Terroir: How the Land Where We Live Influences the People We Become


Terroir (n): The characteristic taste and flavour of a crop (usually wine) or the characteristics of a people (often rural) that are imparted to them by the land they inhabit.

Origin: French

Root meaning: “Of the Earth/Soil.”

Just as the land gives life to the plants that we grow and helps to impart particular characteristics, flavours and subtle quirks on them, so does the land where we live help to determine our own fate. We are a product of our environment after all…

 

The Land That Gave Me Life

Just as the land gives life to the plants that we grow and helps to impart particular characteristics, flavours and subtle quirks on them, so does the land where we live help to determine our own fate. We are a product of our environment after all.

On the Burrard Street bridge, overlooking my hometown of Vancouver in my younger days.

I’m a west coast girl through and through. For those of you who don’t know, I was born and raised in Vancouver, BC, Canada. I’m proud of my roots. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest has had a profound impact on the person I am today. I don’t foresee myself ever leaving this coast. But I did spend most of my life trying to escape Vancouver.

Don’t get me wrong… As far as cities go, Vancouver is a beautiful one full of amazing people, eclectic culture and passionate soul. It’s perhaps the only city I’ve ever seen that seems to grow organically right out of the forests and the mountains and the sea that form its base. Perhaps that’s why Vancouver is full of “hippies” and nature buffs. It’s in our blood (or rather, our roots). But it’s a city nonetheless, and so many people want to own a piece of its wealth and beauty that it’s actually become difficult to live (and make a living) there. (Exit the hippies, enter the hipsters… Sigh).

The population has exploded over the years and everyone seems to be fighting for scraps over the few remaining affordable properties, often going into huge amounts of debt just to “own” a piece of air in an apartment building. 

The traffic is insane, and when I lived there I wasted hours of my life stuck between vehicles on the slow route to and from work, just trying to get through another day and pay the bills. For me, the stress of living in this city, magnificent as it could be, manifested itself in the form of anxiety, depression and a deep longing to be somewhere else.

I was unhappy playing the role of city/suburban girl trying to make it in the world every day of my life. I didn’t feel like I fit or belonged there. I knew deep down that I wanted to live somewhere quieter and more rural, where I could really connect to the land where I lived. 

Some people feel right at home in the city. I’ve known many of these people in my time; People who could never understand why I wanted to leave so bad. These people have the amazing ability to connect with the land even through the concrete that entombs it. Not me. I prefer the soil.

So about 5 or 6 years ago, Ryan and I decided to start “shopping around” for a new home, somewhere far from the concrete and city lights. To be honest, I think Ryan would have been quite happy to stay, but he knew how unhappy I was there and so he jumped onboard without hesitation. Gotta love that man for going along with all of my crazy dreams:)

 

The Search For Our Place In This World

We looked east to the rocky mountains and north to, well pretty much anywhere north of where we were. But neither of those directions felt quite right. In the end we decided to head west to Vancouver Island. 

Just as the land gives life to the plants that we grow and helps to impart particular characteristics, flavours and subtle quirks on them, so does the land where we live help to determine our own fate. We are a product of our environment after all.

Vancouver Island, as seen from the ferry.

Something about the west has always called to me. It’s where I feel most at home. Plus, we figured we could live a simpler, quieter, more rural life without having to give up the things we loved most about the west coast city we grew up in: the forests and the mountains and the sea, and definitely a little bit of that laid back west coast vibe that sadly gets drowned out in the city by the road rage and accompanying traffic noises.

While our journey to Vancouver Island is a story in and of itself, what I will say is that we never hesitated to make this crazy dream of moving out here and embarking on our homesteading journey a reality. We’ve been here 3 years now and we’ve never looked back. Hands down it was the best decision we’ve ever made, and although we have suffered our share or tragedies, traumas and hardships since we made the move here, I actually stop quite regularly here and look around me and say out loud to myself “Wow. I can’t believe I live here.” 

Just as the land gives life to the plants that we grow and helps to impart particular characteristics, flavours and subtle quirks on them, so does the land where we live help to determine our own fate. We are a product of our environment after all.

