Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton: Inventors, Authors, Entrepreneurs and Homesteaders
Anna Hess dreamed about moving back to the land ever since her parents dragged her off their family farm at the advanced age of eight. She worked as a field biologist and non-profit organizer before acquiring 58 acres and a husband, then quit her job to homestead full-time. She admits that real farm life involves a lot more hard work than her childhood memories entailed, but the reality is much more fulfilling and she loves pigging out on sun-warmed strawberries and experimenting with no-till gardening, mushroom propagation and chicken pasturing.
Mark grew up in the suburbs in Ohio and never considered living the farm life until recently, but his family's roots lie in hard-scrabble farming in eastern Kentucky and homesteading seems to run in his blood. While Anna putters with her seed packets and makes planting charts, Mark does the hard work of mowing, fencing, building chicken coops and keeping the farm running smoothly. He loves the freedom of making up his own hours and the self-sufficiency of living off the land. Recently he has enjoyed inventing labor-saving devices, including the Avian Aqua Miser — a poop-free chicken waterer — which enables the two to make a living on the farm.
Anna is currently putting the finishing touches on Weekend Homesteader, which will be in bookstores this fall. Meanwhile she's getting the berries and fruit trees ready for spring and is planning the vegetable garden. Mark is cutting fallen trees out of the woods to refill the woodshed and is starting to think about a porch-building project.
They live in a mobile home that they found free and fixed up themselves. They're firm believers in living within their means and love the freedom the trailer gives them.
Our trailer is only accessible by motorized vehicles a few times a year due to a frequently flooded creek and a lot of swampy ground. They enjoy the third of a mile walk from cars to homestead, although they do have to plan their hauling days with military efficiency.
Their farm is home to two spoiled cats, a hard-working Chesapeake Bay Retriever, four Australorp and three Cuckoo Maran chickens. Come spring, they'll add two hives of bees and will raise several groups of broilers.
Their personal blog has been visited by nearly a million people. The website has been read in every country in North America, South America and Europe, but they're missing 13 countries before they can say we've reached ever nation on earth. (If you live in Greenland, please stop by.)
Find more about them at www.waldeneffect.org and www.avianaquamiser.com.