True North is:

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Michigan, United States

Thursday, April 16, 2009

An Unexpected Path In Our Journey

About two weeks ago I received an email from Judy Keen, a reporter from USA Today, requesting an interview. She said she had found our Blog while researching for an article she was planning on writing; an article that would, amongst other things, show how some people might be changing their lifestyles due to the economic situation in America. Although our decision to begin our self sufficient journey had less to do with America’s economic position and more to do with our personal choices on how we wanted to live as a family…it was a factor, no doubt.
Out of curiosity I ‘googled’ Judy Keen. At this point we weren’t even considering doing the interview, but we wanted to see who this reporter was. We didn’t have to look very deep. Nothing alarmed me though…she’s been in the business for some time, had some pics with past presidents, and, although naive on my part, it seemed she had a kind face. So, after a few cups of coffee, and some discussion, we decided I should give her a call and see what this was all about.

To make a long story short, we obviously agreed to do the interview, and let a photographer into our home. Why? Well, after long and lengthy conversations between me, Melissa, and Gabrielle…we came to a decision.
When we first started considering changing our lifestyle we did a lot of research on the internet…homesteading forums, Blogs, ebooks… and what we found was an entire network of people and families that were either doing what we wanted to do or were on the verge of making some serious changes in their lives. Their reasons for doing this were as varied as the people, but ultimately we discovered that we weren’t alone. We weren’t crazy. Other had come before us and succeeded. It gave us hope and inspiration, and still does! So, I guess we hoped that maybe we could give some of that back. I know it sounds cheesy and dramatic, but honestly it’s how we feel.

In the end, I think Judy Keen did a fine job with the article. The responses from it, and our Blog, have been great! People from all walks of life have been emailing us and leaving comments…

I had thought that maybe we could give others inspiration and hope, but as it turns out…it was all of you that gave it to us. Your kind words and insightful thoughts have been taken to heart. Thank you.

You can find the article here.

Ps. Thanks to the person that left the comment that this was 'The Wojtowicz's free family fun day'. Brought smiles to our faces.


  1. I found you guys from your article. I enjoyed checking out your blog. My family is slowly on the same path. We have been cutting wood now for a few years. Great activity in the winter! We have been doing vegetable gardens for two years. Wanting to do canning this year. We kept our thermostat at 62 all winter. Happy for the warm ups! We just bought 6 chicks. I am very excited for egg time. You are right about family time. My blog is similar to yours. Materials do not make your life happy. Experiencing all life has to offer and togetherness is what fills all the voids.

  2. I'm really happy for your family and finding "True North". My husband and I are on the same path. Though we live in a neighborhood, the garden is our first project to be followed by canning. Wish we could have some chickens! You are right, as you have obviously discovered, that material possessions do not bring anything fulfilling. Thank you for your inspiring story. It is very encouraging.

  3. Congratulations.

    I started 10 years ago to become self-sufficient. One of my mantras is to lower overhead. With fewer expenses, more hard work, being outside more, doing things for myself, insulating myself from energy prices, etc., I found such a feeling of peace of mind. And I sleep like a log and eat like a horse, enjoying both as never before.

    I trust you all will find the same.

    Continued good luck!


    David Forjan

  4. Count me as another who found your blog via USA Today. Another point of interest is that I was born and raised in Alma myself, so any news stories about my hometown are gobbled up immediately. :)

    I agree that it was a good story, even if the title didn't do any credit to what you folks are doing. Then again, that's not the fault of the reporter, who did a fine job.

    It's interesting that this kind of activity seems to be a happy trend (we homeschool and are starting our first garden this year), and it was nice to see it portrayed without a hint of disdain. Best wishes on your journey!

  5. It was a good article!

    Your journey has many parallels to the one I've attempted to make -- and still am attempting. I phrase it that way because it is always "a work in progress." There's no question that it has its challenges, but, hey: you'll never be bored!

    There was a big movement in the 70s toward self-sufficient living; this was supported philosophically by a study by Duane Elgin that was published in the CoEvolution Quarterly. Elgin dubbed the trend Voluntary Simplicity. It still makes for interesting reading, even though it's dated.

    Other books that might speak to your venture are The Good Life (talk about a "model of behavior!") and Five Acres and Independence, which inspired many folks (including my father) post WWII.

    I wish your family great success (that is, in your own terms) with your venture!

  6. I found yall thru the article also, and now you're a saved favorite. I look forward to keeping up with your progess. We are planting down here in the South, cutting firewood, just had a "home-made" bull slaughtered, and our chicks are on the way! Too bad others haven't learned about money and true happiness. Innovative and independent! What else could you ask for?

