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Clarity Amidst Chaos

Jess is a homesteading mama and photographer. She, her husband and three children live on three acres nestled atop a mountain in Washington with her husband and three children. Their small farm includes chickens, babydoll Southdown sheep, Holland Lop bunnies and gardens. She most enjoys artfully photographing life on their homestead.

If last November, you’d told me my family would move to 3 acres of land, live in a cedar cabin, own 15 animals, be building a garden bigger than my old backyard, all while homeschooling all three of my kids, I’d have told you you’re crazy. But here we are.


For years, my husband and I had everything that, on paper, should make us happy. Three loving children, dream jobs, a new construction cookie cutter house in a desirable neighborhood in the suburbs of Seattle and a brand-new fancy elementary school for our kids. We had disposable income to send our children off to all the activities our schedule could hold. But between parkour and gymnastics, swim classes and lacrosse games, football practices and organized playdates, trips abroad, and more photography sessions than I could count, something was missing. It took a few years, but we finally figured it out. While the last decade held countless blessings for our family for which we are forever grateful, we needed space. We needed fresh air to breath, trees to climb, and animals to love. And most importantly, perhaps, we needed to simplify our lives.


In December 2019, we took the leap. After nearly three years of scouring every real estate website known to man and visiting countless homes for sale, a home popped up on the market that spoke to us in a way no other home ever had. It was nestled atop a hilltop on just under three acres and spoke to us in a way no other home ever had. It would be our very own woodland wonderland. A place to set down roots with land for a small farm and the garden dreams are made of. The house, on the other hand, was an outdated cedar cabin with an intimidating list of expensive improvements. But we were longing for something different. Something that invited you in to stay a while. Something cozy. And we were ready for the challenge. And, so, we did it. We took the leap without reservations. A couple weeks later, we owned the big cedar cabin tucked back off the beaten path and a new chapter turned. A place we immediately felt connected to. A place to grow old. A place to raise children in a more organic way, connected to nature. It was an adventure! One of many 2020 would hold.


Renovations to our home and building our farm began immediately after closing. As with any renovation, it was not without its setbacks. Snowstorms, a landslide damaging our sole-access road, and, of course, the pandemic, meant that materials were harder to obtain, and projects had to be reprioritized. We gave ourselves grace and pushed ahead, one project at a time. We didn’t always know what we were doing, but we believed in our own abilities and our drive and the power of our little family. This new adventure gave us focus and a profound sense of purpose in a very uncertain time in American history. It gave our children room to run and play freely without the heaviness of the pandemic and news coverage. It gave my husband and I time to design, build, and create together. It gave us shelter from the chaos.

We let go of all the commitments. All the classes and practices and playdates. And just leaned into this new way of life.  We chose to pave a slower, more intentional, more forgiving, more patient path than we’d ever ventured before. Our children embraced our new home and land and lifestyle with open arms, and we felt it imperative to involve them every step of the way. They helped build our chicken coop, make barn doors, chop wood, raise chicks and are responsible for much of the daily care and feedings of all the animals. They clean each animal enclosure with us every week and are front and center caring for an injured animal or providing preventative care. And of course, they give the animals more love and attention than either of us could have ever imagined (and probably a bit more than even the animals prefer!)


Our cabin was in desperate in need of attention, but it had good bones. In fact, my oldest son once told me that it was as if our home hugged us each time we walked through her modest front door. And so, our homesteading journey began.



I share this small bit of my family’s story in hopes it will inspire you to listen to that little voice inside you. To reflect on what is most important in your life and to follow your homesteading dreams, big and small. To take the leap when your heart is pulling you in a different direction.  And to be okay with the fact that not everyone will understand your decisions. We had never lived on a farm or had any type of farming background. We have never owned livestock. We had never owned acreage or lived in a rural area with well water and septic plumbing. But we believed in each other and in a better and more simplified way of life. Even amidst several setbacks, (storms, road damage, pandemic, state shutdown, schools closing, the list goes on) we embraced our new adventure which has already repaid us time and time again. 2020 was a year of challenges, uncertainty and change for many of us. But it was also a year of clarity and growth. The fibers that weave our family unit together are stronger this year than they’ve ever been. And we thank this land for it.


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