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New Chapter – Learning homesteading by walking through it


Only 6 chickens are allowed and it is illegal to have them without a permit. The police are leaving notices but we have never taken on an estate sale like this before. Still, we are determined to turn this estate sale into a beautiful project with a happy ending. We came back to Tennessee to stay, but now what?


Learn homesteading by walking through itIt’s more than a new chapter for us.  There are critical and urgent matters to figure out how to solve. What to do with 19 chickens, 4 turkeys, 9 ducks, 15 bee hives, two koi ponds and a lot of rabbits all on a city lot, is what we have to solve!

I was slowly losing sight of Tennessee as my home. We would normally be living in a reddish brick home in Clinton, Tennessee but we are never there.

Working in Maryland, staging houses for others, is how we were making money, but that didn’t help our company in Tennessee. All it did was give us a relatively steady income.

I wasn’t where I wanted to be and neither was Wesley. We had given up hope of having a company in Tennessee and we grew more and more comfortable knowing more people in Maryland than we do at home. I suppose I even found myself comparing Wawa to Git-n-go, and wondering which gas station was better. Wawa has hazelnut coffee and so they won my approval, but Git-n-go is in Tennessee and it should have been my preference by default.

I even stopped asking YHWH to let us go home and stay there. It didn’t matter any more. One house, done. Two houses, done. Three houses, done.

You lose count how many houses you have been in and staged. They all start looking alike and stuff is just stuff.

Four houses, done.

I stopped longing for Tennessee in 2016 and gave up. This is my lot in life.  Five houses, done. But not at home. Though, I love staging, and were it not for that, I wouldn’t have been able to go as long as I did in Maryland. We even started looking for a small lot in Maryland to park an RV on.

Our Little Homestead was put on hold, again and again, because we have to travel for work. We do estate liquidation for our income and have been gone from Tennessee for several months at a time since 2009.

No time to homestead

Our last Tennessee estate was in 2014, so in order to keep working, we traveled and worked as contractors staging other liquidator’s estates. Even though they were great customers that kept us working, it was not our own estates. Our own business domain, estatefreedom.com, just sat there in the World Wide Web, going nowhere.

We couldn’t list all of the estates we worked on, in order to show what we had been doing from 2009 to the present day.  They were not our estates.  Estate Freedom was making money contracting for others, but without the executor’s contract, this work could not be listed on our site.  We were just contracting for a few customers who wanted our help.

So, that left our own site looking like we fell off the face of the earth. Yes, like Our Little Homestead and Our Little Coffee House.

That is why my heart stopped longing for Tennessee, because I was gone for so long that I gave up the thought of home. I have stayed in countless homes, working out of our vehicle and living out of a suitcase. Home was in the back of my mind but fading fast. Life on the road was my reality.

Whenever I planted a garden, I had to leave on a long trip to clean, stage and process many homes. My own homestead was put on a back burner, to the point where I never got a chance to plant fruit trees. I have years of plans, but only dreaming is my reality.

Blueberry-HackedI planted berries, and they were the only thing that still remained until I returned home in August. It was then I learned my blueberries had been chopped down and my homestead was overwhelmed with weeds that were taller than me.

Neither Wesley, nor I wanted to go the animal route for a homestead. It’s the fruits and vegetables we wanted so we could grow produce for the coffee house and market garden.

Is market gardening a real homestead?

We didn’t want a traditional homestead. We wanted a market garden homestead so we could have a steady supply of produce for Our Little Coffee House. I gave up on the coffee house dream a long time ago when our only income source was coming from Maryland. I just don’t have the heart to take the Web site down, nor take down the blank white road sign on Charles G. Seivers Blvd.

Perhaps it will come about that we can have the coffee house again.

I prayed for fruit trees, berries and honey bees, but it never happened. I created so many plans, checklists, to do lists and set up project files for everything I thought I would get to do.

I tried growing greens in my shade garden but the only thing I could take to market were flowers, kale, herbs and chard.  Hardly enough to make a business out of.

One customer

He believed in our vision, but I didn’t. At least, I didn’t when I realized how my entrepreneur heart was failing me.

