Where to live?

Hello Everybody, Frank here.
 
We received the email below a long time back. Through simple neglect we have not addressed this issue. Recently here in Oklahoma, recently like 10 minutes ago, we had snow on the ground and still do, and I would like to attempt to answer this email. But you’ve got to read it first. See you in a second.
 
 
 Greetings! Thank you for the work you do on your blog. I enjoy reading it.

   

On July 1 you wrote of places you have lived and experiences gained. Seeing you have lived in Alaska,  I was curious as to the specific reasons why you choose to live in OK over Idaho or Wyoming (one of the more commonly promoted places to live by prepper/survival circles).

   I am asking because my husband and I have been considering moving our family with 5 young homeschooling children away from our current central west Texas city. I grew up in Oklahoma and am familiar with the climate and culture. The majority of my family live in OK. We have talked of leaving Texas because it is incredibly hot and dry here. Any property with water is extremely expensive and most small creeks and the like would be gone by this time of year when we have had day after day of 105-110 degree temperatures. We are far from an interstate, though a few hours from the Mexico border.  I understand there is no perfect place, but the heat and low rainfall make growing a garden a challenge.

  We have discussed moving to Idaho, but neither my husband nor I have spent any time living where there is snow in the winter. We have also discussed moving to rural OK. You have lived in both the cold and OK, I was hoping you might have some thoughts/insights into the advantages and disadvantages of both. In which climate is it easier to raise livestock? Grow a garden? Survive the potential of long-term electricity outage?

Thanks for experiences you may share to help inform our decision.

Interesting questions and points I will attempt to address.

Everything is harder to do in the cold than it is where it is warm. Let’s qualify a few things here. I’m not talking about riding around on your snow machine or alpine skiing. You’re just not going to be doing that in southeast Oklahoma, so yes, there are some things you can do better in a cold climate. Let me include ice fishing.

When you have cold, you have a shorter growing season. Animals require significantly more maintenance and food to stay warm. I know some folks are going to say, well I grow this and I grow that in the cold, and good for you. I’m talking about your normal everyday person and not some super ninja gardener that pretends like life is easier in a foot of snow. It’s just not. It is just plain and simple harder on animals and harder on gardening, not to mention people.

This writer indicates western Texas. Fern was born and raised in western Texas out around Amarillo. I was born and raised in Dallas. That can stand for itself. Western Texas and southeastern Oklahoma have vastly different climates. Parts of western Oklahoma are just like western Texas. Look at a map. Parts of eastern Oklahoma are just like eastern Texas.

We thought about Idaho or Montana, seriously. Fern has a cousin that lives around the Spokane, Washington area. Then one day while I was shoveling a couple of feet of snow to walk a narrow path it dawned on me that I’m in my late 50’s and I don’t want to do this anymore. So that narrowed our search down sharply.

Again, we live in southeastern Oklahoma. In growing zone #7. Without super ninja abilities, I will never raise citrus, but I can raise almost any crop I choose here. On the average year enough rain falls from the sky, average is the key word here – some years it’s drier, some years it’s wetter. Amazing isn’t it, how you can take the two and get an average. Again, we can grow about any crop we choose.

Let’s talk livestock. All the above applies to the livestock. We can raise just about any type of cattle, goats, chickens that we choose to in this area. I have lived where reindeer are harvested. A reindeer is first cousin to a caribou and they are tasty. As is muskox. But I have no desire whatsoever to raise reindeer.

So let’s get past being that super ninja herder and get in touch with what people in the south call reality. I can raise a normal cow, a normal goat and a normal chicken, and do the normal things on an average day with my average, normal animals. Here the last few days we have gotten four to six inches of snow which is extremely unusual for our area. At the same time, we have had record breaking temperatures, cold temperatures, that is. Here is that term – record breaking temperatures. They’ve been keeping temperatures records in this area for more than a hundred years, which means these temperatures have not occurred in more than a hundred years.

Now, we have normal here and that means normal for us. We raise normal animals. Our plants are normal. Summertime? It can get hot and humid, and it’s going to this summer, it’s going to get hot and humid. Hot. Plants like hot. Most of them do anyway. A key word to focus on here is humid, which means moisture. Look at that map again. The part that’s green is green for a reason, the part that’s tan, like in western Texas, is tan because it is the color of sand. I can grow food here. Read some of our older articles like, Without Food You Are Dead.

