Saturday, November 20, 2010


As many have guessed we are going through a drastic change–life altering. I have tried time again to write this post. You are all my friends and I need to explain. First, Tabitha and I are together forever. Second, I have the best boss at The Alternative Energy Company ever. Zeke has my allegiance and will continue to be my friend.

Here is the deal. We are leaving our little farm. The reasons we are leaving are many and mostly logic based. The catalyst however was pure emotion. Tabitha is terrified of handguns–an incapacitating phobia. Our newest neighbor, just out of our back door, had a propensity to have a few drinks and repeatedly fire his hand gun. We entered civil conversation. I pleaded with him that my four year old autistic son couldn't bear the nightly extended gun shooting, which is true.

Finally, his landlords stopped by and asked us "did the hand gun shooting trouble us?" We answered a gleeful "yes" hoping for a simple solution. They responded that they had a prior agreement that *if there were any complaints* they would have to stop the nightly shooting. The Crazy Mother Fu%*er, CMF for short blamed us even though all the local neighbors complained. At one point the Sheriff became involved and the CMF became enraged. He started threatening my wife, children and animals by yelling across the hallow. Tabitha became racked with fear and would not let the kids out to play in our own yard. He would brandish his gun and yell *BANG BANG* toward my children and wife. He would yell "you better get your cow out of here" while holding a gun. (expletives deleted)

Tabitha did not feel safe and fell out of love with our little farmstead. The disillusionment was complete and all encompassing. She began to work on me trying to explain her terror and that there is a better way. Needless to say I resisted and cited promises of living here forever. Foremost, I love my wife and desire her happiness and safety.

The contributing factors are my spotty employment during the past six months, and our barely keeping our heads above water. Maintaining during financial difficulty requires a deep blind love for this lifestyle and a hope for the future. On the positive side Tabitha has been pining to go back to University but commute from here is unrealistic. This is especially true since it would require stopping homeschooling. Our local schools are simply not an option.

In the end we have decided to move back to the San Francisco bay area. A risky endeavor indeed but we are on the five year plan. Tabitha will attend University, the kids will attend a charter school, I will get employment in the active California solar industry (my true passion). After five years we will reassess our position.

Crazy? Yes, I agree but we have learned countless lessons here and can better try it again with true preparation. I want to build our own "perfect" home someday. At that time, Tabitha will carry the torch of employment while I and the boys build our dream home. It must be geographically protected and neighbors few.

Are we financially OK? Kinda, mostly, but we are scared. I have been repeating to myself "hold on tightly, let go lightly." I fear for my children but I want them to be fearless and can only show them this by example.

I will continue my blog taking lessons learned from the country to the city. It might even be more useful to a greater number of people. Buying in bulk in season and preserving while in the city is something of true value. Attending U-pick, buying in bulk and everything fresh in season is our lifestyle. I hope to ride my bike to work everyday. I spent most of my twenties with only a bicycle as transportation and miss it.

It will be a new deliberate adventure. I hope you stick around to see what happens next.. I plan to document our preparations for our next foray in to self sufficiency and sustainability. A pastoral life is something not to be attempted lightly. Our lessons from this practice farm promise decisive preparation for our next iteration and future.

Special thanks to Patrick, Bob, Zeke, Matt, my sister and all of you. Your support has been well appreciated.
I love you all, blessings of peace.



Walter Jeffries said...

Oh, Mien God! That is awful and I am so glad that you made this right decision. It is not worth being next door to a neighbor from Hell like that. He is a threat to you, your wife, your children, your animals. You did the best thing. Give it some time. Find a better place with more elbow room. I was in a similar situation over 20 years ago. I gave up 80 beautiful acres because I knew I did not want to live with those crazy mean neighbors for the rest of my life. I found land elsewhere, a much larger parcel of land and am far happier for it. Now looking back I know it was by far the best possible decision. Keep the spirit and your health. Move forward. Keep in touch.

Jo said...

Of course we will continue to follow your adventures. It's terrible that such a CMF had to interrupt your farmstead plans, but once a farmer always a farmer, and being able to 'start from scratch' again with all the lessons learned from your Ozark experience, will be a true delight.

