In so many ways. The days of the pioneers and the homestead lifestyle are very romanticized, but for those of us who grew up in towns and cities who are used to having electricity and running water and refrigerators, what would it really be like to return to a simple way of life? Throwing all of those things away and truly going off the grid today. We’ve traveled to a beautiful property here in Missouri to find out.
Hey Doug. Hey, how are you? Good. Some HMA. Hi Stacy. Lovely to meet you too. This place is just so peaceful, isn’t it? Yeah. Nice and quiet.
We just love it. We just had a beautiful rain and it’s very calm and the birds are out in has been great.
Yeah, it really is. This place. I mean, I feel like I’ve just come back in time.
Don’t let the clothes foyer in the pioneer lifestyle in the 21st century right here. You really are. Tell me a little bit about this land and how you came to be here.
So basically we left the city seven years ago and we decided that we wanted to slow down our life a little bit more fresh air and grow our own food so we’d be more control of our health and nutrition and stuff like that. Uh, so the search began to find about a 10 acre lot of land and uh, you know, it’s been working really well for us now.
You built your own home from scratch, you’re growing a lot of your own vegetables and food here. And had you ever done anything like this before?
Yeah, that’s the question we get a lot and when we left we were total city slickers, so we had never really had a garden and we really, I’d never really built anything.
Um, I’ve been in sales my whole life, so like, you know, that’s the kind of atmosphere I came from. I had a couple of businesses and we sold those and moved out here. And this was the first big project I tackled when we bought the property. The only thing I wanted was the large barn, the green and White Barn where we harvest our rainwater. And then I slowly began. I built this cabin in 90 days with no experience.
Yeah. Cause he had to get it done before winter. Yeah. It was like he started in July and it was like October. He finished it.
Well plus we were separate and I was living in a tent here on the property with the dogs and she was in this one bedroom apartment. We actually transitioned from our 3000 square foot house into a one bedroom apartment just to kind of get a feel for living tiny. And then that’s when we moved out here.
And that was a shock. Five bedroom, three bath to his little bitty apartment. It was crazy. But it helps you to downsize and then to get out here and to do or doing. So it’s been wonderful. Very Cathartic.
So one of the questions that we do get a lot often is why did we do this? Like who wants to live? Actually even the Amish can’t even understand it. When we first moved out here, they were like, what are you guys doing? Everyone wants to go to the electricity in the city and you guys are going the complete opposite way.
They even bad on us then make it a year and we go back to match for the seven years and they, I mean they totally respect us for it, but they literally did, even though they don’t bet, but they didn’t think we could make it a year.
Well, we just wanted it reduce our consumerism and our footprint and just be more in control of our lives. You know, people co-oped out everything. You send your kids to school, you go to the store to get your food, you put gas in your car. I mean, we have a horse in a horse and buggy. We grow our most of our own food. We heat with wood that we harvest ourselves. And so all that stuff, just rain, water, rain, catch our rain. Water just made us feel more complete to be back on the land and to be doing things like our forefathers did.
So this is very, very different from your past life.
What was that transition like?
Oddly enough, I don’t think it was really that big of a deal. I mean we went from all electricity appliances and a fridge and touch everything and turn the in my buy, buy, buy, buy, buy, buy, consume, consume, consume, consume, you know, now we produce it all. We do it are, we are everything. What do you always say?
I’m the, hey man, there used to be a skip back on uh, one of the old comedy TV shows and it was the, hey man, he’d sweep the floor, answer the phone, no clout here. Like I’m the builder, the electrician, the plumber, the gardener, the, yeah. And I’m the producer with, you know, instead of going to the grocery store as much, I mean, I’m doing everything myself. So I mean it’s one of the things is, I mean it’s very rewarding. I mean, it’s so awesome to know that we’re doing this and we can take care of ourselves and we can shut the gate and we can just live and not have to worry about a thing.
Quite often on the show, we talk about being off the grid. You are really off the grid here at you. I mean you have no electricity. Your running water is just gravity fed, no pumps, anything like that. No pumps, no power, no problem. Right?
Yeah. Very, very simplistic way of life.
Right? How’s that working out?
It’s been working fantastic. I mean really we haven’t missed a beat. We’re in the Midwest so it gets really hot and humid here.
