Category: Gulching


I’ve just sent in a resume for a position with a national rural-life organization, and while I was writing the cover letter, I thought of Jefferson and Washington. How they loved their farming pursuits and their lands. (I’m leaving aside the slavery question at the moment, but it’s never far from my mind.)

Jefferson, for instance, with all his legendary bookishness, loved to experiment at Monticello with varieties of peas, his favorite vegetable, to see how well they’d grow in his soil, when they would ripen, how they tasted. He also introduced viticulture to the United States. He kept copious notes over years and must have learned a great deal.

And Washington, who vastly preferred the life of a gentleman farmer over that of a politician, enjoyed using his ingenuity to develop a plow that would cut effectively through his pebbly, tough soil. He also designed a 16-sided threshing barn with a grooved floor through which the grains of wheat would fall after horses’ hooves worked them out of their hulls. In the barn cellar, slaves would then gather and sack the grain.

These two men of the world, of accomplishment and experience, dearly loved the land. I think they had a bond with it that many of us today have never known: Continue reading

The first view inside Arizona, driving west on I-40

The first view inside Arizona, driving west on I-40

(originally written August 16, 2009)

I came out here to live in a trailer in the high desert, rent-free – the trailer belonging to my boyfriend Brian, and parked on land belonging to friends – cautiously, tentatively planning to live the creative life for a time, and to do some serious thinking, while Brian lives and works five hours away.  But since even before we left Virginia, my motivation has been missing, and I can’t seem to contact my sense of purpose (or when rarely I do, I find it very shaky) in all this.

Since we arrived, I find myself caught up in guilty anxiety over the excess of possessions I own.  There’s a shame in this – Continue reading

It’s an odd thing, but for months now, I have felt very little desire to speak out on issues, or get into debates with people.  Even, or maybe especially, about freedom.

For the past couple of years I’ve really been noticing how much most people only want to talk about themselves – especially on a very mundane level – and heaven forbid they return the favor and give you equal time!  The art of conversation is so far deceased that it has rotted into a putrid game of self-important, self-promoting control – harmless in a superficial sense, but deadly boring and wasteful of precious time.

But then too, I don’t care a rat’s patootie about Continue reading

Brad of McBlog fame has penned a thoughtful little piece on living the “Frugalista Gulch” lifestyle – right where you are, in his case. Woohoo to you both, and welcome to the Outlaw crew!

When Wendy mentioned to me her “motivation #2” for the frugal philosophy — resisting the state — the first thing that popped into my mind was “Galt’s Gulch.” Because what we are doing is very similar to what John Galt and his fellows did when they went “on strike” and withdrew to Galt’s Gulch. We are denying the State and its army of leeches, not the product of our minds as such, but rather our productivity.

And Brad’s conclusion is right on…there are going to be thousands of “Frugalista Gulches.” Perhaps there already are.

(Thanks to Dave Gross at The Picket Line for the link!)

Freedom meme

Thanks, Lewlew, for tagging me on this one: “What motivated you to start looking into Anarchist/Libertarian thought?”

Hmmm.

When I was in second grade and we were learning about Hawaii, the teacher told the boys to cut paper surfboards out of big rolls of construction paper and to decorate them, while the girls were told to make paper hula skirts. I remember going ballistic about that. I didn’t want to have to put on some stupid skirt and dance around in front of people just because I was a girl. Continue reading

A substantial number of visitors have visited this blog in recent days from keyword searches seeking information on ClaireWolfe.com, and Claire’s associated blog Wolfesblog, which went offline suddenly a few days ago.

Apparently, Claire’s web hosting account was due to expire, and she chose not to renew it. Unfortunately for us readers and fans, we didn’t see this change coming. If you caught her blog between September 17 and about September 26 when her site went down, you know that she had already chosen to cease writing it. But I didn’t realize that the whole site was going bye-bye, at least not so soon.

