A Lot of City Folks Who Just Moved to the Country Are in for a Rude Awakening

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Author of The Blackout Book and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted

Since the beginning of the Covid pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, a lot of folks have decided that city life is no longer for them. There’s been a whole new demand for rural homes as people discover it’s not so fun to live in a tiny apartment with no yard, 3 children, and two parents all working from and learning from home.

However, an essay on Medium pointed out that a lot of these former urbanites may not have thought things through. Courtney Maum wrote of a scenario that many of us who have lived in the boonies can clearly imagine:

The piece continues with several other examples of people who moved to the country to discover they were completely unprepared.

Boy, that brought back some memories.

I remember when I moved straight from the big city to a cabin in the Algonquin Forest.

Eight years ago, I took a leap of faith (or ignorance, depending on who you ask) and relocated myself, my youngest daughter, two cats, and two dogs from a cute little house in the greater Toronto area to dirt cheap cabin in the Algonquin Forest on the shores of a spectacularly beautiful lake. (My eldest was in school in another city but visited often.)

To clarify the situation we were, in based on some of the comments that seem to be making this a story about men being irrelevant, my children’s father had recently died quite suddenly and shockingly. We had to make a dramatic change, both financially and so that everything around us was not a painful memory.

The cabin was heated only by wood, it had decent internet when the electricity was working, and – oh – the electricity? It went out a lot, and along with it, so did the running water.

But I was fueled by dreams of resilience, prepper nirvana, and actually being able to afford my rent while starting a business as a freelance writer as we slung everything we owned into a 24-foot U-haul, something I’d never driven before. I’d also never towed anything in my entire life, but I hooked up a trailer to the back of the Uhaul with my cash-purchased, rusty Dodge Durango on it, and away we went, heading toward what was sure to be an epic adventure in an idyllic location.

Bless my heart.

I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into.

Zip.

Zilch.

Nada.

This probably isn’t what you want to read from the person you take prepping advice from but it’s probably something a lot of people should read before making a giant leap into the unknown.

By the time we arrived, seven hours later, my neck was pinging in agony from the tension and my hands were cramping from gripping the steering wheel so hard. I nearly took out a gas pump with my truck when I filled up. I couldn’t figure out how to move the van without hitting said pump and I ugly cried right there at the gas station staring at it until a kindly trucker took over, got into the moving van, maneuvered it for me, and pointed it back toward the road. I was so grateful I hugged him. I may or may not have gotten a little snot on his shirt because of how hard I was sobbing.

Anyway, I got ahold of myself, vowed to pay whatever exorbitant fee Uhaul wanted to charge me to NOT have to refuel before returning the van and trailer, and made it the rest of the way to our new forest home with no more unfortunate incidents. We were delighted to see deer frolicking and a mama and baby bear as we got closer to our destination and declared these to be signs that boded well for our future.

Little did I know how little I knew.

When my daughter and I moved there, we had the prepping mindset, but we were city girls.  Our wilderness experiences were based on day hikes and Youtube videos.  We’d made the occasional backyard bonfire with wood purchased at a local grocery store and one of those fancy fire-starting logs.  We dealt with a power outage due to bad weather perhaps once a year.  We lived in a place where anything we might need was within walking distance and where you could stretch a skipping rope in the distance from our house to the neighbor’s house.

We arrived in the summer, and life in the boondocks is always easier in a temperate climate. We located all sorts of wild fruit in the 23 acres of forest behind the cabin and put up jars of it for the winter ahead. We hiked, explored, and set out in a canoe on pretty much a daily basis.  I sat there on my deck every morning, overlooking the lake and working on the laptop. Life had become a coffee commercial.  My daughter and our younger dog spent more time in the lake than on dry land.

Nothing did I know about country living, 5-foot snowfalls, and heating with wood. I didn’t know diddly about living with bears as neighbors. Nobody warned me about the absolutely gigantic spiders that live in your woodpile. We were not warmly welcomed by most of the locals. We were seen as outsiders the entire year we were there, aside from a handful of kind-hearted neighbors who realized we really intended to last through the winter.

As the weather began to cool off, I realized that I was in so far over my head I couldn’t see the daylight. Yes, I had wood. Yes, I was a prepper so we had lots of food and gear and filters and stuff. But I had no experience at all.

I learned very quickly that prepping and rural living are not at all the same things, although the same skills and personal qualities cross over.

I am not writing this to discourage you from taking leaps – this was the first of many giant leaps for me and it changed my life forever.

I owe a lot to the year I spent living in that little cabin. I learned that I am stubborn enough to grit my teeth and keep trying to do the same thing for hours even when I’m failing. I learned that I can adapt to difficult situations. I learned real skills in that little cabin. And that’s how I started this website – writing about our experiences there. Some of you guys have been with me since this was a little free WordPress blog and you know I did not wake up like this, to cop a term from Covergirl. It has been a long road to resilience.

Rural living is a lot of physical work.

As fall approached, we ordered a load of wood, and that’s when the real work began.  As a newbie, I got the load already split, and it’s a good thing, because there’s no way I would have gotten enough wood for the winter ready otherwise.  Six loads of wood the size of the picture were unceremoniously dumped in my driveway.  This, of course, had to be stacked immediately and covered with a tarp to keep it dry.  A city-style gym workout does not compare to stacking six cords of wood. Also they dumped it behind my truck for added motivation.

My body was aching but it was pretty satisfying to see all that neatly stacked wood against the house.

By October, the spectacular surroundings became even more breathtaking.  Everywhere you looked was ablaze with color.  Almost overnight, it went from summer to autumn, with shorter, chillier days.  I finally got all the wood stacked, and got some brought inside. I had the wood stove chimney cleaned and did lots of canning.  There was a small, expensive grocery store there in town, 20 minutes away.  To go to the larger grocery stores or department stores, the drive was an hour and a half to the nearest town of about 10,000 people.  Obviously, that wasn’t a trip to be undertaken frequently when the weather is bad, so a bit of stockpiling was a way of life for everyone around there.

Starting a fire is easy. Keeping it going is harder.

It finally got cold enough that a fire was needed to take the chill off in the evening. I had made some backyard fires for roasting marshmallows, but building a fire in the woodstove that lasted was a whole different story.  That’s when I began to realize how green I really was.  The first major lesson I learned was that starting a fire is easy – keeping it going is another matter.  I emailed back and forth with friends who had more experience than I, and began to really get worried.

It took me a solid month before I was able to consistently build a blazing fire and keep it going.  There were more tears and snot bubbles as I thought about how I had made the biggest mistake of my life while trying to keep that stupid fire going. A few readers scoffed at my ineptitude, but I don’t want to be misleading and make people think that all this homesteading-in-the-wilderness stuff comes easily. Perhaps it does for some people, but for me, it took making a lot of mistakes to learn to do things properly.  Luckily I had a couple of months before actual deadly freezing weather arrived during which I could master this skill – but if your plan is to bug out and heat with wood or live in a house that is heated by wood, my suggestion is to practice now, as often as possible, because it isn’t as easy as throwing a match on a pile of logs.

If it wasn’t for a kindly neighbor who patiently came down every other day to make sure I was able to get my fire lit, my stubborn nature, and well honestly – the fact that I was too broke to go back to the city with my tail between my legs, we would have either left or died. That may sound like an exaggeration but when you are reliant on wood heat in a place that gets down to -50 degrees, death is indeed a very possible outcome.

Building and maintaining a fire every day for an entire winter offers the benefit of ingraining this skill. I haven’t lived in a place reliant only on wood heat since, and always fear I may have lost my touch when called upon to build a fire. But I guess it’s like riding a bicycle because 8 years later I can still get a good fire going lickety-split.

The well ran dry.

Our next challenge was dealing with a low well.  A dry summer had caused the water table to be extremely low, and thus we had very little water to draw from our well for household usage.  This also meant that the water coming from the taps was dirty and silty.

This was definitely a culture shock for a couple of city girls. Living without clean running water was not something we’d even considered when we moved to a house with a well. Wasn’t that every prepper’s dream set-up?

The thing about living with these situations that initially seemed like catastrophes on a regular basis is that you learn to manage them easily. It becomes second nature to go into no-running-water mode.

We bought big jugs of spring water for cooking and drinking.  I rigged up a little filter to put under the tap in the kitchen in order to wash dishes and clean, with a coffee filter and a mesh colander.  Because of the high water usage of a washing machine, we had to do our laundry by hand for a couple of months – also a tremendous amount of work.

