We’re Mark and Emily!
By day, we’re professional musicians and educators. By night, we’re a bunch of composting, gardening, zero-waste, homeschooling, off-grid hippies. We weren’t exactly trying to be this way — it just sort of happened! We evolved into this lifestyle and want to share our know-how with you.
Would you believe it if I said we met in Kindergarten? We went to the same school from Kindergarten through high school and always sort of knew each other, but got to know each other better in our freshmen year of high school marching band. At the end of our freshman year, we started dating. We had NO idea the adventure that was ahead of us!
20 years later we’ve been through one tiny apartment, 2 rental houses, 1 house we owned, and now we have our dream: an off-grid home we built by hand on 16 acres of beautiful trees, fields, and sunshine.
How We Got To Our Homestead
In March 2015, we sold our 3 bed/2 bath mid-century ranch in the suburbs to buy 16+ acres of raw land filled with gorgeous trees, fields, and hills.
The Start of a Dream
Rural living is nothing new to us. We both had fairly rural upbringings and learned to love everything that comes with it. When we went off to college, we both chose the same university for the same two reasons: our degree program was top-notch, and the area surrounding it was absolutely gorgeous.
It was where we started growing as a married couple and further entrenched in us the need to be away from a big city and to live a simple life.
After graduating from college, we found jobs back home but unfortunately didn’t find ourselves living a quiet country life. We rented a cute little blue house…on a busy part of the main road through town next to noisy neighbors and a major interstate highway.
Then we bought a house…in a typical subdivision full of noisy neighbors, reckless drivers, and again just a step away from a busy route and an even bigger interstate highway.
WE WANTED TO GET BACK TO THE COUNTRY AND LIVE A SIMPLER LIFE.
Taking a Leap of Faith
So after years and years of research and planning, we took a huge risk and bet everything on our ability to build a house with our own hands on our own land.
With a lot of research and collaboration, it worked out! We made sure to seek out advice from real experts in every part of the build. Doing so helped us build a house that, according to our building inspector and professional contacts, far exceeds building code standards.
We built a cordwood home with our own hands. Learn more about the project here.
Ready to dive in? Check out these resources!
All About Our Cordwood Homebuilding Project
How a Former High School Teacher Learned to Love Homeschooling
What Does It Actually Mean to be Off The Grid?
What Is An Accidental Hippy: Sustainability for Normal People
The Owner-Builder Home Planner
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Christina Kamp says
This building project is crazy cool! I love it.
Thanks for the kind words!
Sarah Althouse says
Oh my gosh having a homestead is my dream! I’m in communications and my husband works in politics but I keep trying to convince him to let me get a huge farm!
Sounds like you’d really enjoy a podcast called The Self Sufficient Life by Tim Young. You both sound like him and the people he’s interviewed. I binge listened to it when I first found it. Go check it out!
Nicole Niverson says
what are you using for gas?
Propane for the stove, water heater, and radiant heat.
Katherine N. Kirzinger says
Hi! I just found your blog. I’m also a teacher, and I’m in Central Ky (near dead center!). What part of Kentucky are you in?
Cool! As a personal policy, I try not to disclose where we are in the state for privacy reasons. 🙂
I love your blog, just got stared reading. We have land, 115 acres of over grown pasture, we are overwhelmed and do not know where to start. Any suggestions? books, blogs, sites to visit?
Thanks for the comment! As for inspiration and reading, it really depends on what you’re looking for. To start out, you can search by topic any of the awesome blogs over at the Homestead Bloggers Network here: http://homesteadbloggersnetwork.com/ Are you looking for ways to build a house, develop your land, grow your own food, create a sustainable permaculture environment? The answers to those questions will guide your search for info. Let me know what you might be interested in and I can make some more tailored recommendations. Good luck!
Hi Emily, I just started reading through your blog posts. I came across your blog searching for ways to get free building materials and i’m hooked.
My wife and I are planning on doing something a little different to yourself in that we are planning on building our new home on a 1/2 block on an island off the coast of Brisbane here in Australia. We are both unable to work due to medical issues and have just recently got a small insurance payout and want to put it to good use and build our dream island home.
Do you have any advise or know of any blogs, guides for self building in Australia or on an island?
I have been contemplating doing something similar to you and create a blog that follows our journey from where we are now living with the in-laws to the completion of our island home and then helping others in our situation with low budget to achieve a similar result.
Do you have any advise for someone who has never blogged before or any guide or courses you recommend.
It would be greatly appreciated if you were willing to help point us in a good starting direction.
First off, kudos to you for researching and taking steps towards the dream! Off the top of my head I don’t know anything relevant to building on an island and/or Australia, BUT there are a number of awesome Facebook groups with people from all over the world including Australia, NZ, and so on. The big HOMESTEADING group is a good place to start. You might try posting in there and ask questions to see if you can connect with others in your neck of the woods. As for creating a blog, I think it would be an interesting read! I would encourage you to look into a couple different resources for getting started. I go into some detail about it on this resource page: Start a Blog. Two really inexpensive and totally worthwhile resources are “Make Money Blogging At Any Level” by Victoria Pruett and “Zero to 10,000 Page Views In 30 Days” by Anna Merhalski . I feel like the second one is a great intro for the beginner blogger while the first one is what really launched me into doing this full time. I would also suggest perhaps taking a look at Ruth Soukup’s materials over at Elite Blog Academy. She has a lot of great free materials if you get on her email list. The course is ultra pricey and not for everyone, but I’ve gotten a lot of value out of her other materials. And of course, if you do start a blog head over to the Homestead Bloggers Network to network with other folks like us. 🙂 If you want to talk more in depth I’d be totally happy to email you and chat back and forth. Good luck!
Thank you Emily for your kind words and the information. I will take a look over the links you posted and take it from there. If I have anything more to ask afterwards you might receive an email from me.
No problems! Feel free to email me any time 🙂
Brock O'Brien says
When is your Cordwood shed course?
We don’t currently have anything scheduled but will definitely post something when we do! Thanks!
My husband and I along with our (soon to be 3) children have decided to buy land and build. We don’t quite know yet how much land we want (could be as little as a half acre) my husband is a carpenter by trade and will be doing most of the work himself. We’ve barely started the process and have already encountered bumps in the road. Your blog has been such an inspiration! Thank you!
Awww that’s wonderful! You just made my day. Let me know if there’s any info or help you need along the way. I wish you and your family the best of luck! 😀
Awesome!! We have built 2 of our own homes (with subs), we still have at least 2 more building projects to go. I look forward to following 🙂
Great for you! Good luck with your future projects and thanks for following along!