Why We Chose Homesteading • Walkerland
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Why We Chose Homesteading

Dreaming of a simpler life? Walkerland is a homesteading and self sufficiency website written by people living the life. We share information, support and inspiration to others that are interested in living a more self sufficient healthy lifestyle. Learn about organic gardening, food preservation, practical living, raising animals, healthy eating and everything in between.

We live in Canada’s Maritimes in a log cabin on a very private acreage surrounded by woods. The home is heated with wood and runs on solar.  We’ve got raised bed gardens, a greenhouse, a nice big field and a large pasture with some outbuildings. Much of what we need to live is right here at our doorstep.

It’s a good healthy lifestyle and we are happy to be here.  If you too are dreaming of a simpler life then come follow our journey.

How did we get here?

Welcome to the jungle

Welcome to the jungle. We’ve got food growing high, low and in every possible space.

Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and follow your instincts. We were not born to country living. In fact we raised our son on a typical suburban street, juggling careers and family. We moved to our acreage after having spent many years in the Northwest Territories. I worked in a fast paced high energy office managing logistics and projects. My husband was CEO of the same wonderful company.

We loved our life and friends (we still love them) and we were passionate about our careers and the company we worked for (we still are). Even though we were happy, we were changing and our yearning for a simpler life was growing louder. Over time our dreams combined with our concerns about food, the economy and other weighty societal matters really started pulling us in a different direction.

Leaving the North was not an easy thing to do. It can be both exhilarating and terrifying to make the leap from that comfortable and familiar lifestyle into something entirely new.  When you make this unconventional leap you may discover that some of your friends and family think you have gone nuts. It can be isolating at times. That’s alright though because you are doing this for you. We only get one shot at this life so do whatever it is that keeps a fire burning in your belly and joy in your heart. This is your life, why not live it on your terms?

Why New Brunswick?

Home; 90 acres nestled in the woods of New Brunswick.

Home; 90 acres nestled in the woods of New Brunswick.

In New Brunswick you can get plenty of of land and a decent home for an  affordable price. When looking across Canada and the world we were surprised to find that the Maritimes were our  best option. We were seriously contemplating Uruguay in South America but at the time we found property in New Brunswick to be a lot cheaper.

The warmer climate is a nice change for us although we are still getting used to living with humidity. The novelty of having four  full seasons is a treat after having spent much of our life with very long winters, short summers and not much in between.

The province has its political issues and the job market is bleak  but there are a lot of advantages to living here. Nature is bountiful. You can grow food, raise animals, tap trees for syrup, hunt, cut firewood and forage for wild plants right in your own back yard. For people looking for a homestead and self sufficient life this is a great place to be.

What is life like as a homesteader?

Daily harvests through the summer and Autumn.

Sometimes I think that living this life has changed us so much that we couldn’t go back if we tried. I don’t think anyone would have us! Some realities of becoming a homesteader include;

Homesteading can be isolating

 Moving to a new province where we didn’t know anyone and to a house that is extremely rural and not connected to a town has been very isolating. We work from home so connecting and building community is a slow growing proposition for us. It can take time to build up a sense of community in your life, just be patient.

You are going to spend a lot of time with your spouse

My husband and I spend a lot of time together; 24x7x365 actually. This wasn’t much of a  problem for us, we’ve been working together our entire relationship. Ryan likes to joke that we have been married for 15 years but really we should get credit for 30.  Some people find this to be a very challenging adjustment to make and the road can be a bit bumpy. This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know your spouse in new and wonderful ways. You find yourselves working together shoulder to shoulder, sweating and dirty, laughing, solving problems and working together as a team to build something you are both passionate about.

It’s a physically challenging

We are both much stronger than we were when we started out. A 50lb bag of feed is easy for me to lift on my own but I used to struggle. Winter can be a bit too inactive so its important to stay active, stretch, exercise in the winter months so that spring is not quite as brutal on your body when you leap back into action again.

