September 16, 2020

Chapter 1: The Dream, Is It Still Alive?

Before I share chapter one from 5 Acres & A Dream The Sequel with you, I want to remind you of the giveaway taking place over at Four copies will be given at the end of the week. Follow the link for how to enter. Winners will be announced on Saturday.

Following is chapter on in it's entirety. I hope you enjoy it!

You can learn more about my new sequel here.

5 Acres & A Dream The Sequel 
Chapter 1

The Dream: Is It Still Alive?

“There no specific point that either my husband Dan or I can pinpoint being the birth and definition of our dream. . . . Rather, it has been an attraction to a way of life, to what we thought would be more fulfilling and personally more productive than the typical lifestyle of our culture.”
“The Dream,” 5 Acres & A Dream The Book (p. 3)

If you were to ask me what has changed on our homestead since I wrote 5 Acres & A Dream The Book, I would tell you, “a lot.” At a glance, everything looks quite different. The house is now blue and features a bay window overlooking a large open front porch. At the end of the driveway stands the goat barn, exactly where our old coal barn used to be but newer and fresher, with my hand-painted barn quilt gracing the hayloft doors. Behind it, the original chicken coop and goat shed has been expanded into a workshop for Dan and sports a new metal roof. Next to that is the chicken coop Dan built several years ago and the enlarged chicken yard. The two old oaks that I loved finally died and became firewood. In their place, three solar panels now stand at attention.

Above: Our original driveway (2009).
Below: Our driveway today (2020).

We called the original barn (above) the “coal barn” because it once housed coal to
heat the house. The new barn (below) has the same footprint, but with a hayloft .

The biggest changes, however, are not what you see when you look around. The biggest changes are in how we are learning to view ourselves and our relationship with our homestead. There is a long litany of “failed” experiments to go along with that change, each resulting in a flurry of new research, not to mention soul-searching. Yes, there have been times we've questioned what we're doing here and whether it's worth it. More than once we have discussed walking away, but that discussion doesn't last long. Besides the obvious question of, “what else would we do?” there is an inner conviction that this is how we are supposed to live.

  Above: The house when we first arrived in 2009.
Below: The house after extensive repair and upgrading.

Above: The outbuilding we first used chicken coop and goat shed.
Below: The same building expanded to become Dan's workshop.

The more we interact with the natural world around us—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—the more we understand ourselves to be a part of it. Our life's work is to conduct ourselves in such a way that our five acres of earth can be its best self. And that begs the question of how. How do we function as part of our homestead ecosystem?

That idea is counter-cultural to modern thinking. Modern thinking tends to view humans as an environmental problem. It's true, humans are extremely destructive creatures, but if humankind is truly “The Problem,” then someone or something got it wrong. Either God was wrong in creating us in the first place, or evolution was wrong by selecting us to become the dominant species. What is true, is that there is an extreme disconnect between modern culture and the natural world. Urbanization and technology are leading people away from nature. That influences how they see it, how they think about it, and what they want to do with it.

Unfortunately, today's high esteem for technological advancement and gadgetry is a blind spot in the modern point of view. Problems are recognized, but causes are ignored. Research is based on reductionist science rather than the whole, and the recommended solution is always to throw more technology at the problem. But haven't they noticed things are only getting worse?

“We longed for a simpler life, a life that gave a sense o purpose, appreciation, and satisfaction with what we do and how we do it. We wanted a lifestyle that relied less on consumerism and more on our relationship with the natural creation and its gifts.”
“The Dream,” 5 Acres & A Dream The Book (pp. 3-4)

The longer we homestead the more this is true, and the world's way continues to become less attractive. Consumerism is certainly less appealing, in part because we prefer what we can grow and produce ourselves. But also, because of the increasingly poor quality of commercial goods being produced nowadays. Food from the grocery store has no substance; no real flavor. Construction materials are becoming smaller, flimsier, and contain more flaws. The metal used in tools and equipment is either lighter gauge or replaced with plastic, which eventually cracks and breaks. When faced with the choice between buying such offerings or doing something else, we increasingly have chosen to do something else.

