New Pioneers Forging Paths Towards a Sustainable Present & Future

As our longtime readers know, PTF started in December 1999 as a very influentialfamily advocate site in one of the most covered father-son saga (which, this month, we just finished putting up just a few of the manyarchives). After this 6 month saga ended, which included collecting over 21,000 signatures, PTF eventually morphed into an alternative, progressive news site which touched on issues like genetically modified foods, pesticides in food, the environment, Y2K issues and much, much more.

In 2001, after bringing such important issues to the public, we wanted to do more to fight against the corporations trying to trap us, making us slaves to their system. We could protest on the streets or make our voices heard on the internet, in print, etc. After much thought, what better way to protest against such injustice than by showing how we were, for years prior and present, trying to live the revolution: growing our own food, making a living with our hands, and practicing voluntary simplicity, cooking from scratch, eating with the seasons, using and building sun ovens, etc., etc.   Thus, the birth of what is now known worldwide as the Path to Freedom urban homestead model.   Since its small beginnings, we’ve journeyed through growing over 6,000 lbs of food on our 1/5 acre (1/10 acre garden), brewing our own veggie fuel (biodiesel), installing solar panels, building a cob oven (with the help from the community), raising a menagerie of farm animals, cutting our energy usage in 1/2 from 12 kwh a day to 6 kwh – the list can go on and on.

For more check out our ‘At A Glance‘ page, view our 18 min“Music Video Brochure” or read the list of steps accomplished on the right hand side bar of this journal >

At this seven year stage in this leg of the journey, we ponder what will PTF become in the years ahead.

It’s amazing what used to be obscure words like urban homestead, pioneers, path to, path to freedom, journey towards, are all commonly used and referred to now on the world wide web and blog sphere.   Since its humble beginnings, Path to Freedom has had more influence than we could ever imagine. The pebble that was thrown into the pond has had a tremendous ripple effect from what we ever thought possible.

Here’s to all those who are traveling the path in what Jules refers to you/us as:
“the few, the humble, the new pioneers.”


Thanks to the few (only 7) of you who actually took time to help with my case of posting fatigue. Thank you. You’ve been very kind and helpful with great suggestions and we’ll be posting answers to your questions soon.

The Four Letter “R” Word

Seems like everywhere we go and everyone we meet these days, the first question folks ask us is not your normal greetings like “how are you doing” and so forth. Nope, instead it’s “how’s the roof?” I know many of you got an earful after asking that question! Not surprisingly,  some even told us that they were tired of reading/hearing about the roof problems and saga. Hmmm, like we aren’t? That makes two of us!    You wouldn’t believe the frustration, stress and all that went on. The back and forth dilemmas, the misinformation, one person says this, the other that, finding affordable wood to replace.

We have a file of papers 4″ thick of sustainable and alternative roofing materials and 2″ of business cards.   With such a sizeable and important purchase we wanted to make sure we got all the information straight. So, we studied and analyzed all of the options and looked over and over and over at the options for a roof. It is supposed to be the last roof we ever will buy for this house since it will last over 50 years.   Kind of like a marriage, well, sort of, but you can’t file a divorce from your roof if you change your mind!! Believe me, it wasn’t easy, especially with an older house such as ours.

For those of you who have been following this roofing saga, I won’t go into all the details because it would be just too long. Instead, here’s a brief outline:

When we started looking at metal roofing material, one of the problems we encountered was the issue that many metal roofs are teflon coated. A few months later, since we didn’t like the teflon, we were seriously considering clay tiles (even more sustainable and beautiful than metal)and even lightweight cement tiles. After asking question after question, we found out that with the pitch of our roof being 8/12 and with the lightweight clay tiles only being held on with one nail we discovered something. With such a steep roof and the law of gravity, the nails (especially with an earthquake or if someone walks on them or the tiles get heavy when they are wet) could break and then one tile will slide under the bottom tile till you have an avalanche of clay tiles – not good, not good at all.

Even the lightweight clay tiles would have added over 18,000 lbs (just tiles alone -not including the plywood and 2 layers of 30lb tar paper) on our little house. On top of that, the clay tiles aren’t water tight and expect the two layers of felt underneath to be a defense against any potential leaks. In addition, many roofing contractors that came out were very concerned of the weight that it would put on the house and said they wouldn’t put the clay tiles on without a major inspection and reinforcement of the house. Well, if they were concerned about the weight then that started making us question it too.

Eventually,  this issue made us change our minds and go back to where we started – metal.

The roofing guy is coming this morning for us to sign the contract and work should start (delivering materials) tomorrow – meaning we are to have a new (sustainable) roof by the new year! Definitely time to celebrate! It’s kinda of sad that we have now to hand it over to professionals, after having done all work up to this point ourselves: tearing down 7 tons of old roofing materials, putting up 100 sheets of plywood, fixing the sagging and or damaged eaves/rafters, and rebuilding a whole section (~400 linear feet) of eaves with brand new wood. If we’d been putting up an asphalt roof, we’ve done that before and could have done the whole re- roofing job ourselves.   But, metal roofing requires special tools and knowledge and why bother tracking down and buying tools we’ll only use once?   We DIY’d all that we could; now it’s in the hands of the professionals.

Stay tuned for the pictures to come.

No Comments

  1. gerry medland says:

    I am so glad to be a new pioneer,the example set by all you folks at PTF is a constant source of ‘food’ for health and digestion!Well done and Thank you all!
    The ‘R ‘ saga!
    I am reminded of the lyric,’right back where we started from…….’There are always questions,could we have done more…,did we waste time due to mis-information,etc?That this life is a steep learning curve is without debate,what is important is the lessons learned and skills discovered that really matters.I hope all goes well and without hitch!
    gerry m

  2. Clare says:

    Hello Everyone,
    Glad to hear that you are moving forward with the best choice for your roof. Once that is done, what a feeling of accomplishment you will have!

    I read the comments already posted in your ‘fatigue’ post, and thought they were all good points. I couldn’t really add anything new, so I did not comment. Know that we are definately with you in spirit on this, ok?

    Thanks for all that you do and share. It is most appreciated.

  3. dermot says:

    So I guess there’s still going to be teflon in the metal roof?

    Cooking with the stuff is a no-no of course; I guess it can’t be too risky if it’s out of the food chain.

    It sickens me whenever I see non-stick pans for sale – I can’t believe that they’re still legal.

  4. bibliotecaria says:

    I appreciate the info on your roof saga! What kind of insulation are you doing? I’m thinking about that more and more for my house, since heat loss is undoubtedly one of the biggest expenses for the winter. I’m trying to reduce my footprint, but there are so many things to be done! Baby steps, baby steps…

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