You set your own schedule

Waking up without an alarm clock, is a wonderful way to start the day. We are still up pretty early to take care of the animals but mornings are easy and relaxing.  When you imagine not having to race around to get showered and dressed, downing a coffee and leaping into a vehicle and traffic … well that is pretty awesome! We usually make coffee, cuddle the dogs, read for a bit and then start the day. It is quite civilized.

You wear a lot of hats

As a homesteader you need to be proficient in  many different areas, I hadn’t quite anticipated some of the responsibilities. Rooster assassin might be my least favourite task .  You can’t afford to outsource work and really you can’t rely on it so the more you learn the better off you are. We have become somewhat adept in things like;  carpentry, mechanics, plumbing, welding, animal husbandry, gardening, permaculture, baking, food preservation, bug removal, veterinarian, home remedies, foraging, labourer, field worker, heavy machinery operator, researcher, writer, assassin and entrepreneur.  This lifestyle is really quite empowering.

You become resourceful

Rather than going into town to buy something often you can look around the property and come up with another way to achieve your goal. Bartering and trading is rewarding. Our neighbour gives us a load of rhubarb so we can make wine and in return I make him a pie. We raised a few pigs for another neighbour and he provided carpentry services and lumber from his mill at a big discount in return. The further removed you get from shopping centres the happier you become.

The homesteaders grocery store

The homesteaders grocery store

You spend a lot of time in the kitchen

We grow a lot of our own food and preserve it for winter.  Its a lot of work growing your own food. Then you harvest it and then you preserve it. I spend a lot of long days and nights in the kitchen preserving food. You get faster and more efficient at it and the satisfaction of seeing a loaded up pantry that you produced from seed, is incredible.

You run your household like a business

We run this homestead much like a business. We plan, budget, and try to adhere to these plans. We grow and preserve a lot of our own food but we buy staples such as beans, rice, salt, sugar and flour in bulk. We make careful purchases to get the most value out of every dollar.

Homesteaders; the quiet rebellion

The benefits of Sunflowers in the Vegetable Garden

The majestic sunflower. We grow them in the garden and they act as trellises and shade for the cucumbers.

Living the “good life” means something different for everyone. For us it means growing and nurturing other aspects of our lives that have become less desirable in modern society. Things like learning and adapting old fashioned skills to fit our life, focusing on natural health, and becoming more self sufficient. We’re raised to believe the measure of a good life required following societies trends, having successful careers, nice cars, fancy shoes and debt. When we stepped away from this and chose to re-write the book and live by our own principles, our lives changed in immeasurable ways. Each day we learn, grow, and create while living a healthier life. We are director and composer of our daily  lives.

This life is not for everyone but for us its been everything we imagined and more.

A Little Bit About Us

Charlotte grows herbs and wildflowers and creates home remedies and natural skincare with them. She also forages for wild edibles and transforms them into jams, jellies & wine. She spends a lot of time filling the pantry shelves with food that she has nurtured from a small seed in their organic garden. These brightly colored jars of food will sustain them through the cold winter. Prior to living the homesteading dream, she was the Director of Marketing for an innovative communications company, SSi Micro. With fourteen years with this company, she grew departments, managed large projects, organized people, and ran the purchasing and logistics department. she is happiest when she has her fingers in all kinds of pots, creating a little bit of disorder while making beautiful things.

 

walkerland about usRyan is a former bartender, janitor, computer technician, salesman, operations manager and telecom executive. His hobbies include chess, computer security, philosophy, history, current events, music, politics, psychology, mysticism, camping, fishing, aliens, bigfoot, mysteries of the universe, most interesting things. He likes smart people, bright ideas, elegance, grace, talent, grit, Yellowknife, underdogs, most tobacco products, ancient and rare knowledge, good whiskey, the king’s gambit. He dislikes ignorance, inflexibility, cruelty, incompetence, censorship, unnecessary complexity, dogma, the strong who prey on the weak, the Government of the Northwest Territories, long distance running, taxes, cellular phones, bullies, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Ontario, most post-1987 music, Scotiabank (BNS.TO) and New Brunswick Power.

