A Homestead on Guam Island

When this family moved to Guam island, they brought American-style homesteading concepts with them.

| March/April 1983

"Somebody sound the alarm! I think I got cabin fever, and I got to go where there ain't any snow. I got to go where it's warm!" — Jimmy Buffett

It's the middle of the Northeast's awful "no man's season" between winter and spring. The temperature outside your farmhouse is probably cold enough to freeze yesterday's mud, and it looks as if a late snow is entirely possible. Meanwhile, you can't seem to keep the woodstove full enough, and your diligently chopped and stacked log pile has been pretty much reduced to slabs of bark and big jointed pieces that won't quite fit in the firebox. And to top everything off, your entire family is probably on the verge of coming down with that dreaded malady of the North: cabin fever.

What you need is a good stiff daydream! So you lean back, close your eyes, and try to imagine what life would be like on an idyllic tropical island in the middle of the ocean somewhere. You begin to envision palm trees swaying in balmy breezes, and emerald lagoons glistening in the sunlight ... and suddenly you start to feel carefree and blissfully warm.

Doing the Impossible

Though you might well believe that such daydreams can never be anything but fantasies, that doesn't have to be the case. After all, my intrepid family of four set out to make our dream come true two years ago, when—spurred by the spirit of adventure and the promise of a new job for me as an island forester—we left the cold confines of our farm in the northeastern United States to homestead on sunny little Guam island (which is one of the Marianas) in the western Pacific Ocean. The move itself wasn't easy: It required a great deal of preparation and expense (and put us all through a good bit of anguish), but we did it! And from the moment we landed on our tropical paradise (anxious to revitalize the sense of self-sufficiency that had been paling ever since we pulled up our roots), we've never regretted our bold decision to bring a dream to life.

Smooth Sailing?

Of course, preparing to come to Guam was one thing ... and orienting ourselves to island life once we got here was quite another! To begin with, we were quickly introduced to a tropical hardship that most of the locals tend to take in stride: no sooner had we arrived in the Marianas than the islands were hit by Typhoon Betty (100-mile-an-hour winds, driving rains, and all)!

Now we'd heard that this part of the Pacific was known as the "typhoon belt" with storms like Betty occurring once a year or so. And we'd been told that every 12 to 15 years a typhoon of truly fearsome proportions (with winds gusting up to 200 miles an hour!) would take aim at Guam and level everything (at least everything not made of reinforced concrete) in its path. But it took good old Betty (who was plenty fearsome enough for us) to make us actually comprehend the ferocity of these tropical storms, and to bring us to the realization that homesteading in paradise was definitely going to be different from family farming back in New England!

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