealing with subcontractors, and the chapter closes with a
section on inspections and another on completing the finishing
folks seem to feel that alternative electrical power ought to
have something to do with an electrical system powered by the
sun, wind, or water. If you are lucky enough to live in an area
that will support any of these options, and if your power needs
are either modest enough or your budget is big enough, sun, wind,
and water are the ways to go.
- A hydroelectric
system is ideal, because it runs day and night and its performance
is not dependent on good weather. Hydro systems, especially those
capable of producing 110-volt AC power directly, are exempt from
much of the complex and expensive control hardware necessary
in solar systems. But there are two major considerations. The
first, of course, is having access to a stream with sufficient
volume and drop to make it work. The suppliers of hydroelectric
hardware can give you the methods and formulas necessary to determine
the potential of a stream (see Resource Guide). But the second
consideration, at times insurmountable, is dealing with bureaucracies.
- This chapter
goes into brief discussions on solar, wind and hydro-electric
systems and their relative virtues, and then delves into another
kind of system: the generator based electrical system. There
are many excellent books available on solar and hydro systems,
but hardly anything is available on an efficient, environmentally-friendly
system that is powered by a generator.
- Discussed here
are all of the considerations necessary to establish such a system.
It's not for everybody, but it is easy to build and maintain,
it's affordable, and it will produce power when the sun is behind
the clouds. The following chapter, "Our Own Electrical System,"
is a description of the exact system that powered our 108-acre
mountain homestead for ten trouble-free years.
- Our Own Electrical
- Rather than
tell what can be done with an alternative electrical
system, this chapter tells what has been done.
This is the system we used to power our homestead for the ten
years we owned it, and the system is still in service many years
later. The chapter explains why we selected this type of system
and how we went about building it. It tells about the research
we did into existing systems and why we found most of them unsatisfactory.
Explained are the many advantages of a diesel generator over
a gasoline-powered one, some technical details on the installation,
the philosophy behind our choices and finally, what changes we'd
make if we were going to do it all over again. Check out More Power To You! for a complete, illustrated,
step-by-step manual on how to duplicate this system. (Available
- Water Systems
on Alternative Power
a water system for a conventional home on public power and with
a normal water supply is easy and straightforward; if you don't
already know how to do it, there are lots of books available
to guide you (see the Resource Guide). Water systems for homes
on alternative power are a different story. There are also some
specialized cases where homes which are hooked to the grid still
have to deal with unique water management problems, and the material
in this chapter may apply to them, too.
In most cases, the plumbing in the house itself will be the same
as in a conventional system. The differences are in the equipment
required to get the water under pressure and then into the house.
The Resource Guide lists excellent books to steer you through
the basics of standard, residential plumbing.
element of independence is transportation. Will you need four-wheel-drive
in the winter and during the spring thaw? Will you need a heavy-duty
pickup? An economy-car for passenger trips to town and elsewhere?
We heartily recommend two vehicles if at all possible.
- Heavy-duty pickups
and trucks or vans can be expensive to operate. They gump indecent
amounts of fuel, and have big, expensive tires that wear out
fast if used for daily transportation. If you need an occasional
truck and you also have an efficient, small car, you can save
the truck for when you need its utility.
Another real bonus of having two vehicles is that if one becomes
inoperable for any reason, you have the other as a backup. This
becomes ever so much more important the farther you are from
- This chapter
discusses every imaginable consideration on vehicles in a rural
application, all the way from lightweight country applications
to serious mountain use in snow and mud. It covers such essentials
as insurance; selecting the best one or two vehicles (and how
to decide whether one or two are better for your use); tires;
use of trailers; what optional extras are practical, useful,
and why; the pros and cons of four-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive;
whether or not "newer is better;" maintenance; and
- Tools and
Equipment: What Will You Need?
you be building your own house? Farming? Setting up a home business?
Will you need snow removal equipment? Let's look at some of these
topics and see just what the necessaries entail.
- Some folks are
disgusted at the thought of power tools, electric lights, and
other trappings of civilization. Others won't do without them.
