Back to the land...

This blog is an account of our experiences trying to homestead in Eastern Tennessee. We've bought almost ten acres with power and a well, and a small shed for the well pump. Half the land is already cleared.

This year we haul out 10 tons of trash from an old burned down home. We plant a large garden, and fruit trees, and build a compost bin specifically for humanure. We build a small pad for a gazebo up under the oaks, and begin building our house/barn, with grading, a stone foundation, a concrete stem wall, and the modified post and beam frame. Everything is done by hand. We also dig four thirty foot swales across the top of the clearing and plant the berms with blueberry. A lot of work, and a lot more to go . . .

I'll also cover the process of picking out a piece of land, the negotiation, and "where to begin?" phase, at least how it all went for us.

[YEAR 2] - We build the shell of a 16'x25' two story cabin from scratch . . . check out how it was built.

[YEAR 3] - We try to finish the cabin . . .

[YEAR 4] - I move up permanently to the property to homestead full-time . . .

[YEAR 5] - Rachel and I try to make it as homesteaders . . with a wood cook stove, dairy goats and a cow, finish the barn, expand the garden, fence pastures, plant more fruit trees, build a flock of healthy layers, grow our own animal food - in other words . . . WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK . . .

[YEAR 6]
'Homesteading in Tennessee' is now HOLDOUT FARM. Check out our new farm website. We produce premium quality raw dairy products from our fodder-fed goats, pastured eggs, organic fruits and vegetables, and offer a seasonal list of classes on Permaculture Homesteading.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Finishing the Addition


We spent 2 weeks up in Tennessee finishing the addition. We also put in a fence around the garden.

The grass when we pulled up was over 2 feet high. We had to mow over and over the same rows to bring our yard back.

Some of the grass clippings I use to mulch around the fruiting shrubs and trees. I also begin sheet mulching some bare spots in the garden beds:

We lay down newspaper and later cardboard and pile on the grass. In April I'd leveled the beds, so the former high sides had lost much of their topsoil and some were down to bare clay. These are the spots I start mulching first.

Sheathing the walls takes a while as I have to put in a lot of blocking at the seams. And the only fasteners I have are the leftover galvanized 8d ringshank nails. The second I hit them slightly off they lay right over. I'm going to have to get a compressor and light-duty framing gun at some point for putting in sheathing. Especially for when I move on to the barn and its much bigger scale. Banging in all those nails by hand every 6" takes forever:

Our humanure compost that is aging this year is full of growth. On the right is a weed that pops up everywhere around where I plant. On the left are potato sprouts that have come up from old rotten potatoes we dumped here:

The left bin we're presently using is full of huge volunteer tomato plants. In fact I find tomato coming up where I'd fertilized the young shrubs and trees. But it doesn't get big and I pull it out.

The sheathing takes about a day:

Here's where I am at evening:

Rachael and Brooke have brought their gerbils along - Ricky and Jasper:

They're very intelligent and sociable and fun to watch. Gerbils are a species of Mongolian desert rat. They often stop and stand to look around. We let them run free in the addition once the sheathing's up. The girls set up a few obstacles and things to check out.

Mishka is separated by closing the french doors. He just stands at the door and watches them intently.

Mishka is basically an 'inside dog' while we're here. He gets to go out occasionally for supervised play. He's starting to realize there are some rules up here outside, and if we yell his name he runs to the door to be let back inside in self-punishment. Maybe gradually he'll learn to not leave the property - especially not head towards those chickens.

The metal for the roof is delivered on Thursday - our forth day here. It goes in easy, as I've done it before. But it's unbelievably hot standing out on the roof in the afternoon. I guzzle water and use a spray bottle to mist my face. After I install each piece of metal, I get down and soak my head in water and dunk my hat and wear it soaking wet.

I screw up a little in that I run the roofing in line with the cabin wall instead of the outer rafters - I wasn't sure which to trust for square. If it wasn't so hot I would have been more rational and measured the roof length at both the cabin abutment and eaves to get everything perfect. Instead I ran the sheets a hair cock-eye . . . it's not that noticeable and easily hid with the soffits - but it's still annoying.

The 'transition' flashing piece that comes with the roof for a shed-roof addition is a pain to put in. It's hard to shove it up against the wall and hold it there and fasten it at the same time:

It's pre-bent for a much steeper roof.

