Frustrated with the direction our spiritually starved, consumer driven, waste producing culture was heading we decided to put our belongings into storage and live a simpler lifestyle.
Before our marriage we were best friends who focused on making money for the purpose of
travelling, camping, windsurfing, hiking, etc.
Being single neither of us saved a lot money for the future, and had no major financial assests aside from a car.
Putting it simply we were poor and starting this adventure from the position of having very little money, so if this process interests you don't let money stop you.
As time goes on you will be pleasantly surprised at how much money you actually have and waste. For instance Steph can tell you how much money Dave wasted on coffee and T-shirts with silly sayings on the front :) - so we bought the best Cappicino maker we could and stopped going to shops in the first year alone this saved us a couple hundred dollars.
2001 - Simple Living Begins
As Steph explored topics of simple living, sustainable energy, organic gardening and clothing materials, canning, and other "homesteading" skills, Dave explored topics related to wilderness survival, natural medicines, forest gardening and other non-technology related homesteading skills...we began to plan the process of lightening our earthly load. We donated most of our belongings to those who really needed them.
We researched cultures known for simplicity (ie; Shaker, Amish, Mennonite, etc) and sustainability (First Nations, Sami, Permaculture, etc), then developed and adopted a new worldview that was healthy for our family, which focused on the lost arts of living simply, sustainably, and creatively - which by the way served to enhance our spiritual believes and convictions.
Tip: Go to the library often - finding books and videos about topics of interest - if you find yourself continually renewing certian books or videos buy them. Don't get into the buying of random "green" books - only buy those things that will be of on-going value.
2002 - Money Issues
Note: If you think you can't afford to do this and really want to, don't let it stop you - throughout this process we have been on a limited budget and have done very well. If you own property or a house consider down-sizing to finance your dream of simplicity - or getting out of debt.
We began to focus the use of our money in paying off every debt we had, while investing the rest of our money into buying our homesteading and sustainable energy gear and even though we didn't have the money for a deposit on land we started shopping for it to get a better idea of what we were looking for - this stopped us from jumping at the first piece of land that came available and helped us to stoke our dream into an outright passion.
If you plan to do the same we highly recommend you make a plan to pay off your debts while researching and contacting anyone who's done this before for their tips and advice. Then, while concentrating on this on-going list of the materials needed be stingy don't buy anything unless it is on sale and of incredible quality. By taking close to seven years to buy our gear, then our property, we were able to do it without any debt (other than the cost of land). Much like the Amish live without debt.
Since the "buying" gear part is on-going you will find that if you think it out well you need less "stuff" than you think.
MONEY SAVING TIPS: Pay attention to solar and wind power equipment prices and distributors, these can be very expensive so buy them ON SALE only. Buy everyone in your family excellent quality bikes (not necessarily expensive) and use them whenever possible, your health will get better and the money you save on gas will add up quickly.
2004 - Creative Clothing
2004 - Creative Clothing
We traded in our factory spewed chemical rich clothes for their more organic (usually much better quality) cousins and when that didn't work Steph designed and made clothes using and altering recycled threads (God Bless the Salvation Army Thrift Shop!!).
With the plan of starting our own specialty business "The Hippie Moose" we worked on business development plans...our goal was to be able to use our time more wisely so that we could give our best time to our boys and whatever was left over to the business.
Using the natural schedules of the seasons to dictate when we
worked on what; ie, most of our product is made in the winter
months as we plan to focus a lot of energy on farming and actually operating the business in the summer months.
I would say that "quality" is the word for this year. We decide not to buy anything unless it is of exceptional quality = willingly spending extra for the assurance that it will last a life time...if not the lifetime of our kids as well. Have you ever noticed that nobody makes "antiques" anymore, meaning nobody plans for their goods to outlast the consumer. We try whenever possible to buy from the Amish and people known to still provide quality in their workmanship.