So yeah, your, you long for the air conditioning a little bit. We might spend extra hours at Walmart or but I, you know, everyone’s different. Like we’ve reduced our carbon footprint, we sleep better with our circadian rhythms. Like we’re up with the sun, we go to bed with the moon.
You know, we just feel better. We have more energy nature. I mean that’s just a huge, huge area there because you know, listen to the animal found and then we’re very aware of the weather patterns. What’s going on, you know, you, you the wind, the north wind, south winds. I mean, I knew nothing about winds or the Saunas or the moon. I mean I’m really in tune with everything going on in it.
That’s a powerful thing. I mean it’s amazing. And how it’s changed our whole lives and the rainwater has been fantastic. In our area we get about 40 inches of rain a year, so really that’s not a problem for us. We have 3000 gallons rain water catchment system. The gravity feeds here and we have two hydrants in the yard for the animals in the garden and every building on our property also collects water. Like there’s 500 gallons here, 500 gallons on our greenhouse. So every building is self sufficient.
One of the immediate things that I noticed about the way that you’ve said all of this out is that you’ve got your wonderful cabin, but then you’ve got all of these other outbuildings. Can you tell me a little bit about the setup here?
So basically like in our too, there’s a place you can go to. It’s the Daniel Boone home and we did a lot of research and also then we have an Amish community that’s kind of close by us. And what we found was that even back in the pioneer days, they would have their home off central for sleeping. And then outside of that they’d have a lot of outbuildings for smoking meat for chickens, for outdoor kitchen, for cooking in the summer.
And that’s what we mimicked. And often we find places that try to do this, but they put everything really far away. We’re getting older every day. We can’t stop it. So we don’t want to have chores, you know, like we have 11 acres. I don’t want to put something right acres away far away, you know, we wouldn’t say in close enough where I can just, and then the other thing that’s great is we can see everything.
We kind of have that eagle eye so I can just look out at her property and I can see the chickens are gardens right there. I can just walk to it. And that’s what I do. I’ll cut up and get our salad. I bring a big ball out, I get our, you know what we’re going to have for dinner, just walk out in the garden. So it’s been great.
This, this different dream that so many people have of self-sufficiency? Is that what you’re striving for here?
Yeah, I mean, I don’t think, you know, like no one can be absolutely self sufficient, but I think the more control you take back, you know, enables you to live a more fulfilling life as how we feel. I mean, everyone has their different walk, right? So we feel that, you know, we’re providing for our own food and you know, if you’re conscious about global warming or, or the environment, what better way to do it than to grow food and then bring it right into your table. Right. There’s no bags for transport. There’s no gas for going to the store. I mean, none of that stuff like you, I love it. He always says this, we don’t have a bill. Right. Right.
I don’t even have a mailbox, so we don’t have any bills. We don’t even know who bill is. Yeah.
Tell me about building this house.
It was quite an adventure. We dragged the wood out of the forest. Um, I had a saw mill that a local small mill, I did a little research about, uh, how the ends would go together, you know, the joinery. So we decided on a saddle notch, a joinery, and it’s very simplistic. And one of the things that really stuck with me is that if the pioneers did it and most of them couldn’t even read and write, we can do it. So that’s what we did. Uh, only thing I subbed out on this build was the concrete. Um, we have a crawl space underneath there and I’d never done that before. So we did sub that out. But everything else I built myself.
And what about the design?
That was kinda weird too. We just kinda put a box on paper. Almost like a tiny house.
But a lot of people use sketch up because there’s a lot of intricate parts. You have dry wall and you have the walls and how everything’s going to go together. But with this kind of a structure, we have no dry wall, no interior walls. It’s all just a box. And then another box on the back for the back room. And then upstairs we just had to figure out the pitch and then we built the rafters in place and you know, everything just went on and they’re very thick. I mean you can’t even get a nail through the wood.
Oh well it’s white oak.
Yeah, it’s white oak it, it’s pretty tough.
So what’s in between the logs here? Is that like you’re kind of clay rindy you’ve got in there or it’s called chinking.
Yeah, this actual stuff is called log jam. It comes in like a tube. And the reason why we went with that is a, it was pretty much the best stuff they offer like for today’s technology and it expands and contracts very well with the changing seasons.
