A Homestead Journey, a Retrospective on 14 Years

A grassy meadow with wildflowers, surrounded by oak trees and woods.

This post was written in 2018, on the anniversary of our move from Michigan to Oklahoma. Time continues to pass, of course.

In September of 2021, again on the anniversary of our arrival at Oak Hill, we closed on our new house on a smaller property and began a new adventure. But for now, here is my retrospective on our move to our 40-acre homestead.

The Beginning

Fourteen years ago today we drove, exhausted, through the gates of our new home. We parked in what had been a cattle pasture and settled into our used travel trailer, packed to the ceiling with people, dogs, cats and dreams. Thus began our new adventure...

Oh, this place was wild! I thought we lived "in the country" in Michigan but it was nothing compared to this. The first week we were here, our son spotted a cougar in the hay field. It's been seen a few more times over the years, but not quite that close, thankfully.

A rocky creekbed with a bird standing in a puddle.

We've come a long way!

Our land hadn't been lived on in many years, so we put our own stamp on it, so to speak. 

We've moved some fences so they work better for us.

We built a barn for the horses, built another for my goats. Then we cleaned up the mess after that one burned down and mourned the loss of my goats. I started over with goats. 

We lost some big trees in storms, tore down most of the old sheds that were in disrepair, planted new trees, added an almost-free shed... 

It looks totally different than it did when we first arrived.

Sometimes I look around the yard, or at old photos, and try to remember what it looked like back then.

I do miss the big, old trees that have been blown down by storms. On the other hand, the fruit trees we planted that first autumn are huge and gorgeous now. They shelter the flock of hummingbirds we've had the past couple of summers. The trees provide fruit and shade us from some of the summer sun.

The fruit trees feed the bees and butterflies with their spring flowers, so many that you can hear the buzzing from a distance. In return, the bees and butterflies pollinate those blossoms and are responsible for the plums and apples we enjoy.

This year's apples are just about ready to harvest, and I'm looking forward to another cannerful of harvest apple jelly.

A black horse grazing peacefully in a grassy field surrounded by trees.

Changes over the years

The pasture and hayfield were grassy and green when we moved here.

Unfortunately, with hubby's health issues the past few years and our chronically-broken tractor, the weeds and blackberry thickets have encroached badly. The horses eat the grass which leaves the weeds to flourish. 

I keep saying we need to raise another steer for the freezer so it can eat the weeds.

Yes, goats love weeds, but goat fencing is out of our budget; they have to stay in their own allotted field.

This year we replaced that old blue tractor with a green one that runs like a ... well, you know. Hopefully, barring more health problems, we'll have the brush mostly under control again by next year.

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Dealing with loss

We've lost the "city dogs" that travelled here with us to old age. In fact, losing animals has been the hardest part about living on a homestead. But accidents happen, and old age creeps up on us all, humans and animals alike. 

Saying goodbye to animals we've had for a lifetime is very hard.

A red hen and red rooster, walking through a grassy green field.

Time means change

In our homesteading journey we've had dairy goats plus a couple of market goats, Dorper sheep, pigs, a steer, alpacas, horses, rabbits (twice, but it's just too hot here for rabbits), and the birds: laying chickens, broilers, ducks, geese and guineas, plus of course barn cats, farm dogs and our house pets.

Three white-tailed deer grazing in a field of short, winter grass.

We have fewer animals now than we used to, and I've increased my focus on the garden. I used to garden just for the tomatoes - and for several years that's all I grew - now I'm growing food and learning about medicinal herbs.

I know where the wild food and medicinal plants grow, but I like having them closer to the house these days. It's nice to have them in convenient places, so I've been transplanting some that adapt well to transplanting.

Many good things have happened here too, and we've made some very precious memories. Our son and youngest daughter finished their growing-up years here. 

Our granddaughter has come to stay with us every summer, the others have come to visit.

A mauve and peach sunset behind the ridge.
There are so many things I love about our homestead, including the stunning sunsets!

Lessons learned

As a person who has made over twenty major moves in her lifetime - from state to state and across the country as well as overseas, and I'm not even counting the moves from house to house or apartment or military housing - I've never been in one place long enough to really put down roots like we have here.

But no matter how short a time we lived somewhere, I always learned as much as I could from my new community, made good friends, honed new skills, raised my children, loved my husband, cooked new foods in new ways, sometimes even learned a new language. 

It's not so much about where you live, it's what you do while you live there.

It's been fourteen years that have gone by in the blink of an eye. I'm so thankful for them.

Is it possible to homestead in your later years? 

I say yes, absolutely! But it might [actually, it probably will] look different than it did or would have in your younger days. 

Recently I had this conversation with Jill Winger at The Prairie Homestead, and we explored some of the ways homesteading might look different as we get older on her podcast, Old-Fashioned On Purpose.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking here, or watch it on YouTube here.

But remember, no two homesteads will look exactly the same, at any stage of life. It doesn't mean that you've failed, or that you are better than other homesteaders.

Let's give ourselves grace!

For more homesteading and self-sufficient posts, subscribe to The Acorn, Oak Hill Homestead's weekly-ish newsletter, and join me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. I'd love to see you there!

Related Posts:
6 Ways Homesteading Keeps You Healthy
What I've Learned from Living in the Country
Aging Gracefully on the Homestead

The sun setting behind the ridge amid peach and mauve-colored clouds.


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