I'm not sure whether to run the flashing out beyond the wall with the roof overhang or not. Ultimately I decide not to. I'll have to figure out another way to flash my barge rafter overhang.

Here the roof is on, the addition walls are up and wrapped:

Someday there'll be a wraparound deck to hide the piers.

Here's a shot of the inside:

We've decided to do Mexican tile [or something similar] for the cabin floors, drywall for the walls, and lacquered tongue and groove boards for the high ceilings, with ceiling fans. I'll leave exposed and lacquer some of the post and beam frame - such as the center posts and beam and loft beams and joists.

The blueberry we planted two years ago is doing very well. Some have a lot of ripe berries:

The flavor is as sweet and rich as wild blueberries. I've had some cultivated blueberries before on huge shrubs that were weak in color and not that sweet. But these varieties . . . half a hardy species I got at Hidden Springs Nursery, and half from a local nursery, have excellent berries, no different from the ones we gathered up at Graveyard Fields in the Appalachians.

Some of the plants are almost waist-high. All have new growth. We've had a wet spring this year, which I'm sure helps.

But I notice once we've mowed and weed-whacked the high grass some of that new growth on the blueberries begins to wilt. I guess the high grass was keeping them in partial shade and conserving their moisture.

All I can think to do at this point is to begin mulching and surrounding the plants with pine boughs. I have many unwanted pines, especially up above the swales, and the needles should help keep the soil acid which is what blueberries like:

I bend and cut the pine boughs with my camp saw - it's a great cheap tool.

Literally the day after I begin to mulch the blueberries the new growth perks right back up.

We also get a full day of rain which helps.

Here I've mulched the blueberry up on the swales with pine boughs:

Some of these clayey berms not shaded by high grass were very barren and dry.

The barn floor has grayed but is still in good condition. I pour a little water on it to see how absorbent it is and whether it needs sealed again. The water instantly scatters into many droplets that sit on top of the surface. The kids play with the bubbles and split them and move them around, like little molecules. The wind wicks them away before they ever sink into the floor - so I guess it doesn't need sealed yet.

Here are two shots from the top of the barn:

Patty comes up for the second week. She brings the windows. I immediately start putting them in:

They're easy to install - new construction with nailing fins. We've bought seven 32" x 54" windows at Builder's Surplus here in Atlanta for $129 a piece. They're standard modern efficient windows:

I kind of realize how nice the original cabin is with its custom windows. It makes a place feel more unique. But these windows I think are fine here for the addition. This 12' x 25' room [really 2 rooms, dining and living room] gives us a lot more space. I'll eventually remove the exterior french doors to the addition and use them somewhere else, so there's a nice open space throughout the building.

We next put up a garden fence - a low-cost easy project in the heat that everybody can help with:

We buy 28 5' metal stakes from Lowe's and 200' of fencing. In all it costs about $300.

This fence will serve a lot of purposes. For one it will shield drying winds from the garden - it gets very, very dry in the intense sun on this south-facing slope up here.

The fence will also help keep animals out. And we'll plant vines and bushes all around it. I'll put in more grape, try some kiwi, and plant one 80' stretch completely with blue honeysuckle - a plant that is all the rage now, hardy, productive, evergreen, with good abundant fruit. Vines and bushes grown all around the fence will further shield the garden and make the fence itself more attractive. We leave three 4' openings for bringing a wheelbarrow in and out - they'll eventually have gates.

Here's a shot inside the addition with windows in as well as some castoff furniture:

It's actually nice and cool, with the large roof overhang, rather than a sunroom. This is good because what we really needed was more living space.

In order to run the fence along the back of the garden we have to move the huge rusted lawnmower that burned in the fire. I'd tried to move it and take it apart 2 years ago and gave up. But with Patty's help we're able to roll it out of the way and back by the juneberries:

I think I'll leave it here, as a memento from the fire. I wish I'd kept the bowling ball also - it had shrunken to half its size and become misshapen and lost all color like something out of the Flintstones.

After a heavy rain Rachael sweeps water off the upper barn floor where it's puddled up:

Someday [hopefully soon] this will be a large enclosed barn for animals/workshop/storage/studio/living space, etc.

Here's a shot of the garden fence in:

Even though we're not watering, the mint has gone crazy in the garden and sprouted up everywhere. There's both basil and peppermint:

We buy some topsoil and Patty begins transplanting it out of the garden and around our fruit trees. The stuff's so hardy it barely wilts from the transplant, even in the extreme heat, and begins to look like it was always there.