If you’re one of the good folks wondering where to find Claire’s past work online, however, there is a solution – well, actually several solutions…

Bill St. Clair has created a mirror site for ClaireWolfe.com as it was on September 26, 2007. Thank you, Bill, for doing this in such a thoughtful and timely fashion. (Bill’s also got an excellent roster of freedom sites mirrored at his BillStClair.com url, and his blog End the War on Freedom is a good daily freedom news and commentary clearinghouse.)

Bill has also had a mirror of Claire’s early website, Wolfe’s Lodge, for quite some time now.

Debra Ricketts’s site TheClaireFiles.com still exists, too, last updated in July 2007.

And Claire’s archive of Hardyville stories and other articles can be found at the wonderful Backwoods Home Magazine.

Finally, Paladin Press, who agreed to act as Claire’s book publisher after the sad demise of Loompanics, continues to offer several of Claire’s books in their online catalog, although her name doesn’t appear in their author list. Amazon.com has some as well. And Out of the Gray Zone by Claire with Aaron Zelman is apparently still available as well.

After so many years of unique and eminently worthy contributions to the cause of freedom online, Claire Wolfe has closed her blog, shuttered the fictional and feisty town of Hardyville, and decided to wander down some new and different non-netly paths, as yet unspecified and unplanned.

In short, she’s walking off the edge of the cliff, trusting that she’ll sprout wings just when she needs them. She’s off to play the inner game.

And like so many freedom lovers she’s touched over the years, I’m going to miss her terribly.

Her inimitably Outlawish, twinkling, can-do, yet hard-hitting writing style. Her lovable, laughable, Hardy curmudgeons populating (and hotly defending) the last outpost of freedom, somewhere among the tumbleweeds. Her dear doggy devotions, and her determination in disseminating data of dastardly deeds done by dignitaries and desk-jockeys.

But more than anything else, what I’ll miss is the friendship and goodwill she extended.

It was over three years ago now that I arrived on The Claire Files, her discussion forum, as a longtime reader and (I admit!) starry-eyed fan, landed at last in a place I could feel was a home to me. I’ll always remember happily how welcoming Claire was to this newbie, how glad to talk with me as an equal, how encouraging of small personal efforts at self-sufficiency or independent thinking. She noticed what people were doing. She commented. She offered support and humor. She cared, truly and obviously, about the individuals who came into her corner of the world.

She never wanted to think of herself as the Famous Author, and perhaps she was as wise as she is humble. Most people may never know her name. But to a small and stalwart crowd, she will always be the Third Assistant Demi-Goddess of Freedom. As much as free people would ever want such a thing. But the point is that the free people who are attracted to Claire’s sense of life find a wonderful irony in bestowing such a title upon one of our heroines. It might be, along with an occasional, long-saved-up-for, excited purchase of one of her books, the most we can offer her. But it’s heartfelt, with warm appreciation and gratitude. And Claire herself knew this.

It’s very difficult to imagine the internet without new work by Claire Wolfe. I admit that I’m panting with curiosity to hear more about her thoughts on the spiritual aspects of freedom. Maybe she’ll share, maybe not – I respect either choice. Maybe this is the ideal chance to be pursuing similar thoughts on my own for now, whether or not we end up comparing notes later. Maybe this is the next move in the bigger game of living free. I happen to think that it is.

The best tribute I can offer to you, Claire, as you stride off whistling into the new worlds you’re bent on discovering, is that I’ve always felt you to be a true friend. A friend of freedom, without question. But even more wonderfully, and rarely, I’ve always felt you to be a friend to me and to the other good folks – the individuals – who happened into your sphere, you kind and decent and loving soul. It’s easy, somehow, to picture you around the campfire with Thunder and me, sharing a good toke and some good brew, laughing hysterically at the craziness of life. It’s equally easy to imagine you comforting one of us through a hard time, or organizing a potluck for some friend in need. You see, you’ve always been there for people.

And so, as much as we’ll miss your daily manna that has fed us for so long, I’m deeply glad that you’re bent on being there – anywhere – everywhere – for your own self. The best of adventures to you, lady! May your days be magnificent, memorable and many!

