Barbara H. Peterson
Most of us have wondered what it would be like to pack bag and baggage, move to a remote area of the country, be able to cut all ties to the outside world if necessary and live off-grid. Quite a daunting task, and a bit scary. But it can be done, as evidenced by Bud and Judy who did just that around 9 years ago, and are thriving today because of it.
I asked Bud what their motivation was, and he said: “We just wanted to do things on our own.” Well, they are doing just that. Isolated from the artificial existence of city life, cocooned in the warm glow of self-sufficiency and ready to cut the ties to civilization at any moment, Bud and Judy are living a life that most of us only dream about, and I was about to get a peak at their hideaway…
The Road to Paradise
It was a nice day, and the sun was shining. I could hardly wait to see what Bud and Judy had created. From all accounts, this was a little piece of paradise, right here in the southernmost hills of Oregon. Would it be like I had imagined?
When my friend Linda and I entered the road going to the homestead I couldn’t help but notice the peaceful quiet surrounding me like a soft glove, caressing my senses and pulling me into its wonder. Water is abundant here, flowing out of the mountain and filling ponds, homes, and reservoirs. No well pumps here, just free gravity flow all year-round.
Sometimes the Road is Rocky
The sides of the road were lined in rock. Rocks cover a good portion of the land, and this required a bit of clearing. So, what do you do with the rock that you clear off your land? Why, build a fence, of course!
Permanent and beautiful, rock fences are also practical, especially when the building material is free. We were almost to the house, and the anticipation was growing minute by minute.
Down on the Ranch
When we arrived, it was like the veil was lifted to another place in time. A time when factory farms didn’t exist and pollution wasn’t a concern. The thought ran through my head that I could live here for the rest of my life, never see the city again and it wouldn’t bother me one little bit.
The house is surrounded by critters, green grass, herbs, flowers, and life as it was meant to be. Water flows from the mountain to the house, over a small rock waterfall and down to a small pond above the garden area.
I asked Judy why everything stayed so green. She attributed it to the water and lots of horse manure. She plants in raised garden beds filled with manure and compost. She says that this is the best way to get the soil nice and rich for gardening.
Covers over the beds when necessary extend the growing season.
Every Goat’s Dream
Off to the right are the milking goats. Bud has built them individual homes with ramps, platforms, and cozy sleeping quarters.
Inside the Domain
Next, we went inside the house. This is Judy’s domain. She is a cabinet maker, and has built all of the cabinets, counter, book shelves, table with chairs, and the hutch you see in the following pictures from wood that Bud milled from the property.
Canning, food preparation and seed saving are a part of everyday life, and the spacious kitchen as the focal point in an open floor plan reflects this.
The floors are hand painted by Judy as well.
Chick Chick City
We relaxed in the living area and chatted. Pretty soon, a tiny head poked its way out from behind Bud’s chair. Saved from sure death, Bud and Judy took the little lost baby in and now he/she has become part of the family.
A bowl of dirt chock full of worms sits next to the lamp. A chick chick’s delight for an afternoon snack.
After a nice meal and drink of water in Bud’s lap, it’s time to check the Facebook page. Gee, wonder what’s going on in the world today?
The Power Hub
After a wonderful home-cooked meal prepared by Judy and a big glass of fresh, raw goat’s milk, we head on out to the back with Bud.
The first thing we see is the power plant. Lights and electricity are run off of batteries, which are charged by a generator that is run for about an hour every third day. Propane runs the oven, water heater, and refrigerator, and heat is provided by a woodstove, which also serves as a cooktop.
Just Horsin’ Around
A nice, big horse barn was waiting for us to the left, along with the three horses that Bud trained himself from the range herd that lives on the land. Bud says that some think they are a nuisance, but he thinks that they are where they should be, and that is – right in his back yard – free and able to roam at will.
Wild horses that live in the area have come to know and trust him, frequently wandering close to see if he has put out any treats for them. He feels responsible to supplement their feed in the winter when the snow is too deep to forage, and they know he will help them.
Another stop inside the house before we go, and Judy has a surprise waiting for me. I admired her plants, and asked for some clippings. Well, I received a lot more than clippings! Peering into her seed stash, Judy pulled out handfuls of precious seeds that she had saved herself from the garden and other areas around the homestead. I promised to share some of my saved seeds with her also.
This is heritage preservation, and so far removed from the corporate seed industry that the genetic engineering and hybridization of our planet’s life force is but a distant nightmare.
A Partin’ of the Ways
After losing all track of time, Linda nudged me, reminding me that it was time to go. The hardest part about visiting paradise is having to leave. One day, I remind myself, I’ll be back. And each day, I will work at finding what Bud and Judy have. One step at a time, one seed at a time. Whether in this life or the next, I will find my own little slice of paradise. Thank you Bud and Judy, for letting me visit yours.
©2013 Barbara H. Peterson