What We’ve Learned After 1 Year of Homesteading

 

Tuesday of this week, October 1st, was our one-year anniversary of the day we left our large, newer suburbia home for an old, old farmhouse in the country, in hopes of starting a more self-sufficient life.  It’s really been an amazing year.  Rick, myself and our 4 kids have all had to cope with all kinds of different feelings, from missing our former home, to dealing with all of the work that comes with owning a hobby farm, to simply enjoying the peace and quiet that comes with living away from it all.  We’ve had to deal with intense summer storms, learning how to cut down on energy usage, and preserving our own food.  It’s been a boatload of hard work, but a great ride nonetheless this first year.  Here is some of what we’ve learned this first year “on the farm”.

1.  Hobby farming, and living a self-sufficient life in general, is hard work.  My family has always prided itself on being hard-working, and Rick’s family is the same way.  We both have that “just get it done” attitude.  However, I wasn’t prepared in the least for the vast amount of physical work it takes to be self-sufficient.  From storm clean-up (chopping down and chopping up/stacking 20 or so downed trees, picking up sticks and branches, repairing damage) to preserving your own food, to doing more things without the help of modern conveniences like a clothes dryer, a self-sufficient life in the country equals lots of work.  There were days when I would literally lay down and cry because I just couldn’t do any more, and I assure you, the word “lazy” has never been counted for as one of my characteristics.  If you’re considering moving to a hobby farm, you’d better be prepared, both psychologically and physically, to work your “aft” off.

2.  Our mindset has changed.  Although we never really fit in with the rat race running “keep up with the Joneses” people (as much as we tried to), we weren’t prepared for how our mindset would change once we got out into the country.  We now look at the “normal” world from the outside looking in, and we see, more than ever, what a terrible waste of time the pursuit of “stuff” is.  This pursuit is robbing people of LIFE!  They spend so much time working in order to gain more stuff (so that they can supposedly enjoy the stuff) that there’s not much time left for fun.  We have lots less “stuff” now, but we have lots more time to enjoy each other and to enjoy the beautiful nature that God has created for our enjoyment.

3.  The skills learned for self-sufficiency are crucial.  Any person who’s ever been the victim of a lack of power, food or fresh water will tell you just how horrible a feeling it is not to know how you’re going to feed yourself or your family from one day to the next.  We have a great peace now, knowing that we have the skills and supplies needed to grow and preserve our own food, to do basic things like heat our home or wash our clothes without any power source, and so on and so forth.  We’re far from completely self-sufficient, but we’ve learned enough in this first year to have basic survival skills, and we’re eager to increase our knowledge, and share what we’ve learned with ya’ll, in year two of our homesteading journey.

4.  Change means growth.  As difficult as it can be to make a move, change a job, or change your lifestyle, the great thing about it is that it will help you to grow into a stronger, more capable person, provided you’re willing to stick the journey out.  Any survivalist expert will tell you that the strength of the mind is likely the most crucial asset to survival of life in general.  If you can handle the change, whatever it is, from a psychological standpoint, you will indeed grow stronger from it.

Today, I want you to think about your life.  Are you happy?  Is your debt, or your job,  or your lack of caring for yourself properly, weighing you down?  Is it causing you to miss out on doing the things that are truly important to you?  If so, consider making that change to make your life better.  Decide to get out of debt.  Make a job or career change that will lead you to a happier life, or help to improve your physical shape by eating more fruits and veggies, cutting down on the processed food, etc.  Because you deserve the best.

34 comments

  1. This was really great Laurie. All I kept thinking to myself while reading this is your experiment…hmm not the right word…I would say new way of life would make a really great book! I think people are fascinated with taking a step back from modern conveniences but so few are actually willing to step out of their comfort zone and try. Think about it! 🙂 In my own way, I’m having a step out of my comfort zone moment too. And I think it’s relatable to what you’re saying about change means growth. I’m selling my surfboard which has become a permanent decoration in my house, but I haven’t used it in years! I have to admit I have a sadness in the pit of my stomach, but why keep something around I don’t use, and I could use the money towards things that are new hobbies or passions like the digital audio recorder I bought to do interviews, and traveling. Those are present and future things…the surfing one is a hobby that I used to do that I just have a hard time letting go of for some reason. But it means growing up…

    • Laurie says:

      Wow, that and all of the job stuff and possible move stuff too – you do have a lot going on, Tonya! I am contemplating a book: I’m in the midst of one about the debt payoff journey, but maybe one about the transition to homesteading is in order?

  2. Congrats Laurie. I lived on a small farm growing up and I can for certain, it ain’t easy. It requires lots of hard work, patience and persevearance…the work is relentless and if not done in time could have repurcussions in terms of produce sometime down the road. It does get easier though once you get used and fall into some kind of pattern of what needs to be done at what point.
    Am constantly evaluating my life. if I answer the Am I happy question in the negative three times in a row then I know I need some serious changes in my life.