Although I do have to put in a 'plug' for Minnesota. Lots of cool stuff going on up here with local foods. Sorry, couldn't help myself -- the prospect of having you folks as potential neighbors was too tempting. :)

Maria said...

Your new plan sounds wonderful! And that's the cool thing about 'plans', they can change as needed and each change brings lots of new opportunities. Sorry this had to all be spurred on by such a CMF. I hope the cow leaves some extra nasty patties on his side of the property line!

Jacki said...

Wow! I surely didn't expect this. So sad that you had such awful neighbor troubles! My deepest sympathy goes to you and your family, but I do look forward to seeing what you make of a bad situation. You have so much experience to take with you into a city lifestyle. Try looking into micro-eco-farming. You might be surprised how much of your gardening you can continue!

Kim said...

Good luck to you guys! I cant imagine having to deal with the ordeal. I share Tabithas fear and I would make the same choice if in your situation!

I look forward to reading as you move back to San Fran.

Blessings to you and your family.

Patrick and Emily said...

Best Wishes, Praying for your safe travels and looking forward to your new post! I can't tell you how much you have inspired me.


Debra Dotter Blakley said...

Good Lord! What a nut job your neighbor is. As my grandma always said, "Nothing you learn is ever wasted. It will come back and save the day somewhere farther down the line." Thinking about you guys.

sheila said...

Even though it will be a radical change, I actually breathed a sigh of relief when I read your post. As long as you are together as a family that is all that really matters in life.

I've done the crazy neighbor thing years ago and had to move when my dog was shot and my cat was poisoned among other crazy things that happened. Even though it's not as rural as I'd like, I'm so much happier where I live now and have the most wonderful neighbors.

Take care and keep posting. I will keep following your adventures.

Dani said...

So sad - and so indicative of what is happening in the world today. What a CMF! My husband said it was a pity someone didn't film the guys behaviour / actions and hand that evidence in to the police.

Wish you the best with your move to SF - will still follow you blog to see how you are all doing. Best wishes to you all.

Anonymous said...

I'm terribly sorry to hear about your troubles -- I was in a somewhat similar situation years ago (CMF's for neighbors that is), and the stress it added to my life at the time was awful. So it's sad that you will be leaving your farmstead under such circumstances -- but on the other hand here's looking forward to hearing about your S.F. adventures with real interest, being as that I was in the city myself only a few months ago, for the first time (loved it!), plus the fact my teenage son is currently out there attending school so I feel a connection now to the area (I'm in the midwest)....

In any case, all the best....

LannaM said...

How exciting of a change for all of you! Maybe your 5-10 year plan will end up with you closer to my neck of the woods. :D

Janie said...

What an Ass. My deep sadness for you all having to change your life so drastically, but then if you accept that no change is wrong then you need to thank the idiot with a gun (not to his face!) for initiating your move your on to your next adventure. I wish you and your whole family all the best xx

kristen said...

I have admired and followed you and Tabitha, and am both sorry and excited to hear about this new chapter. I am glad to hear you will continue the blog so this family I have never met can continue to be a dear part of my thoughts. May you have a fun, family-bonding, safe journey to your new home. Hugs.

Matt said...

I've been waiting for this post. And, again, I very excited and very sad. You and Tabitha worked with superhuman strength to build an amazing home, farm and lifestyle. I know your dedicated readers, who have inspired you, learned from you and have been entertained by will miss the farm life, but will continue to watch your growth as we all adjust to a new lifestyle. You'll still have plenty more to learn and teach!
Selfishly, it's a dream come true to have y'all within driving distance again. Phone calls, photos, reading blog postings and one visit in five years was never enough. I've missed my Best Friend for a long time. Welcome back!
BTW, bring some of that salsa you've been taunting me with for years!

Moonwaves said...

Sorry to hear about the awful time you've been having with your neighbour. But the very best of luck for the next stage of your adventure. Let's face it, there are probably worse places to aim for than the SF area so although leaving behind everything you have built up will be difficult, there will be many, many positive things to look forward to as well.