We shall miss you. Don’t forget to write. 😉

I don’t think I’ve linked to any of Larry Brody‘s writing since I left Strike the Root. But I still read him more or less weekly. Sappy sometimes, he is, but heartfelt and true.

And today, this piece about a fiercely independent old woman just got to me. I couldn’t choose just one snippet to quote here. Read it for yourself, if you’ve a mind to.

Maybe you’ll come to feel, as I do, that this old lady’s life story has a lot in common with the things freedom outlaws – PSM, Claire, velojym, OldTiredRN, my own dear Thunder, and so many others – go through.

Choose to go through, even – because the alternative just isn’t ever really an option.  Prickly and dried-up they might be (or feel), but are they down and out?

Not so’s you’d notice, IMHO.

Well, Gene Logsdon does it again, this time with an entertaining and thoughtful piece on “bootleg” raw milk. You just gotta love this. Mr. Logsdon pokes fun at the “Milk Police” whose mandate has nothing to do with public health.

Selling raw milk, or bootleg milk as I call it, is a crime in some states, if you can believe that. If you break the law, the Milk Police will come knocking at your door. Mind you, they don’t care if you drink it or give it away. You just can’t sell it, which leads me to believe that they are more worried about protecting the monopoly of the pasteurized milk industry than protecting health.

As most of you probably know, dairy farmers who want to sell raw milk to people who want to drink raw milk, get around the prevailing power of the Milk Police by what they call herd share agreements. Customers buy shares in the cows and so as part owners, they are actually drinking their own milk. This subterfuge gives the Milk Police conniption fits. They issue woeful press releases that lead one to believe that civilization will collapse if people are allowed to drink raw milk, even though 28 states now allow it to be sold. The Milk Police try to take producers of herd-share milk to court like they were moonshiners.

Now, I’ve talked about this attitude thing before, but Mr. Logsdon’s blogpost has me thinking about it in a new way. I can’t even really explain how so, but it has to do with the sustained, cheerful humor and the simple choice not to grant the “Milk Police” any legitimacy. It’s a gentle, knowing, thoroughly enjoyable (and enjoyed!) laugh in their faces.

And somehow, it leaves me feeling renewed. Because it’s too easy for me, I realize, to become angered, outraged, offput by the actions of the various Police around today, mushrooming as they are. Mr. Logsdon (and others like him) offer delightful reminders that it doesn’t have to be so.

Hell, no. On the contrary, he gives me a friendly nudge as if to twinkle, “You’re free to dance through life even if ‘they’ expect you to cringe and crawl.”

And it occurs to me that the sustained twinkle is a result, and a function, of long practice and of endlessly repeated acquaintance with the tactics of the other side. It’s grace, born of great wisdom, repeated effort, and formidable patience – with a dash of Outlawish aliveness to spice up the mix.

Halfway Homestead

My sweetie Thunder found us a cool new gulching site this morning: The New Agrarian. It’s written by a fellow in North Carolina by the name of David Walbert, who’s got a couple of postgrad degrees in U.S. history (with very intriguing dissertation topics!), and the personal motto, “Never trust an intellectual who cannot work with his hands.” 😀

I was exploring there and found a little gem of an essay called The Halfway Homestead that was a boost, a nudge, and a handshake all at once:

After all, every homestead is a halfway homestead. No real homestead ever quite lives up to the dream; life is a compromise between ideal and necessity. We can never be or do everything we’d like — but that fact doesn’t absolve us of the responsibility to try. So we try, every day, and we move forward by baby steps. And ten years, twenty years, a lifetime of baby steps adds up.

Too many of us who want change in the world envision the world we’d like to live in but never figure out how to get there from here. It is daunting to think about a divide so great, so I advise trying not to think about it. Keep the end in mind, but focus on the small things you can do rather than the big things you can’t.

And so the halfway homestead is our answer to the question What can we do right here, right now? It’s about putting down roots where we are, rather than holding back until we’re where we think we’d like to be. It’s about taking the scenic route, enjoying the ride, and holding open the possibility that we might find a better destination than the one we had in mind.