She surrounds one flowering peach with basil, and the other with peppermint.

We try to think of more low to zero-cost projects while we're altogether up here. That one lone sickly red oak standing right on the south-facing slope where one day our passive solar home will go is still in the way. I wonder if I can take it down with an axe. We don't have a chainsaw. It's about a foot in diameter, and 60 feet tall:

I happen to have a comprehensive book on cabins which illustrates how best to cut down a tree. New science, the author says, shows that the old 30 to 60 degree notch is incorrect. A 90 degree notch is best - then there's no risk of the tree pivoting and falling to one side.

It's an incredible workout whaling away with the axe. It starts to drizzle. After 30 minutes I've cut out my notch and am working on the back side. Patty sees lightening and sends Rachael out to bring me in - Patty's worried I'm going to get struck by lightning. I'm drenched in sweat, and rain, and exhausted, but I'd like to finish the job. I go inside for a while to take a break.

I joke to Patty that it's 'Man vs. Tree' out there. She can see the notch from the cabin.

After a short break I go back out and take it down. Only 5 more minutes and it creaks and goes down. They all run to the window but miss it fall:

She says I was supposed to yell "Timber!" Instead I just yelled, "Woah! Hey!"

Here's a closeup of the stump:

The tree fell exactly where I wanted it to. I have complete awe for guys that did this on a daily basis for a living. People were a whole different breed just a hundred years ago.

I think of Laura's husband in 'Little House on the Prarie', just after they'd moved from the Dakotas back east to Missouri to homestead on an apple orchard. To make a living he chopped trees down on the property and split them into firewood and sold it in town. He worked all day, and did this for months. In one book they'd said it was embarrassing to a man to have any difficulty hauling a 150 pound sack of wheat over his shoulder. They were in incredible shape, and lived in to their nineties.

We need a table so I throw one together one evening out of scrap boards and a small piece of flooring - it's about 4' x 4', 20" high - flat and sturdy:

We find a wonderful swimming hole two and half miles up the Obed River from where the rope swing was cut down. We hike the Cumberland Trail out to Alley Ford. The place is a Garden of Eden - the river's beautiful, clear, warm, there are huge sandstone cliffs, and a bottomless pool of water we can dive into over and over off a sandstone boulder. It's very lush on the other side of the river with moss and ferns and springs running across the rocks. The water's hot as it runs off the rocks - almost like a hot spring.

We'll definitely come back here. Maybe next time we'll bring intertubes and tube back down to our car. I don't know though . . . Patty hates rapids.

We paddle 4 to 5 miles up the Emory River:

The water's still here - backed up by the lake. We paddle upstream until we hit current. We forge up one set of rapids. But Patty gets upset as we're near the top and losing ground and drifting towards the rocks - we ferry to the near shore and ride back down.

It's exhausting paddling up just one set of rapids. How did Patty and I once do this for 500 miles up the Susquehanna River? We must have been machines. We did mix it up a lot though . . . with lining, portages, chasing eddies, and periods of dead water.

I love canoeing, and feel like I could paddle all day. I tell Patty we could take the Emory down to the Tennessee and all the way to Montana. She isn't interested.

We eat some of the mulberries from the tree leaning out over the river we ate from last year. But we're sort of in a hurry as it's thundering and we need to get back to the launch and off the water.

Here's a shot of the cabin from the driveway through the trees:

The next step is the Hardiplank siding - colorwise we're thinking of birch white for the trim and a tea-gray for the siding . . . but we're not sure yet.

I draw up a list of all that needs done on the property and cabin siding is not the next priority. It's getting a roof on the barn:

I've drawn out architecturally what I'm doing and made a materials list. We're going to head back to Tennessee the first week of August to put in the frame. There'll be one more set of posts and beams to support the rafters midway. The lower rafters will be straight rafters. The upper will be in a king post truss.

The reason we didn't stay longer and invest more in Tennessee is that we've bought a HUD house here in Atlanta, so that when we're here working we're not stuck in a shitty apartment.

There are some great deals out there on HUD's - homes way below market value. We're trying to close in a few weeks, then I've got to put in hardwood floors and paint and fix a toilet valve and it's ready to go. Patty's convinced an investment in a HUD here while the market's down will help us pay off our Tennessee place and retire.

I'll make another post on the HUD once we've closed and I've got some photos and begun the work.


chuck said...

