APN Homesteading Columnist
I was born and raised mainly in central Virginia, a suburb kid until my father bought an 80 acre hobby farm when I was around 9 years old. Spending weekends on the horse farm I was introduced to archery, reaffirmed my love for fishing and learned a bit about gardening, wild fruits and trees from my step-mom, an environmental sciences student. This time on the farm was also my introduction to horses, goats, sheep, rabbits and chickens, this was where this suburb kid was meant to be, and I knew that quickly.
Though I never lived on the farm full time there was something the struck a chord with me, maybe the peacefulness of it, maybe the freedom, it’s hard to say looking back at it now. This farm, and my time on it would prove to be a primer for my adult life, though it would be almost fifteen years before I would truly realize it.
Upon graduating from High School and being too immature to succeed in college I enlisted in the U.S. Navy and volunteered for submarine duty. My eight years in the service was spent as a weapons systems mechanic. September 11, 2001 was a day none of us will forget, but for me, it was the day that changed how I would lead my life. This particular day changed the Navy’s focus on force protection and anti-terrorism, which in turn changed our outlook on it as well. Suddenly I went from a young man having shot for fun as a kid, to shooting a few times a year as a sailor, to a student of every force protection school then available to sailors. I attended tactical training courses, anti terrorism briefings and lectures and in time became a small arms marksmanship instructor. Security was now at the forefront of my mind and I purchased my first firearm, obtained my concealed carry permit, and spent a great deal of time focusing on how to protect myself and my family while off the clock, the Navy made sure I knew how to do it while on their time.
When I left the service after 8 years I spent a while gathering my bearings and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I moved onto a 1 acre plot of land in the middle of nowhere and began slowly living the country life. A garden and chickens were where I started, and within a year or so I was up to 40 chickens, 25 rabbits, 4 goats and 3 pigs. I quickly outgrew my single acre and started looking to expand, finally settling on a 5 acre parcel closer to work, but not nearly as remote as my previous home. I have scaled back my efforts briefly but only to ensure that I’m able to expand in a way that makes sense for my new location.
I now live with my wife and children (we have 5 total between the two of us) on a small farm with chickens, goats and ducks. We’ve planted fruit trees, berry brambles, grape vines, a corn field and a few gardens. We do plan to obtain some more pigs and rabbits in due time but are growing slowly this time and savoring each bit as it comes.
Each experience in our life leads us to some new knowledge, mine has come from exposure to a rural lifestyle as a child, the need for security as a young adult, and the necessity of being a provider today. Many folks often refer to the lifestyle we live as “the simple life” but they have obviously never partaken in a day on a farm.
The economic collapse spurred the quick growth and mindset change and the one promise I have made to my family, and continue to live by each and every day is that no matter how bad things get, no matter what shape our economy is in or what jobs disappear, my family will eat. We are becoming more prepared every day, and hopefully we can help you and your families do the same. Please join us on our journey, we learn new things every day and welcome you as part of our extended family, one in which we look out for ourselves, each other and share in each unique experience. I hope to gain as much knowledge as I share and make each of you a friend of ours along the way.
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