My best advice for off-grid laundry is to invest in an industrial style mop bucket with a wringer – it will save you lots of effort and help your clothes to dry much faster then just wringing the clothing out by hand. If you have a place to attach it, this metal wringer is very sturdy and effective.

As it turned out, this was also practice for the fact that any time the power went out, so too did the running water because our well pump was electric. We set up systems with basins for dishwashing, got a pretty pitcher and bowl for bathroom hand washing, and used our dirty dishwater for flushing the toilet. Here are some of my tips for cleaning without running water.

There were power outages – oh-so-many power outages.

Then there was the shaky grasp on electricity.

Throughout our time here we had no less than one power outage per month, and sometimes more.  After the first couple of outages, we learned some ways to streamline our power-outage process.

  • At the first sign of high winds, we immediately filled the bathtub to provide us with water for flushing.
  • We organized a box of power outage entertainment, complete with card games, dominoes, puzzle books, and craft supplies.
  • We located candles decoratively around the house, and kept matches near them.
  • We kept a “display” of solar lights in a decorative planter on the deck.  When the power went out, we could just go grab the fully charged lights and place them in vases for extra lighting.
  • We got a cast-iron Dutch oven for cooking on top of the woodstove.
  • I canned more “meals” so that the only requirement was heating up the food on top of the woodstove
  • I got a lockable storage bench for the deck to use as a back-up fridge/freezer depending on the outdoor temperature.

Pretty soon, power outages were no big deal at all. The longest one was three days.  We were cozy, entertained, and well-fed. The biggest inconvenience for me was being unable to work or communicate since my internet was dependent on electricity and we had no phone service of any kind at the cabin.

Winter in the boondocks is different from snow in the city.

Our first snow was really exciting.  Of course, living in Canada, we’d had snow before, the magical glorious snow coating the forest and the lakeshore made it seem like we were living in a Christmas card. When you live in the country, the snow plows don’t promptly arrive at 3 am so the roads will be clear for your morning commute. You might wait three or four days for your road to be plowed or salted if it is cleared for you at all. Plan to be snowed in for at least a week with the supplies you’ll need to stay fed, hydrated, warm, and healthy.

Our winter hobby was learning to identify tracks in the snow.  It was interesting that during our walks through the woods we rarely saw any animals aside from chipmunks and birds.  However, a fresh snowfall made for plenty of evidence that the forest was well-populated with many unseen neighbors.

The cabin was not well insulated, we discovered.  We had to take numerous measures to stay warm when the temperature dipped down to seriously frigid temperatures like -50.

Let’s talk about weather that is -50. I walked for a few miles in the woods just aboutevery day while we were in the -30s. When it hit the -40s, I said, “nope” and stayed inside by the fire. The snot inside your nose freezes when it’s this cold. If you go out to grab some wood with your hair wet, it will freeze to your head in minutes. It’s so cold that any of your exposed skin hurts.

We learned then the valuable lesson of storing a snow shovel inside. I had thought putting it outside right beside the door so I could shovel my way out to the truck was a grand idea until we had a snowfall of over five feet. The howling wind blew so much snow against our door that we had to climb out the bedroom window and dig our way back into the house. We had to dig our way to the snow shovel using various improvised household substitutes like cooking pots. While I was mouthing “WhereTF did all this snow come from?” my daughter was having a great time clambering through the snow that was as deep as she was tall to get implements that might be more suitable for snow removal. It took 4 hours to get to the snow shovel.

The snow lasted from November until April.  By January the lake was frozen over solidly and we could walk the entire length of it.  Bringing in wood during the winter is not the most fun activity in the world.  Your boots make the floor wet and slippery, and you WILL fall on your rear with an armload of wood at least once. The loads seem a lot heavier when you have to trudge through the snow to carry them in.

We had the whitest Christmas we’ve ever had, and actually ended up snowed in for 4 days around the holiday.  Luckily my older daughter arrived before the snowstorm did, so we had a lovely holiday together, cozily ensconced in our lakeside cabin.

A friend pointed out to me that it was important that I teach my daughter the ins-and-outs of keeping the fire going. Initially, I was worried that she’d get burned and I wouldn’t let her add wood to the stove, much less light the fire.  But he made the excellent point that if something happened to me, with our isolation, her life could depend on her ability to make a fire and keep it going.  By the end of winter, my little 12-year-old girl could build a blazing fire and cook a meal on top of the woodstove with an ease that would make most adults jealous.

From this, I learned that despite some risk, it’s also important to let your kids make mistakes – and possibly even get hurt – so that they can learn self-sufficiency too – you can’t protect them from life.

Eventually, spring will arrive.

Winters like that seem so incredibly long. When things begin to thaw, life is all about freedom. Oh, and mud. There is mud everywhere as the snow melts.

After mud season comes bug season. Where we lived, mosquitoes and blackflies will eat you alive if you stand still when you are outdoors.  Natural solutions like lavender oil or Avon’s Skin So Soft work well to defend you against mosquitoes but nothing seems to work against the blackflies.

There was a two-week period where these horrifying tiny little bugs would swarm you when you were walking outdoors, meeting their death as you inhaled them or swallowed them to open your mouth to say “What the heck are these little bugs…*gulp*” Disgusting, but true.

Bears don’t like us up close and personal any more than we like them. We kept sets of “bear bells” by the door, which were simply clearance-sale large jingle bells strong on some cord and attached to a carabiner you could clip onto your belt loop. The dogs also wore bells. Bears, if they hear you coming, will generally go the other way as long as you don’t live in a place where some idiot thinks it’s “cute” to feed them. Then, they lose their fear of humans and it can lead to deadly encounters.

I also got lost in the woods that spring when out on a walk with my dog. I went off the trail to check something out and got turned around. I wandered for four hours, getting increasingly panicked when I found a logging road. There were only two directions and I knew I’d either end up deeper in the woods or at the main road. Luckily, I chose correctly and got home minutes before my daughter was due to step off the school bus. I was so worried about her coming home to find me missing.

I met some older Polish ladies who didn’t speak a word of English when they parked on my road one day armed with baskets and bonnets. Through gestures, sign language, and a couple of words in common, I learned they were there to forage for mushrooms in the forest. They were delighted that I was interested and took me out with them several times. I’m not confident enough to identify a wide variety of mushrooms by myself but the ones we brought home were absolutely delicious, even to my mushroom-hating kid. This was when I learned how much value there is in the experiences of those who have always lived this way.

So would I advise city dwellers to move to the country?

This short article turned into a rambling mini-novel as I thought about all the things I learned during my year of living in the Algonquin Forest.

There is nothing that is so great a learning experience as living the lifestyle. No amount of books, websites, Youtube videos, or classroom-imparted information can prepare you like actually getting out there and immersing yourself in a self-sufficient or survival lifestyle.  If you’re anything like me, you’ll make newbie mistakes, and that’s okay.  Most of us have not lived a life that prepares us for survival and the only way to get prepared is to actually perform these tasks.  I know that my experiences were mirrored by Joanna, as she wrote when talking about starting her homestead.

Grow your food, chop your wood, and practice your off-grid skills.

But don’t expect that moving to the boondocks will be just like city living surrounded by trees instead of other houses.

You will find yourself tested to the breaking point if you go in completely unprepared like I did. The rewards of making radical changes can be amazing but they can also be risky. You need to know if you have the right temperament to stick with it when you’ve been trying fruitlessly for hours to light a fire that will freaking stay lit dang it as the weather gets colder and your daughter is sitting on the couch in a parka.

Right now, you have back-ups as close as the switch of your thermostat or the nearest grocery store. Make your mistakes now, while these things aren’t a matter of life and death.  Not only will the practicing of these skills make you adept at them, but the accomplishments will give you the confidence required to overcome fear and thrive during challenging times.

I mopped up a lot of tears, sweat, and blood, literally, over my year in the forest. I lived through some terrifying situations by luck alone.

But I learned so much. I changed so much, and no poverty, lockdowns, or pandemics can ever take that away. Never think that I’m fearless – I scare the daylights out of myself all the time. But I’m willing to experience fear and that is the reason that I have become so much more resilient than that woman crying while hugging an uncomfortable truck driver in a gas station.

I am probably the wrong person to ask if you should make a radical change. I’m not the one to whom you should say, “Do you think I should I just do it?”

