The Homesteaders, Soirée-Leone & Dale
Growing Up in Maine
Some of my earliest memories are of standing behind my father as he cut down trees in Maine—"TIMBER!" Always holler timber so people know a tree is being felled!
I learned how to cut down trees, haul fire wood, split logs, stack firewood, and season firewood. A good wood pile is crucial if you rely on wood heat during Maine’s forever winter. Food could only be from scratch. The home we built was lit with kerosene lamps and we hauled water from a spring.
Through the seasons, I learned the importance of shelter, water, and food. You should always have provisions on-hand in case of being snowed in or an emergency. Contingency plans are always required.
Ye Must Have Skills
It was ingrained that ye must have skills. Many skills. Hone your skills. You must work hard. It must be functional and aesthetically pleasing. No excuses for crappy work. There were no boundaries to the skills I could or should acquire based on gender, formal education or training.
As it often happens in life, the journey takes bends and turns.
I spent some time in a small village in India after I graduated from high school. Slow food was the only way. Slow down, because getting there faster is overrated. The train will be late. The bus will be late. It will take longer than you think. Relax.
I love a challenge, so I moved to Iowa. My days were filled with weaving rugs and cracking black walnuts. I made soaps, candles, and magical healing potions. I studied holistic healing and wildcrafted plants to add to my concoctions. Vegetables in the root cellar guaranteed homegrown meals throughout the winter. Milking the goats, making cheese, grinding grain for bread, canning the harvest, and fermenting vegetables were about putting food on the table. Sadly, the floods of 1993 devastated farmers and farms. It was clear to me that conventional farming practices had (and still have) some significant shortcomings. Farming should be holistic and diverse. In fact, everything should be holistic and diverse.
I moved to California after the floods. City life was foreign, but I slowly adapted. I tossed aside the Birkenstocks that I had resoled with an old tire, utility knife, and barge cement. Then I headed down the corporate road. The road was lined with biotechs and pharmaceutical companies.
As the years passed, I didn't ask many life questions, although interviews brought many quizzical looks, when I responded to the question: "Tell me about yourself."
107 The Garden
2008 dropped a stack of life questions at my doorstep. It was time for some changes. One of the changes was to transform our barren backyard into an edible garden. We started small. How small? Only 4' x 8' or so at a time.
One day, I declared the garden complete. Complete meaning all the land was under cultivation. Of course, a garden is never complete. Along the way, I left my corporate job and bought a new pair of Birkenstocks. I accepted the mission of homesteader: fixing, making, doing. If it needs to be done at 107 Garden, then tag, I'm it most of the time. On May 3rd, 2013, our homestead was officially named 107 Garden.
What about Permaculture Velocity? During the Permaculture Voices conference in March 2015, we hosted a popup community for conference attendees. We had conversations about how to spread the good word of permaculture. We chatted about the challenges and strategies for success. We questioned how to spread the transformational design-centric approach to systems faster and further.
I nearly always have a plan, but I didn't when I purchased permaculturevelocity.com the next day.
A couple of weeks later, friends, Raleigh and Stan, were visiting. Stan asked about my composting toilet. Oh, Stan why did you ask that question? I launched into an explanation on the differences between a composting toilet and a dry toilet or humanure toilet. Raleigh commented that I should record videos. The video idea became a podcast idea—something that I could easily and inexpensively record at my desk.
On all of the days I strive to inspire people to grab-a-hold of their lives and make changes that are meaningful and holistic. Start small and simple. Do it now!
So, that’s why I'm here chatting with you. Hopefully inspiring you to do wonderful things on your homestead.
I can’t stress enough that I do not do all of this alone!
Husband Dale helps me realize my plans in 3D while thwarting my master plan to take him back to the dark ages. "Dale, explain to me why we can’t head for the hills and live off grid?" Dale must be vigilant to keep things in-check while I spend the nights researching and cooking up ideas. Daughter Nia peeks over my shoulder to correct my errors and keep me on course, when she's not traveling. Plus, there's my tribe of friends who love, help, and support me.
Tennessee Homestead & Dreaming
Sometimes we get caught up.
The years fly by and we wonder what happened to the things we wanted to do. The places that we wanted to go. The people we wanted to meet. You know, the dreams included on resolution lists and bucket lists. The dreams for after the children were all grown up. The dreams for after some point in time that seems to always be off in the distance and just after.
Let's live the dream. Do the dream.
I hope that by sharing our journey, it helps you to live the dream! Living the dream is why we moved to Tennessee in August 2016. It is never too late to live the dream!