The farmhouse had been empty for 30 years. Built in the 1860s, the building had no electricity or running water, the surrounding fields were overgrown with brush, and a giant Yankee-style barn on the property was filled with animal waste and discarded equipment. Yet to Kirsten Lie-Nielsen and her partner Patrick Jackson, the old farm looked like home, a place where they could pursue their homesteading dreams.
In 2016, the couple moved onto the property, deep in the woods of Liberty, and got to work. They were prepared to “rough it,” to go without modern conveniences, but the journey wasn’t without its hardships.
“Our shower was outside, and we had a three-hole outhouse and all that,” Lie-Nielsen, 29, said. “And the shower, during the winter, it would freeze. We’d blow out the lines with an air compressor and the lines would freeze anyway, and we’d have to get a new fixture and the people [at the hardware store] thought we were crazy because we kept buying shower fixtures in January.”
Now three years later, Lie-Nielsen is sharing these experiences and all she has learned along the way in her latest book, “So you Want to Be a Modern Homesteader?: All the Dirt on Living the Good Life,” published by New Society Publishers in December. Written for the homesteading beginner, the how-to style book offers tips on everything from finding the ideal homestead property to selecting firewood and selling vegetables.
“It was a fun project,” Lie-Nielsen said of writing the book. “It was an intimidating project but definitely a labor of love.”
This is Lie-Nielsen’s second book. In 2017, she published “The Modern Homesteader’s Guide to Keeping Geese,” and she has written numerous articles on homesteading and farming for major online publications, including Grit, Mother Earth News, Backyard Poultry and Hobbyfarms.com. And she runs a successful blog about homesteading at hostilevalleyliving.com.
What is a modern homesteader?
Prior to moving to Liberty, Lie-Nielsen and Jackson ran a little hobby farm in Bath, where they had two gardens and kept various types of poultry, including geese. But they were cramped for space, with neighbors crowding in on three sides.
“It felt very much like living in a fish bowl,” she said.
When they made the move to the old farm in Liberty, they were willing to sacrifice modern conveniences for a time in exchange for privacy and space — 93 acres to be exact. There they purchased a small herd of Nigerian dwarf goats to produce milk and clear brush, and they added to their flock of geese, chickens, ducks and guinea fowl. They also set to work fixing up the barn and house.
Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.
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