I figured that in order for you to have a better understanding of where we are on our self sufficient/ homesteading journey, then it’s best to see where we’ve been. What was the starting point of our journey? How much we have grown?
Almost six years ago, my wife and I had our first son (wow, how time flies). The three of us moved into our first house together. It was a small three bedroom house that we rented in town. This little house is where it all started. This is where we had our first garden. It was a 5′ x 17′ space in the backyard along a fence. We had a warm spell in mid March so we planted everything that was going in the garden. We were just so excited that we had a garden in the first place that we didn’t realize that we planted everything way to early.
This was also my first experience with rain collecting. I got a 55 gallon plastic barrel that my work was just going to throw away and brought it home. My supervisor at the time was into self sufficient living (and still is) at the time so he explained to me what I needed to do to make this work. Seemed easy enough, so I shoved that big 55 gallon barrel in to the back of my little bitty Saturn and drove the hour home not being able to see out the back of my window. I have sinced made many trips home not being able to see out my back window. The look on my wife’s face was a look of “are you crazy, you’re going to do what with what?”. She still looks at me the same way today, just more often.
I pushed and pulled that barrel out of the backseat and made a stand for it to sit on out of some 2x3s that I also got from work. To this day I’m not sure how that stand did not collaspe under all the weight of the water. It should have fallen over in all honesty, but it didn’t. It held strong and I couldn’t have been happier standing in the rain the first time it was filling up. What a joy I got from watering our garden with this rain barrel.
Eventhough we didn’t get much from the garden, about 9 half sized ears of corn and some cayenne peppers it sparked a passion we will never forget. We didn’t do much but what we did was enough.
New House New Adventure
We only lived in that house for about 18 months, started a garden, rain collection and had our second son before moving out to the country where we currently live. We still rent but it’s one step closer to where we want to be.
The first spring and summer we didn’t do much in the way of homesteading. Winter came and the church asked if I would help out one of the ladies that attended our church. I happily agreed, always willing to help someone out and she only lived a few miles from us (which is probably why the church asked). It wasn’t much just going down once a week and put firewood on her porch. Then I started doing some chores around her place to help her out more. That following Spring she offerent to let us have a garden down at her place, which we accepted.
This garden was a lot larger than our garden in town. Which meant a lot of hard work. This work started on Good Friday, because that is when Darlene (lady from the church) said we should be planting potatoes and other cold hardey plants. It had to do with the moon phase or something like that. She taught us a lot about growing our own food. What to do and what not to do. Everything was growing good in the garden, but we were unable to get anything from the harvest. Not that there wasn’t anything to get because there was, but around the same time my wife and I were having some problems. So I didn’t go down to what I had started referring to as the farm for a couple of months. I thought it better to work on my relationship with my wife, because that was more important to me than the garden.
Second Garden at the Farm
We did work things out and things got better than they were before. We decided to give the garden down at the farm another try. So January came and we went down as a family and learned about spraying fruit trees, something we didn’t do the year before.
Good Friday came, and I was out there tilling up the ground for potatoes, while my wife and boys helped Darlene out around the farm. We made the garden bigger than last year, trying to make up from the year before. All of us pitched in and did chores as it pretained the garden. Even the boys helped out where they could. It was funny watching them try to weed around plants that were bigger than them.
Harvest came once again and once again we were unable to get anything from it. My father had passed away in late August, which meant my sister and I had to drive out to South Dakota to take care of all his things. Then when we returned I had to start making all the phone calls to start getting his things in order. To be honest the garden was the last thing on my mind.
That winter we still went down to help Darlene put firewood on her porch and with other chores she needed done. I went down to hunt the wooden portion of her property. Got two deer that winter. My wife and I had a long talk about were we thought we should be in terms of being more self sufficient, and how we were going to get there. We both thought it would be better if we had the garden down at the house instead of the farm. This would give the whole family time together without having to leave our property. So that is what we did.
Our Little Quarter Acre
Spring 2016 I started building our first (of hopefully many) raised bed. It was just a small bed to start out which we tried to put way to much in. We filled the bed with some composted cow poo that we got from someone at church and mixed that with some bagged dirt we got from the store. We planted lettuce, spinach, arugaula, radishes, tomatoes, kohl robi, zucchini, cucumbers and green peppers. Like I said before we planted way to much for this little raised bed. It did grow like crazy though, but some things shaded other things. Rabbits ate the lettuce, spinach and arugula. Let’s just say that we took a lot away from this little bed but it wasn’t food. We gained the experience of growing at our own home. How not to plant so much in such a small space.
That takes us to were we are now the winter of 2016/ 2017. So there you have it. This is the steps we have taken so far. I think that overall we have gained more knowledge than the actual doing part and I think that things get even better in time.
Only God knows what the future holds as for us we just take it one step at a time and try to do what we can with what we got. To see what’s next follow along.