December Homestead: HOMESTEADING WITH FRIENDS

Our close friends Sarah* and Ben* have been trying to get the money together to get out here for a while, since the middle of November. They finally got here around the 14h of December or so. We’ve known Ben* since we were all teenagers. They are pretty much family at this point, but the type of family that you can choose. They are also our only friends from Indiana who have been able to get out here to visit us since we moved (Twice – first in May and then in October), and they have since fallen on hard times and currently don’t have a place to live. When first we bought this land, we told all of our close friends that they would never be homeless. If they ever got into trouble, they only have to find the money to get out here, and we’ll let them stay here until they get back on their feet.

One of our long-term goals for the land, actually, is to have lots of small guest cabins dotting the landscape, always ready to take in someone who needs a place to stay. I haven’t written about this goal before, because it’s a long way away, something to do when our farmstead is up and running. Right now our land is not yet supporting myself and my brother; when it’s more sustainable, growing more food, raising animals, supporting us better, the next goal is turn it into a sanctuary and teaching place. I want to have Pagan religious retreats, permaculture classes, and even take in people who are homeless, especially if they want to learn to be a farmer in the future, to teach them skills to be independent. Or alternately, homeless Pagans, since so many homeless shelters are Christian-run and make it very difficult for Pagans to practice, and some even require church attendance if you stay in the shelter.

In any case, this particular situation works out for all four of us right now — they have a car but no house, and we have a house but no car. So we can essentially team up and support each other through the rough times. We only have the one cabin, so it’s a little tight with four of us in it now. There are two lofts in the cabin. One of them is my room, and the other side was used being used for storage. But I cleaned it out and gave it to Sarah* and Ben* so they have somewhat of their own space.

Sarah* and I are looking for jobs in town, and trying to get hired at the same place on the same shift. That will make the transportation situation easier. Then I can use my wages to save for my own vehicle, too.. It’ll be an actual full size pickup truck, too. At one point in the last week, we had the Sarah’s* small little KIA packed full with three people, a dog, straw bales in the back seat (wedged around the person and dog in the back), AND the trunk was packed with as much dry, seasoned wood as we could get!! LOL. It was hilarious. But it was so claustrophobic in the back that we had to pull over and Alex and I had to switch seats, since the straw bales were crowding him too much, and I take up less space. Yes, pickup trucks are necessary for this kind of lifestyle!!!!

It’s actually been really, really fun having them here. It’s been a big help having another couple pairs of hands on the homestead, too. Twice as many people to get chores done now. Sarah* also taught me how to crochet with just my hands, without any crochet needles. I already had one skein of yarn because I had tied to teach myself to knit (I failed — sometimes its a lot easier with a real person showing you how to do something than trying to learn from videos or books).

It’s starting to feel like a real homestead/farm here! A few days ago we were grilling chicken outside, and the rooster was scratching around in the grass, there was chopped wood stacked neatly in a pile along the path next to the house, smoke coming the stovepipe, and the herb spiral I’ve been working on has homemade compost piled taller in it. It felt so right.

When Tom* found out that we had bought seasoned wood to give us a buffer because we hadn’t kept up with cutting firewood, he dropped some off for us. He’s done it twice now, just to make sure that we can keep up and stay warm. It’s warmed up a little bit though. Winter here is unpredictable. The beginning of December was frigid; a few days were like 10 degrees and one night was -5.We had a little snow, but it was just a bit that stuck to the ground for a few days and then melted. Halfway through December we had a warm front; Christmas day was 65 degrees! It’s now somewhere in between those two extremes, and it’ll probably stay that way for a while. Luckily winter is usually shorter here too, ending by about mid-March. For someone from the lake-effect area of South Bend, Indiana, this is heaven. I like to have four seasons (unlike when I lived in Tucson), but not to the extreme of the Michiana area. I love it here.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard sometimes. I still have a tendency towards depression and anxiety, and homesteading is not all joy and sparkles, it *IS* hard work. But I am happier here, less depressed than I ever was (especially at this time of year – my depression has a seasonal component), and sometimes progress is slow but it *IS* progress and I can see it going. I do love it here and I don’t regret it for a second.

I just need to get a part-time job to help the process along. 2016 was not a good year for so many people (RIP Carrie Fisher!). Here’s hoping 2017 is better is better for everyone. Happy New Year everyone!

*all the names of my friends and neighbors have been changed for their privacy

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