Report From Them That's Doin': Becoming Self-Sufficient

Paul Edwards shares how him and his family are becoming self-sufficient.

| March/April 1976

From suburb to self-sufficiency in five years. Sound impossible? It's not. That's how long we — my wife, six children, and I — have been on our 100-acre farm in Ohio now, and you know something? We're almost there — almost self-sufficient!

It was a combination of noise, pollution, and crime in the city which caused us to take that drive through the country in the spring of 1969. Looking back, it now seems like a miracle we ever "happened onto" the gravel road that twists through these hills we've grown to love. I can remember us stopping to investigate a weather-beaten "For Sale" sign tacked to a shed by the side of the road. Little did we think then that the farm of our dreams was nearly ours at last!

Our family's search for the ideal country "spread" had not been without setbacks. Twice, we'd gotten ourselves into knotty situations: once when we moved into a dilapidated farm infested with termites and again when we took on a place with too little land, situated on a busy highway.

After our second mistake, we were forced to move to the city, close to where I work, in order to save enough money for our dream farm. (I say "dream" because we were beginning to think that that was the only place it existed —  in our imaginations and dreams.) But at the same time, we were carefully writing down everything we wanted that country homestead to have.

Then we found it: an ancient — but livable — white-washed farmhouse nestled against a green hillside. The old place was terribly overgrown, and almost all signs of its past farming days had disappeared — but we loved it. The lady and gentleman who owned the farm were as kind as any two people we had ever met, and — since the 100 Guernsey County acres were too much for them — we were able to move into our new home almost immediately.

The downstairs had four rooms, a fireplace, and one "extra" we hadn't counted on: a bath. The place did require some work, though. Every room needed either paint or wallpaper, the woodwork was held together with square nails, all our window glass was wavy and upstairs, the room dividers consisted of orange crates covered with cardboard and wallpaper! For the first few years, all we did was repair and remodel the house and clear off the overgrown lawn. There was never a dull moment, however, what with a possum living under the back porch, Jan accidentally stepping on a copperhead, and — of all things — a bat lurking upstairs.

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