Getting Settled and Getting Started – Our Journey to Homestead Living

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Our Journey to Homestead Living – Getting Started

Read Part 1 – Moving On with Life first here.

We couldn’t move into our new farm right away as the family that currently lived there were taking their time moving out so we found a kind campground owner that would let us have water on during the day (this was in November, most campgrounds are closed). We stayed there in our rv for a few weeks getting to know our new town and the surrounding area.

Finally it was moving day. The camper, the tractor, and our things were moved over to the house. The papers were signed and we moved all our boxes into the laundry room/2nd bedroom until we decided what we were going to do.

After reading the inspection and looking at the house ourselves, we knew there were many things we needed to do to the home. It was built in 1890 and didn’t appear to have been well taken care of, at least for the last many decades. After placing all our boxes in the house we started exploring and learned that there are only so many things the inspection report can tell you.

Homestead Living

In our minds we had a list of the things that needed to be done to the house to get it into livable shape before we moved out of the camper, most things we figured we would just live with and fix later down the road.

One of these things I thought I could live with was the kitchen. It wasn’t pretty but I figured it would serve it’s purpose. After we signed the papers I decided to check out my new kitchen. It’s small but I’ve been cooking in a camper for over a year so it felt huge to me! The cabinets were old but I love all those tutorials you can find on re-painting cabinets so I figured that’s what I would do. As I looked around the kitchen I pulled open a cabinet door to see the space inside…

Out came this horrible, horrible smell. Followed by a shower of mouse feces. I slammed the door shut and moved on to the next cabinet…same thing, bottom cabinets…same thing. It was disgusting. I ran and found hubby and told him, “They have to go, I’m not putting food in there!”

Room after room in the house we went through and found trash, unsanitary conditions, critter feces EVERYWHERE, and things that were unsafe. We knew we were going to have to fix up this house before we bought it, we just didn’t realize quite how much love this house was going to need.

After looking over everything and feeling a little more than slightly discouraged, we headed back into the camper to talk about a new plan. Thankfully we’d had a bit of money left from our own house sale that would get us started, the rest of the money to fix up the house would have to come over the next couple months while we worked. The house would have to be worked on at night since hubby would have to go to work during the day. No part of this was going to be easy.

But the more we talked the more we remembered about the original dream we had. After traveling for a while we wanted to settle down on some land again and build our little dream house. This house didn’t seem like a dream right now but with hubby’s handyman skills and my decorating skills, we could make it a home that we wanted to be in.

Homestead Living

During these discussions of what we would do with the home, I often thought about the home its-self and all it had gone through over the years. Almost 124 years ago, someone had worked very hard to build this house. This house has withstood the test of time, horrible winters, many tornadoes, the dust bowl, and so much more. There are 3 “ghost houses” within a mile of us that are hollow and empty. They didn’t make it, someone hadn’t rescued them. They were the fate of this house if something wasn’t done.

I thought about the joy that this house had brought to people once, a long time ago. The Christmas’ that had been celebrated here, the birthdays, the new family members. After talking about what we would do we went outside in the dark of the night and looked at the house in the moonlight, the large trees making shadows all around it. I looked at this house and I knew that if we gave this house some love and care again, that it was going to help us achieve our goals. To be debt free, to live as self sufficiently as possible, and to have a joyful, simple life. In our eyes this house was not a burden or a disappointment, it was telling us that it wanted to help us. We just had to help it first.

But we were about to discover that our “findings” on the house were the tip of the iceberg….


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  1. Melissa, I’ve thought about that many times with sadness when I see a farmhouse torn down so that a subdivision can be built. It’s like it never existed. Good for you for improving your farm and making it your own – you won’t regret it! Hugs!

    1. I know. It makes me sad to think about the family that once lived there, all the memories they built there and all the hard work they put into it 🙁

  2. Wow it is refreshing to read of your homesteading adventure. About 2 years ago we bought a farmette on 3 acres with 4 ancient outbuildings as well. The house needs tlc but with Gods help we are doing the necessary work to make it our home as well. I wish you the best on your journey!

