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Hi I'm close to Fi-fire
Old 08-28-2007, 04:37 PM   #1
Confused about dryer sheets
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Hi I'm close to Fi-fire

Hi everyone. I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge by reading this forum and have developed a tremendous respect for the quality of people that contribute here. I’ve been lurking for over two years now, and since I’ll be leaving the company to pursue other opportunities (retired) in about three weeks, I should have more time to fiddle around with forums and such. The reason for the title “Fi-fire” is that I feel that I’m not only financially independent, but also functionally independent. I’ll explain.

I’ve got a sufficient amount of money invested mostly in fixed funds (CD’s) with some (ca. 15%) in stocks (mutual funds). I have no debt and own an 81 acre farm in rural Appalachia. I’ll be receiving a severance package that will pay me full salary for the next year, while also receiving a lifetime pension. I can live on the pension and SS (2 years from now) without touching my savings. I’ve always lived below my means.

My farm is very secluded and secure. I raise beef cattle and hay, but not for profit. The cattle pay their way and keep the farm looking nice, but that’s about it. I also have a fair amount of timber and a sawmill. Other equipment includes a jeep, a tractor with end loader and backhoe, a dump truck, a large diesel generator and a lot of misc. farm and gardening tools. The farm is “on the grid”, but I can easily function without it. My water supply is a spring fed cistern that gravity feeds the house and barn. I heat the house by burning wood of which I have an endless supply. Needless to say, retire just doesn’t seem like the right word to use. Anyway, that’s why I say, at least to some degree, “functionally independent”.

So here’s my question. How important do you feel that it is to, not only be financially secure, but also to be able to live and function independent of the fragile societal and technological infrastructure on which we have become so dependent? :confused:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life..“ Henry David Thoreau
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Old 08-28-2007, 04:47 PM   #2
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Welcome, Plumb Bob.

Functionally Independent! Great term, great life, great situation. I have no experience in farm life, but you sounds happy and satisfied with your situation, so it must be good. Congratulations.

What's a typical day like on your farm?
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Old 08-28-2007, 04:56 PM   #3
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Bob, welcome aboard! It sounds like a wonderful life.
Originally Posted by Plumb_Bob View Post
So here’s my question. How important do you feel that it is to, not only be financially secure, but also to be able to live and function independent of the fragile societal and technological infrastructure on which we have become so dependent? :confused:
On this one, I'm at the opposite end of the spectrum from you. Hoping for the best

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Old 08-28-2007, 06:39 PM   #4
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Hi Plumb Bob,

Have never lived or been near a farm so at the risk of sounding naive, I'd be curious to ask a couple of questions, if I may.

I assume you live on the farm and is and will be your primary residence in retirement. Sounds like a pretty hard life but I guess you have lived it so it may not seem so to you. Assuming you have all the modern conveniences on the farm.

Since you are posting here I assume you have internet available on your farm - just curious as to what kind cable/satelite?

I'd like to ask more but feel stupid asking.

As long as you are comfortable with your choices and have alternate options should you get bored/tired of that life, it sounds fine.

Just curious and interested.
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Old 08-28-2007, 10:51 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Plumb_Bob View Post
How important do you feel that it is to, not only be financially secure, but also to be able to live and function independent of the fragile societal and technological infrastructure on which we have become so dependent? :confused:
For me, not at all. I worked my butt off to get to a FIRE position where I can enjoy all the toys, distractions and such that our modern society brings. I hope to do that for another 30+ years.
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Old 08-28-2007, 11:20 PM   #6
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Hi PLumb Bob,

