A Homestead Journey, a Retrospective on 14 Years

A Homestead Journey, a retrospective on 14 years - hayfield of native grasses and wildflowers

Fourteen years ago today we drove, exhausted, through the gates of our new home. We parked in what had been a cattle pasture and moved 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 Homestead Journey, a retrospective on 14 years - wild and untamed land

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 for us better.

We built a barn for the horses, built another for my goats, cleaned up the mess after that one burned down, 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 used to be in the yard. 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 Homestead Journey, a retrospective on 14 years - peaceful green pastures

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 so he can eat the weeds.

I know, 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 under control again by next year.

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We've lost the "city dogs" that travelled here with us to old age. In fact, losing animals has been the hardest thing about living here. Accidents happen, and old age creeps up on us all, humans included. Saying goodbye to animals we've had for a lifetime is very hard.

A Homestead Journey, a retrospective on 14 years - free-range chickens

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

A Homestead Journey, a retrospective on 14 years - deer in the pasture

While we have fewer animals now than we used to, 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 are transplant-able.

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.

A Homestead Journey, a retrospective on 14 years - a country sunset

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 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. It's not so much 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.

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Related Posts:
6 Ways Homesteading Keeps You Healthy
What I've Learned from Living in the Country
5 Things I Did This Year to Be More Self-Sufficient

A Homestead Journey, a retrospective on 14 years

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  1. Thanks for sharing. I grew up an air Force brat and the dad worked in construction. We moved a lot. We bought our land in 2010 and have stayed put ever since. I know how you feel.

  2. What a beautiful place to put your stamp on!

  3. We've been in our place for 3 years now, and it's changed so much already. I can hardly imagine how different it will look at the end of 14 years! We have so many plans for change, so I can envision it to some extent, but even so. Congratulations on 14 years! That has to feel pretty good for somebody who has moved around so much!

    1. Even after just three years, I'm sure the changes are noticeable, Danielle. Just wait a few years and you'll really be amazed!

  4. such a wonderful thing to celebrate Kathi!! And through it all you've been such a blessing to others! Congratulation!

  5. So beautiful. Like you, I've moved a lot over the years (we moved five times in the six-year-period ending last year) but this last move was back to our beautiful off grid homestead. It's a place where we can set down roots and raise our littlest kids according to our values. So enjoy reading your posts!

    1. That's wonderful, Sarita. I wish you many long and happy years on your place!


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