Our only customer was the lawyer next door to Our Little Homestead, a.k.a. Our Little Coffee House, that used to be. Now, it is just an eye sore because we are always gone. I longed to take the lawyer fresh baked bread, honey, flowers, baskets of produce and cottage foods.

He got flowers, sporadic veggies, and a nasty watermelon, but we didn’t know it was nasty until I asked him for feedback. I like honesty. We can’t make changes if we don’t know how we’re doing in the eyes of others. That watermelon looked ripe to me!

No bread. No cottage foods. Nothing but weekly flowers until we got on the road again to earn a living.

Wesley and I had no choice but to abandon the city homestead and travel to make a living. No bee hives were set up. No fruit trees were planted. The blackberries and raspberries died in their pots. The tree collards would have to try to survive on their own.

All the little seedlings would soon learn their fate. They would die before they grew beyond their start up trays.

We were gone for three months this time.

One step forward two step back

We weren’t planning to travel for work ever again. With eagerness, I planted what little bit of the raspberries I had that survived the last trip we made, leaving them neglected. The remaining blueberry bush had been happily growing for three years, and it was loaded with green berries. This would be the last year they were left to the birds. Next year, 2018, I would begin harvesting them.

The cottage gardens were doing great and the annual flowers were coming back on their own from the previous year’s seeds that got dropped.

We got a call to get back on the road, so we paid for a gardener to take care of the property while we were gone.

“You have to see what’s happening!” came the desperate voice of my mother, Mommy Jean, who could see what I could not. She claimed the yard was a disaster.

“How can that be?” I’m thinking there must be a mistake because I was getting pictures sent to me, but little did I know the pictures were not a true representation of the work I was paying for.

We made the drive home to discuss the potential estate sale in Knoxville, and to look at the yard.

I was sickened by what I saw when I pulled into my driveway. We had been sending home hundreds of dollars for someone to take care of our yard and what few veggie gardens we had left; but we came back to weeds. My blueberry bush was chopped to the ground and my cottage flowers were pulled up. There is no sign of the raspberry bushes and the only bees I had were not what I asked YHWH for.   Two large yellow jacket nests were thriving.

Our property was in serious code violations, and the cottage gardens could not be saved.

If ever there was a time to quit, it would be now. YHWH, or life itself, dealt me a journey that I have no clue how to escape from and I stopped caring. Even after asking YHWH for work in Tennessee, all I wanted to do was go back to life on the road. It was easier. Forget homesteading. Make a choice, either be an estate liquidator or be a homesteader, because without work in Tennessee, I could not be both.

An estate in Tennessee?

I was in Maryland and got a call to look at an estate in Tennessee. After years of having no estates in my home town, I get this one call. Wesley and I made the trip back to Tennessee to look at the estate but it fell through and it was time to head back to Maryland.

We hired someone to weed eat all the gardens down to the ground. What does it matter to try to save them when all the weeds had gone to seed? The plan was to just keep the gardens down to the ground and keep them mulched. This way, the city would not be after us for having an unkempt yard.

Wesley and I were scheduled to head back to Maryland on the same day the owner of the estate changed his mind. He decided to move out of Tennessee and wanted us to manage his estate for him. He didn’t want us to just hold a normal estate sale for him. There is more to this place than just cleaning, staging, pricing and holding the public sale. A normal sale takes only two weeks to complete, then we are on to the next house.

Not this house! This one is a homesteader’s dream AND an estate liquidator’s dream. Since 2008, Wesley and I have never had the opportunity to mix estate liquidation with homesteading.

Facing fears

We couldn’t return to Maryland and do this estate sale so we made a frightening decision. We gave up our steady income staging homes for other liquidators, and we took this estate just to see if there is a place for us here, where my heart used to be, and where my thoughts are still trying to hang on to Tennessee.

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TO DO LIST

  1. Add all the September and October journal entries.

  2. Member page.

  3. Set up Market Garden section.

  4. Finish adding content to the Action Plan.

  5. Add inspiration photos to the action plan > to schedule

  6. Set up bee binders.