When I was four, we lived on my great-grandpa’s farm, just outside of Corvallis, Oregon. Each day, my little sister and I would venture outside to moo at the cattle, pick morning glories, and chase the kittens around the farm yard. Mom would be digging in the flower beds, and Dad, when he got home from work, would fire up the old John Deere and plow up another patch of dark, black earth for the vegetable garden. At night in my attic bedroom, I could hear the squirrels roll walnuts down the roof of that late 1800s farmhouse. I would fall asleep to the sounds of crickets chirping in the pastures. I could not have picked a more idyllic place for a childhood!
But then there was the day that Mom wouldn’t let my sister and I go outside or go near the windows. I somehow managed to wander into the only room with the curtains not drawn tightly closed: the parlor. To my horror, I looked out the window and saw all of the cattle dead in the pasture. The butcher had come to the farm that day.
There was also the day that I walked into the small shed near the driveway and saw a buck hanging from the rafters. I immediately burst into tears and sobbed, “Daddy, YOU KILLED BAMBI!” (My dad never hunted deer again.)
Living on that farm so long ago was far from perfect, but it made an imprint on my soul. That imprint would never go away, not even when my family and I left the farm for suburban life. It would call to me, quietly, at first, then louder and louder until it was a scream that said, “COME BACK! COME BACK TO THE SIMPLE LIFE!” I have always been thankful for that time on the farm; it shaped who I am.
When I met my husband, I had no idea if he could abide my life-in-the-country yearnings. I was living in an urban apartment, and he was living in a military town – we were not the picture of rural bliss! Eventually, as I began to realize that he was the man I was meant to marry, I tested the waters. One evening over dinner, I decided to tell him, “My ideal home would be on a dirt driveway, hidden way up from the road by trees. Does that sound good to you?” By golly, it did sound good to him! He longed for a simpler life, too, where his children – our children – would know where their food originated. That’s as far as I expanded on testing those waters at that time, but I knew, someday, we would make it happen. I was grateful I found this man!
Fast-forward fifteen years – we have finally made it happen! We purchased a foreclosed home on 10 acres… with a dirt driveway, hidden way up from the road by trees! Granted, it isn’t perfect: the property is overgrown with years of neglect; the house is in need of a paint job and has an odd shape; there’s no barn, or even a garage (yet!); we’ve lost some of our free-range poultry to predators; our kids have to share bedrooms – two boys in one room, two girls in another; and we’ve discovered that a shallow well isn’t a good thing to have during a drought (That’s a story for another time!). BUT… it’s our homestead, our farm, our little piece of Heaven to shape and mold as we are able, God willing. And we are so grateful!
All of the things that we have endured, all of the trials, have led us to this homestead, where the yearnings of our younger years have been made reality. We are living a rural life. Each and every day, there is something new for which we can be thankful.
I have taught myself to can, make soap, garden, and tend animals, and thoroughly enjoy it! My husband has honed his carpentry skills building homes for our poultry and goats, and he can fix just about anything. The kids are acquiring outdoor skills, learning responsibility in animal husbandry, and taking pride in helping to grow our food. We have all learned so much, and yet there is still more to learn! We crave these lessons and receive them with thanksgiving! God blesses us every day with this life.
If you are yearning for a simple life, full of food you grew yourself, the peace of rainfall on a dirt road, and time spent together as a family creating your life, I have one piece of advice: Be thankful. Live in gratitude for where you are now, and begin your homestead journey today. You can grow herbs in a pot on your windowsill. You can make pancakes from scratch. You can purchase local produce and teach yourself to can. You may even be able to have a few chickens and a fruit tree in your backyard. You can do it! Gratitude is the key. You never know what doors will open for you!