by Pat Carbonell
I have to confess, I play the lottery. No, not scratch cards. The Powerball lottery and the Tri-state Megabucks. I consider it my contribution to funding education in my state, 'cause I sure as hell have never won anything like what I've spent. I think my biggest win was $40.
But if you have the extra couple of bucks a week, hey, it's cheaper than a six-pack of bitch beer, so why not? It lets you dream.
What would YOU do if you won $100,000,000?
Well, the first thing I'd do is pay off all my debts, including the ones that go back decades (you know the type, the $100 an ex-boyfriend gave you when things were tight, and then you broke up...). Then I'd pay off my kid's and mom's debts (theirs are a LOT less).
Then, I'd look for land. There was a property I drooled over a couple of years ago, 'cause it was perfect. 150+ acres up the side of a mountain, with a fairly gentle slope to the bottom half. Surrounded by wildlife conservation land, so I wouldn't have to worry about hunters coming over the ridge. The price tag was half a million, which wasn't bad at all. Base of the property was right on a main highway (okay, so in Vermont a main highway is two lanes that are well-maintained), and it looked out over a wide river valley. I so wanted that land. It was posted for sale for over a year, then the signs came down... but nothing has been done to the land since then, so I don't know if it was sold or just pulled off the market.
If I won the lottery, I'd find out. If I couldn't buy that land, I'd find another just like it. Why? Because I want to build a clan homestead, and help my clan build their dreams.
Okay, so you might be wondering who my clan is (or maybe you're not - you could just be reading this to kill time while you inhale your bagel and coffee). My clan consists of like-minded blood relations (I'm not spending the rest of my life around people I don't like, even if we DO share DNA!), and my "adopted" kids, kids-in-law and grandkids.
For the most part, everyone in my clan is a tree-hugger, so they'd all be cool with what I'd want to do. I want my clan to live lightly on the land - no Hollywood megamansions. Nope. Earth-sheltered passive solar, with solar and wind generators for power. Maybe even methane generators (we call it "cow-power" here - the methane's produced from cow shit, and used to run clean electrical generators).
Okay, what's "earth-sheltered", you ask. Well, remember Frodo's Hobbit hole in "Lord of the Rings"? That's sort of the idea, except that for it to be passive solar, the exterior wall is mostly glass, with slate floors where the sun shines. Plant deciduous trees (the kind that drop their leaves every fall) outside, and you have solar heating in the winter and shaded earth-cooling in the summer. By being built essentially underground, you have the benefit of the earth insulating the dwelling to a fairly constant temperature year-round. The only hitch is that unless you're prepared to build your own hill on top of it, it really helps to have a mountainside pointed in the right solar direction - for the Northern Hemisphere, that means south or southwest. Then all you have to do is dig.
The other advantage of owning the entire mountainside is that you can clear land near the top, shielded by the woods, for the active solar panel and wind power installations. I know folks who do those for private landowners. The idea would be for the clan to be self-sufficient for power. Add wood pellet furnaces for sub-floor heating, and everything's renewable energy.
Right, so where does the cow shit come in? Well, one of my adopted daughters dreams of farming. She actually has two sheep already, living in her folks' back yard. What she wants to do is raise sheep for wool and goats for milk, and start a business doing artisan cheese and wool products. All she needs is the land, the proper buildings and the startup cash. For the sake of the clan, I might be able to talk her into a couple of Jersey cows for milk and butter... and shit. She's a big softy, though, so I don't think I'd be able to talk her into raising beef cattle. I think I'd probably raise the chickens though - for eggs and the freezer.
Then there's my brother-in-law, who would love nothing better than to get into organic gardening full-time when he retires in two months. With 150 acres, we should be able to find enough space for two or three good all-season greenhouses, so he can cycle his crops and keep the clan in fresh veggies most of the year. I know an organic gardener who sells to a couple of high-end restaurants, and a bunch that sell at the local farmer's market. It has the potential to keep him occupied, and maybe one or two other members of the clan.
And then there's my brother, if I could talk him and his wife into moving back here from Iowa, of all places! First thing I'd want to do is hire him for my architect. He did some awesome design work when he went to the Colorado Institute of Design - designed a passive-solar mall! Then I'd back his dream: designing and crafting bentwood furniture. I know someone who does chair caning who could teach him how. He and his wife have three kids they're raising to be happy little pagans, home-schooling them and so forth. I could easily see Brita running the clan daycare.
Me, I'd be the village witch. Actually, clanmother. I'm not sure exactly what I'd be doing to keep myself occupied, but I expect I'd get into my healing practice full-time. Get training in massage therapy, full-scale aromatherapy and herbalism. I already know how to do the energetic work. Probably keep doing my jewelry designs on the side - got another adopted daughter with spouse and kids who'd like to get into that business with me.
Then there's my oddball adoptive son. He doesn't really like people that much, and he spends as much time as he possibly can out in the woods when the seasons permit (he doesn't do winter camping, though). He's working on starting his own business this year, doing lanscaping and yard maintenance, which would be great, 'cause he doesn't do well working for other folks. I could really see giving him his very own "cave" near the back of the property, and paying him to do all the landscaping and outdoor maintenance around the clan holds.
Of course, being a practical witch, I already know that I'd have the land put in trust, and have every adult in the clan who's working the land or providing services to the clan or starting up their own business be an employee of a holding corporation I'd set up. That way we could get damned good health care for everyone, from the babes to the elders.
Just the families I mentioned have a current total of, let's see, eight kids under ten. I expect (actually, I hope) my blood daughter will spawn one of these days - I'd really like to see the Gifts in our bloodline continued into another generation. My brother's talking about another kid, and the sheep-lady will probably want another one or two. The gods only know if my mountain man is ever going to have kids, but he probably will one day - he does have a lady.
It would be so great to be able to gather my clan together on a homestead large enough to give everyone their own home and room to build their dreams.
If only I could win that damned jackpot!!!
So, what would you do?
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