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One Man Living His Off-Grid Dream – Episode 060

Rich Scheben’s journey began in New York and ended in northwestern Montana, where he now lives off 150 beautiful acres of land that is almost the embodiment of Eden. Wildlife abounds, streams and creeks teem with fish, and greenhouses flourish with vegetables and fruit. He left the hustle and bustle of urban living in 1986 and has never looked back.

Scheben grew up loving fishing, hunting, and trapping. Sitting through the movie Jeremiah Johnson in 1972 only reinforced his dream and desire to live the life of a modern-day mountain man. However, he found achieving that dream was nearly impossible in the politically correct charged atmosphere of the times that we live in.

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Off The Grid Radio
Ep 060
Released: August 5, 2011

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Off the Grid News – the radio version of offthegridnews.com. I’m Brian Brawdy, here as always with Mr. Bill Heid. Bill, how are you today, sir?

Bill: Brian, I’ve never been better in my life. It’s great to be with you. Top of the morning to you, as we say. All that stuff. Today is going to be really one of those fun things because we’re talking about a journey today. We’re talking about going from Point A to Point B but it’s not necessarily this linear thing where you get there because you want it. Good things in life require effort and sweat and there’s discouragement along the way and so forth. Our guest today is really a special guest from the standpoint of helping people go from one place in life to another and I’m talking about being on the grid and our guest being from New York City. There’s no way to get any more on the grid than being in New York City then ending up in rural Montana totally off the grid. This is a journey that everyone needs to listen to.

Brian: That’s true. I think a lot of times when people think “Bri, I could never get off the grid. I couldn’t do this, I couldn’t do that …” I’m always surprised when you look at the people’s faces and you remind them that they were born off the grid. When you say moving to Montana, it’s not super human. That’s the function in which we were born with. We’ve had to learn, not surviving in the wilderness – look at the stories of little kids that are lost in the wild for two, three, four, five days at a time – little kids turn out great. They make it. They intuitively know “I come from the earth and this is how it works.” It’s like we have to learn to be on the grid. It reminds me of Yoda in Star Wars – remember him and Luke Skywalker hanging out? Yoda goes “you must unlearn that which you have learned. Always with you what cannot be done. Do or do not.”

Bill: Pretty profound, isn’t it?

Brian: I like Yoda for that. I know it’s a make up of Joseph Campbell and …

Bill: Quoting Yoda.

Brian: Quoting Yoda. But you must unlearn that which you have learned.

Bill: There’s a lot of things about our culture that impinge on us that’s just plain not natural and it’s not a good way to live. One of the themes that you and I Have talked about over and over and over is just this business of outsourcing every aspect of our being. We outsource, outsource, outsource because we’ve wanted this division of economy, these efficiencies of economics, whatever it is. Henry Ford did it in the line and then we all try to do it in our lives – how can we be so efficient? It’s like “the train runs on time,” right? In the process, we’ve lost a lot and our guest has lost it and then found it again, which is – again, there’s an epiphany side of this, there’s a spiritual side of this that is intriguing to me as well. I’m just excited to have our guest today.

Brian: Words were said at one point “come forth into the light of nature. Let nature be your teacher. Come forth. Let nature be your teacher.” For me, it’s always that nature has been a solvent. It’s a big eraser. You talk to people – you talk to some of the most creative people in the world, they’ll tell you – Einstein – it doesn’t just have to be Thoreau and Emerson and Wordsworth and Longfellow, you look at Moses on the top of the mountain, Jesus in the desert … you look at “Ode to Joy” – Beethoven talks about writing the “Ode to Joy,” being alone in that little lake on his father’s farm … in that little lake, looking up and seeing all these tars at night. There’s something to that nature being a solvent and a teacher.

Bill: You’ve heard my moose story, right? So you know that nature has been a teacher more than one occasion to me where you get chased by a moose and it almost kills you. You learn real quick how things work and how they don’t work.

Brian: Not just kum-ba-yah. That’s one of the things about the transcendental authors when they’re like “nature is compassionate and it may be …”

Bill: Until you get an infection.

Brian: Until you get an infection, until you have an alligator chase you …

Bill: And then there’s nature infecting you … there’s a road to be traveled here.

Brian: And I would offer to you, not that I would have anything negative to say about it – we’ll get our guest to comment on it here in just a minute – but I’ve backpacked across Yellowstone, and I’m from New York – I’ve backpacked across Yellowstone more than I’ve backpacked across New York. But yesterday, first time in 25 years, a couple out hiking comes up in Yellowstone on a female grizzly bear with the cubs …

Bill: Don’t do that.

