Friday, October 31, 2014

30 Days - the Backstory

So...just how did we get HERE?
Tony Giamarrino photo - 2013

When our girls were very young, we were far from the hill. Looking back, it seems like a different world.
our old "view"

The Boss went to work each day, fighting the traffic to and from the big city, causing his blood pressure to rise to concerning levels. His weekends were devoted to family, splitting wood and mowing the enormous lawn. He built furniture in his spare time.  I was a stay-at-home-mom, homeschooling our two young daughters.  I spent my “free” time sewing their clothes and baking...and reading countless books to my children.  We had several acres of land, a few chickens, a couple of goats and even raised some pigs. We had embraced the homesteader lifestyle with the entire family working together in our fairly large garden. And then we preserved the bounty for winter. We took turns reading “back to land” publications like Countryside and Mother Earth News and Organic Gardening.

Life in the country was good.
playing in the henhouse
helping put up beans
pickin' cucumbers

But, we dreamed of the day we could have a bigger place and somehow the Boss could quit his commute. We had visions of a milk cow (okay, that one was mine), bigger gardens and self-sufficiency. We entertained thoughts of a home-business. And, I am pretty sure one little girl had a few dreams of a pony.

When opportunity came knocking (the chance to live and work with family on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley) we took it.  Unfortunately, that didn’t end like anybody thought it would.  The whole story was detailed earlier in The Change in Plans.

Long story short…the “change in plans” put us here on the hill.  Not at all what we expected, but challenges of returning to our old life seemed insurmountable.  There’s a reason for the old saying…you can’t go back again!
day of purchase-1997
girls marking corners of the house

So, we took the plunge and started over. From scratch.  From the ground up. Absolutely NO exaggeration!
"a leap of faith"

While I am fairly certain our actions looked irresponsible and foolhardy to some, we had given the whole change of lifestyle a great deal of thought. We had met our goal of being debt-free, and before “the change in plans”, we had a vision of helping aging relatives on the family farm. It seemed we were where the Lord wanted us.

But, suddenly, we weren’t working on the family farm…or any farm.  Our new home was an abandoned sheep field with little besides a septic field and perimeter fence. Any kind of improvements and livelihood from farming were only going to happen if WE did something, anything.

I would like to say we made a new plan.  A great, workable plan with a predictable and successful outcome. We did not.  Our only plan was for survival. (and recovery from the biggest shock/trauma of our lives) My greatest hope was that we were not somehow scarring our daughters. That somehow they would thrive despite all the upheaval and drama. 

We knew we could raise food. We would be able to provide for our family. We knew our financial needs were few.  We were debt-free and committed to staying that way. We knew we had a lot of homesteading/survival skills. We could get by with very little if need be.  We also had some marketable skills to fall back on. We felt we were up to the challenge. 

In some ways it was exciting to face the myriad of possibilities of starting afresh.  In other ways, it was terrifying.  I won’t lie.  I spent a lot of nights just lying awake and praying.  Praying that we hadn’t made a horrible mistake and somehow, somehow this would all turn out for the best.

Surely we could do this...

I mean, how hard could it be to start a farm from scratch?

the barn - July 1997

The mere asking of the question indicates just how very much we had to learn!

Join us as we embark on

similar shot 2011

                                                                for the entire month of November.

I can promise you stories of success...and failure and more than a few lessons learned the hard way. Click HERE to read more. I hope to inspire and encourage...and quite possibly amuse you with the stories that helped us get where we are today.

Thanks for reading!


  1. My entire life has been learned the hard way. Sigh.
    Looking forward to your 30 days of .............!

    1. Another graduate of the "school of hard knocks"?
      I bet you've got some good stories, though. :)
      Thanks for reading!