North Woods Homestead, Registered Purebred Mini Jersey Trained Family Milk Cows & Rare Salmon Faverolles Chickens, north Idaho
When we had been married six years we bought a house in Georgia. We thought we might retire there after the Army. The cost of living was low, jobs were available and the beach was only a short drive away. We hung onto that house after the Army moved us back to Alaska and rented it out for 16 years.
In Alaska we bought another house as an investment. After extensive remodelling, the money from selling it was saved for a yet unknown future as the Army moved us to New Jersey. We refinanced the Georgia house and used that in 2010 to put a down payment on property in Idaho. Our future was starting to take shape.
As we got closer to making our dreams a reality, we bought an RV to live in when we'd move to Idaho. It was a massive thing with 5 slides, two bedrooms, two baths a a stacked washer and dryer, and a dishwasher! We moved in while stationed in New Jersey and lived at the Skeet Range offseason. We saved up for improvements happening on the property in Idaho. We talked and dreamed about homesteading and the animals we'd raise some day.
After nearly 20 months living in the RV we got orders to Kansas and decided to rent a farm to learn the skills we needed while we still had Lance's steady paycheck.
Our plans to move to Idaho were put on hold and we sold the RV.
We started with chickens and two Jersey steer bottle calves. Within months we added two small, bred Jersey cows. They both gave us heifers. Then, those heifers had heifers. And, you guessed it, they gave us heifers too! We didn't have a single bull calf born to our herd until 2018!
Lance did several more years of Active Duty and a third deployment while we patiently paid off debt, sold the Georgia house, developed the Idaho property and saved for building our future home. We ended up spending four years in Kansas.
Those years were trying and sometimes the blessings were hard to appreciate. The first rented farm didn't work out. We were forced to move a couple hours away. Both cows calved during that two week time frame. The kids graduated from homeschool in the middle of moving and Lance's parents came to visit among the boxes and chaos. We were blessed but struggling with it all coming at once and with so many challenges.
The second farm was next door to a large jelly factory and the kids were both employed there for several years. They could walk to work and be home for farm chores morning and night.
We're often asked how we got our homestead and how we make it work financially. We can't put our finger on any one thing or make a How To Checklist for those inquiring. For us, we see it as a series of things; personal choices, duty station assignments, life's path and a whole lot of blessings.
To get where we are now we sacrificed financially and definitely sacrificed our privacy when all four of us were living in the RV. For many years we mended clothes, clipped coupons, learned to do things ourselves to save on service fees, declined social invitations, gardened and read books as entertainment, and didn't take vacations.
We still live modestly as we're saving for more large building projects. We don't see it as a hardship since it's our choice. We feel blessed to be able to work hard and save for the things we want and need. We joke that we get everything we want, if we wait long enough.
You will have your own path and it will come with as many struggles as blessings. Leave a comment below and tell us about them.