About Homesteading 411

A few years ago, now fading to a distant memory, we lived in one of the largest and most vibrant cities in the World: Singapore.  With 4.86 million people in 274 square miles; and in 2009 Singapore ranked as the tenth most expensive city for expatriates to live in.

Four years ago, in 2005, we moved to a 150-acre run-down Oregon farm in an area with 365 families in about the same amount of land.  *Gads!*  In Singapore I couldn’t open a bedroom curtain without seeing people and having people see me.  Now I can go for weeks without seeing another soul.

The clean-up tasks of this original homesteading farm were daunting.  It took three years to remove over-turned trucks, rotting buildings, trash by the acre, and de-limb the lower branches of about five thousand Douglas Fir trees.

The photo shown above was taken after fifteen months of cleanup.  It was sure great to finally see green.

As time continued on the farm, knowledge came slowly.  Not only did we have to learn how to bring the farm back to its former glory, but to gain gardening skills, food storage skills, and knowledge about animals.  This blog is for me to make sense of all this new knowledge and a way to document the hard-earned lessons from this amazing transition.

If you have fallen across this blog, I hope it tickles your fancy, perhaps encourages, or just plan old entertains.  I will post lessons that may include just about anything, such as:

  • Blanch eggplant before freezing, as freezing alone does not stop the maturation of eggplant. (Cooking over-mature eggplant renders a meal tough if not completely uneatable.)
  • While burning forest debris, never burn poison oak as its oils transfer to the lungs through smoke… and most likely someone will end up in the emergency room.
  • Do not play with male llamas until after they turn four months old. Otherwise the male, when he reaches maturity, will try to claim dominance over its human handler.

The main purpose of this journal is to keep my sanity when life gets too difficult or too lonely.  It also acts as a record of milestones, small accomplishments if you will, to help encourage and remind me that although farm work may be never-ending, the rewards are in the details…

… and I’m learning to love details.

My best wishes to you, you who have taken a moment to share in this wonderful homesteading life.

Keep your veggies watered and your pigs in their pen,

Kathleen

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10 Responses to About Homesteading 411

  1. Lana says:

    Wonderful Blog! Keep up the great work!

    Thanks, Lana

  2. amanda says:

    nice work kathleen. love what you’ve done with the ranch.

  3. Skip Sheppard says:

    Kathleen – if you are still working this blog, drop me a line. I am not one who subscribes to general public communication (this is my first blog response) so I am more comfortable on email exchanges. I am a current Expat who yearns for the day he can return to his little piece of life. I reside in a megalopolis similar to your ex-home (my favorite city on earth – Singapore [albeit I haven’t visited since 1996]), the cutting-edge city of Dubai. Five+ years in the BIG city has brought me almost to the point of madness. It is only my trips home to my little MS plot that keeps me going. Drop me a line if we have something to talk about.
    Regards,
    Skip
    Dubai, UAE

    • homestead411 says:

      Skip,

      Thank you so much for writing! Your response has lit a fire for me to continue working on this blog.

      I remember days in Singapore where people filled the streets, subways, and stores. I longed for space to breathe, and natural expanses to view. I would go to Bikit Timah Nature Reserve to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
      Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
      The reserve was a real wild place. Occasionally I would startle a cobra crossing a path or jump over an assortment of monstrous insects as I jogged through the wilds. I took guests there and even had a band of monkeys jump on a young friend and pull a candy bar from her grasp.

      Our homestead has the nature, but the dangers are limited to poison oak, mountain lion sightings (which so far doesn’t pose a danger, but keeps us watching our small cattle herd more closely.), and frisky horses.
      I am currently learning the skills of cheese making. In fact, I have six gallons waiting for culture today. So I’ll dust off my digital camera and update the blog again soon.

      Best regards to you in Dubai! I’ll try to provide small glimpses of our homesteading life in rural Oregon.

  4. My wife and I are seeking a rural life as well and are looking at making a transition to a homesteading life. I find your story inspiring and exciting…

    A few curiosities:

    What was the process like with locating, financing, moving onto your homestead?

    What motivated you to make such a dramatic life-change? (I’m a therapist at heart, what can I say?)

    Thanks for the great info and story,

    Bruce

    • Kathleen says:

      Hi Bruce,

      Thank you for your kind comments. Your questions were the inspiration of my latest blog entry that describes our move to the farm.

      We’ve tried a couple of different options to have the farm financially support us. We currently sell quality beef and pork. We also sell hay and wheat from the fields. Earlier, we worked with the county to put in an event venue. Just when we were about finished, the county put a halt on it due to an overriding state law.

      We’re now working hard on raising a European plum orchard and soon to establish a specialty distillery to primarily produce European plum brandy. This brandy is a traditional Romanian spirit that Nicolae learned to make from early childhood.

      Kathleen

  5. Lori Hedlund says:

    Hi Kathleen,

    Your story strikes a chord with me. First, I have lived overseas several times and have experienced reverse culture shock. Life here in the U.S. is quite different from other parts of the world. Second, my husband and I are moving to the Willamette valley in April 2013 to begin a farming venture — raising 100% grass fed bison. We are presently living the in the San Francisco Bay area. So big changes are in store for us! I also feel for you in the loss of your mother. My mother died a year and a half ago. It still is painful and a true loss.
    Blessings to you in your farming ventures. We are working on getting connected with local farmers in the Willamette Valley.

    Lori

    • Kathleen says:

      Lori,

      Yes! Big changes are coming your way. I wish you all the best as you move from SF to the Willamette Valley. My neighbor (country speak for within 10 miles) has a beautiful organic farm. They came from SF as well.

      Please feel free to contact me again. If you’re passing through our way, I’d love to meet up with you.

      All the best, and big blessings to you and your family.
      Kathleen

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