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HOMEGROWN Life: Introducing Michelle, Newbie Homesteading Mama and New Blogger

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HOMEGROWN is tickled to introduce a new contributor to HOMEGROWN Life. Everybody, meet Michelle, a newbie homesteading mama with serious pioneer heritage cred (more on that below and in the weeks to come). Michelle’s name might sound familiar to HOMEGROWN regulars due to a recent Meet Your Neighbors chat and to her simultaneously heartstring-tugging and common-sensible posts in The Stew, HOMEGROWN’s member blog. You can still find her there, but we’re thrilled to bring her into regular rotation here, too, writing monthly about beginner homesteading with kids and more. Post a comment below and extend a HOMEGROWN welcome!

 

HOMEGROWN-life-michelleMost of us have a moment in our lives when we feel the direction of the wind changing. Sometimes it’s gradual. Other times it whips us around and sets us in an entirely new direction all together, much like a perfect storm. I fall into that second group.

This whirlwind is how I came to find myself standing on the dusty threshold of a beloved but deserted ranch house in Burnt Fork, Wyoming, five years ago. It was the ranch that my great-grandmother lived and loved in, and the home that my grandmother grew up in. And now there I stood, desperate to change my life and looking for answers. I had come to hate the fast-paced, high-stress, materialistic way I was living. I had been doing it for a decade, and it still didn’t felt authentic.

So there I was, staring out at the Uinta mountain range, listening to nothing but the same noises that had been the soundtrack of my forebears’ lives: wind, birds, grasses and trees swaying; no honking horns or buses whirling by. Only nature and the words of my great-grandmother, Elinore Pruitt Stewart, as she wrote them 100 years ago in her book, Letters of a Woman Homesteader.

HOMEGROWN-life-michelle-ranchElinore talked often about the peace she found in Burnt Fork, as well as the strength and independence she found within herself while living a difficult but fulfilling life. When she first moved to the ranch’s unpredictable terrain and began to plan her garden, many people shared their opinions on what would grow well and what would never survive. Nearby ranchers had years of success and failure that she took into account and respected. But she also knew that, with some willpower and faith, she could make almost anything happen. She wanted yellow roses on that ranch and, despite warnings that they were a waste of time, she pushed on. A century later, I found myself staring at a wild jumble of yellow roses that still flourish today. I knew then and there that I came from strong and determined stock and that I, too, could make almost anything happen.

To this day, that trip plays out in my mind like a film in slow motion. I can conjure up the sunrises and sunsets and the wildflowers of every shade that wave to you when the wind blows. I took that piece of Wyoming back to Pennsylvania with me and still hold it dear.

HOMEGROWN-life-michelle-son-coopSince that year, I have worked steadily toward my goals of peace, self-sustainability, and simplicity. It’s how I have come to find myself as a beginning homesteader. I have read and reread my great-grandmother’s book, picking out the skills that I want to learn for my own fulfillment but also those that serve as a link between the generations of my family. I’ve shunned the consumer mindset, opting instead to recycle, upcycle, and support local businesses when I can. I work side by side with my children, teaching them skills that are unconventional for most kids these days. We laugh, we get dirty, and we make memories. I write, like the women before me. I realized that my parents, my sister, my friends, and my boyfriend support all of my seemingly crazy endeavors because they can see my passion. Even when I brought home nine chickens.

HOMEGROWN-life-michelle-farmNow I find myself living with my family in a little cottage on the grounds of a CSA farm, Palovchak’s Produce, in historic Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I wake up every day and, like generations before me, I collect my thoughts while looking out over the land. I ponder the magic that lies in homesteading: the ability to make something out of so little. And although I find growing from seed and producing lovely cheese and butter amazing, I’ve also found larger lessons. The most beautiful growth I have found has been within me, through homesteading and living the simple life. I have found the peace and tranquility I first went searching for. I have found myself.

ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF MICHELLE WIRE

3 Responses to “HOMEGROWN Life: Introducing Michelle, Newbie Homesteading Mama and New Blogger”

  1. Kim Iberg Says:

    Welcome Michelle. I enjoyed reading your post and looking forward to your next. Blaze On!

  2. Michelle, I enjoy the nice and easy pace of your writing, and it seems formilure to me, Elinore also wrote at an easy pace, exspressing her hearts feeling of the ground that she loved, the trees, butts at sunset, the sounds of the animals around her, the children, and her beloved husband, and the freedom to roam as she pleased.Her daughter Jerrine had these same qualities, that you have aquired somehow, WRITE ON!

  3. Cornelia Says:

    So lovely and beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your stories with us, Michelle. I’m looking forward to getting to know you here.

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