In Search of a Home(stead)

Phot by Karen Bryan

The first time I went to my future in-laws’ house, my (future) husband told me they had a huge backyard. It drove home a point of the differences in how we grew up. To him, his parents had a huge back yard. To me, having grown up on a farm, it was miniscule.

We were married our senior year of undergrad and lived in a cute little house with a tiny yard. When we went to grad. school, we lived in an apartment. So when we moved here seven years ago, 1/3 of an acre seemed reasonable. It wasn’t as large as I would have liked, but I had a toddler and another baby on the way. My husband was busy with work. It wasn’t as though we were farming, unless you counted grass.
As the years have passed, I’ve often thought about having more space. Growing up on a farm meant I had room to roam – pastures, ponds, forests. We grew or knew our food by name. My husband has become less squeamish about the Benji burger story over the years. In early May we took a family vacation to Chicago. For a week we said goodbye to surburbia and hello to urban living in our rented condo. That week made a huge impact on me. I felt boxed in and suffocated and once again longed for open space. It’s something that I want for my children and myself.
My husband and I have been batting the idea around since then: talking, dicussing, and dreaming. However, not only do I want that space and freedom, I’ve been feeling very pulled to taking more responsibility for our food. Rather than buying a side of beef from a farmer, in a sense distancing ourselves from the life that is taken, I feel we should raise our own animals and grow our own food, and live as sustainably as we can. The more we talk, the more I also see my husband drawn to the idea, the born suburbanite that he is.
It will be a few years, but I’m making the changes in our current little home that I can without affecting resale value or increasing costs. We can’t raise a cow, but I think we could easily fit a few chickens on our little unfenced 1/3 acre. I haven’t convinced my husband of that, but just this weekend he told me he wanted to buy a new pressure cooker, as our current one isn’t a good size for canning. I take that as a good sign.

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