Don’t be a Stranger.

There’s a double meaning in the blog title, Don’t be a Stranger.  First, and probably most obvious to you, the reader, is that we’ve been a stranger to you! If you subscribe to the blog, you haven’t heard from us lately (well, in over 3 months to be exact). But the same isn’t true about our social media, so follow us there if you haven’t already – Facebook, Instagram. Yes, just over 3 months have gone by since my fingers hit the keyboard to bring homestead blog updates to you. Why? Well, the homestead. There have been so many new updates including:

  • Winterizing….and more winterizing.
  • We have new animal residents – pigs!
  • Chicken egg laying drama.
  • Amazing total solar eclipse road trip vacation.
  • We have a new human resident.
  • Socializing.
  • Gardening.
  • The Harvest. 
  • Putting food by.
  • Homeschooling.
  • Continuing education to become a Certified First Responder.
  • ….and on, and on, and on.

I have plenty to blog about! Maybe a bit more time will be available now that the weather is changing and there is less to manage outside.

So, onto the second meaning in the blog title, Don’t be a Stranger.  In June, 2017, we moved from our home of 12 years to our new “neighborhood”, 250 miles away. Although we’ve owned our homestead property for 8 years, the only time we spent here was pretty much at work and we met very few people. Referring to our new homestead location as a “neighborhood” is perhaps a bit of a stretch of what most people imagine a neighborhood to be. Our closest full-time neighbor is 1 mile down the road. And we are at a dead end off of a dead end road, so we do not exactly have any thru traffic going by. It’s what many people would describe as isolating, but we see as quiet, peaceful, and perfect.

Since June, we’ve met many full-time and seasonal neighbors. Not only have we met these neighbors, but developed work shares (more on this in future post), bartered goods and services, been given help, knowledge and goods expecting nothing in return, and most feel good….grew new friendships – the, “it’s Friday, c’mon over for dinner and a movie” kind of friendships.

Maybe this sounds like your community, but it doesn’t precisely describe where we came from. Our last community was very friendly, but the interconnectedness (is that a real word?) never seemed to exist. My theory? Here on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan when your closest neighbor is 1 mile away and there are only a handful of neighbors beyond them, we truly will be better off knowing each other because there may be times we need each other. The closest grocery store, gas station, car repair, or health clinic is 25 minutes away…on a clear weather day. We feel like we’re part of a “we’ve got your back” sort of community.

While we love our homestead being at the dead end of a dead end road, we also still need human interaction (yes, as an introvert I am admitting that even I need human interaction). And while many of us out here are here for the peace, quiet, and tranquility, we still need each other’s company as well.  How lucky we have been to fall into the company of  wonderful people who provide great conversation and natural companionship.

When we purchased our land, and then later made the transition to full-time living on our homestead, we didn’t really put much thought into what “community” would look like here. Fortunately for us, it was just what we needed.

Wishing you Love, Peace, and Nature

-Lisa

5 Reasons the Bread Tastes Great!

As we envisioned our homesteading life, we spent a lot of years practicing for it.  Living frugally, growing our own food, making yogurt, and attempting to do other “from scratch” things like bread making.  But, let’s just say with full time jobs, kids, buildings your own home, and additional responsibilities, the pre-homesteading attempt of bread making from scratch was a fail. Not only was it impossible to find the time to make bread, the attempts we did make were met with a loaf of bread that was … not ideal.

Now that we have been at the homestead for a month, I figured it was time to attempt this bread making thing.  Quality bread from the store isn’t cheap and we are doing everything we can to cut costs and eat whole foods. My goal, create a nice looking edible whole wheat sandwich bread that can replace store bought bread. My belief and past experiences tell me this is easier said than done.

I had this bread making idea on a whim so I started by checking to see if I had all the ingredients – I did! But next, would the dry active yeast I’ve had in the freezer for 5 years still be alive and well enough to make bread?  Sure enough, I mixed the yeast with the warm water and sugar and in 10 minutes I had an amazing foam from the yeast, just like I should. Feeling successful from the start was just what I needed to have the confidence to continue on. Bread making, especially after my past fails, is a daunting process!

