Hiya there, I’m Sarah. I’m a freelance SEO writer for hire and a homesteader raising a small family 4,200 feet up in the Salish Mountains of Montana.
Some of my preferred writing topics include:
- Homesteading, regenerative farming practices
- Gardening (indoor, outdoor), permaculture, horticulture, forestry
- Green/eco-friendly living
- The trucking industry
- Outdoor recreation (hiking, kayaking, fishing, hunting, ATVs, overlanding, trail riding, etc.)
- Respectful parenting
- Personal Finance (FIRE Movement)
I was raised in southern Indiana, on my parent’s hobby farm and my grandparent’s traditional agricultural/homestead-style farm. At my parents’ home, we had horses, goats, chickens, rabbits, and guineas. On my grandparent’s farm, I got to experience what it was like to raise beef cattle, hogs, soybeans, field corn, hay, straw, and tobacco, plus a large kitchen garden for fresh foods, canning, freezing, and dehydrating foods.
I met my husband, Devin, in August 2014 on a blind date when I was 17. The connection was instant.
When we married in 2016, Devin and I permanently lived out of his Peterbilt semi for more than a year. During this time, we saw the 48 contiguous states and every major city in these states, sans Miami and San Francisco. This was such a cool adventure; we visited so many incredible national parks, we hiked, kayaked, camped, saw amazing views, met some incredible people, and ate at plenty of diverse restaurants. We learned so much about the cities and countryside that make up the US– and even more about each other. Being “stuck” inside a traveling 70-square-foot tiny home was the best thing that could have happened to us as newlyweds. We really got to know each other; we learned how to communicate, solve conflicts, and how to become a rock-solid team.
We battled sweltering south Nevada heat with temperatures in the upper 120 degrees (Fahrenheit) and frigid winters in northern Montana where the wind howled and the temperatures dropped to -45 degrees (Fahrenheit).
We got snowed in at a remote onion farm in Washington state, where we were stranded in the semi for six days with no internet connection. We were down to a quarter of a gallon of water and one shared brain cell by the time we finally got out.
We also slept in the semi in some questionable areas in Chicago and New York, where neighboring trucks were peppered with bulletholes.
We saw mustang herds, bison, pronghorn antelope, elk, moose, bears, and wolves in the west. In the east, we found delicious foods, beautiful historic areas, and many interesting people. We always planned to move to Wyoming, Colorado, or Montana (for me, I had wanted this since I was nine or ten years old), but we weren’t sure which state to choose. After our first trip to Montana, though, we were sure this was the place for us.
Unfortunately, we had some trouble with my family, so after a year, we temporarily headed back to Indiana. We lived and worked on a little fixer-upper home that we loved for a few years. I took care of my senior mare, who was my 4-H project and heart horse, until she passed away at 29 years old.
Moving To Our Property
Right after Athena passed away we started our family, first having a daughter who looks just like me and then a son who looks just like Devin.
Weeks before our boy was born, we finally purchased a home and some acreage in Montana, packed up, and moved across the country. We arrived in late July, and he was born in early August.
Ever since then, we have been very slowly building our dream homestead.
We arrived at the end of summer, so we didn’t do much that first year beyond observing the property’s character, frantically gathering firewood, and hunting a little.
In the second year, we designated a wildflower meadow area, added several native wildflower species to it, made a walking path, and gardened just fifteen varieties of vegetables. We began foraging berries and edible mushrooms in the surrounding Kootenai National Forest, and hunted a little more. We also added a very basic goat and chicken shelter and added two goats and a few dozen hens. We started construction on a firewood shelter, and hand-split enough firewood to get us through winter. We also cut a perimeter path in the forest to prepare for fencing.
In year three, we really improved the chicken/goat shelter and made it strictly for chickens. We also added seven strands of hotwire to protect it from bears and added a nicer chicken run. We built a modest goat barn with a tiny milk stand and goat pen, and our doe gave birth to another little doe. We finished the woodshed, built a small ATV shed, and helped make a community workshop with our fantastic neighbors. I had a garden, but most of it froze over and died on July 3rd. I began working on a frame for a greenhouse but did not finish that before the snow came in that fall.
My husband and I cut and hand-split all of our wood once again, building a ton of muscle and confidence in the process. We even had few wood splitting parties with our neighbors, filling up a picnic basket, then heading out into the woods to chat, cut wood, and eat together. It was a lot of fun and really built up the neighborly comradery.
We’ll eventually add a wood splitter, but a sledge and a wedge (or an axe and a maul) are super efficient, eco-friendly tools that suck the fat right from your body and convert it into split wood to heat your home all winter.
Year three is also the year I decided to focus on getting stronger and healthier. I added a treadmill to my standing desk, and now I walk 150-170 miles a month right here in my home office. I also started collecting barbell weights and lifting those weights five days a week. This has really made our long winters more bearable, and I feel much better about myself overall.
Here are our next goals for the summers of 2023 and 2024:
- Responsibly thin our forest. We’re going to take out some of the undergrowth and smaller trees so we can see through the trees better. Because we have mountain lions, wolves, black bears, and grizzly bears, we need to be vigilant in improving visibility to prevent attacks on our animals (and us). This should also help prevent wildfires and make it easier to protect our house if we have a fire.
- Cut a 100-foot diameter fire line around our house, again, so wildfires are easier to fight.
- Cover our 1,200-square-foot fenced-in garden with polyethylene.
- Build a free-standing 500-square-foot timber greenhouse to the north of our wildflower field.
- Add an attached greenhouse to the south side of our home, by the backdoor. Preferably with a hot tub inside it. 🙂
- Restain the logs on our house.
- Plant more dwarf fruit trees, at least one persimmon tree, and one apple tree.
- Add more variety to our wildflower field.
- Build a perimeter fence, preferably with timber from our land.
- Build a run-in livestock shelter.
- Raise at least two hogs.
- Raise at least fifty cornish crosses.
- Add at least one cow/calf pair.
- Build a modest timber barn for horses. My great-grandparents cleared their land in Indiana with an axe, then built a massive cattle barn using timber and wooden pegs from that land. I would love to remember and honor them by at least building my horse barn with timber from this new property.
- Buy a couple of mares suitable for trail riding, hunting, and packing.
- Can, dehydrate, and freeze even more food from our garden and forest.
- Hike and kayak more. We’re surrounded by 2.2 million acres of stunningly beautiful mountains on public land. It would be a shame not to get out there and enjoy it!
- Research bee-keeping. I’m not sure if I’m ready for this yet, but I am getting our property in good shape to support the happy little pollinators.
- Learn more about training and keeping Mustangs. I have a dream of getting a drafty Mustang mare from the Oregon Stinkingwater HMA herd (and keeping her forever and ever). I’m not sure if I’m educated enough for this project, but it’s a major goal of mine to someday do.
This may not seem like that much of a list to some, but it is for us. Devin works a full-time job in town, and I work full-time hours on my online writing business while raising our two toddlers (with no childcare!). It takes some careful planning and lots of late hours to get things done around here. But we are madly in love with this lifestyle and are happy to put in the work.
If you’re into our journey, feel free to come along. 🙂