The American Dream

Paul and I were both really good kids. Our parents say so, really. We did everything we were told.

I was an immigrant to this country from Baku, Azerbaijan. We immigrated  to the US when I was 10, in 1992. My parents were amazing.  They gave up comfortable professional jobs and moved their whole lives to the US, to give their three girls the chance at a brighter future.

My whole life, my parents insisted that, “We brought you to this country to go to school and get a good job. Then the world will be your oyster.” I lived by those words my whole life.

My husband, Paul’s parents similarly told him that he wouldn’t be able to find a good paying job, without a college education. At the time, his passions, mainly classic cars and hanging out,  didn’t correlate to any pursuit in higher education.  Eventually he decided to earn a degree in biology, the most interesting subject to him, for most of his life, though he wasn’t entirely clear what he was to do with it, after graduation.

We both followed the guidelines our parents, and society at large had dictated. We got our education. We found our careers at a world renowned cancer treatment center. We met and fell in love. We got married, bought a house (no white fence but it was on the to do list) and had a beautiful daughter, Isobel. By many measures, we had built successful lives and a wonderful family.  In the meantime both Paul and I have been learning what makes us truly fulfilled. We were also learning what we feel is wrong with modern life in America, and how to avoid those pitfalls. The most important goals for us shifted towards being self reliant on our own land and raising healthy food for our family. In other words our homestead.

We were slowly coming to the realization that the modern American dream was a great dream–but it was definitely not ours. We joined a CSA thinking that supporting a local farm was enough to get our farming “ya-ya’s” out. It was  not! We started a garden, then began raising chickens and most recently rabbits. We want to be farmers. Live off our land, provide healthy food to others and educate little kids that mac and cheese is not a healthy meal–even if the box says “organic”! I mean, if you can become a scientist, why can’t you become a farmer?

Over eight years, we had four kids and two angel babies. We grew our family to perfection and our passion for farming and homesteading grew even deeper.  We work our one fifth of an acre to the fullest but have so many limitations.  State, county and city dictates prevent much of what we want to do.  If that weren’t enough, we have extreme limits on space, and never enough time.

A couple of our friends have successfully moved from their suburban homes to acreage and started to homestead to the fullest. I am so happy for them but I cannot help but wonder, what is it they have that we don’t? I know they worked hard for what they have.  They are amazing people!  Lots of time and effort went into the realization of their dream.  I don’t know their income, nor do I want to, but maybe being a single income home is all the world of difference.  I am a stay at home mom who home schools her kids.  I teach at the co-op (which I love) and have a little supplemental income but really, I am just a stay at home mom.  I love being able to teach my kids and spend their childhoods with them but I guess, in our society, that comes at a price.  Am I at fault?

One other difference I take note of in our friend’s success is their support group.  They have  100% support and encouragement from their families.  Both of our parents,  can’t fathom the idea that our live style choice is a desired one.  They don’t understand why we would want to raise our own meat bunnies and slave over a little patch of grass to grow our own vegetables. Maybe we are kidding ourselves, but a little support would sure feel good.

So why now, why am I wearing my heart on my sleeve and sharing this sad little story with you.   Because we found the perfect property.  We saw it on a picture, we saw a video and then we went and stood on what seemed to be “our” land.  It got so real–we could taste it.  I can close my eyes, and imagine my perfect life.  We made an offer and it got accepted.  We had 25% down and felt confident.  The plan was to buy the land, sell this house, use the resources from our home to build a new home and live happily ever after.

Loan denied!   We are too poor to get a loan.  We could have gotten someone to co-sign. My wonderful sisters came to the rescue. But we feel like if the initial process of getting the land loan require help, its not ours.  We cried, we pleaded with God, we got angry, sad and then, we accepted it.    We are people of faith and trust that God has a plan and we will follow it. But to be totally honest, being denied something that felt so right really sucks!  Ironically, the day I publish this post, Facebook reminded me of this…

I made peace with this and I think so did Paul.  The amazing part of this whole ordeal is that I feel closer to my husband because during a very stressful time, we were able to support each other.  I  never had doubt before, but now I have 1000% confirmation that we will always have each other.  I am also proud of my girls.  They are old enough to understand what is going on and both, at their ages of 7.5 and 5, brought me their piggy banks and told me that all of it should go towards buying our farm.  It made me happy, sad and proud at the same time.  They we  willing to give up their life savings to make mom happy!  I am doing at least one thing right!!  I thanked them and told them that we should hang on to those piggy banks for a pony one day!

I never imagined that following your dreams would be so difficult and exhausting!  But here we are.  Staying put for a little bit longer.  Not giving up.  Trying to get more equity to our name.  I feel guilty for feeling sad and angry.  I am blessed.  I have a healthy and happy family.  I live in my home that I love  and I have my chickens! I know that if it is meant to be, we will be farmers.  I know that dreams come true and I hope that one day we can have the whole family happy and celebrating our farming success. Until then, we will continue to work our 1/5th of acre and do the best we can.  I think we are doing a pretty darn good job!!

Thanks for listening!  Many of you have sent prayers, good vibes and lots of juju our way.   We appreciate our community and love you all so much.  I know great things are coming our way!

 

 

Our first official homestead presentation

Recently, Paul and I had the pleasure of speaking at our local SubUrban Farm and Garden Expo. We met so many wonderful people and had so much fun talking to our neighbors about our journey of homesteading. If I can do this (and make cheese) for a living, I think I would be the happiest person in the universe.  My talk was about what homesteading is and what you can do in the suburbs (homestead in the suburbs…get it) and Paul’s talk was about seed starting and garden planning.  Both talks went very well and we had lots of people stopping by our booths to continue asking questions or just saying hi!

There were many booths set up including our very good friends from Hidden Farm. There was also a local bakery, local bee keepers and lots of King County booths. One of the county booths was about noxious weeds and how to rid/coexist with them. I asked them, if I had all of the above on their display in my garden, did I win anything? They gave me a nervous smile and their pamphlet, everyone chuckled. I am sure they felt my pain–stinking buttercups!

Paul and I met a local beekeeper and confirmed our passion and desire to learn the art of beekeeping and honey production. For the longest time, we believed (based on a class Paul took, given by a professor at the University of Washington) that we were not allowed to keep bees. Now, we are not sure and need to learn the laws better. In the meantime, Shelby, the amazing beekeeper has offered us to learn from her and help her co-manage her hive(s).

Beekeeping is an art. There is a lot to learn and can it can be an expensive hobby.  We feel very fortunate to be under Shelby’s wing, helping us learn a new skill.  She allowed me to scrape the wax off her existing honeycomb and collect honey into a mesh cloth/jar set up, for us to take home.  I am not sure if its because I collected it, but I haven’t tasted better honey.  Needless to say, we are beyond excited and hopeful about adding a beehive to our homestead.

Here are our presentations…lots of pictures!

Renton Suburban Presentation–Lina

2018 Suburban Farm & Garden Expo–Paul