The Community Way: Projects and More

smokehouse2015The Community Way

I know that a lot of people are just worn out with the election. Tired of the divisiveness, invective, and name-calling. What we’ve seen, really, is two groups arguing, sometimes in hostile terms, over how public funds should be spent. People have sometimes polar opposite views of how things should happen, and how (or if) to help their neighbors.

In our worldview, we help one another without going through a “middle man.” For example, we have a healthcare fund that is there to help if someone needs it, and we give money regularly that goes into the fund for that purpose. If someone needs something, we all pitch in. If someone is sick and needs help on their homestead, we all pitch in. If someone needs a fence built, we all pitch in. And we do it because we are all benefited by it in so many ways.

For the last eleven years we’ve met on the first Wednesday of every month. We call it “First Wednesday Work Day,” and on that day we all meet together and do projects on someone’s place. One month we might be at my neighbor’s place running fence. The next month we’ll be at another neighbor’s place pouring concrete. The next month we might be at my place building horse stalls for the barn. And it isn’t charity. It isn’t “welfare.”  It’s a way we all get to serve everyone’s interests and build up the strength and health of our community. And we believe if our community can help itself, get stronger, and not be a burden on others, we can help the greater community – outside of ourselves, when we are needed. I believe if my neighbor can have a better fence so he can pasture his animals, that undoubtedly makes my situation more survival. More sustainable. The large stone smokehouse you see in the picture above was built by me and the friends in the community. It is mine but it is available for their use… and more than that, it has been a great help to hundreds of people who have visited in person or online to learn things about our way of living. It is a teaching tool every day. In 2012 a documentary film crew came out and spent a few days filming and after four years that documentary is soon to be released.  We were glad to be able to help so many people get to know another, more sustainable, way of living.

Working on Infrastructure is Investing in The Future

We’ve long dreamed of doing more to help people. I’d love to have a fully functioning infrastructure that we could show visitors, in person and online, that are curious about how this kind of system works.

Our multi-faceted water project has been on again and off again for a lot of years. We’ve been working on it piecemeal, well… for the eleven years we’ve lived out here. It started with catching water off of our small cabin and putting in gutters and a poly storage tank. We did the same down at the office. In 2006 we raised the dam on our pond and started pumping water through garden hoses up to the gardens. That little trick worked on and off, depending on if the pump was working, getting new ones, gas prices, etc. A few years ago we put in a 3400 gallon cistern to catch most of the water off of the new cottage. That cistern was designed to eventually work with a water tower we started 4 years ago. The clean rainwater would be pumped (we’d have multiple pumping options, depending on the situation, from hand pump to solar) up to a tank atop a stone water tower. From there the water would be gravity fed down to the cottage and the gardens. The tower is still a work in progress, but we are constantly working on some facet of the overall system. What we still have to do is…

1. Catch the water off of our large barn. This will require either two poly tanks, or one in-ground cistern.
2. Create an elevated small storage for water going to the cottage (this is an option. We can use this separately, or pipe this from the tower tank.)
3. Finish the tower and elevated tank, with pipe going to the garden and/or the cottage.
4. Pipe from the cistern(s) to the elevated water tank.
5. Pumps for getting water to the elevated tank. Either hand pump, solar, or both. Preferably both.
6. Some pipes into the cottage with a sink, etc.
7. Shower room off of the water tower.

That sounds like a lot, and it kind of is, but what we have in mind is a sustainable system that will still be good and working even if we don’t have access to solar, or if pumps go out. All told we’re talking about $10k for this whole project, but we’ve been doing it a piece at a time for eleven years, and we’ll keep working on it no matter what.

So What is Our Bigger Goal?

Well, of course our main goal is to be sustainable and sufficient in our water supply for an off-grid farm. Our larger goal is to have a system in place that — as we add more such infrastructure pieces to the farm — we can use to teach others about this way of life. A living agrarian life museum.

Other Projects

Guest Housing. Eventually we would like to put in some guest housing up near the front of our land. Not a Bed & Breakfast per se, but a place where visitors can stay… for a number of reasons. We get a lot of folks like to come by and check things out, and usually they have to get a motel room far away and even if they traveled from across the country, maybe if the weather is bad they won’t be able to get in. This way, if room is available people can stay right here on the property. We could make that housing dual use… or dual powered.  We could have powered water and lights, etc. if someone wants the hotel experience, and if someone wants to test living off-grid for a few days, we can do that too! What we have in mind are a couple of small cabins or cottages.

Office Infrastructure. We’d like to finish out the office so we can get all of my books out and shelves up, etc. This would include a mini water project at the office, but mainly finishing out the inside and getting book shelves put up. At some point, Lord willing, this office is going to be turned into a library for me and the community here. But the way to get that started is to finish the office.

Cottage Completion.  In addition to running gravity fed water to the cottage, we want to finish out the front porch so we can receive guests, have community get togethers, etc.

Horse and Buggy.  Jennifer’s horse and buggy project is on-going. We hope to, within the year, be on our way to using horsepower for travel and for work.

Ok, so this is our goal and plan. The water project is the largest infrastructure thing we have going. If you can see the value in these projects, please help out if you want to. If not, that’s fine too. Volunteerism is at the heart of how we operate.


Help With the Water Project

Help with Jen’s Buggy Project

About Michael Bunker

Michael Bunker is a USA Today bestselling author, off-gridder, husband, and father of four children. He lives with his family in a "plain" community in Central Texas, where he reads and writes books...and occasionally tilts at windmills. He is the author of several popular and acclaimed works of dystopian sci-fi, including the WICK series, The Silo Archipelago, and the Amish/Sci-Fi thriller Pennsylvania; two books humor/satire including Hugh Howey Must Die! and LEGENDARIUM; as well as many nonfiction works, including the bestseller Surviving Off Off-Grid.

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