This last summer we celebrated our 5th anniversary here at the homestead. Time is such an unusual thing. 5 years sounds like almost nothing in the span of life, yet, for me it feels like I’ve been here for the bulk of my life. I’ve tried to dissect this strange phenomenon, and the best description I can come up with is that our lives are a bunch of chapters that make up a book. Each chapter is significant to the story, but the current chapter is the one I’m most invested in because it leads to what’s next….and therefore it feels like it is the most relevant. I’m not the type of person who looks back to the past wishing for the “best years” back. I mostly find my focus on the here and now, but I can also get wrapped up into what comes next because I love a good plan, ha! And without a plan, we probably wouldn’t be here celebrating 5 years at White Sky Woods.
If you’re new to our story, the quick-ish background goes like this. Almost 14 years ago Tim and I purchased 80 acres on the Keweenaw Peninsula. We had a dream of having a place we could call home, a place where we could live differently than the typical path expected of people in their late 20’s (which we were at the time). We didn’t know exactly what that looked like, but even being fairly new to career life, we knew we didn’t want to spend the next 40 years participating in a rat race of earning, spending, keeping up, and being stressed out during it all. We weren’t depressed, or lacking, or having a bad time by any means, we just knew something different was meant for us – something outside the box.
Through the course of the next years, we had 2 kids, significant job role changes, and purchased our beloved White Sky Woods Homestead. For several years we traveled here, turning our raw land into a homestead, building everything ourselves and keeping an eye on the future use of it and how we’d move someday. Eventually we made that move in 2017! We have been living with the land, homesteading, homeschooling, getting involved in our community and and starting a business for ourselves with our produce sales and year-round cozy cabin rental for people who just want to get away from it all and soak up the peace of nature we came here for.
That’s the short story. As you can imagine, it was a lot of doing.all.the.things over this period of time. Most of it was the doing of building the infrastructure we need to sustain a successful homestead – such as building the high tunnel, renovating the cabin, fences, fences, more fences. And then recognizing better things/systems – so moving, changing, and building better options. Also, maintaining the general work with gardening, putting up food, keeping up with our trail system, and the process of making our own wood. Add in family, community involvement and part-time employment at home. This all, however, is an amount of forward drive and doing that cannot be sustained. We came here to provide for ourselves, but, we also came here to direct our own lives, relish in our beautiful space, and be connected as a family who isn’t at the mercy of extreme scheduling and overwork.
Now, we have in place what we know we need and can sustain. There are no major projects lingering ahead of us – what a relief!! After having been in the process of building up the homestead, growing infrastructure and adjusting our systems since 2009, it’s time to settle in to what is. Excluding when we decided to take action on this “dream” back in 2009, I have never had such a clear feeling about what’s next. That feeling is what the title of this blog is: LESS.
What does LESS look like? I’m not sure, but I do know it will take some learning! Being a driven and perfectionist personality doesn’t make LESS easy, but if I can do more well, I know I have the ability to do the same with LESS. 🙂 LESS may not even look as such from the outsiders perspective, as we’ll still be over here managing the homestead and business. These are definitely work, but they are fulfilling and rewarding work. What will be missing is the cramming in the big projects in every moment of downtime. And, there are some ways we are improving systems for the regular work, including the plan to put a small portion of the outdoor garden into a green manure crop this year, instead of growing the entire space. It also means continuing with a manageable flock size and not raising any new animals. I see this new space of LESS that will be available as being our place of rest, where we use it as just that or use it as an opening for creativity learning and fun. I guess that’s where the term “less is more” comes from. When we create new space for flexibility, more of what we love will flow on in. Having this bit of extra space gives more fluidity and empowers us to make smart choices on how to use this time. Less will of course lead to more, but it will be the things that fill us up rather than wear us down.
What I have learned in the last two years is that I need a forced break to make the shift to LESS in my life. November in the Keweenaw has arrived, which is as forced of a break as any! The garden is done for the year. The woodpile is stocked. We have a great routine with homeschool. My faculty semester is over. The scene is set for LESS. Just at the very start of it I’ve had more time for creativity, friends, wanderings, and even writing this blog. 🙂
Not all people are interested in this kind of less I just described. And having less can carry such a negative connotation. But less can be good in the many aspects of our lives. Less stuff. Less people-pleasing. Less negative thoughts. Less judgement. Less busyness.
Is there something you want less of? If you remove it from your life, what kinds of more will be let in?
Sometimes we need to put more in (personal growth, income earning, etc.) to get us to less. But in my experience, with a vision and a plan for it, we can get where we need to be. While we all have different paths in life, my wish is that we all give ourselves grace on that path of finding what is meant for us, and that the focus isn’t always on having the more that leads to burnout.
A thing I will definitely take more of? Watching sunsets.