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Our Journey

On this page, I present a timeline of the important events that led up to our move onto a rural homestead, and then the highlights of our life out here in rural southeast Oklahoma (most of SE OK is rural).

For more details about all our goings-on here, be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed (see the link in the sidebar; it’s the first symbol next to the envelope, or e-mail, symbol) and/or subscribe to my YouTube channel. My goal is to challenge and inspire you to get out of mainstream thinking and shake off the shackles of mainstream culture so that you can live the life of your dreams, and live a life of freedom and happiness.

Why? The Creator, our heavenly Father, designed you to have dominion over the earth, not for the earth to have dominion over you!

Spring 2010 – We pay off our house, officially ending all our debt (the mortgage was the only debt either of us have had for years). This comes after delving into the world of personal finance, and being stirred to the core by the book Your Money Or Your Life. We can become financially independent at an early age? Really?

Summer 2010 – I have been talking to Jerry about him quitting his job so we can move out into the country and homestead. I grew up in the country, and since about age thirty have had a growing desire to get back to that lifestyle. Jerry dislikes his computer programming job and wants to live in a small town or out in the country.

Should we plan on J doing odd jobs to make our living? Will I one day figure out how to make a couple thousand dollars a month from my blog?

Finally, we figure out that within the next two or three years we will have a large enough nest egg to live on.

We are excited, and start planning. I start decluttering.

September 2011 – We make an offer on five acres of raw land in the mountains of southeast Oklahoma.

November 2011 – We close on the land. The closing papers consist of two sheets.

2012 – I continue to declutter off and on. As the year goes by, I begin to pray that God would make a way for us to move next year.

Spring 2013 – We pay a guy $600 to inspect our land to see if he can build an earthship (rammed earth in tires make up the walls, and then the whole thing minus the south side is buried) house on our land. He says he can. We get the ball rolling, as we have now decided to move at the beginning of 2014.

Summer 2013 – The guy renegs, telling us that he will no longer do construction. I e-mail him back, demanding a refund of the $600. I never hear from him again. (BTW his first name is Mark.)

Later that summer – We visit Monolithic near Waxahachie, Texas. With much reluctance, I agree to have them design and build a small dome for us.

A month after that – Suffering from a bad “gut feeling” about having a Monolithic dome built, I call Monolithic and ask them to refund the $200 we gave them for the design. They promptly refund it. I learn that when it comes to plunking down some sort of “down payment”, to trust only in established businesses that actually have employees.

Fall 2013 – The plan is now that we will build our own earthbag house. We begin taking trips to our land every other weekend. One weekend, we get the land cleared. Another, we start working on the garden area. Then we buy a travel trailer so that we don’t have to stay in a motel room, and have a sixteen-by-twelve-foot Tuff Shed built for both storage and rain catchment.

We hire a local guy to transport two water storage tanks – 1550 gallons each – after Jerry installs rain gutters on the shed.

Still later that fall – I start watching Tiny House videos like crazy, and continually downsize the design of our new house. After consulting with Jerry, he sees how it can work and agrees with it. I become the Declutter Queen and bless several people via Craigslist and freecycle, as well as several charities.

Jerry also agrees that we can live in the Tuff Shed rather than the travel trailer while we build our own house. He builds a 132 square-foot loft that will serve as B’s bedroom while we’re there. We add insulation and vinyl peel-and-stick tile. Jerry begins on the drywall, but doesn’t get very far.

January 29, 2014 – Moving day. We leave the suburbs with half the household goods that we owned two years ago.

There are about 500 gallons of water in one of the rain tanks.

Late February 2014 – Jerry is finally able to finish the drywall, and we move in. We have to get rid of even more stuff to do so comfortably. Our house goes on the market, and a day later we get our first offer: full price, buyers will pay all the closing costs. We close on the sale in March.

July 2014 – We have ditched the idea of building our own house several months back. In fact, we have even toyed with the idea of making the Tuff Shed our permanent home. But when summer arrives with all its heat and humidity, I begin hankering after a more energy-efficient place to live in.

To that end, we fly a guy named Ralph Smoot up to discuss the possibility of his son’s company, Conrad’s Castles, building us an earth-sheltered house. I found the company several years back on the Internet.

Though dismayed to find that we would be responsible to hire someone to excavate for and bury the house, as well as to put in the floor, we sign the contract a few days later and mail it in.

Mid-October 2014 – I break my left humerus. Stupid. I was pacing outside while talking on the phone, and slipped on a dadgum rock.

No health insurance, and surgery required. That’s $25K out of pocket, and that’s after a 25% uninsured patient discount. I realize it was wise that we waited an extra year for Jerry to earn some extra money before we moved.

I also realize that we don’t need to spend nearly as much money – over $100K – on our future earth-sheltered house. I call Ralph and beg for mercy. Conrad had told us when I first talked to him that they would be reluctant to travel just to put up one 24-by-24-foot module but that – which would amount to 576 interior square feet – is really all we need, and all we wanted in the first place. And it would save us a lot of money.

I’ve done the number crunching. To build a bigger house would mean more comfortable inside temperatures without needing to run either heat or A/C, but we would be dead or near death before the house paid for itself in terms of savings on an energy bill.

A few days later, the Smoots relent and tell us they will come up to build a one-module home. However, we will have to pay a $5,000 inconvenience fee to make the time and effort worth it to the workers.

November 2014 – Our land is excavated for the earth-sheltered house.

