Homesteading-The Detritus of Another Man’s Dreams
They arrived like we had, out of nowhere with a moving truck full of stuff. I hate moving. Looking at my personal wealth piled in the back of a Uhaul, reminds me too much of a garbage truck. I suspect they started out by pitching a big family tent and tarping over the rest of their belongings to keep the weather from destroying it all.
The first picture is of the only “building” they succeeded in erecting. Looks like a big two-story doghouse. The second floor had a mattress. Best guess is that their young children slept there and the dog slept on the ground floor. With the abundance of wildlife in these parts, I can see the sense in that. Beside that structure looks like a row of rabbit cages. I don’t know what other kind of domestic animal could be kept like that. This I don’t understand. Meat rabbits are not a great source of food and in this country it isn’t economical to raise Angora rabbits for their “wool” except as a small-scale hobby.
Next to all that sits a stack of six fully framed windows (not pictured). The frames are rotting off of two of them but the other four are protected enough from the weather to be in excellent condition. I’m tempted to try to contact the owner to see if she’ll allow me to salvage them. Not sure I need them at this point and also not sure I want to bring up bad memories for the family.
The second picture shows just a frame covered with tarps. Judging by the accompanying junk, it was used for washing and bathroom. Like we did at the beginning they must have buried their waste. I’m not sure what they were planning to do long term. There were no signs of digging latrines. We were better equipped. We have a composting toilet system that just needed a building to house it.
The third picture is of a collapsed lean to. This is where the adults stayed. Rotten mattresses and half destroyed cupboards. I have no clue as to how long they lasted before they couldn’t handle it anymore. This structure was completely inadequate. There is no way anyone could have wintered in that.
The last picture shows a small chicken house and pen. This is something we hope to do but haven’t gotten to yet. I suspect this didn’t go well at all. We kept chickens in Ontario before moving here. The bush here is full of racoons, skunks and coyotes. I don’t think a flock would have lasted long in there. That’s the main reason we haven’t made an effort to keep chicken here yet ourselves. They need predator proof housing.
So Where Did They Go Wrong?
Walking around this abandoned camp, I'm struck by the lack of work toward a permanent dwelling. Only sign of work in that direction is that stack of windows. They would have been nice once they were installed in a house. No disrespect to family who tried to make a go of it here. I'm painfully aware of all the work they did. Young children to take care of, small animals to feed, brush to clear and a million little everyday chores that have to be done, they weren't lazy.
I dare say they had to be overworked. It isn't just the work on the property but one of them had to be working a full time job somewhere else. Work all day and then come back home to work some more. My guess is that the husband had that on his plate. Someone had to care for the children. Her job could not have been easy either. Doing laundry by hand is no fun and if they didn't do that they dragged the clothes all the way to Sackville where they used the laundromat. Without electricity and plumbing (or nearby source of water) daily chores are a big mountain to climb. I'm sure they both went to bed each evening exhausted and frustrated.
I'm sure they had a reasonable plan in the beginning. It's easy to overestimate what you can get done in a day homesteading. Jobs here aren't plentiful and they don't pay all that well. Standing looking at what is left of their dreams, I can feel the financial pressures building. I can imagine their plans falling behind schedule. That kind of pressure is hard on a marriage. I'm told she left with the kids and they got divorced. I find the pictures alone depressing. Standing in the middle of their junk is a sombre experience.
My intentions in writing this are not to discourage or disparage anyone planning to or trying to homestead . I understand the dream. Without adequate planning or resources, it can go horribly wrong. Even with planning and money bad things can happen. You have to be prepared for emergencies and worse, possible interference from well meaning individuals. It isn't an easy path. Success I'm sure is immensely satisfying. We're just not there yet.
My last word is do your homework. Here is a short list of resources to get started. I have no connection with these sites. Don't stop with these. The Internet is a great place for research. I'd encourage you to read everything you can find on the subject. If you don't have time for that you probably don't have time to homestead either.
Late Additional Coincidence
At the beginning of the year, I finally landed a local job as labour at McDonald's. Not my dream job but it will hopefully allow me to get my own woodworking business off the ground. When my co-workers heard about which neck of the woods my family lived in, they introduced me to Neil who works there as well. Turns out he and his ex-wife built the camp in this article. I don't think my guesses are far off the mark. He will joke about living conditions back in there but he doesn't really want to talk about the details of his own experience. He doesn't communicate with his ex-wife any more so I'm not closer to getting those discounted windows.
© 2014 John