The Ark of Misery Bends Toward Progress

I am aware that the title of this blog entry is a mangled version of a much loved quote by Martin Luther King. Our efforts here this year have struggled against the stubborn bush, the swarming bugs, the scorching heat and the laws set down by Mr. Murphy. Against all that we are two tired and banged up people who keep moving our hands and shuffling our feet. We are stubborn and determined, and sometimes when we look up from what we are doing, it seems like some small progress is being made. We will make a home in this desolate place, or we will make the local news when one of us is carted off to the sanatorium, yelling “I had to kill him/her, there was always sawdust on the toilet seat!”

A busy camp Summer 2014

A busy camp Summer 2014


In a little over a hundred days we have carved out a homestead that is up and running in the most important ways. We have our own access to a public road at the end of a 900ft winding trail cut through the bush. We have set up a working (it not luxurious) camp, centered on the old workshop that is being patched up just enough to get some temporary use out of it. We have cleared about an acre of bush around the old shop, and removed a prodigious quantity of scrap metal and junk left behind by the previous owner in the 90s. Our access to water and electricity is adequate, but is far from efficient or convenient. Shack #2 is now useable as sleeping quarters, and is a major improvement over the tent. We have cleared and broken a garden plot of something over 3000 sq. ft. It is hoped that it will be ready for growing vegetables in the spring. Along with many other projects completed or in progress, we are establishing ourselves here on the land. With winter coming, our focus is to improve our arrangements for shelter and start accumulating the mountain of firewood that will be required to keep us all warm. 003

I will be wrapping up this blog soon, and starting a new one. Looking back over what I have put down here, I see a rambling account of hopes and expectations, running head on into reality. What I have written is full of shortcuts and temporary patches pulled together under the stress of people trying to hold back the ocean with a broom. As things settle down here this fall, I will try to take a deep breath and pull together what we are trying to do here and why. I hope to tell a story that would be of interest to others that have chosen this path, or those who plan to or even wonder what it would be like. I will keep telling this story, sporadically during the summer and in more detail from November till May, for many years to come, unless Bill Gates succeeds in gaining complete control of the internet. In that event, my dispatches will be available via carrier pigeon.

Mark.

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11 Responses to The Ark of Misery Bends Toward Progress

  1. You have written about what we live everyday. We too are attempting to hold back the ocean with a broom and know what hard (but valid) it is…but ain’t it fun (once the muscles stop aching)!? Soif Mr Gates does succeed in his bid to run the show, please add us to your carrier pigeon’s delivery route. We’d hate to miss out 🙂

    • Hi Unionhomesteaders!
      When I look over your blog, it reminds me of where I hope our efforts are heading. Growing and preserving food, raising animals and making the land productive. At present my efforts have to be focused on the provision of shelter, water, heat and electricity, but when I pour myself into bed at night, I like to read about all those things that we are able to make only the smallest start on at present.
      If need be, I will send a carrier pigeon your way, and that will be one very tired bird.
      Mark.

  2. Freda Marion says:

    Wow Starting to look like a real Homestead. You’ve been working hard!!!

    • Thanks Fred,
      Things are coming along. Today I hooked up the new solar panels that we picked up in Regina. They actually produced more power than my poor little antiquated charge controller could handle (I am still using some of the off grid gear I had when I lived on the llama ranch) but this is a good problem to have. I have now split up the gear into two systems, the new panels and the big battery bank power the fridge which is the main energy hog, and the old panels and small battery bank powers everything else, lights, fans, computers, chargers, the cel booster etc. I am hoping that this latest upgrade will be adequate to get us through the winter. The good news is that from November thru April, there is lots of free refrigeration here, just open a window.
      Mark.

  3. jj says:

    ” I see a rambling account of hopes and expectations, running head on into reality”

    This has pretty much been our experience with homesteading, as well, and I would guess it is fairly common, if not universal 😉 I hope you will continue with this blog, though, rather than starting a different one; it is informative for new folks just starting out to see how dreams run into reality, and how folks overcome this over the long term in real life. Hang in there!

    • Hi JJ
      My desire to be informative (and give people a good laugh at my misfortunes) is at odds with my OCD desire to edit, clarify and bring order to the chaos. We shall see which wins out. Of course the old blog will remain with a link provided (as long as I can remember how to do that). And not to fear, I can virtually guarantee screw-ups in the future with a high degree of WTF?

  4. Marcela says:

    my turn to say wow! Very cool stuff going on! You had me at off the grid and self-sufficient! Fabulous, and such a grind, beautiful grind! New fan and cheerleader over here! I will likely be in Saskatchewan sometime in the spring, will make a point of coming by! So happy to have ‘met’ you online!
    ~Marcela.

    • it would be grand to meet you and the S.G. man in person. You have an amazing positive energy, and that is always welcome here. I hope it does work out that you are able to come visit us for a time, because I think we would all benefit from the experience.
      Mark.
      (and I promise not to work you too hard.) lol

  5. Keith says:

    Hi Mark,

    Enjoyed your blog. Hadn’t heard for a while and was getting a little concerned that a polar bear had wandered south in search of a dietary change and a chance to use your shower.
    I just came back from a winter in Southern California. If the drought keeps up there may be some good homesteading places where L.A. golf courses now stand. Solar desalination would be in order. We seriously could be talking about an historical migration event if the rain doesn’t return soon.
    When you talk about all that trail cutting and wood cutting this senior citizen gets really tired. Before you get too far along with the subdividing I would run my plans by the township planning folk. They might have some suggestions for you.
    We arrived back here in Vancouver Washington in April to find that our fridge was on the fritz and our waterline coming in from the road had sprung a slow leak that over the months that we were gone had formed a mud puddle. See even us city folks have our challenges.

    We had never seen this house in the spring and were somewhat dazzled by the array of flowering shrubs and plants that were on display. There is almost an acre of these and I wish you could have seen them Mark. I will try and send a picture.
    Take care and e-mail when you can.
    As Always,
    Keith

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