I moved back to my hometown of Loudonville, Ohio in February after being gone for about 7 years. My dad’s health prompted the move. He’s well and able, but he’s had stage 4 lung cancer for a couple of years now. I know the reality is that the amount of time I have with him is unpredictable. I don’t know when I would’ve moved back otherwise, or if my husband Brad and I would’ve ever chosen to move back. We were on a much different path. He’s a military brat, and is pretty used to moving around every couple of years. Me? I get antsy. If I’m perfectly honest, it was also in part this town. Growing up in a place with 2500 people can make you crave some anonymity.
I started watching homesteading videos on Youtube, knowing I was moving back to a town with an entirely different set of opportunities. When we lived in St. Augustine, it was the beach and tacos. In Asheville it was beer, hikes, and every sort of cuisine you could think of. Even though neither of us were ever on a salary, we were spoiled. Suddenly, I was trying to figure out how to create a goat shelter, how to create a new garden plot, etc. I researched and researched, I was well-read on my new subjects of interest with no real course of action.
I especially didn’t expect to be moving back to my parents’ basement. When we decided to move, Asheville was draining us financially (though we didn’t admit that to anyone). We were both recent graduates that were accustomed to a fair amount of freedom from waiting tables (believe it or not), so when I started work at an RTC making $11.50/hr and Brad was apprenticing as a mechanic at Chevy for about the same, we had our share of troubles in an expensive place like Asheville. I researched for months trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do with my life when I realized we had to move. Feeling desperate and rather depressed, I didn’t know what would happen next.
They say the best way to learn is through experience, so I made the jump. The community around me seemed interested but understandably skeptical of my new pursuits. When I started tapping trees for maple syrup, the neighbors swore there were no maple trees (there are TONS!).
Since I bought my greenhouse, my grandfather has taken many opportunities to make sure I know there’s no money in farming (tune out the haters — love you grandpa). I currently have 350+ plants growing (300 of those from seed) and a new 3300 square ft plot. Growing up, morel mushroom hunting was a huge deal, and I absolutely love the meaty little things. I’d never been able to find them. This year I finally cracked the code, finding around 20-30 thus far.
We’ve also been cooking and baking nonstop as many have during COVID. Here are a couple of my favorite new recipes: https://sunnypointcafe.com/carrot-hot-cakes/ (don’t skip the cardamom butter) http://www.unusuallylovely.com/home/recipe-perfect-summer-strawberry-shortcake (I’m going to add some blueberries & do it again for Fourth of July) https://midwestfoodieblog.com/pan-fried-pork-dumplings/ (just couldn’t stop thinking about chinese dumplings).
These little pursuits have kept me from falling into a deep giant black pit of despair, though not every day has been perfect. One day last week after trying to get ahold of unemployment for most of the morning, I didn’t get out of bed again until dinnertime, seemingly molded to my mattress.
We thought we’d move here and save up enough money right away to buy a home, then coronavirus hit. I lost my job serving and Brad’s hours were cut back at the shop. Suddenly, my only companions were my parents and husband. My independence seemed shot, and on top of all of this, I still have yet to receive a dime of unemployment or talk to anyone who can help. And yet, I feel closer than ever to the passionate life I’ve been seeking for years. I feel more inspired than ever and, strangely, it’s in the place I grew up. It’s baffling that I never saw the potential that’s here before.