For me, the answer is always going to be yes.

But don’t expect it to be easy and know that everyone who does this will not succeed. Only you can decide if you are the resilient type. And yes, I do mean decide. I chose every single day of the year I was there to keep plugging away at the challenges.

Sometimes it was deliberate, and sometimes it was because I was out of options, but I didn’t stop learning and we didn’t get eaten by bears or freeze to death, as some of our less optimistic friends and family members originally feared. Your mileage may vary.

Have you ever made a dramatic lifestyle change?

Have you ever just up and changed everything about the way you were living? Did you run into challenges that made you question your wisdom and possibly your sanity? Share your stories in the comments.

 

A Lot of City Folks Who Just Moved to the Country Are in for a Rude Awakening
Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

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  • Hmm…i would guess this is an extreme case… i don’t see people doing this and why go so far in the boonies? people have been “fleeing” the cities every time something goes wrong only to realize its not the end of the world…..and regret their decision and move back…
    why not move half way to the boonies first? where you have to drive into town to get supplies, you have power, water etc on your plot of land etc… where you buy groceries once every 2 weeks or a month? people are Not created to live “alone” God has put us in this time to continue the work He started with his son Jesus Christ…

    • God did not put us here. We as souls chose this incarnation, as we did all the other ones that we’ve had, and will have.

  • Excellent piece. I hear people talk about it all the time- I also want to make the escape, but feel I’m pretty aware of the realities as I’ve been a hunter/camper/outdoorsman my whole life and been in some precarious, albeit temporary, pickles. God has indeed blessed me with a spatial mindset that I can foresee obstacles, limitations, and dangers- not the least of which is that those things magnify with age. Once I crossed that line- 50- I see how much more I am limited, and though I’m quite certain I still have it in me to give it a go, I know I need more help now than I did just a few years ago.
    This is in my estimation, only scratching the surface of your experiences and indeed would make for a nice book, maybe something along the lines of Little Cabin in the Woods, with a catchy and appropriate city-girl sub-title. I’ve joked with my wife also that I thought I could give it a good go…but I’d have to shoot her before long! She’s gotten much better of course, no seeing with her own eyes the reality of the future as long as God tarries. She’s my best friend too, so whatever comes of us, comes to the set.
    Thanks for this Daisy- this is my first comment after years of occasionally wandering in here.

    • MAGNUM, i can relate to your post 100%. As a 64 year old male who is still in excellent health, I know that my days in that regard are numbered. I have property out in rural Upper Midwest USA that I’m contemplating moving to as it seems likely that as a society, the US is on the verge of collapse for a myriad of reasons. Since late summer and fall of 2019 an inner voice (God) has been moving me to prepare for that event that hopefully never comes to reality. Having hunted, trapped, and fished since I was a grade schooler, I have those skills nailed down, however it’s all the skills that I lack which causes allot of time contemplating the realities of life completely devoid of all modern conceniences, no electricity, no gasoline, no running water. A garden hoe, rake, shovels, spade, axe, saws, mason jars, and wood stoves will be worth their weight in gold while rototillers, chainsaws, and gas or electric appliances will make handly boat anchors. I’m fortunate enough to already have the land and the financial means of going 100% off grid. My definition of that is not even using solar or wind powers as there’s just to many things with these systems that require alot of maintenance. In other words, my ideal would be exactly like that which was the norm prior to the 1900’s. Thhe enormous amount of physical labor required to live this lifestyle would be both a blessing and a curse, on one hand the physical labor would go a long way towards keeping one in good physical condition, but one would only be able to live this way for so long as you could do the work. The speed at which events will happen makes trying to put all the pieces in place once it starts a fools game as within a few days maybe a week or two at most , all life as we once enjoyed, will be gone for months if not years or decades.

  • Great article, Daisy! I did laugh and giggle several times. My wife and I live in the Central California mountains in an old, small, poorly insulated mobile on several acres with a well, goats, chickens, dog, and. . .well, many other details. I am in good health, on no meds, and over 65 now. There is so much that needs to be done, done regularly, and done right. At the end of each of my days I am pooped but have no regrets when considering what we left behind years ago (already having developed many of the abilities I needed up here). Skills, determination, and commitment ARE required! City-slickers beware! /SR

  • Hi Daisy, smiles, and knowing your a tough young woman, Being able to adapt is a great attribute. I’m an old soldier, being able to adapt quickly can save your life, and sometimes adapting quickly does save your life. I moved from Paso Robles California, 13+ years ago, with a bad heart condition, it’s not as bad now with a few repairs, but it is a concern, We, my wife Sandy of 33 years moved here in the woods about 20 miles north of Chiloquin Oregon, She came kicking and screeming almost with a logging chain dragging her, But she has adapted and actually I think enjoys it now, I bought a little garden cabin and quteified it for her, as her girl cave. and built a fire ring, and out door living space for spring and fall days and evenings. Our wonderful friends are so helpful. Suffering a lot of critisim over the years has hardened me to folkes who pay monthy house payments, as opposed to me out right owning every thing here. Freedom is not having to pay credit bills and having a full larder, knowing you can survive most bad situations, Blessings Dave

  • That was a pretty entertaining script Daisy. But you’re right, don’t sleep too long when you’ve got a fire going or else you can wake up to a really cold situation.

  • I guess the biggest and most telling thing about the whole article and idea of women moving from the city to the harsh environment of the back woods and great outdoors is that you made it clear that the strong back, moral support and leadership of the male gender was deemed completely unnecessary and not even mentioned in the article. Not even one line about how it would have been nice to have a man of the house for protection and heavy lifting. Could it be that men have been so marginalized and left out in modern society that everything is now falling apart requiring flight from the cities? Is it only a matter of time before country life is unlivable as well?

    • Agree. There is no way I would’ve have survived by myself our here until I met my husband. I’m a strong woman but there are somethings that I just cannot do. It also helps to have mail neighbors who teach you how to shoot. Bills fencing. Etc . Not to diminish what women do, I’ve been taught to can, garden, knot by women I know but you really set yourself up for success in the country when you have a partner .

    • I don’t think that is very telling. What I didn’t mention in the article – because bringing up my family’s grief isn’t something I do a lot – is that we made this move a few months after my daughter’s father had died suddenly. I’ve now updated the article to reflect that to pre-empt others from feeling like I am saying men are irrelevant. We didn’t have enough money to keep living in the city. Everywhere we went was a painful memory. We had to make a change, both financially and emotionally.

      Was I supposed to go immediately land myself a new man or carry on? What was the better lesson for my daughters? I think carrying on instead of rushing into something was the better choice for us.

      This story wasn’t about sexism, man-bashing, or anything like that and I was honestly shocked to see your comment. It seems to show a certain hypersensitivity about men feeling irrelevant.

      Sure, it would have been nice to have a partner. It would have been easier. But women can survive on their own, too. We can’t always just wait to be rescued. We all work within the circumstances life gives us.

      • Well Daisy, I guess you did us all a favor then in showing us how women can make it on their own without a man, because that appears to be the future with the way things are going.

        • I’m sorry that this seems to have brought up a personal trigger for you. This line of conversation rather sidetracks the article in a direction I didn’t consider relevant when I wrote it.

          But hey, if you that’s what you got from it you may want to use this as a jumping off point for some deep introspection on why MY story made YOU feel attacked on behalf of men.

          Wishing you the very best, and hoping you have a GREAT day,
          Daisy (still happily independent five countries,two homesteads, and eight years later)

          • And best to you as well Daisy. Just attempting to get people to think a little bit about the full spectrum of survival rather than allowing pop culture to destroy the most basic of all survival tools called the family. Not really a jumping off issue for me. Only pointing out what should be obvious.

        • Great article, Daisy and so inspired by your story. I know your intent was not to speak to the perception of “traditional roles”; since, however, it was brought up, I thought I would chime in. Being a strong and independent woman does not negate the value of the opposite sex. But strength and a degree of independence are necessary for survival, especially for women. If we fancy ourselves as damsels in distress that require rescue for all things, we are likely setting ourselves up for disaster. I can speak from experience as someone whose husband went in for surgery 10 years ago and suffered 2 massive strokes post-op. I’m not sure what would have happened to us and all our young kids if I was wired to stand idly by and wait for the man to do the “man’s work” because he was no longer able. We didn’t have money to pay someone to do those jobs so they all fell on me to step up and do what needed to be done, in addition to the “so-called women’s work”. Survival is about doing what needs to be done without assigning gender roles and preferences. Sure it would have been a whole lot easier to not have to climb on my roof or clean out gutters, but what alternative did I have? SImilar to you, you take the hand that’s dealt and do what you need to for the benefit of your family to make it one more day.

