We hear several things pretty often… “Your story is SO inspiring!!! I want to lose weight too!” or “I’ve always wanted a farm/homestead. I want to be like you!” or “I wanna be off grid, just like you!” or “I’ve wanted your life for all of mine… can I come live at your farm?” or “oh my gosh you are like the cutest couple ever!!” or even better yet…. “ya’ll are badasses”.
When I’ve gotten featured on Women Who Farm this year, that kind of commentary grows by leaps and bounds. I woke up several times this week to inboxes stuffed with these sorts of amazing comments. Now that I’ve been asked to be a writer for Women Who Farm, I’m guessing it might happen even more! So, I just wanted to talk about it a little this morning. I wanted to say thank you so much for all the awesome confidence building complements! But I also wanted to talk about something else. That what I want… is for you to want to be just like YOU!
As I was talking to the forager yesterday morning about this, she got a smile on her face and just started singing. A song that felt so darn appropriate for this situation that we stopped our conversation and danced around the living room singing along to it.
Change the words to “woman cub” and this song is kind of what it feels like when folks first hear about us. That we have a magic red flower to share that will make all their “dreamsteads” come true. And actually, we do. That red flower we hold is our passion for how we live coupled with hard work and the willingness to share our process, successes, and mistakes with you. In the hopes that very soon, you will hold a red flower of your very own… At your homestead! And that YOU will inspire people with it too!
We both do it, not because we are super confident humans that love public speaking, but because we want to see the world change SO much. We want to see humans realize how amazing, capable, and badass we can ALL be! We share our stories with you in the hopes that it will inspire you. Of course our hope is to inspire you to change the world, to share with others, and to become a human that you LOVE and are so proud to be. We want you to want to be just like YOU!
I’ve tried to talk about this on my blog so often over the last few years. I make it incredibly clear when folks visit the farm by waving my hands around and saying “We ain’t no experts now” right when people land in the nest. And it is not because we are being modest, it is because we aren’t experts!! That would likely take decades, not six years! We are still students of living this way and likely will be for a long while. And we just LOVE that. We are both smart and are both good at a lot of things. That means we can both get bored easily. Learning about living the way we do very obviously has no end that we will find until we are much, much older ladies. So, it’s just perfect for these two educators who love to keep learning and who also DO the things they talk about with students.
The Forager has a lot planned for how she wants to start sharing with you in 2017. However, after the week’s emails–she told me she would love it if we would co-write a post to try to clear up some common misconceptions. Even though I’ve talked about this a lot before, we’d love to go ahead and put them all together into one post… Together!
Losing weight. Yes, we lost weight and that was great!! However, at least for the farmer, I didn’t do it in the way that I would if I was starting again. (The forager is going to talk to you about her weight loss later and separately, we had two totally different journeys in this department) I’d have taken some pictures and documented where I was when I started. Now, I majorly regret that. I didn’t make a plan with my primary care doctor, a nutritionist, or find a naturopathic doctor. That would have been incredibly smart. It wasn’t safe to just wing it like I did, and safety should always come first. It wasn’t just farming either, that got the weight and depression off. I only eat organic and gluten free. I gave up having a cell phone six years ago. I use minimal grid power. I don’t have plumbing in my home. We use wood heat. So, I chop a lot of wood and carry a lot of water. I spend a ton of time outside. I even sleep outside some of the year. So, it’s not some magic trick. It was a total lifestyle change. If you want to try the homesteader’s life, on a quest to lose weight, I want you to do better than I did! There is a lot to it, it’s not simple. I sure don’t want anyone to throw their metabolism off or get a gallstone…. LIKE I DID! So, I’d love to introduce you to our awesome naturopathic doctors, Glenn and Marty Ingram from Through the Woods Natural Health. They have been helping us both a ton lately to get our bodies patched up after putting them through a huge detox of losing a collective 225 pounds. We just love that their medical care and support covers our whole lifestyle. When I stepped on a scale on November the 3rd of 2016 and saw that it read 172, Marty and Glenn helped me approach this thing the right way this time. Post gallbladder surgery and a complete lack of exercise had packed pounds back on me. I also went to my primary care and got new blood work done. I took a picture of myself in my birthday suit so that I could compare it to others later (I won’t be sharing those with y’all!! They’re just for me!). I weighed in this morning at 157. I feel a lot better about how it went this time, since I’ve had a couple of doctors tracking me as I go. And I’m telling you about it now–because I’m still mid journey with this thing. I still have about ten more pounds to either lose or turn into shredded farm muscle. I’m not a doctor or a weight loss expert. I’m just a woman who has issues with food. I’ve found a way to design a lifestyle that makes it harder to regain the weight I lost. (Unless you have to sit on your butt for six weeks healing from surgery that you only needed for losing it too fast in the first place!!)
Nov 3, 2016
Dec 14, 2016
(My new garden gym obstacle course has me up to four rounds each of eight push ups, three pull ups, six push ups, fifteen minutes of running, and gaining some serious balance on a beam. Shredded farm muscle here I come!)