We have moisture here and without moisture, or water, you are dead. The temperatures here on the average winter, you can survive with a medium weight coat. So let’s see. Here we have food, water and survivable temperatures. This is a conservative part of the world. We do not have “water wars” here. The people in the northwest know what that means. We are conservative. We are for the most part Christian. We are patriotic Americans. If you want to live in western Oregon or Washington in that moral cesspool, you go ahead. I like living where we have more churches than bars. During deer season around here, people wear bright orange and camo, but then here we wear camo year round. We don’t give a shit what outsiders think about what we do. That’s part of why I live here.

I hope I didn’t miss any major points for the folks seeking information about why here, and hopefully I was able to answer their questions. The farther east you go from here, the more moisture content. In the last few years we’ve had quite a few people move in. It’s not unusual to see a tag around here from California or New York. I would assume these are just folks trying to escape. Most people want what is good for their families and some have the ability to relocate. Good for them. It’s a slower way of life here.

For us, we’re 60 miles away from a Sam’s Club, 25 miles away from a Wal-Mart, 6 miles away from a Dollar General and 4 miles away from a small town convenience store with gas. We’re a half mile from a wildlife refuge, about 2 miles from a national forest. We don’t get AM commercial radio, but we do get FM. I assume TV signals come through the air. We have reliable rural electricity, rural water, good well water, high speed DSL via a phone line, and we get cell phone signals with a booster. There is a hospital in a functional town about 25 miles away. If there is something I missed here, I apologize.

This is where I choose to be and these are the reasons I am here.

A bonus. There are no nuclear power plants west of me, so when the melt downs start to occur, it won’t directly affect us, just indirectly.

To be fair, we have people just like everywhere that like to participate in criminal activities. But you’ve got that everywhere.

Again, I hope I answered the questions. If you’ve got relatives that live in rural Oklahoma, I wouldn’t even consider Montana or Idaho. Give thought to it. If you’ve got young kids, then that means you’re probably young enough to harvest, process and chop eight to ten cords of wood a year. Give thought to it. They have crime there too, by the way.

One last thought here. Remember the movie Jerimiah Johnson? Remember the man that gave him his 50 caliber Hawkin? I think his name was Hatchet Jack. Have a good day.

We’ll talk more later, Frank

19 thoughts on “Where to live?

  1. Hello from Oklahoma City! I just found you site and look forward to reading more. Love the article above and the graphics. We had 12 inches here. I work for an agency that sends me all over the country for extended periods of time. I almost died in Minnesota 2 years ago and just returned from Michigan. I have decided for sure that I like the heat better than the cold!

    1. You can die from the heat, AP, it happens every year. But most of them die in houses where they can’t open the windows, or they can’t sit outside under a shade tree. There are other contributing factors. If somebody wants to live in the cold, more power to them. It’s called freedom. As for me and my house, we’ve made our choice.

      Welcome to the blog, glad you found us. Frank

  2. Hi Frank, I live in upstate S.C. So much growth I would love to get more rural. Don’t think the wife would go for it. I appreciate your insights though. As a side note is that a new Chief colored Jeep hiding under that snow? We replaced our old one for a JL,I like having the capability of it. I’m going to build a overland trailer for it. Thanks for all you do,Allan

    1. Hi, Allan. Very observant. But, it’s not a JL, it’s a Gladiator. We are downsizing everything and I wanted a smaller pickup. So, it was time. Let me know how the overland trailer goes. I don’t think at my age it would be possible for me to do. I currently play with an R-Pod. That is as close as I will probably get to a tear drop.

      I lived in Raleigh for a short period of time. Beautiful area. Or it was 45 years ago.

      Seriously, let me know about the overland. Frank

  3. When people ask how we ended up in the SW Missouri Ozarks I always answer “Through a series of very good decisions.” We get all four seasons here, but none so long as to wear a person out. Growing periods are more than adequate for usual crops, and pastures stay green for roughly 8 months.

    This area is heavily Christian and conservative. Matter of fact, in the past 10 years I haven’t seen one democrat on a local election ballot.

    Missouri is a constitutional carry state. Rural taxes are very low. It there’s a building inspector in our County I’d be surprised, having built outbuildings for 20 years without anyone stopping by to look. Land and homes are comparatively lower in cost to most other areas.

    Rocks? We live in the very aptly named Stone County. They say it’s named after a Judge Stone, but I maintain it was named when someone dug their first garden. Over a period of just a few years we’ve hauled may wheelbarrows of rocks out of our garden area, to have it basically rock free now.

    I’d recommend our area to anyone wanting a country lifestyle, Oh, there’s a very large Amish community not too far from us where the stores carry 50# sacks of all types of grains at very good prices.