Anke said...

I am so sorry you guys had to go through this. The neighbor sounds like the neighbor from hell and I'm so sorry he scared your wife and kids like that.
Wishing you all the best on your new journey to SF!

Danielle said...

We are going with you all on to this new stretch. Looking forward with you all. Hugs. The only constant is change...looking forward to your new adventures!

Ryan said...

Karl - I just began to read your blog a few months ago and have never commented. I'm truly sorry about your situation and I wish your family the best with your move. I look forward to seeing your progress and the opportunities that will come your way. Best of luck, Ryan

sheila said...

I've been thinking about your family in my sleep. Woke up wondering something, how is this guy not arrested for shooting a gun this close to a house? Where I live you can't discharge firearms that close to a residence. What the CMF is doing are terrorist threats. It just ticks me off that he is being allowed to intimidate your family like this. Can you get an order of protection? Would the cops enforce it?

I can understand there is more than one reason to be moving at this time and this guy isn't the only reason, but the CMF belongs in jail before he hurts someone.

Take care, stay safe, your family is really special.

edifice rex said...

Well, I hate to hear ya'll are moving under such circumstances but it may turn out to be the best thing. I think ya'll have made a good decision. I know in the past you have had some other issues with neighbors being so close, so to be able later, to get a farm further out will be heaven. I know how that is; if you are going to live in a rural area (with a lot of potential rednecks) it's best to have them as far away as possible. I can't see any of my neighbors but I do have one that loves to target shoot and can hear it in the distance. It's annoying.
I will certainly keep following if you continue blogging. I've learned a good bit from you so far! And remember, some times the events that happen that seem to be the worst actually move us on to a better path and place. Good luck to you all.

Kathy said...

Is your farm for sale? Or is it already spoken for? Is the neighbor gone yet?

I wish you all the best.

tea4too0 said...

I am so sorry to hear that you have to leave the farm, but I am glad that you all will have a new adventure ahead. I know you guys are busy, but if you get a chance, here is a site you might find interesting,
They live in Cali, in the city and farm too. Best of luck to you all.

Mom said...

Best of luck to you in your new adventure. I really admire your courage and strength in moving forward. I have enjoyed reading about your life and hope to hear about your new life on your blog. Jane from Maine (Molly from dogfightcove's mom)

Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog for several years, but I've never commented. I've been a homesteader for over 20 years, but I've learned a lot from you young folks and I've greatly enjoyed reading about all you've done to build a successful homestead. I lived in Sunnyvale for many years, before traveling cross country, then settling in TX. I've had CMF for neighbors too, so I know how Tabitha feels. We finally found our bliss, I hope you will too.
I wish you and your family all the best. And i know you will build the perfect homestead one day soon.

molly said...

Oh! I've been a reader for a few years now, following your adventure in the Ozarks. I'm not sure how I even found your blog, following a link from a link I think. You see, I live in St Louis, but am really involved in urban farming and have worked on rural farms. I didn't grow up here, and have always tried to wrap my head around living rurally and farming in Missouri, but it seems to come with, potentially, such challenge. I must admit, reading about your family always gave me hope about being able to find a way that I, too, could live in rural Missouri and not be driven crazy by the cultural differences I expect to find there. However, given my owntrepidations, I understand your choice and wish you luck on your future journeys.

Katrien said...

Karl and Tabitha, it requires great strength to make such a change, and to lift yourselves about the CMFs in the world and move on.
Of course I'll follow you into the city/suburbs. Am curious to see all your endeavors there!

Vegetable Garden Cook said...

Karl and Tabitha, I'm so very sorry to hear about your neighbors. My husband and I went through one hell of a neighbor situation too. It is the absolute worst feeling to have to leave your home because of crazy neighbors.

It was the worst time of my life... and very likely the reason that I lost my baby girl four weeks before she was due to be born.

You can read my story here:

Trust me, get away. I wish we had sold our house and gotten away from them earlier rather than later Crazy neighbors only get crazier.