Skilling up. Yes, we have a TON of skills we didn’t use to. Yet, we have a TON more we want to have! The Forager finds wild plants, makes primitive crafts, is a terracing and swale making geek, and builds a mean friction fire. She aspires to be a lot farther down her foraged skilled up road one day–as she swears it’s what keeps her looking and feeling 17. ;-p My strengths are cooking, food preservation, teaching, being a homestead housewife, making art…. and then gardening. Notice how that comes last? It’s because I wasn’t born with a green thumb. Gardening has not come easy for me–I had to grow “the plant thing”. I’ve tried to be super honest about it over the years. I’ve also never given up on it, because it is something I want to be good at and I’m willing to work hard to get there. I’m not afraid to laugh at myself or share silly stories with folks about how I used to weed away my ground covers or how I planted 40 asparagus starts upside down. But, I think that is why folks like coming out here so much…. we make things seem approachable. Attainable. We just share what experience we do have. We make them laugh a lot while we do it.
Being off grid. We aren’t. It’s that simple. I say semi-off grid because our house doesn’t have power or plumbing. But there is a small building that is hooked to grid power on our farm. Our tiny intentional neighborhood shares it. It runs our well pump, a communal deep freezer, a modem for internet, and has a power strip for charging batteries. In winter, I run an extension cord to our house for one lamp and to charge our computers and batteries somewhere that has heat. (I didn’t do this for two winters, to make sure I could live by candlelight. I can, so now a lamp feels okay to reintegrate a few months a year) But, that’s it for what we’ve got power wise. Last month our two households used $52.41 of power. (Over half of that is the service fee to get it to the tippy top of our mountain.) I have no idea if we will ever get solar panels, but I’m sure a small setup could handle that. We want to be incredibly sure we are NOT dependent on having power, and it seems to help our anxiety issues to not have so much buzzing about. We have a lot of infrastructure in place in the form of rain barrels and research books for if the power does go out. All of us are completely skilled up and mentally prepared enough to not be upset or even disrupted much when it does. That my friends, was our real off grid goal. It feels incredibly good and empowering to use less power. It has a lot of positive impacts for the environment too.
Living at Eight Owls Farm. We get asked pretty often about if there is an option to live on our farm. We do not plan to have other people live here at this time. Our hope is to give you experiences here that inspire you to homestead, permaculture farm, and forage where you already are! We are part of an intentional neighborhood we love, but are not an intentional community and we no longer aspire to be one for a lot of reasons that would need its very own blog post.
Being the cutest couple. Hey now, even we agree with that one! 😉 But, we need you to know that there is plenty we DON’T agree on around here. We are both incredibly different, have polar opposite passions, and move through the world in quite different ways. I ramble when I talk, she listens and chooses her words carefully–they have a lot of impact when they come out. I’m get’er’done, she’s methodical. I farm, she forages. I love early mornings, she loves late nights. Yet, somehow, those difference seems to bring out the best in each other. I have no idea why that is, but I think it has a lot to do with our homestead lifestyle. We do what we love with our time. These days we focus on doing what works and let go of what doesn’t. We do our best to minimize our stress and don’t hang around folks that have a tendency to add that on. We make a lot of time for spending together and we give each other a lot of room to be different. We’ve worked really hard at it for the last 7.5 years too. Neither of us were the greatest at communication–but we love each other so dang much that we try really, really hard.
Being badass. We saved this for last because it is the most complicated. People started telling us we were badasses three years ago. We didn’t believe it then at all, so it was a bit horrifying to hear. But this past year changed that and we are starting to believe it now. We are pretty badass after all. We think anyone can be. But we want you to know we are human too. We’re not superheroes, wizards or aliens. We are just two women who aspire to be all we can be. We want to inspire folks to try to be all they can be too. And that’s it. We don’t ever want to make anyone else feel stupid, small or like we are better, cooler, or more badass than they are. The two of us have been made to feel that way plenty in our lives and would never wish that on anyone else. Mostly because the kinds of people we usually meet are standing at the beginning of trying to walk down a very different road than the one they are currently on. Which means that they are the baddest of all bad asses. Because being willing to stand at the beginning of a difficult road takes a ton of guts. So, yes–we finally think we are badasses. But, if you have gotten this far reading this long post… it likely means you are trying to find a different road. And that makes YOU a badass to US!
We get it – everyone needs homesteading heroes! Even US! In fact, just yesterday we went and met one of ours. We’ve been wanting to get up to Turtle Island Preserve to meet Eustace Conway for a good long while now and it was a blast making that dream come true yesterday. It was an amazing place to visit! Desere gave us an unbelievable private tour, we got to hang with the man some and we got inspired to all get out! Those folks make you feel incredibly comfortable–talk about approachable and attainable. Turtle Island staff sure manages to find the balance between being bad ass and not making you feel like they are any better than you! Give those fine folks a holler if you want some serious homestead hero inspiration!
So, there you go–the common misconceptions all in one tidy, albeit long, blog post. We can tell you a few things we are both incredibly committed to… Telling you the truth, about how we are set up, and that the most important thing we have grown here is adaptability…. because the way we are set up may have to change year to year as the world changes or as we get older. But we will talk to you about that honestly too. We won’t try to make things look pretty or unrealistic–we want you to know what to expect on your own homestead… and we’ve found that pretty or prefect isn’t usually the case for homestead life. And, that we will never forget what it was like to be who we used to be. To be standing at the beginning. No matter how long we do this, or how big the eight owls following might get, we will give it our best efforts to be just how we are now in this regard. We will try to support you as you grow, we will do our best to build you up and not break you down if you visit here. We will see you as the bad ass we just know you are working to be. We’ll accept and love you just how you are. Because, it’s the eight owls way… we just want to show you how we learned to fly and how we built our nest. So you can go do the same, in your own way.
–the farmer and the forager (we came together and wrote this one together… she talked, I typed, she edited!)