One-Woman Quest to Remake a Rural Property with Little Money


The author’s rural property before her efforts to transform it into a homestead. See the “after” photo below.

Listen to this post! Audio is available from the Jo of the Woods Podcast.

It’s been a long and interesting journey taking a piece of bush land and attempting to turn it into a sustainable homestead. When I bought my 6 ½ acres, I hadn’t even seen the whole property. It was so thick with brambles and dense brush that I had to depend on the real estate agent’s promise that a small creek crossed the back part of the land.  It took years of clearing the brush and trees, just a bit at a time, before I could even decide where anything should go. (Read about these beginnings in my previous posts.)

I would make a plan and then have to alter it because of circumstances or conditions. Each season brought with it changes to the property and something new to be learned. Luckily, I had a house 20 minutes away, so I was able to take my time: I noticed that one quarter of the land was underwater in the spring. I discovered which areas were the worst for bugs in the summer. I studied which trees were the most beautiful in the autumn. I realized I had an awfully long driveway to shovel in the winter.

The more time I spent on the property, the more I learned about it. Tracking where the sun rose and set and from which direction the winds blew helped me to make some important decisions. We have black flies, mosquitoes, horseflies, deer flies and ticks, sometimes in swarms. The smallest of them can take a man down. The sitting area down by the creek needed to be opened up to allow more air flow. Good air circulation along with gravel underfoot made a substantial improvement in reducing harmful insects. I knew it was better to cut just a few trees down at a time, rather then regret having taken the wrong ones down.

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