You'll have to decide that for yourself. But if you think that
you will be comfortable with kerosene lamps instead of electric
lights, an axe instead of a chainsaw, and shovels instead of
a tractor, be VERY objective in your thinking and don't neglect
to try your new style out in your pre-move year. There is no
conflict between homesteading and the utilization of technology.
"Homesteading" is not synonymous with "austerity."
- Among the topics
covered in this chapter are discussions on taking along existing
equipment as opposed to replacing it when you get to your new
environs; how the distance you are going will affect this decision;
power tools in general, and how to find ones that will last for
many years; what kinds of tools to avoid no matter what; tool
warranties and what they mean; what you'll need if you're going
to build your own house; equipment necessary for any kind of
serious farming; where to find killer deals on all this stuff;
tractors and how to find the right one of your needs; snow-removal
equipment and even how to build your own; what you'll need if
you're going to be building any roads or clearing land; buying
vs. renting equipment vs. hiring the job done, and more.
- Getting the
Most out of Your Wood Stove
are moving to where it gets cold, when winter comes will your
wood stove be all ready to go? Is it efficient enough to meet
your own and the EPA's requirements? Will you be ready to make
the investment that the purchase and installation of new heating
stoves has become?
- There are dozens
of snazzy new stoves on the market, both with and without the
catalytic converters which are required by law in some areas.
All new stoves are very expensive. Some don't even need firewood.
- Sounds confusing,
doesn't it? This chapter makes it easy. Discussions include making
the best of what you've got already; overhauling antique stoves
and making them perform almost as well as some of the new ones;
chimney cleaning; maintenance and some tricks to help avoid the
need for periodical chimney cleanings; making your stove work
in its specific environment as efficiently as possible; and even
warm-air circulation tricks that cut wood consumption by a large
margin. This chapter goes into all the neat stuff that you rarely
find covered in other publications on heating with wood.
- Earning Your
Keep at Home
already established that it is nearly impossible to run a homestead
without a dependable source of income. Ideally, wouldn't you
like to earn that income right at home? Not only would you enhance
your feelings of independence and self- sufficiency, but you
could enjoy another level of togetherness with your family.
- We've seen a
lot of folks pack it in and head back to town because they "couldn't
find a job." It seems somehow foolhardy to set off on a
homesteading adventure when the whole show is dependent on finding
a job in the nearest town. Especially when most small towns have
one thing in common: significant unemployment. When a job does
come up, it's much more likely that it will go to a local than
to a newcomer.
- OK, that said,
what do we do about it? This chapter offers lots of examples
of home businesses, and a discussion on whether or not you are
even cut out to run your own business. Some of us are, and others
are not. There's nothing right or wrong about either; we sure
do need both! More often than not, though, the kinds of folks
who have the motivation and self-discipline to be successful
homesteaders are also the kinds of folks who do well in their
own businesses. The Internet has opened a huge amount and yet
unimagined new doors of opportunity for us who choose to live
in the country, too.
- When Things
last chapter is about something that happens to all of us from
time to time. It's especially common during the long, slow progress
of major undertakings, like building a home, or even preparing
the property to get started building.
The one-thing-at-a-time concept came to me one summer evening
as I sat on the edge of the unfinished roof of the unfinished
portion of the unfinished addition I was building onto our unfinished
house. From my vantage point, I could see it all at once. Not
only the house and addition, but the shop building, tank house
and the greenhouse, which were all--you guessed it-- unfinished.
I looked around at all the work ahead of me and was overwhelmed.
I just sat there with my head in my hands and wept. I was overcome
by a massive dose of depression, thinking about the thousands
of hours of work required to finish just the parts I could see.
- This chapter
offers a way to handle these times and come out smiling!
- About the
this book, you'll learn things about the author, but we put this
in here for those who like to get a feeling about who is talking
to them before doing a lot of listening. So here it is.
- As a kid, Skip
often asked his father why he chose to work 49 weeks of the year
at a job he didn't like so that he could go up to the mountains
he dearly loved for the other three weeks. He said that was how
life was: a lot of sacrifice for a little pleasure.