          My point is that even though you might have someone at your side who you think “should” be stacking the firewood, it is no guarantee that he will always be able to do so, for whatever reason. And it’s not coming from a feminist perspective designed to ruin society, it’s simply embracing a survival mindset that grit and determination are gender neutral.

      • Wow Jay! Or should I say Ward Cleaver? Im not sure how old you are, what your highest level of education is, where you’re from, or your marital status….and frankly….I don’t care. But…as a middle aged man myself, I read with great interest and appreciation of the well-worded post and even some of the hard ships that Daisy shared with us. Not for once, as I was reading it…did it cross my mind that she had some ulterior “me against men” angle. Or that she was trying to prove to other women that they don’t need a man to make it in this world. I don’t know Daisy and she doesn’t know me, but as I got about half way thru her post…I actually felt very proud of her for facing her situation and riding it like a true cowgirl! I felt as proud of her as I do my own daughters who also posess the same hard scrabble determination that Daisy does. I wouldn’t change them if I could. I believe that my daughters, and Daisy, and countless other women would rather have a man that they want, rather than a man they need in order to “make it in this world”. The need will be fulfilled if that man will reciprocate the desire to want to spend time with her, and cherish her. My girls can tack their own horses, they can split wood when needed, and more than willing to jump on the loader and move 12 yards of gravel if I asked them to. Daisy made the right choice and made a hard decision in order to protect her self and her kiddos. Look what she learned and taught her girls!
        Why don’t you go back home to June and apologize to her, and then call Wally and Beaver downstairs to have talk with them about seeing women for the strong and willing creatures that God made them to be!

      • Morning Daisy…. your perspective is well placed. God has different plans and “paths” for everyone – it depends on the inner spirit that He has placed in each one of us.
        It’s taken me 60+ years to learn that not everyone is suppose to learn the exact same things or experience the same exact life-styles.
        What you needed to learn was very likely exactly what God had intended for you to learn and experience to not only better yourself but also very likely to pass all that knowledge on to all your readers…. granted, this is only conjecture.
        If – when I was in my early teens and still living a very care free life – and I was shown all the grief, love and loss that God had planned for me to live through, I would have said “thank you – BUT no thank you. Now, looking back, I would NOT have wanted my to live my life any other way – and believe me, there’s been a lot of “hell” that I’ve been through.
        I tip my hat to you.

    • Jay, are you COMPLIMENTING Daisy on not mentioning her need for a man, or whining that men are becoming redundant?
      Not to make this a man/woman thing but I’m confused.

      • Strong woman. You are correct. And it would appear that in the current political, economic and spiritual climate of our society, men are no longer needed or even relevant. It’s a good thing that you ladies can make it without men. It will be interesting to see how long that lasts.

        • Thank you for explaining that Jay and I apologize that I’m a pitifully ignorant and weak woman who needs a man to function.
          So riddle me this: Is there a Mrs. Jay in your life?
          Can you manage a can opener without her because if the answer is a negative you might want to get on that REAL QUICK because I can’t imagine how you could possibly do without her if, Heaven forbid, something should happen to her.
          It’s called TEAMWORK Sir, and surprisingly it can happen between a minimum of any 2 human beings, whether a man and a woman, two people of the same gender or *gasp! a woman and her fatherless child!

          • No strong woman. There is no Mrs. In my earlier years I was interested but kept running across women who believed that men are not necessary and that a career was more important. And then I considered the divorce rate since the feminist movement got a foot hold in this nation and I suddenly came to the realization that due to the prevailing thought processes in society, traditional marriage would not be a survivor of modern times. And that is a sad statistic because when that happens, society itself breaks down and does not survive much longer either. Once traditional marriage breaks down, not much of anyone survives that. Even the definition of marriage itself changes in a society where perverts take over. Right now we are at the stage of breakdown where people are fleeing from the cities. It gets much worse from here when people persist in doing things their own way instead of Gods way. Be sure and prepare well. You’re going to need it.

            • Jay, it seems you’ve been very unfortunate in your experiences/observations and that they’ve made you a bit jaded as a result. Please know that real women – women who VALUE the role that a man offers in a partnership – we do still exist! Feminism may have ruined a lot – or even most of us, but it did not get us all! Even those of us who come across as extremely strong and independent do still prefer to have a good man at our sides. Have faith, and you may yet find your missus 😉

        • Jay, I see your point through the sarcasm, but I think GearJammer also hit closer to the nail’s head. Anyone in this situation will have to make the decision to curl up and die or fight and make it through. It will be tougher for most women simply because they have less physical strength. No matter who you are, it’s easier to have a partner who can help, especially if it easier for them to lift wood, etc. But, it has to be the right relationship. An unhappy relationship is 100 times worse when you’re snowed in. Also, when the kids leave the nest, not many people will enjoy the isolation when there’s no power or contact with family/friends for days. Some will and some will say they will, but I don’t think it’s something they will be able to do EASILY after just moving from the city.
          I was a single mom for years raising two daughters (now age 25 and 30). They’re both very independent but also in great relationships with strong, hardworking men who are laborers. There are still family oriented females in the younger generations. It’s just that everyone should be able to take care of themselves as best as possible.
          Daisy, great article. I need to read more from you.

            • Jay, I took, “ It’s a good thing that you ladies can make it without men. It will be interesting to see how long that lasts”, as sarcasm. I really didn’t mean anything derogatory, it was just my perception of the comment and that I understood your point.

    • No she did mention the truck driver who helped her.also the article was about being naive about living in the country for people who have a unrealistic view of country living. It sounds like your insecure about any woman who takes care of herself because she has too.

      • I didn’t state that in the original article. I hadn’t thought it was relevant but added it when the comments section began to go awry. ????

    • Jay, I have no man, either and that is not by choice. Men-darlings have to be careful these days because horrible b****s do exist. But there are lots of women wanting you, just as you lonely males want one of us. Get onto a dating website, meet lots of women, and find the right one for you.

      • Esther, the visibly horrible ones are not the problem. It’s obvious that a man would not want to get involved with them. But men don’t find out the predicament they have gotten themselves into until after they have become a slave to the government via marriage certificate with one of the better actors. It is in fact going to take a complete and 100% reversal of the feminist movement and governmental power structure, with reparations, before men will ever trust women again. There is just no reason for a man to bind himself to a woman when she considers herself to be independent and the government is her real husband exercising authority over her rather than the man she said her vows to.

    • Daisy, women commenters, et al.
      Please do not take Jay’s . . . unique . . . point of view of men and women’s relationships, or women’s strengths or weaknesses or roles they may play in todays society, as what all men think.

      Rather a very small . . . unique . . . minority mindset.

  • Excellent piece! I really do think some folks get this idyllic view of going “back to the land” and I appreciate your reality check. When I was 4 years old my folks moved to the Idaho northwoods. It was a quarter mile to the nearest neighbor and 30 miles from the nearest town. No power, no running water, no well, no sewer. We had a wood stove and an outhouse. Considering all that, I’m actually surprised at all they accomplished. My dad built an extension on our cabin, we raised meat rabbits and laying hens plus meat chickens, we gardened and canned, and they cut down trees for firewood with a two man crosscut saw. We used to have one like it hanging on our wall even after we came back to town – the thing was six feet long.

    Anyway, we went through a lot of hardship. I didn’t have to bear the brunt of it but I remember long hikes in the snow, having to deal with a smoky cabin when the fire wouldn’t burn right, times when the only thing to eat was food beginning to turn. It was a HUGE adjustment.

    I had to spend a month and a half living in a tent in Nevada – that was definitely a hardship – but it’s something I was able to do, partly because of those early memories. My world didn’t end when the electricity did. Mindset is quite important, as is education, and my gosh practice is important too. I wouldn’t have done nearly as well as I did without my spouse there, who used to go survival camping as a kid.

  • I loved this article! Seven years ago I decided I would leave the city and go “be a farmer”. The learning curve is so steep! I had no idea what I was doing . Thank goodness for nice neighbors. YouTube and Facebook. I’m just starting to get the hang of this life but I’m also still constantly learning. It isn’t for the faint of heart but if someone is determined to get out of the city it’s doable. Hopefully they learn skills before they leave and not as they need them like I did.

