"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." -Cardinal Francis George

Friday, February 24, 2012

Location Considerations for a Homestead

Off the top of my head, and in no defined order as of yet, these are some things I thought of as serious considerations for where to look for an area to start a homestead. Not that I am doing any such thing next month, but gathering information is always a good idea. And hey, a guy can dream, right? So if you have any thoughts, whether new items or elaborations of current items, please comment and I will update the list!

1. Proximity to sacraments.

2. Proximity to a Catholic community that is traditional, and therefore less likely to change over time from a new priest, etc. Devin suggests: "Ideally a monastery or convent is close by that is a new evangelization/orthodox/traditional community."

3. Proximity to like minded families.

4. Close to a city large enough to support some selling of domestically produced products. (Salatin recommended within 40 miles of a city of 25,000 or more. So ideally, it would seem an area in the center of a 40 mile radius circle of 2 or more such cities on the perimeter would be perfect.)

5. Far enough away from metropolitan zones (starting at 50,000+ population) to be immune to urban sprawl. No closer than 60 miles from the center of a 0.5 Million+ metro area, perhaps adding ~10 miles for each additional 0.5 Million.

6. State or foreign country with liberal homeschooling laws that is likely to remain such.

7. State or foreign country with liberal agriculture laws that is likely to remain such.

8. Large variety of production types possible from the land.

9. Diversity of landscapes. Pasture, woods, water, hills.

10. Water --preferably rain fall that is over 35 inches annually. (From Devin)

11. A state that has a lower cost of living. Colorado and California are beautiful but everyone wants to live there, so everything is expensive. (From Devin)


  1. This is a good list. Definitely want a place that has water--preferably rain fall that is over 35 inches annually.

    Also a state that has a lower cost of living. Colorado and California are beautiful but everyone wants to live there, so everything is expensive.

    Ideally a monastery or convent is close by that is a new evangelization/orthodox/traditional community.

    God bless! We should talk some time about all this.

  2. If you like the cold, Montana / Idaho aren't bad. The are pretty affordable, and tend to be more 'free' states. The beauty is also there, with the mountains.

    I'd stay away from the east coast, and the west coast. The laws in both places will not be conducive to living the life you desire.

    I haven't looked for as much specific stuff - like streams / landscape. I always figured that the beautiful earth was everywhere - its the people / government you need to worry about. In my looking, it has always been about laws first, weather second, landscape 3rd. So far, no place looks like 'home'. :)

  3. Remember the community that Wicksell joined in VA/TN about ten years ago with RC JR? By the way, great to see you in person yesterday after all these years! It was a blessing to meet you and your family and also sit under the instruction of the bishop.

  4. I've also been entertaining thoughts on being an expat!

  5. Your not alone in that Andre - get while the getting is good!

  6. Devin,
    Excellent points. I think particularly cost of living point is important, and I think that goes hand-in-glove with being a ways out from large metro areas that tend to creep out and raise land costs. The Pensylvania Amish are experiencing that problem. They cant afford to pass land down (or buy it) to their children, so they are having to move west to Wisconsin and elsewhere. What I am wanting to do is collect as many of these ideas as I can and then go on nationalatlas.gov


    andthe hslda (homeschool site) to cross reference them. By just cross referencing rainfall and homeschool friendliness, I think a lot of areas can be eliminated right off the bat. California is out of the question for a number of reasons I think! To manny fruits and nuts.

    Would love to talk about this with you Devin. Anytime.

  7. Bob,

    The mountains would be my dream! Or at least to live nearby some. Wyoming, Idaho and Montana are good prospects, but the problem there is they are almost TOO isolated. There would be more limited options because of distance to populated areas. Also much of that land is cheap because it is either high plains/alpine desert, and or mountainous. Tillable land has more options.
    But hey, I like I said, I agree that it would be my preference. Particularly near the "mystic monks" near Cody WY.

  8. Andre,
    Yep! I remember. It is the Highlands Study Center, and it is still there. Although RC Jr. is not there anymore I dont think. Strangely, those Reformed guys took a lot of their ideas from Chesterton and the Catholic Land Movement, but they never gave credit to them.

    I think Wicksell never made it out there because he didnt have employment lined up. The key is to first and foremost make sure you can support your family. That is the stage I am in right now: looking into the best angle of attack to get out of the rat race and onto a homestead.

  9. "I've also been entertaining thoughts on being an expat!"

    Aww. Dont be afraid of Obama. He just wants what is best for you... really he does. ;-)

    Where were you thinking? Phillipines? Tim Troutman has a charity for the Phillipines caled the Phillipine Aid Association (I think). You could work with that. Lord knows the Phillipines should get more support from US Catholics.