When you have time to re-evaluate your living situation, I would highly recommend moving to the Portland, OR area. The culture is very similar to SF, but is much more affordable. My husband and I live about 40 minutes from downtown Portland, yet we are in the country with 2.5 acres. My husband commutes each day.

If there's anything I can do, even though I'm a stranger... don't hesitate to ask.

Stinson Anderson said...

Sad to hear about your circumstance but I'm sure something good and even great will come of it. Stay safe in the meantime. I must say that I have enjoyed following your blog and have garnered some great ideas for our CSA farm. We too are considering changing things up a bit--trying to decide if we want to get bigger and hire some folks and still work my full-time job or scale back and just grow food for ourselves and the occassional farmers market trip with my kids. I'm really leaning toward the latter. It's simpler and there is peace in that. Best wishes on your new adventures. Perhaps we'll meet someday.

Dave Anderson
Mission Berry Farms

Robbyn said...

We're behind you guys all the way no matter where life takes you...thank you for sharing your steps. It can't have been any easy decision...we can't wait to see how things unfold. Life can take us SO many interesting places! And we can really relate to loving a place but it souring because of reasons beyond our control...please keep us updated through this transition so we can keep cheering you guys on!

HannaLee said...

Oh, I am so sorry that your homesteading dreams have ended for now. I know you will do great, though, in the city/suburbs, and keep that safe property in mind always! We will keep reading here, as we have come to care about your little family!

Rixa said...

Ugh, it's so frustrating that your neighbor gets to stay and you have to leave...but I'm also excited to hear about your new adventures. There are lots of great places to settle about Indiana????

Janet Brier said...

I am sorry you got a crazy neighbor butI would not want to live there either.I am glad you are still going to be posting.Good luck to you all.

Ed said...

I'm mad, I'm shocked, I'm saddened but I know you need to do what is right for your family. I will keep your family in our prayers as you transform your life and I will remain a loyal reader of your blog as long as it continues to be posted upon. Safe journey!

Homesteading Mommy said...

It feels almost as though we're losing a member of the family. It's infuriating that a mere tenant can do this to land owners. As a landlord myself, I will forever remember this when deciding whom to rent to. Please know our hearts and prayers are with you.

Anonymous said...

I've enjoyed your blog and lifestyle. I wish the climate here in Florida would support some of the things ya'll have been able to build like the root cellar.

I would encourage you though to rethink your decision. Being self-reliant should include being prepared for your own safety. And responsible gun ownership is absolutely a part of that. The threats from your neighbor are disgusting and I second the recommendation to record them on video and submit them to the police.

But compare the crime rates between your current area and CA before you go. I bet you're significantly safer where you are then in that hell-hole of a state.

Some people move to the county to farm and some people move to be able to shoot in their yard. I did.

Vegetable Garden Cook said...

I hate to be the nay-sayer, but as I mentioned I've dealt with the crazy, violent neighbor situation before. Talking with the police made them crazier and more violent and hateful toward us. Talking with the neighbors themselves made them crazy, talking with their landlord made them despise us, and when the police got involved, it only exacerbated them more. There's just some people that cannot be reasoned with. It's the absolute worst feeling in the world. Most people want to get along, but others thrive on hatred and I'm so sorry that you are going through it too. We attempted many ways to solve our situation, and I'm happy to chat with you about it if you need to bounce around some ideas. But in the end, nothing we did, even just being nice and ignoring them, helped us.

Diane said...

So sorry to hear about this whole situation. Having a bad neighbor can ruin a lot, can't it?

He sounds more than a bit crazy and could be prosecuted for harassment. I know you probably don't want to deal with that but keep the sheriff apprised of his actions.

Life can take some strange turns. It's disorienting to be thrown around and find yourself on a completely different road but have faith that things will work out for the best.

I'll be thinking of you.

tabitha said...

This is Tabitha.

Thanks, everyone, for your concern and support. <3

Open comment to all:

Shooting is not and has never been the issue. We own guns. We shoot guns. It is illegal to do so while drunk, or to threaten and harass your neighbors. Still, in an unincorporated community, the Sheriff has to choose how to apply the county laws. We worked almost every angle we could without escalating this beyond safety. Believe me, this is not a sudden thing- we have been working on it for 6 months. If you have never dealt with a set of CMFs before, I would urge you to reserve judgment on this point.