  • Wonderful article. I have two points to mention:

    To keep your fire going, drink a lot of water before you go to bed. When you wake up to get rid of the water, add more wood to the fire and drink more water.

    Male bears become very aggressive when they smell a woman when it is “that time of the month” regardless of how clean she keeps herself. Take appropriate precautions. Many if not most bear attacks happen for that reason.

  • great story daisy!!! was a city girl too, but had been camping lots growing up, so pop taught us well. then hubby and I decided to sell, move to WV top of mtn, nice house, close to sister. wasnt too bad, lost power lots – had generators; always windy – loose power – had generators; hr to food store, down a muddy steep incline – then try to get back up; luckily taught how to stockpile – always prepared; learned to shoot at young age – could shoot on our property- ok w/guns (now not so much, outa practice, nother story); on well – had problems – stocked water; water was saturated with iron – had to install expensive conditioner; luckily house had a pellet stove in basement – stocked pellets, easier than wood; also propane stove on middle level- kept bottle filled. so basically we were more “refined” than you but still had to learn things. including bears on the deck!!!!! racoons in the feeders, squirrels/chipmonks, stinkbugs in the attic – moving/noise etc.!!! we werent as isolated as you but somewhat – we had 3 houses on my road – only mine and another inhabited all year, other was a some-timer; off the road – folks scattered, sister down the hill. hated when the cold, snow, winds came – couldnt do anything; when it rained too muddy. so, finally got fed up with the cold weather, oh yeah, THE BUGS, decided to head back south to FL…..not bad, hate humidity, but thats what AC is for. liked the WV house to some extent – too big, stairs, prefab, but all in all, ok. ya know what???? wish I still had it now….with the shtf coming in on us!!!! oh well, too late. so we’ll stay put here in NC, too old to move again, cant take the bitter cold/snow, stocked and prepared as much as possible, but have neighbors closeby.
    stay well, safe, and warm. and pray for this mess to pass……

    • Feminine hygiene items were just picked up at the store and disposed of as normal on our dump run each week. We had a long bow we learned how to use, and some bear spray, but this was Canada so no guns.

  • Wow Daisy, you are spot on. I have a N pole magnet aimed at my lower back after taking some msm, magnesium, calcium… old school relief after lugging in wood and trying to start an old snow blower. I enjoy your articles and search out the truth where ever I can find it… Here’s a good one – https://torahcalendar.com/

  • My ancestors were from Quebec province. One summer, my father took us all on an expedition into his grandfather’s homeland; guess he wanted to find his roots or something. My knucklehead brothers and I decided to go for a swim in a nearby pond.

    OH

    MY

    GOD

    Holy crap,! Zut Alors! That water was cold! Cold in the same way that Everest is big. And this was in August, mind you, never mind a cold time of year. And yet, there were crowds of people in that water, happily chattering away in French, like it was a sauna at a resort. Dear Lord, people, its a no dammed wonder the English won.

    So Daisy, my hat is off to you. I had no idea how harrowing your first experiences were. I cannot begin to tell you how pleased I am that you survived.

  • Hi Daisy, after having moved to the wilderness for several years, a man who delivered wood told me how to keep those fires burning
    through the night,or the day while gone. Load up the wood stove, have it blazing for about 5 minutes, then shut it down or near full down,
    and it will simmer for many hours.

  • I live in SW New Mexico. 7 miles to the north of us is about 3 1/2 million acres of national forest. Our town of 10,000 is very nice, and for us it’s fantastic. Many city folks move here and don’t last even a year. A lot of Californians. Leave because of the hardships, of being 50 miles from the closest town, if we need stuff we take a weekend and drive to las cruces for access to big box stores, like Sam’s or Costco. We just recently got a movie theater. That’s is better than driving 50 miles for a movie! We hav a Walmart and two grocery stores. And of course good shops downtown. No Mall!!! After awhile they leave. They can’t live without the convenience. There’s a lot open carry, and that also frightens many people. Hmm good! Yes the lack of convenience sure hurts many. Cmon out for a visit!

  • Daisy YES!! I don’t share prepper articles with my family they don’t get it except this one my Dad, is a man if few words there was lots of hmmmm, yup , yup hmm and then laughter. When I was in my early 20s I packed up everything and moved myself and then my young son to the country , I brought what I thought was a picture perfect cabin on some land. I kept second guessing bthe choice. My dad is a country boy through and through and my mum definitely is not. Dad always wanted to get back to the country so he totally encouraged me and whole heartly planned to be up at every chance he could. Omg the problems I thought I’d have didn’t even rate. But the ones I didn’t realise, quickly had to be mastered . I was totally unprepared. I’m not much of a drinker but I got drunk my first night at the property with my dad to celebrate my new move . I wandered out onto the land which backed into the national Forest. I thought there was a large man staring at me and turned to run, it was a massive kangaroo and moved to quickly and got a massive whoop of a kick , that left me bruised and bloodied as I cut my head on a rock. That shouldve been a warning. Nope too stubborn to admit I wasn’t cutting it. Like you it took me months to figure out how to make a proper fire and I even asked the neighbour if mind was broken. Yup embarrassing but he didn’t miss a beat and showed me and then it became more important than ever, I wasn’t asking him back. My body even started waking up in the middle of the night to get up to keep it going. My son thrived , he never doubted in to life in the burbs but was totally at home in the bush and loved it. I’ve never worked so hard. As for protection I didn’t have any stupidly. Foxes came in a pack and tried to steal our puppy and would have if it wasn’t for the other dog. I banged pots and pans and actually through the pots at them. Snakes, March flies, wombat holes, mosquitoes, echinaceas . So the house came without an oven as they were replacing it apparently (totally lie) do I brought my shiny new oven and called the guy to get it installed. Nope the cabin was that old the new oven couldn’t be installed until I re did all the wiring and power box. Next was the plumbing and leaking septic tank all up 20k . Then I got real sick. Too sick to work and had to have 2 months off work. Thank God for the school bus I couldn’t even drive. Then as I was recovering I went to stock some wood and my son who had been doing it hadn’t stacked it properly and it fell in me , I was stuck alone under wood for 4 hours before he got home from school then he went to the neighbours for help. I did lots of thinking during that time , I got over myself and worked my butt off. The our close neighbours were lovely but the locals didn’t accept me, unless you were born there you weren’t a local and were none to happy about a single mum thinking she could do it all by herself. Which made me more stubborn and lonely . Then I had to take 4 of my sister’s kids as well and keep it all going and work to pay the mortgage. For the bush fire season I learnt quick and survived but after a bush fire that got too close I sold up and glad I did . Six months later a massive bush fire came through and I lost alot of good people. I learnt so much about myself . It made me a better person.

    • Wow! What an incredible story, Izzy! Thank you for sharing it. I’m so sorry for what you endured with the wildfires.

  • My own experience wasn’t as extreme as yours but it was a LOT harder than my wife and I anticipated. The upside was I learned how well I could improvise when I had to have a solution, I picked up a lot of skills and knowledge as well. Sometimes I had people that could teach meand sometimes I had to just go ahead and reinvent the wheel. I live in a city now Would I make that transition to a rural life again? No effin’ way. I can’t work that hard anymore.

  • Wonderful-entertaining – reality driven FACTS of rural life versus city dwellers and even more diversity when going off grid
    Experience of actually doing versus reading about it is like day and night but successful adaptation is living a wholesome independent life

  • Living out here in the high plains of eastern Colorado is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard work and chores 7 days a week. Power outages and blizzards are common. If you can’t fix things and build things then it’s tougher to thrive. Going back to the city would be a prison sentence for me. I wouldn’t trade my life out here for anything in the city. Escaping from the urban madness of metro Denver was the best thing I ever did. It is funny to see newbies at the local feed store parking their BMW’S and Mercedes Benz away from the dirty farm trucks. We’re looking out for some newbies close by, they are awful green. You need to make friends which can be challenging at times. Still, I won’t go back. Absolutely determined to thrive here.

  • We bought a farm and I didn’t even know where it was. My husband, trying to find the quickest route from our old home to the new place, took a different way every time we went there to prep for the move. I was a suburb-girl and had NO idea what I was getting into.

