When Drew and I were dirt broke in Seattle (an entirely different experience than being dirt broke in the country, I’ve learned), I used to scour the internet and library for stories about people who’d successfully downsized their way to a better future. Inevitably, I came across the narratives about investment bankers and the like who abandoned the rat race for the peace of simple living. Those were always the stories I clicked away from in disgust. The last thing I wanted to do was read about someone who’d managed to build an adorable house for only $10,000 when I was emptying our coin jar to pay for groceries.
A season into our own homesteading journey, though, and I’m constantly humbled by how fortunate we are. True, we’re broke, but unlike so many people our age, we’re lucky to have a family positioned to help us. Not only are we building on my dad’s land, but we’re living with my mom and stepdad until our cabbage is habitable. And that’s not even taking into account my family’s vast store of useful skills and knowledge.
My stepdad, Steve, has been our mentor from the very beginning. Beneath his gruff exterior is an incredibly patient teacher. He’s shown us how to frame a wall, how to wire an outlet, and how to drive a tractor. The other day when we were at the grocery store, Drew grabbed a Coke with “Steve” on the side, saying he wanted to drink it and absorb the wisdom of a Steve.
As I’ve mentioned before, my brother-in-law, Bryan, has been an amazing font of help and advice. So much of the tangible progress we’ve made on the cabbage is thanks to him. The years of experience that Bryan has accumulated show in everything he does — he makes it all look easy. More than that, though, he has been incredibly generous with his time, spending weekends and evenings with us to get us to a place where we can start moving in. My sister, Lisa, has also been a constant source of support. She is so upbeat and optimistic all the time. Whenever I find myself freaking out about something, I know I can talk to her and she will put things in perspective. And that’s not even mentioning the many times she’s brought us raw milk, or eggs, or homemade yogurt. Or their adorable kids. Those kids are hilarious!
My mom is also an inspiration. She’s probably the hardest worker I’ve ever met. Every morning, she’s up early prepping dinner or running laundry. Then she heads off to a 10-12 hour day at work, comes home, and works some more. I don’t know how she managed to find the energy to help us mow down the knapweed surrounding the building site or to do the lion’s share of the wall framing, but she did, and I’m so grateful.
Drew’s parents have also been a huge help, even from across the state. They gave us the financial assistance to buy most of the electrical equipment, and my mother-in-law is far and away our biggest cheerleader and the most enthusiastic commenter on our blog . We miss being able to grab breakfast with them or drop by for a visit as often as we used to, but we’re looking forward to the day they can move out to the country themselves.
And that’s not even mentioning all of the other support we receive. The aunt and uncle who gave us their old fridge. The sister in Seattle who keeps me grounded through phone calls and texts (and that’s not even mentioning how she helped us move). The friends who give us advice on permaculture and gardening.
Basically, there’s no way we could have embarked on this journey without the network of support around us. We are so incredibly thankful. And we can only hope that everyone can find a community that envelopes them with as much love and support as the one we have. What an amazing world it would be if we all worked towards that.
(NB: This post was scheduled for yesterday but didn’t publish for some reason. Sorry!)