Let’s just start by clearing any expectations that may be drifting around the air – I am not an expert. Not in homesteading, gardening, permaculture, sewing, structure, animal husbandry, herbal remedies, natural building, not in budgeting, not in cooking, cleaning, candlestick making… Closest I come to expert in anything is at being overwhelmed and maybe maybe the coffee business after my total of 4 coffee house employments including a 7 year stint as a Starbucks Shift Supervisor (thank Goddess that’s over – can I get an amen?). But that coffee knowledge does nothing for me here on our itty-bity off-grid homestead with an aeropress for a coffee maker since the frenchpress broke (lesson #1: fragile glass and tiny counter spaces can be problematic if not dangerous – invest in a stainless steel frenchpress). I cannot tell you how to plan your homesteadery day just right so that you get your garden tended, dishes washed, tinctures tincturing, kombucha growing, get dinner going, and all with enough time to meditate or read even a chapter of that book you just got. But perhaps you might just need to know how someone can do it a million wrong ways before you make the same mistakes. Because, of course, we should all know mistakes are a given. Doesn’t matter if you avoid mine, fear not, you can be creative and find a million and one ways to make your own! Especially when you’re trying to blaze the kind of trail you’ve only read of others doing truly successfully. And I’m sorry for the immediate seemingly negative introduction, but know that it’s coming from a woman who just discovered a storage tote full of clothes, accessories, and other girl things I love but doesn’t fit inside our tiny house right now is full of frozen water and mold…It’s too painful to tell you how it happened (again), but the silver lining is that, as it thaws, I am finding myself spurred to finally begin this blogging journey that I’ve been hoping to start into since we bought the property over a year ago.
While it might not be all sunshine powered and homegrown roses, this life most certainly has it’s wonderful perks for me (and my husband, but he’d have to tell you about his in his own words) and they are growing. I’ll rattle off a short list that doesn’t have to come through clenched teeth. Now, I’ll preface this by saying, clearly, not all homesteaders’ circumstances are the same. Some people will homestead on leased property, some will have land payments, some lots of land, some a single acre or two, some with high-paying jobs and some who do little things here and there or who are payed minimum wage or have part-time work. Some people may have land with on-grid power or may have been fortunate enough to already be hooked up with fully functioning solar panels and deep cycle batteries (if that’s you, tell me, do you just awake each morning jumping up and down from sheer joy?). Perhaps they started with a POS shack or pristine house, or maybe raw land. There are people who have running water via whatever means (well, rain catchment, etc…). Animals… The list goes on. I can only say what the pluses of our particular situation are for me in this beginning first year (in some respects we have started out the hardest way) and hopefully it will help give you a clue as to how it would translate for you. We bought our land outright and own our cars, so have no payments in that respect, therefore our monthly bills are next to none (car insurance, phone, done), and since that is the case, while we definitely are in a position to need far more money than we are making monthly, we can also get away with working part time jobs so that our brains don’t explode and we get to keep our souls (I don’t know about you, but I am particularly fond of mine) and that keeps us fed and able to enjoy time together and with some energy left to go into the homestead life itself. We are surrounded by nature, on a ridge that gives us a gorgeous view of Mother’s ever changing sky art, and we have just enough outdoor space for what has the potential to one day be the garden of our dreams. Also, thanks to the awesomest of neighbors, we have had the privilege of experiencing and still learning what community means. And finally, while it’s certainly not the true end of the perk list, which I know will only continue to grow, my most prized perk of them all for the time is that I am learning so much about myself, my relationship to myself, to my surroundings, my husband, my strengths, weaknesses (keeping things dry and mold free at the top today), what’s most important and how to let the rest go when I need to, learning about this beautiful multi faceted earth, how to garden, to build soil, how to be in community with all life forms, the power of sunlight, that water is like gold…I mean, when you erase what you were told life needs to look like and start drawing a new picture for yourself, what isn’t there to learn? Especially in this kind of life.
Okay, while I’m realizing my time and attention span are coming to an end soon, I will add in a little bit to the puzzle that is our particular homestead world: we have help! We are doing things the hard way, yes, but life would be way harder without our neighbors who allow us to fill our water jugs via their well, plug our laptops in, and – when it’s warm – take showers in their semi-outdoor bathhouse. I work-trade with some friends for my own much needed steamy hot showers and laundry days. Also, my mom and step-dad have recently come to the area and have allowed us showers there as well. And cannot forget that none of it would even be possible at all if Mark’s mum had not helped us buy our property in the first place! We dove into a lot quickly which would have swallowed us so totally up if we did not have these wonderful friendly cushions to keep us – mostly- afloat. So let’s make that Lesson #2, shall we?: Allow for people to help. Ask for help. Help others. Yeah, it’s huge.
Lastly, I’m really beginning to understand the importance of intentions. So let me lay mine out for you. My intent is to chronicle for my own reference my successes and failures to aid in my personal growth in every aspect, be it how I kept the caterpillars from destroying our brussels sprouts this year to how my husband and I have learned to deal with our cramped living situation when breathing the same air gets tough, to how I’m learning what true gratitude can mean, and so on. I want to watch this unfold and that may look a thousand different ways. And then I would also love to share it because anyone living or aspiring to live this lifestyle can’t really get enough support at this point, ya know? I would love to be in community with anyone who feels drawn to it too. I do not want this to be a platform to bitch about my hard life, but when complaints do occur (current mold crisis for example), I want to present these trials and blunders – hopefully – in a lighthearted way if possible, offer them as examples of things you may want to consider doing differently from me, or even just for anyone reading who’s going through it too to know they’re not alone and that it’s okay. This shit can get so real so fast, it’s good to have support. We’re gonna fuck it up, and that’s going to give you a broader, more beautiful perspective in the long run. Really, it will if you let it. Just take some deep breaths as I am right now, and relinquish yourself to the past’s disasters and try to do it better the next time. So, while I may not be here to tell you all the many super awesome tips and tricks you can do to make the simple life simpler (just yet), I can tell you that difficulty is often, if not always a matter of perspective and this is a super sweet, super rewarding life that I had not experienced to such an extent before it…even if I had to destroy some of my favorite shirts in the process.
So with that, my first homestead blog begins…