Friday, September 17, 2010

The Rustic Reality

When our family made the decision to move to Vermont from Massachusetts five years ago almost to the date, we knew what our goals were, however, we did not know exactly what steps would make up the process.

First we rented a home in a little village in northern Vermont, then we bought an old mobile home and put it on leased land and lived there, off grid, for over two years.  During this time, I prayed often, that God would know our needs and that we would be able to find a way to provide for our family.  After Abraham was born while we lived there, we were truly bursting at the seams space-wise.  However, one of our goals has been to have home based business and to work toward self-sufficiency and farming.  Earning a large income was not likely with this plan nor was it a goal of ours (it is not today either).

Just one mile down the road from the mobile home we found our home just a little over a year ago.  A place large enough for our growing family, private, enough land to grow food and have chickens and goats, and perhaps a couple of sheep.  The rustic cottage, however, had been neglected and on it was one very run down barn.  We were blessed to have all of this while staying within our budget for housing.

Well, this house is not fit for the pages of Country Living to say the least.  However, we are working hard each day to make improvements.

Because the basement was excavated last summer, we have mounds of soil here and there.  We are using shovels (yes shovels) to spread the soil in certain areas to help with drainage, make visible areas more attractive, and to make pasture for the goats (coming soon, I hope).

I just wanted to share a little of the reality that is our homestead.

front of the barn

The side of the barn.
The chickens are in the back part here now but we will be moving them to a free standing coop to make room for two goats.

I have been shoveling soil down from this nearby mound into this area, filling it in and then we will grade it away from the barn.  The shoveling has been so wonderful for my body and soul.
The boys working together.

Sarah tending her flower store on top of a mound.

Warm wishes for a beautiful weekend,


  1. Tonya, I really appreciate this honest post. I know there are many people like me, who are living in the city and dream of living on a homestead in the country--but sometimes, reading all the blogs where people have gorgeous huge properties with picturesque barns and the whole lot, can feel discouraging, because it seems like the dream is so unreachable.

    But when I see your photos of your dear little humble barn, it makes me feel like maybe we don't have to be rich as kings to be able to afford a piece of land. The land is the important thing anyway, not the buildings on it. At least in my view.

    I have read your entire story on your blog before, and I do find it inspiring because you and your husband did not do this on a grand scale, you are doing everything with limited funds, which is definitely the way we would have to do it too, as right now hubby is only making $12/hr and our Etsy shop only makes pocket money...

    Anyway, thank you. :)

  2. Very interesting, thanks for sharing :)

  3. I'm so touched by the simplicity and honesty of your post. Your words, "I prayed often, that God would know our needs and that we would be able to find a way to provide for our family," provide the model for all your visitors here. Thank you for your post(s), for the inspiration, and for continuing with your dear handwritten newsletter.

  4. Hi, thanks for your honest post. Although I do think you are so are so lucky to live in such a rural area with so much space!!

    Here in most of England land is unfortunately so scarce that even an acre of land is thousands of pounds and unfortunately un-affordable for us.

    So we made other plans to suit our budget and our lifestyle. We decided to buy somewhere smaller we could afford, although we have no garden, get and allotment for growing all our fruit and veggies, pay off our mortgage as quickly as possible and then look at possibly getting a very small amount of land for having a small amount of livestock. It won't be the cottage in the country with a few acres I dreamed of as a child. But it will be 'ours' and we would of worked so hard for it, it'l be fab! and I'm enjoying the journey to get there too :)

  5. Aww, I like your little barn house. I can imagine how charming it will be when you are finished with all the plans. We've gotten to know many homesteaders, and it's certainly hard, hard work. Not for the faint of heart! As you know. I admire people with such determination.

  6. I LOVE the reality of your post! We couldn't afford land in the country with a house, so we bought a smaller house on 1/2 acre with a lawn shed...the shed is now our chicken coop, we fenced in 1/4 of our field for 2 lambs, (that will soon be our winter food), dug up gardens by hand and every year slowly but surely make improvements! Our house is small, but it was cheap, and living here means I get to work less and spend the weekdays with my girls. I've been amazed by what we have accomplished on 1/2 acre of land, and I LOVE our "little" farm!
    I admire your lifestyle, and this totally honest truly are an inspiration!
    xo maureen

  7. Looks like a fun place to live and work!

  8. Tonya, I always enjoy visiting this space, your honesty in your writing is so refreshing and wonderful:) Thank you, you are an inspiration:)

  9. Hello Tonya,

    I recently started following your blog and while I am not religious (more spiritual than anything), I really appreciate everything you have written in your blog. I actually started at your first post and read through all of them today. I love how simple you live, and I hope to mimic it (my family and I plan to buy some land in Oregon).

    Thanks for providing beautiful inspiration for living simply.

  10. It looks like you have been richly blessed!

  11. What a beautiful piece of land you have there - and how smart to ease into it, find what you really need, and go from there!

  12. It's lovely there & I love the way you are all working together! What a great learning opportunity for your children!

  13. the reality that you all are living is may not make the pages of country living magazine at the present but the fact that your family is working together and keeping out of debt is worth so much more than a magazine spread any day!

  14. your little barn is gorgeous and I look forward to seing your goats when they join your farm:) Its great that your all working together as a family and folowing your dreams

  15. A lovely early morning visit for me Tonya. Our homes are our havens. Our special places of comfort. I marvel how we are all placed in different countries and how we place our roots in specific spots on the earth. I too find whilst visiting everyones blog, that I want to live in everyones home. Yours has always been one of them. When i read your newsletter, I always make sure I am cosy and rested. I imagine where you are whilst writing and I feel so good afterwards. How I would love my children to dig with yours...

    Tonya you inspire me.

    Have a wonderful peaceful Sunday
    Lots of love

  16. I was in Vermont last month, and one of our nights we spent in a camper on property where there is a now a dome going up... I've never seen one of these domes in person, so I hope to go back, but I think it's amazing how much one can use from the land and from your surroundings to make a perfectly happy home.

  17. Simply wonderful, Tonya. It is great to see photos of your handmade homestead! We too are fixing up an old farm. My favorite "chore" is chopping and hauling wood for the woodstove (and raking leaves into the leaf piles, which do not stay in piles for long, heehee.) It's alot of hard work to live simply, huh? We have three acres, how about you? God bless.

  18. This is so beautiful Tonya! Thanks for sharing your life with us. It is such a life of faith, beauty, love, determination, unity . . . . I could go on and on. Thank you so much for the inspiration and reassurance that I look for in my own journey!
    Peace, Angela

  19. When I was a girl I remember seeing a photo of Vermont and thinking that I'd love to live there. This coming from a California beach girl who knew nothing of living anywhere but the suburbs :-) The way you are raising your family in this beautiful land is always inspiring.

  20. I love how you have made your dreams come true Tonya. Our family has always lived a more simple way, we have always had our homestead dream, sadly we are not there yet, but you provide so much inspiration. Thank you so very much!
    Sarah sure is sweet with her little flower store.
    Lots of love to you dear friend!

  21. it reminds me that though we don't have much to show for our time on the land, we're not the only ones dealing with 'homesteading' and the reality that may mean. Thanks for sharing! It's an all to familiar story, really. I'm just thankful we're not the only crazies in this world!

  22. Ha! Live it and love it! I was just this morning frowning a bit at the foil backed bubble wrap stuff (leftover vapor barrier from our neighbor's foundation job) that is stapled around the inside of our front door that we thought we could afford to replace by this winter--looks like another year of bubble wrap. Homesteading is rarely the stuff of magazines but it is so certainly internally, spiritually, beautiful in its practical simple ways that sustain us so fully.