- The kid didn't
- But he struggled
with this dismal philosophy for years. He was somewhere in his
thirties before he figured out that life really did not need
to be that way. And in 1974, he and his wife Sande moved out
of the San Francisco Bay Area to the hills of Oregon on their
quest for life as it should be. They got their feet wet in their
quest for self-sufficiency by buying a rustic owner-built A-frame
on four acres of woods and a few miles from the nearest small
town. They heated with wood, raised almost all of their own food,
and earned their keep in the shop they built on the property.
- After about
four years, they wanted to get farther out and really start from
scratch. So in 1978, they put a down payment on 108 acres of
pine and oak forest on the northeast slope of Mt. Hood. The land
was at 2600 feet elevation, sixteen miles from the nearest town,
eight miles from the nearest paved road and powerline, and there
wasn't so much as a shed on it.
- In the following
year before moving to their new property, they accumulated all
of the materials they would need to build their cabin, mostly
from folks who salvaged the materials from old city houses that
fallen victim to progress. Every time they made the
trip over the mountain to their new homesite, they took as much
stuff as their stout old pickup truck could hold. They made quite
a few trips to their new homesite carrying up to 24-foot long
beams on the truck's lumber rack.
- In 1979, they
sold their first place in Oregon and made the big move to their
new homesteading adventure. Their first few years were busy and
exciting. They added to their cabin, built a shop, greenhouse,
poultry house, water and electrical systems; put in a great garden,
raised chickens and turkeys, and again, earned their keep right
on the place. They were also successfully home-schooling their
son, Jake, who was by now about six years old.
- During those
first few years, they learned a lot. They had to deal with 5
of snow their first winter there, 20-below-zero nights, 100-degree
summer days, and all of the effects those extremes had on their
essential survival systems like water, electricity, and keeping
their poultry alive!
- Then in June
1984, the unthinkable happened: Sande was killed in an auto accident.
After that, Jake and his Skip made do by themselves, with Skip
doing his best to meet Jake's Mom & Dad needs plus keeping
the income flowing. Then late in 1985, he decided to reach out
a bit for some company. He ran a "personals" ad in
a Portland arts and entertainment paper looking for some possible
female companionship. He wasn't looking for a wife; just a compatible
lady with whom he could share some time and maybe develop a friendship.
One didn't meet a lot of new people living out where they did.
- One of the respondents
was Cat Freshwater, who later did become Skip's wife, friend
and partner, not necessarily in that order. Cat had had experience
in almost all of the areas of life that interested him the most,
and proved to be an enthusiastic and capable homesteading partner.
Her editing expertise and their common interest in computers
would later be the inspiration that started their first home-based
publishing company, Oregon Wordworks.
- During the next
few years on the mountain, they totally debugged their electrical
system. Visiting friends had a difficult time believing that
they made their own electricity; they had all the electrical
gadgets found in most city homes, and then some. They ran their
home, shop and office with that system, never had a blackout,
and the cost of operation was minimal.
- After listening
to repeated requests that they write a manual on how to duplicate
their electrical system, they finally did. They self-published
their first book, More Power to You! (See Resource Guide.)
- Fast forward
a few years: Skip, Cat, and Jake always loved the ocean. They
made countless trips to the beach from their mountain home, a
drive of 125 miles each way. During 1988 and '89, they started
going to the beach at least once a month. Soon they were going
every two weeks, and eventually they decided that they were ready
for a change (like trading those dry, dusty, 100-degree summers
and 20-below winters for some cool ocean fog and temperate days
year 'round), and they put the homestead up for sale.
- With the proceeds
from the sale of their place on the mountain, they paid off what
they still owed on the land, and made a down-payment on a little
house close to the beach on the North Oregon coast. Their intent
was to stay in that house until they found just the right spot
on the coast to start over with a brand-new homestead. They built
an addition to accommodate the Oregon Wordworks office, and while
Cat ran that business, Skip got his contractor's license and
started a construction company. Over the next four years, they
published a local coast arts & entertainment newspaper and
two more books, and built (and sold) four houses and remodeled
two, including the house they were living in.
