After graduating college, my husband David and I (Courtney) both worked long hours in professional jobs that demanded a lot of emotional and mental energy. We had an enormous student debt load and lots of personal drive. But we knew we wanted more from our life than happy hours, car payments, leisure hobbies, or brand-name clothing. So we focused on paying down our debts as quickly as possible, using Dave Ramsey’s snowball method as a guide.
Not having available money to spend on evenings out or material things, we started a little garden and taught ourselves to make jam. We worked in our yard, fixed up our bungalow, learned to cook, and stopped eating packaged foods.
A few years and a new city later, we found ourselves with bigger jobs, a suburban home, and a stronger sense that we were “different”. We rented one, then two community garden plots at our church, began canning vegetables, soups and stock, dehydrating food, learning a wide variety of practical skills, all while maintaining a professional life complete with dry-clean-only clothes, Blackberries (!) and expense reports.
At the same time, thanks to the snowball method and careful spending, we paid off nearly six figures of student loans in about six years. When that was complete, I went to graduate school. We paid that off and then started paying down on the suburban home’s mortgage.
When I was 29, our first child was born, and I made the decision to stay home. By then, our interests and capabilities had outgrown our rented garden plots. We were ready to find a place with more land, where we could grow vegetables, raise chickens and other backyard poultry, and maybe someday meat rabbits, a pastured pig or a family milk cow.
We knew that we needed to be close to the city where we lived so that David could continue to work at his job and so that we could access some of the best parts of city living- cultural events, enrichment opportunities for our children, the occasional pizza delivery, and (importantly) access to employment, should I ever want or need to rejoin the workforce.
It took a few years to find just the “right” ancient, uninhabited, falling-apart home on five acres, but we eventually did. It took another year to sell our suburban home and make the move. While I cared for two babies under two years old, David spent nearly every weekend of that entire year refinishing floors, repairing windows, painting walls, and preparing the house and property for use. When we moved in to the farmhouse, we were able to pay off our mortgage completely.
We’ve lived here for two years now. Every season brings new things to repair, build, and do. There’s never a shortage of work. We are constantly learning new skills and methods. Our three kids are learning right alongside of us, planting, caring for our animals, weeding. And of course we’ve still got a long journey ahead of us. But this Modern Living Homesteader life feels authentic, exciting, and… normal.
Whether you’re far along the path, just starting out, or somewhere in between, we hope you’ll find something here to inspire you, encourage you, or generate some new ideas. Please send us a message and let us know how we can help!
Images copyright Crystal Phelps Photography.