CMF, if I may be so bold, moved here to hide (hole-up). Like the multiple sex offenders on our dead end highway. an unincorporated community drew him in. I was born and raised here, in the meth capital of the USA, so I feel I can speak on the subject. This little chunk of the Ozarks is a transient community: Branson tourism, little lawless non-villages. It was not always this way.

Possibly, political opinions about California cause you to wonder "why". We have a history in California and feel good about our choice. I don't wish to make this a political discussion.

Regarding safety, only a fool would think us safer here than in any major city. Our little farm is situated between 2 major thoroughfares, surrounded by trailer parks and hemocyte villages, all full of losers who probably couldn't make dinner from a box of stovetop mac n cheese. If they get hungry, this place is not defensible. Sure, we have food- but it would take at least a dozen armed adults to defend it if it came to that. And then our livestock would have to be kept locked away to be safe, which would force us to haul and buy their food. If we are truly building our survival, we need to be honest with ourselves about the future.

Our skillset is what makes us better for our experience here. And we bring that with us. Perhaps you are in the camp of those who think we don't have 5 more years left. Whether that belief is based on religion or other, I can see your side. But I am not there. I have young children, and I raise them for a future. I want them to have the skills to survive and thrive, not just one or the other.

When we do this again, if there is time or will or desire to, we will bring our experience and skill with us. We are not afraid of letting go of one thing to grab another.

Possibly related: I have wondered a lot of things in light of this. A question I am asking myself is, why do we want to survive 'whatever comes our way'? I think the answer to that can shed a lot of light on our choices here. We don't want simply to survive, we have reasons and hopes behind it. Not survival at any cost. Not quantity over quality.

All the 'things' we have built here- they are just things. They enrich our lives, but they do not own us. And if we cannot protect them in the real test of survival, they were never really ours. It is all well and good to talk about building permaculture, but there is so much more behind it than just picking a spot and building Eden.

We are at a precarious halfway point in our journey. We have so much infrastructure, but we still have to pay the bills. It is not unreasonable to rise above and breathe deep before we dive in again.

Wendy said...

The positive for you, with regard to food security, is that the area where you're moving has an amazing local food shed (from what I've read, but I've never been there), and next September the Mother Earth News Fair will be in San Francisco :).

While I wouldn't want to be in the city, if I had to be in the city, I think San Fransisco would be one of the better ones to consider. My friend here in Maine talks about the great things they are doing with urban sustainability out there.

I wish you the best of luck, knowing that this was a very difficult decision, and I look forward to hearing about all of your great adventures in California ;).

Shannon said...

I so enjoy your blog, (yours being the first I ever 'followed') and I am sorry that some @$$#*)% has removed that feeling of oneness you and your family enjoyed there with one another and the land. I am excited for you and your new adventure and will continue to read of your escapades! I know regardless of geography, you and your pile will be great! Sending you laughs and love,
Shannon and her own lil pile!

bethanial11 said...

Praying for y'all as you embark on this new phase of life. I've only been following for a couple of months, but I've discovered a wealth of information, and will continue to follow your adventures.

Woody said...

Hate to lose a neighbor...peace and good fortune to you and the family.

jenny said...

Wishing you all the best in your future wherever you go. If you keep blogging, I'll keep reading. I'm excited for you, a new "start over", a chance to take what you've learned so far and tweak it and learn more things, then if you decide to go back and live off the land again, you'll be a little wiser and choosier about where you'll settle, knowing what to look for the second time around.

we've been where we are for 5 years, and if I had a "do-over" I'd pick somewhere else, with more land, more pasture area, more secluded (as in farther off the main roads), and in an area where we still have the 4 seasons, but a little bit more south of us.

Good luck! :o)

Sissy said...

