Perhaps I was born in the wrong place, at the wrong time. See, I was born into ssuburbia, only to move later as a teenager to a small town with two stoplights and six taverns, then off to the hustle and bustle of university life. My dream was to ”go west” and I did. All the way to Portland and up to Seattle for a handful of years.
Yet, something was missing. I was unsettled, anxious and worn down with being a good consumer. Two cars, three jobs and credit cards were ruining my life. It was not the dream I had imagined for myself, so when the chance arrived to move to Europe, there was only one thing to do. Take it.
On a short vacation to Hungary with my husband and relying on spontaneity with a touch of adventure, we bought a magazine with farms for sale. We circled close to ten properties in our chosen area near Szeged and set out in a rental car. By the end of the day our hearts were stolen by a 13 acre property with five cob buildings and a pond surrounded by poplars fluttering their leaves. Waiting underneath all the green and lush vegetation was a ton of repairs and garbage piles from the last forty years, but it did not matter, it could all be ours we thought – with pounding hearts and imaginations racing – all for the price of a garage in Seattle!
Sold. The vacation ended and we flew back to the West Coast, arrangements were made to begin our new life. My family thought I was crazy, maybe they still do. Why would anyone want to move to a ”third-world country”, to a farm without running water where you heat with wood and grow your own food? I have found my place here, not in the Hungarian culture per se, but on our cozy homestead where the grass grows more than a meter high, where sour cherries and plums fill our canning jars, where fresh zucchinis become pickles that feed volunteers and where our twenty-one month old daughter grazes organic green onions in the garden.
Don’t try to understand all of this, it takes time. A sense of being does not become visible overnight, nor does developing a sense of place. Here we eat our weeds that grow alongside our vegetables – goosefoot, burdock, nettle, chickweed and purslane. We heal and nourish ourselves from the trees that grow on our land – elderflower, locust, walnut and mulberry. Birds have been raised here from guinea fowl to ducks to turkeys, we have brought up four-legged creatures from the infamous mangalica pig to goats that will eat unbelievable things. At the moment we have two Puli shepherd dogs without a single sheep to chase and a pasture large enough for at least fifteen wool wearing Racka to graze. Simplicity is around us, balance is yet to be found.
Leaving a consumer behavior behind has been uplifting and rewarding in so many ways. You come to understand how much is enough and learn to appreciate the smallest garlic clove of the bunch – it may be the most flavorful one. Life is more than the memories of your past, it is about the present and your dreams for the future.
Both my husband and I are educated with university degrees, yet this is the life we choose. We choose to be closer to nature in all aspects of the meaning. We found this homestead of ours together and we are growing into it, becoming part of it. Expanding our minds in the calm of light breezes that make the red poppies dance and as the smoke from the chimney floods the field with a grey haze before dusk, we are thinking that yes, we have it good living here.
My life is a simple one. I cook three meals a day, bake our own bread, knit socks and sweaters, spin my own yarn, sew by hand, grow fruits and vegetables in the garden, watch the grass grow and get to experience all of these wonders through the eyes of our toddler. Through it all I have time to reflect, photograph, write and enjoy every moment of life.
To experience our family’s unconventional homesteading journey to a simple and sustainable life, we invite you to read more on our blog www.handcraftedtravellers.com or follow us on Facebook ( http://www.facebook.com/Handcraftedtravellers) where we share more pictures of our lives here in Hungary from our humble organic farm we call Echo Tanya. We also have until the end of June 2012 to raise funds to expand our homestead to be able to offer retreats and more courses. Please take a look to see how you could help and become a part of it at: http://www.indiegogo.com/revolutionizing-sustainable-travel?a=654546&i=emal