Sunday, November 11, 2007


My wonderful current housemate will be leaving probably in December, no later than March.

Sigh. Time to write housemate ads...again....

Time to put myself and my values and my quirks and my way of living under the spotlight of applicants' questions. Time to balance prudence with being vulnerable and honest. Time to ask a new crop of applicants the same old questions, hoping this time I'll be able to discern the honest answers encoded in their carefully-worded responses. Time to reassess my expectations of the people who reside and/or work at the farm. At what point do I mention that I identify as bisexual, since my current situation of unrequited love is likely to be long-term? How hard and fast IS the media ban? Is it OK if someone agrees to just smoke outside? Could a vegan and I really cohabit peacefully long-term?

It's always a growing experience--every ad-writing, every conversation, every interview. It always gives me a new understanding of my way of life, the farm, my values and beliefs, and mostly my ever-increasing separation from "the world." I genuinely enjoy getting to know the various folks (and their various children, animals, significant others, etc.) even though they decide it's not quite what they're looking for...or if they think it's what they're looking for but decide it isn't, after all, after they've paid their deposit and I've pulled the ads, but before they move in.

But it's always frustrating. The people who would thrive here are few and far between, and even ads with the scary "No TV" plainly stated seem to draw a lot of responses from people who just don't "get it." "But that doesn't include sports games, does it?"

What I really want is to find people who are willing to commit to living "in the world but not of the world" here with me longer than a few months. At least committed enough to stay for more than a year. People who aren't plugged into the media OR the unsustainable fairy-tale way of life that the media promotes. People who want to live simply, who value cooperation and communication, who can "live and let live" when faced with the little irritations that are bound to arise between folks who share time and space on a sustained basis. People who are willing to be changed and challenged by living here, who are ready to take a bold leap in their lives and set out on a path that includes some of the stepping stones that I've already laid over the past 10 years of seeking an increasingly sustainable lifestyle here at Pinwheel Farm.

I would just like to someday go through two years at the farm with the same cast of characters, and have a break from the relentless training!

The thing is, it takes a whole year to get a feel for the system of living in this house on this farm, because it's so different in each season and it's so different from most people's experiences in the that rat-race world out there. The first season is necessarily a HUGE learning curve...but then after that it really IS easier, the various routines and seasonal transitions become woven into a familar, comforting, reasonably predictable way of life.

Because it's different, there is a lot of just outright training at first. Sadly, many folks never make it through the initial training. They run away shrieking about how bossy and controlling I am. But what else can I do but teach, teach, teach? Here is how the high-efficiency front-loading washing machine must be operated (or it voids the warranty). This is why you should check with other residents before doing more than one load of laundry on a rainy day (there is limited clothesline space in the basement, and no one's clothes will dry if it's overloaded). The towels fit in the drawer when they are folded this way but not when folded that way. The basement door needs to be latched so the dog won't sneak in there and get stuck (she won't make a sound to let anyone know she's there, and I'll spend hours searching for her at chore time, meanwhile she'll be beside herself because she wants to obey my summons but can't). This is how the woodstove must be operated (to minimize the risk of chimney fires). This is how firewood must be managed, to be able to operate the stove properly in extreme conditions. Trash must go out for Monday pickup, and if it isn't picked up for any reason it must be brought back in or the City will pick it up Tuesday and we could be charged for fraudulent use of City services (don't ask me why their employees can't distinguish between bright blue trash bins labelled "Honey Creek Disposal" and big forest green trash bins labeled "City of Lawrence"). Parking is only in designated areas to keep farm access clear (no matter if you're just going to zip into the house and back...the feed truck is coming down the street NOW and he's not going to want to back all the way down the driveway to let you get out of his way...and yes, the fire trucks did need to get back there once when I wasn't home). How the recycling guy wants us to prepare recyclables (hey, he's doing this for barter, let's make it easy on the guy).

That's the most basic level of training. For so many folks, it goes much deeper. They have to learn how to hang laundry effectively, how to tie certain knots, how to work garden hose quick-connects, how to build a certain type of fire given certain materials, how to manuever the trash cart on a gravel surface rather than concrete, how to wash dishes by hand, how to sweep a floor clean.

The reward is a satisfying, increasingly self-sufficient, affordable way of life. A way of living that is less likely to be upset by power outages, lost jobs, truckers' strikes...let alone global warming, peak oil, economic depression, etc. A way of living that is often overflowing with a certain type of wealth that money can't buy and words can't adequately describe...a wealth that is rooted in right relationships with God, with His children, and with His creation.

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