It was -4 degrees Fahrenheit that night in January when my little family moved out to the woods.  As the wind blew outside, we all cuddled on a mattress in the living room to be close to the fire.  Why was I huddled with my husband and two young children in the “wilderness”, when I had a perfectly fine place to sleep in town?  The answer may not be a good one…I have a fierce independent streak, a desire to live a self-sufficient lifestyle, and perhaps a tendency toward naivety.

The whole story:  We had purchased my “dream house” only two years earlier. It was a 2500 square foot fixer-upper on a corner lot in Utah, just a few blocks away from our church, the elementary school, and two grocery stores. My husband had a demanding, but well paying job and we planned to be there for 5-10 years, maybe longer.

Just a few short months after we moved into our house, however, my husband lost his job, and it seemed very unlikely he would find another during the economic recession.  Immediately, we started doing everything we could to cut costs.   I gathered Halloween pumpkins and unwanted fruit from our neighbors, then froze and baked and canned it.  I made my daughter’s Christmas gifts from scrap fabric and left-over yarn. Doug cut up fallen trees around town for us to burn for heat.   It was amazing to me how much we could do with salvaged food and materials!

Even though I still worried about the large house payment draining away our savings, I discovered my day-to-day life was becoming very fulfilling.  I realized I wasn’t just being frugal– I was using my creative energy every single day! My family was eating healthier, I was practicing new and valuable skills, I was learning to rely more heavily on the Lord, and I was using up waste rather than producing it.  It made me very happy to think I was living more like my Pioneer ancestors had lived.

Life took another turn six months after Doug lost his job.  Our house burned down.  While we were flooded with aid and love from our dear friends and neighbors, and though we found a comfortable place to rent, we eventually made the decision to move home to Montana. It just made sense. Our family (both sets of grandparents) lived there, we had started an online business which we could bring with us, and, finally, it would cost less to buy land in Montana than to rebuild in Utah. So we packed up our remaining possessions, said goodbye to our friends, and moved in with my generous in-laws.

It took longer than we expected to find just the right property in our price range. Every place we looked was too sloped to build on, overburdened with zoning regulations and covenants, or surrounded by subdivisions.  The piece we finally bought was perfect, even though it was lacking a house and any utilities.  It was a perfectly raw piece of ground, covered in trees. 

But that was exciting! Here was my chance to really live like a pioneer.  We started by clearing just enough trees for a driveway and to fit a used trailer house for a temporary living arrangement.  By that time it was winter, and although it would have been prudent to wait until summer to move onto our property, six months seemed too long to wait.   I was eager to run my own household again, as difficult as it might be, and to get started on this adventure.

Though we wanted to “homestead”, there were a couple modern conveniences we couldn’t live without. My husband and I dug a 750 foot trench in the middle of winter in order to install electricity and a phone line. With that done, we moved in.

Among the few conveniences we had in the beginning was an electric cook plate, a microwave, our computer and the Internet. My father-in-law laughed that the Internet was essential while conveniences like running water and refrigeration were not. Of course we needed the Net to run our business, but what also made it valuable was the immediate access to searchable, useful knowledge. Utilizing the experience of people on the Internet made it possible for us to get by without all the other gadgets.

However, not everything can be found online, or the information is too buried or vague to be helpful.  We had a few library books to reference, but, usually, if we couldn’t find any advice on something, we figured it out by simply doing it.  The salvaging skills I practiced in Utah have served me well.   It’s been two and a half years since we moved to the woods and we have survived just fine!–not to say that it was easy.  While we continue doing many things the old fashioned way, we have added modern conveniences and processes here and there, which has freed up a lot of our time.

Therefore, I begin this blog to contribute back what knowledge I have gained and continue to gain on this journey! This blog is a place to record and consolidate my research and experience, a way to contribute my “wisdom” to the Internet, and a place for my friends and family to read exactly what I’ve been up to.  A few topics I plan to cover include: living without running water, building animal shelters from pallets, harvesting wild food and herbs, crafting a corduroy quilt,  natural beekeeping, and garden recipes. I will often include links to great resources on similar subjects. I can’t promise consistent or frequent posts, but I do promise more quality than quantity.  I will NOT simply copy another person’s post in my own words and pictures, because my goal is to add unique and useful content to the Internet.  So if you are like me, and in the pursuit of a self-sufficient, creative, healthy, frugal, waste-free, spiritual and fulfilling lifestyle, then read on!

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