My husband and I have moved around…not a lot…but enough. We started in Illinois as high school sweethearts. After we had both gone to separate colleges, we moved to Minnesota. He had received a great job offer including moving expenses. Seven years later we moved to Michigan, again for his work. Two years after that, with a 1 year old and another on the way, we made the decision to move back home, closer to family. Our boys are blessed with a family the size of Ping the Duck’s and we wanted them to grow up knowing their grandparents, great grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
In Minnesota, we had about a quarter acre and were obsessed with keeping the lawn green, mowed and free of dandelions. We didn’t garden, we didn’t can. We didn’t do anything with our yard save rake leaves, mow and have the occasional bonfire.
Then my husband got a promotion with a transfer to Michigan. Around that same time we had started listening to the The Survival Podcast (TSP) with Jack Spirko. My husband started listening first and kept trying to get me to listen too. The first episode I listened to was on cooking. Jack had a guest, Keith Snow of Harvest Eating, and I was salivating by the end of the episode. Chef Snow cooks seasonally using produce from his garden as well as local farmers markets. I had always been a bit intimidated by gardening. I joked around with family that I had a “brown thumb”. Yet, after listening to a few more episodes of the podcast I started to think that just maybe I could give it a try.
Our new place was on just under an acre. Gorgeous backyard backing up to 40 acres of timber. Perfect. We moved in during the Spring and were so busy getting things arranged in the house that we missed a window for growing a full garden so we started with herbs, a few tomato plants and planted an apple tree, cherry tree and blueberry bush. My husband grew hops up our deck railing and we made plans to put a woody bed in for a garden. We were learning more and more about permaculture and sustainable living and we were quickly getting ourselves out of debt. In the two years we lived in Michigan, with both of us working full time we managed to pay off 5 student loans and 3 vehicle payments. We were happy in Michigan. We had great neighbors, we both had good paying jobs…but we missed our family and we had one son, another on the way and we decided it was time to move closer.
So in January 2012 my husband started applying for jobs in Illinois. In May he landed a job at Caterpillar with the referral of a college friend and we told our family we were moving back.
We bought a house on 5 acres. It is south facing and there is not a lot of shade. It’s a blank slate for us to really make our own and we have grand plans that we will be implementing over the next few years. Orchard, fedge (a cutesy way of saying “food hedge”), gardens, greenhouse, hops, grapes, a tilapia stocked pond and on and on.
We’ve been faithfully listening to TSP for almost 4 years now and we owe a large part of our journey home to Jack Spirko and the community he created. This blog is inspired by encouragement from my husband and other family members to get back to writing, which I have always loved.