How & Why we became homesteaders
By "The Homestead lady"
Looking back our journey to simplicty began in 2000, but our lives drastically changed September 11, 2001. That truly was the beginning of the end of our consumerism lifestyle. Of course we all remember that day, how could we ever forget! Right on the heels of that day Farm Man and I lost 9 people to death in an 11 month period, it was truly a life changing year for us. My grandmother was the 4th to pass that year on December 17th. Shortly after all the death and destruction we experienced that year we began understanding there was more to life than living in a nice home, in a nice neighborhood, with debt that was eating us alive. At my grandmothers funeral I had ran into the preacher that had been my preacher many years before, He spoke at her service and something he said during that service changed our lives forever and that was if we ever wanted to see Ruby(my g-ma) again in heaven we needed to be sure we were right with the Lord...It was profound to me as I could not even imagine not ever seeing my grand-ma again. After the service we found out where his church was and decided we needed to turn our lives and hearts back towards God. The next Sunday found us sitting in church and at the alter re-dedicating our lives to our Lord and Savior. We began serving the Lord with a vengance and loving life like we never had. We were embracing all the Lord had to offer and vowed to always follow his lead even when it was not so mainstream to do so.
About a year into our newly dedicated life on a Sunday morning I was sitting in the same pew I had sat in so many times during that year, but what happened that day would again define the path for our life in a way I could never have imagined. "Preacher Man" was delivering his sermon when I heard a voice say "be prepared". I turned to look at who had said that and there was no one except Sister Rita and Brother Calvin. I shrugged it off and kinda forgot about it for a few days. Then out of the blue at home one day I heard it again "Be prepared". From this point on I heard this daily, not audiably but it was a nagging little voice in the back of my head. I honestly believed I was going crazy, I mean why was I hearing and having impressed upon my heart to be prepared, for what? and why!? Finally after a year of this going on I told Farm Man was happening. I think at the time he thought I was a nut job--LOL Shortly after telling him about this 'feeling' and this 'still small voice' something in me began to change. I began feeling like we needed to leave our little home in the burbs that we had lived in for 6 years and invested tons of money in getting it just perfect! I mentioned it to Farm Man and while it shocked him he was estatic because I had always adamantly insisted I would never, ever live in the country..But God changes things and people doesn't he?! While I had been raised in the country and had been a 'farm girl' I had all but forgotten my roots and was quite comfortable living the 'american dream' of consumerism, going to college so I could have a career and make lots of money to finance the american way of life! He hugged me and explained he to had felt the Lord pulling us to a more simpler life. But what did that mean exactly, and how was this all gonna happen? We left it with the Lord and what happened next was nothing short of a miracle in our eyes!
Farm Man's sister had approached him about buying their place they had since they had bought another one. He told her no, we were happy where we were. I had no idea this had been brought up to him. He told me and I said well lets tell her we want it. The price was perfect and it was 3. 5 acres with a Mobile home and the best part it was 2 miles from the nearest hiway, totally secluded and private. So he called and told her we would buy it. She informed him it was sold and the people would be closing in a week. We were disappointed but trusted the Lord had a plan, we just needed to sit tight while the details were all worked out in heaven! We knew the Lord was "on it". 2 weeks later my sister in law called and said the deal fell through and if we wanted the place it was ours. We jumped on deal and so began the moving preparation, but what about our little brick home in the burbs, how would we ever sell it in time and if it did not sell how would we afford two mortgages? Again, He and I prayed and decided the Lord would see us through, no matter what. So we loaded up the truck and moved to the country to begin our life of farm livin'!--We listed our little brick home with an agent and while it took a few months to sell, we were able to comfortably afford two mortgage payments and never missed a beat in either one of them...God was blessing us...Finally the house in the burbs sold and we came out really well on it...and paid most of our profit on our little farm in the making.
Here is where Farm Man and I decided we knew more than the Lord...We decided since we had worked hard we needed a new home and some critters, I mean what farm doesn't have critters? Right?....so we bought a brand new mobile home,a cow, a horse, 4 pigs, 7 goats and 50 chickens...had not a clue on God's green earth what we were doing...Well, we paid way to much for the 'unbroke' horse, sold it and lost our rear-ends, sold the cow as we had no idea how much room it needed and the poor thing would have starved to death, one of the goats we bought wound up at the vets office having a hysterectomy from a still born delivery with complications and we had waaaaay more in her than she was worth...not including the fact we took her to the vet in my car...yes the back seat of my car...can we say redneck?
