'Mid pleasures and palaces, though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home - John Howard Payne
I need to do some photo shoots this week on some really neat projects we have been doing around the home including our home tour!
I linked up with Farmgirl Friday
Thrifty Things Friday
Feathered Nest Friday
Daniel and I refurbished this vintage trailer last year, and I never was able to post pictures. Look at what dump it was, and how nice it turned out. We ended up selling it for extra cash, but it was a good project. Now we plan on finding a slightly smaller one for camping and our wilderness gleanings (huckleberry picking, hunting & fishing ect.).
Here are some interior shots...
The interior was really in pretty good shape, we just needed some new fixtures, wood floors and a little paint!
It's always amazing what a little elbow grease can do! This would be a great starter home for some homestead adventures.
Yes, you heard right. Major changes, that’s why it’s been so quite around here, Daniel and I have been contemplating for over a year if we should move. We built our home debt free, but we still had a big land payment left on it. I know what you are thinking, “ Hello you are living the dream.” I know, I know, believe me.
We moved to our wonderful land five years ago now, and it has been one of the most life changing experiences we’ve ever had. Stretching us, we have grown. We have learned to live so much more simpler and happier lives. In the process of the journey to simplicity we realized the need to own our land debt free. It makes things so much easier.
It was a hard decision, which now seems quite easy. We moved to a home in a rural town, which is below our budget and something we can realistically pay off. So our next move we can buy our land outright.
We have big dreams, and I believe we can take all that we’ve learned and apply it to our small lot in town, and flourish.
The old ways, food production, and simplicity, that’s what is staying with us. You can take it anywhere!
Living off grid is a lot of hard work (good hard work), and I believe it made us hardier and robust. We learned to work on our homestead. Now that we have a few amenities, we plan on using our time wisely. We want to incorporate video on the blog too, and we are working on our documentary (I guarantee its going to take some time to get that project done). We look forward to keeping you in touch with our homestead dreams and daily life at Forgotten Way Farms, gone urban or should I say Small town?
Now for the best news yet… We are having a baby! Our youngest is eight, so this is going to be pretty amazing for everyone. We are thrilled. I’m due in June, and now twenty-four weeks along.
We moved into our new home in January 2014. I must say, one thing about being pregnant, I NEVER minded our outhouse until I had to start visiting it about a thousand times a day. Indoor plumbing while pregnant is indeed a luxury.
I will post more on all the ends and outs of our new life. But I’ll leave you with what my husband said on the about us page, so fitting to the new changes in our life.
“Now looking back, I can see how off grid living has opened a world of rich and vibrant colors of experience to a plain canvas of life. Resourceful and creative problem solving have opened a spectrum of colors and joy to our life. Instead of just giving in to disappointments we now take inventory of what we have, and address the situation. Our story is the journey of our eyes seeing new colors for the first time.”
I linked up to Farmgirl Friday
Do you like the new look of the website? Changed it up a bit. Hope to post more regularly. We have had a lot of new readers, so we reposted our story yesterday.
Big news coming tomorrow!
I thought, I might update you as well on a few pictures of our daily life.
Food, its all about good food at our home. That's why I love these pictures. Daddy's hands with our little girl's hand, peeling garlic. I'm in love. Daniel or "AKA Daddy" and the girls always like to mix up the burgers.
Now to the biscotti, would you believe me if I told you my daughter makes this for me. It's true. And I have serious problems when it comes to biscotti and tea time. I just love it, cozy time for everyone involved. We talk, we eat, and just relax. People you just need to make time for tea :)
- Abby Jo
Note: this is our story reprinted from Countryside magazine Volume 96 Number 3 May/June, 2012
It was perfect… the soil was moist and loamy; the large pines stood like gates into an ancient city. Our family used the small and narrow rabbit trails as our routes of travel in exploring our newly purchased, 5 acres.
My wife and I had finally stepped out; we sold all of our belongings that would not fit into our 34 foot motor home and a borrowed 4x8 trailer. For the first week we couldn’t even drive into our newfound dream, but parked just outside of the property lines.
We took countless walks, painting pictures in the air with our hands. In our minds’ eye we saw fruitful gardens and orchards. We knew that living the homestead lifestyle and starting from almost nothing was going to take time, but who cares? It’s going to be time spent together.
A dream remains a dream until a foundation is built underneath it. Our foundation took the shape of reading and gleaning as much “how to” as possible from the public library, the internet, and our favorite books and magazines.
