Nostalgia runs thick around here this time of year.
Tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of us purchasing our sad little Wyoming property and transforming it into the homestead life of our dreams.
It’s also 10th anniversary of two twenty-something city kids pushing back against the typical suburban existence we were supposed to fall into, and instead setting out on a wild adventure of renovation, homegrown food, and life lessons.
Not that we had the slightest clue that would end up happening, of course.
As the days grow hotter and the grass grows high like it was the day we signed the papers on this land, the memories suddenly feel more tangible. The emotions and excitement are easier to recall as I traipse across this land that ignited some of our biggest dreams ten years ago, and continues to drive us forward today.
The Day We Closed On Our House
This homestead life started off as a faint whisper in my mind. A whisper that was triggered by us buying a dejected, forgotten little house on 67 acres of neglected pastureland.
Oftentimes, old farmsteads are rich with “good bones” and old-fashioned charm.
This wasn’t one of them.
The house was ridiculously small, the outbuildings were trashed and painted the WORST shade of yellow, and the property was at least 35 minutes from our jobs and grocery stores. And we were head-over-heels for the place.
I remember quickly walking through the 100-year old house during our first visit with the realtor and offhandedly asking where the living room was. He pointed to a front room smaller than most modern master bedrooms. I glanced at it for a moment, and then headed back outside. “It’ll do,” I thought.
The land was the only thing we cared about. We were bound and determined to end up with more than just a handful of acres, even with our small budget, and this property fit the bill. (Mostly because no one in their right mind would want to live so far from town and jobs in that ugly, shoebox-sized house.)
I guess it was a good thing I was so clueless back then.
We closed on the property on July 15th, 2008. The keys burned hot in my hand as we made the first drive to our house. Our land. Our barn.
It was surreal.
I’ll never forget the first few weeks after we moved in. By all outward appearances, the place was a depressing hodgepodge of damaged outbuildings, broken fence, dead trees, and piles of trash, but I felt electrified by the possibilities. I spend hours gathering up the the junk that littered the buildings and seemed to grow from the soil, and my heart would pound with excitement as I imagined what the place would become.
I knew it would be something special, someday.
And ten years later? It is.
“The Harder I Work, the Luckier I Get”
Every once in a while, someone says something to us along the lines of “Oh man, you guys are so lucky!”
I get what they are saying, but I still can’t help but laugh hysterically.
We had every reason in the book this shouldn’t have worked. And the excuses were always there under the surface waiting to be pulled out, especially those first few years.
We both worked in town and didn’t have enough time.
We had good jobs, but not super high-paying ones. Money was tight, especially with a new mortgage.
We had zero clue what we were doing (hello, city kids!)
And yet, we plowed ahead. One step, one project, one obstacle at a time.
We guarded our time like crazy and worked from sun up til sundown on the weekends when we were both home from our jobs. (Christian was an electrician, I was a Vet Tech.)
We took on all sorts of random jobs (even casting bullets!) so we could afford fencing supplies and rent skid loaders and other equipment for our projects. I picked tens of thousands of tiny staples out of some log fencing that was left on the property so we could save money by re-using the logs for other fence. And then once I quit my job to stay home with our first baby, I trudged along into the world blogging and working my doTERRA business, even though I had no babysitters, no business experience, and very minimal results at first.
We assumed the role of beginners (which is really humbling sometimes…) and learned from everyone we could in order to master the skills we needed: knowledgeable neighbors, library books, videos, Google, you name it.
As I really think back to our transition from clueless city kids to sorta-kinda savvy homesteaders, it strikes me that we never went into it screaming, “WE SHALL BE HOMESTEADERS!”
(Not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with that– I adore people who have a clear purpose.)
But for us, it was more of a gradual unwrapping of the various layers of “conventional” we had allowed ourselves to be encased in over the years.
It was less of a battle cry, and more of an awakening. A blossoming. A falling in love with the notion of a hybrid lifestyle that combined the best of the old ways with a sprinkle of modern convenience.
It felt like coming home. Like it was what we were meant to be doing from the very beginning.
Hard, but Good
Let me assure you there was no magic bullet. No secret streamlined path to success. No 1-2-3 system we used to make it work.
God simply gave us a deep desire, and we have followed it. Hard.
Even when it took us out of our comfort zone. Even when the path wasn’t clear. Even when we had to get REALLY creative with finances. Even when people thought we were stupid. Even when the whole thing felt horribly uncomfortable, and sweaty, and stressful. Even when we had EVERY REASON POSSIBLE to just stop and find something easier to do with our lives.
We didn’t quit. Moving to town wasn’t an option. We knew this was our path and we would see it til the end, come hell or high water.
Sometimes I feel like a broken record, because when people ask me about the “secret” to success in homesteading, blogging, or building a doTERRA business, all I can say is: don’t quit, don’t quit, don’t quit. Everyone around you will quit, but not you. YOU must not quit.
I suppose if there is secret sauce, that’d be it.
But We’re Not Done Yet
Homesteading has taught me to dream big and to hunt the hard things; the things that stir my soul.
Will I ever feel like we’ve ever completely arrived in this homesteading journey?
No. And I don’t want to. As one of my mentors used to say, “If you’re done learning, you might as well be dead.”
And we have lots of learning left to do. LOTS.
But you know what I love so very much? Homesteading has continually shown me how to pursue the unknown (and sometimes scary) and how to push the boundaries of what we are “supposed” to do.
Because of this, Christian and I continue to lean into our most audacious dreams. Dreams like having a real herd of cattle and a legit ranch someday. And because homesteading has taught us sometimes you have to start before you’re fully ready, we purchased a starter herd of Hereford heifers last fall. It felt like jumping off a cliff, but here we are.
Do we know what we are doing? Not really. But we’re leaning on some good friends of ours who are showing us the ropes, and we’re following the same path we did for homesteading– one step at a time and learning a little more each day.
It’s the only way I know how to tackle something new, but that method has yet to let me down.
Here’s the thing about busting through comfort zones– once you break out of one, it becomes easier to break out of the next. And pretty soon, you’ll doing things you never thought possible. And therein lies the magic of a life well lived. At least in my humble opinion.
Avoiding the Path of Least Resistance
There have been LOTS of lessons along this path, but the one that has stuck out to me time and time again is that easy isn’t always better.
Our culture is obsessed with easy.
Push the button. Zap the food. Stay in the job you hate because it’s safe. Don’t chase that dream, it’ll take too much effort. Don’t start the business, you might fail.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times I do choose easy. (P.S. I heart my washing machine.)
Easy isn’t *always* better.
These ten years of homesteading have taught me to lean into the hard things. To seek out what scares you. To jump in headfirst sometimes just to see what happens. Sometimes you fall flat on your face, but other times, well, life-changing stuff happens.
Only ever choosing easy leaves us as a a shell of who we are suppose to be. Society’s obsession with the path of least resistance has left so many people depressed, aimless, and purposeless. It’s almost as if we think we’ll be getting another shot. Another try. Another life. Or that someone, someday, will magically step into our path and give us permission to start living our dreams and finding our purpose.
But it doesn’t work like that. We’re the only ones who can give ourselves permission and we’re the only ones who know the talents, and dreams, and passions that lay dormant inside us. It’s up to us to let them all out.
We only get one life, my friends. Don’t wait. It’s time to awaken. You have far more choices in life than you think. Take the risk. Chase the dream. Develop your God-given purpose. Squash the excuses. Start the business. Begin the homestead (if that’s indeed your thing). What are we waiting for?
The time will pass anyway, and how good will it feel to be able to say, “I did it!” instead of, “What if I had?”