Because it’s our blog, we get to focus a lot on ourselves in the posts. My work on Self-Reliance Works deals with our experiences on our homestead as well, and plays up the rugged individuality of our situation. However, we need to stress periodically that we’re not out here alone. We’re a part of an off-the-grid neighborhood. If we’re different at all, it’s just that we’re a bit farther separated from the majority of homes over on the bay. Our nearest full time neighbors are as close as a quarter mile away.
We allude to the neighbors periodically. I don’t say a lot about them most of the time, simply because it’s none of our business to tell the wider world about them, or what they’re doing. We’re brave (perhaps naive, even foolish) enough to broadcast our thoughts and activities to the world. That doesn’t mean we have any right to expose our neighborhood in the same way.
Having said that, it’s important to note that most of what we’re doing, if not all of it, has been done longer and better by our neighbors. They have patiently taught us, through explicit lessons, and by example, much of what we’ve learned here. Some of it we doggedly learn in our own way. Doubtless those tasks, methods, or practices could be improved on by our more experienced neighbors. In addition, we owe an unrepayable debt to the original owners, who built the compound and set the homestead in place. All of our success rests squarely on their shoulders.
We ourselves seem to have very little of value to offer this community. That’s long been a concern of ours, something we’re seeking to overcome. We do what we can, and hope that it’s enough, and taken in the right spirit.
It’s also important to remember that in a wider sense, what we’re doing here isn’t unique. Other neighborhoods in our area are far more remote. There are thousands of Alaskans whose lives make us look like pampered city-slickers. We appreciate your willingness to read our blog, but if you want to learn how it’s really done, I strongly recommend Seth Kantner’s Shopping for Porcupine: A Life in Arctic Alaska (check your local independent bookstore). After that, you’ll laugh at us for being so proud of our pathetic efforts a few miles from a town of any size. If you’d prefer something a little less extreme, there are other books and films out there that show truly off-the-grid, wilderness experiences.
What’s my point? I don’t want anyone to think that we’re too full of ourselves. This is a humble effort, one that challenges our resourcefulness and capability, but it isn’t anything earthshaking. We never undertook the blog to give that impression. Rather, it started as an easy way to let friends and family know what we’re up to, and it’s grown from there.
If at any time we seem to be taking ourselves too seriously, please use the comments section to bring us back down a notch or two. We’ll certainly be better for it.
You will find a version of the essay above, as well as writing on similar and related topics in the ebook, Sacred Coffee: A “Homesteader’s” Paradigm by Mark A. Zeiger. The ebook version will likely be expanded, clarified, or updated from what you have just read.