About 6 hours later, I pulled two amazing smelling loafs out of the oven. But, would they be edible? Would it be anything like sandwich bread?  I barely had the patience to wait to find out, but I managed to set them aside to cool and wait for the morning.

To my amazement, the bread turned out GREAT!

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It looked dense but it made a hollow sound when I tapped the bottom. This sound is supposed to be a good sign.
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The “Bread Pal” we purchased several years ago allowed me to cut consistently sized slices, perfect for sandwiches.
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This whole wheat bread looks good and tastes great!

Goal accomplished! Next goal, to repeat this bread recipe successfully and in larger quantities.  I only made 2 loaves this time in effort to save waste if it ended up not going well.

Here are my 5 reasons the bread tastes great:

1.) I followed the recipe from this popular bread making book: Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking by Laurel Robertson.  (Side note: super excited to try many more recipes from this book once I master the basics).

2.) It’s wholesome!  Have you every looked at the ingredients in store bought bread? This recipe only has 6 ingredients and you can pronounce them all – bonus!

3.) It cost next to nothing! I had all the ingredients on hand. In the future I will do a cost analysis, but on my first rough estimate I believe each loaf was less than $1 in ingredients.

4.) It tastes great because I made it! That sounds awfully conceited, but it’s not intended to be. There is a confidence and pride that came along with these loaves than will support my future loaf making.

5.) The bread tastes great because my family said so! Even Woodland, our 3 year old, loved it AND ate the crust (something he never does on store bought bread).

I made French Toast for lunch yesterday with the bread and it was delightful. Both loaves are almost gone in 3 days, which is the greatest compliment. Looking forward to many more loaves and experimentation beyond this loaf of basic whole wheat bread!

 

 

 

 

Welcome Home! Meet the Flock.

On Friday, 6/23, our first livestock on the homestead arrived! We knew from the start of our plans we would keep chickens for eggs. We have more plans for future livestock, but hens for eggs seemed like a reasonable first since we eat a lot of eggs and they would pay back any investment we put into them very quickly.

Rather than starting with chicks and having to wait for them to mature to lay eggs, we decided to get adult hens. A friend of ours has a lot of free range egg layers, so we bought 6 hens and 1 rooster from her. They made a 4 hour drive from Green Bay, Wisconsin to the Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan. They have been settling nicely since and have provided us with over 2 dozen eggs in the last week and a half since they arrived. Based on this number of eggs, and the way our hens look, we believe only some of them may be laying. 2 hens in particular seem younger and may not be layers yet (just a wild guess on this, based on hen size and their plumage). We also believe our rooster may be younger since he hasn’t developed his distinctive tail feathers yet, and we have not heard him crow.

Being that it’s pretty wild up here, we wanted to assure our chickens would be safe.  For that reason, their coop is located within a fenced garden area. The fenced garden area they are currently in is not growing any thing (expect grass and weeds). Their current roam space is about 50 feet by 35 feet. Besides our chickens being for eggs, we also have them at work – prepping our garden (digging and scratching the ground) and fertilizing it (poop). This way we can rotate the garden and rotate the chickens and they will help us cleaning up the old garden and prepping the new garden space. This is part of the permaculture way we intend to mirror in our homesteading efforts.

Because the chickens will be moving around the property, we wanted to give them a home that would be easily portable but that they could be locked up in at night for extra security. Based on lots of research, Tim built a mobile coop (a “Chickshaw”).

Total project cost = $40. The Chickshaw is based on the concept and design plan from chicken and permaculture expert Justin Rhodes of Abundant Permaculture.

Tim built it over a few hours in 2 days. The chickens arrived a day later. We were pleasantly surprised that every night they go in on their own and then we just go and lock it up. Each morning we let the chickens out, check for eggs, and feed them some kitchen scraps. We check again for eggs in the afternoon.

We are quickly learning that each have their own personalities (or chickenalities, as Flora says!). Also, that chickens can be very hard to get good pictures of 🙂  Meet the flock!

