I was 12 when I started dreaming of my future homestead. I grew up in Anchorage, so of course I wanted to get out in the bush. I’d have lots of land, probably 160 acres. I’d fish and hunt, but also have plenty of room for an Alaskan bush-style farm. Goats, chickens, and of course, a mammoth garden. My fantasy family and I would live happily ever after in none other than a handmade log cabin.
I left Anchorage three days after graduating from high school. While all my friends went off to college in the big cities, I took whatever opportunities I could find to get rural. Did a lot of obscure kinds of work, and lived all over Alaska looking for my dream place.
Eventually found a friend with land in Haines where my then partner and I could run wild with our woods ideas. Built a tree-house, root cellar, sauna, smokehouse, and a huge garden. Taught ourselves and learned from friends how to fish, hunt, butcher, can, garden, build and keep ourselves warm with a woodstove. We stayed for four years. I guess it was our own “college education.”
In 2002, heart broken, I left Haines and all we had built, and landed in Cordova. Five years later I was married with a newborn baby and a house. A house in town. On a city lot. Life’s full of surprises. The married part I loved (still do), the baby I adored (still do), the house in town part was an emotional upheaval.
You can’t always get what you want. Sometimes what you want isn’t even what you want. The long and short of it is here I am — right in town (true, a tiny and remote town), in a house, on a city lot. Not waking to the sound of the creek. Not noticing the northern lights when I have to go out to pee at 2 am. Not staying strong by hauling my water and firewood up the hill.
I’m still doing most of the same things really, just with better lighting. Still eating fish and wild game every day. Still picking berries as a staple food. Still growing much of my own veggies. Still heating with wood.
I still look out our kitchen window at a mostly untouched mountain, still have trees on two sides of our house. Still can walk out of our backyard for a jaw-dropping hike. Can’t complain too much, really.
So, I work steadily at my own little “micro-stead.” I’m slowly building up dirt in my average sized yard. I’ve got a little flock of soon to be egg layers. I’ve promised my husband I’ll never want a cow, but he won’t know till he reads this that I dream of goats (just one?)
I compost our organic waste, if it’s not chicken food. My husband cuts all our firewood, quarters it, and I stack, chop kindling and build fires to heat our house. I sometimes build things, knit, sew or am otherwise crafty.
We have a very miniature homestead. And we don’t need to get in a bush plane, or even a car, to go to town. And I can sit here and type away on this devil of modern invention to share whatever I know with all of you. And “subscribe” to “feeds” of your “blogs” (this is all new to me) for inspiration and a feeling of strange community.
It does seem like we are on the edge of a movement. A punk urban homesteading movement. I see pieces of it all over the web, and some great new books. It’s exciting! I want to ride this train too! Here we go!
“But if you try sometimes,
you just might find-
you can get what you need.”