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Without My Dad, We’d Probably be Living in a Condo

by Victoria Gazeley

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I’m looking out my office window at the foundation of the new addition we’re building onto our little cabin.  Or really, that my Dad is building as I keep working so I can pay for it.  And it’s got me to thinking about where we’d be without his talents, connections and desire to help.

When my son and I moved here to follow my dream of moving back to a rural community and living more self-reliantly, I was in desperate need of a few months (or years) to have the space to do just that without massive financial obligations that would have meant I’d have to work 24/7.  We needed property.  Inexpensive property.  And the designer in me needed it to be reasonably stylish or at least not require a lot of work (and money) to make it liveable in my books.  In this part of the world, those two things don’t come cheap.

After looking at a whole lot of houses in the areas where I thought I wanted to live, I made the (wise) decision to forgo a mortgage and move onto a piece of property our family owns in an area that at the time I didn’t think was ideal, but definitely workable short-term.  I had a lot of big ideas that I honestly thought I’d have the time  and money to implement.  Now I know I was clearly delusional.  Thank God for my dad.

He’s the one who did most of the work restoring our little cabin originally back in 2000.  He’s the one who cleared the property, built the fences, figured out how to disassemble and reassemble the heritage log cabin we now live in, built a sawmill on the adjoining lot, built the relationships we’ve grown to depend on for improvements to the property, and in general, created the space for the perfect little homestead property we’ve been lucky enough to call home since April of 2009.

Now, 3 years later, we’ve got a modernized, restored heritage cabin, a greenhouse, a raised bed veggie garden, a stylin’ chicken house and run, a cleared field where our berry patch currently lives, a beautiful shed/carport/woodshed/kids’ hideout, and now, a brand new addition that will essentially double our living space by this fall.  And he’s had a huge hand in all of it.  But it’s not just the big stuff where we lean on ‘Grandpa’.  He’s one of those rare guys who knows a little bit about all sorts of things, can fix or figure out how to fix just about anything, and has the very handy ‘like’ of being busy all the time!  So now you know who I call when something is broken or I need to borrow a power tool for a repair job.  I can’t even begin to count the little things he’s helped me fix.

I’m an extreme individualist who really wants to be able to say I can do everything on the modern homesteading front myself.  Truth is, I could do a lot of it, with help of course.  But recently I’ve accepted the fact that in order to keep working and building my business and my life, it’s not the best use of my time to be learning how to pour concrete or put a roof on.  Growing food and caring for plants and livestock?  Absolutely.  But there are people who are really good at building and fixing and renovating.  My dad is one of them.

So I think I’ve finally reached a place where I’m comfortable accepting the help, and my Dad’s wisdom, for as long as he’s happy giving it.  Which I think he is (or I hope!).  There’s a certain sense of pride that must come with creating a place like he’s had a huge part in creating here.  I’m sure he loves reading the blog and hearing the wonderful comments you all leave about his handy work. So today, here in print, in front of all of you, I want to thank him:

  • for knowing so much about so many things and so willingly sharing that knowledge with me;
  • for so generously sharing tools, lawnmowers, scythes and the like so I don’t have to go out and buy them;
  • for teaching my son the value of working with your hands and creating beautiful things – and knowing how to fix them;
  • for so willingly flipping through all those bird, bug, mammal and reptile ID books to figure out what crazy creature my son has captured or spotted today;
  • for giving countless hours of his own time to help me build my dream of living more self-sufficiently (but with a lot of help!);
  • for knowing the value of sourcing of pre-owned building materials and tools so we can put our financial resources to other uses;
  • for accepting that my life isn’t exactly conventional, and for not commenting about some of my ideas that I’m sure he thinks are downright crazy;
  • for humoring me and teaching me how to use a scythe, even though he thinks the gas weed trimmer is more efficient;
  • for always making time for us; and
  • most of all, for being so interesting, wise and giving.

Our family has a long history of men who were handy, creative, talented, hard working and wise in ways you don’t see much anymore.  I hope my son absorbs just a bit of that by hanging out with his Grandpa.  He can’t go wrong if he does, and his life will be so rich as a result.  I feel very blessed to have that opportunity, as I know that so many don’t.  We’re pretty lucky, and I’m feeling it very much today.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Do/did you have a father or grandfather who taught you something important about the homesteading lifestyle, or helped you get started?  If so, give him a shout-out in the comments below!  Let’s celebrate the men in our lives who make us all richer for knowing them…

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Revised on June 19, 2012

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan McKenzie June 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm

Your story brings tears to my eyes! The family effort and community living and working together is a beautiful picture… I love seeing the cocky rooster on your banner – what a personality! – and your beautiful face, too. You’ve created a fantastic website, as unique and stylish as your farm and you… great job!


Kay June 17, 2012 at 7:11 pm

What a beautiful story and oh so very true about your Dad


Mark Sanford, MEd June 17, 2012 at 8:04 pm


A great tribute to your Father on Fathers Day. My father helped me to be couragious enough to never be afraid of tackling any project that might be needed to make my urban homestead a success. Whether it was finishing the basement of our new home that came with a framed but unfinished basement, or adding either of the two garages built on to the house, he taught me many of the skills that i use today. We owe so much to our Fathers, and it sounds like you have been blessed with a great one, just like me. Here’s to all the great fathers out there!


Practical Parsimony July 12, 2012 at 10:31 pm

My father built with his hands two of our houses. He had brothers who were handy, so they all pitched in. He could repair anything, make things from the ground up, design and implement them. He also had the connections!


Kerry October 20, 2014 at 5:42 am

You are very lucky to have a father like that. My father died when I was ten years old and I never got the chance to really know him well, let alone find out what he knows. I applaud you for giving your son the chance to hang out and learn from his Grandpa. It’s really surprising how many kids don’t get that chance. Our family has always been more maternally oriented. My paternal grandfather died way before I was in the picture. I did not know my paternal grandmother well. She died when I was seven or eight, but she suffered from some kind of dementia for years so even when I did know her, she wasn’t really there. When thinking of homesteading though I keep my own mother and my paternal grandmother in mind. The reason for this is because they were both single mother’s back when that wasn’t acceptable and they both did what they had to, to provide for their family. My mother had her garden and she preserved the food. She also collected wild berries and apples to makes jams, jellies, and pies. My Grandmother raised two kids and a grandchild by herself all while running a popular dairy farm. These woman are my heroes, because they had strength, wisdom, and perseverance to do the things they did. I wish I could have known my grandmother better and I wish my mom was still here.


Victoria Gazeley March 23, 2015 at 10:56 am

Wow – thanks so much for sharing your stories. People back then were truly a different breed – much tougher and way more capable than I’ll ever be. I keep them in mind as we go about our daily tasks, and just can’t imagine how challenging it must have been. Thanks so much for posting – and yes, I’m VERY fortunate… :)


Kay December 3, 2014 at 10:03 am

What a beautiful tribute to your kind, loving and giving father! What a blessing he is!
I am so happy for you both that you have each other.


Victoria Gazeley March 23, 2015 at 10:43 am

Me too! :)


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