Zeus
Zeus – Our rooster. Leader of the flock.
Tan2e
Tan2e.  Woodland named this hen! We interpreted the spelling based on his pronunciation.
Pixel
Pixel. Our sassy hen who escapes the yard! She willfully comes back in when we bring her kitchen scraps.  Hope she breaks this dangerous habit.
Onyx
Onyx. Our mostly black chicken.
Bonnet
Bonnet. Named for her red head. Our most timid hen.
Bronze
Bronze. Named for her brown chest.
Daisy
Daisy.  Flora named this one!

We have been enjoying the chickens! The eggs are amazing, they have beautiful orange yolks. The chickens have been entertaining and are warming up to our human interaction. 2 are eating from our hands.

What’s next for livestock on the homestead? We don’t want to undertake too much at once; we want to give each project (or animal) the attention they deserve. Right now we are focused on the garden and the chickens.  Perhaps meat chickens will come next.

Wild Raspberry Leaf Tea, a Homesteading First

Since the move a week ago, we haven’t had much on our minds except unpacking and getting a good night of rest for more work the next day.

I hit a bit of a dead end (mentally) with unpacking and decided to get out to take my first shot at wild gathering – picking wild raspberry leaves and drying them for tea. We drink a lot of tea. In our vision of homesteading here, we’ve had on our minds that we could provide a fair amount of our own tea and other food through wild gathering. A goal of ours is to be self-sustaining in as many avenues as possible.  We look to our land as a provider, considering the idea that we have a food forest right here. For tea, we have wild raspberry leaf, wild blueberry leaf, mint, clover, and Labrador tea right on our property.

One thing that drew us to White Sky Woods was that it seems to have been an old homestead.  There was an apple orchard, so we wouldn’t have to start our own trees. Reportedly growing wild were lots of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries (we visited and purchased in winter, so we had to believe the seller on this). We felt this property came with several ways that would immediately be providing food for us.  All of those fruits turned out to be true, in greater abundance than we could have imagined!

So, this week the kids and I set out to gather wild raspberry leaves to dehydrate for use as tea.

Children picking raspberry leaves.

From my reading, it is best to gather the leaves prior to blossoming or fruiting. We have many immature plants that currently do neither – growing wildly all over. So that’s what we picked from.

Picking Raspberry Leaves

Once we filled up a gallon pail with leaves, we came back inside to dehydrate them. Here they are fresh. They shrink significantly upon drying.

Raspberry Leaves

My new range has a special low temperature dehydrate feature. How handy! We laid out the leaves on some baking sheets and put them in at 175 degrees F. In approximately 20 minutes they were completely dry. When I opened the oven an amazing aroma filled the house. I had to put another batch in, but I also decided to brew some fresh leaves to try. The fresh raspberry leaf tea passed the test – I’d mark it as “delicious” on my flavor scale. 🙂

Raspberry Leaf Tea

For drying that we’d done in the past, we have used a more typical round dehydrator for fruits, leaves, and vegetables. It would sometimes take a day or more. I suspect this new range is WAY more efficient. I look forward to testing some other items!

When all was said and done I had a half gallon Ball jar filled with dried wild raspberry leaves. I was so excited about it that I did some more quick research to see about wild strawberry leaves since I saw many of those on our raspberry leaf hunt. Sure enough, they can be used for tea also. So out we went and collected a gallon pail of wild strawberry leaves to dry. The taste testing and drying results with the strawberry leaves was good too!

Dried Raspberry Leaves

Such fun to be officially doing homestead things on the homestead we’ve been planning an building for over 8 years. I especially love that our beautiful property provided this with no pre-planning from us! The leaves will provide antioxidants and other health benefits for our family. Plus, hopefully eliminate our cost to buy tea!

Move (mostly) complete!

Hear ye, hear ye.  Or, perhaps since we now live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan it should be, “Ya Der Hey, Ya Der Hey!” Really, I write that with nothing but love for the stereotypical “yooper” accent.