    The electricity was out the day we moved in. The house had been empty for more than 2 years and was more than 150 years old. We thought the water was from a well and later realized it was spring-fed and nasty. We had updated much of it before we moved in – but still. Instead of being 15 minutes from the mall, we were 30 minutes from MILK! It was a huge change for me. The house was cold with wind blowing around the windows. The woodburner in the scary old basement (a dirt floor cellar) smoked and belched – it didn’t heat well either.

    The worst of it was the isolation. Our children were small – ages 9 months to 5 years. I had no clue that literally everyone was somehow related to everyone else, OR they had been in school together for 12 years. We were too far for support from family or friends – they were busy with their own growing families, anyway. I loved our farm, it was absolutely beautiful, but it was so difficult. We fixed things up and eventually built a new home even further out. I can do many more things than I thought I was capable of – starting a fire, killing rats, shooting snakes, chasing off bad guys, shopping/cooking in bulk, making new friends.

    Great article.

    We lived there for nearly 20 years and I came to love the community and area, but there were growing pains. I never loved that house.

  • Daisy—what a wonderful story….you are really an amazing woman. At the age of 55 and having lived my whole life on Long Island ( except 4 yrs in the Navy) I decided I could take early retirement ( thank God i was blessed with this job ) and my wife and I moved to the mts. upstate NY….now not as primitive as you lived….we have a pellet stove for heat and just 3days ago got 3 ft. of snow….but after 11yrs we are very happy…lol…I dont think we could make it if it was as primitive as you had it….God bless you stay safe

  • These are some notes on the back end of rural living. Both sets of my grand parents lived most of their lives on rural farms in the middle of Tornado Alley, and a good part of those years were before Rural Electrification came along. Towns got power first but farms didn’t get AC power until much later, so living with ice boxes, out-houses, radios powered by A and B batteries, hand-crank wooden-cased telephones, etc was very common. Men did the heavy field work and livestock handling but women did the gardening, canning, etc.

    In both cases … when they retired and needed to put those years of hard labor behind them they either let their youngest child (if available) move into that property so they could move into a nearby small town within walking distance of the grocery, post office and church — OR if all their kids were grown and working in some other profession and/or location, they sold the farm and again moved into a nearby small town with similar facilities within walking distance.

    Just after World War II the economics of farming were changing. Large operators could survive but small farm operators couldn’t survive on just wheat or corn cropping. My father had to bring cattle onto the home place for feeder operations in winter time because wheat (and some other grains) could no longer cover the bills, eg. Today any small operator wanting to make a living on such lands better have some income specialty to bring with them that large agricultural operators aren’t interested in competing against.

    Another aspect of rural living is that the changing federal regulations and economics are killing a lot of rural hospitals. As one gets up in years … the need for access to adequate medical care (including ER) becomes more frequent. Not only does living out in the distant sticks become more risky but even small town living may turn problematic for the same reasons.

    Learn the changing game rules and then make your best choices.

    –Lewis

    • Lewis, you make some valid points often overlooked when making lifestyle decisions. My husband and I have done sustainable homesteading since our retirement. We are now in our mid-seventies. We want to downsize but continue much of what we do now. We also want to live in a safe area. This is where it gets tricky. Finding an area with the land and safety, along with good medical care. We may not need it today, but we will need it tomorrow. Many rural hospitals and being forced too close. The ones remaining can be hit and miss in regard to standard of care and state of the art equipment is rarely on site.

  • “ Rural living is a lot of physical work.”

    Absolutely true. It’s hard work all day long, then if something goes wrong (there’s always a lot to go wrong in a rural setting) it’s work all night and until it’s fixed. Life in a farm is all work.

    Excellent article Daisy, had a good laught too!

  • I so enjoyed your sharing your experiences. You are an amazing and inspiring woman. Losing a husband suddenly and then taking on a challenge like this, it’s hard to believe you found the necessary strength. Anyway, you asked for experiences. We decided to try our hand at “pioneering” in Alaska many years ago. We built a small A Frame and moved in with an 18 month old and a 1 week old baby. We built the cabin paycheck by paycheck so cut corners wherever we could without compromising safety. We needed a woodstove so purchased a small one. We installed stove pipe that extended about 3 ft out of the roof. We learned that was way less than ideal when there was any wind as the down draft blew smoke all through the house. My mom joked that our baby was a little smoked ham ????. Also to save money we decided to burn the wood that we had cut down when we cleared the land that summer. Burning “green” wood is also not smart. That winter we learned a lot of skills, often through the school of hard knocks. But we made it and have learned to enjoy the “homestead” lifestyle.

    • I don’t want to be misleading – my children’s father was no longer my husband at the time of his death. However, we still shared parenting responsibilities, some expenses, and helped one another out. I lived in that location specifically for its proximity so that our girls could have a relationship with both of us.

  • With all of the city folks moving to the country, I’ll bet there will be a lot of property for sale at a discount come spring.

  • How about twice? Once, when we immigrated to Israel 39 years ago next January. The other was moving to an assisted living facility 7 years ago. Not as physically challenging as your story, but mentally just as radical.

  • Keeping a fire going overnight? One of the advantages of getting older is that I need to get up every few hours to pee, and stock up the woodstove while I’m at it. Talk about multitasking!

  • Yep. Did that.
    Pre-farm, the closest I came to chickens, ducks, cows, hogs was at the grocery store, wrapped in plastic wrap.
    Or the county fair.
    Building a fire was from Boy Scouts, make a small tee-pee with dry twigs, then a slightly larger one, then main one around those two.

    Now, slaughter and butchered chickens, turkeys and hogs. I read a book.
    Building a fire with only a small door to access the fire box is a might bit different than the Boy Scouts. Principle is the same, but took some adjustment. And keep it going all night long, what those previous posters have said.

    Stacking 400 square bales of hay, 6 cords of wood, or hauling water out to the livestock in the barn when it is in the single digits (that was last week) has to get done.

    I believe it was Daisy who wrote an article about discomfort or being uncomfortable. Sure, at first there are aches and pains, blisters and sweat. But as things go on the aches and pains go away, blisters become callouses, and sweat is just a fact of life. If you have exercised on a regular basis, you get that worked out muscle feeling, and feels good, it is like that.
    Negative temps still takes your breath away, but wear appropriate clothing and layers and it is not so bad. Took the dog for a walk when it was 13 the other day.

    I dont think it is so much a question of someone being brought up a city slicker, or from the sticks, male or female but a question of their character, their mindset and their grit and meddle.
    That is what determines those who can make the change and those who cannot. But that could be said about dang near anything in life.

    In boot camp at my beloved Island, a recruit wrote on a port-O-potty wall, “Paris Island is a lot like New York City, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.”

  • I love it when city folks move to the country. I don’t have a TV, so watching them is cheap entertainment. I was raised in the country. I know how to survive in the country. I was well prepared. It almost destroyed me both physically and emotionally.

    Neighbors are usually a greater headache than they are help. Things need to be kept under lock and key and even then neighbors have a tendency to help themselves.

    Lockable food storage area is a good idea, it won’t stop the bears, but it does slow them down.

    Some big city relatives asked about land in my area. They were thrilled with the price, then they asked if it snowed. That was a big deterrent for them. People around here keep the tractors under a roof, and the car out in the snow. They have their priorities straight. Speaking of tractors, there are usually only two tractors for sale… new, and used-up. The prepared city folks buy a tractor ahead of time, and then complain when they’re little toy 20 hp tractor won’t move snow. In the Spring (July) they head out to the dealers to buy a “real” tractor. They are a little more than shocked when they discover that a tractor large enough to do the job will cost more than their hybrid Lexus. Yes, my first house (nice place with a beautiful view) was a bargain by comparison.

    I could write for hours, but like I said… city folks moving to the country are great entertainment.

  • Very nice longish story which I read to my wife who listened and commented “very good article”. We are seeing an influx of city people to our area and this article was timely indeed. Oddly enough, and please take this is as a compliment, I can tell where you are from during this period of your life by the words you chose and the way your sentence structure is arranged. Thanks for a great article.