Sometimes that something else is doing without. We’ve learned that we can truly live with less. It's not that we're settled for less, it's that we realize we can be content with less. The old saying “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without” is good advice. The interesting thing is that when we don’t continually rely on buying solutions to problems, the brain somehow switches into its creative mode. By casting about for alternatives, new ideas present themselves. I'd say we've accomplished more with fewer financial resources than we thought possible. And we’re happier for it! Because of that, I can say with certainty we are indeed living our dream.

How have these changes impacted our goals? More on that next.


You can find more information about my new sequel here.

© Sept 2020 by Leigh at


Cockeyed Jo said...

Leigh, Please God, I hope the blurbs isn't as shown definition o our dream. . . . Rather, it h been an attraction to a way o life, on the back cover. Notice the errors?

Leigh said...

Jo, those errors were the result of copying and pasting from a PDF copy. For some reason, almost all of the "fs" didn't copy. I thought I caught them all! Obviously not. Thanks for the heads up.

Debby Riddle said...

Tremendous accomplishment! My father-in-law, who hails from Alabama originally used to say " life gets tedious don't it?" a remark he'd humorously insert in a tough time. Praying you can enjoy some well-earned rewards~

Leigh said...

Debby, that's a good saying. Kind of along the lines of slow but steady wins the race. Or like I like to say, it's a lifestyle, not a checklist!

Retired Knitter said...

Oh I am really going to enjoy looking at your book. I love comparison pictures!!!

Boud said...

I like very much the before and after shots.
I wonder though:are we the dominant species? I've always thought insects are more likely to overcome. I think it's healthy to live as if we're a member of nature and a partner in the life around us, rather than trying often fruitlessly, pun intended, to dominate. The more we learn about other species the more we acknowledge their skills and abilities, often surpassing our own.
I'm looking forward to more reading. And very glad you're documenting your lives and plans.

Leigh said...

RT, thank you! It was Dan who originally encouraged me to include lots of pictures. I think they help so much, in explaining and also in giving extra information.

Boud, ha! I can't argue with your reasoning! I would say that humans desperately lack instinct, which is richly on display in other species. And we do seem rather intent on destroying ourselves, and if successful, I agree that insects will likely be the winners. The conclusion I finally draw within the pages of this book is that we are meant to be a part of the ecosystem, but not necessarily in charge, as humans are apt to think. And that has been the most important lesson learned in our quest for a self-sufficient homestead.

Lady Locust said...

First Congratulations on the new book! Certainly enjoyed your first which is how I found this blog:-) This is really a minuscule tid-bit, but I say if they took all the plastic out of Wmart, the store would be virtually empty. Looking forward to the new read~

Leigh said...

Lady Locust, thank you! You present an extremely interesting idea, maybe for a book - life without plastic. I've always found it curious that in all the uproar over fossil fuels as carbon producers, that no one mentions petroleum based plastics manufacturing, disposal, and waste. But I suppose that's a topic for another time. :) said...

Congratulations! I've been living under a rock evidently as I didn't know you had a first book. I'll be reading both!

wyomingheart said...

Great comparison photos, Leigh! It’s really amazing when you look back on where you were, and where you are now! We are certainly thankful that you have taken the time to share your journeys, as they have greatly influenced our lives in the most wonderful way! Thank you!

Leigh said...

Sam, which just goes to show that folks tend to not see stuff in the sidebar! I have to include myself in that group too. :) Actually, this is my 5th paperback. I also have a series of small eBook how-tos. Anyway, I hope you enjoy them. I'll be interested in your opinion!

Wyomingheart, encouragement like that is what keeps me going. :)

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

"But also, because of the increasingly poor quality of commercial goods being produced nowadays." Not something I had thought of, but absolutely true.

The book is in my cart for my month spend in early October to read on the airplane flight back home.