Why We Chose Homesteading

by Charlotte Walker

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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