 

Our Son isn’t home very often and lives really far away from us. We are slowly adapting to having an empty nest. He is really supportive of what we do and that means a lot. I sent him back from his last trip with a suitcase filled with jars of food and soap because a guy can’t have too many jars of pickles or bars of soap right?

Molly and Mischa are two of the most unruly stubborn dogs and I love them like crazy. They bring a lot of joy to our lives and they do their part by running around the property patrolling and barking at things. They come home dirty and happy every day except for the time when Molly met the Porcupine and the time that Mischa met the skunk …no one was happy on those days.

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20 comments

Ron C. September 22, 2016 - 4:06 pm

I was directed to your blog by my Chiropractor (Robert Labelle) whom over the years, became a friend. I divulged my frustration with our Calgary lifestyle and the more I spoke, the more he realized I am aligned with your views. We too went through the South American analysis and decided if we do it, Uruguay was the place (Colonia). We then came to the exact same conclusion as you did and recently purchased a home near Saint John (20 acres). We know the area well because that is where my wife grew up. When I read about Ryan’s likes and dislikes, it was as if I had written it myself. Uncanny similarities to your story. I actually became emotional reading it because people in Calgary do not understand my way of thinking.

On one of our trips to NB, I would love to visit your homestead and learn from your experience. Our financial projections show that I have to work 6 more years (currently age 50) before retirement. Your blog however, has inspired me to reevaluate and see if being more self-sufficient and living modestly could result in moving that date a lot closer.

I am extremely inspired by your story but please do not feel any obligation to respond. I am going to begin the research to see how we can make the transition to a more self sufficient lifestyle. If you are open to someone learning from your experience, I would certainly welcome the opportunity.

Congratulations on your success.

Ron

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Charlotte Walker September 22, 2016 - 7:54 pm

Hi Ron, Thanks for sharing your story with us and for your kind words. Ryan or myself will send you an email tonight or tomorrow with our contact information. We would be more than happy to share what we can with you and we would love to know more about your property and plans! It’s always nice to talk to like minded people. Oh, and be sure to claim your 10% discount code from Dr. Labelle the next time you are in, you can find the coupon code in this article 🙂 https://www.walkerland.ca/stop-slouching-stretch/

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Shellie G. November 22, 2016 - 3:13 pm

I am so glad to have found you. I would love to see and hear more about your pantry!

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Charlotte Walker November 22, 2016 - 11:29 pm

Thanks so much for the kind note Shellie. We certainly have a lot to say and share on matters of the pantry. Winter is just around the corner and we will finally have some spare time to polish up and publish some of the pantry articles we have prepared. All the best to you!

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Diane Connor December 10, 2016 - 3:45 pm

With winter upon us, what do you do over the winter months? (Besides dreaming of what you will plant in the spring of course!) Hugs, Diane, Whitehorse, Yukon

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Charlotte Walker December 10, 2016 - 4:41 pm

Great Question Diane. I must admit I have never had any trouble filling every minute of the day. I just finished canning and preserving for the year which does free up some time for recreation and indulgence. Baking bread and sweets for Ryan happens far more frequently now and he really appreciates that. Tending the animals and outdoor tasks all take longer during the winter. Digging everything out after a big snowfall can take all day! I am working on some special soap recipes that I hope to sell next year. We are researching beekeeping and coordinating supplies, bees and training so we can set up our own apiary. I also need to get a small business set up (and all the planning that goes with selling stuff) so that we can sell the cash crop of garlic that we planted in the fall. Then there is the garden. We need to evaluate the past seasons garden production and plan the next seasons garden (supplies, budget, space etc). We need to develop and design some irrigation systems, decide if we are getting goats or cows and coordinate all of the things related to that (shelters, food etc). Oh and I would like to finish knitting that pair of socks I started two years ago. Our homestead life is kind of like a business in a lot of ways with budgets, project planning, coordinating and hard work. We start a lot of our plants from seeds in the early spring and the greenhouse lets me get some things planted a little earlier as well. Although the winter season keeps us indoors more, in my experience there is always something that needs to be done!