Brian: Husband’s gone. Grizzly bear killed him instantly in defense of her cubs. So, yes, there’s something … but I’ve told you off-air, that’s what I dig about nature. You’re not the top of the food chain. It’s why I kayak in the Everglades, because there’s alligators. It’s why I love going to Belize, because there are panthers. It’s why I love being in Yellowstone, because there’s grizzly bears. It’s why I love going wherever there’s rattlesnakes. It reminds you as a human being that you’re not on a time schedule. Your train isn’t going to start at Point A and arrive at Point B and then you’ve got a conference call and you’re going to do all those other things. It reminds you that in nature, again “come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.” When you’re not the top of the food chain, it’s very humbling. All that we talk all the time about being brave and being off the grid and doing these things – a function of being off the grid is that it does give you a sense of humility. I think that’s great for all of us to be …

Bill: It slows you down.

Brian: … to be humbled. That’s what I was excited when I learned about our guest today, to be able to talk to him about things like that – about what it took to go from the rat race of New York – and you and I, we’ve been to New York, I’m from New York – we can talk about the rat race. But then to go to a point where you can see the Milky Way at night. I mean, golly, Bill, I think I was 18 or maybe 20 years old before I had ever left New York. You’d study Greek mythology and you look at all the stars in the sky and you go “what happened to all the stars? Man, them Greeks – weren’t they lucky? The Romans … they had it. They got to see stars …” But I had never seen stars.

Bill: Well, our guest definitely can see the stars.

Brian: I would hope so. The Milky Way’s got to be all over it …

Bill: I’ve been out there.

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, today we are talking to a very special guest, Mr. Rich Scheben. Rich, how are you sir?

Rich: Great. How are you guys doing, Bill and Brian?

Bill: Never better, Rich. Always a pleasure. Rich and I have talked before, Brian, so I know Rich’s story a little bit. I heard it and I was so intrigued by his journey that I just wanted … “Rich, you’ve got to come on and talk to us. People have got to hear your story,” so if nothing else they can realize that they can do it too – that it’s something that they can do as well. Rich, you’re in New York City and you’re growing up … why don’t you start from the beginning and what was your world like so we know what it is that you – why did you leave? Let’s get all those reasons why down then people can see if they resonate with that or not.

Rich: You bet. I’ll tell you, I grew up in the metropolitan area of New York City for 26 years. I was born in Jamaica Queens. I lived there for a couple of years. I finished up in Rockland County which is just outside of New York City, on the Hudson. I was in the boy scouts for eight years and that indoctrinated me into nature. They taught me about fishing and canoeing and camping. I did the whole gambit. I just fell in love with Mother Nature. You guys were talking about nature – Mother Nature is really my mistress, in a way, because it’s an adrenaline rush and at the same time it’s soothing. It’s just fun. When I grew up in New York I grew up doing the nightclub thing in the ‘70s. It was a lot of fun but I realized that I couldn’t dance all night and hunt and fish all day. I realized I had to go to the woods. I saw Jeremiah Johnson in the ‘70s – the movie – and I gave myself a commitment that that was going to be my dream, my goal. I never looked back. I knew – I told people when I left in ’86 that there was going to be a phenomenon that property taxes were going to be too high, the next generation would not be able to afford living in metropolitan areas and it certainly turned out to be so because look what’s happening to the bubble of real estate, if you will. People just can’t afford to live, especially in metropolitan areas, because taxes are high. The ratio of population to natural resources is obviously compromised and I could see this coming. I just made a dream, I made a goal, I made a commitment to myself that I was going to come out to Montana. I got my last degree at University of Montana and I got back into the pharmaceutical industry. IN between there, I went to forestry school up in Paul Smith College. I went to an interview trying to get with the National Forest Service. They told me it was only for – they couldn’t hire me as a white male, bottom line.

Brian: Rich, we’re going to have to run to a quick commercial break. Excuse me, one second, I’m sorry – we’re going to run to a quick commercial break. We want to pick up on that story as soon as we come out. Ladies and gentlemen, come on back. You’re not going to want to miss this next section of our show.

[0:10:15 – 14:51 break]

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re sitting at home right now, just applaud Jeremy. What a great – I love the music he’s using in today’s show because we’re talking about “we gotta get outta here.” Everyone wants to go …

Bill: The sun doesn’t even shine, Brian. So then you go, you find someplace where the sun shines …

Brian: And the stars are out at night …

Bill: And the stars are out at night … then you go to apply for a job and all of a sudden it’s dark again. They say to you “you’re a white male. You can’t work here.” Rich, why don’t you pick up on that. You go to get a forestry job and after you left you were probably very idealistic and very happy and here we go marching off into the forest and now you run into bureaucracy again.