Some of the immediate challenges that we faced were providing water, sanitation, shelter, and food preparation. You must establish the homesteading necessities first, to keep the sanity of your other half and your children! The building of your dream will run more smoothly when you have a dry place to sleep, an outhouse, clean clothes, and a full stomach. Production will continue at a steady pace, guaranteed.
Our first months of camping on our property were spent setting up these four basic systems and learning what we really needed to keep daily life running smooth:
We were really fortunate that we were able to have a drilled well on our property when we bought it. The only catch-- there was no pump. That still meant no water, and for three months we hauled water from a neighbor. We used two 15 gallon water barrels in the back of our station wagon. We found a wonderful siphon online that hooked up to a garden hose, which we used to siphon water to smaller water containers, and to water the garden. We ended up watering our garden all summer by hauling water in and mulching extensively.
We found five gallon water jugs at the grocery store to be very handy, because they were so much easier to move than large barrels. This worked great for drinking water, hand & face washing, brushing our teeth, filling the tea kettle, etc. We fitted the top with a siphon hand pump, and with four or five quick strokes the pump gave a steady stream that would run long enough to fill a glass or wash hands. We placed a basin under the pump to catch the grey water from hand washing, and to keep our outdoor kitchen from getting muddy.
When hauling water it’s very important to make sure that everyone is getting their personal water needs met. Water bottles are an excellent way to monitor this, especially with children. This was our first experience with rationing the basics of life. We learned very quickly what a wasteful mindset we had brought with us, and how we needed to change that mindset. The whole family realized what a precious resource water really is. In three months’ time we had our well going with a new pump, a holding tank, and a generator for all our off-grid water needs.
It’s priority to set up your outhouse, composting toilet, or whatever you choose to use. We had to set up a temporary camping toilet until we could get a proper outhouse built. It’s great to have sanitizer and wipes when using a toilet outdoors.
Bathing comes next; keeping clean is important for sanitary reasons, not to mention your morale. A good old-fashioned sponge bath works wonders, and is very refreshing. Simply warm up a kettle of water, pour into a large pan and sponge away. A large plastic tote works as a great mini-bath, especially for children, and solar showers work too. Another idea is to go big, and if you can get hold of a claw foot tub or a stock tank, build a simple privacy screen around your new outdoor bathing area. Then fit a length of galvanized pipe with a valve to a 55 gallon drum. Set the drum on bricks, fill it with water, and build a fire underneath to warm your homesteader’s spa.
Last, but not least, you must have a plan for laundry. This can be tricky if you have a lack of water when you are setting up camp. We started by using a wringer washer, plugged into our small generator. It worked well, but we did have to haul a fair amount of water.
If water is lacking, a hand plunger washer and a five gallon bucket can wash clothes in no time, with very little water. We still use our hand plunger washer for socks & underclothes on a daily basis in the bathtub. We wouldn’t be without our clothesline during the summer months, and large drying racks for the winter months.
This can take so many forms, one could write a book. A few suggestions: an RV, elk tent, yurt, micro cabin, camper, or trailer. We pulled up to our dream property in a used RV, not knowing if we were going to winter in it, or push to build our small cottage home. We ended up using it for a month on our property, before selling it to help pay for the wood package to build our home. We needed shelter, and fast!
I looked on Craigslist and found a complete Costco carport frame; this one became our storage tent. I soon found two more tents that were badly wind damaged, and combined all the useable parts to come up with a metal frame measuring 10’x14’. Without a doubt, 140 sq. ft. makes for cozy living for a family of seven. I called the local lumberyard and had all the needed material delivered to convert a carport frame into a bunkhouse.
Starting from the ground up I used:
Deck blocks to raise floor framing off the ground
2x6 for floor framing
¾” T&G OSB for the floor
Galvanized metal sheets for the walls and roof
2x4’s for the front wall
½” OSB sheets for front wall
30 lb. felt to cover OSB on the front
Bundles of cedar under course shake
A reclaimed wood door
A free 4x4 vinyl window
A couple cans of expanding foam
The materials in this list cost around $600, but if you were able to even salvage the metal, you could probably cut the cost by a third.
Fitting seven people into 140 sq ft. was challenging! I quickly built a bunk bed with the lumber that was just lying around. My wife suggested building a sleeping loft that would fit three of the children. We stacked bunk beds up one wall. This compact shelter worked surprisingly well for us while building our home. We now use it for our well house and storage.