It wasn't long before Farm Man and I had ourself in debt way up past our eyeballs, trying to finance our newly discovered farm life, so we decided to refinace and roll everything together, vehicles included. Due to a lying banker that destroyed paperwork and dragged out our trying to refinance & having the audacity to tell us not to make a payment on the land and home or the vehicles as it would mess up the numbers, we were also told by financial people, yes it would mess up the numbers and we would have to start all over(and in our ignorance we trusted these 'professionals') we lost that place. It was hard. Farm Man was self-employed and they took our livelyhood. They even took his tools the morning they took the vehicle(he was able to get those back). No one in our families seemed to believe what had happened to and no one thought banks would do that. But low and behold it began happening everywhere in the housing crash, we felt validated in some small way. But it didn't bring back our home,land and vehicles. We had to begin all over again. But how? God where are you?
So here we are almost 40, had worked our entire marriage to build what we had and now its gone all because someone chose to lie to us. I was angry, very angry. I was angry at God, at Farm Man, at my family, his family, the dishonest bankers, and myself. I was just downright angry at the world. This was wrong and because we had no paper trail a lawyer could not do anything. God how did we get here? It was surreal. Farm Man and I separated for a short time just due the stress of having gone through losing all we had worked for for 14 years of our marriage. I was able to get a car and Farm Man bought a pick-up from his dad so at least we had transportation. After 30 days we reconciled and moved 100 miles away from everything we ever knew.
We needed to get away to have time to heal, to just be alone and work through what had happened to us a family with no 'noise' from those who insisted on telling everyone and their dog that we had lost our place cause we hadn't paid for it. Talk about angry. It was almost unbearable. Moving was the only way we knew to start over. So we moved. At first we drove North, up into Kansas looking for a place we didn't want to be a near a big city and we wanted something to continue to our homesteading way of life. We found nothing in the north that we felt suited our needs. So we decided to head south. I used to live in the little community we next visited when I was a child. The most amazing thing happened when we pulled into that little town. It was as if God just smiled and said "Welcome Home". We both felt it and decided that it was where were to be. So began looking for homes. Within 30 minutes of arriving in that little town we found a cute older farm house for rent. It was on 7 acres and have several barns. Perfect! We ask around till we found out who owned it and gave them a call. We were told another couple was looking at it and they would decided who to rent it to. Several days went by and we really, really wanted that house so we called and offered 100.00 more a month for rent....Bingo! we got the house! So the long move began. We were happy, happier than we had been for while. Work was good for Farm Man and we felt peace there. It felt like home. I had a nice little egg business going and life was good. We lived there only 6 months when the Lord decided it was time to move. *sigh* I fought this one.
In 2005 my dad lost his brother, inherited some money and decided to move to Costa Rica. He owned a house in N.W. Arkansas that he had been trying to sell and was not having any luck. Late in 2006 he called me and ask me if Farm Man and I would live in the house while he was gone. WOW. It was rent free and a beautiful home. Far removed from my self-reliant/homesteading ways. I told him I would have to think on it. I didn't really wanna leave where we were and my dad and I have had a very strained relationship for years due to things when I was a child. After a week he called and needed a decision. I agreed. So in October just a few months of living away, we made the daunting move back. We enjoyed living the home...it was 3000 sq ft and the perfect 'prepper' home with 2000 sq ft being underground. Loved, loved, loved it, my dad had agreed to let me keep my goats and chickens while living there. My dad had also offered us a great deal on buying the home from him, owner financing, no interest just pay for it. While it was a great deal and many did not understand how we could pass it by, after much praying, soul searching and thinking, we knew the Lord wanted us elsewhere. But where? Podunk Oklahoma that's where!