Rich: Well, yeah, Bill. When you’re young you don’t look at things … you think you can conquer everything, it’s no big deal, but political correctness has turned out to be – I hope I’m not insulting anybody by saying this, but too bad – it’s turned out to be America’s god. America was built by hard work, effort, proven results, qualifications, and word of honor. How many business deals were done by shaking hands? That stuff is all gone right now. We have different rules, laws and accountabilities depending on the protectionist status the government gives you or your group or victim group status. Personally, it’s an insult because I know a lot of great minorities and women who are totally insulted by this behavior. We’ve blamed so many things about political correctness – we blamed apathy and ignorance and indifference and now there’s a huge fear of the consequences of being politically incorrect – basically telling the truth. I could definitely say that it’s politically correct in America to say the truth and most people do agree when I make that general statement. But when I specifically at that particular time, when I came out of forestry school with my degree, they hired two young ladies fresh out of high school for full time permanent while I was there with a degree and had some experience. I just shrugged it off. My dad said “put on the suit and tie and start knocking on doors in New York and New Jersey.” That’s basically how I got indoctrinated and got my feet wet in the pharmaceutical industry. I had a twenty-something year career doing that. Everything worked out for a reason. I believe that if things in life … everything in life guys, and you know this, anything worthwhile has to be a challenge. There’s got to be ups, there’s got to be downs, because you don’t appreciate it. If you get things given to you that you didn’t earn, you’re not a better person for it, you take it for granted. You don’t register that as part of the journey.

Bill: The journey – let’s go back to the journey, Rich, because I think you’ve just hit on it again. It’s your journey that’s so intriguing and it’s what made your trip and the end of your trip where you finally settled so satisfying because you had all this experience. I think kids born in Montana don’t realize what they’ve got. There’s that sense too. So you have a double advantage in that you’ve got the experience and the hardship from the journey has worn your character and made you a different and better person. Then also you land and you’re also able to appreciate the place that you’re in, in a way that if you’re born into something it’s hard to really have the same state of thanks giving with respect to where you’re at now. So you finally decided “I’m going to make this leap” and you’re out there – what was your first step that you did to … “I need a base camp, I need to …” Did you buy a house out there first while you were waiting to build your own or how did you pull this off?

Rich: When I was in New York, I made up my mind at 19 that I wanted to come to Montana or the northern Rockies and do the mountain man thing and be self-sufficient, live off the land. I wanted to establish equity in New York but I didn’t want to be in a position that I could barely – I educated myself on amortization schedules, which is basically a breakdown of principal and interest. So I knew, for example, a 30-year amortization schedule – the first 7 ½ years – this is very important for people to know this. I give financial counseling to people and I’m proud to say I’ve never charged anybody. I’ve been doing it since my late 20s just to help people out because that’s what it’s all about is helping folks. The first 7 ½ years in a 30-year amortization schedule is about 98 percent interest. So I wanted to put myself in the position that I didn’t have such a high payment. I couldn’t put money into principal and I could walk away with equity. Back in New York, I started in a trailer park – didn’t even own the land, just bought a trailer. Moved up to the next one, a nicer one. Then I sold it to come to Montana. The first trailer they actually condemned it. I had to break the water in the toilet to actually flush it in the winter. I had to bomb it once a month for cockroaches. But I wanted to be in a position that wasn’t throwing money out the window in renting and I wanted to establish equity at the same time, be it very humble equity. I wanted to make sure that I was in the black and my net worth was growing. That was the first thing I wanted to do. I didn’t want to put myself in a compromising fiscal position so I couldn’t make the move at the right time. I was in the pharmaceutical industry for four years. I remember handing my keys to my – in Fort Lee, at the diner in Fort Lee, New Jersey, right across the Hudson River, right on the George Washington Bridge – handing my keys to my company car and saying “it’s time. I’m moving to Montana and I’m going to invest in myself and my dream.” I remember the pissed off look on his face when I did that. But I gave two weeks’ notice. I was 26 years old and it was time to go for it. To answer your question again, with a little more specificity, Bill, it’s really important when you have a dream or goal to go for it. Life is so quick. I can’t believe I’m in my 50s already. I just remember high school like it was yesterday. It’s really important to me to mention goals and dreams out loud. A lot of people are afraid to do it because they’re afraid of failing. I think you’ve got to fail 100 times to succeed once. That’s part of the learning curve. When you have these goals and dreams, tell your family, tell your friends. The people who are jealous, the people who are weak, they’re going to call you and say you’re bragging. The people who are strong, the people who know that you’re trying to help them with whether it be a subliminal message or any information, they know that you’re just trying to be accountable to yourself and your friends and family. That’s what it’s about. Mention your goals out loud. If you want to play in the NFL, mention that out loud. If you want to do something like moving to the northern Rockies, a different country, a certain occupation – mention it. It gives you a sense of accountability when you tell these people these things. I knew from a very young age that I had a love affair with Mother Nature because, again – I’m going to be redundant on some things – it’s an adrenaline rush but at the same time it’s soothing. I can’t think of anything else in the world that gives you that. It’s breathtaking. I live here in northwest Montana on the British Columbia border. We’re the lowest elevation in the state of Montana here, in Lincoln County. We can grow a phenomenal garden. I’ve got a river running through my property. I go fishing every day. I can hunt, trap. The feeling of – I don’t want to say achievement, but just the lifestyle that you have here is so worth it. But you’ve got to give yourself accountability and you’ve got to mention it or else it’s too easy to quit and give up.