  • What a great account, Daisy. Thanks for sharing. That took a lot of courage to make that drastic a change. About 15 years ago, my family decided to move from the cookie-cutter neighborhoods to a more rural area just outside town. We still had all the modern conveniences, but started gardening, cutting and bailing fields, and keeping animals. In addition, we live in an area that irrigates from the river, which is an education in and of itself! I’m telling you, it’s a LOT of work (and that without having to cut, split and stack firewood). I know people, as they’ve gotten older, have offered younger people who want to learn to farm or ranch, free room and board in exchange for help with the physical labor. One of my favorite books is by Gary Paulson (of the Hatchet series fame), Clabbered Dirt, Sweet Grass, and it tells the story of farming in the upper midwest around the turn of the last century. You can actually feel the fatigue from long days of hard labor, and it’s written by the season to illustrate what farmers must do in each season. I highly recommend it!

    • Fina, based on your recommendation I bought a used copy of “Clabbered Dirt, Sweet Grass” by Gary Paulson. What a beautiful book! It reads like poetry, and is wonderfully descriptive of true farm life from the early 1900’s. Wow, what a life that was! It should be required reading for anyone who thinks they’re going to go homestead! (My grandma was born in 1907 and raised on a farm in Saskatchewan, and she was fiercely critical of anyone who romanticized the hard life of farming!). Thank you again for recommending this great book!

  • So sorry to see your wonderful article get taken so off track. I was raised a city girl and moved to a rural area 10 years ago. It is indeed a true learning experience and a test of one’s resolve. I wouldn’t trade the skills I have learned or the wilderness adventures I have had for anything in the world. I do chuckle every time I have a discussion with a friend about dealing with issues like mice and rats in the chicken coop, catching a skunk in the trap I set out for ground squirrels, or seeing a raccoon shimmy straight up a wall. I laugh every time someone comes into my home and backs right up to the wood stove. And I laugh at anyone that needs to pay and go to a gym for exercise. Frankly, I can’t even imagine ever returning to city life!

  • I always enjoy these posts about “city folks”. In the interest of full disclosure I’m a Texas boy, born and bred. I grew up south of DFW in a small cluster of houses surrounded by dairies and farmland. My wife, on the other hand, is from South Amboy, New Jersey. We were living in suburbia, across the street from the country club, when I first mentioned we should look at a few acres in the country. Her reply was, “Honey, where I come from this is the country”.

    Fast forward five years and we’ve moved to 10+ acres complete with llamas, goats, chickens and cows. Now, you have to understand that my wife is one of those “equally yoked” folks. In translation what that means is she’s going to do whatever she thinks is right with her 50% of the enterprise regardless of what I say. A couple of years after we acquired our first cows one of them started limping. I’d been telling her for quite some time she was overfeeding them but she felt otherwise.

    So, we load the cow in the trailer and take her to the vet. The vet walks into the corral, looks at the cow and say’s “How in the He double hockey sticks did she get so fat”. Vindication is sweetest when awaited the longest. Moral of the story: be patient with the “city slickers”, it’s been fourteen years now and she’s a seasoned hand and never afraid to tackle any task. God I love that woman.

  • Jay,

    If my husband died I would be devastated. If my children’s fathers died I would die with them.

    How would you solve the worlds problems. Asking for a midwife. ????????. (Complete, Hot, Blonde, Educated) I’ve delivered thousands of babies and I haven’t had one person, color, gender, or creed: Who wouldn’t help or assist the delivering the woman and her child, when called upon.

  • We did it in stages. I’m from the DC area. Lived in the suburbs all of my life, until my mid-40s. Then we moved in with my mom in WV farm country (rural residential.) To back up, though–we started our homesteading journey when we were still living in a townhouse in MD. We started a garden in our tiny “yard.” We cooked over a wood fire in a kettle grill for a few months (it was hard to collect wood in that environment, and we didn’t want to buy it.) We caught rain water and learned how to process it for safe use. All the while, we read, read, read up on homesteading.

    When we moved in with my mother (I was her caretaker and then inherited her house when she passed,) we scaled up and continued learning. We planted a MASSIVE veggie garden. We started harvesting our own firewood from our property (we always stuck with downed trees and almost never cut a tree down just for firewood.) We started acquiring equipment. We bought a snowplow (we needed it where we were living!) We learned a lot about DIY home care and repair. All of this took place on five acres, and we were within about 20 minutes of a sizeable town with all of the conveniences and supports that beginners needed.

    In 2019, I bought our current home–a 60 acre farm in NW Massachusetts. We moved all of the equipment that we’d bought up here with us. We have acquired an ATV and a sawmill. We harvest our own firewood AND are milling our own lumber. We haven’t gotten the garden in yet, but we are planning it for Spring. We have a dozen apple trees and want to add more. All the while, we both continue to learn, learn, learn. It’s been a really cool journey, and I love where we live. I mean, I am SO in love with this property that it’s not even funny.

    Sure. We still live close to a couple of sizeable towns and all the conveniences, but we don’t take advantage of them much. We have pretty much everything we need, and we are working on rebuilding our stockpile (didn’t want to move it, so we ate up what we had before we moved and/or donated it.)

  • What a (painfully) honest post, Daisy! It made me think of an awesome movie called “The Ultimate Gift” with James Garner in which one of the gifts the grandfather give his soft, entitled grandson is The Gift of Hard Work. Struggle, loss and disappointment are part of everyone’s life (sooner or later), whether rich, poor or in-between. Some people meet challenges head-on and thrive; others call themselves victims and look for a easy way out. It is the low parts of our lives that really make us grow and give us character.

  • Oh so many City Folk Donner Parties going to take place this winter season. You will know when times get really bad, is when everybody looks at you like you are their next meal. Good Luck newbies. Yeah who needs a Gym to stay in shape, we gitter done every day. I was up at 5 AM tending to a new rabbit litter and one baby bunny was found out of the box and cold like an ice cube and barely moving. I tucked it and cupped it in my hands and began to blow warm breath air on it, and massaging it, went inside for about 45 mins to bring its little core temperature back up, then took it back out and put all of them in the momma fur ball nest in the back of the birthing box. All looks good so far. You also need to learn animal husbandry and caring for the critters day and night. I have an new city neighbor next door, he has no tools, like chainsaws, etc.. Have to be prepared to be a jack of all trades to thrive in the country. Being creative and resourceful is key in doing with what you have.

  • We left the city in February after planning for years. Our old neighborhood had far more people than the entire county we are now in. We are off-grid and in a pop-up camper while building a cabin as our new home. We’d hoped to be done with it by the end of summer. As you said, things aren’t going exactly as planned, and there is a learning curve. We hope to be in it by NEXT summer lol. It is freezing and snowing, and we are learning how to keep warm within these canvas walls. Every day is a challenge, but for my family it is worth it.

  • A couple of stories I didn’t mention above

    In my early high school years while on the farm I remember finding a skunk prowling just south of our house so I grabbed the .410 shotgun and nailed him. Where I went wrong was to only wound him, so he crawled off, went under the house into unreachable territory and died there. That’s how I learned the hard way that the stink he left under the house takes about six weeks to go away, and the best way to keep school mates from learning who the odor-carrying culprit was … was to stay in crowds as much as possible.

    Fast forward to decades later: a lot of rural agricultural areas have suffered too many years of ammonium nitrate fertilizer seeping into the water table. In the early stages of that it’s dangerous for pregnant women and dangerous for new babies for at least its first year. That’s where the phrase “blue baby syndrome” comes from because of that kind of water contamination that impairs the baby’s oxygen processing ability.

    That old home town a few miles away decided the most cost effective solution was to give out free water bottles to all who wanted them. That worked fine for a few years until the EPA and the state board of health saw another empire building opportunity and coerced the town into committing to build and operate a very expensive municipal reverse osmosis water treatment plant. Neither solution was available to local farmers however.

    At higher levels of such contamination, ammonium nitrate in the water sometimes causes cancer. Whether that caused the cancer that took down my father we’ll never know.

    Some parts of the country have other types of water contamination — especially in former mining areas or near military bases, eg. The point is that before making a move to rural areas anywhere the water quality today needs to be known. If problematic you need to know if you can handle the solutions (and their economics) that exist.

    –Lewis

  • Jay’s mind set is not a a small segment of men it’s an ever increasing portion.

    If you dont marry and have kids by 30 as a woman the reasons to marry you go to ZERO

    Only reason for a guy to risk everything is to procreate. After 30 for women its ever increasing risk of illness in your progeny.

    That being said. Having a partner is important in daisy’s type of situation her partner was her daughter. Without help you will eventually die in such a situation. Eventually everyone has an accident that sidelines you without help in minus 50 you will die but atleast in your sleep.

