What a beautiful RAINY afternoon! We haven’t had rain here in Washington in ages. Maybe it will quiet the raging fires and clear out this smoky air.

I’ve always loved the sound of the rain in this old farmhouse. In just a few short weeks (4 weeks and 3 days, not that I’m counting), I will be listening to the sound of the rain on the roof of our yurt! Some people count the noise level as a downside of yurt living, but I look forward to it. Maybe we’ll hear those owls my husband has seen watching him work.

So why would we trade this beautiful old house for a tent in the woods?

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This house where we got married, where our babies have been born. Where we each have our own bedroom and a toilet IN the house.

Over a decade ago, when we each first moved onto this farm, we thought it was rustic. My husband was raised in the city, I was from the suburbs. I still laugh to think of our first bumbling attempts at farming. As most interesting journeys do, ours began with questions. Where does our food come from? Is it necessary to rely on fossil fuels to feed ourselves? Is it necessary to go to a hospital just to have a baby, can’t I just crawl in the closet like my cat? And the clincher: must we rely on banks for every aspect of our lives? To live in the house we’re “supposed” to have, to drive the car we’re “supposed” to want, must we sign away pieces of our life? Must we spend our short lives toiling away at a job just to pay for the car, so we can drive to work, and the house, which sits empty while we’re working to pay for it??

There should be a warning label on certain questions. Beware: asking this question will unravel everything you know about everything!

At first, when we conceived of the idea of living out from under the banks, we didn’t know if it was possible. And I’ll be honest, it’s turned out it wouldn’t have been possible without a generous amount of help. It has required a complete reorganizing of our priorities. But with each layer of “Things We Need” that has been peeled back, we could breathe a little easier. I’m no longer embarrassed to drive around my 30 year old baby-poop colored volvo. We paid $1,000 cash for it ten years ago, it’s never broken down, and maintenance is cheap. Best of all, I own it. I pay no hours of sweat and toil per month to keep it. That gives me more hours per month to do things like this…

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It galls me when I think of the $18,000 car loan I used to pay for.

And a house. What makes a house a home? Our American standards of each child having their own bedroom, of having an entire room just to eat in, seem so absurd compared to much of the world. Is it worth it to spend $24,000 per year just to live somewhere? Is it possible not to?

These are the questions we’re answering as we prepare to leave the rolling hills of Little Creek Farm, and move northward up the mountain and into the little wooded clearing we’ve deemed Hemlock Hollow. So named for the amazing hemlock tree that shelters the two unmarked graves we uncovered.

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Probably they are someones cats. But the romantic in me likes to think they are the graves of the people who loved this land before us. We know someone lived here, without an address, with only a hand-dug well and no electricity, for something like 50 years. Someone planted these amazing grape vines, and these fig trees, and these plum and apple trees. Someone loved this place.

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And now we will. Here we can live debt-free. Here we can afford to work doing the things we love, growing our own food, and educating our children. Here we can hopefully manage to save to reach our ultimate goal: traveling the world, this time with our children.

We got this place so cheap because of the obscene amount of tires and trash that had simply been bulldozed into piles when the place was foreclosed on. But underneath the tires we saw enormous potential. Rich, deep soil…

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complete privacy…

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and a pristine lake just a ten minute hike through the forest. What more could one ask for? We’d looked at dozens of properties over the course of the past few years. This was the one.

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Of course, taking raw land and turning it into somewhere you can comfortably live with several small kids has it’s own amount of sweat and toil…

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….but at least it’s sweat and toil we’re expending on ourselves, building something we believe in. Something for ourselves, our children, our children’s children.

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At times I’ve been dizzy by the endless small decisions to be made, and the endless unexpected costs. But in the end we’ll have a home that we own, not the bank. That no one can take away (as long as we pay our property taxes!). And neither of us will have to spend the majority of our children’s childhoods away from them to pay for it.

Several weeks ago our farm finally sold, so now the adventure has officially begun! My husband has been practically living at the property, excavating the yurt and shed sights, preparing for well and electrical installation…

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and chopping and moving endless young alder to fence the garden where we will grow most of our families food.

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The yurt location is cleared…

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And marked out…

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The wood is ready to be turned into a deck…

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And the rest of us are busy catching frogs….

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Picking flowers….

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Climbing trees…

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And enjoying the shade of the hemlock while daddy works.

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For now, our home will be a 30′ foot canvas yurt (that’s just over 700 sq ft), with a separate bathhouse for shower, composting toilet, and laundry (we have four kids. One of them is a three year old boy who likes to do this:

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So yes, I’m bringing my industrial washer and dryer!). We’re putting in a gray-water garden out back. The three oldest children will share the loft, baby will still be with us in our tiny bedroom under the loft. We are open to the idea of someday building a more permanent structure…or not! We are also open to finding that this little round home is perfectly sufficient.

I’ll be using this blog to track our progress. Come along if you like! And while you’re here, you can dabble around in my recipes, or my thoughts on other handmade choices, such as home birth, homeschooling, and peaceful parenting.

My name is Amanda. Wife to Sanjay, mother to Fairuza, Tenzin, and Tobin, and stepmom to Sebastian. This is our journey.

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