In the months before we moved out to our homestead, we would spend the weekends traveling back and forth to mow the grass, clean up, and just keep tabs on how the building was coming along.
During those drives we would listen to John Denver. We felt that the flavor of his music epitomized our view of country homestead living.
The day we sold our home in the city, I took one final walk through the now empty shell that had once been our home for four years. By then,we had been living on our homestead for about eight months. We had put down roots, and were working to settle into our new lifestyle. Imagine my surprise then, when standing upstairs in the room that had been our office I suddenly felt emotional and began to cry.
What were we doing?
Neither of us had ever lived in the country before. Neither of us had ever attempted a project on the scale of our ten acre homestead: a project that in some regards wasn’t going quite as we had planned.
Some days, to be brutally honest, I felt like a fish out of water.
We finished that morning by turning the keys over to the new owner and celebrating the event with an early lunch at a pub that had been a favorite of ours during our city days. Then we headed back home for afternoon chores.
Still feeling a bit emotional after the events of that morning I wandered back to our grasshopper infested garden and stopped to linger in front of a lone, perfect sunflower. It was then that I noticed the music coming from next door.
Our neighbors are actually a welding warehouse who like to play country western at a high decibel with all the bays open.
In the past it has gotten my goat, and their presence has been the single imperfection in the location of our homestead.
However this afternoon, their music caught my attention.
It was John Denver.
And the song? “Back Home Again”.
…Sometimes this old farm feels like a long lost friend,
yes, and hey it’s good to be back home again.
It was as though Someone Upstairs was saying “It’s ok Jen, just ignore the funky feelings because you are right where you should be.”
Not too long after that incident we seemed to turn a corner and things just began to fall into place. There was nothing in particular that triggered the change, we just seem to hit our stride and began to feel a bit more at one with this slice of land we call our homestead.
This week as we head into Thanksgiving and devote a day to gratefulness I want to look back over this past year: taking a look at where we have been, and how things have progressed.
Then: We had talked about moving in, culture shock, the wind, and placing a deposit on our eight Rhode Island Red Chicks.
Now: That post was published just about a year ago. The culture shock has significantly subsided although it took a good 6-8 months. The wind will never change but we’ve learned to deal with it and I don’t mind it so much anymore. In fact, some days I think the sound of it is beautiful.
Then: We began to settle in to our new community. Our biggest challenge then was losing our fall crop to the first hard frost ~ a crop that had been protected against the elements.
Now: This fall we learned our lesson: our hoops above theprevious crops were too high allowing too much cold air in between the plants and the covers. This year we lowered them significantly and have been able to keep our heirloom lettuces growing.
Then: Husbie began work on our chicken coop and we began to knock around the idea of dairy goats or other some such livestock. Our spinach that had overwintered had sprouted and started to grow earlier than anticipated.
Now: Coop is finished and inhabited (more on that later). We’re too overwhelmed at this point to take on anything else just yet. What were we thinking? The spinach: it grew, we harvested a small amount but enough that we still have some “stored away” in our freezer at the moment.
Then: We made the major decision to take a leave of absence from computer consulting to see if we could earn enough as market growers to make a go of it. That was our big news. We also planted a number of young seedlings to use as a windbreak.
Now: We learned there unfortunately isn’t much of an interest in our little neck of the woods in heirloom organic vegetables to make a living full time. While growing and selling wholesale might still be something of a possibility, we don’t have the infrastructure for that yet. So husbie had to go back to work some part /some full time. With the exception of a few losses, nearly all of the 200 trees we planted survived the summer and seem established enough that they will survive the winter. We look forward to seeing them take off in the spring.
Then: We struggled with bolting spinach, and wonky weather.
Now: We ate the spinach and the weather is still wonky, we’ve learned to plant extra and just always be prepared for the unexpected. ::shrug:: What else can one do?
Then: We took our local Farmer’s Market by storm and discovered, as mentioned above, that there is little interest here in local organic produce. People here want corn, GMO or not; and round, red tomatoes in February.
Now: I still feel very strongly about our lifestyle: what we grow and how we eat. I feel a burden to share it with others. Perhaps this will catch on some day, perhaps the market isn’t the best platform to share my passion. We’re looking at other options.
Then: After years of wanting chickens we finally brought our little flock home.
Now: The girls are growing, well past 24 weeks and just chillin’. Laying they are not; hopefully by this spring we’ll have eggs.
Then: We finally sold our home, and as the spring crops phased out, we were in a holding position until the summer crops phased in. We also realized that once again, we may not have the infrastructure just yet to go great guns with market crops. We stepped back into a holding pattern to reevaluate what is/is not doing well.
Now: We’re still in that holding pattern but our summer crops, when they phased in, did not disappoint. While we didn’t have quite enough to sell, we had more than enough for ourselves. I have several beautiful quarts of canned tomatoes in my pantry.
Then: We took stock of what our garden was able to support and what didn’t hoping to make better plans for next year.
Now: We took our cues from that evaluation when we planted our fall crops and enjoyed a sufficient harvest. We are looking very hopefully towards the spring.
Homesteading is a beautiful lifestyle. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
I could never see the sun rise from my bedroom in the city. I had never before stood with my husband in a pitch black field as we watched a golden harvest moon inch above the horizon.
I had never seen such glorious sunsets or felt a part of the seasons as they change.
There is nothing more thrilling than planting a seed and eight weeks later heading out with a colander from the kitchen to fill with greens for supper.
Homesteading is also incredibly hard.
The slick coffee table picture books and reality tv shows don’t often capture the fact that so many things are beyond your control. The weather can change in an instant and mother nature isn’t always your friend.
As far as plans not working out as you hoped they would, our homestead was founded on broken dreams. I have learned that is just life. I have also learned that broken dreams, if you allow them, can be an incredible blessing in disguise. Someone once said “Not getting what you want is sometimes a stroke of luck.”
I don’t know what year two will hold in store for us. I have decided that rather than make our plans and force them to go one way or another; it would be best to stand back, and let whatever we’re supposed to do here just grow organically, on its own. The right thing will happen in its own way and in its own time.
This post may contain affiliate links. You can read more about that here in our disclaimer