This Life in the Pasture: Balancing our Dream Life with Reality


A Wannabe Pioneer

We love our life in our pasture. And we appreciate our jobs in the city that pay for this beloved pasture. But I’ve gotta tell you, it’s not easy to balance the two.

I don’t know exactly when the idea to have some land actually took hold.  When we got married over eleven years ago, we had no thoughts or plans to own acreage and raise livestock. We started growing a few vegetables and herbs in raised beds and containers in our tiny backyard with a very short growing season in Colorado. It was there that we learned how to make our first jelly and jam. And I can distinctly see myself sitting in our living room in Colorado, reading John Seymour’s The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It for the first time.

My grandparents on both sides had farming/ranching roots.  My paternal grandfather was a cattle rancher his whole life.  My maternal grandfather always lived in the country and raised animals, fruits and vegetables, and canned jams.  My husband’s grandparents on his dad’s side always had land and farmed.  And his dad raised hogs for a short time when my husband was very young. My husband and I have always gardened, but when we moved back home to Texas in 2010, we started exploring the idea of living on some acreage and raising as much of our own food as possible.

We have always tried to be somewhat self-efficient. We’re crafty – enjoying making our Christmas gifts rather than buying them. Back in Colorado, we bought a table saw when we put in our own laminate flooring. And we, especially my hubby, learned to build many more things from there. We did our own landscape makeover in Colorado and our yard was the star of the block. Living on our land now, we've learned to build fences (lots and lots of fences!), chicken coops, cattle shelters and decks. We did all our own plumbing on our land in preparation for our modular house arriving – including planning for future water uses such as the chickens, gardens, and other livestock.

Something I read in John Seymour’s book really stuck in my brain, and more importantly in my heart. “Self-sufficiency does not mean ‘going back’ to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living; for food that is fresh and organically grown and good; for the good life in pleasant surroundings; for the health of body and peace of mind that come with hard, varied work in the open air; and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully.”

This whole notion of homesteading or self-sufficiency is certainly not for the timid or faint of heart. It’s not easy. Especially when you’re starting from complete scratch like we did, and it’s just the two of you (with some occasional help from some amazing neighbors). And that’s where the struggle for balance comes in. We are not off-grid and we are not self-sufficient to the point where we don’t need our jobs in the city. With a long commute and a standard work day, it gets hard to fit it all in. Seems we’re always short of two things: time and money.

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