Tiny House Homesteading

have the courage to dream

Category: Courage

Sunflowers

Last year I determined that I was going to grow some sunflowers.

The first thing I did was purchase some seeds from the store. I immediately planted my seeds. The next morning I woke up and discovered that our puppy had dug up my newly planted flowerbed. UGH!!! However I was determined that I wanted to grow some sunflowers, so I planted some more seeds. The first time I planted half the package, so this time I planted the other half of the package. Again the puppy dug up my flowerbed. Still determined I went to the store and purchased more seeds. This time after I planted the seeds my husband used some clear green house plastic and made a temporary cover for my flowerbed.

Soon little plants were growing out of the dirt. It was so exciting. That is until a mouse started eating the pants as they came up at night. UGH! But I really wanted sunflowers, so I went to the store and I bought more seeds, and I planted them again. This time when the flowers came up I put cayenne pepper around the plants. This worked for a little while but as the plants got bigger the mouse was able to reach them and still eat some of them. I decided to deal with the mouse by setting out poison. That did the trick.

Finally my sunflowers were growing! I was so excited. Then one day my goats who were grazing got inside the fenced in area where the house and flowerbeds are, and you guessed it my sunflowers were, and as you probably guessed he ate the top off my sunflowers. UGH!!! But I was determined to grow sunflowers, so I decided to just let those half eaten flowers continue to grow and see what they became. Well those sunflowers kept growing and after a while they split into two.

My sunflowers never got as big as they could have if they had the full season to grow, but they grew.

I love the memory of my sunflowers. It is a reminder to me to keep trying even though things might not work out how you planned. In fact I believe that things never work out how we plan, but I also believe that life if beautiful and full of surprises. I know bad things are going to happen; that is part of life. But I am determined to grow sunflowers. I think it is very important to have sunflowers and to fight for the beautiful things in this world. I believe those beautiful things like love, kindness, generosity,  and sometimes literal flowers are worth fighting for. I believe that we should all be determined to grow our sunflowers whatever that may be because life is hard and we will have dogs, mice, and goats all in our path, but we can know success if we keep at it. The success probably will look very different than we originally anticipate, but it will still be beautiful. So be determined and grow some sunflowers.

House Poor

I have always heard the term house poor in reference to buying or renting a house that was too expensive.  Today I realize that you can live in a tiny house and be house poor,  at least that is how we are.

Let me explain!  Going back to the basics is expensive.  If you want to live off the land and the land isn’t ready for you,  then you have to get it ready.  For us that meant not only building our tiny house with additions for our growing family,  but adding nutrients to the soil for our garden, planting any and all trees that we want (our 36 acres had virtually no trees), and adding lots and lots of fencing to accommodate our animals that we are raising.

Our tiny house Homestead is one project followed by another and another.  At any given time we usually have at least two different projects going and our projects eat up our time and our money.  Oh the plan is to become self-reliant and debt free,  but the journey to self-reliance and debt freedom is years long and full of projects that take all our money and our time.

One example is our livestock.  To being with we love our goats and our chickens and hope to add one to three cows next year.  Our farm animals contribute to our family food,  but we have to feed and house them.

When we decided to raise goats we knew that the continual cost of feeding our goats was a cost that we wanted to eliminate as soon as we could.  To this end we have worked this year building two different paddocks for our goats which are full of tasty weeds for them to eat. By the end of the year we hope to have an addition 3 paddocks fenced in for them to graze on with one to two more to be built next year.    On our 36 areas we  have lot of weeds for them to eat, but very little of it is fenced in,  and a lot of it is over grazed by the cattle that roam free range on our land and the neighboring land.  I’m not mad at the cows, but for us to reclaim our land for the use of our own animals we have to fence it in.  So slowly we have been working on fencing in paddocks for our goats to graze in.

The Homestead is full of projects like that which eat up all our finances every month.  Another example is our perennial garden.  We decided years ago to plant a perennial garden that would grow year after year and produce food for our family.  This year we fenced in an area and started planting perennial plants.  Not only do we have to amend the soil but we also had to purchase all of our plants.  Many of our plants didn’t make it through the first summer.  We bought several plants through the mail which arrived dormant and none of those survived.  We then added plants from the nursery and some trees that we purchased from a local farmers market.  Next year we will add more plants,  but it will be years before we see fruit and berries from our plants.  Our annual garden does produce yummy vegetables that we eat every year,  but we have dogs,  rabbits,  and mice (in addition to insects)  that are a continual problem there.

As we live here on our Homestead our list of projects that we have finished grows,  but our list of projects that we need to do also grows, and thus we always seem to find ourselves house (and homestead)  poor.

Our journey to being debt free and self-reliant was never going to be a short one.  We always new that the journey would take years,  but we keep our long term goals in mind as we make short term sacrifices to get there.

 

 

Try!