- Meanwhile, they
were warily observing the changes happening to the Oregon coast.
Their once-sleepy little community was being discovered
by affluent city-dwellers looking for tax-deductible second homes.
During their four years there, the number of homes doubled, along
with the price of real estate, and, for them anyway, the charm
began to evaporate. And if that weren't enough, the timber businesswhich
includes both government and private interestscontinued
to rape the forests of Oregon to the point where much of the
reason for moving there was lost forever. From their home they
could see the devastation of the mindless clear-cutting in the
- They started
looking for other options. Knowing that they were going to have
to find another destination for their next home, they started
to analyze their priorities. They had moved to the coast to be
near the ocean; they wanted to stay near the ocean. They loved
to play in the water, so a warmer ocean would be even better.
They loved lush forests, low population density, warm weather,
and a laid-back lifestyle. It didn't take them a whole lot of
research to focus on the Island of Hawaii.
- Skip's mantra:
First you jump; then you grow wings.
- Their first
reconnaissance trip included a stop on Oahu to visit Skip's cousin.
Honolulu had indeed become a beach-front Vegas and didn't feel
at all right. The Big Island of Hawaii, however, was very much
as it had been twenty years earlier when Skip had spent some
time there. There were few tourists (much to the dismay of the
tourist industry), little development, and the same old laid-back
lifestyle, particularly on the gorgeous, tropical windward side
of the island. Cat fell in love with Hawaii and Skip's old romance
was rekindled. They decided to go for it. In August of 1993,
they sold their little home at the beach in Oregon, sorted their
remaining affairs there, packed everything they owned into a
24' container, and moved to Hawaii.
- Segue to Hawaii
. . .
- Here they are
again in a little house, but this time in a fantastic tropical
forest. And, once again they were looking for that perfect spot
to build their homestead. It was their first winter there, and
what a change! A typical winter day brought a soft, seventy-degree
breeze wafting through the area, carrying the sensuous aromas
of the tropical forest. It rained most nights but cooled off
only to the high sixties. In the afternoons, during the time
they used to have to deal with firewood issues, they'd go for
their daily swim in the warm, crystal-clear ocean. A lot of folks
on the Big Island depend on alternative electricity and independent
water systems. Skip and Cat fit right in in that regard, and
indeed one of their first tasks was to completely redesign and
rebuild the failed rainwater collection water system that served
- Wow, time flies!
Jake is now seventeen, attending high school in Hawaii, and learning
the skills of surfing. Skip and Cat have written numerous articles
for various publications, including Backwoods Home Magazine,
Back Home Magazine, Mother Earth News, and others.
- Oregon Wordworks
is still alive and well in Oregon, and they thank all their readers
for their continued support. The Modern Homestead Manual
was the first book they wrote and published from Hawaii.
- Moving ahead
another few months, after a wonderful and productive 9 years
together, this was about the time that Cat decided that she needed
to pursue another direction in her life. Cat and Skip ceased
to be an item in 1995. Jake and Skip were going it alone again,
but not for long this time. In Jakes senior year in high
school, he acquired enough computer skills to land a job installing
all of the computer systems in the brand new wing just finished
for his school. He spent his first free summer at
that job and that accomplishment on his resume landed him his
first job away from home. Far, far away from home. He moved to
San Carlos, in San Francisco's infamous Silicon Valley, where
now, some 17 years later, he is still working as a successful
IT network engineer.
- Time marches
on, doesnt it? Fast forward the story to 1999, and Skip
is feeling that old need for companionship again, so he ran a
posting on the Web site, Match.com. Again, it was
an informal thing, not a wife search. The replies
were many, but only one interested him. This response was from
a woman who lived in Belmont, only a few minutes from where Jake
was now living. Camille was not looking for a relationship, but
had always wanted to move to Hawaii and was looking for somebody
who lived there and was willing to talk about life in Hawaii.