Bill: Rich, we’ve only got a minute here so maybe after the break you can talk a little bit about when you moved out there and you wanted to give up? I know that you’ve made it and you’ve accomplished your dream and I appreciate the things that you’ve said about stating your goals out loud. I think people that want to – whether you’re going to move to Belize or Panama, or whether you’re going to move to Montana, whatever you want to be or do – you’ve got to say it and write it down and keep making it your reference point or it’ll never get done. You’ll just get busy with your life and the next thing you know you’ll be 51 years old and you’ll still be in New York because life just takes you and the river just goes. Let’s talk about those – Brian will close out here – but let’s talk about that right when we come back.

Rich: You bet.

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to take a quick commercial break. Come on back. Off the Grid News – the radio version of offthegridnews.com. Back after this break.

[0:24:45 – 0:29:08 break]

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to Off the Grid News – the radio version of offthegridnews.com. I’m Brian Brawdy, as always along with Mr. Bill Heid. Bill, you know when we were listening to Rich a little earlier, it reminded me of one of my favorite videos – at the time it was a video, now it’s a DVD, you can get it on iPad, you can get it all over the place – my kids got if for me a bunch of Christmases ago – remember Dick Proenneke? The guy that walked in the wilderness of Alaska? He had a shotgun, a saw, and enough food, and he lived there for the next 40 years. Just walked out of the middle of nowhere. Everything he needed he cut down trees, built the houses, hunted for elk and caribou and bear. I think after that first year he had arranged it to where a plane, every six months, would drop off the stuff. He couldn’t …

Bill: Oh, sure. I do remember that now.

Brian: It was an old days. He’d set his camera up on the tripod. You’d see him walk past the camera then he’d set it off. You’d see him walk back. But out into the wilderness, totally by himself, makes a go at it and who can argue with him, that he didn’t have a superior life doing it his way?

Bill: He had it his way. There’s no doubt about that. And, if I remember the series, there were costs associated with that, not unlike the move “Mosquito Coast” about Belize, with Harrison Ford. People always wonder “is it all just roses and butterflies?” No, there’s snakes there. There’s this there, there’s that’ there. But come on, does that … what kind of philosophy did the Pilgrims have when they came here? What kind of philosophy? They left everything. They didn’t know what they were running into. And how about the guys that went west before Rich? How about the guys that went west not knowing what was there – the frontiersman – they just went there …

Brian: Like Lewis and Clark.

Bill: Can you hear Lewis and Clark whining “but there might be snakes there …”? I’m not going to go.

Brian: Bill, I don’t want to have to talk to you again. I’ve talked to you about letting truth take the process. Don’t do that. Stop telling the truth.

Bill: It’s disgusting. These are disgusting people that talk that way. And our society does nothing more than protect them, elevate them to places of authority and places of influence. Those are the people that tell guys like Rich “you can’t do that. You shouldn’t do that.” So, Rich, back to you again. As you made your move, tell us about some things where you felt like quitting but you saw your dream and you kept fighting through it. I know you’ve got some medical issues and your health hasn’t always been the best so you’re fighting through a lot of pain as you work and you build. Tell us about that part.

Brian: And then, Rich, if you also would help us with “you can’t spell political correctness without the ‘P’ in politician” – how political correctness was born by the politicians.