welcome to the forum. I think that to be somewhat functionally independent is a good thing. Right now I am not nearly as functionally independent as I would like, but I have seen my grand parents live the life you describe and they were happy people. They used to grow their own fruits and veggies (yum, nothing better than freshly picked fruits and vegetables), raise their own chicken (for the fresh eggs) and cows (for milk mostly), bake their own bread, heat their house with wood exclusively (wood they got from their own land)... They even made their favorite beverage in the woods behind the house. They went to the supermarket only once a month to get a few staples like meat, cheese, coffee, sugar and flour. Everything else came form the farm.
As my dad is nearing retirement, he is setting up his own place with gardens and orchards, though no lifestock as of yet. He is heating his house mostly with wood and collects rain water in underground tanks. He also has a prolific spring on his property that he could tap into.
I dream to recreate that kind of life for myself and it is one of our possible retirement scenario. One improvement I would consider would be some sort of alternative power source on the property, either solar panels or a wind mill. But unless I have too, I would not give up my modern day gadgets...
My grand parents had to live like that because they were poor. My dad wants to live like that because he likes the idea to be functionally independent. I want to live like that for ecological and spiritual reasons...
47 years old, single, no kids. Exited the job market in 2010 (age 36). Have lived solely off my investments since 2015 (age 41). No pensions.
Current AA: real estate 64% / equities 10% / fixed income 16% / cash 10%
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Old 08-28-2007, 11:40 PM   #7
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Welcome to the boards.

We look forward to you future contributions. Good that you are functionally independent, you probably could even live without the Internet.
Angels danced on the day that you were born.
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I am impressed!
Old 08-29-2007, 12:22 AM   #8
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I am impressed!

I am very impressed with your self-sustaining system. I think it's very important and wish I could live like that. Having read the book "The Long Emergency," I believe that we have already peaked in terms of oil production, and that our modern conveniences are merely a passing luxury that cannot be sustained in the long haul, because they are almost entirely based on cheap oil (think travel modes, all the plastics and other production processes). The oil and coal resources of the earth were formed over tens/hundreds of thousands of years, but will be used up in just over one century.

I don't think I will need to resort to hunting and fishing, but I don't anticipate that cross-continental flights will be as accessible in 30 years as they are today.

I believe when future generations look back, in the long history of human development, the oil age will be something like 150 years out of 6,000 (?) years of human existence. That's only 2.5% of the total time span and an anomaly. Good for you for not needing to depend on most of the modern conveniences--I don't think they'll be here forever anyway.
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Old 08-29-2007, 05:44 AM   #9
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Here in north central VT, we are beginning to create a 21st century response to "the end of oil" and the need for less reliance on the products of the 20th century. CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture) are big here, even for those who keep a small garden in their own backyards. having locally grown organic produce all year long means less transportation costs and better tasting, healthier food. Backyard farming operations are also big. We raise 50 organic meat chickens each year - 25 for our own freezer and 25 to sell to friends. I buy organic beef, pork and lamb from neighbors doing the same. There are more solar, hydro and wind energy sites feeding into the grid all the time, so that everyone doesn't have to come up with his own energy sources but as a community we do not have to rely as heavily on oil and fission plants. I still have my freezer, my dishwasher, my TV (just one), my internet satellite and two household computers, as well as lots of other electric and electronic gadgets. I haven't turned my back on technology - the pleasure and easiness it provides. But there are things we can all do, wherever we are to reduce our reliance on limited energy sources, while still feeding and protecting our loved ones.
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Old 08-29-2007, 06:01 AM   #10
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Welcome Bob - sounds like a nice setup. But those of us who are mechanically illiterate, so to speak, don't have a realistic choice except to rely on the "infrastructure." What are your plans if you get old and frail and can't maintain the homestead - any family nearby?
Every man is, or hopes to be, an Idler. -- Samuel Johnson
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Old 08-29-2007, 06:13 AM   #11
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I think many have the dream or enjoy living the reality of self sufficiency. I have dreamt many times of this and even tried to run scenarios of how it could be accomplished in my life. Unfortunately it always came down to betting on the future of society or betting against it and the cost to bet against it was my kids future somewhat.

For example , I could probably afford to buy a tract of land and eventually get to the "Functionally independant" state but I have 2 teenagers that are approaching college, driving and have real needs now and I would be much less able to invest in their futures if I was buying tractors, land, and spending alot of extra time farming or exerting effort to "get off the grid". I think the time and $$ that one would have to invest is a huge consideration --- when you are investing it in a farm or "off the grid" property these resources are taken from other areas of your life and for me that would be the relationships and family I have.