I enjoyed your blog, i started my homestead in 1996 much has changed since then. We are much more remote than you in a harsh environment, so I can relate to what yo have done. I have a close friend who has done a blog from the beginning. His name is John Wells. We are in West Texas between the Big Bend National Park and the Big Bend Ranch State park they total well over 8 million acres, also several large ranches and wildlife areas near by. Land is cheap, power is solar, water comes of the roof, you know the rest. Our County is 6200 sq miles about 5500 people but most live in Alpine the county seat because of the university's. Let me know what you think. Chuck
csteel_fl@yahoo .com

Rob said...

Hey Chuck,

I'll check it out. I've been through west Texas many times on trips out to New Mexico. It is indeed rough - we had a dust storm one time and barely made it to the border. You guys growing any prickly pear? One of my favorite wild foods is the new shoots of tumbleweed. So salty.

Victoria said...

Wow, Rob, the place is looking GREAT!

I cracked up when I read that you asked Patty if she wanted to canoe to Montana. Don't you think you put that poor gal through enough for one lifetime?!! lol.

Are you planning on flipping the HUD house? If so, I think it's a great idea. Sure wish we could get out of this place and get on with homesteading already. The wait is excruciating! =\

Rob said...

Yep, we plan on flipping the HUD. We close on Monday, and move in at the end of the month.

Yeah I can't wait to get back up to Tennessee, and get going on the barn. If only some money would fall from the sky!

Anonymous said...

Hey Rob, my husband and I are looking at some property in Sunbright. We live in Michigan, and I just love Tennessee, and we think this is where we want to retire. Just don't know anything about the area. I have not read your entire blog, but I will. We will not be as far off the grid as you I am sure, lol. Any major things I need to know?? Terrible floods, too far from hospitals, etc.? Julie

Drew said...

I just finished your entire blog! I'm about to read "Runaway". I am looking for land also. We live northwest of ATL; in fact, you probably go within 5 miles of us when you go to TN. Like you, I'm trying to figure out what to do for an income outside "the big city". We have family in rural TN, but most of them work around the US (truck driver, industrial construction, etc), as there are no jobs close by them.

You have done a great job with your building projects. Were there any specific books or websites which were helpful for your construction and "engineering" plans (calculating what size lumber to use for loads, etc)?

I hope you keep posting on here.

Rob said...


Sunbright is great. No natural disasters - the land is cheap, great year-round weather, surrounded by recreation areas, has a long growing season, no building codes, etc. It's perfect for homesteading.


I don't know how far you are from Atlanta, but you should check out my free wild edible plant class up on Kennesaw Mountain. It's this Saturday morning.

I did a ton of research online as well as used books for each step of building I did on the property. I was a total novice when I started. Most of what I learned I learned up there along the way.

As far as 'engineering', the best advice I've ever read for the amateur is 'keep it simple, and overbuild' - that way you can never go wrong.


Drew said...

Sorry I missed your reply. I just saw it this morning. When is the next class? Kennesaw Mt is pretty close. Do you have a website with details for the classes? I'd like to come to the classes.

We were in TN this weekend and looked at 3 properties. Looking for vacant land, with a spring preferably, or at least a year-round creek.

I went looking for some of the plants you posted photos of. Two weekends ago, I went hiking with my daughter. We live on the side of a wooded hill and she has been wanting to explore it. I didn't grow up around here so some of the plants are unfamiliar, and it has been too many years to remember them all from Boy Scouts survival and woodscraft classes. =)

Rob and Patty's neighbor said...

I've been looking for Rob this summer but he hasn't made it up this year yet (hope everything is OK).My wife and I have decided to become take partial retirement and become full time Rv'ers so we've put our place on the market. After reading the recent blogs, maybe our place might be of interest. I have 9.5 acres that borders Rob and Patty's property with a home and large barn and chicken coop (yes I'm the neighbor with the chickens). Large garden spot with fruit trees, berries, and grape vines. I priced the home without equipment but could include some or all equipment plus furniture (since RV's won't allow allot of furniture. It's listed with Kilby's real estate in Wartburg, TN and we've instructed them at the agency that we are flexible on the price.

Rob said...


Sad to hear you guys are moving - you've been great neighbors. My father might actually drive up and look at the property.

I was up in spring building the addition on the cabin, but otherwise I only spent one brief weekend up there in late summer. I'll be moving permanently up there next spring - around May. We plan on having chickens and goats - as well as guineas for the ticks.

