Getting There: A Dream of Homesteading
Today we have an inspiring story about a family that is documenting their journey on their own blog.
Mama writes regularly at AmericanFamilyNow.org, the sister site to youtube.com/americanfamilynow. She will soon be publishing a book on her family’s first year living in their camper, which you can learn more about on her blog at American Family Now.
Here’s how the family’s new life has been unfolding.
It all started with a dream.
Not a hopeful, wishing sort of dream, but a vision in your sleep sort of dream. The kind you’ll never forget, even years later.
In his dream, Papa saw an impression of our country’s future, laid out in the sky. He was left with a feeling of urgency, that we must begin preparing our family for unstable times unless we wanted to be caught vulnerable when it counted the most.
With this beginning came a lot of deep thought, late night discussions, and research to help us decide what it was we were preparing for, and what steps we needed to take to be ready.
The winter after the dream occurred, Papa had a close call with unemployment when two major construction contracts with his employer’s company fell through due to the economy. Because of God’s grace and his employer’s generosity he remained employed, but the incident reinforced our desire to prepare for a rainy day.
That was in 2007.
Fast forward three years. To make our first giant leap in preparing for an economic depression and/or a martial law situation, we purchased a rundown camper, fixed it up and moved it to family property to create a “bug out location.”
We used it as a camp and stored a few things there, but even though we knew we had reason to prepare for trouble, it still felt like a shock when Papa got the pink slip, December 10th 2010.
After five months of making do, we used our tax return to purchase a more comfortable camper, along with other homesteading supplies, and moved off-grid, leaving the mortgaged house behind.
We’ve now been living here, on the land in a 31’ bunkhouse Dutchmen for 15 months. We have been blessed with our fourth child and a new job (in that order) since we arrived, but while our original purpose in abandoning the house and moving out here was to get out of the system and survive, we have used the opportunity as best we can to reach our longterm goals – to live well with our growing family, no matter the economic, political, or social times we live in.
Our homestead is still in development. This year we are working on the outhouse and grey water leach field, next year we hope to break ground on our off-grid house, but we have achieved a lot by trial and error, and a lot of determination.
We collect and use rain water, we made a compost toilet, we have a small vegetable garden and a decent medicinal herb garden, we raise chickens for eggs, and most of our power comes from a solar panel. We also managed to stick it out through a New England winter, which we weren’t sure we would be able to do until we were half way through it, and gave birth to our fourth baby in the camper, attended by a midwife.
Eight steps along the way
There are so many different things I could focus on that are a part of the story, but since the focus for this series is “getting there,” I’ll try to break down the steps we took, to give you some helpful ideas.
1. We asked permission from family members to park our campers on their land.
2. With step one approved, we began shopping for campers within our budget.
3. We also purchased an extra car battery, a solar panel, a water pump, a generator, and a few extra things to make it easier living off-grid.
4. We downsized our home, literally shutting off half the house, had a huge yard sale, and began packing up.
5. Moving day – after many of our belongings were moved to the original camper which became our storage building, we hauled the new camper to the land and moved in.
6. We spent the first couple of weeks learning how to use the propane, water, and electronics in our new living space, which we were able to do before Papa got a new job near the end of 2011 (this whole time he was still applying for jobs, with no luck).
7. Once we had the important stuff figured out, Papa began work on additional homestead projects – digging a well, creating a rain water collection system, preparing the ground for gardens, building the chicken run (we brought the coop from the old house), building a tool shed, and installing a clothes line.
8. All this while the kids and I checked out our new local resources: the laundromat, library, general store, etc.
Gradually we became more confident and became less dependent on outside assistance, like gas for the generator, water for showers, etc. We are still not self-sufficient, but with time we hope to become so as much as possible, relying on local resources for extra things we need.
Living this lifestyle is not easy – it has its trials – but the benefits are numerous: the peaceful environment, free electricity, privacy from neighbors, ability to garden and have animals, and the prospect of an out of the way, self-sufficient, off-grid home, to support us no matter what the future holds.