Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Last Frontier

I just found a blog that intrigues me so much.
It's entitled "The Last Frontier" and is all about life in the Alaskan wilderness.
I am enthralled with the posts about living simply and sanely in a remote part of our nation.

Jenny and Chuck are homeschooling and raising their family in amazing serenity and self reliance.
I find myself envious of that life... although I am not so sure I could live it.
Living off the grid and being self sufficient in many ways is such a blessing though.

What I find most inspiring is the problem solving.
There's no 7-11 down the road when you run out of something... there aren't even roads.
They have to make various preparations for food storage and make lots of things "from scratch".
They live on what they grow and use botanicals for medicine.
They budget their energy usage.
They have to know what to do in medical emergencies.
They only make occasional trips to more populated areas via airplane - to get supplies and pick up the mail.
And yet, this family survives and does the mundane things like laundry and tending to their animals... and they provide their children with wonderful life sustaining lessons.

In this crazy frenetic modern world it is comforting to know that there are folks who live quite comfortably without all the so-called modern conveniences. And they do so happily. The rest of us could learn some valuable lessons from that.

The life lessons they are teaching their children are amazing.
They are not being brought up with the mind polluting twaddle of pop culture and consumerism.
These kids will be so in touch with nature and life, themselves and their family.
How fortunate they are.

I am glad to have met them and be able to share their experiences on this wonderful blog site.

I feel in touch with Jenny since we both make soap and garden.
But yet - the things I do out of "interest" are for her family most likely more for survival.

She and her husband sound like amazing people.
I am enjoying reading her stories of life in a remote area, and I look forward to reading more.
Thank you Jenny.
Keep that generator going - we love to hear from you on the Internet.


Anonymous said...

I lived in Alaska and it is a wonderful place. I too have wished I could move into a cabin I built myself and live that lifestyle. But there are numerous downfalls. In every case these people will leave that life it isn't sustainable. You are not building a retirement you are temporarily doing something fun/difficult. None of these people could do this without government funds. The state pays it's citizens a share of the oil revenues. This came about when I was living there as a result of politicians letting the people vote on it. Probably a stupid idea considering what they could have done with that money. The bottom line is everyone living there is on a form of welfare and as a result the cost of everything is higher as well. If you move there you are not eligible for the state welfare (oil revenue payments) so you pay the higher costs and everyone else gets welfare. I'm not putting these people down, just bringing a dose of reality to the discussion.

The Last Frontier said...

Hello Judy. Thank you so much for the kind words. Sally at Diamonds In The Rough blog has a link to your site, and I am so glad I found it through her. You have such wonderful insight, and the courage to boldly speak your mind. Your blog is like a breath of fresh air.
After our old laptop died last fall, I debated whether or not to blog again after getting a new one. I think we're in bad times right now, and headed for a huge crash. Sometimes I think most people don't know and don't care, so why bother. But, in a way, blogging is sort of a way for me to show people that life can be simplified, no matter where you live at the moment. I hope it puts the ideas into people's heads to begin to learn some basic self-sufficiency skills, even if all they do right now is grow chives in a window box, or try growing a few potatoes. Folks need to learn to take more responsibility for themselves so they're not caught totally off-guard ---- even with something as small as a few inches of snow.
I'm rambling now. I just wanted to thank you very much. You are such a busy woman, and I'm humbled by your words. I hope you keep blogging,too, and letting folks know what's going on.
God bless you!

Judy Aron said...

Oh I dunno about being temporary and unsustainable - their neighbor is 85 and has lived in this remote area the better part of his life apparently. As for receiving government funds.. well - perhaps it is an enticement - yet I don't know if Jenny and her husband do. The reality is that we all receive some sort of government funds directly, or indirectly, these days - from school loans - to food subsidies - to Social Security and much more. That's the problem with our country. Government has made us wholly dependent on it. In any case, it's an interesting lifestyle in that it is so heavily infused with the self reliance and solitude. I suppose no different then Australians who live in the Outback.

The Last Frontier said...

"...dose of reality"? You say that in every case people will leave that life, that it isn't sustainable, and then you go on to discuss the oil revenues, which I find totally unrelated. This lifestyle isn't for everyone, but there are many, many families living much like we live. They've raised their children in the bush, remain in the bush, and their children often return to raise their own families in the bush. Many people romanticize such a lifestyle, and get a hard "dose of reality" when they actually try it. Anyone who at least tries it should be commended. It's more than most will ever do. But it's totally off base to say that it can't be done as a permanent lifestyle.
My husband and I used to have a business that brought in more money than I used to make when I lived and worked in the city as a nurse. It was a boost to other businesses in Anchorage and around Alaska, and we did it in a wall tent! No government welfare. Just a little imagination. Now, we'd rather spend our time raising our boys than working all the time. We realized that we spent all of our time working, and no time enjoying the wonders of this lifestyle. Yes, it's fun, and difficult. What's wrong with enjoying life?
Alaska is set up so that all resources belong to the people. We currently get about $1000 each year from oil dividends, but that doesn't even come close to making up for the increased cost of living in Alaska, especially living in the bush. Even if we lived in the city, it wouldn't be a drop in the bucket, not to mention the fact that the oil revenues are going down each year, causing the dividend to the people to go down, as well. Shipping is expensive, which accounts for the greatest increase in prices. If families like mine relied on the "welfare", as you put it, we'd starve to death, or be out of here in a New York minute. There's much more welfare in the cities than you'll ever find in the bush. What gets people through is determination, and the grace of God.
By the way, Alaska is, I believe, the only state in the U.S.A. that does not have a state income tax. The politicians primarily use the oil revenues instead of sucking the people dry. They run this state like a successful business. They are far from perfect, and getting worse, but overall, it's a pretty good system that is working. Also, anyone who moves her, IS eligible to receive the permanent fund dividend from the oil revenues, once they meet the residency requirements.