#4 Food Preparation
Outdoor cooking was an absolute uncharted adventure for our family. We needed an outdoor kitchen, so we looked around and found a reasonably priced canopy tent. Next we scoured yard sales and found a vintage sink and cabinet for $10. To that we added a kitchen island and an old trunk for food storage.
At a local hardware store my wife and I spied a four-burner cook top that was self-igniting. We were so excited! With our setup my wife soon had pancakes stacking up and soups simmering. We also used the cook top to heat water for dishes and sponge baths. We were all surprised at how little propane the cook top used, considering everything it was used for.
If I was going to do outdoor cooking over again I would without hesitation use the “Grandpa Jakes” campfire cooker to help us enjoy the true HD Outdoor Channel--the campfire. This campfire cooker is truly the Swiss army knife of the campfire, and if I had known about it then, we would have saved lots of unnecessary effort in getting meals.
Next in the kitchen department was refrigeration. This took the shape of a Costco cooler buried in the ground to just below the lid, with heavy duty moving blankets to shield the top from the sun. We added a piece of tin to shed the rain. With four blocks of ice the cooler kept acceptably cool temps for 3-4 days. This worked well enough, as long as we watched the water level from the melting ice. We soon found a propane fridge on Craiglist and our food found an even better home.
With these simple steps set in place, we got our homestead up and running. Those 6 months of camping prepared us to start thinking in a whole new way, and a love for the pioneer life began to grip our hearts. That first winter our online homestead business was born. We now handcraft three different drying racks, including the signature drying rack “The Homesteader”… as one customer puts it, “the granddaddy of all drying racks.” We not only sell drying racks, but other great tools for the homesteader.
We’re far from finished yet, but every day brings something new, and the journey has been challenging and exciting for all of us. We look forward to continuing our homestead dream for many years.
By Daniel & Abby Jo VanHoutan
Here are some of the Thanksgiving pictures I promised you all, we had a blast with Dad, Mom and the family!
The count down has started, fourteen days until Christmas! Happy Holidays to you!
Thank you for all your support over the last few years! You are each a blessing in our lives, and our family thanks you.
I hope you all take time to day to just enjoy everything around you! Like family and all your blessings . :)
I will upload pics. of all the good Thanksgiving food we did this year, later this week. And to all of you that have been asking for bread recipes ect. I will post as soon as I can. November is kind of a big month of celebration for our family. Tons of birthdays, our anniversary 16 years :) and Thanksgiving!
I love this picture of my babies!
Last night we finished up our food prep for Thanksgiving. This is what we our bringing to my parents: Two pumpkin pies, one apple carmel pie, two dozen rolls, broccoli cauliflower bacon salad, cranberry sauce made with maple syrup, and toffee. What are you all making?
Today is officially Fall!
So happy, cozy time is here. Warm socks, fuzzy blankets, mug after mug of hot beverages ( tea & cocoa my two favorites ) And Baking... my daughter had the itch today. I made kale & onion meat loaf with fresh steamed potatoes from the garden. My little sweet heart wanted to make some bread with it, and got a little carried away. Next thing I know, she had made Soda bread with cranberries and dried cherries, two loaves of challah bread, and a loaf of ginger tea bread! Hey, I'm not complaining! Love all the cooking we can get done around here ;)
Check out these Parisian carrots, too cute.
My great Grandma planted these same blue Hubbard squash, a few from my garden below.
More squash and flowers from the garden...
Happy Fall everyone!
Fall is in the air, and this time of year is just so perfect to me.
A storm is brewing in the background.
The air has been full of all the lovely smells that this time of the year brings. Cool, crisp and fresh. I was out in my robe early one morning, taking pictures of the garden in the mist of the morning. I though you might like seeing my garden at the end of the season.
Smelling the flowers... I love this photo of my son just smelling the flowers!
This post has no real point, just pictures of everything I love around the place.
Chicken pot pie with my favorite purple potatoes, and corn from my garden too :)
My daughter harvesting rose hips for winter.
I will now leave you with a poem, did I ever tell you that I love poems. I'm kinda old fashioned that way.
'Fall, leaves, fall'Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night's decay
Ushers in a drearier day.
-Emily Jane Brontë
I just received this email, and had to share the yummy photos and the lovely note on the Grandpa Jakes.
"Just a note to let you know how much I am enjoying my outdoor cooking station. So far, I have successfully cooked a Beef Roast, potatoes, carrots, steaks, ect. I have even cooked breakfast with my cast iron. Best of all was my chili this past weekend. To top it off I was able to make the chili in a 100 year old bean pot.