We always wanted land on which to build a homestead.
But then, some stuff happened:
Decades of work and learning,
Trying to build a career, make money and raise a family,
Working in gardening, eating fresh vegetables (too much most of the time),
Loving the smell of freshly tilled soil, the warmer temperatures of spring,
Doing manual labor. Building houses with my dad and brother, gardening, cutting wood,
Making remarkable financial blunders,
Beginning to notice that the only times I could truly decompress and stop hearing the thunderous noise of all that I deal with daily, was when I was in nature, with no timetable, and very little agenda,
Waking up one day in my mid forties with my kids grown and my knees hurting.
Sound familiar to anyone? I have all kinds of stories I could tell about each entry in the above list, but the sum of them kinds of rolls up into a bigger story. It’s a story that I’ve now learned many others are experiencing. It’s a story that my wife of 31 years and I now understand much better than we did those 31 years ago.
Did anyone older than you ever tell you, “Boy, if I only knew at your age what I know now!”? Well, I did. I always wondered what those old timers meant. Now, of course, I do.
As we reached middle age, that bigger story began to reveal itself to us: Our final half to third of our lives is upon us, and if there were ever anything we wanted to really do, we had better figure it out and start planning for it. Wow, how’s that for the age old life “epiphany.” Starting to figure this sort of thing out may be a blinding flash of the obvious to some, but, depending on where you are in your life, you may or not be ready for it. So for five years, my wife and I talked. Uh, that’s not a misprint. Five years. If you think about it, is five years really too long? Think of all the complications of life a couple should understand as a couple. The impact and interaction of children, careers, current circumstances, extended families, friends, church, and more, are substantial. These lives we build aren’t exactly simple things to wade through and understand. And, if one of you wants to live in a rural setting and the other wants to be 3 minutes from Starbucks, you really need to understand this.
We took long drives. We parked on top of mountains for hours. We sat beside streams with no agenda but to look at nature and listen to the water. We began and still have 2 nights minimum per week set aside for nothing but spending time together. We stopped watching TV unless there was some sort of real purpose to the programming i.e. nature, skills, folk lore, etc. Slowly via massive amounts of communication, we realized we both wanted to live a simpler life.
We would like to live in a rural area among simple God fearing people like us. The bulk of American culture has taken a turn that we find extremely distasteful. We would like to grow as much of our own food as we could. We would like to use as little of the grid as we could. Going completely off-grid sounds great and we may be able to get there someday. But, we’ve decided to go off grid in steps. We would like to have a much smaller house, thus lower overhead costs. We would like to improve our health and fitness — through labor (some like to call it exercise but when I run a chainsaw for six hours in a day, it seems more like labor than exercise to me). We believe spiritual enhancement (you define) is a natural result of all the above.
Cutting trees, burning brush. Work. Lots of work!
Now, we are 1 year into our plan to become homesteaders. We closed on our 5 acres in northeast Alabama one year ago. As we have time we work on our 5 acres cutting the trees, burning brush, etc. We have the driveway and area for the house defined. We have our septic system laid out and permits approved. We don’t have heavy equipment so we are working on ways to move heavy logs via winch to holding areas. We are working on ways to burn, or rot, or otherwise clear stumps. Yes, bulldozers work but they also are expensive, and are rough on the top soil. We’ve designed a small simple house we intend to build ourselves. We are working on an electrical design that will place most of our lighter power needs on solar and the larger power needs on the grid. Most of our heat will come from a wood stove.
Planning. And more planning.
Here at home, we have work to do to sell this house. Nothing major but still more work. Work. The journey to a homesteading lifestyle is undoubtedly a ton of work. But that’s ok. We’ve never been afraid of work. And we know that hard work will continue to be part of the homesteading lifestyle. That’s ok too.
So, we continue. Progress is slow but our plans are solid. Our resolve is strong.
At times, when the schedule doesn’t allow us to get things done, we wish we had begun our journey sooner. We could have been farther along. So in the meantime, we research. We’ve read quite a few articles on raising chickens, for example. We’ll be book experts by the time we buy our first chicks …
We always knew, but it took 5 years of discussing options at length. Discovering cold, hard, bone-depth understanding of things we always knew. The expectations laid out for us in this world are sometimes hard to shake loose even if you always knew.
But now, unless life throws us a curve ball we can’t smack, we will achieve these goals. We always knew what we really wanted to do, and now we’re gonna get there.
Have you gone through similar transitions?