December 2014 – We get on the water grid because we will need a lot more water than we have in our tanks for building and burying the earth-sheltered house. I plan to disconnect ASAP after moving into our new home.

Winter 2015 – I begin to seriously regret the choice to build another house. Concrete is an unsustainable material, and we could make the Tuff Shed work out for us by spending another $5K or so on it. I want neither to spend the money on a new house, nor to go through the stress I know would accompany the work of finishing it out.

I spend the winter and spring in an on-again, off-again conflict with J over it. He feels that we should go through with the earth-sheltered build.

March 2015 – We plant fifteen fruit and nut trees that I purchased last fall through Raintree nursery: one mulberry, one pomegranate, five filberts (hazelnuts), two almonds, two Chinese chestnuts, two paw-paws, two jujubes.

April – May 2015 – It rains, and it rains, and it rains. Floods happen from Tulsa down to Houston. Both of our rain tanks our full up, and I begin to have this sinking feeling that we should have had another rain tank or two.

In the meantime, the rains keep Conrad’s Castles from finishing the house they are building in the Austin, TX area. They were supposed to have begun our house on my birthday, but they eventually tell us it will be at least June before they get to our house.

Late spring 2015 – I finally repent of my negative attitude and fear about the upcoming build, both to God and to Jerry.

Third week of July 2015 – The builders come and get the concrete shell up in a week’s time, leaving at the beginning of August. I am overwhelmed with all the work that has yet to be done: the floor, the waterproofing, the interior work, the burying. I still struggle with the idea that this whole thing may have been out of God’s perfect will for us.

Late August or early September – We purchase one more water storage tank from Tractor Supply, this one 2500 gallons. This is because this past summer, we had a six-week long drought with temperatures over 96 degrees (F) that whole time. I had to haul gallon jugs with water up and down the property to water the baby trees by hand, two to three times a week, as well as to water the garden to the tune of around twenty gallons a day at the height of the drought (just for the garden, not including the trees). In addition, I have fourteen items in pots that need to be watered every single day.

I decide that God was trying to tell us to buy that water storage tank last spring. Oh, well. (While I’m at it, we don’t have a well because it’s a lot cheaper to collect rain than to have a well dug.)

I learn two things. First, there is no way 3,000 gallons of water can sustain a garden and an orchard – let alone meet our household needs – during a drought. Second, we may have to stay on the water grid if we want to become self-sufficient in food, even with the extra 2500 gallons of water.

Mid-September – I learn about the Back To Eden method of gardening, which is really the Ruth Stout method on steroids. Instead of piling up hay, you pile up wood chips wherever you are growing food – garden or orchard. A little irrigation might be required during times of high heat mixed with no rain, but that’s all. Few pest problems, little to no additional fertilization required, little weeding, an abundance of food.

I make plans to disconnect from the water grid in a few months, and we buy a small chipper-shredder.

But before that, I order nearly $868 in more fruit trees and berry bushes from Raintree nursery, a total of over twenty items. I am determined that we become self-sufficient in fruit within the next three years.

Late September 2015 – The concrete floor has been put in, the waterproofing done. J works on the interior walls while we wait for our digger guy to return to bury the house.

Late October 2015 – We have gotten used to the sight and noise of a dump truck, bulldozer and backhoe on our property at least five days a week. Even our son is not nearly as interested in watching the work of the house being buried as he was in the beginning.

Early November 2015 – The finishing out of the interior is a week away from being complete enough to move in! The house is 2/3 to 3/4 buried. Frequent bouts of rain combined with machine break downs has kept our digger guy from doing much work during the past two weeks.

Mid-November – A Florida woodrat tries to nest in the engine of the backhoe, chewing up several wires in the meantime. It takes the mechanic over two months to figure that out, then uncover exactly what needs fixing.

November 20, 2015 – We move into our new home! 🙂

February 2, 2016 – Our digger guys finally returns with the repaired backhoe. We look forward to the burial of our house finally being completed before the end of the month.

Somewhere in February – We discover that The Permanent Portfolio method of investing works. We are ahead of ourselves, taking into account the cost of the new house and my 2014 surgery.

February 16, 2016 – OUR HOUSE IS FINALLY COMPLETELY BURIED!!!! (Not that we were excited about it. 😉 )

July, 2016 – Father delivers me from a 2+ year-long depression (off and on, but mostly on). I should say, He delivers me from perfectionism, and now that I am free not to be perfect, everyone else (as well as my life) is free not to be, too. Talk about freedom! And so I can first the time in my life accept everything that comes my way, the good and the bad, without getting down and feeling guilty/angry about the bad.

July 2016 – I also notice that Benjamin has matured to the extent where he’s not going crazy twice a day anymore. I decide that we should start traveling as a family and seeing new places. We spend around $300 on a large tent and cots.

July 2016 – I finally get serious about homeschooling. Because suddenly, I embrace motherhood. For the first time in Benjamin’s ten years.

Yes, really.

Early August, 2016 – When depression lifts, the mind becomes crystal clear! A series of events lead me to realize that I am supposed to write a math curriculum for homeschoolers. My son is the first to benefit from it – and it changes math from a tedious bore to his favorite subject!

September 6, 2016 – We take our first trip! We visit caves in NW Arkansas. It is B’s first time both to camp and to visit a cave.

September 10, 2016 – I decide to start blogging again. I finally feel like I am really living my dreams, and I wan to share this with others to encourage them to seek their life purpose and go after their dreams.