We are a family of 4 (and an English Mastiff) who have decided to radically transform our lifestyle. Through our life experiences, we are discovering that living with less brings even bigger rewards. We are working towards “Our American Dream” in an unconventional way.
My husband and I have been married for 12 years. We are High school sweethearts since the end of 11th grade, and found each other when we needed each other the most. We were just drawn to each other 🙂 My hub (boyfriend at the time) said, “I am going to join the Army.” I said, “I will follow you anywhere”. And so I did 🙂 Our Adult life experiences began with our first Army duty station, which required a move to “The Last Frontier” in Fort Wainwright, Alaska from South Mississippi.
Then my husband (an Airborne Infantryman) was deployed to combat in Mosul and Baghdad, Iraq for 17 months. The 172nd Stryker Brigade was legendary that tour. I learned a lot about myself during that time in Alaska with a newborn baby. As did my husband. That was a time we grew up separately, and then had to learn to be a team again. We were totally different people, but with the same passion to be together as the first time we met. Our energy was endless.
After he returned home, we were whisked away to Fort Hood, Texas where he received an unexpected medical retirement. After this, we began to think about what we wanted our new life to look like. We decided to move to a quiet, rural farming town in Central Texas where we could begin to live more self-reliant.
We began raising chickens and rabbits in the first few months of living in our newly built home. We loved every learning experience it brought! But then, Life dealt a new obstacle for us to overcome, which would change our way of thinking forever. Two days after Thanksgiving in 2011, 9 months after moving into our home, our chimney caught fire causing a 100% Total Loss. “An Act of God”, the insurance concluded. This left us with absolutely nothing but the clothes on our backs and each other. Humbled by a husband who was always gone while he served in the Army, we realized that having each other was honestly enough to get through something like this.
Of course, we did what any family would do. We kept our heads high, and started over. We were determined to get back to “normal”. We moved into a smaller apartment in the nearby city, rented some furniture, and rebuilt the home of our dreams. During the time in our apartment, we were definitely closer than we ever have been. We were vulnerable and tested. All we wanted to do was move back to the country and continue our homestead lifestyle, we thought. After we moved back July 2012, it did not matter how much stuff I bought to fill my house, we had this emptiness that I cannot explain.
We continued learning and starting different projects to discover new ways to become better homesteaders. We continued to raise chickens, and added ducks and turkeys to the mix. We added solar panels, and learned how we could create a smaller carbon footprint for our place on Earth. We gardened in soil, hydroponically, and even aquaponically with Tilapia and Catfish! It was amazing. Everything we have worked for, researched, and learned through trial and error was finally coming together! We could really see ourselves doing this forever, but on more land. However, something was still missing.
We were humbled again in life by losing everything. During Crab’s stint in the Army we always had what we needed with some of what we wanted, but most of the time we were without each other. During his civilian job and my corporate job, we had the money to have more than enough, but again, it was without each other. We really and truly learned the difference between what we “need” and what we “want”. We realized what really needed and what is actually important, each other.
One day in 2013, we learned about Tiny House Living. We learned there were many families downsizing and living tiny. As soon as we watched “Tiny: The Story of Living Small”, it clicked. The stuff we had was not who we were. We decided that having a mortgage and all of this stuff is definitely not “The American Dream” we thought we wanted. “Our American Dream” is something completely radical and yet so simple. The idea of living with less is exactly what the fire and our other experiences have prepared us for. So, we began purging, selling, donating everything we did not “need”. That empty void we had felt for the last 3 years was finally being filled. It seemed the more stuff I got rid of, the happier we were. It was life changing, again!
In the last 13 years we really have not had a permanent place called “home”. We always assumed (like most people) it had to be in a house, in one place, where you can “set up roots” and raise a family. Then we decided “home” was something different to us. As long as we were together, “home” can be anywhere. So, we decided to sell our beautiful home that taught us so much and move into our converted Skoolie, Chitty Bang. With the bus, we could travel the U.S. until we find a new place to call home and start our new homestead!
We made a plan to sell our home and our rental property to become debt free and be able to buy a bus and convert it. We asked, the Universe gave. After about 5 months, our rental home sold and we found a bus in Arizona. We had enough money to get the bus and bring it back to Texas. Then after a few more months, our home sold for the amount we needed to make our debt free American Dream come true! We got rid of even MORE CRAP, and moved. With the help of some great friends, we left Central Texas with our Gutted-Frankenstein looking bus and the rest of our crap. In a storage room sits most of the crap I wanted to bring to the next homestead. Honestly, it is mostly outdoor furniture, farm supplies, and tools…lol. We moved in with a great friend who has the space for us to work on the bus, and that is where we are at presenty, in West Texas 🙂 Stay tuned…
You can follow our blog on Chitty Bang’s Progress
Read our Editing our Life Series on the more detailed and philosophical series of the who, what, where, when and why
all of the other projects we have worked on while living on our small homestead.
Thank you for your support!