Rich: Bill, let me address what you said in a couple of seconds and talk about what Brian just said as far as political correctness. We’re so used to following people just because they have money or looks or they look slender or youthful or they have certain political influence. Personally, I would rather follow somebody who has the guts to say the truth, someone who has the guts to stick his neck out there and not care about what the political correctness police say or the national media says. That’s what we need to do. We need to follow people with guts that don’t want to deal with it anymore because the truth should prevail. When I mentioned that little quote earlier in the show where I said that “it’s politically incorrect to say the truth,” 99 percent of the people agree with that statement. That’s very sad. No country can move forward when political correctness is its god. Going back to what you said, Bill, about my health, I did have a compromised position when I was with another pharmaceutical company here in Montana. I had phenomenal numbers – they called me an anomaly at times. I was number one in the country for one of my products. I had a great career. I was having a lot of problems with my spine. I had two physicians, including an orthopedic surgeon, occupational med physician, tell my company to reduce my driving by 50 percent – basically cut it in half. I asked for what’s called a job share which is part-time/half-time. Human resources on the sly, off the record, that it was only for females. Of course all the management and people were saying “no, you can’t say anything like that. It’s politically incorrect.” Everybody was afraid to really discuss it. My manager was saying “don’t mention that anymore.” I’m saying “no, I have great numbers here. Why can’t I work part time? I have a lot of problems with my spine. Two physicians are recommending that I’m going to be in big trouble.” I was starting to consult with attorneys and my attorneys said “if you want to retire in your late 30s with a bad diagnosis, you better not let them send you to what’s called ‘health services.’ They’re going to make you take a bunch of tests and then they’re going to put you on disability and you’ll be unmarketable and you won’t be able to get health insurance for the rest of your life.” I’m like “you’ve got to be kidding.” So I just sucked it up and I kept working full time for several more years. Towards the end of that period my dad was dying of bone cancer and my ex-wife was saying “stop asking for part-time, we’re making a ton of money. Don’t rock the boat.” I said “my health is more important,” so she left. That was definitely a compromised period in my life but I kept moving forward and I believed in the principle. I thought that people who worked hard with effort, proven results, qualifications – these are the people who should be getting rewarded. They kept hiring more and more women with very little seniority, no proven results, et cetera, for job shares. I’m like “how come you’re not giving me this opportunity?” Everybody has a story, guys. What you’ve got to do is you’ve got to keep moving forward to your dreams and goals.

Bill: Rich, you’re in a place where you – I think what’s really interesting about your story and I want to get into the idea of – how’d you set up this homestead? Not only did you set up a homestead and get off the grid, you did it hurting. Most people are going to think about doing it when they’re healthy and not do it, but you did it even though you were hurting. We’ve got to get in, because we’ve only got so much time – we’ve got to get into this idea of what’s it take to set up a homestead, not only when you’re hurting but what’s it take? You went to Montana, you bought some land. All this time were you saving money so that you could put money down for property? You had a nest egg going on?

Rich: I’ve always been able to – if you’re going to be redundant on anything, guys, you’ve got to be redundant on some of these quotes. One of the things is, I tell everybody when I give financial counseling is you’ve got to live below your means. It’s easy to do when you have land. It’s a lot tougher when you live in urban suburban America. You’ve got to find that fine line between needs and wants. I was always a good saver. I was always a good investor. I do a lot of reading over the internet. I don’t get any of my news from the national media. I get pretty much everything off the internet because they think outside the box and there’s more truth.

Bill: Rich, let me stop you. I think that’s the number one thing that anybody needs to do – stop watching network and cable and satellite television – for a number of reasons. We don’t have to go into a big long thing but it takes a whole bunch of your time away from you so you don’t plan, you don’t save, you don’t do things – just a waste of time. And it’s mostly lies, right?

Rich: I’ll tell you something, guys, I’m just an average Joe but even I can easily figure out that the national media has been bought and paid for by certain groups. It’s analogous to big corporations having all these lobbyists where the small and middle guys can’t compete in these arenas because they can’t afford the lobbyists. They are bought and paid for and their sole role is not to report the news but to sway public opinion.

Brian: Rich, we’re going to have to run to a quick commercial break on that thought because we dig reporting the news here at Off the Grid News. We’re going to do it right after this quick, commercial break. Come on back, the final segment with Mr. Rich Scheben, right after this quick, commercial break.

[0:38:08 – 0:42:33 break]

Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the final segment today of Off the Grid News – the radio version of offthegridnews.com. Mr. Bill Heid here with Rich Scheben. Bill, I know that during the break you and Rich were talking about what it took to get off the grid – the minutia, the particulars – how did he do it?

Bill: I think before we even get him started, our good friends, the band “Boston” just said another important thing, if you’re going to make this decision, you’re not going to be second guessing yourself all the time. You don’t want to look back constantly and say “should I have done this? Should I have done that? No, I’m committed to do this. There’s the bridge, I’m burning it. There’s the boats, I’m burning ‘em.”

Brian: Fight or die.

Bill: If you want to win a war, you burn all the boats.