Since Skip loves to talk, this worked out very well!
- After exchanging
hundreds of emails, Camille finally came to Hawaii so they could
meet. And talk, of course. Long story short, after a few more
trips over, Skip invited her to move in with him, she did, and
a few moths later they were married in a beautiful informal ceremony,
right on the ocean, and attended by some dear friends.
- Over the next
fourteen years, they combined their efforts in many areas. Among
them was buying old dilapidated plantation-style houses and remodeling
them back to their original charm. They kept one early on as
a vacation rental, and that stared yet another small business
- The next book
the Thomsens wrote was "Affordable Paradise,"
and that was in response to the many people who kept asking them,
How can you afford to live in Hawaii year round?
We tired of answering all the questions, especially from the
good folks who stayed in our vacation rentals, so now we needed
only to refer them to the book. It is actually quite possible
to live cheaper in Hawaii than in many places on the Mainland,
especially if youre into homesteading and self-sufficiency.
- Fast Forward
to 2013. You can fill in some of those wonderful years by reading
"Affordable Paradise!" During those years,
their kids had babies, otherwise known (like, to us) as grandkids.
The grandkids were growing up and the only way Skip & Camille
could see them was to leave their precious Island and go to California
where they all live. Their uber-busy kids had neither the time,
money, nor inclination to come to Hawaii, so it was up to them.
(Interesting side note is that so many people would give anything
just to have a vacation in Hawaii, but none of their kids like
it there. Go figure,)
- So after more
and more trips across the ocean each year, and the flights becoming
ever more costly, less comfortable and more hassle, Skip and
Camille started thinking about possibly moving back to California.
They were both Californians from long ago, so it wouldnt
be like culture shock. But they knew that even though the kids
all lived in the Bay Area, the most expensive and crowded part
of the State, they could not survive anywhere near there. Or
afford it. If they were going to go back, they could have to
find a place that was remote, near the ocean, in a forest, affordable,
and a reasonable drive to the kids.
- After about
a dozen research trips during 2011, they actually found such
a place. They found a house on top of a hill, deep in the redwoods
of Sonoma County, a short drive to the ocean, less than two hours
from their farthest-away kids, and yes, affordable. In November,
2011, they flew their last flight from their beloved Hawaii and
became California residents again. The house they bought is fairly
new and not at all them. They have been diligently
looking for just the right little cabin that needs a lot of TLC
to bring it back to life, and then theyll make it energy-efficient
and hopefully do a full passive solar heating system. It wont
be another homestead this time because at 76 years young Skip
is just not up to starting over to that degree. But theyll
make it as self-sufficient as they can and put to use some of
the valuable lessons theyve learned over many years of
living beyond the sidewalks and power lines.
Modern Homestead Manual, Revisited" in its eBook Edition
was written and produced in response to requests from readers
of the first two editions of the original book. Seems folks wanted
this same realistic viewpoint of what it really takes to make
it beyond the sidewalks, only rewritten to speak to a contemporary
audience. It felt a bit alien to Skip at first, to produce an
eBook for something as basic as homesteading, but then, we're
talking modern homesteading, right? He does avail
himself of new technology, like computers, tablets, smart phones,
social media, and the like. It just seemed at odds with something
as old-fashioned in its concept as going back to the land.
- Cat Freshwater,
who contributed most of what is still the chapter, Togetherness,
has not been listed as co-author on the eBook because of the
complete rewrite of the rest of the book. Her contribution is
noted in Acknowledgments.
- Footnote: Lest
all of the above moving from place to place is making you dizzy,
Cat, Camille and I were all blessed from birth with a "Gypsy"
gene that makes us love all the adventure of trying new places.
We've made each move from the standpoint of going someplace that
looked even better than where we were, (almost) never with the
feeling of escaping from a place we didn't like. The only possible
exception to this was when we left the Oregon Coast. We really
did love living there, but the rapidly changing demographics
and the relentless logging of the Coast Range forests were a
reasons to seek greener pastures.