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Good Company

by Tara

We're feeling a bit better this week, and a big part of it has to do with the fact that we've had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with two different couples who are also hopeful homesteaders. Chatting about shared dreams with like-minded people always gets us inspired. The first pair, Maria and Olaf (along with their daughter Ylva) drove down from Montreal to see us earlier this month.

Maria & Ylva Maria & Ylva Olaf & Maria Maria, Ylva & Olaf Olaf Maria & Ylva

Maria has been following our journal for ages, and we've exchanged a few emails over the years. Now, she and her partner Olaf are thinking about starting a homestead. We had a wonderful time exploring our land, and sharing all of our plans and fears, dreams and frustrations over glasses of delicious beer they brought from Montreal. A few days after they left, we received this email from Maria:

Olaf and I were very much re-inspired and reminded of our dreams, our goals, and that it is totally important to have faith in ourselves that we can do it! (No matter how vague they all might be still at this point). It was good for us to see the immensity of a starting-from-scratch-homestead in the forest, and think more realistically of such ideas in the future.

Probably looking for a place with a bit of existing infrastructure is what we will pursue more at this point—hopefully something with a bit of forest! Hearing the damp crackle of leaves under foot on late fall walks is such music!


The next couple we hung out with was Leigh and Max. We met Leigh at the Tasha Tudor museum in Brattleboro when we were land-hunting two years ago, and she's been following our adventures sporadically ever since. She recently emailed us for advice about her own land-buying project—she and her husband are looking to move from a small cabin on his parents' property, to a place of their own where they'll be able to build a house, start a farm, and expand their goat cheese operation.

Leigh Max Leigh & Max' Goat

Instead of corresponding with Leigh and Max via email, we decided to take a day-trip to visit them. Over the course of an afternoon, we went on a hike with their goats, had a delicious vegetable soup with fresh chèvre, and visited a piece of land they've been considering purchasing. My favorite part of the trip was hanging out in their small cabin in the homey kitchen/living area, chatting by their warm wood stove.

In some ways, Leigh and Max are living the lifestyle I hope to be in few years: caring for a few goats, making cheese, living in a small cottage, and preparing tinctures and teas from a plethora of wildcrafted herbs. Visiting their place (which wasn't much larger than ours will be) helped me remember where we're headed, and how, if we work hard this coming season, we really should have a cozy home to live in next winter.

To Maria & Olaf, Leigh & Max, thank you for sharing your time with us!



I'm happy to see that the clouds have lifted a bit. The last 60 days heading into the winter solstice are always tough for me too. I've found Gene Logsdon's books to be salve for the soul.
Posted by Jeff Mease on November 24th, 2013 at 9:29 PM
Thanks, Jeff. Though I've heard of Gene Logsdon, and I'm familiar with his books, I've never actually read them. I'll have to see if my library has any of them!
Posted by Tara on November 25th, 2013 at 12:51 PM
You're sounding so wretched. My heart goes out to you. I think everyone who reads this blog wants to somehow fix it. Might I make a concrete suggestion? Look into doing substitute teaching in your local school district. Most districts don't require a teaching certificate, but do require a B.A or B.S. From what I've read so far about your journey through life (only from the beginning of your bike tour through this awful November), both of you are extremely enterprising and talented, and you know tons of things between the two of you. You could also advertise yourselves as speakers at events, etc. There has to be some money in there somewhere...anyway, the pay is not great for sub teachers, but it will get you out the, etc. and would be a lot of fun--I'd bet you'd make great subs and would end up in demand and could end up working every day if you wanted, or as little as you want. The stories you could tell those kids! It also would be a great opportunity to make connections in the community, different kinds than the ones you have made already. Go for it the way you have gone with all the challenges (huge challenges!) in the past.

In any case, I know you'll get through this misery one way or another...
Posted by Nancy Kane on November 25th, 2013 at 7:25 PM
I saw this stove and thought about you guys,you could use it to heat your camper,then heat your TF cabin when you get it built,could proubly heat your workshop.Have a great thanksgiving.
Posted by BGW on November 26th, 2013 at 11:29 AM
That stove is really cool Bruce! Have you seen the Morsø 1410? I think that is what we're going to wind up with--they carry them in Bennington.
Posted by Tyler on November 26th, 2013 at 1:26 PM
I just sat here and thought about your biking journal and asked myself which of those days of absolute uncertainty would make you laugh and feel better............................... As I recall, it was the Mongolian border crossing where you and your gang were locked between two countries for the weekend with no way out or a clue when the border guards would return.......................... there, feel better???
Posted by Rich Chandler on November 26th, 2013 at 8:08 PM