This last year has been filled with a whirlwind of changes. We’ve moved from Okinawa, Japan to Northern Idaho; from suburbanites to modern homesteaders, our daughter got married, and we started our business. Some days I don’t feel like much has changed at all and other days I sit and ponder the massive changes that have occurred.
When we moved here we were used to warmer weather, easier living, every day our children played with the neighbor children, we were within walking distance to the library, movie theater, local stores and restaurants. We were surrounded in neighbors, street lights, and traffic. Now, from a distance, we hear the whistle of the passing train and our livestock guardian dogs barking in response to the howl of a wolf, we walk ½ mile to get our mail, and are surrounded in forest and mountains. Every morning I wake up in awe of our amazing view and am grateful God put us where He did in the century He did (I’m thankful for modern conveniences because without them the transition would have been so much more difficult).
Last year the children could hardly tolerate the cold, now I see them go outside without a coat to do a quick chore. If they have to take a dog for a walk, grab firewood, water the animals in the snow or dark there are no complaints, they stay on top of their chores like troopers. Our children are learning the value of hard work and they’re tough! When we moved here we were soft city folk. Everyone complained of chapped, blistered hands; now there are callouses where the blisters used to be – evidence of hard work. Their character is changing because of the opportunities they have on our homestead. Joseph, our 17-year-old son, has started a small carpentry business; selling rabbit and chicken tractors to clients as well as building shelves and tables for us. Linde, our 15-year-old, has started a videography/photography business and is running her own rabbitry to sell rabbit meat locally. We’ve got tough kids and we’re proud of how far they’ve come.
As for me, well, I’ve spent this last year learning so many new skills primarily in the kitchen. I make all our bread, make bone broth, dehydrate and can foods. I’ve learned to prepare foods differently and cook with strange meats I never had a chance to cook before: goat, wild turkey, rabbit, and venison. I’ve learned how to stretch a meal, which becomes even more imperative when you’re running a homestead with a large household. We’ve cut way back on sweets, they’ve become part of a special occasion rather than something the kids come to expect. Meals are unpretentious but still delicious.
We do not live off-grid, nor do we live so far out of town that we never see people. We go into town to shop, we have friends, a church, and there are social events we attend. We watch a weekly family movie with stove-popped popcorn and listen to Pandora pretty much all day. Our life has changed, it’s simpler in some ways but has gotten more demanding in others. We made the goal to grow/raise 80% of our caloric needs by July of 2016 which means less grocery shopping and more home-grow and home-prepped food. In order to accomplish our goal we had to be serious and be willing to sacrifice some conveniences. Homesteading isn’t easy but it is worth it. I look out at our land, see our hard work, sit at the table and eat food we’ve grown and raised; there’s something so satisfying about being self-sufficient in a time period that screams indulgence and catering to every wish and whim.
Are you ready to make the change? Next time I’ll talk about some things you can start doing while still living in the city or suburbs to move you a little closer to self-sufficiency.