Brian: Ask Hannibal. [laughs]

Bill: Ask Hannibal. Rich is playing Hannibal, he’s cut the cords and he’s out there. Rich, let’s dig right into this idea of setting up this homestead, buying land and overcoming some of the obstacles. What obstacles did you have to get your homestead set up?

Rich: Well, Bill, in the pharmaceutical industry you can make some pretty good money, so I was fortunate enough to buy my ranch. I held onto it during my divorce. I was able to have enough money to pay her off. I just kept moving on. I hired people – I can’t do any of the heavy work because I’ve lost about 90 percent of the strength in my arms. My arms and spine sting and burn pretty much 24/7 so I’ve got to be really careful what I do. I’m a big bow hunter. I can still pull back my bow only because I have one of the newest compound bows. I had hired people to set up my log cabin which we live off the grid. I have a barn here and critters – chickens and turkeys. I garden about 40 minutes per day which is not much and we’re pretty self-sufficient on our produce. Even chainsawing – I can use a chainsaw – I just limit myself to 20 minutes per week to get the eight cords I need. I use a wood splitter. Splitting wood used to be one of my favorite things to do in the world. I just can’t do that anymore. I can’t do a lot of vibration things. But if I limit chainsawing to 20 minutes per week, I can get all the wood I need off my property. Everything is moderation and modification. Let me share a few things about land, guys, because we all have to think outside the box. The biggest investment in America has been their homes. We’ve all seen what’s happened to that because taxes are just too high, especially in urban/suburban America. The next generation isn’t seeing the value, banks aren’t lending – think outside the box, guys. Buy land with family or friends. There’s so many benefits in land. First of all, look at the foreclosure and the real estate bubble. The houses in subdivisions – 99 percent of the bubble are houses in subdivisions that have very little property or land, commercial property. Twenty acres or more is less than one percent of the foreclosures, statistically. That’s because families, friends, investors – they buy it up because they realize it has natural resources on it. This is the way I look at my land. When you listen to people, whether they be in politics or whomever, if they don’t practice what they preach or they create a law or a rule or an accountability for you and they don’t live by it, their credibility should be shot. Don’t even listen to them. Make sure you listen to people who do it, who live it, who practice, who preach it. One of the things with land to get free, here in northwest Montana is the perfect place to live off the grid, because we have enough cold weather – we have enough winter that you can store your food in the side of the hill or even in your basement for several months out of the year. Remember Hurricane Katrina? Two, three days – I know people were in it – the national media didn’t report this – people were killing each other for food, water and ice because that type of warm country, when the grid goes down, there’s a catastrophe – you can’t store food. Here, in a place like northwest Montana, you can do that. We have trees – I call that free heat. We do raised bed gardening so we grow our own produce. We can control the minerals and nutrients that go into the produce because we put it into the soil how we see fit. Farmland to me is overrated because you only get the farmland. Here you get everything – the ability to grow produce, to hunt meat, catch fish. We have great sun here for at least three-quarters of the year. We have hunting, fishing, trapping – that’s one of my reasons for coming to Montana was the adventure, the excitement. No hormones, steroids, antibiotics, no GMO foods, no pesticides. You’re basically buying your own health care plan. You’re buying recreation as well. Especially for someone like me, I just don’t have the ability to sit and stand very long. I need to move and sit for a while, move and sit. It works out great. It’s more than just hunting and fishing and trapping. Other interests and hobbies are ornithology, dendrology, botany, wildflowers, mushrooming, berry picking, wine making. There’s so much to do. Land also offers animal husbandry, critters. We have our own goats and chickens that even the manure gets recycled into the garden. Everything gets used, everything gets recycled. To me, the most important asset or commodity when buying land is privacy. You’re buying the lifestyle. When I lived in the trailer park back in New York, or most places in America, you can see your neighbors, see a road. I’m very blessed that I have that elbow room and space and I love that lifestyle. There’s five things you think about when you live off the grid the way we do – I live with my girlfriend and she loves this lifestyle – that’s fun, tangibility, fun, self-sufficiency and fun. [laughs] That’s what it really boils down to because you control your own lifestyle – everything from your exercise to what you ingest to your interests, hobbies. You really are buying the lifestyle. I have an article here that I’m just going to give you a little excerpt, a little summary – it’s from Tim Geithner, the Treasury Secretary – he says that a couple of weeks ago he was among a group of insiders in New York watching the screening of the HBO film “Too Big to Fail.” He privately told them that he was certain there was going to be another financial collapse. It will come again. There will be another storm. What’s happening is, when you have governments going broke, whether it be states or federal, because they’re spending too much because people are taking out of the kitty that haven’t put into the kitty, it’s unsustainable. Here in a place like this, you can literally buy a piece of land, have tangibility, have value in the property and have all these extra tangibles and benefits that I just went through. You can do family land transfers, boundary line adjustments. I know people who are buying land – guys with IRAs and 401Ks – because they want to be out of cash and they want to be out of the stock market.

