If you’ve been following this series, you will by now know the long ordeal that we went through in order to finally purchase our first home. But we finally closed on the deal, had a real live functional mortgage, and keys to unlock the doors. While we definitely had some projects to do before we were able to settle in, it was so refreshing to finally be at the end of our long search- and at the beginning of a new season in life.
Here’s a shot of our little home during our first winter there:
Not too big, not too fancy… but absolutely perfect for us! The house had plenty of yard for our toddler and coming baby to play in, and a perfect section to plant a garden in. It had grapevines growing rampantly on trellises out back, as well as three BIG apple trees (read: both out-of-control and needing a good pruning). The property backs up to a great fishing stream in the back.
We didn’t know when we bought the house in November that we would discover even more wonderful surprises when the warmer weather came. Spring thawed the earth and brought the flowers and leaves out, and helped us to identify the many plants throughout our yard.
First, we discovered that we can make our own maple syrup. We have several large sugar maples surrounding our property that we intend to tap this coming spring. Last year, we tapped six trees, and produced just over four gallons of syrup at home.
Next, we found that we have a quince bush. They make lovely flowers in the spring:
Quince shrubs don’t produce a high volume of fruit, but we got enough to make a couple jars of jam our first fall, and added them to apple jam the next. We discovered an elderberry shrub (a natural health nut’s gold mine!) next to our shed. I made a batch of refrigerator jam our first year, then got smart and made elderberry syrup this year.
Two big old trees shade the driveway at our home. We weren’t 100% sure of their identity while they were bare, but now we know that one is a black walnut (hello, expensive treat falling from the sky for free) and the other is a chestnut tree. The chestnut doesn’t produce many ripe nuts because we have no nearby pollinating tree, but we have collected and cured lots of black walnuts.
A Kousa dogwood is alongside our garage, which puts out beautiful white flowers in the spring and small, red, edible fruits in the late summer and fall. They’re teeny, seedy little things with a mildly sweet flesh that make for quick tasty snacks to grab off the tree when we’re playing outside.
We have wild blueberry and blackberry bushes around the property. We’ve planted some raspberry bushes and some of our own blueberry to add to this.
Remember that stream in the back of our property? We knew it was stocked with trout several times a year, but we didn’t know that we lived right next to one of the best fishing holes on the stream. Literally a five minute walk down our steep back hill and a quick jaunt upstream, and you are almost guaranteed a bite every cast. (Even with a broken fishing pole and a $1 lure.) My husband has joked that he’s a terrible fisherman, but he can sure bring home a lot of fish since they’re so plentiful here! He’s caught trout, sunnies, and bass in our stream just about every time he’s gone down to fish. They’re little, but they’re tasty.
All that isn’t even to mention the variety of wild and forage-able foods throughout our yard. Spring brings dandelions and violets. Summer brings burdock, wood sorrel, purslane, plantain, and other wild greens. Fall brings sunchoke and thistle roots.
For the aspiring homesteader on a very low budget, this place is a dream. We weren’t planning on having so many renewable resources on our property, but I am so happy that all of it is available here. We have been greatly blessed to find that God has provided in more ways than we could have imagined in our first year at our new house.
So, our house really did turn out to be the perfect house for us. Sure, it’s not the expansive farmhouse of my dreams, but it’s cozy, safe, and meets our needs perfectly. As much as a place on earth can make you happy, I am happy here. And it was worth the wait.