threadTALK Blog Series 25: Thoughts of an Off-Grid Homesteader with Teri Page
December 28, 20205 min read
There's so much fulfillment that comes from growing and harvesting your own vegetables to building your shelter with your own hands. This month, we had the pleasure of interviewing entrepreneur and off-grid homesteader Teri Page. With over two decades of experience, Teri and her husband Brian worked hard to build a homestead from scratch not once but twice. Read more to find out about Teri's journey and all that she hopes to accomplish with her homesteading lifestyle.
Q Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do!
A Hello! I’m Teri Page. I’m a multi-passionate entrepreneur, author, blogger, off-grid homesteader, life and business coach, dancer, musical theater performer, yoga instructor, wife, and mom of two!
After two cross-country moves (OR > MO and MO > VT), my family recently settled on a piece of land in Central Vermont, where we are building an off the grid homestead (our second time starting a homestead from scratch, actually!). We’re currently living in a 25’ yurt while we plan and build our home.
The off grid lifestyle gives me plenty to write about on my website, Homestead Honey. I’ve also written several books on homesteading including Family Homesteading and Creating Your Off-Grid Homestead.
I also dance and perform as much as I’m able; my last two performances were in a production of The Nutcracker and in the musical Cabaret!
Q What is homesteading and what does it mean to you?
A Homesteading has a historical context - the 1862 Homestead Act gave some Americans the opportunity to “claim” a 160 acre parcel of land in exchange for settling and developing the land. Modern-day homesteading takes place in city apartments, suburban backyards, and on rural acreage. It encompasses a wide range of “self-sufficient” activities such as gardening, raising animals, preserving food, foraging for food, craft such as candle, soap, and basket making, etc.
The beauty of homesteading is that you can dive into an area that is personally meaningful and run with it. I came into homesteading from a sustainability angle, and many of our family’s choices reflect this, from powering our home with solar panels to raising as much of our own food as we’re able.
I am passionate about the homesteading lifestyle because it just makes sense to me. It feels incredible to grow a garden, to cook a dish that you just harvested minutes ago, to walk in the woods and tap maple trees for syrup, to care for animals that provide us with meat, milk, or eggs, to build a shelter with our own hands. And homesteading has given me a community of friends, near and far, and a satisfying career!
Q What would you say are common misconceptions of homesteading and how would you respond to them?
A I think many people associate homesteading with large, rural pieces of land and a relatively austere lifestyle (think Little House on the Prairie). Twenty something years ago, when I first started homesteading, I was definitely a bit of an oddity in some circles. Nowadays, having chickens in your backyard, a few pots of herbs or veggies on your city balcony, or learning how to make your own jam, herbal remedies, or candles is quite common!
I also get quite a few questions about what it means to live “off-grid.” Again, this can vary significantly from person to person, but many off grid homesteads function much like regular homes. Our off grid yurt has internet, a fridge, and other appliances. They are just powered by our solar panels! True, we do need to pay a lot more attention to our energy consumption, but I enjoy this aspect of off grid life, as it forces me to pay attention to things like day length and weather (cloudy days are hard when you power with the sun!).
Q What has been the biggest struggle or challenge you have faced living a homestead lifestyle and how did you overcome it?
A The biggest challenge I've faced while homesteading is starting over again and again. We have made two major cross country moves, and both times we purchased a piece of raw land and built a homestead from scratch! While some aspects of homesteading are easier to jump right into, the off grid homesteading lifestyle can take years to acquire skills, infrastructure, equipment, and know how. When we arrived in Missouri, we had over a decade of homesteading experience, so it might have been easy to jump right into raising animals and growing food... except that we had no garden, fencing, fruit trees, or barns! Moving to Vermont and starting over again, we're facing similar challenges.
We overcome this challenge through lots and lots of hard work, and an endlessly optimistic vision. I am very fortunate to be married to a skilled builder, so he makes the infrastructure happen. I'm a skilled gardener, so I head up the food production on our homestead. Our kids support us where they are able, and together we create a vision for the homestead we want, and we get to work creating it. Because we have 20+ years of experience behind us, we're able to move quickly. Since beginning work on our off grid homestead in Vermont six months ago, we have created garden spaces, planted blueberries, raspberries, herbs, and flowers, have installed our solar electric system, had a well drilled, and put up a beautiful 25 foot yurt! This summer we will plant a dozen or so fruit trees, double our garden space, and begin work on our house.
Q What is one main goal you hope to accomplish while homesteading?
A I don't know that I have a single goal that I want to accomplish, but more of a well-rounded vision of what I hope to create. I dream of our future home and gardens. I imagine sitting by the woodstove, basking in natural light from our south facing sunroom, growing seedlings for the garden season ahead. I picture my family and friends strolling through our orchard nibbling on sun-ripened blueberries and plums. I can taste the meals that we will make from the vegetables that will grow in the beautiful rich soil that we have nourished over the years. I imagine the sauna and wood-fired pizza ovens that will act as community gathering spaces. I dream of the women's yoga and homesteading retreats that I will lead in our solar powered yurt. It is these dreams that keep me going, even when the day to day work is very hard!
Q Lastly if you were to give a title to your life story, what would it be and why?
AI would call it "Just Crazy Enough" because I often wonder why we've made some of the crazy decisions that we've made, but making those decisions has allowed us to live into the vision of who we want to be and how we want to live! At the same time, I'm an extremely pragmatic person, so I often straddle a fine line between coming up with grand schemes and working out the details on how we're possibly going to afford them and make them happen!