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Gina March 2, 2017 - 11:32 pm

I’m excited to find your blog. My husband and I are doing the same thing. We just bought our homestead 1 1/2 years ago. It is an old hunters cabin with 60 wooded acres. Very rustic, no electricity and one 2″ hand pump for a well. We are enjoying the process of fixing it up and getting our gardens in. You can find us here https://m.facebook.com/Our-Off-Grid-Life-at-Serendipity-331832597214046/. Just curious… have you always been Canadian, or did you relocate from another country? My husband and I thought about New Brunswick at one time. Happy Homesteading. Look forward to reading your blog. Gina

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Charlotte Walker March 3, 2017 - 9:21 am

Hi Gina, really nice to hear from you. Your homestead sounds wonderful. Do you intend on putting in solar or some form of electricity? I am always so curious about other homesteads and how they run the day to day stuff! I checked out your page and love what you are doing.

I am British but consider Canada home. My husband is Canadian. We raised our family in the Northwest Territories and have always loved camping and spending time in the bush so New Brunswick provided both affordable land (which you can’t get in the Territories) and a lot of forest and wilderness to explore.

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Ma Kettle March 13, 2017 - 1:53 am

Hello, fellow Canadians! My husband and I are beginning our back-to-country-life in Saskatchewan (my home province)…a whole blog right there but I know others have similar tales.
Re: “married for 15…credit for 30”. Feeling nostalgic on our recent anniversary, I asked my sweetheart “Can you believe it’s been 30 years?” He smiled and took my hand. ” Yes, sometimes it feels like forever.”

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Charlotte Walker March 13, 2017 - 8:51 am

Hello Ma Kettle, very nice to hear from you! We are very fond of the prairies and have spent many summers at Candle Lake just outside of Prince Albert. We wish you well on your adventures and hopefully we will be reading about them someday!

Congratulations on your 30 years of marriage as well! That is certainly a milestone to be celebrated. We’ve got husbands with a similar sense of humour it would seem 🙂

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Small House Under a Big Sky Homestead March 26, 2017 - 9:09 am

I stumbled on your site via the American Homestead blog. I am so impressed…your homestead is run just like a business!! My backgound is also small business ownership (owning my own marketing, public relations and adversting agency, Words & Pictures for 20+ years) and I find too that our tiny homestead is run similarily to a business and I am the CEO! I’m not sure I ever made that connection before but I cetainly did today while reading your blog. We have been here on our 5-acres for 15 years now (we came here at age 50 and 55) and our biggest challenge now is managing it all as we age and begin having health issues. We are currently ages 67 and 72 and are scaling back somewhat in order to manage. I recently wrote an article in Mother Earth News called “Aging Gracefully on the Homestead” to bring that issue of aging to the attention of the larger homesteading community. At some point many of us will be facing that. I am impressed with the abundance of your homestead and wonder what is your source of your water? We live and homestead is SW Michigan and while we are at this point blessed witth abundant water during our spring and fall seasons, however we are finding that global warming and summer drought is impacting our growing. For now, we have 4, 275 gallon food safe, plastic totes to water our garden in the dry months. We capture the water that rolls off of our pole barn metal roof and hold it in these tanks until needed. Water will soon be an issue for many homesteads in the states at least. Blessings to you! Donna at the Small House Homestead, SW Michigan. http://smallhousebigskyhomestead.wordpress.com

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Walkerland March 26, 2017 - 9:54 am

Hello Donna, I am so glad you found us. I will look up your article on Mother Earth News, I am very interested in learning more about ageing gracefully on the homestead. There are a lot of people coming into retirement who want to start a homestead but wonder if they can do it and for how long. They often ask, is it worth it? Although we are not yet retirement age, we certainly get asked this question.

