We left the cabin behind as we began our married life together in search for a place to call home. When I became pregnant, my mind started to switch focus from sustainable living to the ideal home and neighborhood to raise our family. I was gravitating toward houses that were in nice condition, a fenced yard, and a nice street to ride bikes; any place I could picture having little children happily running around. I thought I wanted, like many young couples, a starter home to raise the kids and we would eventually upgrade.
So, as I stood with my hand on my belly looking at the house with potential, I tried to see the vision my husband was describing. The walls needed paint, the carpet, floors, windows and doors needed to be replaced, and the list went on and on. My husband, skilled in carpentry and home remodeling, described his plan for each room. I had to look past the dirt and dust and picture our little unborn children playing and sleeping in these rooms. I envisioned myself cooking in the kitchen that needed all new appliances. I pictured our family enjoying movie nights in the large living room that currently had bags of trash, a broken couch, and pieces of ceiling filling the space where we would one day cuddle together on our couch with a bowl of popcorn. “I can make this house nice,” he promised me.
The outside property was another challenge. We talked about how we could build a new barn where the old one lay in rubbles, till a garden, build a chicken coop, plant new fruit trees, and where he would put in ponds to raise fish. Could this be a place for the children to play, laugh and learn to live and provide for themselves with their own two hands? Two hands, a vivid imagination, and a big heart to be exact. That is what is required of each family member to make that lifestyle work. I contemplated how it was fun playing Little House on the Prairie when we were fresh out of college and only had to provide for the two of us, but to live that way as a family would be a different scenario. I had a decision to make.
I was five months pregnant and I said, “Yes. Let’s buy it.” Two months later in the freezing month of January, we began painting and prepping the house. Another month later, we finally had heat, water, and fresh paint in most of the rooms, and we began moving in furniture. At eight months pregnant I put all my faith and hope in God and my husband to turn this house into a home in time for our new baby to arrive. Over the next six years, continuing to this day, room by room we have made that house into our home.
The property surrounding the house needed as much love and attention as the inside. The rubble from the old barn was removed, salvaging what we could, such as making one of the wood beams a mantle in our dining room. Friends and family volunteered to help us build a new barn in its place. The dead apple tree was cut down and new fruit trees were planted. Several gardens were tilled and planted with garlic, onion, potatoes, herbs, carrots, beans, beets, squash, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, melon and berries. We built a chicken coop, set up a system to collect rain water, and finally dug ponds and stocked them with fish. Thank the Lord, we still found time to bring three children into this world, making us a family of five people, two dogs, two cats and lots of chickens.