It just occurred to me today that a lot of folks kind of form their own, often unreal, picture of life on our homestead. You know, where everything is perfect. Everything in its place, perfectly clean and in order. Nothing breaks down and Will and I pass each day building stuff, baking bread, and canning up something. Some is true; much is not. On a real homestead, breakdowns are, seemingly, a daily occurrence. Will’s friend calls and asks him “What did you break today?” When Will answers nothing, his friend laughs and says he must not have been working then. Yesterday, it was the alternator on the big bulldozer, which Will had to pull and replace. Today, he was working on the dozer’s winch, which refused to free spool.

The house is kind of clean — for us. After all, we just had company for Thanksgiving dinner. I washed dishes, straightened up a little, then cut a Hopi Pale Grey squash in half and, after removing the valuable seeds and setting them to dry, I wiped it with butter and brown sugar and put it in the oven to bake. Will didn’t get much “pumpkin” pie for Thanksgiving. So he feels underprivileged. To make him feel better, I decided we’d have squash tonight for dinner, then make a couple of pies with the other half, tomorrow. Our friends, Dara and Sherri, are coming tomorrow to help so I probably won’t have time to dust (which around here means sweep the wood ash from the hearth before it flies up onto the shelves). We run a kind of relaxed household, as you can see.

Our old wheelbarrow now holds a batch of our pumpkins and squash from the greenhouse.

As we wanted to shut off the heat in the greenhouse, Will used our old wheelbarrow to fill up with the remaining pumpkins and squash. Then he brought it right into the dining room. Hmmm, country decor? And, as our nighttime temperature dropped to 1 degree F last night, he also filled up the wood box and also filled the newer wheelbarrow and brought THAT into the entryway. With two big dogs, it gets a bit cozy with not one, but two wheelbarrows in the house! But despite that, we’re very blessed to have lots of firewood and plenty of food. A lot of folks don’t have that option. Both Will and I have had very broke times in our lives and know just how that feels. That’s why we give thanks each and every day for all we have.

This wheelbarrow may be kind of in the way, but we love the load of nice firewood to keep the wood stove burning in this cold weather!

— Jackie


  1. Thank you for great idea, the wheel barrow for fire wood, I am gettng tired of carrying it in one armload at a time. I’m going to fill the wheel barrow before the next big snow! I couldn’t do that before, with steps front and back, but I have a new wheel chair ramp built to the back deck, so I will be able to bring it up to the back door. Jackie you have helped me so many times, thank you!

    • You’re welcome, Nancy! When Mom passed away, we thought about removing the ramp up to our front door. But then, we had handicapped son, Javid, who sometimes came for a visit and that ramp was SO handy for wheelbarrowing in firewood. So, we kept it, then replaced the plywood, which had started to rot. Being wheelbarrow-friendly is such a great thing!

  2. You are cracking me up with the wheelbarrows. I didn’t bring mine in but I do have wood in 3 different rooms. Winter is “fun” up north for sure! Pyro

    • I’m sure our “decor” wouldn’t fit in a high-end home. But we sure love it! Especially when it saves our backs.

  3. I’m right with you, Jackie. Thanks so very much for sharing this.
    It’s more important to have peace of mind and have a house that is definitely lived in with animals, wood, some veggies hanging out to be baked/seeded and more.
    I’m thankful to have a home of my own now the last few years. Always things to do and things to fix or repair but it makes my world go round.
    I may not have much monetarily but I have a home filled with love and thankful for all the good Lord has blessed me with.
    It’s been super cold here and windy. The snow mostly melted when temps warmed up but prepared for it to return.
    I hope you, Will and the animals have a super good day.

    • Thank you so much Cindy! We, too, are so thankful to have our wonderful home along with all our other countless blessings. Yep, we also had that cold and wind. Our low last night was -11 F and the high was 11 above. I’ve got to adjust to those temperatures now. Winter is definitely here!

  4. Where we live in lower, lower Michigan we had quite a snow storm last week. The heavy snow was at least 2 feet high on our back steps and we couldn’t get the door open and it was cold (25 degrees, & lower at night) out. It is all melted now and much warmer. My kitty wouldn’t go out in the snow either. We had a great Thanksgiving at our neighbors across the street. What a feast we had. I sure overate. There were 12 people at the table. I made a broccoli salad and a pumpkin desert = both very good. We have had our equipment breaking this last year. We ordered a part for our riding lawn mower in early September and it finally came about 2 weeks ago. The transmission for the 2004 truck needed to be replaced and the repair place couldn’t find a used one. We sold the truck for parts. Our car had a dent in the hood and we waited 3 months for parts to replace the hood. My washing machine quit and couldn’t be repaired as no one in our area will work on Samsung because they can’t get parts so we had to replace it and did the dryer also as they both were old. I think we are all set. Everything seems to be working now. Blessings to all.