Well, we made the leap in our decision (read more here if you missed it), and now we are officially moved from Wrightstown, WI to the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan. As with any move, there were a lot of details.  But I’ll spare you.  Here are the amazing highlights:

We had a going away party.  Friends and family showed up.  We ate good food, had good stories, and made new memories.  It was a great send-off.

I finished my last day at work (after almost 13 years) and was surprised with an AMAZING 30-minute “The Office” themed going away video.  What an thoughtful project completed by co-workers.  I was feeling the love, big time – still am.  Thank goodness for technology to keep in touch.  Final day selfie stick photo below.

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I had a great final lunch with Joe and Danica, the owners of Prophit Marketing. They have provided me an amazing experience and wonderful work family over the past 12+ years.

Lunch with Joe and Danica.

Flora finished off her almost 3 year run with Conquer Martial Arts by being part of the Little Chute Cheesefest Parade (yes, this is a festival…..about cheese). She’s excited to start her new karate school here in the Copper Country.

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Our home was sold! Insert HUGE sigh of relief. We hope this home and neighborhood is everything to the new couple moving in that it has been to us. We will miss that amazing Fox River view and access, but we’ve moved on to something better suited for us 🙂 If you need a realtor in the Green Bay or Fox Valley area, call the guy below (Mike Pritzl).  He was so diligent, honest, and organized.  Thank you Mike!

Home Sold

We packed and packed and packed and…..

Ugh.

But it got done, and on Friday, 6/9/17, off we went!

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About 5 hours later we arrived and promptly unpacked.

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We are still finishing up some odds and ends of unpacking, so future post to be made on how our yurt looks inside as our home and not a construction zone 🙂

It hasn’t been even a week yet, but I can say, it feels right. Today, Flora said “I’m so glad we moved here.” Ditto my love.  Ditto.

Garden Progress Updates!

I’m not one to be afraid of hard labor or a tasking project. I love working hard to achieve the outcome I desire (or, in most cases, something close to the desired outcome because you know, things change). It’s very satisfying to step back, look at what was achieved and be like “yeah, I busted my butt and I accomplished that!” To say that I’m enjoying the challenge and hard work of turning a grassy, shrubby, weedy “field” into a garden is truly no lie.

While I’m brush cutting, tilling, using the mattock to remove stubborn roots, raking, layering cardboard, shoveling mulch and compost and then more and more (…and more) shoveling, I’m thinking about the delicious food that will be grown to healthfully feed my family.

I’m thinking about not having to grocery shop (well, maybe just a little).

I’m thinking about how living off a significantly smaller income is going to work just fine, because we’ll provide the majority of our own food.

I’m thinking about how dirty the sink is going to be when I wash my hands, which is a strangely gratifying sign of my hard work.

I’m thinking about how keeping up with our healthy lifestyle will be that much easier, we’ll be more active because of the garden and then eating clean, whole foods as a reward.

Okay, so while I’m working, I’m also thinking about how a rabbit or deer is going to come and obliterate the whole garden in one gluttonous feeding.

I’m thinking about how our dog is going to run through it and demolish every living thing.

Which is why I’m also thinking about the fence, where it should be, and planning the permaculture and no-till design of our garden.  When you are working by yourself, you have a lot of time to think about possibilities.

Here’s a snapshot of what our possibilities look like after a few days of hard work. It’s really coming along!

More compost will be shoveled and most of the garden will be planted over Memorial Day weekend. To most people’s surprise, we are zone 5B on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Being surrounded by water has some magical wonders. Not bad for the 47th parallel north!

As I’m finishing this blog post,  I’m thinking about how real this quote is in my life:

“Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”   ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Peace, Love, and Nature,

-L

Occupancy Approval – Yes to Yurt Living!

A big thing happened for us this week. The absolute final inspection to approve our yurt for occupancy took place. Over the course of the last 3’ish years, we’ve had lots of inspections along the way.  I’m guessing that most people who are “building” their own home have very little thought about the multiple inspections they are subject to; that’s because they have contractors and builders, electricians, plumbers, etc. who have to deal with all inspections.  In our case, Tim served as all the aforementioned people. With the exception of 2 things (well drilling and septic system), all the work from prepping the land to laying the foundation to framing walls, pulling electrical wires, installing all plumbing, and every single other thing was completed by Tim with the help of a few willing people along the way – like me!