    One thing you also learn is how to troubleshoot and make workarounds because things will break and fail at worst times. Man or woman without basic tool skills you are going to die out in woods like that over a longer period of time or shft.

    No one will come for a frozen well with 5 feet of snow. Your animals sick well you better have your thinking cap on .

    It is a tough life style daisy’ atleast had power. Go off grid and see how much more that adds…

    Tough existence makes tough resilient people and we have gotten too soft. The chaff is going to be separated by the food shortage incoming.

    I do live off grid on farm I have had many tough situations and had to deal.with it. Having a group takes alot of work and screening but increases your chances of survival for what is to come shortly.

    Good on you daisy for sticking it out.

  • I’m 80, lived in the country all my life, heated with wood most of that time (and still do), have seen my share of blackouts, and lived in heavy-duty snow country for 30 years. This is a wonderful story you tell, Daisy! Love it! Even today, our car in winter is outfitted with snow shovels, tow chains, jumper cables, and a backpack of emergency winter clothing. (Don’t leave home without it!) I can relate so much to what you wrote here. Don’t know whether to laugh or cry. When I researched and wrote The Non-Electric Lighting Series I kept saying to myself, “Gee, I wish I knew then what I know now.” Or, as the old German grocer in town was wont to say, “We get too soon old and too late smart.” Great stuff!!

  • We moved from the city to the woods 14 years ago. We were more prepared than most – we both grew up in Scouts and knew how to keep warm, etc. I was so surprised at how often we lose power, and I found out – as you did – that with that we also lose clean water. This year from January until July, we have lost power ten times! The longest time was for 8 hours, but a few years ago, I was home alone (my husband was working nights and couldn’t get home due to an ice storm) and we lost power for 19 hours. It came back on for an hour, then went out again for another 6 hours. We learned from that time to always have a rack of wood on the porch where I can get to it. I did fine – it never got below 69 degrees in the house, and we were prepared for lack of water with bottles and bottles of clean water. And the kicker? I’m paralyzed from the chest down. Our friends were way more concerned about me than I was. We have learned much in these last 14 years, but I wouldn’t go back to the city for anything.

  • Great article Daisy. I did notice more than a few mentions of snot and snot bubbles. Made me burst out laughing. Those hard times when we apply ourselves and ultimately succeed (as you did) are perfect teaching moments….as we remember them years later.

    We moved from Austin to the Ozarks. I designed a very thermally efficient home; however we did not have either natural gas or a wood burning stove or airtight fireplace. We were in a small city and as the building budget dwindled to zero; the fireplace exited stage left. My wife never liked gas furnaces, so electric heat pumps it was.

    We moved the 600 miles set up home and promptly had a winter ice storm with 1/4 inch of clear ice with 4 inches of pelleted ice which shut down all power everywhere for about a week in the small city. Steeping outside was eerie. No traffic, no compressor noise, not a sound…until the tree limbs starting cracking. It was like the old western gunfights, all around us. Totally bizarre. We stayed in the house in our thermals and PJ’s under three layers of blankets. Water was still available because of the gravity plane, but it was very cold and almost unbearable to get out of the shower and dry off before small appendages felt like they might break off.

    Since then, we moved to a house with a Jotul airtight fireplace wood stove, which is keeping the house toasty right now. Wood is the key for warmth. If needed we could use Lodge Cast iron dutch ovens in the open fireplace (or even closed, if closely watched). Those darn Norwegians (my blood lineage) sure know how to make wood stoves.

    I always recommend using something like a Big Green Egg or one of the cheap knockoffs. If you have a fireplace and firewood, you can always cook on the egg when power goes down.

    I’ve read your pieces on Lew Rockwell’s site. This is the first time I have commented. Excellent work.

    Your piece on your bout with the virus made me reevaluate my position in terms of trying to understand other peoples’ concerns about the potential severity of this virus. Glad to hear you recovered and mended.

  • A former big city politician from a neighboring state purchased a home with a couple of acres of land which adjoined my property. Everyone in the area assumed that he must be in a witness relocation program or had committed some atrocity which is why he had to hide out in the woods. The man was a complete ass and regarded all of his new neighbors with contempt. Friendly advice was countered with:” What the F–K would you know?” and so he quickly became despised. My big city neighbor went to the county council and demanded that sidewalks be installed on the county road which ran in front of his house so that he may stroll to the nearest store safely. The nearest store was more than two miles from his house.
    He would entertain himself by listening in on telephone conversations conducted through portable handsets by means of his radio scanner. He would drive up and down the road until he picked=up a signal and then camp in front of the house on the county road and listen in, afterward he would gossip about what he would learned or taunt people with his knowledge of their personal affairs,
    My neighbor is with us no more. Someone burned down his house with his big-city ass inside it.
    City people heed this warning: respect your new rural neighbors and live as they do. Your new neighbors will welcome and accept you into their community. Or they will burn down your f–king house with you in it.

  • i made the move, when 60 [ i thought i knew a lot, machinist; construction and many other trades/tools/materials]

    the woodstove however takes practice. if the flames are visible, massive air from the house gets pulled up the chimney. the stove should be airtight, have stove gasket and mud[clay sealer] supplies. consider piping air for the stove from outside [make a hood or fitting to cover air vent into stove]
    burn with higher flames until a 50lb chunk is fully red, and pile other large chunks in to bank the heat and slowly go to charcoal.
    never let the stove go cold, you will notice the ontime addition of large chunks will be almost as easy as city heat.

    then there;s the well.. i calculated that one drop per second [3 drops=1ml/1cu cm]
    = in 24 hrs =29 litres [appx 1 cu ft/7.5 gal]
    a very tiny spring or tiny driven well stem can supply that. [1-1.5 in iron pipe, with a penetrator/screen point can work when water table is shallow]
    water at that flow can come from condensation setups [lookup harvesting water from air]
    a hand pump for water is important, a super soaker is a nice pump for quick access. have several types of pumps. solar powered well pumps, windmill pump etc.
    and that is just the beginning…

    i build my own tools, things like that can make all the difference
    having a complete encyclopedia, tech manuals for building, fabrication etc also handy
    jump in and get swimming, the water is cold and fresh

  • I have been following you since you were blogging from your cabin. I wondered why a single woman with 2 children arrived there. While my guesses were wrong, I definitely enjoyed what you blogged and have followed you to Texas, California and now in the SouthEast. It is interesting for me to read of family life, homeschooling, and multiple moves. You have definitely succeeded in the life of hard knock-her-down yet get up and keep on keeping on.

    Thanks for your blogging. I have learned a lot on more than just the 3 Bs.

  • That is quite a story! I’ll just say that I grew up on 6 acres about 10 miles out from a small city of about 40,000 people, have lived in the suburbs my entire adult life, and have been wanting to move back to the country ever since. For me, “the country” is defined as one county north (or west) of here where land is cheaper and I can see the stars at night.

  • love the story,
    I remember well my first winter out in the boonies ,20+ miles from nearest town with a grocery store,in a 17ft travel trailer i had gutted and re-insulated (thank goodness) i worked all week 100 miles away come home to a cold trailer I only had battery power my old work van, had 2 batterys ran the lights off it.. small Heater buddy for heat. cooked off existing propane stove. slept most weekends. finally got electric on the property had well & septic done,& bought a double wide,with nice electric heat. now im back in town & hate it,but learned a lot of great prepper ways growing food,trying to keep animals from getting it first. miss country life for sure

  • “Have you ever made a dramatic lifestyle change?”
    In 1968 when I was 19 I went to Vietnam and was a helicopter door gunner for four years. Dramatic, but hardly unsupported, on my own.
    In 1995 I left the US and went to live in an infamous Thai beach resort for fourteen years. Very different from Tucson, Arizona, but again, still in Civilization.
    In 2009 I left Thailand to go live in Pereira, Colombia, in the heart of the Eje Cafetal, the coffee growing region, where the weather is described as, ‘Eternal Spring’. Best move I ever made, best place I have been in my life.
    September 30, I closed on 65 acres about an hour from Pereira, a hilltop, and watershed. I don’t expect it to be dramatic, it’s no more than 30 minutes from the town, the weather is good year-round, and the area is safe. Preparing the site and constructing should be fun, but not dramatic.
    I plan to offer lots to prepper minded people. who want to evade epidemics, mandates, and the like. I plan to be defensible, and food and energy sustainable.
    I’ve learned a lot from this site.

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