Summer 2007 - Family Organic Gardening
We planted our first family garden while living in the city of Kingston, Ontario and it was incredibly productive...in the process our whole family has become addicted to the process of organic gardening. It is so fulfilling to know you can care for yourself outside of the control of the Big Box stores.
Tip: Watch for and go to "heirloom seed swaps" to find like minded friends and relatively cheap seeds of very high quality.
By the way we, as a family, have committed not to shop at Walmart having seen numerous documentaries about the long list of abuses they willfully inflict on people directly and indirectly all over the world. This actually helped us to save money as their products tend to break easily and require the habit of "re-buying" - one of the few "R" words we avoid at all costs.
It is amazing how when you escape the Big Box culture (and their advertisments) you begin to see it for what it is...at times useful but more often than not extremly wasteful and distructive to the "world's environments, economies, cultures "etc.
For a REALLY great video on this cycle watch The Story of Stuff:
Steph's amazing creativity begins to peak out this year as we begin to truly "reduce, recycle, reuse, re-design, and re-designate" what was formerly considered junk. I am amazed at what a little creativity can accomplish.
Life never goes as planned so now we find ourselves (well Steph does most of the work) homeschooling our boys. To our surprise homeschooling is a much healthier and productive method of educating our guys - with the added benefit of allowing our boys to see in real-time at a real-life pace what is required to create and maintain a homestead and business.
We have finally found and purchased our homestead property, a beautiful 70 + acres that connects to approximately 300 acres of crownland near Bancroft, Ontario.
We have spent the fall of 2008 preparing our modest house for winterization; because we don't have a water well yet we plan to spend the winter in the city. We fixed the foundation, built a front deck, and installed a woodstove in preparation for spring.
Knowing we are returning in the spring we have outfitted our boys in rubberboots and sturdy "duck cotton" overalls - to limit their destruction of good clothes - these will be designated as their "play clothes" whenever they go outside.
This is the year we completed our log-cabin looking "Hippie Moose Trailer", for use at farmer's markets, music festivals, conferences, etc. This is our mobile store which was built by the whole family; our boys who were 5 and 6 at the time LOVED working with mom and dad on this project. We bought the basic foundational trailer set from Canadian Tire (on sale), and then spent the summers of 2007 and 2008 building the trailer as money and resources became available. There are many ways to get free wood if you are creative.
WHAT ABOUT POWER? For the curious we are using some other alternate power sources including some propane power for our Bar-B-Q and fridge, and a gas powered generator to assist with construction projects. We also have solar equipment to run our lights, computer, photography equipment and Steph's Capiccino maker - addicts will be addicts we had to find some other supplier other than Starbucks. (If you ever come to Kingston, Ontario and want excellent real "fair trade" coffee try the Sleepless Goat on Princess Street.)
Winter 2009 - Outhouse Technology Revisited
Although we are not "on site" this winter we have continued with our schedule/budget of buying equipment, researching technology, and making further plans. One of the biggest issues we have faced is the reality that although outhouses work for us, we fear we will never have any guests (especially in winter) if that is the best we have to offer others. So Dave has spent the winter researching, designing, and re-designing what we expect to be perfect functioning, all natural, off grid, composting toilets...but we won't know until we try.
Spring 2009 - The Plan
Our first course of action as soon as the land can handle the machinery is to dig on old-fashioned hand pump well - the technology has gotten quite good and is not dependant on electricity. Around this pump we will build our wash house for bathing and doing laundry - which while also have an awesome outdoor shower for sunny summer mornings - and dirty dogs and kids.
Next will be to prepare our veggie garden, herb garden, orchard and forest garden...this will take a lot of work initially but then supply us with tons of food...although this summer is expected to be dry we will use rain barrels and rain trenches to water our food supply...if this fails we have a pond.
Our dream is to start work on an "outdoor kitchen" this summer but that will be dependant on finances (things tend to cost more than initialy assumed) and time.
Of course while doing all this we will have to build the kids a treehouse, run our business, harvest firewood for the winter, and a long list of smaller projects.