Bill: Because cash is losing value. What’s land go for in that area, Rich?

Rich: Boy, it’s so varied, Bill. Are you going to buy riverfront? Are you going to buy lakefront?

Bill: I want something like you’ve got.

Rich: My property’s on a river and that’s what I do – I sell little pieces of land here and there to keep afloat because as per the attorneys and the stories I shared with you, I am unmarketable. I can’t get health insurance so I do have to sell pieces of my ranch here and there. If it’s not on the river, you can probably pick up 20 acres anywhere from $150 to $250, depending on how close to town you are and whatever other commodities are on it like timber and privacy. It’s a real – again we can talk about that for a long time – but people are buying land with IRAs and 401Ks like crazy. Then they’re planning on moving here at 59 ½ paying the taxes and moving on their land. It’s not just the devaluation of the US dollar but people want to control their own destiny and they feel that they don’t know what to put their investments in because there’s so much corruption out there. There’s so much uncertainty out there. People, and this is one of my main reasons for doing this, guys – people don’t see light at the end of the tunnel, especially young people. The savings rate and investing rate in America is pretty close to pathetic. What’s happening with this economy – I’ve got news for everybody – I don’t see things getting better. People who I talk to and the things I read, I do not see things getting better. People need to start thinking outside the box. A lot of cultures have been buying land and houses together. Russians, Mexicans, Asians – these are smart people. There’s no reason why anybody can’t think outside the box and start doing this because natural resources is not just a lifestyle but it could be a saving grace and a life saver.

Bill: Let’s talk about the community too a little bit, just in the time that we’ve got left. You’re out there with some other people and I think – does Chuck Baldwin live fairly close to you?

Rich: Yeah, I was one of the speakers at the Flathead Preparedness Expo and Chuck Baldwin was one of the speakers. Matt Shea who was a state representative in Washington, constitutionalist, Stewart Rhodes, the founder of Oath Keepers, Sheriff Richard Mack. There’s a few people there. All of us guys, the only reason we do things like this is to help people, is to give them the ability to think outside the box and say “there’s another option here. Here’s a plan of action.” It’s really funny, some of the national media outlets that reported on it, including – is it called the Southern Poverty Law Center? IS that right?

Bill: Yeah, the Southern Poverty Law Office.

Rich: They called us extremists, terrorists, radicalists, white supremacists, haters, Christian – that’s a bad word, racists, bigots, sexists, misogynists, homophobes, controversial … they throw all these names at you and I’m here to say that we all need to be Americans, I don’t care what your skin pigmentation is, I don’t care what your gender is. Affirmative action and quotas have been an insult to protectionist status groups that the government dubbed that name.

Bill: Rich, why don’t you start the “Northern Rich’s Anarchy Garden” to compete with the Southern Poverty Law Office?

Rich: You know what? I would love to just everybody have – and I’m going to be redundant on this because I think it’s so important – we need to have the same rules, laws and accountability for everybody on American soil.

Bill: We should all be treated equally? Rich! I can’t believe you’d say that.

Brian: Next you’re going to be saying something crazy like “we should abide by a jury of your peers, if a jury comes back that you’re not guilty.”

Bill: I can’t believe it …

Rich: I know. I’m an extremist. I’m a freak of nature, what can I say?

Bill: Listen – are we winding down on time, Jeremy? We’re winding down on time. We’ll get you back again, Rich, and talk about some other things but just for our listeners that if someone wanted to say “I like Montana. I like the idea of going to Big Sky country and hanging my hat up there and maybe doing a journey similar to your version.” What would you recommend the first thing for somebody to do as they make their preparations? D you google Montana land or is all you get goofy realtors or something that are going to charge you through the nose?

