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One of the coolest things about sharing our story through our blog has been meeting other people who are on the same kind of path as us. I wanted to share some other perspectives on homesteading, home building, and what living a self-sufficient life really looks like.
This week we’re talking with Jozie about what it really means to be creators rather than consumers. You don’t want to miss the wonderful pearls of wisdom she has to share with you!
1. Tell us a bit about you and your family.
My name is Jozie. I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend. I am a fiber artist, and yoga practitioner. Also, I am a teacher, most currently trained and working in a Montessori school in a Children’s House classroom with children ages 3-6.
I grew up in the city of Worcester, Massachusetts and met my husband when we were both in high school. I have always been a nature lover and longed to live in the woods.
Our first home was in the city but was bordered by hundreds of acres of protected land, which was home to wildlife and protected by the Massachusetts Audubon Society. I loved stepping off my road and into the woods. But eventually, I decided that in order to pursue my homestead dreams I needed more land to call my own.
With two young boys, we decided we wanted to make a lateral move to the country, keep our house size the same (roughly 1200 square feet) and expand our land. We purchased a small home with about 6 acres of land and immediately (well as soon as the snow melted) our homestead journey began.
In our first year, we have added chickens, a garden, a compost system, and solar panels to our homestead, and we are planning for alpaca in the spring. We also plan to someday build a tiny house, hopefully so that my dad can come live with us.
2. Tell us about your homestead property.
Our town is rural, but has all the amenities of a modern life. Right now we are on the grid, but with the solar panels we hope to offset at least 75-85% of our electricity. Eventually, when money allows, we will add more.
We heat mostly with a wood stove. My husband dove right into what I teasingly call his lumberjack dreams, and chopped all of our wood by hand. We have a barn behind the house which we are working to turn into a wood and fiber shop. The loft of the barn will house my art supplies and provide a space for me to host classes and workshops, while the bottom of the barn houses my husband’s tools and supplies we need for the garden and animals.
We also have a shed next to the barn which we converted into our chicken coop, and we currently have 9 hens and 2 roosters (a father and son). We hatched chicks ourselves this fall and hope to again in the spring. The rest of the property includes land that we use for our gardens, grass to play on, and very wet woods at the back. One of our closest neighbors is a beaver family, and we are still getting used to/ learning how to live with them.
3. Where are you in your homestead journey right now, and what are your ultimate goals?
Right now it feels as though we are just beginning! We are both teachers and so we have the summers off. This first summer we did several projects but as soon as one is checked off the list another is added!
Ultimately we hope to become more sustainable and self-sufficient, meaning that we hope to produce much of what we consume. We believe strongly in living small and keeping our footprint on the Earth small. We believe in self-made things, whether it be the food that we eat or the blankets that we fall asleep under. Most of all we believe in living a life that is financially, emotionally, and environmentally sustainable. And of course, we are hoping to inspire and foster in our children these same beliefs.
4. Why have you made a commitment to living small?
The commitment to live small comes from a desire to be authentic to ourselves, to what drives us as humans. My husband and I both love the feeling of home, and we are caretakers. We chose to work in career paths that serve our community and allow us to be present for each other and our family. In some ways, this choice lifts us up and sustains us every day. In others, particularly financially, we often find ourselves struggling.
We chose to stay small first because we want to live within our means, but really it is about feeling gratitude and contentment with what we have. We have been blessed in this life with an ability to make choices. Others around us are choosing to work jobs that require long hours, stressful commutes, little vacation time, all for the sake of buying a big house and fancy toys to play.
Instead, we chose to live small and find happiness in what we have and what we are able to create.
5. What does a “self-made” life mean for you (or at least, what does it mean right now), and why do you feel it is so important?
I have always been the type of person who walks into a craft fair, and buys very little, but instead thinks, “How was that made? Could I do that?”. Maybe it’s the artist in me, but I just feel that there is so much more value in something that has been made by hand. The teacher in me also really loves to learn how to do new things. So I call myself a fiber artist, but really I have dabbled in so many mediums and will always continue to try new things.
There is a huge amount of pride in doing something yourself. I think of my two year old who is in the phase of wanting his independence, wanting to do everything himself. The excitement in his voice when he can exclaim “Me did it!” is exactly what I feel when I make something myself. The final product is a reflection of all of the learning, practice, creativity, and hard work that has been put in. It’s priceless.
The way that this plays out in reality for us right now, since we are both still working full time and parenting, is either in very practical ways, or specific creative ways. It means:
- We cook our meals at home.
- We try to either grow or locally source or in some way connect with the ingredients we use.
- My husband chops the wood for our fire.
- I crochet the blankets on our beds, or knit the hats we will wear for the winter.
- We make the gifts that we give to people.
I guess to me, something self-made is made with love, and it’s so important to me right now because the world could sure use a whole lot more of it.
6. What do you hope people can take away from your homestead experiences?
Oh gosh. It’s funny to think of myself as a homesteader anyone could learn anything from because I feel like I am still a novice and I am learning so much. But maybe that’s it. I hope that people can take away that you don’t already have to know how to do it in order to do it. We pretty much just jumped right in.
Also, I like to think that homesteading doesn’t have to mean that you have to produce everything on your own. But that as long as you are constantly asking, “Can I do that myself? Can I make this? Can I be self-sufficient in this way?” Then you are homesteading. It’s about working hard, trusting in your own two hands, and building something that feels good to you.
7. Where can we find you online to learn more?
My new website is https://playfulhearthomestead.typepad.com. Since losing my blog of 5 years I am starting over in a big way. But I’m excited that this new online space will be dedicated to the homestead and is ripe with possibilities. Since it’s EXTREMELY bare bones (as in I am starting it as I write this) people can also find me over on Instagram @playfulhearthomestead.
Thanks for sharing, Jozie! You have given us so many gold nuggets of information that I hope inspire others to start living a more purposeful, self-made life too.
Ready for more inspiration? Check out our other featured readers here:
If you’re new to our homesteading project, click here to learn exactly what went into every part of building our cordwood home from scratch.
And if you’re thinking of starting your own homebuilding journey but don’t know how to start, download this free checklist to see how ready you really are.