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Death on the Homestead and a Cold Heart

Death on the homestead was not expected.  I just continue with my work as if it doesn’t matter that we missed the number one priority in setting up this homestead.

If you think starting a homestead is a walk in the park, then I would like to trade places with you.   There seems to be a lot of rules, but death and rules are not the real problem on this homestead. Fear is.

Therein lies fifty percent of my problem.  I am afraid.  The other fifty percent will be discussed later, as I pursue a riddle that was told to me many years ago.

Weeds are so bad that none of us can see which plants are good and which ones are bad. As if that is not enough to contend with, the Tennessee bee inspector will be here today.  There is one more thing to deal with, and that brings us to the reality that there is more to homesteading than just setting it up and living our lives happily ever after.

It was supposed to be a typical estate sale where everything we knew about estate sales could be applied. Though we knew it would take longer than our typical two weeks to complete, we certainly didn’t plan for it to be this difficult, this time consuming, or this expensive.

When you think about it — I mean really think about it — we are getting exactly what we prayed for. I’ll clarify that a bit, for the sake of Wesley, who had different plans and those plans did not include a homestead.

I am getting what I prayed for and Wesley seems to be along for the ride. After all, he’s a city slicker but in my defense, this is in the city! Technically, Wesley can have his cake and I can eat it, too. The problem is, Secret Haven is not our property and it’s not our cake to eat.

I take it back when I said we are getting exactly what we prayed for. Someone else will be receiving what we prayed for, except I don’t remember asking YHWH for ducks, or chickens. I do, however, remember asking Him for a chicken farmer whom we can buy eggs from. Thirty dozen is my estimation of how many eggs it will take to manage the food co-op subscribers as well as the bakery.

Negative thinking or just being realistic?

As I weed out the large yard of my uncle’s estate, I am constantly arguing with negative thoughts in my head. “It’s not your property.”  I speak as though I have no faith to get past the strongholds that prevent me from admitting I am not working on my true passion. I am working on a job that was supposed to be the vehicle to pay for my true passion.

I want the coffee house on a homestead with a market garden. There, I said it. I said what is in my heart, but as I look out over this field of weeds, I struggle with knowing my place in this world.

“Who will buy your produce?”

It’s difficult to be looking at my true dream, and fighting the thoughts in my head that tell me I don’t have a right to be walking through the dream.  Why? Because of the long journey which makes it appear as thought YHWH’s hand is against us. That’s why.

Not to mention, I can’t relate to people who can dream up something and have the money to complete the project right away.  It has been nine years so far to get things in place for my dream and I don’t have a clue how much time is left before I can honestly say I belong on a homestead.

I also don’t have the money to live in my dream unless I take out a bank loan. That in itself will bring about instant satisfaction, but that’s not the path I want to be on. It’s easier to tell myself that I am just here at Secret Haven to get this property ready for someone else. That way, if we don’t get the property then I can reason it away by saying it wasn’t YHWH’s will.  That’s the easy way out.

The road less traveled, way out is to have faith and say it is not a coincidence to be called to liquidate an estate that just so happens to have fruit trees, grape vines, nut trees, and other things that are on my planning sheets that YHWH knows I have designed out.  I lack faith.  I lack trust.  My heart is ruled by fear at this time in my life.

Can we be on a path that we choose, and then YHWH knocks us off that path and puts us in totally unfamiliar territory?  If someone told me ten years ago that I would desire to grow crops for people, I would have gone the opposite direction.  I had my path all planned out and I was dead set against changing it.

Market gardening is very unfamiliar to me, yet, my heart desires it.  I long for the coffee house to be opened again, but the blank white sign at the road is a constant reminder that perhaps it was never the will of YHWH to allow us to be there.

Something is dead and we were its caretaker.

Back at Secret Haven, reality is making us face the tasks Wesley and I took on.  No one else is here to take care of these animals and I don’t know what I’m doing. I saw the egg floating in the pond and I scooped it out as quickly as I could. The duck is dead.

Did I arrive at work today and it was living, but because I didn’t check on the animals first, I failed to see something was in distress? I wonder if it’s my fault that the baby ducks died. Was I supposed to leave them in the nest, or remove them and care for them in an incubator?