    One caution about moving to the Ozarks though, ask the folks who’ve lived here all their lives how things are done, don’t start telling them how you did it back where you came from, they don’t care.

    1. Hi, Tom. We’re probably not too far apart in location and philosophy. A very good description of your area.

      I know a couple of blue bellies that live around here. Most of them are just people trying to escape, but there are always a couple that think us southerners need help tying our shoes. The first group I mentioned we call Yankees. The group that wants to help us tie our shoes are eloquently referred to as damn Yankees.

      Thanks for sharing, Frank

  4. Here’s one thing I have noticed about a moderate midwestern or eastern location vs. the northwest. In addition to the colder and longer winters, the firewood available there is mostly softwood–pine, fir, larch, etc–versus hardwood like oak, maple, and (for people who like a challenge) sweetgum. Pine has about half the BTUs per cord that oak does. So in addition to needing more BTUs, people in the northwest need to amass much larger firewood stacks because each cord provides less heat. I thought I worked pretty hard to build my 2-3 cord supply for this winter, and I won’t need all of it. My brother in Idaho goes through about 7.

    1. North Georgia, good information, thank you. Most folks in this area burn hickory or oak, and we have lots of pine trees, we use it for kindling.

      Again, thanks for the info. Frank

  5. “We are conservative. We are for the most part Christian. We are patriotic Americans. If you want to live in western Oregon or Washington in that moral cesspool, you go ahead. I like living where we have more churches than bars. During deer season around here, people wear bright orange and camo, but then here we wear camo year round. We don’t give a shit what outsiders think about what we do. That’s part of why I live here.”

    Where you live, sounds like Heaven!!!!!!

    Spoken by a person, living in NYS, the Cesspool of Cuomo Land. And we are in our 80’s so see no way, to up and move.

    Enjoy your Heaven. Cherish it. Protect it and maintain it. It gives people like us, joy…. Just to know, there are still such places left, in our Beloved Country.

    Gentle hugs…
    “Miss BB”

    1. Miss BB, there are beautiful places in New York state that are also very secure. Where we live is by no means heaven. Come down here during the summer when the air is still. Some folks have trouble breathing. Enjoy where you are.

      Thanks for the comment. Frank

  6. Family and familiarity are the big reasons why we landed where we did. We moved out of the city, but stayed close enough to family that we can still help each other (a big deal as my parents get older, and as we had children).

    Familiarity is great, unless you’re one of those wanderlust folks, staying close to the roots, and where you know people, places, how life is lived… It makes it all easy. I didn’t have to learn how cold COLD is here, nor how hot it gets. I knew what grew well here, I knew the area. The shorter the move, the less you’re perceived as an outsider too I think.

  7. Frank, I think where you have come from and have learned in can also be a deciding factor. Where my parents live (really some miles up the road), they successfully and reliable lived a life in a “small town” in the late 1800 and early 1900’s with zero electricity. It is tougher in some ways, of course: where they live the water only falls from the sky 50% of the year and there is no rain the other half, but they certainly see far less cold than many other locales. My Great Aunts successfully raised livestock and poultry here. It can all be done, just a little differently.

    Knowledge can provide a crucial deciding factor as to what is and what is not possible (for example, like you my knowledge tells me shoveling snow is not something I want to do when I am up in years!).

  8. Good points Frank. I think it’s much easier to stay cool in hot weather than to get warm in cold weather. Do you have a lot of rocks in your soil?

    1. It depends. Most land in this area is pasture, just walking along you wouldn’t notice it. You go plow, disc or till it and you will find rocks from tennis ball and a little bit bigger. The more mountainous areas though, have some large rocks protruding from the soil. Some are two feet by four feet and bigger. So, do we have rocks? Yes, but in our immediate area you just work with them. You can still garden, plant. In our case, mowing grass is not a problem. Tilling new garden soil is not a problem, but a small inconvenience.

      I would rather have the heat than the cold. Thanks for the comment. Frank

    2. Funny; I’ve found just the opposite to be true. ‘Need to get warm? Put on a coat. ‘Not warm enough? Start a fire or turn on a heater. ‘Still not warm enough? get CLOSER to the fire or heater. Staying cool isn’t as easy… or cheap… You can only take off so much clothing, and even if you live in a nudist colony, you will still be hot even if naked. Sure, you can turn on a fan, but blowing hot, humid air around only does so much. Once you’ve exhausted that route, all you can do, if you can, and can afford to, is to turn on the air conditioning. Many folks out here in the Wild, Wild West swelter in 100*+ heat because they CAN’T afford to turn on the A/C. …That being said,… not having to shovel snow is a good thing…

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