    • Boy, didn’t you have the troubles!! It seems like EVERYTHING takes a long time to find a part for, if you can. I’m thinking this is going to affect groceries, too, with the price of diesel fuel. (Diesel to power tractors to grow the food, drive the food to warehouses, then to stores.) Then there’s the drought and other weather issues. Boy are we glad we grow so much of our good food!

  5. I am so glad you showed this!! Our house is lived in too! It’s a working house that we live in! We also take care of grandchildren. They have their stuff too. Thanks for sharing

    • Truth be told, if we had little to no “stuff” (I love George Carlin’s skit on “stuff”), keeping a tidy house would be a piece of cake. Yeah, you have to put up with dust and sheds when you burn wood but a small price to pay. My mom always told me if you don’t move anything, no one will know you haven’t dusted.

    • I think a lot of we hometeaders have less than pristine homes. When we had one seminar, an attendee spoke out, “Thank God you have weeds!!” Yep, we’re just folks too.

  6. A clean house is a sign that one has nothing better to do!!!! It also does help to find things to be thankful for each and every day (as you do). It makes the tough times a bit easier! We all have things to be thankful for if we think about it! Love seeing the pictures of your squash and all.

  7. Yes, being thankful is truly the way to go. I look at my shelves of canned goods and smile. I have extra for other folks, too, if needed. Staying busy, to be prepared, is a way of life for me. I have gotten used to finding “something” to can , even in winter. I canned some Thanksgiving turkey leftovers, ham, even soup made from leftover leftovers! My granddaughter told me I had canned enough this summer for the whole county. But be thankful for the bounty and remember Who gives us these good gifts.

    • That’s so right. We don’t practice preparedness out of fear of the future but a satisfaction in knowing we can be independent of outside help, if and when it becomes necessary. We are always humble and thankful for all of our blessings!

    • Thanks to Jackie and all her experience of “canning”, including her many books on the subject, it’s easy to can, and experiment with just about everything. My family’s shocked what I try from time to time.

  8. After my scary open heart surgery 4 1/2 years ago I truly don’t try to sweat the small stuff like a perfect house..I am back to gardening and with the high prices it is a blessing.
    I also have in the past been very poor and feel blessed that I have a house to call home…love hearing all to you and Will do ..many a time puts a smile on my face

    • It puts a whole different spin on things, once you’ve been poor, hungry and wondering how to feed and keep your children warm. We, too, are so blessed to have a warm house, tons of good food and a healthy family.

  9. We too are comfortable with the messiness of self reliant country living and are grateful for the blessings of our messy “stuff”! Great reminder Jackie of what’s truly important! I’m recovering from my second hip replacement and so blessed to have all of the food we’ve put up during this time. The rewards for our hard work growing and preserving here in Michigan.

    • Awww…so sorry to hear about your surgery. I am wishing you a speedy recovery!! Remember you as a sweet lady from the 1st seminar!

    • I hope you recover well and quickly. I’m due for a total knee replacement in February so am trying to “get ahead” now to be prepared for it.

  10. I believe an idyllic place exists in all of our hearts but reality is where we live. I laugh about things to fix. We have two vehicles on jacks with tires taken off to be repaired. I have 2 tillers that limped to the end of the garden season. One needs a new transmission and the other will not shift into high gear. My wife said I needed some winter projects. We too keep comfortable with wood heat and feel blessed not too worry about what temperature we set the thermometer. Food is also not a problem and we are lucky and have made our luck. 1 degree is a bit cool for us high of 18 (not too bad). No snow here yet which seems strange. I find my work is my play (even if it is a struggle sometiimes) and I enjoy every day. Did you get your outside woodburner working? Stay warm. There seems to be plenty of inside work for you with the seed business. There seems to be plenty of RSV, Influenza, and Covid in our area so it’s better to stay home.

    • Yes, it is, despite our COVID boosters, flu shot, etc. You’re right; sometimes we make our own luck. By plain hard work. God does the rest but sure doesn’t put it in our laps. Will tells people who exclaim how hard we work, “Hey, I’ve got 100 hobbies and I get to do them all, every day!”

