Homesteading Alone


Homesteading Alone
Published on Cool Tools | shared via feedly mobile

The uber American dream is to build your own comfy place on the edge of wilderness with your own hands. The attraction of this self-reliance is the chance to rewind civilization personally, to start over and do it your way. To own your own progress. Thoreau wrote the prime document of lifestyle self-reliance in his shed at Walden pond, an hour’s walk away from his home. Walden is still worth reading as a how-to and why-to book. Yet as the world’s wilderness shrinks, each generation seeks the wild further afield in order to retell the story of sprouting kernel of humanity in a small homestead.

There’s a lot to be learned from the few diehards who have homesteaded far off the grid in modern times, and who have written honestly about the practicalities of this adventure. I found three recent accounts to be most helpful. Listening to them you get to see how much of a subsidy civilization gives us, and how challenging it is to recreate it in even a small measure.

In An Island To Oneself, Tom Neale took over an uninhabited island in the Pacific in the 1950s and constructed a beach shack for his solitary home. He’s a sort of Robinson Crusoe, or Cast Away, for real. He voluntarily lived alone, separated from the nearest human by hundreds of miles of open sea. He had to be his own contractor, gardener, shipbuilder, fisherman, and doctor. The amount of household stuff he recreated from scratch is amazing. Neale had a lot of leisure as a full-time beach bum, but it’s a surprise how constantly he worked, and how thoroughly he had to prepare for everything. His account supplies great details about the reality of living on a deserted island. In a place like his the littlest mistakes could be fatal. His journal is a page turner with one small upset after another. It was no day at the beach.

Read the rest at Cool Tools

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