Once upon a time, there was a 46 year old woman, who dreamed of having a place, a piece of land, all her own. It didn’t seem possible for money was scarce, she had no partner and she severely lacked any practical skills. That is… unless you count being able to sing all the songs in Jesus Christ Superstar and Les Miserables by heart.
One day while scrolling through the book of faces, she saw an announcement for just the sort of place she would like, right on the edge of her village. After a moment of longing, she shut the facebook and told herself that such things were out of reach.
The following morning, she bumped into a friend, who happened to make a living buying and selling property. Before our spinster heroine knew what was happening, she was whisked off to view the estate of her dreams. Three short months later, right before the Winter Solstice in the year 2019, her dream came true! This little piece of land was hers and she called it Keeper’s Croft.
So, that’s the fairy tale version of my story. In reality, stress and doubt played a larger role and the fairy tale ended, as is only appropriate, before things got interesting.
I wasn’t lying when I said I had no practical skills. Before buying Keeper’s Croft, I’d never used a riding lawn mower. A drill was my only experience with a power tool. My 10 years of gardening experience had been mostly lackluster in a very shady yard.
The first couple of months, the predominant thought in my head, when I wasn’t silently screaming, was “What the hell have I done?” To be fair, Iowa winters can make you feel that way by simply stepping outside or… existing.
As I write this, 9 months onward, I can’t say that those feelings of doubt have completely disappeared. Being broke and having no real knowledge of how to “do things” myself is not a comfortable place to be. And that is what this blog is about! This is my stumbling, bumbling story of learning self sufficiency at the ripe old age of 40 something. Hopefully, sharing some of the mistakes I make and lessons I learn will help someone who is also dreaming and bumbling.
My name is Stephanie. I’m a wildlife biologist by profession and I work and live in the state of Iowa in the U.S.A. I grew up quite a ways from here but Iowa has been home for almost 15 years. It may not be the most exciting place to visit but it’s a great place to live though I do miss the ocean. And seafood. My ancestors were island dwellers after all (see below).
I’ve never been married, don’t have kids and am pretty strongly introverted. This isn’t my first blog! For 3-4 years I blogged at Don’t be Afraid of the Dork where I mostly wrote about my obsession with stories. I share my hearth with 2 golden retrievers, a ragdoll cat and a rotating cast of foster rabbits.
Keeper’s Croft is a play on the Scottish Gaelic phrase, Croit Ciobaer. Ciobaer is pronounced like “Keeper” and translates as Shepherd, which is my family name. My ancestry is half Scots-Irish, a quarter Irish and a quarter English. Put it all together and it represents this place and time and honors my heritage a little bit as well.
And what’s a Croft? It’s a small rented farm that usually includes some shared pasturage. I am not likely to start keeping sheep but my acreage fits the croft definition by being small and owned mostly by the bank.
This little piece of land is only 2.62 acres, half of which is yard and building sites and half of which is woodland. It’s just outside the city limits, which means I can have chickens but still get to grocery store in under 5 minutes. It’s not much but it’s mine!
My goal is to live more sustainably, provide a decent portion of my own food, and honor nature by creating an environment that is welcoming to wildlife. Welcome to Keeper’s Croft! I’m honored – and a little scared – that you are here!
“The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant, “What good is it?” If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of eons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts? To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”-Aldo Leopold