Why were the weeds more important than the care of the animals? Fear. That’s why.

I am afraid of what people say, and who they will call to start trouble, and what the rules are and right now, the weeds are screaming out, “If you don’t whack us down then code enforcement will be here again.” It bothers me how calloused I was when I found the duckling. It was more like a comical act of “who done it” and I know I am disconnected from the reality of being on a homestead.

To me, it’s a job and my role in this is to get the property ready to sell. I should have gathered the duck eggs like I was gathering chicken eggs but that thought didn’t cross my mind.

I want to keep the rabbits alive. My gardening mind says that the rabbits will be good for their manure because I can use the manure to create bokashi. I like to say the word ‘bokashi’ because it justifies why Wesley and I took on the role of being a caregiver to so many rabbits. Never heard of that word before but I needed to figure out how to incorporate rabbit manure into gardening.

I looked up what to do with manure and that bokashi word came up in the search results.  That’s it!  The rabbits will earn their keep by giving me a key ingredient in bokashi.  The bokashi will be used to make more compost directly in the growing beds, since the coffee house is on a city lot and we want a manicured permaculture look.  Everything nice and tidy and no compost heaps.  It’s a process.  Right now, the coffee house lawn is being set up and it doesn’t looked manicured at all.

There is no way I want to keep the rabbits for food. That isn’t the kind of homesteader I want to be. I have to figure out how each element of homesteading fits with each other, because we are running out of money to take care of this property. Animals eat and food costs money. If this property becomes ours then perhaps the rabbits are just a puzzle piece to complete the picture I wish was already finished.

Death on the homestead makes my heart numb.

The ducklings didn’t even get a taste of life, but what kind of life would I have been able to offer? A homestead in the city has a lot of rules to follow and one more duck would have been one more complaint against this property anyway.

Is this estate sale just a stepping stone for us to return to Tennessee or is it a corner stone to build our dream? I wish there was someone to tell me what happens next because I’m having a difficult time talking to YHWH about it. All I have to go by is the past, and it looks a lot like my present day. I seem to have a knack for creating projects that someone else wants, and I am on the outside looking in at someone else walking away with my hard work and dreams.

Regardless of the reason we are on this property there is still a responsibility to get the estate done. There is also a responsibility to be in compliance with weed ordinances. Our client is in trouble and our job now is to get him out of trouble. Dreams aside, the weeds have to be conquered and my dream can wait.

Carrot Spice Cake

We are also the caretakers of bees.

The bees are another stressful situation because I don’t want them to be sold in the estate sale. What if this property is not a stepping stone, but instead, a corner stone? The crops need to be pollinated and we will need the bees. But there I go again, dreaming instead of pulling weeds. The State of Tennessee does not allow bees to be moved without a certificate of health.

Once that is done, then the certificate can be copied as many times as needed and the buyers of the bees will each get a copy of the health certificate. Today is the day we will have the bees inspected but I’m going to be selfish. I want the bees and this property. I also want a market garden and I can’t get the dream out of my heart.

What’s wrong with getting a bank loan in order to make a dream become a reality? Land, fruit trees, nuts, berries, chickens, ducks, bees, rabbits, ponds — what’s not to like? Reality brings me back to earth. Wesley and I are spending the rest of our money in order to clean up this property and take care of these animals. I had no idea that the money we saved up to get an RV would be used to take care of a homestead that isn’t ours.   We needed the RV in order to stay in Maryland to work.

Our trip to Tennessee is a challenge, and we are not willing to quit. If we do, we will never know what could have been. It is worth it to us to risk every penny we have in the hopes that this property is our corner stone and not a stepping stone.

Who will buy our produce? We will, or rather, we will buy the seeds and have the nutrition we can’t afford unless we grow it ourselves.  In a sense, we are risking the loss of the coffee house property by assuming Secret Haven will be the bridge to make the coffee house a success. In the end, we could have made the wrong choice and the coffee house property will be sold by the property owner. My journey can easily be summed up in one sentence. I walk in fear instead of faith.