I guess I could see it working if they were bought into it but I do not see that as a reality in todays culture unless you have raised children in an Amish (the modern day Functional independents) or Mennonite community. I think statistics probably show that, barring that you are a member of one of these communities, the "self sufficient" estate you built would be quickly sold upon your death versus your heirs continuing in your tradition.

Now I will cavaet all this to say that if I came into a large amount of $$ I would seriously consider purchasing a good tract of farming land as you have and "mothball" the basics of what I would need to be self sufficient. (farm equipment -- irragation necessities -- solar kits) OR buy a small functioning farm that I could rent out to be farmed --- but it would only be as an insurance policy for things if they went really bad in the US and I would avoid investing my life into it until that reality occurred.
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Old 08-29-2007, 07:04 AM   #12
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I, too, have long yearned to live "off the grid." However, I long ago realized this was a pipe dream in the sense of actually being independent. While one can reduce ones dependence on society (which I view as a good thing), one cannot eliminate it, not even close. If you read about our pioneer ancestors, you realize even they were "on the grid."

Where are you going to get medical care? Parts for you tractor? Tools? Spices? Steel for your forge? Anything using or making electricity? Imagine that a minefield was placed around your property and you could not leave. What would your lifestyle be in a year? five years? ten?

Not that I am criticizing this "back to the land" movement, as I desire to do this myself. It has many, many benefits. Just keep in mind that you are still tied to society and need to society to succeed in order for you to succeed. My worry is that people will start to believe they are independent, and will not work to ensure a strong, stable society that we all depend on. This can start a downward spiral that feeds on itself. I think this has already started on a small scale.

If you ever have read David Brin's "The Postman," (the book from which a very bad Kevin Costner film was made), you can get an idea of what I am talking about.
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Old 08-29-2007, 07:52 AM   #13
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Welcome Bob,

I too dream of self-sufficiency and independence from the grid. Maybe I would not be as complete as you, but somewhat more independent than now. Mine is not a social isolation kind of wish. It’s more of a financial independence. I would dearly love to see my power meter spin backwards so I could have Georgia Power send ME a check.

A little over a year ago I sold my house in the suburbs and bought 8.5 acres in the rural part of the county. The nice part is that I’m still only a couple of miles from civilization. I have a wood-burning stove in the basement, although I haven’t started heating with it yet, and get my water from a well. I celebrate ever month because I don’t have to pay the water-sewer-refuse bill to the county. I’ll have a tractor next month and will plant the obligatory garden next spring after retirement. When solar panels get down in price and up in efficiency, I’ll install one. My house is on a lake. I’m considering converting to water-source heat pump, which will be more efficient for AC during the Georgia summers, and winters too.

I have a rooster, a long story, but he’s just a pet since there are no hens to put him to work. Don’t know if I can do the livestock thing. DW makes a pet out of all creatures large and small and would not tolerate my slaughtering any of her pets.

Retirement for me will not be a time for passive introspection. I will be as active as I am now, but without the commute, but doing what I want to do. Good luck with your retirement. Sounds like they’ve sent you off comfortably secure with a one-year salary to boot. Shoot, you’ll get a one-year dry run. Just bank the whole salary and see how it works.
Can't you see yourself in the nursing home saying, " Darn! Wish I'd spent more time at the office instead of wasting time with family and friends."
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Old 08-29-2007, 08:40 AM   #14
Confused about dryer sheets
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Wow!! Thanks for all the replies. I see a full spectrum of responses from “no way” to “right on”. Very interesting!

First let me respond to some of your questions/comments.

Maxer – My internet connection is dial-up. Its very slow and unreliable. I will probably upgrade to a satellite sytem when I leave my current employer (who provides me with very fast internet service).

Firedreamer – “I want to live like that for ecological and spiritual reasons...” I agree wholeheartedly. I try to keep my footprint small and nature renews my spirit daily.

GoodSense – I share your concerns. One thing in particular that troubles me is the “growth” mentality. Corporations have goals to not only grow but to actually increase their rate of growth. To me this is insane. Nothing can grow forever. Same goes for population and consumption.

