A Gradual Progression
“Homesteading is about living a life without a lot of modern conveniences. It’s about going back to basics and living in sync with the seasons.” -Holly
Holly and her family live on 17 acres in West Virginia. She is the author of Simply Resourceful. Her site talks about simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources. She tells her story of gradual progression into the homesteading lifestyle and her dreams for the future.
Homesteading sort of evolved for my family and we didn’t even call it homesteading until about a year ago. After graduating from college in 2005 my husband and I started a log furniture making hobby. We had a lot of student loans and not a lot of money so we kept ourselves busy gathering wood in the mountains of Wyoming and made furniture in our spare time. We enjoyed the frugal lifestyle and were very happy living within our means. Furniture making opened our eyes to self-sufficiency and we wanted to acquire more of these skills. After moving to Oregon in 2006, we rented a 15×15 foot plot in the community garden and a year later expanded the garden to our entire backyard in the city. With gardening came food preservation, collecting fruit from orphan trees, ordering lugs of produce from local farms, and going to all the u-pick farms near us. Food preservation spilled into beekeeping, soap making, mushroom growing, and sewing.
After moving to a country home in West Virginia in 2012, we expanded the garden plot to 6,000 square feet and no longer needed other farms for our produce. With a country home we raise chickens, more honeybees, forage for mushrooms, tap maple syrup, and make more furniture. We have a 16 x 8 green house that we use year round. During the summer we remove the plastic covering and have pole beans crawl up the sides and grow other shade vegetables inside. We live in West Virginia in zone 6b. Our soil is loamy and we have very humid summers. Gardening organically has been a challenge here in the country since we have a lot more pest problems – in the city, the neighbors’ heavy use of pesticides mitigated pests. Each summer we try new tricks on how to cope with the pests. This year we are using row covers over some of the heavily infested plants such as the brassicas and beans. We planted 41 fruit trees and 53 berry bushes three years ago. The deer are a problem here so every tree is individually protected with 6 foot wire fencing. There are many old walnut trees here and we harvest the nuts each fall. There are two very young pecan trees that aren’t producing yet. Our property has a lot of maple trees that we tap for syrup each spring.
We receive eggs from the chickens and honey from the bees. Our meat consumption is mainly deer from our neighbor who likes to hunt but doesn’t like deer meat. We sell eggs to coworkers and soap to friends. I have taught soap making classes and people pay for the class.
We only use vinegar and borax for cleaning. Our home is not full of knickknacks and other things without a purpose. You won’t find a TV or a stack of movies in our living room. Almost all of our decorations are handmade by us or a family member (e.g. pottery, quilts, beeswax candles, etc.). You will see the draw knife that we use to scrape the bark off the logs for our furniture hanging on the wall, a cider press and raw hide drum in the corner of a room, and a saw hanging on the wall. The normal energy efficiency upgrades have been done in the home but we would like a smaller home so living off grid is feasible.
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The dream for our next home is to build a root cellar, be off grid and have a dairy animal.
Be sure to follow Holly’s story on her site Simply Resourceful.