    Chrome Cowgirl

  7. Hi. Just read your article and thought I'd check out your blog. Your family's mission statement of creating a new journey is very inspiring.

    While I've read about self-reliance and voluntary simplicity, I find it a lot harder to actually do. Guess I need to start making a list of baby steps we can begin taking.

    Good luck to you and your family as you continue on your new journey.

  8. Fantastic! Some friends and I have been looking to build an intentional community for quite some time now and seeing people like you guys be successful with homesteading in your own way is a true inspiration. Best of luck to you.

  9. Just like everyone else, my husband and I also read your article. We are in the beginning process of doing the things that your family does. I'm planting my first garden this year (any tips I would appreciate!). My husband has been cutting trees for quite a few years... he loves it! We are planting more trees on our land as well.

    We are glad to hear that we are not alone!

    Take care and God Bless!
    -Newlyweds in Michigan

  10. It's beautiful, this change you are making, and I love that you are doing this as a family. I wish you every success.

  11. Just like those above I found your blog through the news article. I think it's fantastic all the work that you're doing and I'm sure your family will be very happy because of it.
    My housemates and I have been attempting a pathetic, small-scale version of what you are doing- it's hard in a city but you can always make something grow in dirt. You can read about it at if you like.
    Thanks for writing

  12. I'm on the journey too...just many paces behind you. It was a great article and very inspiring!

  13. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one looking at treating life like an experiment...our family is going to start this spring. We have been simplifying life for the last few years, moving after the housing/oil bust in Alberta. Best of luck

  14. Another person who found you from the article. My wife and I are working on moving in the direction that you guys have. We are starting with the small things that are possible in our current situation and hopefully will be able to continue moving forward to a more self sufficient lifestyle. I look forward to following your journey on the blog.

  15. As with the others, I found your blog via the news article. I write a blog about small living - small space, small incomes, small footprints and have always had a keen interest in homesteading although I am, currently an urbanite.

    Will keep up with your adventures and, if you'd ever like to pass on a little of your experiences to my readers, I'd be honoured!

  16. Way to Go! Judy did a nice job! I got an email from her too, I declined tho, not my cup of tea... Glad you guys got to do it tho, just way cool!

  17. I read the article about you today. Great for you all !!! You are at the beginning of the curve. The rest of the country will be catching up in a year or two.

  18. I got interested after reading your story in USAToday and I registered the domain name. I currently redirect the name to my (recently created) Facebook group "Economic Survivalists"...I'd like to invite anyone interested in this to please join, and post links to related sites/groups.

  19. I just came across your article while browsing on my phone. I just had to check out your blog and plan to be a frequent visitor. We, too, are trying to make some changes in our lifestyle not only for financial reasons, but to also reduce our carbon footprint. We all have to do our part, and every little bit helps. Keep up the good work and we'll do what we can, too!

  20. I found your blog through Prophecy News Watch.

    We are homesteads in Wy, our blog

    I am enjoying reading, thank you.

  21. Hello Patrick and family. I, too, discovered our common journey through the Prophecy News Letter.

    The world is changing most quickly now. It does not appear that time is speeding up, per say, but rather that the forces working to perfect the creation are working over time.

    The next, the last, the shortest, yet most horrific of all The Creation Perfection Cycles will begin soon. In this cycle the cosmos has consolidated many lessons into a short span of time.

    Here mankind will be allowed to priorities what his true values are, realizing what has value, and what has none.

    In the days ahead we will see many, many changes, and will face many hardships. Changes and hardships that, if a man does not prepare his heart for, he will not fully understand, therefore will not be knowledgeable in utilising the catalyst the cosmos is providing him, but rather will become quite fearful.

    We are in class, preparing for a possible graduation to the next phase of our development. Therefore, for anyone reading this post, make the most of each day. We are here only to work on ourselves, our behaviors and attitudes. The most difficult task of all; Return love in the "perception" of evil.

    For now, just enjoy the journey, the destination will come in due time.

  22. My husband and I have been working toward living on less. The reason behind this is due to our adoption of three young children which added to our two biological children increased our family and our expenses. I am now trying to finish nursing school and my husband works away from home many nights and long hours which leaves us little time for our family. We decided that he would quit his job at the end of this year and I would work three days a week as a nurse. This will be our income which is a significant decrease from what he makes but will be worth it if we can spend more time with all of our children and my husband will be there for them everyday and no daycare! We both agree that living on less is not easy but we are slowly making it work and intend to save more than we ever have someday.