I finally feel like I’m on the right path and I love the place we’ve chosen for our forever home. But still, sometimes I wonder if maybe there’s an even better place for me somewhere else.

I’ve travelled the world pretty extensively, and I used to arrive in different places (both urban and rural) and wonder “Could I live here? Should I live here? What kind of life would I lead if I lived here? Could I become the person I want to be in this place?”

I considered moving to Europe after I studied in Vienna in my early twenties. I thought about Cape Town when I traveled to Africa shortly after. I thought about the east coast of Canada out on some craggy rock where the land drops off into the Atlantic Ocean. I definitely considered many places in Australia and New Zealand as I travelled and met amazing people and dove into and off of things over there. 

Could any of these places be home for me? There’s a whole world out there! How do I know if I’ve settled in the right place?

 

My Trip Back “Home”

Just as the land gives life to the plants that we grow and helps to impart particular characteristics, flavours and subtle quirks on them, so does the land where we live help to determine our own fate. We are a product of our environment after all.

Celebrating Evelyn’s second birthday at my family’s home in Vancouver.

Ryan and Evelyn and I travelled back to Vancouver a couple weekends ago to celebrate Evelyn’s 2nd birthday. It was awesome to see family and friends we hadn’t seen in a while and we definitely enjoyed that part of it. But every time we go back it seems to be even busier and the face of the whole city seems to be growing and changing at an astonishing rate. 

The farmland in our hometown of Richmond (a suburb of Vancouver) has ceded to high rises and mega-mansions for the super rich. What were once quiet, rural roads are now busy highways. Every time we go it feels less and less like home.

The day after Evelyn’s birthday party, we travelled into the south interior of our province to my family’s cabin in the heart of the Okanagan Valley. This is where Ryan and I got married (and engaged). It’s where my family has camped and vacationed since I was a baby and I have a lot of fond memories and a strong connection to this land.

 

Nature Calls

As soon as we got out of the city, I began to breathe easier again. I just feel better when I’m out in nature with more space and less noise.

Just as the land gives life to the plants that we grow and helps to impart particular characteristics, flavours and subtle quirks on them, so does the land where we live help to determine our own fate. We are a product of our environment after all.

A roadside stop on the way to the south interior: Evelyn, spotting gophers in Manning Park, BC.

As we drove the winding roads that twist through the peaks and valleys that lead the way to the south-centre of our province, I gazed out the window at the picturesque landscape, the quaint, small towns and the idyllic, pastoral farms, ranches and homesteads, old and new. I gazed out and I thought to myself, “this is nice. Maybe we should live here instead.”

Just as the land gives life to the plants that we grow and helps to impart particular characteristics, flavours and subtle quirks on them, so does the land where we live help to determine our own fate. We are a product of our environment after all.

In the Okanagan, orchards and vineyards spring up from the Earth with abundance. Peaches and plums and apricots and cherries and apples and bushels and bottles and barrels of grapes and wine make their way from farm to table every day in the heart of the summer (and all year round when preserved). It’s a beautiful place with an incredible ability to produce mass amounts of beautiful food and there is land to be had for much less than what we pay on the island. There are lakes to swim in and backcountry to hike in and plentiful wineries and vineyards to be toured. Maybe we should have moved here instead. Maybe we should in the future…

Just as the land gives life to the plants that we grow and helps to impart particular characteristics, flavours and subtle quirks on them, so does the land where we live help to determine our own fate. We are a product of our environment after all.

Just as the land gives life to the plants that we grow and helps to impart particular characteristics, flavours and subtle quirks on them, so does the land where we live help to determine our own fate. We are a product of our environment after all.

Wine touring in the Okanagan. At Poplar Grove winery in the Naramata Bench.

But after a few days of oo-ing and ah-ing at the beauty of this place, tasting and experiencing the best that the land here had to offer, it was time to go home. As beautiful as it is in this place, I wasn’t thriving here. Like a plant struggling to survive in the wrong climate and soil conditions, I was having trouble surviving here in the dead heat and dry air and desert-like conditions of the interior.

Just as the land gives life to the plants that we grow and helps to impart particular characteristics, flavours and subtle quirks on them, so does the land where we live help to determine our own fate. We are a product of our environment after all.

