One of the best, most comprehensive collections on rural, old fashioned homesteading, The Foxfire Series was created in the late 1960’s in rural Appalachia. Eliot Wigginton, a fresh graduate from Cornell, moved to Rabun Gap, Georgia, in the heart of the Appalachian mountains. At the local high-school, he was in charge of teaching ninth and tenth grade English to very uninterested students.
After a few weeks of struggling to get their attention, engagement, and interest, Eliot gave up. He asked the students what they wanted to do. In the guise of writing a magazine, he asked the students what they wanted to write about. They wanted to write about something close to home.
It is with a heavy heart that I write this. As many of you know, I have been absent from my regular posts for the last few weeks. I have been taking that time to mourn and process the loss of what I had hoped would be our forever farm.
If you hadn’t seen it yet, we put in an offer on a beautiful fixer upper with 63 acres. We got approved by the bank, put in the offer, got a quote from a contractor for the renovations, and met with a structural engineer to verify the house really was in as good a shape as it looked. In fact, it was better.
Then we backed out of offer. Why? There were a number of reasons, but they all boiled down to this: the list of reasons not to buy outgrew the list of reasons to buy.
So it’s official! We submitted an offer on what could be our forever farm today! To say we’re excited is an understatement. The tax records say it was built in 1900, but I see no sign that there was ever a fireplace for heat, so I sincerely doubt that. I’m thinking 1930’s is more likely, however all of the electric has been updated (at least slightly – there are no glass insulators that we can see) within the last century, so we can really be sure. We’ll have to pay a visit to our local courthouse or library to get the real info on it.
The gentleman who owned it passed away 4 years ago and it moved on to his estate. (I spoke to the ghosts when I walk through, but didn’t get a response so I think we may be safe). Unfortunately, his family wants nothing to do with the property so an estate manager or judge has been in charge of selling it for the past 4 years.
Most homesteaders have the same beliefs on money; borrowing is bad, cash is king, and the less you need, the better. However, this mindset doesn’t always work in today’s modern world. To be truly self-sufficient, you need to have a large nest-egg to fall back on in case of emergency. But with the war on the middle-class, most US families are only one emergency (medical bill, natural disaster) away from bankruptcy. However, the traditional means of buying stocks as investment may have run its course.
This easy, two-part recipe is one of my favorites for Fall. Apples are incredibly abundant in the Fall and can be collected at a Pick-Your-Own, a local farmer’s market, or, if you’re lucky, your own backyard tree.
You can make your applesauce following the same recipe in a saucepan on the stove if you’re short on time, but by using the crockpot, you buy yourself some time and get the dual advantage of your entire house smelling so perfectly like Fall.
While it might be fall, the dandelion wine I made in the spring is now mature enough to drink. It’s a tradition in my family, as the first frost is creeping in, and the leaves are falling, and we’re bracing ourselves for a long, cold winter, to break out our dandelion wine and enjoy a glass in front of the fire. It’s a lovely way to remind us of the hot, humid summer days, and to officially close the summer season. I love this wine. I love that it’s homemade, it’s painfully simple, and doesn’t require a lot of wine-making know-how or even special equipment. With what you can pick from your front lawn, and equipment you already have around the kitchen, you can make your own old-school dandelion wine.
Tomatoes are a homesteader’s boon. They’re a relatively easy crop to grow, one plant can produce many pounds of fruit and tomatoes can be used in countless delicious recipes. The only down-side to tomatoes is that they all tend to ripen at the same time and you’ve got to figure out what to do with your bounty!
My goal in my family is to replace one pre-packaged, processed thing at a time. While some things seem beyond my reach (ie. a delicious every day bread loaf), some things are beyond easy to replace. Those packages of Italian Seasoning are convenient, and easy, and cheap, but can be made within minutes at home.
The number one rule for Homesteading is: “Make Do or Do Without.” Last week found me in another situation of running out of something, and looking up how to make it myself. Vanilla Extract is a staple in my household. I jumped at the opportunity to make my own instead of running to the store to spend money on something artificial.
Personal finance seems to be one of those hush-hush topics no one’s supposed to talk about. We aren’t taught it in school, your parents may have talked to you about it, but generally it’s a social no-no to bring up.
As homesteaders, we have a unique set of challenges, due to the lifestyle we want/chose. Homesteading and personal finance go hand-in-hand. Oftentimes, it’s due to financial hardships that people want to live life more simply, economically, and homesteader-friendly.