Shocked is my word for the situation. It's shameful that people can't consider others when indulging. I couldn't step to my backyard for two full years and lived in mortal fear for even more. Luckily, I outlasted the cmfs and now live in quite blissful peace; thank goodness as I'm too tired to move ever again. Good luck with your new venture. I just feel bad your young ones will miss all the goodness of their little farm lives. I enjoy reading about your daily endeavors; learned a lot from you. Thank you for sharing with us.

Carla said...

Sorry that the crazy neighbor has thrown a wrench into your dream of a forever farm. I wish you the best of luck in your new endeavors and will continue to keep an eye out for the pile. :o)

warren said...

Sorry you are dealing with a nut job but it sounds like a move is best for you folks. Like others, I too will keep up with what you are doing. I live in a city and would enjoy getting your perspectives on city simplicity, etc as well!

Twwly said...

I have much sympathy about the CMF. We live in the middle of nowhere, thankfully no trailer parks or major roads near us, hardly any people... But aren't we lucky just around the corner is a CMF. Well, actually he is a DOF. (Drunk Old F). After nearly two years of threats and harassment, he finally has let off, and we didn't even have to feed him to our pigs. (Local cops wouldn't do anything, they'd go have a beer with him!)

I've lived in many cities before finding my country home, and have so many hideous tales of CMFs they would fill a book. There are crazy people everywhere unfortunately.

Best of luck on your new adventure, I hope you take good advantage of the city food! Haha.

Robin said...

Man, that stinks. I wish you all the best though! :)

Jen said...

Gosh Karl. I am so behind on my favorite blogs. I am very sorry to here of you and your family's situation with this cmf. What a distress for all. Goes to show how he has no respect for anyone.
I have been inspired by your adventures on the farm but even more inspired that your family's safety comes first and you are doing what you need to do to keep them safe. I feel it would never feel safe there for anyone after this crazy incident.
No matter where you end up I will continue to follow your blog. You have a beautiful family and I have learned so much from all of you. I will be praying for yall.
I hope this cmf gets what he deserves. ~Jen

PS..i was in the SF Bay area for a coupla years in the late 90's. It was beautiful. The Pleasanton-Livermore area has beautiful country side that made me sick for home. Then I got back to Texas as fast as i could :)

Zan said...

I'm sad that this is happening to you guys, but happy that you can move forward with strength. You guys will be fine in the SF Bay and you'll make a happy home there just as you made one in Missouri.

It's a new adventure and you guys are going to go at it like gangbusters :) Sending you guys good wishes!! Best of luck!

Youngiee said...

Oh. My. God.

My deepest sympathies on leaving your homestead, and best wishes on your journey. You are more than welcome to come visit if you want to find a new homestead out east. Hugs to you all.

Jess said...

Hi O'Melays,

I have been following your adventures over the last year or so and have gained an admiration for all that you have attempted. I'm so sorry about the CMF, and I imagine this journey must be a frightening and exciting one all at once.

I was born and raised in the Ozarks and currently live in L.A. About 80% of people turn up their noses when I reveal I'm an Angeleno. I chose a city life, love our beach community, and don't think California is a "hell-hole", as stated in a comment above. The Bay area is lovely--absolutely love that community--and I hope your whole "pile" will be very happy there. There are inherent dangers anywhere, be it country or city. At the end of the day, your decision is yours alone and I wish all six of you the best.

Welcome to Cali, and many blessings for better days to come.


P.S. Tabitha, I remember you from Summerscape! The other Jessica is still one of my best friends; she told me about the blog. I hope you enjoy going back to school and will blog about it when you do!

Jessica said...

Oh my, I haven't had the internet for quite sometime and haven't had a chance to read your blog. What a change you all have been through!!! This is amazing and my Grandmother always tried to remind me that when life gives you a chance or an oppurtunity it is most likely for a reason. The newer posts of your family, you all look just as you always have in the past, happy. So, you must have made a good decision. I missed reading from this space, you all inspire me so deeply and I can't wait to see what I am able to learn from you and pass on to my children and the people in my life. Thank you everyday for being who you are.

Duane Keys said...

I've been out of the blog scene for a while now and just read this post. I'm sad you had to give up on the farm but it sounds like you made the best decision possible.

Good luck in your future journeys!

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