And I can see this a little bit of a construction project going on right now. You’re building a root cellar, right?
It’s been a busy year. We put a deck on the back of the house after seven years. Um, we also built an outdoor shower, which she’s been really nice.
And now we’re working on food storage because when we’re out here, we don’t have a refrigerator really. We use a a hundred year old refrigerator, but we’re trying to even move a little more independent. I’m building a root cellar right now on the other side of the house. Um, it’s down about nine feet and we did it with ICF foam, so it’s going to have a r value of about 50 and so it’s really going to keep it cool in there and maybe in the mid to upper forties and I think that’s really going to be a win. Well,
I absolutely love what you’ve done here and I would really like to see inside that.
Yeah, come on in. Take a right, come on in.
All right. Wow. That is really charming.
Yeah, we really enjoy the space.
That’s the nice thing about it, you know, I just love how naturally everything feels as well. It just has that truly, that kind of pioneer feeling, isn’t it?
Yeah. And that was one of the things that were important to us is keeping everything natural. Aside from the wood cook stove that’s made from metal. Everything in here is wood or leather, you know, just natural ingredients from the earth.
Yeah. Basically just to get all the toxins out. I wanted everything as natural as we could so we wouldn’t be breathing any of that stuff. So that was huge. Huge for us.
So what size is the home?
So it was basically under 600 square feet and the kitchen, I mean this is really just beautiful. It looks like at wants to be coped in, I love the wood stove. This is such a nice feature.
Yeah. And one of our main food preservation uh, that we use, you know, a lot of people that do the homesteading thing or that, you know, they do canning and so we’re into fermenting because we would like to eat live food fermenting lasts six months to a year. Right. So it’ll carry us over until the next harvest.
So what is your number one tip for designing the ultimate homestead kitchen?
Bigger counter space.
Yeah. You need to have a good, I mean honestly, because you’re doing so much preparing. You do have to get, when we first started, we did have like a wooden top when we went ahead and got the Cambria court stop. This has been amazing. I just wish it was a little bit bigger. But the more counter space that you have, I mean that’s where it’s at. And then this has been, I love this thing. I love my pioneer princess. It’s a wood cook stove. Right now it’s summertime. So I have it covered. But um, we use this, I mean, I use it, I have water boiling all the time. I can cook. And actually it’s the center.
When people come over, I mean this is like the center of attention for everybody and it’s a great place. I can warm things and in the summertime it’s my storage. I can put my ferments and things on there. So I mean, this is just amazing. So if I had my wood cook stove and little bit more counter space and some good stainless steel balls, I got it going on.
And oddly enough, we have some sourdough starters from the pioneer trail. 150 years. Wow. Yeah. Well she actually got that. Um, where was that at? Baker Creek. Yeah. Baker Creek. We did a spring planting festival there and someone brought it to her. Fantastic. I love the stories behind stuff like that. Yeah. Not everyone can be having 150 monocots in a covered wagon about that.
Yeah. And what a beautiful living room.
One of the things that it’s impossible not to notice in here is that there is not a single light switch. Not one. It’s a little kerosene lamps and candles. This must just be so cozy at night. It is very romantic. It does. It’s great. I mean it does set your circadian rhythms. You know, as you sit down in the sun starts going down. It does help your body to relax. You know, we’re so inundated with light, light, light, you know, from the computers and all that. I mean is very good for your body to kind of set your mood to help you sleep better.
Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?
Yeah. It’s kind of weird. Strange there. And what do we have through here? So this is our back room and we have an all cedar chest here. She just got that. I designed it to fit in the corner and then I had a local craftsman actually make it for us.
It is theater and it’s been great. It’s my pantry, so I keep all of my stuff in there and I haven’t had, I didn’t have a pantry for all these years. And so it’s been great to kind of get all this stuff off the shelves and the corners. So now I can store all my things in here and then it’s like a little mini apothecary that you’ve got over there. It is where I can store my potions and all that. Right. It’s been great.
So when he goes and he shaves or whatever, I have everything there and I have two little candles there if it’s dark or in the morning. So we just bring a bowl over. Yeah, yeah. Fantastic. Yeah, yeah, yeah. With Hudson hot water, he puts his razor in it and then there he goes.