  3. What a difficult but wonderful adventure you are taking on. I am working hard to get to that point of taking on a some land and an old farmhouse, too. You are an inspiration. Blessings to you and your family.

  4. My husband and I have been fixing my families original homestead in ND and I feel too that if we do not save the farm who will. I love the thinking about how my grandma and all of her siblings grew up in this tiny 3 bedroom house with no sewer or water. It still has the 2 seater outhouse and no running water inside the house. It has been hard work this winter but your story gives me hope that it’ll be better. 🙂

  5. In my early 20’s we bought a house that was built in 1880 that needed work. Now in my late 50’s we bought a house that needs a LOT of work. We know the house was built prior to 1948 but we are not sure exactly when it was built. Either way it was not taken care of. Like you, we found animal feces and actually dead mice in the wall. There was no hot water tank, no heat source, rotten floors as well as multiple other problems. Fortunately my husband works in construction. Unfortunately we live about 7 hours away. We planned on relocating as soon as we get it livable. Since buying it a year ago we have had multiple set backs, including my husband ending up with a fracture that put him out of commission for several weeks. BUT this is a labor of love. And even though there is still a great deal of work to be done on the house, we are planning on moving by the end of the year. We are doing all the work ourselves as money is tight. My husband is no longer able to work in construction due to a seizure disorder. And at his age training in another field is not really an option that he likes. We will live without a lot of things when we move. But we will gain much….we will have peace of mind knowing it is paid for.

    1. Kim, if you call your county courthouse you should be able to find more records on when the house was built, ect. We’ve had good luck going through old county books and finding info on who owned the house, when they remodeled it, ect.

  6. Merissa,
    I so enjoy your writing. You just have a gift. I am looking forward as someone else said to the next chapter. I admire you and your little family. All you are doing is so awesome. Good luck!!

  7. I am absolutely loving reading of your homestead adventure. I so wanted to this when I was in my twenties but, circumstances (bad choices) did not allow it. Now in my 50’s I would still love to be able to do this….but, once again I guess it’s not in God’s plans. So I am so loving the fact that you are sharing your family’s adventure with us. I can’t wait for the next chapter and more pictures. Love it…prayers and wishes for all your dreams to come true…..

  8. I love it! The story, not the sweat and heartache you have endured, I can’t wait for the next chapter! 🙂

  9. Wow! I keep thinking about the people who just moved out of those conditions! EEEWWWW! This is going to be such an amazing ride, I can tell, thank you so much for sharing it!! I love a good renovation story. I have always loved old things, what you said about ‘seeing’ the history of those who lived and loved there, reminds me of something I’d do, too! Can’t wait till next installment!!! JJJ

  10. I’m really enjoying reading about your house and settling in. I’ve always had this little dream of doing something similar, but I lack the diy-abilities and patience to do so, so I’m going to live vicariously through you!

  11. I can’t wait for the next installment in the series…I came to my old farm in my twenties…not out of wanting to, but out of necessity. the original part of the house was built in the mid 1800’s, so I know what you have faced in repairs thus far, and the things that will come further on down the line cause I have been living my story for 30+ years now. you fall in love with your land…and while at times it can become a money pit…it also becomes a labor of love, a desire to be able to leave something of yourself behind for your children. Continue to enjoy your new adventure as much as I have enjoyed mine.

  12. We bought an old farmhouse built in 1840. It has been an adventure at times but is so worth it in the long run. Not only are your restoring a part of history you are making your own history and memories. We had asked if there was a well. We were told sure there are four of them. The main question we didn’t ask were any hooked up to the house. Just one of the many things we have found. But like I mentioned so worth it in the end. Good Luck with your new/old home.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with us! I can’t wait to hear more. My mother renovated a small house that everyone thought should probably be demolished, including me. With patience, hard work and lots of elbow grease she has been in her very cute little dream house for about 10 years now!