Sure, it was okay for a visit. But I was slowly wilting away here. My soul was being called back to the west; To the ocean; To our home on the island.

 

Home Is Where the Heart Yearns to Be

And so, as we travelled back through the peaks and valleys and forests and mountains and cities, across the Georgia Strait on the ferry to Vancouver Island and up the coast to our home, I finally realized there was no need to keep searching.

Just as the land gives life to the plants that we grow and helps to impart particular characteristics, flavours and subtle quirks on them, so does the land where we live help to determine our own fate. We are a product of our environment after all.

On the ferry back home.

Sure there are many other beautiful places on Earth that we could live. There are other oceans to reside by, other cities to live on the outskirts of, other countries that seem like lovely places to call home, and yes, there are far more wineries on the mainland than there are here on the island… Damn. 

But when we finally arrived back home to Vancouver Island, to the little dot on the map where we consciously chose to make our stand, I looked up at the clear, starry sky, felt the cool, dewy Earth beneath my feet, breathed a big sigh of relief and felt my leaves perk up again.

Just as the land gives life to the plants that we grow and helps to impart particular characteristics, flavours and subtle quirks on them, so does the land where we live help to determine our own fate. We are a product of our environment after all.

Our home in the Comox Valley, Vancouver Island.

I know in my heart that we chose this place for a reason; This is the place that will allow us to be the people we were meant to be. This is the land that will help us develop the full potential of our character. Like a fine wine, this is where we will age best.

I realized this all in a single instant, and I said to myself in that moment, “wow. I can’t believe we live here.” And at last, I knew we were finally home.


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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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I don't know about where you're from, but around here the Christmas decorations have been on store shelves since August and the first carton of eggnog I saw at the grocery store was in September! ⁣

I'm all for celebrating the season, but I think it loses something when it becomes Christmas all year long (or at least when it spans 2 or even 3 seasons!)⁣

I like waiting until December to decorate and put on Christmas tunes, and I definitely won't take my first sip of eggnog until the advent calendar comes out!⁣

That being said, when it is time for Christmas, I enjoy savouring every bit of the holiday season, and that means that when it comes to eggnog, store-bought just won't do. Instead, I whip up my own homemade eggnog, which is way tastier in my opinion, and has less added and unnecessary ingredients, thickeners, etc. It's just eggs, sugar, milk and cream, some liquor if you choose, and a little nutmeg and a cinnamon stick to garnish!⁣

It's also super quick and easy to make yourself.⁣

Grab the full recipe via the ink in my bio @anna.sakawsky or visit https://thehouseandhomestead.com/old-fashioned-homemade-eggnog-recipe/ ⁣

Do you like to start celebrating Christmas as early as possible or do you prefer to wait until December like me?⁣

Let me know in the comments 👇
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What’s in your bug out bag??

Yesterday I was in my Stories sharing a bit about emergency preparedness and what I’m doing to get prepared for whatever the future holds.

I also asked YOU what emergency skills or supplies you recommend having in your back pocket “just in case,” and one of the responses I got was to have a bug out bag packed and ready to go.

This got me thinking it was high time to pull out my bug out bag and go through it because it’s been a couple years since I last did so. I decided to share it with you here and show you what I keep packed and ready to go and go through what needs updating and what I’m missing.

If the concept of a bug out bag is new to you, have a watch through this video and check out this article on 15 Emergency Preparedness Items You Need to Have Packed and Ready to Go: https://thehouseandhomestead.com/15-emergency-preparedness-items-you-need-packed-ready-to-go/

Also, if getting more prepared for anything and everything from a power outage to a natural disaster to a medical emergency to a man made disaster like a war or a cyber attack is a goal of yours, be sure to check out the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, which is packed with great advice on emergency preparedness for any situation. (Link in bio @anna.sakawsky or visit modernhomesteadingmagazine.com)

I’d also love to hear from you!

Do you keep a bug out bag packed?

What do you keep in it?

What types of emergency situations are you preparing for in your area?

Let me know in the comments 👇

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Do you have what you need on hand to take care of yourself and your family in the event of a worst case scenario?

