A note from Maman on the Trail:
Meet Sally, a human of the outdoors. Sally lives in Northern California and get outdoors with her husband, and their two sons, ages 18 and 21. Here is her story…
On her time outdoors…
Our family of 4 lives in a tiny rural town in Northern California in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. We are modern homesteaders and homeschoolers, and we get outside everyday, rain or shine or snow. It’s just us and our animals: our dogs, horses, chickens.
On modern homesteading…
We’re modern homesteaders, meaning we have electricity, gas, water. We’re not off-grid. We raise as much of our food as we can and buy or trade with local friends and farmers for what we can’t grow ourselves. For example, we buy butcher pigs from a nearby friend who raises them for 4H. We buy grass-fed butcher steers from another rancher friend of ours. We raise laying hens and broiler chickens and we do all we can to protect them from the predators we have here. But, last year our flock was devastated. Cougar, bobcat, bear, coyotes, foxes, etc. all traipse through our property are various times of year. Deer and wild turkey are part of our everyday life, but they’re not a threat to our animals.
On daily life on the homestead…
Homestead morning chores take place every day, no matter the weather. We start at 7 am and finish by 9 am. The animals (hens, horses, dogs) are fed and watered. The stalls and coop are cleaned. The dogs are exercised. If it’s growing season, most of the garden chores take place in the morning too. No matter which part of the growing cycle the garden is in, I always to do a walk-through to check for bugs, critters, plant health, and irrigation. If it’s harvest season, harvesting happens in the morning.
Homeschool and home-office hours begin after 10 am. After 15 years of homeschooling, we are at the finish line; three more months until I graduate my second student. Lately, I spend more time writing and blogging and hiking with friends than I’ve had time for in the past several years.
The evening chores mimic the morning chores, minus tending the garden. We heat our home exclusively with wood, so cutting, splitting and stacking logs harvested from our own property is a regular part of our lives. Shopping is an hour away so I make everything from scratch because believe it or not, it’s more convenient to do so. Traveling to the store and back takes up half a day. If you’re like me, you understand that I’d rather hike or write than shop, right?
On getting outside no matter the weather…
No matter the weather we have to go out to do the farm chores and exercise our retrievers. For recreation in the winter, if the roads are passable, we’ll hike or snowshoe forestry roads or around one of the alpine lakes. We don’t use any fancy, name brand gear. We always bring extra food, water, a way to make a fire, and a First Aid kit. If we four-wheel into the backcountry, most of our preparation time is spent on the vehicle. My husband and sons take care of those details, thankfully. In the summer, we hike and fish in the backcountry. We either hike in or travel via 4×4 to “hidden” lakes and streams.
On triumph and challenge in the outdoors…
It’s an awesome opportunity to be able to sit in awe of mountains’ majesty. To catch wild trout in frigid streams. To snowshoe in newly fallen snow. All with my family. What a blessing!
Everyday outdoors is a triumph. We live in one of the greatest outdoor recreational areas in the nation, in my not so humble opinion. Lake Tahoe, Desolation Wilderness, and The Rubicon Trail are at our back door. The Pacific Crest Trail is an hour from our home. All the major ski resorts are nearby. (But, we haven’t gone in years because of the crowds and costs. Besides, we’re pretty busy around here.)
After the snow melts, we love to hike the high country. We’ll drive an hour up the mountain to meet the Pacific Crest Trail on Carson Pass. We intentionally fill our packs with fresh apples and extra water to hand out the thru-hikers (folks hiking the entire PCT trail, from Mexico to Canada). We meet people from all over the world and hear some amazing stories. A simple apple is a heaven-sent blessing to anyone who’s been without fresh food for weeks or months. Every trip to Carson Pass PCT is a triumph.
The greatest challenge I can remember is when our youngest son was a toddler. We traveled by 4×4 through Death Valley, CA on a week-long camping trip. Our youngest son came down with an inexplicable fever and we were in the middle of nowhere. It was an exhausting trip for me. I barely slept. Hold your plans loosely when traveling with young children.
A little Q & A…
Q: What is your go-to adventure snack?
A: High-protein Clif Bars* and apples.
Q: What piece of gear do you never leave the house without?
A: A backpack, water bottle, and Leatherman*.
Q: What one piece of advice would you share with someone who is wary of or new to the outdoors?
A: Start small. Keep it simple.
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