  14. In 2005 we moved into a “rustic” 2 story log cabin on 22 acres with a 5 year plan for renovations. This year (year 9) we just paid for our building permits and staked out the footprint of the additions. My husband is a carpenter and we will be doing the work ourselves. It is scary and thrilling at the same time. I remember when we first moved in the “critter” activity and how overwhelming it felt. Now it is our home for sure and it feels great to know we are only doing necessary renovations to make it more functional, not trying to turn it into a “new” house.

  15. i have been so waiting for the stories of your journey on your house. we have lived in the same house that we bought in 1972 & it was a 2 bedroom then, payments only 167.00 a mo built on , remodeled, raised 4 kids in it, still only had a bath and a half,it is an ongoing process, always had a garden, just the two of us now ,but still like where we are and know what we have in the old house cant wait to see more

  16. I’ve been so looking forward to hearing how it’s all been going. Glad you are just about there, look forward to the next instalment.

  17. What a story! How about a book? Really, you should write one! Please? We are in our 60s and 70s, live in a small town, and we are working to try to grow most of our produce in our yard, and buy everything else locally. Having chickens and a goat or two would be a dream come true, but the town says no. We will do what we can while we can!

  18. I, just like the others, admire your family and all your hard work and just can’t wait to hear the rest…….♥

  19. I love how you identify with the house. My husband and I feel the personality if each house we remodel. We try to honor that while bringing it back to life. We’re about to embark on a new, scary adventure, building from scratch! We’ve always listened to the house. This is intimidating!

    Thank you for writing this series. I’ve been following you since before you sold the last house. I love that you have experienced, and shared, so many lifestyles.

  20. I really admire what you’ve been doing and coping so well despite everyday struggles. Your recipes etc., are always interesting although some of the things are a puzzle as I live I the U.K. Looking forward to your next part of your story :). Well done to you and your family

  21. I am in real estate, and of course a majority of my work comes from sales in sub divisions, etc.. The ones that are nearest to my heart are like yours. The homes that are rough and not perfect. The ones that have celebrated generations of family gathering. These are often the most difficult (and pay the least-lol) but I get so much joy at merging these homes with families like yours. While my home is not a McMansion and I live well within my means, practice sustainability and a bit of self sufficiency, I am looking forward to downsizing and simplifying. I appreciate you sharing this journey. Congratulations!

  22. Hi Merissa. My husband and I hope someday to go off and find a little slice of heaven and redo the farm house, too. My parents re-did my grandmother’s childhood home when I was a girl. It was a dream come true for them. They restored a family home that otherwise would’ve been destroyed. Our hope is wherever the Lord takes us, that we can instill in our children that the dreams you have inside your heart don’t die just because it takes a few more routes to get there. My hubby and I anticipate the day we can move somewhere more private and create our homestead life together. Until then, grow where you’re planted, right – this little 3 acres is quite a bit of heaven now filled with dreams. We hope when we pass this house onto the next buyer that the sense of wonderment and joy that was created here will somehow live in the walls in what we created and bless them. Best wishes on your new-found dreams!

  23. Remodeling a house is always a labor of love. Not just love for the house itself, but love for the future inhabitants and especially for the person(s) remodeling the house. It can be trying and frustrating to have a vision, but an inability to make it come true. Sometimes it’s the house that tells you that something won’t work, sometimes it’s your bank account and sometimes it’s your spouse.
    6 years ago I bought a 1960s raised ranch. The house had good bones and was at the end of a dirt road in the area I wanted to live in. I am an artist by trade and have never owned a house before. I have never been able to infuse a house with my creativity before. I work on the house as money allows. I refuse to accept any debt so it has been a long process, but I see in my mind how wonderful it will all be when I am done. I see the chickens and big vegetable garden, I see the kids playing in the yard, I see daffodils that I will some day plant.

  24. Your journey is so impressive! I came across your blog quite a while ago, and to see how far your family has come is truly inspiring 🙂 Thank you for sharing your journey and the updates of your home. It all looks beautiful! God Bless!