Saturday, December 29, 2012


Karen:  James and I decided to keep a blog together about our journey to a self-sustainable lifestyle.  Instead of having to agree on what we'll write, we thought it would be fun for each of us to give our own perspective on whatever the topic at hand may be.   As you'll figure out quite quickly, I focus more on the animals at Elk Cliff Farm and James is the gardener.

JamesWe hope to share with you our joys and disappointments developing Elk Cliff Farm into a sustainable homestead, where we provide as much as we can for our table and maybe eventually for other tables as well. Karen is the livestock manager, I focus on plants, and we both help each other. Some people think our roles are reversed from the usual, that Karen is the handyman and I’m the lady of the manor, but we don’t buy into stereotypes. We get things done as a team, trying to leverage what each of us does best.

Note: A recent article in Mother Earth News asked several homesteaders a few questions about their lifestyles. We're going to begin this blog by answering one of those questions. We prepared our answers independently, as we did the welcomes above. Here's today's question.

1. What motivated you to choose a self-sufficient, homesteading lifestyle? How did you get started?

Karen: It happened little-by-little, really. I'm not sure I chose it. I love raising animals and James loves gardening so one thing led to another. We got chickens for eggs but then of course we couldn't keep all the roosters so we began using some of them for meat. The dairy goats came next, then turkeys, pigs and rabbits, etc. The gardens continue to grow larger every year also.

JamesTwo signs pointed me toward self-sufficiency, a class in simpler living and two towers falling. Then I began to notice strange things, like rain gutters rushing water away from where it falls, and a four hundred dollar electric bill to warm or cool nearly five thousand square feet, much of which three people did not use. I noticed that we spent weekends in a rustic log cabin, away from our swimming pool and hot tub. I had to ask what was wrong with this picture.
We started by shedding the big house in the “country club” and moving to the rustic cabin. We fixed up a small neighboring cottage, which made more sense for winter living, and I began gardening again after fits and spurts over many years. The shaded garden in the woods left a lot to be desired. Two years later we bought a small homestead, Elk Cliff Farm, four miles down the road, which we drove past whenever we went anywhere. The farmhouse needed a lot of work (Karen’s job). I built a compost heap and started digging in bright sunshine.


  1. This is great. Can't wait to read more. Love reading both perspectives.

  2. Awesome...looking forward to learning...

  3. Great idea! Thanks! And I love the goat milk soap - I guess we have Karen and animal friends to thank for that?! Very best and BTW, one of my new year's resolutions is to keep up with all THREE blogs! What power you have!!!!

  4. Intriguing to learn how it all began, and how it is evolving. Although Lewis Carroll was making an etiquette joke about not being able to cut someone you've been introduced to, therefore, no cake for Alice, I think that I would find the equivalent in animal husbandry very difficult: hard to name the goats and then slaughter them. Still, as an omnivore, I'm glad there are people willing to do that so I can continue to eat meat.