Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

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How Did We Get Here?

11/3/2008 10:26:08 AM

Tags: homesteading, self sufficiency

Jones

 

My husband, Rob, and I used to joke that we liked nature as long as we could see it through a windshield. I have no idea when or how that changed; one day, we had a gym membership and prepackaged food in our pantry, and the next we were cranky if we couldn’t get out for a hike and chafed at any food that we hadn’t bought directly from the farmer. 

Our organic transition was kicked off by a chance encounter with the joyful movement called Slow Food. After a while, it seemed natural that we would move to a rural area, somewhere mountainous and beautiful, private with a decent garden space. 

We found a house — the house — a red-roofed 1941 farmhouse in a community where people smile at one another and offer useful advice. 

We’ve lived here for two months now and I can finally admit that we have no idea what we’re doing. Our major previous garden success was a squash plant that we couldn’t have stopped had we wanted to. Rob once camped out at a festival. I like to can jelly and preserves, despite my 60% gel rate. We have a lot to learn. 

We expect to work hard, but after all, we’re chasing some pretty major goals. We moved here in hope of reducing our environmental footprint, and to get away from total dependence on the grid. But we also moved here to start fresh: to redefine our idea of success, to move backburner dreams to the forefront, and to become the people we want to be. 

But first things first: finding the local cheesemakers… 

Sarah Beth Jones is taking a break from a career in newspaper, magazine and business writing to learn how to live more wisely in Floyd, Virginia.


Photo by Rob Jones

 



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Post a comment below.

 

luvsblu
3/16/2014 2:43:01 PM
Hi,Im new here. Not new to living off the land which we did when I was a young teenager. Still to this day we do all we can to avoid money and the things (evil) that come with that life style. Now are of course preparing for when S.H.T.F.which I believe is already here for most...the out rages prices, the horrifying things they are putting in our food sources, fortunately we are in S.E. Oklahoma and things are still relatively simple here. Obtaining alternative sources of food ,heat and survival are of utmost priority. Glad to be here and hope to help any one I can.

Scott Vorves
11/13/2008 11:28:07 AM
Hey thanks for the info and ideas guys. I am planning to go back to school this Jan. I will be going into engineering because that is my field now I am an architectural draftsman. I would like to find a way to work from home on line that way I can live anywhere and how I want. But I am torn; I want the high-tech job in the city and the self-reliant life in the country. I'm 46 you would think I would have it all together by now. I have been reading Mother earth news sense the late 70s, early 80s and the dream has been with me sense I was a boy. But life takes you to many different places until, I hope, you can find the place where you belong. I’m not even sure where that is anymore. The dream was around the Phoenix area but that dream started when Phoenix was still very small many years ago when there was still cheep land and less codes.

Sarah Beth Jones
11/13/2008 8:32:51 AM
Scott, having no kids myself, I am often awed at how much parents can juggle - I don't know how you all do it! I think Mimi has an excellent idea about nursing. Rob and I are also big fans of multiple income streams, many often-small means of earning. It can be as profitable as our friend who is a practitioner and drives a Lexus and lives in a big house in a swank neighborhood. We're shooting for paying our bills and getting to stay in Floyd. The upside is that if one stream dries up, it's not a big piece of the pie. The downsides are that it's not as steady as a 9 to 5 and there are generally no benefits. Patty makes a good point too: it doesn't necessarily take a head-first dive to start living this lifestyle. More than anything, I think it take a willingness to be unconventional and flexible. Sneaux, let's absolutely learn together - the more the merrier! Good luck, everyone - and thanks for all the well-wishes! SBJ

Mimi_1
11/12/2008 3:04:56 PM
Scott, I had the same problem earlier in my life. How do you support yourself and pay your bills in the country? I solved the problem by going to nursing school. I tacked a two- year program onto another degree I had, but that is not necessary. There is a tremendous nursing shortage in this country, so you can always find more work than you want. It pays well, there are hospitals and medical facilities in rural counties, and you can customize your schedule so you have time for your lifestyle. It worked for me. There are quite a few men doing this now as well because it is so practical, flexible, and recession - proof. Check it out. Mimi

Sneaux
11/12/2008 1:00:04 PM
Floyd, Virginia?!?! I know a family who lives there, and have been to the town a few times. What a pleasant place you've found for yourself. :) Thanks for this terrific post - it helps to know there are others out there who are trudging through the learning process as well. Good luck in your new home!

Patty_3
11/12/2008 12:31:19 PM
I can appreciate your desire to get away from it all. We couldn't leave the area due to kids in school but we found a way to enjoy nature, live a little more green and bring some calm to our lives through alpacas. They're environmentally friendly, great if you enjoy needlework (fleece), wonderfully calming to be around and relatively easy to care for without needing extensive acreage. It's a wonderful family business or just for the enjoyment alone. We look forward to moving to a more rural area once the kids are through college. Enjoy your learning experience!