Since the passing of an inspection was truly the judgement of Tim’s hard work, he felt all the pressure of needing to pass the inspections along the way.  He was especially eager to get the news of the final electrical and final plumbing inspections – which were approved last week.

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Spiral Staircase leading up to the loft.

After finishing the spiral staircase, it was time for the final inspection, the one earning us the final permit to occupy.  Pretty big deal!  And he earned a big – APPROVED!

It feels so special to truly have built our own home from start to finish. Flora, who’s 7, thinks that it’s a pretty normal thing 🙂  What a beautiful naivety.  Tim’s incredible ability to build anything he puts a plan to is nothing short of outstanding!

We hope that the next big news we get is a good offer on our current home for sale on the beautiful Fox River. We are selling so that we can make our move to homesteading and full time cozy yurt living.

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Home sweet yurt.

Join us on our adventure by following this blog, or here or here or here.  Wishing you peace, love, and nature.

Edit on 4.29.17 – just had to add a picture of the final notice to the blog 🙂

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Wood Stove Refurb Project

Over the past years as we’ve been building at White Sky Woods, we’ve been gifted two wood stoves from different family members. Both stoves were in working condition, but needed some TLC.  As we continued to plan our home, we decided that we’d like to have a wood stove as supplemental heat. We have radiant in-floor heating which we predict will be the main supplier of heat.  The in-floor heating is run by electric, so to offset costs we’ll be able to burn wood heat. Eventually our goal is to supply the in-floor heating energy via solar hot water, but it will be a little bit of time to save up for that investment.

After investigating both wood stoves that we have, we decided to go with the smaller wood stove based on its condition (an easier refurbishing project) and also based on it being a better sized fit for the space we have for it (it’s smaller, more compact).

We will be moving the other wood stove with us and we have some ideas on how we plan to use it.  More to come on that once we get to that project!

While we regretfully forgot to take a BEFORE picture, the best way to describe this stove was rusty and old looking.   But, look at her now 🙂

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Outside with the first fire after refurb to “cure”.

Tim’s synopsis of the work he did:

  • took apart every individual piece of the wood stove
  • used a wire brush to get the rust off (it had rust on the inside and outside)
  • replaced all rope gaskets for a more efficient seal
  • applied stove polish
  • put it all back together
  • recaulked all joints
  • took it outside and started a fire to cure the polish with the heat

Total cost of the refurbish: Approximately $18.

Total time: Approximately 6 hours.

Can’t wait to put her to work!

10 FREE Ways to Be Resourceful and Learn all the Things*!

*Disclaimer: It’s not actually possible to “learn all the things” as the title suggests – but it sure can be fun trying!

Please excuse me while I geek out in this post about learning. I love learning. I want knowledge. I want to know as much as I can, even if it’s fairly useless information 🙂  I’m naturally curious. I love asking questions or, alternatively, just sitting back and observing a learning opportunity.

A lot of work has gone into our beloved White Sky Woods. Sure, physical work like building a yurt, but also a lot of brain work and knowledge building as we want to be as prepared as possible to make a success of turning our Homesteading dreams to reality.  Because I love learning so much,  I’ve stumbled across many resources to facilitate that desire to learn. Along with learning, I also enjoy teaching, so here I go…having fun sharing what I know!

Here are 10 FREE ways that I feed my appetite for knowledge:

1.) Social Media.  My favorites are Facebook and Instagram. Use the search function to explore the various pages and groups on Facebook. Facebook Groups are a nice feature because they allow you to interact with other people in that group more socially than on a Facebook page. On Instagram, find different brands you like or search to find Instagram users who have similar interested based on their profile description or the hashtags they use.

2.) Books. I couldn’t even begin to afford, or find space, for the sheer number of non-fiction books I would like to read. That’s why I love the library!  If my library system doesn’t have the book, they can find it in another library system and request it.  I hear about books of interest from e-newsletters, publishers I follow, authors I follow, social media groups, etc.  A great book I just read was Practical Permaculture by Jessi Bloom and Dave Boehnlein.  I also like to visit the local bookstore, have a cup of coffee and explore their shelves.