We have a drilled well on this property and have plans for setting up some water catchment systems for help with watering the gardens. Last summer was terribly dry so we relied on heavy layers of mulch and was able to keep watering down to three times a week. I have been reading about dry farming, and other dry climate techniques and built some Hugelkultur raised beds (raised beds filled with rotting wood) that are supposed to retain moisture really well (should know this summer if they are working).

I’ve been reading your blog this morning and I am really enjoying it! Your gardens and photos are beautiful!

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Crystal June 6, 2017 - 9:56 pm

ha ha tell Ryan I totally agree with his dislike of NB Power and yes our job market SUCKS which is the nicest way I can put it without several swear words involved . I’m also in NB , near Grand Lake with our own small homestead , homeschooling my 4 kids , raising chickens , ducks and meat rabbits , gardening and enjoying not being in the city , my husband works in Alberta cause well our job market sucks…

Welcome to NB

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Cheryl July 27, 2017 - 3:30 pm

Hello…..I just came across your homesteading blog; I’m not a homesteader and at 64 yrs old dont expect to be one. 🙂 but I love reading about homesteading which is how I came across your site; I grew up in the country but have lived in a city 40+ years now; we do have a small backyard garden and I preserve what I can. I was curious as to where you are in NB; I live in Fredericton. I am enjoying reading about your homesteading experience.

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Melissa August 7, 2017 - 1:53 pm

Just getting started on canning and preserving food.Was to young to remember and learn from my grandmother before she past away . Looking forward to reading more your articles. Thanks

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June Williams December 3, 2017 - 8:34 pm

I enjoyed reading all the comments and your answers. I was raised on a dairy farm, we had all the animals and were very self sufficient. That includes my Mom giving me home permanents and sewing me feed sack dresses that I wore to country school. I am so grateful how I was raised, being a country pumpkin is a privilege only blessed by a few of us. We butchered our own meat and canned all of our own vegetables, one day a year we made our soap in a big kettle in the smoke house. My aunt would come over and supervise (ha! she seemed to know it all). My Mom would grate the soap after it cured for washing, I think she invented soap flakes. I have always regretted that our treadle sewing machine got away from us (estate auction ?) that I just recently purchased a Singer treadle and had it restored. It is beautiful and is nestled in my living room. We also made our own cheese. I have stayed close to my roots. I love to sew …hand stitch embroidery and making quilt tops, I have them long arm quilted, small projects such as table runners and wall hangings I do quilt on my new fangled machine. I could not give an educated guess as to how many quarts of veggies and fruit I have canned in my life, I always much preferred canning to freezing. May I mention I am going on 78 years old ? I love life ! I was born and raised north of Highland, Illinois, home of Pet Milk and about 30 miles east of St. Louis, Mo. It’s where God put the axis of the earth. My ancestors homesteaded there coming from Switzerland. My Daddy played a fiddle, we had such a happy little family, there were four girls, one in now in heaven. Live-Love-Laugh, Miss Nuggy

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Charlotte Walker December 3, 2017 - 9:37 pm

Hello June, thank you so much for sharing your story, you transported me back in time. I sincerely enjoyed it and would love to hear more!! Charlotte

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June Williams December 3, 2017 - 8:44 pm

Miss Nuggy here. I hope you do or will consider growing gourds. I love them, so many shapes and forms. I paint on them, make all kinds of containers. A nice hobby to think about for those winter months. I also weave baskets. If it were not for my age and the condition of my joints I would be growing some of my own grasses, etc. This could go on forever. If you want to send me an email I will forward you a few pictures of things I have made.

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Charlotte Walker December 3, 2017 - 9:34 pm

Hello June! You can email me at: [email protected]. I would love to see your photos! I have grown gourds once but the frost came early and ruined them.I will try again this year. I have just been reading about making baskets with pine needles. I am going to give it a try this winter but I truly would love to learn how to weave baskets. Thank you so much for sharing with us!

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Karen DeGrace December 7, 2017 - 5:15 pm

Just discovered your blog. Love it! Welcome to New Brunswick 🙂

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