Living the Homesteading Life

One couple's account of life on their homestead, and tips for sustainable living.

| September/October 1976


Homesteading in the Ozark mountains can be a tough way to make a living.


It's been many moons since I last checked in with a report (see "Up on the Farm"), and in the intervening period Bill and I have learned so much about living in the Boston Mountains of north-central Arkansas that I feel absolutely obliged to write a follow-up to my first story.

 I'd also like to mention that we've met some lovely human beings as a result of my first article, and that we've received a bumper crop of correspondence from folks who want to know more about the Arkansas Ozarks. We've gotten so many inquiries on land prices and availability, climate conditions, and ways of making a living in this region—in fact—that I'll try to cover these subjects here.

Life in the Ozarks

Land: Since March 1973—which is when we bought our 40 acres for $12,000—real estate prices have risen dramatically. So much so that some truly monumental rip-offs are being attempted in our area. Still, reasonably priced land can be found, if you take the time to look for it.

Some friends of ours have written to inquire about a nearby tract of unused acreage, but to date have received no replies to their queries. Perhaps if the owners of the property ever begin to feel the pinch, they'll be more interested in selling (or at least opening their mail). Right now, it's not a buyer's market.

Climate: We have a long growing season which—many times—allows us to raise three successive crops. Last year, for example, we began to plant some vegetables in our garden as early as February 27. To be completely truthful about the matter, though, we planted too much too soon and had to replant when a later cold spell killed some of our seedlings. (This is said to be a problem common to many beginning gardeners so I guess we shouldn't feel too embarrassed but, next year, well try to contain. ourselves.)

Our first killing frost came in mid-November during both of the past two years and the winters were light. We had little snow --maybe a couple of inches each year—and while the mercury occasionally dipped into the teens at night, the days were considerably warmer ... sometimes shooting into the 60's and 70's.

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