      • Sounds like Will knows his passion and does it. My husband makes excellent money, but still says his passion is to make money to pay the bills and eat. So sad, to me, when I know he’d love to fish, hunt, and work when he wants.

  11. I appreciate this post so much. My living room has a wood box full of firewood which “ sheds” all over the wooden floor. Along with the stove ashes which cover the tile hearth. Pails of kindling also.We’re currently having a major snow event which is unusual for us on west coast gulf islands of Canada. Driving is impossible in this heavy snow and my daughter has over an hour commute tonight which makes me concerned.
    I feel grateful and blessed that I have a full pantry and lots of fire wood so I don’t have to venture out! Thankful for the summer garden bounty. Preparing for events like this is always a good idea -even for city folks.
    Keep calm and carry on as my British Dad use to say!

    • That’s so true. When you get all panicked, things always go wrong. Which is the best reason to be prepared. I hope your daughter makes her commute safely. We’ve had cold and blowing snow, although not deep snow. Yet.

  12. Thank you Jackie! I needed to see/hear this. I’m a first time mom and my boy is now 4 months old. I work around the house, in the kitchen and in the garden and have been feeling overwhelmed that I can never seem to get it all under control. My big jobs have been preserving the harvest and my baby boy! And now I’m working to accept/understand that that is perfectly fine and an accomplishment in an of itself. He is 4 months old and popped a tooth this week…haha he must be looking forward to eating some of the squash puree I’m freezing for him!

    • You’ve got that right, Mom! Preserving food and taking care of a child is a full time job and one to make you proud. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s never perfect. Take time to enjoy your little guy, and all the food you’ve put up.

    • Hi, Mary, Our youngest daughter has a four-year-old, and now a newborn and just quit her job so she can stay home. She’s thrilled. She called asking me what to do with her time. That was long before the baby was due and she was on leave from work. I told her, find out your passion and do it. Looks like she’s found her passion, full-time motherhood and homemaker. I’m so glad for her. She and her husband will have to pinch pennies now, more than ever, but they like the change.

  13. Here in the PNW, our challenge is damp, dark days with numerous storms and power outages. I’m so thankful for our wood stoves! Also thankful for the Starting Over book; that’s where we are after 8 years of renting, finally in our own home again. It feels good to pour over gardening books again, but this time for a garden that will (hopefully, Lord willing) stay ours. I don’t comment much here but I’m thankful for your blog and for all of the lovely people who leave comments here for us all to read :)

    • Congratulations on being able to start over in your own home!! How exciting! It’s always lots of work but you know you are working for your family now, not some landlord. Have fun on your journey.

  14. I had to laugh about the wheelbarrows. We too drag wood into our finished basement in a wheelbarrow. If you go downstairs you just walk around it. You do what you have to do. And what works.

    • That’s for sure, Robin! A warm house you don’t have a bill for makes everything worthwhile.

  15. I too am very grateful for all I have been blessed with. House is small, kitchen little, and ‘stuff’ stacked here and there. I am healthy, warm, and eat well. God is good

  16. We also bring firewood in with a wheelbarrow. Though not as cold as you (low 20’s here), we’re going through a lot of firewood, and are thankful for how much wood we have in our shed. So many things to be grateful for every day.

  17. lol.. one of our wheelbarrows is exactly like yours. If you live where it gets cold, plastic ones don’t do well long term tossing firewood into them.
    We got married when inflation and interest rates (CDS, savings, and borrowing) were high and unemployment was 25% in our area. Weathered numerous downturns since then – being frugal and prepared (though not to your level), we made it through. We were in good place when Covid-19 hit and are still are. But we still live a frugal life (with the occasional splurges and supporting local charities/organizations). We were both raised to live within, if not below, our means. We raised our kids the same way. Sometimes you can’t avoid what I call smart debt but a) don’t over extend and b) pay it off as soon as possible. Being debt free is peace of mind.

    • Yes, it sure is! After nearly becoming a single mom with kids and facing homelessness, it made me really value having a debt-free homestead! Lots of years have passed, since then, and we still are extremely careful with our finances.

  18. Keeping an attitude of gratitude regardless of our circumstances helps with the hard times and reminds us to be thankful in the good times. Each life seems to have a lot of highs and lows which makes us appreciate the middle ground!

    • That’s sure the truth. I don’t know many folks who get through life without challenges and low times, illnesses and deaths. We really need to be thankful for the good times and all our blessings, as we go along.

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