developing raw land: the making of a homestead

Yup, we did it! We bought just under three acres of raw land twenty minutes outside a lovely mountain town.

Developing raw land=nothing has been done to this land.

Only stories of the First Nation traveling from Creston each autumn to the island 100 feet away to fish salmon and berry hunt at least a hundred years ago. The salmon had long since chosen another route as the series of canals on the Kootenay River stopped them in their path.

I originally planned that living an hour from town would be ideal. In a 500 sq foot cabin, with just me, my husband, and four kiddos. (Yeah, the wisdom of that plan.) Quickly, my husband reminded me, “Uh, no, I don’t think that’s going to work. I have to be in a specific radius to the hospital to be safe and available for my patients…and…we’re going to have three teenage daughters when we build that home.”

But to get off the grid, live small, live simply — sounds so ideal doesn’t it?

In theory, of course. We just happened to have had no power for a few days after a tree fell on our powerhouse. The freezer was nearly at room temperature by the end of those days (and it hadn’t been opened) and we even had the generator running two hours each day for safe measure. It’s not just living out of a camper cooler that’s an issue (there’s always food in town), or lack of running water (four-liter bottles are purchasable and we live beside a river with a pond right outside our door), it’s not that making coffee at the fire pit is a problem (that’s kinda charming and life slowing is a good thing), it certainly isn’t because I don’t have Wi-Fi (highly overrated at the best of times); it might be because I have a lot, a LOT of laundry. But it is definitely the security of all those things. And having done enough living in Africa, this off-grid thing always has a shelf life. It’s why people go camping. But they rarely stay camping.

In the end, we didn’t build a Little House on the Prairie. Our home looks reasonably smallish on the outside. Not really inside though. Big House in the Mountains, more like it.

August 2016 095

We have learned to live simpler though. Focusing on the things we want to fill our days with is likely the first step to living simpler. Then focusing on actually being present while we are there is likely the second step.

But we bought raw land in the mountains. Which meant that very few trees were cleared; really, only a handful of cedars (those likely pulled in a neat sum of $1000 each). There was enough land cleared for me to step out of the minivan with my realtor and four kids and stare at the island on the glassy blue-green water, visualize where the house might be located, and declare, “Yup, this is it!”

There was negotiating, and later, much blasting and burning. And many trees were cut long before we hired someone to build a foundation. We have a view of the Kootenay River, the view of the island, and our geese, osprey, robin, beaver, and eagle neighbours. A view of the mountains, a lot more sun, and fewer opportunities for trees to drop on our home, or start an easy forest fire.

Our home would two years later, replace the machine in the third picture…

This all is a lot of work…as one might imagine. And the work always takes so much longer than one would expect when originally sitting with a pen and notebook to plan those plans.

Yes, it’s sweaty dirty work that requires a bath and a solid meal at the end of the day. But the satisfaction we get from communing in the place we were meant to live, the great outdoors; to feel that we’re part of something bigger, helping mold the creation, this is satisfying work.

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