Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
This month has brought great change to our household. In my last update, I explained that we were on the hunt for a homestead of our own but that after months of scouring and searching, we were growing discouraged. Finally one night, one of us whispered: “Maybe we should just accept that we won’t get the land we want. We’ll live somewhere until the kids graduate and then buy a farm.” The notion hung in the air like a curse. We were resolved to keep the kids in the school district, but at what cost? Another eight to 10 years of creating a home, only to sell it, move again (ugh), and then finally have the life we want? We were conflicted, to say the least.
The next night, we got an email from our Realtor. I wasn’t particularly excited but opened it anyway and found myself looking at a quaint little brick Cape. Nice, I thought and scrolled down. Five bedrooms? Check. Huge kitchen. Yes. On budget? You bet! Six acres. WHAT?! Needless to say, we went to see it the next day and put in an offer. Six people came to see it after us, so we needed to act fast. And what do you know? We close on April 15!
Now the fun begins. We’ve been living with boxes everywhere since initiating the purchase of the house that fell through, but we’ve decided to purge everything that won’t have a place or a purpose at the new homestead.
Homestead Moving Tips
Speaking of purging, some moving tips:
Utilize your bulk trash days. We only have a few left from now until the move date, so we have a plan to throw out any battered furniture every Thursday. Then we don’t have to take anything to the dump or pay to have it hauled away.
Take room measurements during the home inspection. Then you can play around with layouts using Urban Barn. Planning furniture placement ahead of time makes it easier to maximize your movers’—or the friends’ that you’ve bribed—efficiency. The website is also handy for design plans. I printed out my layout for each room and stapled paint samples and other design details to each page.
Don’t forget the booze. While you’re at the liquor store buying the alcohol that you’ve bribed your friends with, remember to grab a few free boxes. Those partitioned cardboard boxes that the store received its wine in are perfect for your kitchen glasses and, more importantly, the mason jars of food that you’ve put up.
Move as quickly as you can on the offer process. Get your ducks in a row for mortgage pre-approval, do a credit cleanup, and select that Realtor who really gets you. Try to see the house you like as soon as possible and don’t wait to put in an offer. The market is flooded with eager buyers. Beat the rush, if you can!
Make a list of the things you’ll need to dispose of properly. This includes medicines, paint, paint thinner, and batteries. Some people flush pills down the toilet without realizing those can end up in streams and rivers and soil. In order to avoid disposing of household items incorrectly, do some research on take-back programs in your community. Here’s a link to an FDA site providing more information.
Last up is decorating. I’m moving to a larger house and will have rooms to paint, decorate, and fill. With so much to do and acquire, budgeting is at the forefront, as always. I needed five major appliances and bought four of them at a scratch-and-dent store on a steep discount. I mean, really, who’s going to judge the washer and drying in my basement? Because the fridge I bought has a scratch on the side that will be facing the wall, it was $1,000 less. And I purchased a lovely oven from ReStore for $200. Run by Habitat for Humanity with locations across the country, ReStore carries all kinds of new and gently used items, and the proceeds go toward building new Habitat housing.
In designing each room, I’m trying to think out of the box to stay in budget. For instance, I have a problem wall in the dining room, where some plaster was destroyed by water damage. Rather than immediately take the wall down, I thought I’d cover it with faux stone and create it an accent wall. Faux stone turned out to be prohibitive, price wise, so I opted for galvanized metal—a funky, rustic look that cost less than $100. I also attend local auctions to see what I can get for a steal. Plus, it’s a fun night out, watching people get into bidding wars over crazy stuff. I’ve seen it all.
I said in my last post that I believe you know your home when you find it. For me, that meant somewhere to raise my family and live a beautiful life. While walking the home inspector through our house-to-be, I opened a hallway closet and noticed marks on the inside of the door. Looking closer, I realized the door had been used to record the height of all five kids who had grown up there since 1959. They’re selling the house now for their father, and I knew doing so must be very difficult. I wrote the family an email, letting them know how much we love the house and that we intend to fill it with love and warmth, as they had.
I also let them know they can keep the door. I can find another. Memories are irreplaceable.
Although she’s something of a newbie homesteader herself, Michelle comes from serious pioneer stock: Her great-grandmother literally wrote the book. It’s this legacy, in part, that led Michelle to trade in her high-stress life for a home on the grounds of a Pennsylvania CSA farm. You can read her monthly posts on beginner homesteading with kids and more here in HOMEGROWN Life, and sometimes you can find her popping up in The Stew, HOMEGROWN’s member blog.