building a homeschool homestead: what we are doing

A dozen years ago, we were looking to live more back to basic, a simpler life, and I decided to put ‘build a homestead’ on my bucket list.

Looks manageable.

At the opening of this spring, I studied the oodles of plans I sketched, the lists I wrote, and checked the Pins on Pinterest I gathered, and I’ve been bringing some of them into fruition over the last few months.

I’m learning that building a homestead takes longer than pinning a full board on Pinterest.

I like to share when things are complete. But in the spirit of progress, “E” for effort, I share what I’ve done on the homestead this summer. (What I haven’t done, the list that is much, much longer than the one I’ve completed, I’ll leave to the imagination.)

What I have accomplished is this:

1. soil amending…or just plain ‘finding soil’ (tricky to find nutritive soil in the mountains)


2. feed my compost (and a super cute skunk family that also enjoyed the cat’s food bowl in our greenhouse, and a bunch of tiny mice, but they’re free play toys for the cats)IMG_33513. stonework, as in building a load more garden beds, by hand, from this mountain of stone…the more I spend time in my outdoor home, the more I find opportunities to create more gardens…

IMG_68404. perennial buy and plant, and even attempt to grow cuttings to reduce the perennial purchasing

5. create a squirrel graveyard (compliments of our zealous guard kitty Neptune)

6. sit in the gardens (to dream, to plan, to journal, to write, and drink coffee)

7. build an orchard: 1 apple (decimated yesterday by a deer), two peach (now 1 peach, thanks to the deer), two apricot, two plums, a teeny tiny fig, and one Bing cherry…just digging those holes in mountain terrain could have been an entire list


8. we commissioned garden fence building…a lovely feature to our outdoor home

9. we commissioned stone patio construction…an outdoor space for dining and morning yoga

IMG_684310. leveling soil and importing soil for the patio garden sod application (all that dirt isn’t going to be just dirt for long)

11. hauling gravel for garden pathways

IMG_683712. clear brush, cut limbs, commission official arborist on a half dozen gargantuan trees and dozens more that hubby felt comfortable sawing or hacking (have you seen our backyard? we’re living in a raw forest here)

IMG_688313. install French drains around yard (why really? I ask myself. There’s been no rain for a couple months, instead, we need to consider a roof sprinkler installation, smoke so heavy everyone’s eyes are burning and constantly watching for forest fire outbreaks)

14. we planted three specimen trees: dogwood, camellia and Japanese maple…

IMG_682815. we began building a terraced garden hillside…challenging to even climb on. On one of our mountain hikes, I clipped a dozen huckleberry sprigs, so I might plant those there.


Naturally what I’ve actually done, and what I hoped to do, are at odds. I’ve had all sorts of other unsaid hopes, but I’m good at unrealistic expectations. So I’ll be gracious with myself, and celebrate what I have done this summer. I deserve a big ole pedicure, my feet have taken the brunt of my efforts.

That’s a big part of a meaningful life, isn’t it? Actually having something meaningful to do. And now that I have a homestead, I most definitely always have something to do. It’s a complicated simplicity, this homestead life. I am thankful I put ‘build a homestead’ on the bucket list, because it most definitely is a deeply satisfying creative outpouring of me.