My First Week at Freedom Ranch

By Michael Kastelnik

Michael is an army veteran who is much better now. He has a great work ethic and a broad skill set, and we are grateful to have him helping out at Freedom Ranch. For more about the project, click here

I’ve been staying on the property for several days now. For someone who likes seeing all the beautiful areas of this country, I’m glad I’ve come to this place. Having grown accustomed to all the amenities and conveniences of city life, it does take some flexibility to adjust to living here during the construction phase; it’s a kind of extended camping trip. I’m currently in a tent that is, oddly enough, twice the size of my old apartment.


You clearly see the necessities of life pretty quickly when you’re standing on open soil and the nearest supply store is the better part of an hour away. It is a nice reality check. It’s also a great learning experience. Just the mechanics of the outdoor shower—the heating up of clean water with a propane burner, the hand pump utilized to generate water pressure, the conservation of water to last through the last rinse off, the refilling for the next person—are in themselves lessons on how stuff works for our benefit. Just using this little technology is as trippy for me as walking around the property. It’s easy to imagine ambulating on a Martian surface as was portrayed in a recent film. But also like the film’s protagonist achieves, Adam is attempting to eventually convert human waste into nutritious food right here with his sapioponic garden. I’m curious to see how it tastes.


The thing that really makes it worthwhile is the people. We are all doing something new and interesting, and engaging in conversation about it is half the fun. Sharing meals together is a naturally intimate event, and there has been plenty sharing so far. This is our temporary home as well as workplace, so it is easy to quickly see each other as we are. And there’s something almost addictive about sitting around a blazing fire under a clear Southwestern starry sky while talking about life and casually discussing religion and politics (the two topics that we tell ourselves are off-limits in polite company.) There’s plenty of work to be done, but it’s a welcomed challenge.