3.) Magazines.  Because we have a frugal budget we do not subscribe to any magazines, however, finding them at local bookstores is a great way to page through, read what you like, or explore the authors of the articles on social media. Or, consider doing a magazine share with a friend who is interested in subscribing to similar magazines. You can order one and they can order another. Then, when your issue comes, read through it and do the exchange with your friend.  A library is also a great resource.

4.) Podcasts.  I currently spend over an hour a day commuting for work.  I won’t have this commute once we move, so I’ll have to find another way to find time for my favorite podcasts. Using iTunes podcast feature can help you find podcasts on many topics. You can subscribe to them so that when new ones are released, you’ll get notified. I access then via the Podcast app on my iPhone. My weekly podcast listening always includes The Sustainable Living Podcast, Sow Edible Permaculture Podcast, Zen Parenting Radio, and The Rich Roll Podcast.  The latter two have nothing to do with homesteading, but they positively impact my wellness, which is just as important for personal success.

5.) Following blogs, subscribing to e-mail newsletters.  Visiting blogs? Searching authors from articles you read? Interested in specific non-profits or movements you found webpages for?  Many of these will have e-newsletters that you can subscribe to for free or get blog updates from the authors (like our blog).  Just look on the website and see if there is a place you can subscribe.

6.) Sign up for free webinars. I subscribe to several e-newsletters from sustainable living and gardening groups or people. It seems the thought-leaders in these groups are all interconnected.  By e-mail update, I hear about free week long seminars that take place online.  Many thought-leaders in the world of gardening, sustainability, permaculture, and other similar topics present at these free online events and it’s a great way to learn from them.

7.) Join forum resources like Reddit. I just recently discovered the addictive power of Reddit on knowledge seekers like me. I try to visit daily. I subscribe to several subreddits like r/homestead, r/homesteading, r/permies, r/sustainable.  Maybe you are even reading this blog because you found it posted on reddit. Checking reddit out for the first time?  Give yourself time to explore and get immersed in it.

8.) Attend seminars, events, and open houses put on by organizations that align with your homesteading goals and values. Find these by looking at community calendars, social media, etc.  Last summer we had the opportunity to attend the Mother Earth News Fair, (not free, but affordable) which came to Wisconsin in 2016. We listened to expert speakers on everything from renewable energy to chickens. Tim listened to Eliot Colemen speak about extending the harvest season. I also saw Will Allen speak. I read his book a few years ago and have been following his initiatives to bring real food to urban communities. I stuck around after and was able to meet him!will allen

9.) You Tube. A simple YouTube search will lead you to whatever you want to learn about….or talking dog videos (including my kids’ favorite).  If you find a video that interests you on the topic of homesteading, check to see if the user who published it has other videos. “Subscribe” to them if you like what they have to say and you’ll get updates when they release new videos.

10.) People you know. In a past post I talked about finding your tribe. Surround yourself with people that align with your practices, values of sustainability, or do some level of homesteading.  These people typically LOVE to share what they know and have learned from experience.  Many of them are also the ones participating in the multiple resources above.

 

Know of any great learning resources for homesteaders that you’d like to share? We invite you to comment below!

 

 

5 Things We’re Doing for Homesteading Success

I’ve always been a “planner”.  Once this life project we call White Sky Woods got started back in 2009, I came to realize that all the planning I’ve ever done in my life and for work would really come in handy!  The preparing, studying, projecting, budgeting, and other organizational tasks were useful from the very start and through to where we are now – about to make the plunge of turning dreams to reality. It helps that both Tim and I are organized people. We work through ideas logically and creatively.

