We recently moved to Wyoming, the same small town, in fact, that my wife grew up in. We were drawn by the slower pace and the desire to be close to family. We’re in love with the outdoors, spending much of the summer hiking, camping, and backpacking with our young boys. There’s no better place to call home than the mountains for a family like ours.
Food is also a big part of our life and we wanted to be closer to the source. We wanted to know the ranchers and farmers that were raising the food we put on the plate each night. In the near future, we hope to play a much more active role in that process than we ever have before.
This is our journey to self-reliance.
Why we live in Wyoming
I just came off an amazing weekend filled with great food, quality time with family, and more than one reason to celebrate.
We gathered around the dining room table each night at my in-law’s homestead, a 10 acre slice of heaven at the foot of the Big Horns in north central Wyoming that has served as home base for the entire family since before I married into it more than a decade ago.
We kicked off the weekend late Friday night when my wife’s older sister arrived after a 4 1/2 hour drive from their ranch outside Laramie. She was escorted by her youngest, an 11 year old outdoorsman that is always eager to rip lips with me on Clear Creek which runs through the homestead. We landed a handful of browns and a really nice rainbow with perfect casts along the cut banks.
Saturday temps dropped to a summer low just under 70 degrees which was all the reason I needed to craft the first Dutch oven of chili for the season. It was a perfect combination of locally grown and harvested vegetables and herbs to accent the elk burger from last fall and the recently butchered Corriente beef that my brother-in-law raises.
I can think of very few ways I’d rather spend 6 hours on a Saturday than working on a batch of Dutch oven chili with a craft brew in hand.
My wife was celebrating her 39th birthday for the 4th time on Sunday so the family gathered once again around the dining room table at the homestead. Island meatball subs, a Caprese salad sourced entirely within our zip code, and a spread of salsa and guacamole gave everyone a reason to come hungry. And did they ever!
This is why we live in Wyoming.
Let me back up
I grew up in a small town at the edge of the Amish belt in central Pennsylvania. I learned to cook on a 100 year old cast iron skillet when I was a young child. I fished and hunted. And now I’m married to an amazing women that grew up in a similar small town who shares the same sensibilities. A return to small town living was always part of our plan.
We uprooted our family and moved from the urban sprawl of Las Vegas to set roots in rural Wyoming in July of this year. Yeah, just a little over a month ago. We had been day dreaming about this move for a decade with thoughts about rural living when money didn’t mean as much to us. You’ve probably thought the same. Hitting the lottery or retiring at 65 was always our time frame.
But when my father-in-law took ill early this year we decided it was time. We began making the plans, contracted movers, and enrolled the boys in school. Then, unexpectedly, my father-in-law passed away. Devastation for all of us.
We were coming back for him, but wanted to stay for everyone else, including ourselves.
The future we are creating
I never thought this is how we would get here. But my father-in-law cherished life in rural Wyoming. He shared stories with me of trail rides on horseback 40 years ago into the Big Horns. Those same trails are still used today and the landscape is basically unchanged. Following in his footsteps would be a pleasure and I can’t wait to get started.
We’re settled in now. Well almost. We move into a property we will be renting for the next year or so at the beginning of September. We’ll use this time to find the perfect property for our homestead, one with trees, enough cleared land to grow a massive garden, an area for a small orchard, and a creek running through it. It’s a homestead I’ve visualized for most of my adult life.
I’ve been planning this transition for more than 2 years, learning as much as I can about permaculture and modern homesteading, sharpening my cooking and food preservation skills, and developing the knowledge base needed for successful gardening.
Though the circumstances that brought us here are less than ideal, our time is now.
My wife is close to her family. Our kids will grow up with their grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins. And best of all, we get to build the life we’ve been dreaming about for a decade, one much less reliant on the systems that we feel are in need of a serious overhaul.
Our homestead will once again give us the control over our food, our lives, and our future that we have so willingly outsourced for the past 20 years. I’ve never felt more empowered.
– August 11, 2014
Co-Founder, Modern Steader
Grow. Cook. Live.