Reflections on the Homestead Life

One homesteading couple discover that the complete isolation they craved isn't all it's cracked up to be. Good neighbors make a difference.

| July/August 1976

When my husband, Rick, and I first planned our move to the mountains, we envisioned a small and completely isolated cabin located so deep in the heart of the forest that wildlife would be our only neighbors. So we moved here to Seeley Lake, Montana ... where Rick's parents had-back in 1950-built the cabin we longed for (and where that same cabin was just going to waste),

Our new home was exactly what we bargained for: small and isolated! It consisted of a single room with a wood-burning cookstove (water had to be carried in buckets from the lake about 50 yards away). The cabin was situated two miles from the highway, five miles from our nearest neighbor, and eighteen miles from the closest small town (Seeley Lake). Solitude at last!

Our surroundings were beautiful. Tamarack trees towered 200 feet over our heads, while at ground level there were bracken ferns and wild berries growing everywhere. The local deer treated us like family, a furry black bear cub hung around our compost pile regularly, the chipmunks ate peanuts out of our hands, and we even heard the elusive elk mating call in the fall. Everything was so peaceful, so serene.

But then, somehow, it got to be lonely. So, in the middle of the winter, we decided to move closer to Seeley.

To help us, some friends came by with their snowmobiles—which we normally find obnoxious, but which at times like that can be incredibly useful—and after hitching one trailer up to both of the machines, they moved us to our present home. Now we have a cabin with hot water and a bathtub ... and we have neighbors!

Our four closest neighbors, thank goodness, live only 50 to 100 yards away. Yes, I said thank goodness, because more than once last winter I got my car stuck in the mud and had to ask Vern to come push me out ... and more than once I needed a ride into town and only Jim was there to take me.

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