Rich: You know, there’s some good realtors out there. I realize that realtors and attorneys care about the one thing – the commission and the reputation – there are some good realtors out there. What I would do is sit down with a plan of action and find out – you do need a fiscal plan. You need to sit down and figure out what you can afford, how you’re going to do it. IT’s great to just go out there and move. Even when I moved out at 26, my plan of action was to get my third degree at the University of Montana, which I did, in marketing. Then I got back into the pharmaceutical industry. I had a year and a half to really investigate, had enough money to get through school at that time, and that was my plan. I don’t recommend anybody just jumping into their car, having no money and getting here because we are turning into – especially northwestern Montana – we are turning into a semi-retired retirement community. The young people, at least here in northwest Montana, here in the tobacco valley, there’s very few young people sticking around because there just isn’t that many good jobs to go around. That’s obviously a phenomenon of the country. If you can get a liaison, whether it be a realtor or relative or friend, that would certainly help. I’ve got a couple from San Diego who was at the expo who want to come up her really bad and I’m trying to help them out, mostly with “think outside the box” ideas and stuff like that. You’ve got to have a plan and you’ve got to be able to afford it. Like I said, I’m going to be redundant on some things, you’ve got to live below your means and know your fine lines between needs and wants. You have to be in the black. You can’t be in debt. The only thing I think, and this has been a huge mistake for Americans, they’ve gotten into debt on everything – stupid things on credit cards. The only thing you should be in debt for is house and land.

Bill: Rich, I’ve got another – as we close it down – I’ve got another request. Would you be willing to talk to a few people? I know we didn’t agree to this ahead of time, if they emailed us here at Off the Grid News and said “I’d like to talk to Rich about buying land or preparedness, planning …” would you be willing to talk to a few people? I don’t want to overwhelm you or anything. But I think, inevitably people will call us up and say “how do I get a hold of Rich?” I’m not going to give your email out or your phone number out. You live off the grid and we want you to stay but I have your email and I could give you folks that wanted to talk to Rich – if you don’t mind?

Rich: No. My sole objective – I’ve got to be a man of my word here – my sole objective to do this is really to help people. Particularly right now I don’t have to sell land. What I’m trying to do is pick my neighbors and people who love and respect nature. You don’t even have to live off the grid because I only live four miles from town. The grid is right on the edge of my property. I don’t need people who have to live this way but I want – we’re all looking for a conservative base. Guys, let me tell you something, we can have 100 people in a room and in five minutes we’ll find out something we all disagree on. But look at the things, let’s concentrate on the things we can agree on. That’s where you start because the powers that be have done everything in their power to divide us as Americans. There’s no synergy left. We’re basically the divided states of America. I bet people who are listening to this are nodding their heads right now. We need synergy, we need to stick together, we need to help out people – our neighbors, our friends, our family. We need to think outside the box and do things in a different way that hasn’t been done for the last few generations because there’s hardly any value in anything anymore. Housing, college education, everything that the government has put underneath their wing has lost value because Fannie and Freddie and Affirmative Action and quotas and wealth redistribution. The top three percent of Americans, they’re gaining in wealth. The middle class is losing wealth – fast. That’s a very dangerous position to be in. We need synergy, we need to be Americans. It’s time. It’s 20 years too late but we need to stick together and we need to help people.

Brian: Rich, I think that’s a great …

Rich: To answer your question, if you want me to be on another show and talk to people live or whatever, or tape, it doesn’t matter – I’d be more than happy to do that.

Bill: I was thinking too, Rich, if it’s OK with you, if someone wants to talk to you privately, maybe they’re interested in some property up in that area, would it be OK if they emailed me – Brian and I here at Off the Grid News – and I could forward those inquires to you? IF you’d like to talk to people that would be a lot of fun.

Rich: Yeah. I’m on the phone quite often doing that and I have no problem doing that. If I get 100,000 inquiries …

Bill: I think we’d probably limit it to 10. I don’t think we’d take over 10 people. So if 10 people want to do that, we’d do that. Over that we’d probably say that’s too much, because that’s not what we’re about either. We want the simple life. There won’t be that many people. There’ll be a handful of people that actually think the way you’re thinking and say “maybe I’d like to inquire with regard to that.”

Rich: I would welcome that because I love helping people. It’s fun. It really is fun, guys. And that’s what you’re doing. What you’re doing with Off the Grid is so necessary because you’re an outsource of more truth, you’re alternative media. I’ve seen your website, everything from the radio show to your articles – there’s so much variety there. Pardon the cliché but variety is the spice of life. I think you can learn a lot more from websites and sources like what you guys put out than the national media because they are telling groups of people in their database what they want to hear and they’re swaying public opinion. It’s not doing anybody any benefit.

Brian: Rich, we’re going to have leave it on that. We thank you so much. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve been with Rich Scheben for the entire hour, talking to us about leaving New York, heading to Montana, living off the grid. We want to thank you, as always, for listening to our show. Please be sure to email us with your questions, comments, critiques, suggestions – [email protected] You can find us on Facebook – Facebook/offthegridnews and of course you can follow us on Twitter @offgridnews. On behalf of everyone from Solutions from Science, our parent company, and Mr. Bill Heid, thank you so much for hanging out with us and giving us a full hour of your day.

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