Hello Everybody, Frank here
I received an interesting email from the Frank & Fern site and I wanted to share it with you. This man is giving thought to relocating and has some good questions. I hope you will enjoy reading his questions and I hope you enjoy reading the response that I gave to his good questions. This is just the way that I saw it and the way that I still see it. You see, I love watching the movies Jeremiah Johnson and Never Cry Wolf. Yes, I have read both of the books associated with them, and they are very good books, which I would also recommend. Both of those stories influenced my wanting to go to Alaska, and explore and live that type of life style.
Well, Fern and I have been lucky. You see, I got to live a dream and I am still living a dream. Now, I’m not what you call a dreamer. These dreams have come from lots of study, research and hard work. I hope you get to live your dreams, too.
I use a saying which I’ll share with you now, “Plan three times, measure twice, cut once.” So for your dreams, Plan. Then plan again. Have a back up. Do what you need to do to be successful, but always plan for failure. Then live your dream. Someday I will tell you my whole story, but not today.
If you don’t believe in God, that is your choice. But I do and that’s my choice. God has been good to me and I thank Him for it everyday.
I hope you enjoy the email I received and I hope you enjoy the response. Please tell me and this gentleman what you think. We’re all in this ballgame together. So get off your hands and tell me what you think. Good or bad. Remember, we are ladies and gentlemen. Plan three time, measure twice, cut once.
We’ll talk more later, Frank
Hello, My name is [omitted]. My wife of 40 yrs. and I have lived in Alaska 39 years. I see you also have lived here, so I thought you might have some insight for us.
We are 60 and done raising our children, and are entertaining ideas about moving south. We are Christians for 40 years too. We had a 40 ac. farm [omitted] [between Valdez and Glenn Allen] yrs. ago, and have learned the harsh realities of self-sufficient living here, and feel it is not really possible due to climate. We cannot grow grains for feed, nor fruits for ourselves, vegetables are limited, winters are so long and harsh our goats, pigs, chickens and rabbits all had difficulty. 8 mo. winter is simply too hard with firewood, water hauling, long, dark and cold, etc.
So I have a few questions.
In Okla. are summers too hot? We don’t mind 4 seasons, but 3 months to each would be fine. We have looked in west Montana, mid-Idaho, and east Washington. prices seem higher due to higher demand and scarcity, but 20 ac. is approx. what we’d like, ½ pasture for grazing & hay, ½ woodlot for ongoing firewood harvesting. Must have water of sorts, i.e. pond, creek, lake, etc. Definitely a rural forested area is our goal. A house is not necessary as I do construction, but cost is always a factor, so $50k or less is our price range for land as we need to develop the farm. Does this seem like a reasonable amount?
Also with all the instability in the country, dollar devalue etc. do you feel you are in a ‘safe’ place should civil unrest, depression etc. cause roving gangs from the city to seek nearby rural food sources? Or do you wish you had moved to “the Redoubt” area?
Thank you for an time or info you can provide. Also, I thoroughly enjoy your blog as I recognize experiential farming and all the added trials shared realistically.
Thanks again, and God bless.
Congratulations on 40 years of marriage.
Up front. Our time in Alaska was temporary every place we were, so we never gardened or raised any form of livestock, period. Here is a list of the places we lived, starting at the top and coming around and down. Barrow, the Kotzebue area, Nome, mouth of the Yukon River and Dillingham. We had a condominium in Anchorage for a few years, but it was only used a few days out of the year. So, again, we had no experience in gardening or livestock while in Alaska. We did have a church garden in one location, but it was really not very successful. That was in Dillingham, the lowest latitude that we lived.
|Somewhere over the tundra about 500 miles from Anchorage
The reason we left Alaska, which was about 11 years ago, was my fear of the economy collapsing, which I still believe will happen. I did not want to be in remote, bush Alaska when the planes quit flying. We were there during 9/11 when the planes did quit flying, for 3 days I believe. That scared me then. Most people didn’t have a clue what it meant, because all supplies there came in either by plane or barge during the warm months.
|Nunam Iqua, Alaska 2006
We looked in the Redoubt area, western Montana, Idaho, eastern Washington, just like you mentioned. At the time we left, I was about 57 or 58. At that time I had had several surgeries and after leaving Alaska, I had lower back surgery and open heart surgery. But one day it dawned on us that we were not getting younger, not trying to sound funny here, but I was really tired of shoveling snow. The places where we could have a car, I was tired of shoveling out the car. I was tired of ice, and dark, and cold, and I mean really cold. -50 is chilly. -20 was a good day. When it broke 0*, we celebrated. You should know what I’m talking about. And dark? I never realized how much I missed sunlight until it wasn’t there. And light? I never realized how much I missed dark until the sun went in a circle for 24 hours in the sky. I take it you put foil paper or something on your windows in the summer.