Scott Vorves
11/12/2008 11:47:24 AM
Hi all, I have wanted to move to the land and build a self sufficent home and life. I have student loan dept and child suport so I need work that will pay enough to cover that and my living too. I do have 1/2 acre in NM but not in an area where good jobs are avalible. (Deming, NM.) How does one move to this good life style and still suport all thire responsabilitys? I'm not a business man and I don't have the ability to have my own business. What and how do you do this if you don't have money set aside like so many who leave the city life as a high paid person with assets to sell and fund there new life? Thanks Scott

Tami Edwards
11/12/2008 11:04:37 AM
Thanks for sharing your tale. It's uplifting to hear that there are others out there. My husband and I left the city three years ago after realising that we did not want to participate in the rush. The first year we had an experimental garden - one raised bed 4' x 10'. Not only did we not know what we were doing, we couldn't recognise what we were growing when it first started to sprout. How embarassing to drag our neighbours over to identify our plants so we could weed around them! Year 2, the garden expanded to 12' x 20'. Great success. We were like little kids playing in the compost WE had created. Year 3 and our garden has moved to a sunnier spot 40' x 40'. At this rate, we are going to have to buy more land soon! Best of luck in your new adventure.

Sarah Beth Jones
11/10/2008 3:23:51 PM
Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Daniel - sounds absolutely wonderful! Last week, we went to a little town in Maryland just outside Washington, D.C., that sounds just like what you're saying: temporary, more like a movie set than a town. It was Vegas shrunk to minute proportions or a mixed-use shopping center on steroids. I hope your adventure days are far from over! -SBJ

Daniel_1
11/9/2008 9:12:28 AM
I recently returned from four years in a small village in Mexico. I landed in Birmingham to be near Kids and grendkids. You comment about looking for the local cheesemaker brought back some good memories. Where I lived there was more often a visable natural connection between the things used for sustaining life and their source. The corn was grown over there and it was ground there and the tortillas were made there and were taken home, cooked and eaten. I knew where my vegetables came from and the papayas and mangos and the feet were still attached to the bacon and it came in the back of a truck from a farm down the road a ways. It was butchered in the town market and local dogs new when to be there for scraps. I knew who built at least some of the furniture I used and who made at least some of the plates and cups. The town I lived in was over four hundred years old, pre-Columbian with ancestors of the original indian settlers still walking it's streets, selling their wares and speaking Nahuatl. It makes where I live currenlty seem like a stage set built for some temporary inhabitants, without roots or vested interest. Well, Best of luck with your adventure and enjoy the connection and the cheese when you find it. Daniel Noll www.drinking-water-filter-system.com

Sarah Beth Jones
11/5/2008 10:38:07 PM
We feel so unbelievably lucky to be able to chase our dreams like this - and to find a beautiful home to be our base of operations! Pat, congratulations on getting the last word with that deer! Thank you for all of the excellent advice and an update on life your way! Paul, I love your motto! "From possibility to reality" - a journey of a lifetime! Good luck on your adventures, all, and thanks for the well-wishes on ours! SBJ

Joy_4
11/4/2008 4:22:50 PM
Good for you! I found you through another site. Way to live your dreams. I love your red roof.

Paul Gardener
11/4/2008 2:00:30 PM
I can empathize so much with you on this! My wife has always been the "through the windshield" type, but is now pushing me to finish liberating the lawn so we can expand our garden beds by more than double for next year. One day I have no doubt that we'll be "off to the country" as well. It's a great journey, enjoy it! P~ http://apaetoday.blogspot.com

Pat Bush_1
11/4/2008 9:13:16 AM
Nice to see a picture of you in your new environment- two of my favorite American Goths. We have been living simply in a rural area and farming for over 25 years -and I still am not sure what we are doing either! Mostly we just get up in the morning and figure it out day by day and thats been workin' for us. We do sit down every Jan and make a plan for the year-all the while knowing that is impossible to plan a rich,diverse and fun life/farm that far in advance. The key for me is being willing to change it up at a moments notice-which keeps it all interesting. When it comes time to plant that garden-just plant a bunch of things you want to grow. The following year repeat the things that were successful and change the ones that weren't. We have had a nice fall-gorgeous pumpkins we selling by the slice at market and lots of pears. I am working on pear mincemeat at the moment.Our pantry and freezer all crammed full of the bounty from even this dry year. And last night for dinner we ate the deer that has been eating our beans and sweet potatoes all summer. come see us if you make it to the flat lands

Meredith_1
11/4/2008 8:10:22 AM
You guys look way too adorable and happy in that picture. I'm inspired by your actions and the fact that you are actually making your dream come true. I want to come visit you up there sometime!










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