My wife and I have both just turned 40, and we're thinking of starting a homestead in another part of the country (we're living in California at the present time). We still owe $3,000 on our house with ten acres, and we don't have much spare cash ... but now that our children are grown, we want to relocate to a more rural area and attempt to be as self-reliant as possible.
We'd like to know if the Nearings think we're too old to start homesteading. We have the desire to go back to the land, but are hesitant to begin anew at our age.
You're far from old! In fact, you're just starting middle life. Furthermore, we are at the tail end of this round of our life on earth, and we're still at it! It isn't age that makes the difference: It's application, stick-to-it-iveness, work, and pluck. (A little luck helps, too!)
We've moved twice since our first homesteading venture in the 1930's, and each time we had to start from scratch on poor, uncultivated clay. We built up the soil of both those gardens, making the earth friable and productive for the next person who might work with it, and then moved on to new gardening and building endeavors.
Right now, in our late 70s and 90s (Scott is actually in his 100th year!), we're enjoying lettuce, spinach, leeks, and other hardy greens — during what is, at the time of this writing, a cold January — from our sun-heated greenhouse, and we're munching on the fall root crops that are stored in the cellar…at a time when most folks are able to rind freshness only on the supermarket shelves. What's more, we're already preparing for our 1983 planting in the 50 feet by 50 feet stone-walled garden that we started two years ago in a soggy marsh.
In short, at 40 you still ought to have the best of your lives ahead. Good luck!
— Helen and Scott Nearing
The Nearings began homesteading, in 1932, on a run-down farm in Vermont.