  • Learn about duck behavior when it comes to their eggs, and what to do with the eggs.
  • Create a list of ordinances the property is violating and come up with solutions.
  • Make a bee binder for each hive.
  • Create a “recipe” for bokashi


  • Inspect the animals and their shelters daily.  Make sure they are okay.
  • Fresh water
  • Food – Obviously, if this were our homestead then our own food would be very important. Other food requirements so far include:
    • Rabbit pellets
    • Chicken feed
    • Oyster shells for the chickens
    • Duck feed
    • Mixed grass
  • Shelter – The house already exists but it isn’t our shelter. The animals have temporary shelter but the city wants a permitted chicken coop.
  • Safety – We failed to keep the baby ducks safe and they died. Our own safety is also a consideration.
  • Compliance with laws.
  • Tools – We are working with what we have available. Just simple hand tools (shovel, garden rake, machete, hoe, and a chainsaw) Also useful is a weed eater, lawnmower and trailer.



The city wants to bush hog the lot down to the ground. We are weeding everything by hand in order to save whatever food plants are here. Should this property become a market garden, the crops will be valuable. In order to be in compliance with city laws, the gardens will then have to be cultivated so they don’t fall under the category of nuisance weeds.


Bee inspector coming today because bees in Tennessee can not be moved without a certificate of health. It is important to learn how to take of the bees.


  • Mama Waddles in the pond, but unusual because she is normally laying on eggs.
  • Would a male duck kill a baby duck if they can tell the baby is a male?
  • It is important to understand how to care for animals. If this was our homestead, we would not have any of the animals. That doesn’t excuse us for not knowing how to care for duck eggs.


Estate liquidation will continue to be our main means of income until our homestead dream can sustain us. Continuing in our discussion of processes, we are working on the initial clean up stage. In order, our processes thus far include:

Typical Processes:

  • Business Management
  • Marketing

Estate Sale Processes:

  • Contracting
  • Initial Cleaning


We are still in the process of identifying the plants on the Secret Haven property. One specific plant, which I can’t wait to remove all, are stain berries, or more specific pokeweed and pokeberries. The berries are used in making dye, however, because of the poisonous nature of pokeweed, City Homestead will get rid of this plant from the property. For more information about poisonous pokeberries, please visit Pokeberries and Grapes Look Alike


Concerning our tasks to clean up this property, we need to keep the Declaration of nuisance city ordinance in mind. Knoxville allows cultivated gardens; however, we need to keep the gardens maintained in order to prevent overgrowth and complaints. The property owner was not able to cultivate the gardens any more because of his age. This is why the city got involved, in addition to the fact that a farm was within city limits and it was not permitted. Knoxville weed ordinance can be found here in Section 13-142, , and at the time of this blog post, reads:

Sec. 13-142. – Declaration of nuisance. The existence within the corporate limits of the city of lots and parcels of land overgrown with trees, vines, grass, weeds and underbrush or burdened with accumulations of debris, trash, litter, garbage, refuse or other materials or any combination of such elements is hereby declared to be a nuisance. (Ord. No. O-451-00, § 1, 10-3-00; Ord. No. O-188-2010, § 1, 12-28-10) Sec. 13-143. – Permitting accumulation of refuse, rank vegetation, etc. (a) It shall be unlawful for any person owning, leasing, occupying or having control of property in the city to permit of suffer trees, vines, grass, weeds, underbrush or any other vegetation to grow or debris, trash, litter, garbage, refuse or other materials or any combination of such elements to accumulate on such property to such an extent that a nuisance is created injurious to the health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants of the city, or that infestation by rats or other harmful animals is encouraged. Vines, grass, weeds, underbrush or vegetation which has attained a height of twelve (12) inches or more shall be presumed to be detrimental to the public health and a public nuisance, which presumption may be rebutted by competent evidence. (b) It shall also be unlawful for any owner, occupant, lessee or anyone having supervision or control of any lot, tract, parcel of land or portion thereof, occupied or unoccupied, improved or unimproved, within the city to suffer or permit trees, vines, grass, weeds or any plant that is not cultivated to grow in rank profusion or otherwise in, along, upon or across the sidewalk or street adjacent to the premises in the area between the property line and the curb line, or within the area ten (10) feet beyond the property line, to a height greater than twelve (12) inches on an average. (Ord. No. O-451-00, § 1, 10-3-00; Ord. No. O-188-2010, § 2, 12-28-10)

Death on the homestead

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