Thursday, April 14, 2011

Our Homesteading Journey

I grew up in the country. My father was a hunter and a fisherman, so we pretty much always lived in the country. He grew up on a farm. It wasn't a very good farm, because they were very poor. That taught him how to survive and many times his family relied on him for game and fish. Even when he was just a young boy.

Having lived in the country all the time I was growing up, I was eager to live in the city. Aren't all kids like that? I dreamed of living in New York City. I remember reading books about being a career girl living in the "Big Apple" written by Helen Gurley Brown among others.

Somewhere along the way I changed. We lived in the city of St. Petersburg, FL, in 1994. It was a very beautiful place and I loved it. We walked everywhere and had such fun there. Our kids had all come down there, first my husband's daughter, Hollie, then my Jeff, and then my husband's Jeff. We started our business, Exclusively Cruises and then later, Intricate Systems. But there was so much crime in our area. I was chased home by a guy in the middle of the day and had to hide in an ally. No, I did not feel safe there.

We started reading the homesteading magazines and both of us, started talking about this new found love we had for the homesteading lifestyle. When I read the editorials JD wrote in Countryside magazine, I wanted it even more. So eventually we ended up moving back to NY. First in an apartment in the country in one place, where we worked on learning about gardening, baking bread, making and canning jelly. We started washing our laundry by hand and hanging it outside on our clothesline.

Next we found a house to rent that was even more in the country. On an old farm that was no longer a farm. We loved it and there is where we grew our first real garden. My husband plowing it with our first wheel hoe or cultivator, whatever you wish to call it. While there we started acquiring our various nonelectric items for our future homestead. Our first wood stove, the wood cook stove (which I still use to cook with), our collection of kerosene lamps (that would become our means of lighting our future homestead), our treadle sewing machine (which was owned by my husband's great great grandmother), our clawfoot bathtub and our doctor's buggy.

 We were preparing while there. I bought Carla Emery's book, The Encyclopedia of Country Living and read it all the way through. I loved it and I learned from it. I read Backwoods Home Magazine and started following Jackie Clay. When she wrote in there about storing water, I filled over 20 gallon containers with water and stored them in our basement. Then when we had blizzard, we had all the water we needed and never had to leave home. The landlord and all the surrounding residents had to go stay somewhere else. My brother in-law wanted to know how I knew to store the water! I still do it.

While we were there we planted our first real garden and it was awesome. We learned to can all our produce. Even my husband did it. In fact, he did more than me because I was working at the time and he was not. We gathered kindling and explored the woods. And we got our little puppy, Nikita, who is now 13 years old.

We prepared and planned for the day when we would move to our own homestead. That day finally did come. But it took four years to find one that was just right for us. So for all the readers who say they will start when they move to the country, my advice is to start now. Start learning and doing things little by little. Then it is not too much at once. If you already know how to do something when you get there, you can learn other things.

Good luck on your homesteading journey!

Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2011 Kathleen G. Lupole

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