Next time I drive up I'll stop by - probably late October, or the first weekend in November.


Victoria said...

So how about an update Rob? How's the HUD house coming along? Any progress on the homestead?

Anonymous said...

How are you doing, Rob?
Sorry for no reply.
I took long journey for awhile.
I am planning on going Applachian Trail.
Don't know which which direction I will take.
I am doing more research. Most likely I will start from Maine instead of Georgia.
I will fill you in with details later.

Anonymous said...

Are you ever going to post here again?

Anonymous said...


CBarstow said...

Hi Rob. I have really enjoyed reading all your blogs. You and Patty and the girls are amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. Honest, sometimes raw, always inspiring. Great photos too! I hope all is well with you and the family.

Anamul said...

Houses in the cell domestic retirement parks fee a little fortune. commonly, human beings promote their permanent home, buy a caravan and live in a park.

For extra please go to:- retirement trailer park

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.........................The Timeline.........................

-MAY . . . for Patty and I's first date, we skip school and go to the Pinnacle - a wooded overlook off the Susquehanna River.
-SEPTEMBER . . . I leave our hometown of Lancaster, PA for college - Penn State in Reading, 45 minutes away.

-FEBRUARY . . . Patty and I both drop out of school, and camp in some woods behind a grocery store in Lancaster.
-MARCH . . . Patty steals her mother's credit card, and with it we take a train to Utah. We ultimately end up on the Northwest Coast, living in Port Orford, Oregon.
-APRIL - OCTOBER . . . We join a traveling carnival and work in it for 6 months. We sleep in the back of a Ryder truck, and go through California, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. I run the guns, and Patty does the goldfish. We save $9,000.
-NOVEMBER . . . We return to Lancaster and are arrested for stealing the credit card.

-OCTOBER . . . We bike from Lancaster down to Charleston, South Carolina. Patty wrecks in North Carolina, and a friend drives us the rest of the way. We live in Charleston for 2 weeks.

-JULY . . . Our first daughter June is born in Lancaster, PA.

-MARCH . . . We sell everything in our apartment, and hike out of Lancaster with backpacks and our 9 month old daughter. We reach the Susquehanna River.
-APRIL - JUNE . . . We get a canoe and paddle 500 miles up the Susquehanna River to its source. We camp on islands. We get a ride to the Erie Barge Canal and paddle west.
-JULY . . . We are arrested in Little Falls, NY. Our daughter is taken, we're charged with neglect, and we fight the courts for months. We are cleared of all charges, but never get her back.
-SEPTEMBER . . . We take a bus out to Ruidoso, NM and camp in woods just out of town. We return to Lancaster and camp in the Brickyard for the rest of the month.
-OCTOBER - FEBRUARY . . . We live in an apartment in the Amish community of Strasburg, PA. Amish go by in their horse and buggies every day.

-FEBRUARY . . . Our second daughter Rachael is born. We try to deliver her on our own at home and fail. Patty ends up in the hospital with a c-section.
-MARCH . . . We get a ride from a friend down to Covington, Virginia. We stay a week, and look for places to camp in the surrounding national forest. We find nothing, and go to New Mexico.
-MARCH - MAY . . . We camp in the Gila National Forest, north of Pinos Altos, a mile from the nearest trail. We camp above a spring with an infinite view west. We start building a hogan.
-JUNE - SEPTEMBER . . . We live downtown in Santa Fe, NM. Patty markets her paintings, and I get a N.Y. literary agent for my first book 'Flesh Aflame'.
-OCTOBER - DECEMBER . . . We rent a house in Crescent City, California, on the Northwest Coast, a mile from the ocean, on the edge of a bird sanctuary. It's great until the rains begin and we run out of money.

-JANUARY - FEBRUARY . . . We camp in the Uwharrie mountains of central North Carolina, and look for a place to build a winter home.
-MARCH . . . We get a canoe and paddle the Holston River down towards Knoxville, Tennessee.
-APRIL . . . We get dropped off in the Smokies and paddle Fontana Lake. We stash our canoe at Chambers Creek and hike in to the Smokies for a secret camp. Patty paints the creek, and we stay 3 weeks.
-MAY . . . We live in a trailer just off the ocean in Myrtle Beach, SC. The sky is beautiful after storms and we love the pelicans.
-JUNE . . . We camp in the Brickyard back in Lancaster, PA, saving money for an apartment.
-JULY - DECEMBER . . . We live in Lancaster and save for our trip back out to New Mexico. We also buy the jeep.