With everything going on in the world these days, we’re getting more and more serious about equipping ourselves with the tools, supplies and skills needed to handle emergency situations if the need arises.

Between growing nuclear tensions, the ongoing threat of pandemics, cyber attacks and a looming energy crisis, medical staff and supply shortages, and general “everyday” medical, financial and other miscellaneous emergencies, we’d all be wise to be prepared BEFORE the next emergency happens.

One of our neighbours passed away very suddenly last week (just 50 years old 😔) and it reminded me of just how quickly things can go sideways. As far as we know he suffered a heart attack, and while his wife did everything she could to save him, by the time the ambulance arrived it was too late. It was a wake up call for me, that not only do we need to be prepared with supplies on hand, but with knowledge and skills too. I’m definitely looking into booking a refresher First Aid course and highly recommend everyone reading this do the same if this is a skill you need to brush up on!

This is all part of being more self-reliant, and these skills are becoming more and more important in the world these days.

My hubby @ryan.sakawsky covered many emergency scenarios and how to prepare for them in detail in the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, you can subscribe and read the latest issue via the link in my bio, or by visiting https://modernhomesteadingmagazine.com/subscribe/

I’d also love to hear from you! What are you doing to prepare and/or what skills and resources would you recommend that everyone acquire now before it’s too late?

Comment below 👇
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If you feel like your garden struggled more than usual this year, or that many of your homesteading efforts were in vain, you’re not alone.

In fact, I heard from more people than ever before this year who were struggling with their gardens; With extreme or unpredictable weather; With pest problems that seemed worse than usual; With all manner of things that seemed to be conspiring against them and their efforts to grow food.

The fact is, gardening and homesteading comes with an inevitable amount of failure every year, and some years are going to be worse than others.

In the fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, Mike Fitzgerald of @omnivore.culture gets vulnerable and shares his own homesteading struggles, and the insights he gained from a rough year in the garden.

“I held in my heart an overwhelming level of optimism for the 2022 growing season… I couldn’t have been more wrong and could not have possibly prepared for what awaited me in the upcoming months that paved the way into summer,” he begins.

To read the full story, click the link in my bio @anna.sakawsky or go to modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to subscribe or log in and read the latest issue 🍁

(Quote in the reel by Mike Fitzgerald, “Rolling With the Punches,” Modern Homesteading Magazine | Issue 29 | Fall 2022).

#homesteading #homesteadersofinstagram #selfreliance #gardenersofinstagram #humanswhogrowfood #modernhomesteading
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The world is changing faster than ever.

We’ve barely had time to adapt to the “new normal” and still things are continuing to shift, change, and in some cases spiral more each day.

From rising inflation and persistent supply chain issues, to a looming recession and food shortages that are expected to get worse after a very tough farming year, to a war on European soil and the threat of cyber attacks and (God forbid) a nuclear attack, to the future of digital IDs and increasingly pervasive government control over every aspect of our lives, it’s no wonder more people are looking for ways to escape the matrix and “opt out” of the system.

I consider myself an optimistic realist: I hope for the best and I live fully and freely in the moment, but I prepare for the future accordingly based on what I can see unfolding in our world. And honestly, I find this “sweet spot” to be incredibly empowering.

This is why I do what I do and why I share it with you on a regular basis; I WANT TO EMPOWER YOU TOO!

That’s why I created The Society of Self-Reliance: A private membership that connects you with the resources, support and community you need to reclaim your independence and become more self-reliant in every aspect of your life.

From growing and preserving your own food to crafting and using herbal medicine to life skills like how to manage it all and stay calm in stressful situations, how to prepare for emergency situations and much more, if you’re ready to learn invaluable skills that will help you take control of your family’s food security, health and wellbeing, time, finances, and ultimately over your own future, The Society of Self-Reliance was created for you!

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be reopening the Society doors for a limited time starting next week, and wanted to give you the heads up NOW so that you can get on the waitlist and make sure you don’t miss out when enrollment opens.

To learn more or get on the waitlist, click the link in my bio @anna.sakawsky or go to thehouseandhomestead.com/society

#homesteading #selfreliance #livefreeordie
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It’s October, and that means pumpkin spice season is officially here 🎃

This year, instead of spending $5 or more on a PSL loaded with questionable artificial ingredients, why not make your own pumpkin spice syrup at home with REAL PUMPKIN and all-natural ingredients!