    • Laurie says:

      So true, Simon. And I love that about if the answer is “no” three times in a row, then you start looking at changes. Very good plan.

  3. Congrats on your first year! I like your point about how you now look at the world from the outside looking in. I can imagine it’s been a huge adjustment, but it’s made you look at everything in a whole new way. Things you may have thought were important then, are not nearly as important. Great post!

  4. This past year has brought so much good change to your family. I can only imagine all the work you and your family put into your hobby farm and how it good it feels to have become so self-sufficient. Even through the tough moments, you kept your faith and strength and continue to grow and evolve when others might have given up. You’ve felt the change within you and so has your family.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Shannon, I really appreciate your encouragement. 🙂 Yeah, all in all it’s been great. Workload, downed trees, and the whole bit. 🙂

  5. lyle @ the Joy of Simple says:

    Hey Laurie and awesome post!! 🙂

    When one finds true independence, one truly lives! You have weathered a different life path than most and your family will surely benefit from this renewed sense of what it is to truly make your way through the world on nothing but your wits and determination. Way to go!!

    Take care Laurie and my best to you and yours.

    Lyle

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Lyle. 🙂 It has been amazing for us on so many levels, but most importantly, I suppose, is that we realize what is truly needed to live a fulfilling life, and it’s not stuff. 🙂

  6. I think there is nothing better than using your hands to create what you want and need. This move in commendable Laurie and I congratulate you for doing it. My past year has been full of personal and financial growth for me and I am just looking up right now.

  7. You are huge inspiration to me, Laurie. I love how you just face things head-on and keep such a great perspective. I feel as though I’ve been stuck for awhile (mostly in my mind) and I need stop thinking and start doing. Thanks for the reminder that change may be scary but it’s a good and worthwhile kind of scary. Have a great weekend! Hope the weather is still treating you good in MN. October was always one of my favorite months when I lived there.

    • Laurie says:

      Hey, Tanya, thanks! We fill a bit stuck sometimes too as our debt numbers move down ever so slowly, but enjoying the ride is so much more important than just waiting to get there, isn’t it? Weather is good here so far, crisp, 65-70ish, and mostly sunny, except for the last few days, which have been strictly rainy, but it’s not snowing, so you won’t hear me complain, at least not about the weather. 🙂

  8. jim says:

    Laurie,
    You’re on a great track! I love reading your blog. Winter’s coming – what a great time to start drafting your first book. And why the one or the other (i.e. getting debt-free vs. homesteading)? Why not a combo – they actually do go hand in hand. You’ve got a great story to tell and you’re a great writer. It reminds me a little book I picked up a few years ago when we visited a “working plantation” in Georgia (now an historical site). It was written by a woman who told of all the hard, physical labor they did, how to cook and how NOTHING went to waste back in the 1700’s. It was absolutely fascinating. Best of luck and keep up the wonderful blogs!

    • Laurie says:

      Awww, thanks, Jim! Love the idea about combining the two: I’ll think about that. One of our family vaca goals is to take the kids to visit a working plantation – I’ll have to get the details from you about the one you visited when the time comes for our vacation. Thanks much!

  9. Jim says:

    Happy Anniversary Laurie! You have to be commended for your self-sufficent lifestyle and the value you are teaching your kids. One day they may need these survivalist techniques and your kids will be lightyears ahead of the ill prepared, “Jones'”!

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Jim. 🙂 Yeah, we’re pretty excited about the whole journey. We’ve got a ways to go, but we’ve got a good start too. 🙂

  10. I really enjoy reading about homesteading and self sufficiency, that was my plan too when moving to my house but I have to admit that the low cost of living, both for labor and food have made me lazy. When my handyman can spend a full day under the sun carrying construction blocks and building something for less than I make in an hour online it makes me take the easy way out. You guys didn’t and congratulations on making it work. You can be proud of all the skills you have acquired. I know I could survive too if need be as I observe and learn but you put it into practice.

    • Laurie says:

      I can totally understand with the low cost of living there how it would be easy to just let the others do it. One of the things we have on our side, if you could think of it that way, is that we are kind of forced to live somewhat self-sufficiently due to our debt situation. Kind of bad, but kind of good, in that it has forced us to preserve our own food, look for cheap ways to heat the house, etc. Interesting how money or the lack of it can influence things in that way, isn’t it?

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, DD! It is definitely rewarding. Worth all of the hard work, that’s for sure. Rick was just saying last night that he’s looking forward to winter here, if only for the fact that the farm work will be minimal. 🙂

  11. My Wealth Desire says:

    Working in the field or farm is less stress than working in the corporate world.
    Our debt or mortgages is the reason that hold us to move on. We are planning to concentrate farming, engage in small retail business and construction business. We cannot start up because we have mortgages/debt to pay.

    • Laurie says:

      My husband currently works in the corporate world, and I did myself for 15 years before staying home with the kids. It’s definitely stressful, especially from an emotional standpoint, whereas farming is more stressful from a physical standpoint. Either way though, I’d take the farm life over corporate America.

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