-JANUARY - JUNE . . . We camp and travel all over the Southwest, from the Gila, to Organ Pipe, to the Weminuche in Colorado. Brooke is born in February in a motel in Deming, NM.
-JULY . . . We stay in condos with a friend in Aspen, Colorado. I do concrete work. We then go to California, and look for a place to live in the Russian River area.
-AUGUST - OCTOBER . . . We rent a small house in Tesuque, NM, just outside of Santa Fe. We hike up into the Pecos Wilderness. We become vegetarians.
-NOVEMBER . . . We visit a friend in Tucson, AZ, then drive to Crescent City and the Northwest Coast. The beautiful weather is over, and the rains have begun. We don't stay long.
-DECEMBER . . . We return to Pennsylvania, and live out of our car in the Philidelphia area while Patty works at a restaurant. We sleep in parking lots and rest stops. It's the coldest December on record for the area, with the wind chill it's -10.

JANUARY . . . We head south for warmth, try the Chatooga area of South Carolina, then camp in the woods of northern Florida.
FEBRUARY - JUNE . . . We live in Asheville, NC, in the middle of the Southern Appalachains. We spend nearly every day out on the trails, hiking, and learning plants.
JULY . . . We get mountain bikes for touring, and bike the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Smokies.
AUGUST . . . We camp in the Weminuche Wilderness of southwest Colorado, and do a 6 day fast.
SEPTEMBER . . . We stay in Loveland, Colorado with a friend. We climb Long's Peak on the day after 9/11. We then drive to Vermont, and look for a place to live in the Burlington area.
OCTOBER - DECEMBER . . . We rent a house in Tucson, AZ, and try to become raw fooders.

JANUARY . . . We hike in to Jordan Hot Springs in the Gila.
FEBRUARY . . . We bike in to Turkey Creek Hot Springs. We stash our bikes near the mouth of the creek, and hike the rest of the way. Many of the pools have been ruined from floods.
MARCH . . . We go to Vermont again, this time the Bennington area of southern Vermont. It's way too cold.
APRIL - JULY . . . We rent a house in Asheville, NC again. This time we have a large garden, and become 100% raw fooders. Every day I'm out hiking the trails gathering wild edible plants.
AUGUST . . . We cash out all our credit cards, and move up to Shining Rocks Wilderness in the Southern Appalachians, camping at over 5,000 feet. There are blueberry fields everywhere, and blackberry, and wild cherries. Not only are we mono-raw fooders now, much of our food is wild. I hike barefoot everywhere. We bathe in the pool below the falls.
-SEPTEMBER . . . We visit a friend in Atlanta, and on a night full of alcohol I break my foot in 3 places. I'm told I'll be crippled with arthritis, and ultimately never walk again.
-OCTOBER - DECEMBER . . . We rent a furnished condo in Tucson, AZ. I cut my cast off prematurely with tin snips.

-JANUARY . . . We camp off the Gila River at Box Canyon, just up from the city of Gila. I'm still on crutches. We meet Jabber-Mike, and Vet-Mike, and Doug. We trade juniper berries for Doug's black walnuts. We're still 100% raw fooders, and Doug teaches me the local plants.
-FEBRUARY - MARCH . . . We return to Atlanta for free medical care so I can learn how to walk again. PT is hell.
-APRIL - MAY . . . We go back to the Gila and camp off the Gila River. We gather cattail, nettle, primrose flowers, and harvest prickly pear pads. We find the most perfect hot spring in all of the Gila, man-made, at Brock Canyon.
-JUNE . . . We fall off our raw food diet, and camp up at Black Balsam again off the Shining Rock Wilderness. We gather wild strawberries. We then camp above the Amicalola Falls in north Georgia for 2 weeks. We become committed to the idea of buying land.
-JULY - SEPTEMBER . . . We live in Woodstock, GA, just north of Atlanta. I do a 14 day water fast.
-OCTOBER . . . We paddle Fontana Lake in the Smokies, on our way to Nova Scotia. We find a great camp and gather wild persimmons, but ultimately abandon the trip.
-NOVEMBER . . . We go back to camping off the Gila River at Brock Canyon. I begin 'June'. We run totally out of money, and gather and clean 10lbs of desert willow seed to sell to a local guy in Gila. He gives us $20/lb, and we use the money to get back to Georgia.