You know, a lot of people wonder about that there. You know. So what happened was seven years ago when we decided to do this lifestyle, I decided to quit shaving and I always love beards. I always, and I always, he always Kinda to go tea and I just always love beards and I always wanted him to go beard and he never really liked the beard because food would get into, well the mustache.
Yeah. So that’s why I don’t have a mustache. There’s really no other reason behind it.
But man, you, have you been out there buying those razors? They’re expensive. So that was a major thing that we cut out of our thing. I was going through razors like maybe a three, four a week or something.
No, having savings. Yeah, I mean that really helped the budget just by cutting out that. Now I just, you know, do this and I’m done and I mean one razor will last me now like months.
And then the composting toilet there.
Yeah, we use a composting toilet. It’s basically the sawdust method inside of there is a five gallon bucket and then we take that outside and I built a composting bend. It’s basically a two year cycle. You use those buckets, you put them into a pile, you wait a year, and then after that you can use it on tree shrubs, even your garden.
And then your bath tub. This is our potatoes temporary roots cellar. Last year we kept potatoes in here all year and it worked out fine, you know. So now we’ll have a root cellar, so be transferred over and then we’ll use this bathtub since we’re having a outdoor shower over there and a new shower spot over here. We’ll be using this for something else on the homestead.
And should we take a look upstairs?
Yeah, that’s our loft area. That’s where our bedroom is. And this is our a pull up bar here. So where we do our pull ups and Stacy uses it to stretch.
Yeah. And they can be, Paul loves, it’s good stuff.
So we just finished all this off with Cedar up here. Yes.
Smells so heavenly.
It really does. And we have a cedar bed, you know, everything’s handmade. Our furniture is all handmade by local carpenters. Um, and this bed is handmade as well.
So you’ve been here now on this property for the last seven years. How are you really finding this way of life?
Wouldn’t change it. It gets better. It gets easier every year. I mean I guess after the fourth year I really, because everything started going together cause you know, you know what you want and you try to make things a little bit more easier I guess. Yeah. And um, you develop your system, you get your systems, but we’ve changed a lot of things to, to find out, you know, some things maybe didn’t work as well, so it’s been good. It just gets better and better and easier and easier. It’s just like second nature now.
But now when we go to the city, cause you know, we do speaking engagements and stuff, we’re traveling and that stuff kinda is like you know, you can really kind of. I miss my rain water. Like, if you go someplace you can, there’s a big difference, you know, when you take a shower.
Oh for sure.
Wash your face. Or like I’m doing dishes on my hands and skin. I miss the rain water. I just miss the air and nature. Yeah, nature. I mean, it’s crazy. It’s just like something’s pulling at me to get back out here. A project like this, it’s very unusual.
But do you have any idea what the cost of achieving all this has been?
We’ve made a lot of improvements in the seven years.
So, but when we first got here, bare bones, it was under $15,000.
Right, right. That was for the logs, you know, to have milled and the foundation that I subbed out the concrete and then everything else, I basically built myself. So that’s just a, the wood that we use for the up here, the plywood, you know, the roofing material, you know, all that kind of stuff. So we wanted to make sure we stayed debt free. So we paid for our property, we paid for our building. Everything we have, we, you know, we don’t owe anybody any money for. So that was a huge thing for us. We didn’t want to feel on slave to that. So we wake up in the morning and we don’t feel like doing anything. We don’t do anything. You know, we don’t have anybody rattling our chain about it.
Cause people can’t understand it. It’s like, you know, you’re not working and you know, I’m only working maybe a couple days a week, you know, how can you do it? But we don’t have any bills. Yeah. We don’t have to pay any bills. So it’s been great. The rat wheel has been disassembled.
Yeah. Well your home is beautiful. Your land is beautiful and your whole way of life is beautiful. Thank you both so much for sharing. Thanks for coming out. Thank you.
With a lot of dedication and hard work, Doug and Stacy have truly created a paradise here in this place that really is almost like a little bit of solace from the hectic modern world. For some people, this might look like living in the past, but as we start to rediscover the importance of nature and our place in it, to me, I think this looks a lot like our future.