Lem1955 – Sounds like a very nice set up, people helping people to become more self reliant and independent. My community is not as well structured, but all my neighbors – closest is about a mile away – know and help each other a lot. We normally share a lot of things, tools, equipment, work, food etc. Money very seldom changes hands.

Donheff – “What are your plans if you get old and frail and can't maintain the homestead - any family nearby?” When I get old and frail and can no longer take care of myself – I’m going to die. But actually, I hope that some nice pretty lady will come take care of me! No family nearby – one daughter several hours away.

I can see that this could take up a lot of time. A lot of thought provoking comments that require thought, i.e., time. When I get a chance I will read/write some more. Many thanks!!
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life..“ Henry David Thoreau
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Old 08-29-2007, 08:50 AM   #15
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I look forward to future posts from you. I am fascinated with being off the grid but to me it is just theory so I will look forward to more details. Heck, I need to work on what do we do if electricity is off for several days!

I admire your spirit!

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Old 08-29-2007, 10:02 AM   #16
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Plumb Bob, I am like you, calling it quits very early to get away from the rat race, and when I say rat race, not only do I mean the working one, but the invisible one that has been built around society.
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Old 08-29-2007, 10:13 AM   #17
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My early years were on a small subsistence farm. My grandfather never went on a vacation in his whole life. When the farming got to tough, it was phased out and by then my grandfather was an old man.

So, who is going to watch the place when you want to go somewhere? When you retire you will have much more free time, what are you going to do with that time?

No more lawyer stuff, no more political stuff, so no more CYA

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Old 08-29-2007, 10:46 AM   #18
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Bob, it sounds like you're happy doing what yu do, so being "functionally independent" is right for you. My wife's extended family is a farming family in rural Bavaria and are functionally independent. They live a simple, family-oriented life and are happier than anyone I know with a McMansion, boat, Hummer, club membership, etc.... I've yearned for living simple and off the grid most of my life, but just have not dared to yet. Someday I will get that off-the-grid cabin as a second home to test the waters.
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Old 08-29-2007, 11:14 AM   #19
Confused about dryer sheets
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Militaryman – I can see how if one were to buy into a functioning farm at some later stage in life it would be very expensive and difficult. There is also a knowledge base that would not be there. One needs to know mechanics, electrical principals, animal husbandry, gardening, food preservation, carpentry etc. In my case this has been a life long goal.

Culture – I am having a hard time understanding your concern about people becoming independent and then neglecting their responsibility to society. I guess I’ll have to read the book you suggested. I would think that apathy would be more of a problem than independence. With our current government and state of affairs, I tend to feel apathetic about having any ability to contribute to a solution. Anyhow…..

I am NOT off the grid, in case anybody misunderstood. I do have a back up generator because the electric goes off quite often. I’m actually at the end of the line, and therefore my service is very low priority to the utility company. I really don’t use a lot of electricity. My electric bill runs about $20/month (@8cents/kwh) during the winter. Summers it’s a little higher (ca. $25 – 30) because of a de-humidifier I run in the basement. I have all the modern necessities, except for whole house air cond. I do have a window unit but very seldom (its been years) run it. Ceiling fans and a cool breeze off a wooded hillside ravine keep the house quite comfortable.

Hey…I’m not sure I can keep up with this. I’m three or four comments behind. If I wasn’t a work, I wouldn’t have time for this. Later….
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life..“ Henry David Thoreau
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Old 08-31-2007, 12:42 PM   #20
Confused about dryer sheets
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Bigritchie - Yeah, I know what you mean, I feel the same way sometimes.

Martha - In the summer the cattle are on pasture and I can leave for extended periods without a problem. In the winter when I have feeding to do everyday, I have neighbors that feed for me. I do the same for them when they need to leave. I won't have any problem filling my time when I retire. There is always plenty to do - I never seem to catch up on all the maintenance and chores. The nice thing is, nothing is that urgent and I can do things at my own pace. I want to visit Peru sometime in the not to distant future. I don't have any definite plans yet though.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life..“ Henry David Thoreau
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