Farm Man and I had no credit, we could not get a loan due to our home being repo'ed, so what to do. We had an unsettling peace. I say unsettling because it was odd to just not be worried about what we were going to do. But we instinctively knew God was in control. We found some land that was owner financing in Oklahoma, no credit check, just so much down, so much monthly till paid for. We drove over to see it and it was really not what were looking for but we knew this is the area we were to be in, just not that piece of land. We drove here several more times to look at that plot of land and on the last day, as we were drving out of the woods, we noticed a sign on the piece of property that joined what were were looking at. It was 'for sale by owner' but that certainly did not mean owner financing...we drove down in here and the second I stepped foot on the earth, I knew this was it...God wanted us here and we would be here. It was a safe haven and the Lord let us know that in no uncertain terms. We were only looking for about 5 acres, we didn't want more than we needed so Farm Man called the guy and ask how much land was here, it was 18.18 acres. More than we wanted and when I heard Farm Man repeat that my heart sank and I thought there is no way we can get this land...He then ask the price and if it could be owner financed and low and behold the man said yes, it could be owner financed! What!? God you are to good be to true! I knew at very moment God had a big plan for us and this land is where we were to be.
To make this story shorter we signed papers on this place a few weeks later on August 15th 2008. We had done it. We had begun the journey of starting over. Literally!
This land was raw, untouched land. There had never been a well, electricity a home, phone service nothing. It was just dirt, rocks and trees, we had our work cut out for us.
Fast forward a bit....We moved over here March 1st, 2009. We had purchased a 12x24 storage building that was built with 2x4's and siding and converted it to a one room cabin. We sheet rocked it..added wiring, carpet, cabinets, counter tops etc. We had no running water because there was no well, we had no electricity. We have each other and the wonderful camping skills we possessed! This was really not in the plan. We had been told that once we lived on our land that the Cherokee nation would put in a well and septic system for us since my husband is part cherokee indian. We had spent all the money we had to get the cabin set up for living. So we move over here and the first night we stayed here it was 17 degrees. We had no heat and no heat source. We had put a bed in the cabin, it was King sized so we all slept in our clothes, with coats, gloves and hats in order to not freeze to death. We did this for one week. We finally rounded up enough money to purchase a ventless propane heater and a propane bottle. We had heat. During this week we had also been to the electric company to get power installed. Since there had never been any here it cost 1200.00. We didn't have that much money, but I had an old, but in great shape tractor my dad had given me. I sold it for 2500.00 and paid the electric company 1200.00, only to be told it would be at least 6 weeks and maybe longer before they could be here to install the poles and run the wires....it was 8 weeks later. During that 8 weeks we burned up 2 generators so we could have power to run the fridge, before the generator we kept things setting outside in boxes to keep it cold...it worked great! Getting electric out here was a godsend. It was great...life was semi-normal again. After being here about a week we contacted the powers that be to come out to begin the process of a well and septic...the come out a few weeks later only to tel us we do not have adequate housing and therefore they will not put in a well or septic...I guess if you don't have what is termed "adequate" housing you somehow don't need water or a septic...LOL...then we were told if added a bathroom we could get a well and septic...so we added on a 12x12 bathroom complete with toilet, tub, sink and washer and dryer hooks ups....they came out again and told us it was not adequate housing. They suggested we begin building a home.
We did. Farm man and I designed a floor plan and set to work. He used a shovel and a pick to dig a trench for a foundation for a 30x40 home. It took him 30 days as this ground is so very hard and rocky. We got that done and since we didn't have water, he began hauling water up to 6 or 7 times a day in order to mix concrete in a wheelbarrow to pour in the trench for the foundation of our home. It was an exciting time, but it was hard. At time I wondered why we were doing this, but we knew God had a plan and to just wait. We finally got the foundation done and the corner pillars done..My Farm man got the floor joist in and we decked the floor, it was time to stand the walls. I had a bad car accident that left me with a slipped disk and 2 damaged nerves in my leg. I could no longer help him on the house.
