Simplifying to Achieve our Dreams
There are big changes on the horizon for my family. It seems that life just gets busier and more hectic all the time. The days pass by in a blur of hurried activities. Sometimes, at the end of the day, I sit down and wonder what I even have accomplished. My husband, Cody, works at a typical 9-5 office job and comes home feeling stressed out and dissatisfied. The last year or so we have felt that we are being called to make some changes to our lifestyle. We keep returning to this idea of making a living by homesteading. We have talked about this on and off for years and have finally decided to take the plunge.
After long conversations and much prayer, the decision was made that Cody will be leaving his job in the spring to pursue this goal. There are times when I have felt apprehensive about making such a big lifestyle change but I feel confident that this is the right decision for our family. We have reached a point in our lives where it is time to take a risk and follow our dreams.
WHY HOMESTEADING APPEALS TO US
Growing Our Own Food
Shortly before we got married Cody began to take an interest in gardening. He grew a small garden that year and realized that he loved the fulfillment and joy that he got from growing his own food. We have a small garden every year and there is nothing better than fresh, homegrown produce. It is a very satisfying feeling to make and eat a meal with vegetables and meat that you produced yourself. The idea of knowing exactly where my food comes from has always appealed to me. I don’t want to eat produce sprayed with harmful chemicals or eat meat from animals that have been pumped full of antibiotics and raised inhumanely.
My father always had a large garden when I was growing up and I learned to can and preserve food from my mother and grandmother. To this day, doing these things brings me a sense accomplishment. The ability to preserve the food we grow is an important aspect of the homesteading lifestyle. I grew up living a healthy lifestyle and I want to continue that tradition with my own family.
We are striving for a life that is peaceful, fulfilled, maybe just a bit off the beaten path. We want to be able to take time for the simple things in life that bring us true joy. Things like eating dinner together as a family, taking nature walks, homeschooling our children and teaching them real life skills are some of the things that are important to us.
The goal here is not to escape from the modern world, but to create a place where our family can take a step back from the chaos that seems to overtake the lives of so many people in our culture.
There are so many opportunities for children to learn on a homestead. I love watching them get so excited about being outside and making new discoveries. Theo’s nightly routine includes herding the chickens back to their coop at dusk. Lola exclaims over each ripe tomato she uncovers in the garden. I can often be found holding Elliott on my hip as the older kids race to the chicken coop to collect eggs. They love to follow Cody around and “help” as he works on various projects. These simple moments bring me so much joy.
The homesteading lifestyle gives us the ability to make a living without being tied down to a Monday through Friday job. Running a market garden will offer us income security while still living the life we are striving for. We will have more time to pursue other enterprises that may not be extremely profitable but will allow us to be more self sufficient. Some of these things include hunting, fishing, beekeeping, preserving food, developing and perfecting homesteading skills, and trading/bartering with others. We are excited to be able to produce our own food and not be reliant on a grocery store every week. We are fully aware that there will be hard work and long hours involved, but it is work that will be rewarding.
TAKING STEPS TOWARD OUR DREAM
We are not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. We don’t own a large piece of land. This homesteading dream of ours is not going to happen overnight but we have already started taking baby steps to get on the right track. There are sacrifices that we have made in order to start making our dreams a reality.
Selling Our House
We recently sold our spacious, beautiful home and moved into a small apartment that we are renting from my parents. Five people in an 800 square foot apartment! All three kids are in the same room. I would be lying if I said that it isn’t a tight squeeze. Thankfully there are seven acres of land so we are able to spread out and spend a lot of time outdoors. My parents graciously allow us to use this land for gardening, raising chickens, building a greenhouse, etc..
This move was necessary in order to take the next step toward a homesteading life. Even though I will continue to work part time as registered nurse, we simply could not afford that house on my income alone. With the real estate market being optimal, we were able to make a profit on the sale of our house which will act as a safety net to get us started. It will also provide us with a healthy down payment when the time is right for us to purchase land and really settle in a place of our own. Selling our home has allowed us to be completely debt free as we start out on this adventure.
Downsizing Our Possessions
Getting rid of our excess belongings was painful for me at first. I realized that I had some unhealthy attachment to possessions. It was actually freeing to start getting rid of things. There is just no extra room for things we don’t need or use regularly. We were able to get rid of furniture, tools, workout equipment, home decor, kitchen appliances and extra clothing. We even sold some of these items and made some extra money. Our home is much easier to care for and keep organized now that we have downsized the things we own.
Sticking to a Budget
Financial sacrifices are a huge part of getting us closer to our goal. We have been preparing ourselves to move from two incomes down to one in a few short months. Budgeting is an area where we have tried and failed many times. It just isn’t something that comes easily for us. Nevertheless, we are now sticking to a rather tight budget and saving as much of our current income as possible. I love to shop but I am doing my best to keep it under control! Remaining debt free is extremely important to us. Someday we will have another mortgage but we are building our savings to keep it as minimal as possible.
It has not been easy to downsize, change our lifestyle, and make sacrifices but we are excited to have this opportunity to work towards our dream.
WHAT THE FUTURE LOOKS LIKE
One way that we plan on financing our homesteading dream is by starting a market garden. For those of you that aren’t familiar with this term, a market garden is a small scale farm that sells produce to local buyers such as individuals, restaurants, and smaller grocery stores. What makes this venture even more exciting is that we are taking it on with family. Cody and my father are working together to build a greenhouse and prepare the land for the spring growing season. They are going to start out with a small CSA program and sell at the local farmer’s market next year and will also try to get into some local restaurants and stores. We are also going to raise and sell meat chickens. It will take time for this operation to get on its feet and it will most likely not bring in a lot of profit initially. We believe that with hard work and the correct planning it can support our family in the future.
Eventually we hope to own a larger piece of property where we can run our homestead as well as the market garden. We plan on planting fruit and nut trees, keeping bees, utilizing perennial plants, and growing/raising as much of our food as possible. We have talked of having other livestock including goats, cows, and maybe even bison. I would love to have a beautiful farmhouse with a huge kitchen and lots of room to raise our family. And of course it would be completely decorated Joanna Gaines style!
We are looking forward to this new adventure and to seeing what God has planned for our future. Visit our website Homegrown Family Produce to keep following along as we continue our journey toward achieving our homesteading goals!