-JANUARY . . . We go to north Florida, and check out the sinks, and the aquifer springs, and paddle the Wacissa River.
-FEBRUARY . . . We paddle the Suwanee River in North Florida. Patty makes a basket out of greenbriar.
-MARCH . . . We camp in the pine flats of Apalachicola National Forest. We make baskets from grapevine, cordage from the retting of Spanish Moss, and a mat from palmetto. We camp here for 3 weeks with no money while we wait for our tax refund. We're 100% raw fooders again.
-APRIL . . . We camp off Owl Creek and paddle the river. There are free hot showers in a nearby campground. There's a great trail with wild blueberry, and we gather the new shoots of bracken. We later camp in Tate's Hell.
-MAY . . . We camp at Sand Creek in the Ocala National Forest, an hour east of Atlanta. I gather cattail in the Beaver Pond. I edit and type up the 'June' book at a nearby library for a literary agent.
-JUNE . . . We drive out to Oregon and camp off the Illinois River in the Siskiyous.
-JULY . . . We camp in the Adirondacks off Jones Pond.
-AUGUST . . . We camp in the Jemez Region of northern New Mexico. We gather wild mushrooms, and sell lobster mushrooms to chefs in Sante Fe. We camp at San Antonio Hot Springs for a week, and Big Tesuque Campground outside Sante Fe.
-SEPTEMBER . . . We go back to the Gila and camp at Brock Canyon. We gather desert willow seed again. We swim and play games in the river. We see tarantulas. I gather prickly pear fruit in baskets we've made from willow. We take a trip up to Turkey Creek Hot Springs.
-OCTOBER . . . We camp in the Oconee National Forest southeast of Atlanta, under persimmon trees in a field. We also camp up on Pigeon Mountain near Rocktown.
-NOVEMBER - JANUARY . . . We live in Atlanta.

-FEBRUARY - MARCH . . . We move to Portland Oregon. We paddle the Wilamette River, and go to the nude beach at Sauvie Island, just after Mt. St. Helens erupted.
-APRIL . . . We return to north Florida looking for land to buy. Everywhere is flooded, and there's been a lot of damage from the previous hurricane.
-MAY . . . We camp up on Pigeon Mtn. The weather's perfect, and there's more wild food here than anywhere else.
-JUNE . . . We go to Arizona, and camp in the Hannigan area of Apache National Forest. We ultimately try to get back out to Oregon, but car problems make it not possible.
-JULY . . . We return to Pigeon Mtn in Georgia. The blackberries are in.
-AUGUST . . . We stay in a campground off the ocean in Jacksonville, Florida, while we look for jobs and a place to live.
SEPTEMBER . . . We move back to Atlanta.
OCTOBER . . . We abandon the jeep with 320,000 miles in a motel parking lot.

-MARCH . . . the girls and I camp up at Pigeon Mtn, in a secret camp we've made.
-JUNE . . . the girls and I go back to Pigeon and camp longer, this time starting a wigwam from red maple saplings, muscadine vines, and grass I collect naked in the field with a small knife.
-AUGUST . . . the girls and I camp up at Graveyard Fields off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Every day we gather the wild blueberries and swim in the pool beneath the falls. We hike all the trails, and establish a secret camp in a grove of juneberries.

-FEBRUARY . . . We look at property in north Florida.
-MARCH . . . We look at property in Asheville, NC.
-JUNE . . . We look at the 10 acres in Sunbright, and make an offer.
-AUGUST . . . We close on the Sunbright property, and take the kids to Disneyworld.
-OCTOBER . . . The girls and I camp up on the property in Sunbright, and clean up the trash from the fire. I build a fireplace out of old concrete blocks.

-APRIL - SEPTEMBER . . . The girls and I camp up on the property. We clean out the rest of the trash, build a compost bin for humanure, plant the garden, and fruit trees, I dig the swales, do the stone foundation for the barn, and the stem wall, and the post and beam frame. We build a pad for the gazebo.

-APRIL - JULY . . . The girls and I camp up on the property again. We build the 2 story cabin from scratch, plant another garden, and more fruiting trees and shrubs.
-OCTOBER . . . I put the upper story floor in the barn.
-NOVEMBER . . . The girls and I begin building the barn roof.