"There is nothing more constant than change"
For some time, I have had a growing sense that challenges were on the horizon. And, while I have always done my best to maintain a sense of optimism about the future, I have learned it is wise to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Gone are the days of my blissful ignorance and unreal expectations. If the events of the past 20 years have taught me anything, it is that having firm expectations of life, ultimately limits one's ability to see all other possibilities. And so it has also been with my dream to live in the Colorado, Rockies.
It's no secret, Jacqueline and I have a long term goal of establishing our own homestead and living 100% off grid and independent of the "system". It is our belief that, in the ever variable future, this is the closest we can get to guaranteeing security, happiness, and wellbeing both for our family and for Bone Daddy Blade WerX. While this goal might seem lofty and unrealistic, time has proven it a surprisingly grounded and viable aspiration. With my longstanding history in Colorado, it was only natural that I envision homesteading there. However, as is often the case in life, fate had other plans.
Originally, we had planned on returning to the mountains (Nederland, CO to be exact) in August to begin preparing for the fulfillment stage of our campaign, as well as grow the business, put out roots, and start a family. After more than a year away, we were both all too ready to return. We began hunting for the ideal rental home that would meet our needs and help set us on a path to achieving our long term goals. However, we soon discovered the dream wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Because of its close proximity to Boulder, Nederland has rental prices that rival those of some of some of America's hottest real estate markets. Furthermore, due to fierce competition and the inherent challenges of coordinating viewings during a pandemic, virtual tours would be our only option for seeing properties.
After much searching, a property eventually became available which Jax and I were both very excited about. It was at the very top of our budget (okay, perhaps a little bit over), but ideally located in the heart of Nederland, with a private, fenced yard, and enough space for us to live comfortably while simultaneously fulfilling Axxis orders. We scheduled a virtual tour and were beyond ecstatic to discover that the space appeared brand new; no matter that we came to this conclusion through a blurry video chat app on a phone. Despite the financial concerns, our emotions got the best of us, and before we even took a moment to consider the ramifications of our actions, we found ourselves locked into a lease.
When we did eventually arrive late at night after a 17 hour drive straight through from Kentucky, we were shocked to discover how dramatic a difference an in person viewing can make. The virtual tour had failed to reveal the true condition of the property, and It was immediately apparent we had made a BIG mistake. Without going into all of the details, the home was very rough around the edges, and needed an exceptionally large amount of love. It certainly was not "move in" ready, and we weren't prepared to invest ourselves into a major home remodel, especially since we were hoping to complete fulfillment from this space.
Exhausted, we slept there that night. Without needing to say it, we both knew this wasn’t going to work. The next morning, I called our new landlord and began the uncomfortable process of terminating the lease. Of course this whole experience has been costly and quite embarrassing. In our exuberance to fulfill a dream, we put the carriage before the horse (so to speak) and made an impetuous decision. If we had really done the leg work, we would have discovered well in advance the folly of investing our dream in CO, especially in the context of homesteading.
Colorado is a stunningly beautiful state. Unfortunately, we have since discovered it is also $h!t for homesteading. As previously noted, rental prices are astronomically high there, and this rule also holds true for land and real estate prices as well. Furthermore, local and state laws are very restrictive regarding water and mineral resources, as well as their free usage. More often than not, when you buy a home or property in Colorado, you will not receive the water or mineral rights that go along with it. This means that you can not collect rain water, you can't drill a well and use that water for livestock or crops, you cannot mine for mineral resources, you can't hunt or trap wild game on your land, the list goes on and on. Very occasionally, you can find a property there which does have water & mineral rights grandfathered in, but unless you've got a few million in pocket change sitting around (we don't) the cost of these properties put them in a category well beyond "pipe dream".
Now that we are back in Kentucky (and will be for the foreseeable future) we are determined to not relive the mistakes of our past. We have begun an in depth journey of discovery to learn everything we can about homesteading, and the states whose laws and regulations are most supportive of our desired way of life, along with what's best for an outdoor gear and blade small business. We’ve pooled our savings and continue to add to it, penny by penny, every day. In a year or so, perhaps we will be in a better position to make an informed and responsible decision for our future. In the weeks that have followed since our embarrassing debacle, we have already begun to narrow our search down to a few locations that are extremely promising for homesteading (and far more affordable). It has been hard releasing my dream of Colorado, but I dare say I am even more excited by what the future now holds.