A Year of Homesteading Complete
Wow! I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am that I am able to write this article. My family and I have conquered our first year of homesteading! One year ago today, we were moving our belongings into our new home, some 1,000 miles away from familiar territory. We were beginning a new lifestyle in a new town with zero understanding of how much change we would be facing in the days ahead.
Not long before we sold our home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, my husband was given the green light to work remotely from home since his job requires internet/computer face time more than anything. I was working full-time from home as well, running an online marketing agency as well as raising my daughter. With the world as our oyster, my hubby and I decided to go for the gold, and chase our dream of becoming hard-core homesteaders.
We uprooted our family to the South, to the middle of the woods, into a log cabin with very little knowledge of what it would take to be mostly self-sufficient. BUT, we knew we had to try it. Little did we know how much we would love it, challenges, changes, catastrophes and all.
First on our to-do list was to prepare our garden for the Spring planting season. We had several months to get this job done, but with winter on its way as well as our second child, we felt slightly defeated. We were able to manage the project quite well to our surprise. Our daughter, who was three at the time, pitched in with the gardening chores including helping create our compost pile and building trellises out of sticks. Now that we have winterized our garden one time around, the challenges are over and we are already ahead of the game for the 2014 winter…and I am not pregnant anymore. Thank goodness!
As I had mentioned in previous posts, one thing we were not at all prepared for was heating our cabin in the dead of winter. Since we moved into our home in October, my husband had little time to chop wood for our wood-burning stove. The stash we did have lasted for maybe three weeks before we had to suck it up and turn the heater on. Unfortunately, we learned a whole lot about how to heat a cabin with a heat-pump system. Basically, if it is below 20 degrees, it doesn’t work. Lesson learned for this coming winter. We have been chopping wood all summer long to make sure we will have more than enough to stay warm.
One of the hardest challenges we faced this past year as first time homesteaders was actually planting and managing the garden during the spring and summer seasons. It was the largest self-taught lessons we have ever undergone. With 18 beds to fill, and now four bellies to feed, we threw ourselves to the wind and planted as much as we could. We followed directions on seed packets, read blogs on the internet, and had our own trial and errors to help us learn what to do and what not to do. We created our own soil, irrigated when we could and harvested often. As challenging as it was, we feel we were so incredibly blessed with the amount of food we were able to enjoy. Be sure to check out pictures of our garden and orchard and read about everything we harvested this past year. It’s amazing!
With all the food we grew, we simply had to try our hands at canning. I give so much credit to those out there that have lived the canning lifestyle their entire lives. It is tough work, very involved, but oh so rewarding. We canned a few things to see how we did. I have to say that I am so excited to do more of this in the upcoming years. With a newborn and a four year old, I didn’t accomplish as much as I would have liked to, but now that I understand the process, 2015 will be much more productive.
Next on our “try-it-out” list was learning how to raise fowl. We bought four chickens and five ducks to start with. I love them! I am looking forward to getting more chickens, ducks and maybe some guinea hens. Besides giving us eggs and food, these birds are so incredibly entertaining. They really do bring our family joy, especially when the rooster crows in the morning. It makes us feel like we really do belong in the country when we hear his sweet voice waking us up for morning chores.
Homesteading in our hearts has always meant becoming self-sufficient, relying on what we have at-hand rather than going to the store. Growing our own food, harvesting, canning, and raising livestock were just a few things we did this past year. We also finished the basement so our guest would have a space to enjoy when visiting us. We made a patio completely out of stone and phone poles found on our property. We built the coops for the birds out of an old car port. We cut trails through our land so we could begin to harvest medicinal herbs that we find which has led me to making tinctures and other herbal remedies for any medical issues we may face. The list goes on.
However, the single most important homesteading “thing” we have done this past year, is try. We have tried as much as we could handle. We have learned a whole lot. We have stuck it out. We have continued to love. We have continued to dream.
We have become homesteaders.