Never once in my youth did I think I’d someday become a homesteader. I never thought I’d have an interest in growing my own herbs, learning about true honey vs. honey shipped into the USA, or knowing what “free range” eggs bought from the store really means. Growing up I had never truly realized the significance of the American farmer on our economy or the fact that when my high school history teacher told us to always, “follow the money” that would include regulations on produce, dairy and meat production and the fact that just because something is “FDA Compliant” doesn’t mean its good for you. I hope that doesn’t make me sound too crazy, I’m just telling you all of that so you know that I never really intended to become a homesteader, it just happened.
In 2016 I graduated from college and started life out on my own. I moved to an area just outside of Destin, FL called Valparisio and rented a fully furnished room for $500 per month. I’ve never liked the idea of renting and $500 seemed outrageous to me while I know it would have felt like a steal to others. I felt like I was throwing away $500 every month and hated the idea of being so wasteful. In May of 2017 I married my husband and we moved into a 2014 Keystone Hideout 31RBDS. I thought we had made it! We owned our first “home” and were spending only less than $300 for our lot rental fee. Water, sewer, a pool, a dog park, and an amazing community of other RV dwellers was included in that $300 and we loved every moment of it. That all came to a screeching halt on a beautiful September day.
I was leaving the parking lot at work when I went to listen to the voicemails. There was one from my husband informing me that the RV park owner noticed water coming from our RV and stated that the park owner had turned off our water. I didn’t exactly know what to think of it other than that maybe a pipe broke or the water pressure valve stopped working. What greeted me as I drove to our RV was something completely different. Water was gushing out from under the RV. The bottom was bowing and there was a huge puddle beneath the RV. Inside water was all over the floor, what greeted me in the bathroom was even worse. The toilet was broken, the shower curtain was ripped up, and the drain for the bath was plugged with the broken shower curtain. Everything was a mess.
What happened over the next few months after that fateful flooding was nothing easy. We stayed in the RV for over a month because our Insurance company was dragging their feet on checking it and seeing if it was totaled. I got mold poisoning, become very ill, had almost no energy, suffered severe headaches, and lost my voice for a week. We spent nights sleeping in below freezing temperatures with the windows open because our heating system was destroyed in the flooding and the mold was too bad to close the windows. When we couldn’t live that way anymore we moved into a hotel and spent the greater part of 3 months staying there. We spent thanksgiving in the hotel, had a ornament free Christmas tree in that hotel, had shady neighbors in that hotel and had our fair share of sleepless nights.
After that experience, we moved into our 900 sqft home and started on our way toward a more self sufficient lifestyle. We worked hard to make the backyard usable (and safe because there was so much trash and broken glass in the yard.) Our experience living in an RV made us more resourceful and hands-on about our home. It also made us appreciate what we have even more.
Getting sick, becoming “homeless,” and living in a hotel taught us to be extremely grateful for everything, even the smallest things. Whether it is the first seedling popping through the soil or waking up and still having all of our chickens, our past experiences have taught us to appreciate the small things and make the most of everything we have right now. Our journey to homesteading may not be typical but we are thankful for it just the same. It has toughened us, strengthened us, and taught us in ways the easy path of life never would have.
If you are considering becoming a homesteader, do it! Everyone is at their own stage of homesteading so it’s totally okay to start with just one small things. Some homesteaders live in apartments and focus on growing their own food indoors, some live on 100 acre plots and are completely self sustainable, some live off the grid, and some, like us, live on 1/4 if an acre just outside the city limits. Wherever you are, dive right in! Creating your own homestead is an amazing experience.