In the spring of 2015 I was participating in a challenge with my sister. We had agreed on a point system and were rewarded points for doing tasks that were beneficial for ourselves, our families, or our home. One of the ways that we could get points was to plant something in our garden. To this end one evening for Family Home Evening I announced that we would be planting some seeds. My motive for planting the seeds was that I wanted points that day for planting something in my garden. The truth is that I didn’t actually expect anything to grow.  I hadn’t actually had a successful time gardening, and I usually resorted to purchasing starts at the store that often would die over the growing season for one reason or another. However the lure of points in my challenge with my sister was big and I didn’t need to actually have success in growing something to get the points; I just needed to plant something.

So our family stuck some seeds into the ground and watered them. Over the next couple of weeks we kept watering them (after all little kids don’t forget things like that). Soon some plants started to grow. It was exciting for everyone and shocking for me. I couldn’t believe that our seeds were actually growing. Now we just needed to wait and see what they actually were. Because of my lack of faith that we could actually grow something from our seeds, I had failed to mark in our tiny garden indicating what we had planted. A few months later, however, we harvested some zucchini and crook neck squash.  I am sure that we planted more than just those two varieties of plants, so not all of our seeds were successful but some were. I learned that day that I needed to try more things. There will always be things that we do that yield little or no fruit, but if I hadn’t planted any seeds we surly would have reaped that – NOTHING. However, we did plant something and we grew something and we harvested something and we enjoyed the fruits of our labors and turned our first zucchini into a delicious chocolate zucchini cake.

zucchini plant zucchini

Have the courage to dream!

I love the idea that one it takes courage to do something that could end in a complete failure and two that as we try new things that may or may not succeed we learn, we grown and we enjoy the journey. When we moved onto 36 acres of mostly dirt we had two small sheds that were on the property. One shed had our solar equipment in it with a little more space that we were able to use for some of our things. The other shed had two lofts and about 10 by 14 feet on the inside of actual floor space. What we did was put up one tent, build a temporary outdoor kitchen and piled all of our things onto pallets on the dirt. A few days later the rest of our belongings arrived on a trailer that a friend let us use while we tried to figure out just where everything would go.  It was crazy and on top of that we had 9 kids.

The kids didn’t really complain. Before we made the move we had several family meetings to make sure that everyone was okay with the crazy adventure we were about to go on. Within two weeks our shed that would be converted into our tiny house arrived and we were happy to take the tent down and move part of our kitchen inside the shed. Our first big push was winter. We moved in May but we had to turn our shed into a home before winter hit, so the race was on. I have to admit that I didn’t tell very many people about our crazy plans because, well, they were CRAZY! I also didn’t take a lot of pictures. I wish now that I had. I wanted pictures of the finished product not the outdoor temporary kitchen or the kitchen table sitting in the middle of the field. I wish now that I had seen more of the beauty of that because it was a beautiful time for our family, but I was always worried that others would judge us and so I didn’t really want anyone to see our crazy life.

Some of my best memories are working side-by-side with my kids building our home or moving fences. One day my son said we need to do this more often. I asked him what he was talking about and he said that we needed to work together more often. It was music to my ears. The truth is that I work with my kids all the time but that particular son loved to get out of work. To hear that he enjoyed working alongside me was so great.

By the first winter our cabin wasn’t quite finished, but it was done enough to live in through the winter months and we continued to work on it. That January my husband lost his job. Up to that point we had been paying for our property and our shed (the shed was on a 36 month payment plan) and we were cash flowing the build of our tiny house. What amazes me is that when the money ran out we never ran out of things to do on our homestead.  God always provided the supplies and the ability to keep working on our home and property. I would wake up each day and look around and see what supplies I had and then get to work. Sometimes I didn’t have anything to do buy move fencing which already existed but not in the spaces we wanted it. However, if I was willing then there was always something to be done. When my husband finally found a full-time job that fall we just kept going and the next spring we paid off our cabin a year early. It was at that time after two full years of living in our tiny house we decided that it was time to expand for the sake of our sanity. We purchased another shed on a 36 month payment plan and added two bedrooms, two lofts and a family room. A year later we paid that building off.

We have endured unemployment, rattlesnakes, floods, the loss of one pregnancy and our last baby born early and hospitalized for the first 3 weeks. One secret to our success is our mandatory family time which we lovingly call Forced Family Fun nights or days. We love to watch movies and TV together renting old series from Netflix like Little House on the Prairie and all the Star Trek shows. We also love the cooking shows like Iron Chef and Cutthroat kitchen. Perhaps some of our favorite shows are building shows that we can learn great ideas from. We love to watch Grand Design from youtube videos. My 6 year old son loves to watch those with me and talk about what we can build next.

Another thing that we have loved about our experience here is our animals. We currently have goats, chickens, dogs and a pig. However we aren’t in love with the pig. We do love our chickens and goats and will probably get more of those.

Sometimes when I am asked about living in a tiny house I just simply say we traded our indoor space for outdoor space. We love living on our 36 acres and are excited to see the new ways that we use our space over the years.