This blog is a story of my husband’s, son’s, and my lives–first in mid-Michigan and then in Northern Michigan as we grow the life we’ve always wanted.
For most of our lives together, my husband, son, and I lived in a house on a small lot in a small village in mid-Michigan.
My husband grew up on a 45-acre farm where he could play, roam, hunt, and work the ground. His Mom canned and made homemade bread. He is a homesteader at heart and city life, even in a small village, does not fit him well. I grew up in a small town, and while I am used to life in a town, I have always loved solitary places of natural beauty and secret gardens.
We tried to create such a life in our village. We turned our whole yard into gardens of various sorts. However, we always dreamed of having a few acres in the country, a place without close neighbors, just big enough for a large garden, some fruit trees, and maybe a few chickens. We wanted an unhindered view of sunrises, sunsets, and storms. We wanted to watch deer grazing. We wanted our dog to be able to run free without a leash. We wanted land just big enough to be a joy, but not so big that it became a burden. We didn’t see how we could make our dream come true.
In May 2013, our 18-year-old son JJ graduated from high school, got his first job, and became an Eagle Scout. In October 2013, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. We battled his cancer together with faith, courage, a sense of humor, and occasional tears. However, when the treatments ended, we found ourselves utterly exhausted.
In early 2015, we were weary, overwhelmed, and stressed–not only from JJ’s battle with cancer. My husband worked at a difficult company that was making him sick, and we had struggled for years with emotionally abusive family. We decided that we needed to have a fresh start in a new place. JJ and I urged EJ to post his resume on Indeed.com and a few days later a company contacted him, and after a couple of interviews, he was hired.
EJ’s company is located “Up North.” To Michiganders, “Up North” is a magical place of breathtaking beauty where we all long to go to escape the stresses of life. It is a place of forests, lakes, fresh air, campfires, outdoor activities, and history. It is practically heaven. When we think of “Up North,” we almost hear angelic choruses. Most people go to Northern Michigan for vacations; we were going there to live.
The move required many sacrifices and risks. EJ lived for several months in a motel while he started his new job and searched for a house for us. JJ joined him after a month and began looking for a job. I stayed at our old house to handle bills, care for the pets, and prepare for the move. Eventually EJ found us a wonderful house on five beautiful acres. We are surrounded by forest, which we have nicknamed “our Enchanted Forest.” We can see clouds, and storms, and a night sky filled with stars. There are beautiful lakes only a couple of miles from our home. We have deer grazing close to our house, turkeys wandering through our yard, and we hear coyotes howling in the night. Our dog, Danny, is able to roam freely without a leash. I am raising chickens and ducks and I go on a treasure hunt every day gathering their eggs. We are growing a garden and planting fruit trees. JJ is working and going to college. We have adventures going to Lake Michigan hunting for rocks, visiting lighthouses, touring tall ships. JJ goes kayaking in the summer and I go sledding down our long steep, winding driveway in the winter.
Our home Up North is everything we dreamed of–and more. We are creating the life we always wanted, and gaining strength and happiness.