  10. I seem to remember a baby boy in the back seat of the van, on the way to the mid west, usually crying or sleeping. He was VERY loved by his sisters and brother. (talk of Cody inspired this)

    I remember stopping at Cody, WY on the way out, us girl's favorite stopping place because it had a GREAT park with HUGE play structures (all gone now because they are 'dangerous', I'm sure). Yes the world is a weird place at times but we had fun!

    David, Doug has done much of what you speak of, farmed/ranched in Idaho, CA for enough cash, all the maps the San Diego library could provide...soil, water, weather, population centers, earthquakes and tornados...you name it. Joel Salatin's books amongst others, and farming for real. He can tell you some things about that.

    A family makes the whole thing tricky, without a doubt the reason the old man bailed. He wanted to be able to follow those monks....and that is NO JOKE, Bro. That's EXACTLY why he bailed on us all. Looking at where you come from can be useful.

    There are lots of Dispensationalists already in the Philippines.....and Wilson already beat us all to Northern Idaho....the homeschooling there is as free as it gets! (ID is where WE will head if it gets too weird... must have a plan....) and trust me, you do NOT want to do ANYTHING farm-like in Cody! Think sage brush....hang'em high style.

    How many of your friends have actually tried this? It aint't as easy as it sounds or looks. Often 80 - 100 work hours a week and Doug's only had 54 days off in the last 16 years.....no joke, he counts them. And no Disney vacations or trips to any island paradises. Getting to OH has been very rare indeed, not to mention MN :)

    If you want to practice...hands on and all that... you know where to come. The chickens, cows, turkey and all, await you and yours!!

    But ask us if we would trade it? No. Do things differently, yes. But it is still "the life" and we hope to be able to hang on to what we've got alittle longer....raise the rest of the kids at least and maybe some of the grand kids. The 'real thing' takes alot more than just romantic ideas, trust me. My husband has a healthy dose of VISIONARY in him, just as you do.

    Keep studying up, and good luck to you all! I hope you get to taste of your dreams! ......M

  11. Yeah, that is from me, not Doug. I couldn't remember my Google password! M

  12. Hey sis, nice to hear from you! I would love to hear from you guys about anything you could share. I am just finishing "You Can Farm" by Salatin, and I thought about you and Doug just about every page, because you're the only farmers I know.
    You said you would do things differently. I would love more info on that. If you feel you have made mistakes, at least then those mistakes could be put to use as a warning to others. Feel free to comment and let me know. Keep in mind this is all very early planning stages for me. It is not as if the old model-T is loaded up and I am now looking for places for the homestead. The #1 question is of course profitability, something Salatin drives home on every page. But I think location considerations are high on the list as well, particularly since a move can be made before profitability is achieved. I can move somewhere and keep a full/part time job (as you well know).

    Speaking of our father you said:
    "A family makes the whole thing tricky, without a doubt the reason the old man bailed."

    I agree. He turned an asset into a liability though. As you and I know, having a full quiver is a good thing, not something to run from. Remember also Melissa, he ran off to be a eastern/buddhist monk. For them leaving a family is a somewhat morally neutral choice. For Catholics there are BOTH monks and families, and BOTH are seen as equally important vocations (callings) among Catholics. For Catholics marriage is one of our seven sacraments right up there with the Eucharist and Baptism. It is a BIG deal. The calling to marriage and family life is seen by Catholics to be just as important as the calling to celibacy and the priesthood or being a monk. This is why we call our homes "domestic churches". So for me there is no "tension" like there probably was for Dad. Where he had to choose between the "spiritual" -OR- a family, I can have both, and have my family enhance my spiritual life and vise versa. It is sad, because I think I understand where he was coming form in some ways... he wanted a deeper spiritual life, he wanted to go to the next level... but in his religion at the time, there was no outlet for him to do that and remain in a family. It is sad really.
    I on the other hand, having access to the fullness of the Truth which is found in Christ's Church (1 Tim. 3:14,15) do not have to pit family life with the spiritual life. A Catholic family with 12 kids is just as spiritualy necessary and powerful an endevour as a celibate monk praying in the mountains.

  13. Melissa said:
    "Often 80 - 100 work hours a week and Doug's only had 54 days off in the last 16 years.....no joke, he counts them. And no Disney vacations or trips to any island paradises. Getting to OH has been very rare indeed, not to mention MN :)"

    He is a machine! You are lucky to have such a hard worker.
    Salatin says he has about 1 hour of chores in winter by doing seasonal farming and stacking operations on each other rather than trying to keep things cranked out all winter. Do you perhaps think doing the "year round" large single product farming in hindsight might be the reason Doug has so much on his plate? I would love to hear your thoughts from down in the trenches.