We would ask for help and seemed everyone was always to busy to help us...We had been here 7 months at this time with no running water. We had made it though our first summer, it was hot and it was bad as we had no air conditioner in the 100 degree heat. Finally we gave up on completing the home we had dreamed of. We could not do it alone and we could not hire it done. Things were status quo...no running water and I was becoming increasingly ill with what we now is an autoimmune disease that I have been sick with for 15 years. Things were HARD. I had to heat water to bathe, do dishes, had to haul water for the goats, chickens, pigs, ducks and donkeys. But even in the the trials, we never gave up hope and lived by faith. We KNEW God had placed us here and there was a reason. We began adding fruit trees, and vines, and bushes little by little. It was becoming clear what God had moved us here for. A place for survival, a place for preparedness. Another winter, another summer...no water...no air conditioning...In June of 2010 my car wreck was settled. We had decided that with part of the money we would purchase a small mobile home and thats what we did. We purchased a 1970, 2 bedrm, 1 bath 12x50 mobile home, 552 sq feet in awesome shape for $3000.00 cash. 18 months to the day, we had our well drilled and a septic tank put in. I cried the first time I turned on the tap and water came out. Tears of relief, happiness, anger...tears of rejoicing and praising the Lord for bringing us through a very trying time in our lives. I think those tears represented every emotion one can have! It was a hard 18 months harder than anything you can imagine, the inconveineces were many, the trials even more. The least of our worries was what our neighbors thought, or if our water tasted like wood smoke from heating it over an open fire. We were concerned with having water to just survive. We learned water conservation the hard way, by living it. We learned you can survive without televisions, radios and yes, even an electric can opener. We learned you can cook anything on an open fire or charcoal grill. We learned alot about other people but even more about ourselves. We learned who truly understood faith and those that didn't. We learned who our friends were and who wasn't and unfortunatly those we thought were friends, we no longer speak to. We learned that people do not like hard work or living like pioneers or they call themselve pioneers while living the worldly high life, teaching others how to cook gourmet recipes in a house.
Pioneers had no luxury, ask me how I know. We learned that just because someone is family doesn't mean they will treat you like family when times are hard. We found out that most people would have moved away from here when it got 'real' and opted for the easy way out. We learned that God will see us through if we just trust Him in all things and by His strength we can overcome any obstacle. We learned that just when you think you can't, you can. We learned that skills are priceless and that being prepared does not mean lack of faith, it shows true wisdom. While it has been a hard journey and I am convinced all of society at some point will be faced with the same challenges we have been through, I am thankful and give God glory for all he has brought us through. I would do it all again and someday I want to live off grid again. It is a peaceful existance if you just embrace it. We are a VERY spoiled society. It will be a very sad day when and if something serious happens and knocks out the grid or our economy collaspes. People will have no clue what to do. Hard core surival isn't about heating water on a little propane stove...its about doing what works and thanking God for it.
The experience changed me. I am no longer the compassionate, thinking everyone is inheritantly good kinda gal I used to be. I have grown and I have grown up. I know bad can happen and it can happen unexpectantly. I see people being ugly and making fun of preppers and other survivalist type people and it infuriates me, yet I pity those that live in a bubble thinking all will always be good in their world. They may someday wake up wishing they had been nicer to those around them that tried to tell them. Now, here we are 5 years down the road....what was once dirt, rock and trees...now houses a home, a yard, raised garden beds, a green house, 2 storage sheds, a well, electric service, chickens, pigs, cows,rabbits and a herd of dairy goats.....We have fruit trees, berry bushes, vines and much more...God has been good to us. We never want to forget the journey to get here as it has been such a wonderful, wonderful blessing...we are grateful for each and every trial we have had...the hard times makes the good times all the better. :o)But all the Glory goes to God! Amen?!?
Trials build character and make us stronger people. Farm Man and I know that with God we can do anything. So here we are preparing for whatever the world holds in store for us all...Be it economic collapse, natural disaster, pandemic etc...we know we can face it with certainty that the Lord led us here, to this place for such a time as this...we have much faith that we will be ok no matter what. Our journey is continuing and we look forward to every day and following the path that the Lord has set us on...I look forward to sharing this journey with you.
Please note that while we do not know everything there is to know....we have lived the off grid, no water kinda life that many 'play' at doing. We still live in the mobile that is 552 sq feet and do not complain...we are blest... It is hard, yes...I love answering questions people have. I love helping people learn how to survive those types of scenarios. Maybe it just one more calling the Lord placed on our lives, whatever it is I know it all because of God and we are here because of faith and trusting that the Lord led us here and held our hand though each and every trial we have had....I am grateful for our knowledge and for the opprotunity to share our faith in God and how it sustained us through a very difficult period in our life. Preppers are not without faith, they just get that bad things happen to good people and life can change in an instant....being prepared for life mishaps can save lots of needless worry and wonder. God expects his people to be wise stewards of what he provides. Prepping and self-reliance is one way to do just that.
UPDATE: After almost 2 years of living in 552 sq ft. we have been able to purchase a 1152 sq mobile home....we are still debt free on a home..and more thankful than ever before!