Based on our individual skill sets, we quickly found our own area of expertise and roles in developing White Sky Woods. Tim can visually plan and then take that plan to build anything.  He’s scrappy and resourceful, making him an amazing problem solver. Tim served as our contractor, architect, and builder (every building job in between mason to electrician). Working together we devised an energy-efficient, cost-effective home plan suitable for our family (a yurt!). Tim took our ideas, got them on paper, and then proceeded to build them to reality. There were only two things we could not complete on our own. This included drilling the 220 ft. well (although we truly did attempt at “drilling” our own well with a sand point – that’s a whole other story), and installing a full septic system (man, we really wanted to do a grey water system, but it’s against the law). Coming from a working background with budget keeping and job planning, Lisa’s role quickly turned into an accounting, billing, project planning and pacing, job-site assistant and general consultant position. We worked together like a Chief Operations Officer and Chief Financial Officer, and we made an outstanding team.

Did I mention we’re married? Some people I’ve talked to about White Sky Woods say their marriage would never have happily survived this process, but our marriage has thrived. Having a similar vision and then physically building it together has been simply AMAZING.

A quick snapshot of our plan over the past 8 years?

1.)  buy affordable remote but accessible land (we ended up with 80 acres in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan)

2.) hand-build our home (we decided on a yurt) and homestead surroundings – debt free.

3.) create an attainable vision for ourselves that includes homesteading, growing and preserving food, raising animals on a small-scale, and being more self-reliant while working toward financial freedom.

I was recently listening to the Sustainable Living Podcast, episode 55 where Marianne interviews Stacy and Amy from Sow Edible Podcast. She talks to Stacy and Amy about their journey to homesteading. Since they are a married couple with children who practice permaculture on their homestead, it felt very familiar. They touched on what they did to get prepared for their move from a “typical” home and jobs to homesteading.  Afterwards, I began to reflect on all the things we’ve been doing to help us be prepared (well, as much as possible) for the change in making a homesteading lifestyle successful for us!

Here are 5 things that came to mind:

1.) Use free resources to learn! I have so many details on this, it deserves an additional blog post (coming soon)!  Some of my favorite ways to learn include following blogs, listening to podcasts, finding active people, groups, and pages on social media, attending events and reading books – lots and lots of books (magazines too). Some books we have purchased for ongoing reference, but the library is a great free resource to get books on any topic you want. Our current reading stack from the library looks like this.

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2.) Find a tribe.  Interested in raising sheep?  Join a local spinning guild.  We did, we learned to process sheep’s wool in order to spin fiber to yarn and then weave, crochet, and knit with it!  Want chickens?  Buy eggs from a local who keeps chickens. We have Dan the Egg Man (that’s our nickname for him). He’s shown the kids the baby chicks in the incubator, and we see what his chicken housing set-up is like so we can continue to explore our own options.

3.) Visit homesteads or small-scale farms. We’ve taken several family vacations to small-scale farms. Farmstay US is a great way to access these types of places. The kids got to interact with the animals, and we got to learn how these families run their homestead.  We’ve done everything from milking goats, to making yogurt, to butchering chickens. Go during lambing or kidding season for a truly unique experience!

flora-goat
Flora – Age 3 with baby goat

4.) Surround yourself with support. Tell people about your goals, dreams, and aspirations. They may not completely understand or have any desire to do the same plan for themselves, but if they are good people to have around, they will engage with what you are doing, cheer you on and bring more positive energy into your project.  Focus less on the people who are naysayers and more on the people who make you feel good and give interest in what you are doing.  Just as running a marathon isn’t for everyone, anyone should be able to take a step back and recognize the hard work a person has done to achieve that marathon and appreciate them for that and that they are following a goal. Same goes for the homesteading lifestyle.

5.) Practice!  For many years, we’ve been growing a garden, learning what works and doesn’t and why, preserving our homegrown food with multiple methods and creating meals from that food. Part of this practice has also been to choose a simple lifestyle – NOW. Our transition shouldn’t be as shocking as it could be because we’ve been choosing a simple, low-cost life. We’ve been building White Sky Woods in a debt-free way, so we’ve been living below our means in effort to support the debt-free initiative.

I stumbled across an internet quote that stated: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” I agree. Will mistakes be made?  Sure. But from those we will adapt and keep learning, trying, and doing.