“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”
– George Bernard Shaw
The Stryker Homestead is our dream of carving out a little niche in Western New York with what spare time we can find and sharing all that can be produced on 14 acres of land. We hope to allow friends, family, and guests to bring nature’s bounty into their homes throughout the year.
For starters, we’re partnering with local stores and small shops to display and sell our woodworking products. And we hope to have the vegetable stand ready for Summer 2018. Beyond that, we haven’t settled on exactly how we are going to do all of this, but we are willing to give pretty much anything a try and let our visitors help us decide what to keep doing.
All of these experiences are going to teach us a lot about ourselves, help us raise our boys, and develop valuable skills like gardening, tending the woods, raising animals, bringing the charm back to an 1850’s farmhouse, and trying to make our homestead a business. Yes, I wrote experiences because I know full well we are going to make a few, okay, a lot of mistakes in this endeavor!
Keeping you up to date in biweekly blog posts, I will share what’s happening on the homestead, changes we’re making, and mistakes we couldn’t avoid so that you can learn from them as well as weigh in on some changes you would like to see. We can’t buy up all the land around us, invite you to become our neighbors, and start the tight-knit community that we would love to see, but we can do our best to create that feeling online.
14 Acres, a House in Need of Major Renovations, and a Dream
We moved from the suburbs to the country for a multitude of reasons, but one of the most important reasons was that we were getting ready to start a family and we had dreams of doing that with large areas for the kids to play and, of course, adding some pets to our family!
Our townhouse was great in our early careers, where Becky was working two jobs and I was spending upwards of 50 hours a week at mine. The lawn was mowed by someone else, the driveway was plowed by someone else, and even the landscaping was tended by someone else. We had the benefit of coming home to a well maintained home and only having to clean the inside when surprise company was coming over, but having a stranger do everything around the house made us feel like no one was really “living” there at all.
This worked for probably five years while we focused on our careers and paid down our student loans, but it became apparent how restless I was becoming when I pulled out my chainsaw one Saturday morning to trim a tree limb that was not much thicker than our son’s jumbo crayons.
That restlessness got worse when we started discussing having children. We only had two bedrooms, and my parents had purchased property in North Carolina to build their dream house. I love my parents, and they love their grandsons, but I could not see them visiting much if they had to sleep in a nursery or on the couch when they came! It was time to find a true homestead to start the Stryker family.
One of the reasons we were able to purchase the house and land for a great price is because of the amount of work, time, and money that will need to go into it, but the great thing about this is we are going to be able to make not only the land, but the house our own!
This is going to be an adventure!
No, I don’t really know what I’m doing, but that’s not going to stop me from trying! In all the crazy things I do, I am often asked, “How did you learn to do that?” or even better, “Do you know what you’re doing?” To quote a good friend who I often bounce ideas off, “It really depends.” I can tell you that I had the blessing to be raised by two wonderful parents who not only did almost everything around the house themselves, but also encouraged me to join in and get my hands dirty.
With any dream, you do your best to research how others are doing what you want to do, or you spend hours watching YouTube videos, the whole time psyching yourself up to make your own attempt. And I am going to return the favor, sharing every project, improvement, or new item we are trying to make on the Homestead. This will include the resources we used to complete it, the plans we started with, and the thoughts behind why we did it . . . though I will leave out the number of times we had to run back to the hardware store to get additional parts. I also plan on sharing the times when we are completely flying by the seat of our pants, in hopes that it gives you the courage to try something new as well!
We have spent the last year refining the mission and vision of The Stryker Homestead, and we have answered a lot a great questions about buying our land, taking on a “fixer-upper,” and even trying to figure out a way to share it with everyone. All of these questions and subsequent answers have made us realize just how much we want to create a community both in our area and online.
Our hope is that the Homestead becomes a place where people visit and leave not only with skills to use in their daily life, but with the energy to give something new a try. For those of you who can’t visit us in person, we hope you’ll use the blog and website to ask your questions (and yes, leave some suggestions because we know we’ll need them!) and come along on our journey to create a homestead that is functional, fun, and educational for both our family and yours.
I would write more, but remember that little spare time I was talking about? I’ve just been informed that we have a goat on the loose, and she’s headed toward the garden . . .