Off-Grid Agrarianism

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42 articles in category Off-Grid Agrarianism / Subscribe
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Apparently there have been an influx of skunks in the neighborhood and Stewart got the opportunity to tango with two in one week. We were all outside preparing a garden bed next to the house, or in my case taking pictures of the garden bed.

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Someone spotted the skunk near the house and Stewart ran in for his gun. The skunk managed to make it out of our gate and so Stewart chased him down the road in what was quite a funny scene to behold.  IMGP7733

Once I was sure the shooting was over, I let the children run down and ask Daddy a hundred questions about what just happened. It was all very exciting, you see.

IMGP7735 A couple of days later, Abram found another skunk underneath our camper. Stewart again disposed of him and thankfully no one was sprayed in either of these instances.

That doesn’t mean our home hasn’t smelled faintly (or strongly there for a while) of skunk ever since. And I’ve learned that the faint smell you get when driving by a dead skunk on the road cannot compete with the real experience when had up close and personal.

Anyone else have a good skunk story?

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I remember early spring days with dirty fingers sunk into cold dirt. These boys were much smaller then – four and two – but even at that tender age, we could see that this was exactly what they needed. Seeds were sprouted in so many ways on those long Sundays spent in the garden.

One of them was the hope that this agrarian way of life would pave a way in which we could provide the basics of life for our family while allowing them to spend their days living alongside their Mama and their Papa. For those days were long cubicle days for Stewart, followed often by long evenings of that extra work we needed to pay off student loans.

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There was something about that time spent away – time you can never truly get back – that broke hearts big and small, and led us to seek out something different for these little loves in our care.

Fast forward a year or so and Stewart was quitting his job and we were preparing to move across the country with our two little men and little Annabelle on the way. We didn’t have much in the way of paid work lined up. We didn’t know exactly how this transition from bare land to food production would look. But we knew that this is what we needed to do and that the Lord would provide.

I was prepared for having less than we’d ever had. I was prepared for working harder than we ever had. I was prepared for Stewart to go from well-paid corporate job to minimum wage hired hand. What I wasn’t prepared for was how things really turned out.

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That is to say, I was not prepared to jump into the land of the working-for-money while juggling babies, school, home, land, and work. The opportunities and employers we have been provided with have been tremendous and wonderful and literally a dream, to be sure. But I never quite managed to figure out how to be all there – for my family – while being all in on my work, which I had to be.

I’m sure it can be done, just apparently not by me.

And that very thing – the thing I could never quite bring myself to talk about in this space, for it broke my heart so – has been the hardest thing about these past two years of our agrarian journey. For all of us.

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Which is why I am happy to say that, at least for a little while, I will be returning home – where I rock babies and feed the hungry masses and am really present for school and garden time and every moment in between.

I will still be a part of the Cultures for Health team, which we are so grateful for, and you can continue to follow along with our culturing adventures at the CFH blog. But I think we will be getting back to a balance that works much better for me, certainly, but also for every single one in our little family.

I never really left, not physically, but I am loving this process of returning home.

*Edited to add: The cutting back and finding balance I am referring to entails me working less on freelance projects for a while. Lord willing, we intend to continue blogging here in this space as always.*

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If I were to do an honest year-in-review post it would look something like this: January through April we put in the chicken field and started the summer garden. Fruit trees were planted, perennial herbs were thrown in the ground. May brought news of a new babe and thus began the usual season of morning sickness in which I spent my days trying not to throw up or fall asleep.

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By July that was pretty much over, we tried not to overheat, and then Stewart started showing the early signs of adrenal fatigue. By the second half of August he was down for the count for much of the day. By September he had a full blown health crisis while we were traveling. Since then I’ve gotten bigger, Stewart’s gotten smaller, he’s recovered as much as we could possibly expect, and the year finished with the family flu and Stewart’s back seizing up.

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So that whole “we are homesteaders and here’s what we’ve accomplished” post is something you won’t find here. Instead, today I’d like to declare 2013 a year of humbling spiritual lessons, reality checks, and heart checks. It has been a year of letting go, a year of checking our motivations, a year of truly understanding that He will give us what we need.

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I won’t pretend, though, that this hasn’t been the hardest six months I can remember. Still, for some reason, I can think of only one word to describe 2013: rich.

And as I walk around the homestead I am in awe of the things that did get done. Truly, in the midst of the many times that Stewart and I lay on the floor or the bed in exhaustion and laughed about what a feeble pair we make, the Lord granted so much.

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  • A new chicken coop was built to house a larger flock.
  • The new roofline and water tank were put up, doubling our catch water.
  • That roofline has started to become an extra living space.
  • We had our largest harvest of beans, squash, and sweet potatoes, all of which we’re still happily eating through.
  • At least half of our fruit trees survived the summer heat.
  • A gate went up where only pallets once stood.

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From deep in the trenches of our own physical weakness, He has provided so much more than we could ever imagine or do with our own two hands. Once again, we have seen from Whom all of our needs are met and far surpassed. Such blessings, such rich and plentiful blessings.

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And as I feel this little one within squirm and kick and remind us of the blessings and miracles that surround us, I look so forward to whatever it is He sees fit to bring us in 2014. And I am oh so grateful that “success” here on the homestead is not up to us and our own doings.