Right now, I am 69. Two plus years back I had open heart surgery and about six years ago I had lower back surgery. I am as active now as I was then, if not more, but I don’t think I could shovel snow if I really needed to. So, therefore, the Redoubt is out of the question.
|The non-sunset, Barrow, Alaska, September 2000
Why Oklahoma? Lots of reasons. Fern’s mother lived in southeastern Oklahoma. We went to school in Stillwater, Oklahoma which is where we met and were married 36 years ago. Fern is ten years younger than I am. For various reasons we bought a house and piece of property that joined her family’s property. About 40 years ago, back in my Mother Earth News days, I researched property all over the country for survivability. Southeast Oklahoma, southwest Arkansas and north a couple hundred miles, and south a couple hundred miles is a survivable area. Lots of hills, some small mountains, creeks, rivers, forested areas, and not many people to speak of. Country folks for the most part, a higher unemployment rate, lots of churches, not many bars, and the issues of positive and negative that come with this type of area.
A small example. The closest westerly nuclear power plant to us is Glen Rose, Texas. The closest easterly nuclear power plant is just west of Little Rock, Arkansas. Our prevailing winds are from the west. I am not concerned about a melt down at the Little Rock facility. Glen Rose, Texas, a melt down would not reach us here. Tinker Air Force Base, just southeast of Oklahoma City, if something nuclear were to occur there, it would not reach us.
Next topic. Neighbors are neighbors, and Bubba is Bubba. This is the same everywhere.
|The rolling hills of southeastern Oklahoma.
Summer heat. Well, it gets pretty hot in interior Alaska during the summer. I don’t know where you live right now. We have mosquitos, but nothing like the ones we had in Alaska. We have no no-see-ums or white socks. Heat is relative. We get the moisture from the Gulf of Mexico that provides us with our thick forests, which allows us to grow just about any plant we want to. Fruit trees can be grown, but they struggle because they just don’t have the same conditions they do in the southeastern Washington area. Because of the gulf stream, in the summer time there is high humidity and high heat and sharply fewer bugs than Alaska. Yes, the heat and humidity can be an issue. We never had air conditioning in Alaska. We had a pretty nice condo in Anchorage, but it didn’t have air conditioning. In the summer here, we start much earlier in the day and much later in the evening. That’s the way we do it, and we do have air conditioning. In the winter, if need be, we can use wood heat. And I truly pray to God, that if the electricity ever goes off, it’s during the winter so we will have at least a little time to acclimate.
Land price and costs. It’s this way everywhere, you get what you pay for. If you were to look around with various real estate agents, I think you could find what you’re looking for, for around $50,000. Now there are places here that are covered with rocks. That’s part of being in a mountainous, hilly area. Some places have good well water, some places have poor water. $50,000 depending on the quality of land, could get you a lot more than 20 acres, or a lot less. In Oklahoma, building codes in the rural areas are just about non-existent. I cannot speak for Texas, Arkansas or Missouri. We don’t have silly laws taxing rain catchment, but there are laws about damming up creeks and streams and affecting your neighbor down stream. A competent real estate agent should be able to answer most of this type of related questions.
You addressed roving gangs. Civil unrest. The farther away you are from towns, I believe the less this will happen. As far as the instability of our country and the devaluation of the dollar, the dollar has been devalued before. And instability? Just look at Washington, D.C. Look at that circus. As Ol’ Remus says, Avoid crowds.
|Buckland, Alaska 1990
I’m about to wrap this thing up. You ask, do I wish I had moved to the Redoubt area? Outside of the romance of a few novels and films? No. It’s not survivable unless you are very young, in excellent condition and have skills that very few people have. It has a lot of the same features Alaska does. People struggle with gardens there, they have hard water issues. You know, ice. It gets as cold in Montana as it does in most of Alaska. We have ice here for a few hours, or a few days a winter. I am more than happy with where I live. If I were to ever move again it would be 30-40 miles farther east, therefore, I am extremely happy with where I am.
If you would like a recommendation, and I do not live in that immediate area, but I am about 60 miles away from Mena, Arkansas. Or come right across the border into Oklahoma. I do hope this helps.
You know bad times are coming and we are going to have to do the unthinkable. I hope that you and yours have your heads screwed on right. I would gather food storage and a realistic way to protect myself. Some day this thing is going to break. Most people will move to the cities and the vast majority will succumb within a few months. This is a horrible thing to think. You will need to protect yourself. This is the part where it’s important to have your head screwed on right. I don’t believe that God wants us to put our hands up in the air and just give up. God made us fighters and He expects us to do so.
Peace be with you,