All you need is some puréed pumpkin (I make mine with fresh pumpkins, but you can use canned), some brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, allspice and ginger, a splash of vanilla extract and some water.

Bring everything to a boil and then simmer and reduce. Strain into a bottle or Mason jar and store in the fridge for up to a week or so.

Add a tablespoon or 2 of this syrup to your coffee or homemade latte for a better quality, better tasting PSL for a fraction of the cost of what you’d pay at a coffee shop.

You can also add this syrup to homemade kombucha, or drizzle it over pancakes, waffles, French toast or even ice cream!

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Do you dream of escaping the rat race and starting a homestead far from the chaos of the modern world?

It’s no surprise that in this day and age, more and more people are ready to leave it all behind and move to a property in the country where they can grow their own food, live a simpler life and become more self-sufficient and less dependent on “the system.” But as romantic as it sounds, it’s definitely easier said than done.

In the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, I sat down with Ann Accetta-Scott of @afarmgirlinthemaking to talk all about what people need to know about buying and selling a homestead property.

Ann and her husband Justin recently moved from their two-acre homestead outside of Seattle, Washington to a 40-acre homestead in rural Tennessee. Ann and I sat down to talk about the realities of buying and selling a homestead, moving across the country to pursue your homesteading dream, what to look for when you’re searching for your next property, pitfalls to avoid (if you can!), and what you can do if you’re not ready or in a position to make your move just yet.

Whether you’re looking to purchase your first homestead or trying to sell an existing homestead and upgrade to a bigger property, Ann had some great insights to share that can save you time, stress and money when you’re ready to make your move.

Check out the full interview in the fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine: link in bio @anna.sakawsky or visit www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to subscribe, login to the library (if you’re already a subscriber) or view a sample of the current issue!

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This is why people don’t trust our medical system!!!

I very rarely go on a rant about current events but this has me feeling really fired up…

My husband and I each got an Amber Alert on our phones the other night along with millions of other British Columbians, informing us of a child abduction in Vancouver. It made the suspect sound like a dangerous kidnapper and said “do not approach. Call 911.”

As it turns out, it was the mother of the child (a 3-year-old boy), who had refused medical treatment without getting a second opinion and follow up blood tests, so the Ministry of Child and Family Services was called, she was arrested and her son was taken from her and was administered medical treatment in the hospital without consent and without a guardian present.

There’s a lot more to this story than I’m able to share in this video or this caption, so I’ll post some links below where you can hear directly from the mom what happened, and check out other IG accounts that have been in direct contact with her and the father. But the point is this was a GROSS misuse of our Amber Alert system, a GROSS abuse of power (turns out the boy wasn’t sick in the end anyway), and has now traumatized this family for life.

Doctors are not gods and as mothers we do not co-parent with the government!!!

This hits close to home for me because I too have been through the medical system and had my concerns dismissed, was misdiagnosed and given wrong information, and was treated with obvious contempt when I got a second opinion.

In this day and age of rampant medical coercion and the erosion of bodily autonomy over our own bodies and over those of our children, this story highlights the dangers of the very slippery slope we’re on.

As parents who only have the best interests of our children at heart, this could happen to any one of us. We can’t let this be normalized. Remember “first they came for (fill in the blank), and I said nothing. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Check out my stories for the full video that the mom, Wiloh made explaining the details of what happened or check out the comments for links to learn more & support this family.
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I’ve hesitated about posting this reel over and over because I know I’ll probably get backlash, hate and vitriol from some people in return. But I wouldn’t be being true to myself if I didn’t speak the truth that’s on my heart and mind…

If you haven’t noticed, there are currently thousands of Canadians sharing their stories and using the hashtag #trudeaumustgo on their social media posts right now in response to the divisive rhetoric and actions of our prime minister over the past few months. But our media has downplayed the issue and has attributed most of the hashtags to “bot” accounts and foreigners trying to influence our politics.

In response, real Canadians are making videos and sharing their stories to show that we are not bots, but real people who have been negatively affected by the words and actions of our leaders, particularly our leader at the top.

