BY: ALYSSA CRAFT
What in the world would inspire two city dwellers to shun the city lifestyle for one so completely opposite that it would test their ultimate survival skills? Meet Jesse and Alyssa, who decided to leave behind everything they knew to start homesteading off-the-grid with nothing but bare ground in a remote area in the mountains of Idaho. This is the compelling story of how they got from there to here.
This is our land in Idaho – a whole five acres nestled in the mountainous wilderness, free of any public utilities, with a to-die-for view that greets us every morning. We’ve been here going on seven months now and have officially made it through our first winter in a cold climate. So, how did we get here?
Both of us reached the point where we were tired of the corporate, sterile lifestyle of the city, where the meaning of what’s important had really taken its toll with job relocations, layoffs and lack of challenges that created excitement.
We had the toys and lifestyle that society led us to believe was the “dream.” Without trying to be cliché, let’s just say it was very unsatisfying and unfulfilling movie. Even though we supposedly “had it all,” we didn’t see how we were going to get ahead in life or ever feel a sense of freedom.
Jesse had a business in Oregon while I was still in Colorado, not quite certain what to do after being laid off from the job that had taken me there in the first place.
After some long conversations, I relocated to Oregon to be with Jesse, and we began planning how to accomplish our goal to truly be free. To us, that meant not being slaves to money, providing for our own needs, being seriously in tune with nature and living in an area that embraces these ideals. With that vision, we began our search for a special piece of property to call our own.
Projects to come
We’ve been living on our property since September of 2015 in a 19’ trailer. The travel trailer allows us the needed time to get our feet wet as to what this lifestyles has in store for us while we do some property development. The fact that we’re enjoying living in a travel trailer has been a pleasant surprise, which takes the pressure off of building a more permanent home immediately.
While we’re still living in our travel trailer, one of the things we look forward to accomplishing in the next couple of years is the completion of our timber frame barn from trees on our own property. In addition to providing us a garage, storage and a place to work on projects protected from the weather, it’ll also be a place for us to live while we build our home. After all, we aren’t sure how long we can comfortably live in a 19’ trailer, as it gets cramped at times.
Other projects we have lined up include the building of a wood-fired hot tub for our newly-built deck, using lumber we milled ourselves with an Alaskan chainsaw mill. We also plan on starting an organic garden, setting up a rain catchment system and honing valuable off grid homesteading skills.
It’s important to note that one of our major goals with this new lifestyle is to show ourselves that we can use time instead of money to get what we need. It’s not that spending money is bad, but we feel that we can really get ahead if we are patient and choose to do much of the work ourselves rather than hiring contractors or buying a completely finished property.
Using our time rather than money is all a theory, although we were able to build a tiny cabin on our property almost strictly from materials we salvaged ourselves in a demolition opportunity found on Craigslist. We were able to salvage loads of metal roofing, old lumber and even insulation, which we were able to turn into a 10×12 cabin. In fact, since arriving on our property, we’ve been able to gather about $15 thousand in building materials for mere pennies, simply by being available when opportunity knocks. We have high hopes that this strategy will help us to build our home and barn for an affordable cost.
When we followed our ambition, an idea became an extraordinary reality
Throughout this journey, we have come to realize that when we make a plan and take action, amazing things can happen. Even when we feel overwhelmed, we remind ourselves that an elephant can only be eaten one bite at a time. While we hope that everything works out throughout the course of this adventure, we try to be realistic and know that things won’t always go according to plan. We’re okay with that.
Regardless of what happens during this journey, we sleep well at night knowing that we’re one step closer to achieving our goals than the previous day. Even though there are many opportunities to fail, we don’t fear failure but welcome it as failure is a great teacher. And even though this transition from the city to living on bare land has had its challenges, we’ve never felt more stable, more self-sustainable, more alive or more passionate about our chosen path.