Aimie said...

I just really enjoyed the blog post. made me want to read more about Jenny and Chuck. Thank you for posting it. I love stories about others doing things a little differently and ending up with wonderful results! The planning that they have to go through just to make it through a season is intense. I wonder if it is just second nature to them now?? Really interesting, thank you again for posting about them :)

Judy Aron said...

Jenny and Aimie your dedication to your family and in finding pleasure in the simple things in life is the sunshine that is much needed in the darkness of our troubled times. I applaud you both for the beautiful lives you lead.
have you ever heard the saying: "What you teach your children you teach your grandchildren"? You are sowing seeds in so many more places than just your garden.

Anonymous said...

When I lived in Alaska it was normal to read that so-n-so passed away in Seattle but they were a long time Alaskan resident... In general Alaska is for young people and no place to grow old. It is impossible to sustain life in the bush at 85. It is also impossible to do it today without that government handout. Wpould it be fun? Of course! I would love to do it and I would encourage anyone who can to do it. Just have a plan for when it is no longer fun. Human nature being what it is I don't expect anyone who loved that lifestyle but is now living in the lower 48 with central heat and TV to say anything negative about it. But it has it's drawbacks.

As for the oil revenues it was a mistake. It will run out and when it does Alaska will indeed need an income tax and all the other taxes will go up as well. Alaska could have built up it's infrastructure, put away enough money to never need taxes again. I actually got to vote on that and voted against it.

As for anyone becoming eligible for it I think you are being a little disingenous. It is not as easy as moving there and claiming you are now a resident. And it isn't paid out at the same rate for everyone.

I love Alaska and I love the idea of building a cabin in the wilderness and living off the land, but in fact it is so much different in reality then it is in the media. Go ahead and ask one of these people who are doing it exactly what they get from state and federal government. It is so much more then just the oil revenues. We are paying for their lifestyle. Lets at least be honest about it.

The Last Frontier said...

I've never heard that saying, but at night after my boys are in bed, I sit and wonder if the values and everything else I'm trying to teach them really matters in the long run. Thank you for that reminder that it does matter.

Judy Aron said...

Anonymous - To be honest, I think it's impossible to sustain life in the city at 85! The noise, the pollution, the crime. Old age is old age no matter where you live and I really think that a life of hard work probably makes one sturdier to live to 85 and beyond. A hardy life certainly has it's benefits.

Anywhere you live has drawbakcs.

About all the rest ... meh.. people make choices and not necessarily based on whether it's "fun" or not.

Truth be known.. we are paying for lots of people's lifestyle choices.. like the taxes that I pay that allow "people in poverty" and people who aren't even legitimate citizens to own Ipods (I don't have one) and expensive cellphones (I don't have one) Let's at least be honest about that.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct we pay a lot of welfare. Estimates are that the federal government spends more then $1 trillion a year for welfare and the 50 states spend an equal amount. My point was more specific though. Since it is difficult to make a living while homesteading in the wilderness 50 miles from the nearest road that anyone consdering this needs to know you cannot do it without help. Those few hardy souls out there doing it are getting cash and other help from the state. The idea that they are hewing out a life in the wilderness singlehandedly is BS. Don't even try it unless you have access to money.

Judy Aron said...

Anonymous - I am not 100% certain that you speak from experience regarding living in the wilderness yourself. I will also wager that if payments (whatever meager amounts the government gives them anyway)to any recipients in the wild stopped tomorrow that they would not starve and be made to "come back to civilization". I will also wager that many of them "make a living" by other means then your normal employment. They could be selling things on the Internet or be getting rental income from properties owned elsewhere. You don't know for sure where they pull money for living expenses from. The government gives away money to lots of people who don't necessarily need it. Suffice it to say there are also many families that subsist on barter etc. In any case, I would suppose that these families that you speak of, live on a lot less, and do a lot more for themselves, then the majority of Americans. For that alone, I think they deserve much credit.

Eric Holcombe said...

Jenny, there are nine states remaining without an income tax. I'm in TN.

I will also wager that if payments (whatever meager amounts the government gives them anyway)to any recipients in the wild stopped tomorrow that they would not starve and be made to "come back to civilization".

Ha! Yeah, those sables on the trap line probably don't care too much for fiat reserve notes...