I used to consider myself a lifelong leftist and have supported the liberal government and Trudeau over the years, but after what I’ve witnessed over the past few months; After how he has spoken about Canadians who have made a different medical choice or who have protested mandates (which have done nothing to stop the spread of you-know-what anyway); After the hate and division that has trickled down from the top and infiltrated our communities, I can no longer stand silently by.

While I am 💉, a few months ago when I voiced my support for those who stood up against mandates and against the division being pushed on us by our leadership, I suddenly found myself among what our prime minister called the “small fringe minority” of citizens with “unacceptable views.”

I lost followers, friends and even a couple family members. I was told I’d been “radicalized,” although my views have never changed.

So today I’m adding my voice to the chorus of real, everyday Canadians who are taking a stand against tyranny and division in this country. As the saying goes, if we do not stand for something, we’ll fall for anything. I stand for freedom & autonomy, and against division & tyranny.

#trudeaumustgo

(Special thanks to fellow 🇨🇦 homesteader @meggarlandd for inspiring me & giving me the courage to post this:)
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What would you do if the grid went down?

Imagine not just the lights going out, but all power, all digital communication and information. Would you be prepared?

A lot of us THINK we’re prepared for a grid down situation, but unless you’re already living off grid, you might not realize how dependent on technology we really are!

In the fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, contributor Ashley Constance of @dirtypawshomestead and @alittleselfreliant shares her experience voluntarily going without power for the day, and what she and her husband, Shawn learned from their grid down experiment.

You might be surprised at the things they discovered and missed on their prep list, and it might prompt you to reevaluate whether you’re ready in case the grid goes down, or even just Google 😱

Check out the full story in the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine!

Link in bio @anna.sakawsky or visit www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com

#modernhomesteadingmagazine #homesteadersofinstagram #homesteading #modernhomesteading #prepping #nationalpreparednessmonth
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The other day when I had a few minutes to spare, I was out in the garden doing a little work when my neighbour said hi over the fence.

I lamented to her about how busy we’ve been and how hard it’s been to keep on top of this year. Very sincerely, she replied “wait until you have another one,” referring to our baby on the way.

“You’ll be moving back to the suburbs so quick, mark my words,” she said.

Now, I don’t for a second think there was any ill intent behind her statement, but still, it took me aback.

“We’ll never move back to the city or the suburbs,” I replied with a laugh. “This may be hard work but we love it.”

She then repeated her statement and followed it up with “just you wait and see.”

I decided not to continue the back and forth. After all, I told myself, it doesn’t matter if she or anyone else knows what’s truly in your heart. It doesn’t matter if she understands that there’s no amount of difficulty that would make me run back to the suburbs and leave this life behind. In fact, our dream is to upgrade to a bigger property someday where we can grow an even bigger garden and add more livestock to our homestead!

Likewise, I visited the city last weekend for a family event and as always, I had at least a couple people ask me “so when are you moving back to the city?”

Seven years later, and still we have friends and family members who think this is just a phase we’re going through, and eventually we’ll come to our senses and move back.

I used to get offended by these questions because I felt unseen; I felt like nobody took this life that I’m so passionate about seriously, and thought it was “cute” that I was “playing farmer” for a bit, but eventually I had to grow up and become part of the “real world” once again.

Now I just smile and reply “never:)”

Can you relate? How do you (politely) respond when someone questions your lifestyle choices or implies that you’ll eventually come to your senses and come back to “reality”?

Let me know below 👇
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The fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine just dropped!

In this issue you’ll find:

• Preparedness tips, tricks and advice to help you be ready for anything on the homestead (and in life!)
•The ultimate guide to growing garlic at home and it as both food and medicine
• Drool-worthy recipes that feature garlic as the star!
• Expert advice from A Farmgirl in the Making’s Ann Accetta-Scott on what to look for (and look out for) when buying or selling a homestead property
• Advice on how to learn and grow from perceived homesteading “failures”

And more!!!

Go to modernhomesteadingmagazine.com or click the link in my bio @anna.sakawsky to subscribe or login to the library and read the latest issue if you’re already subscribed!
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