MI to KY

Five years ago dear friends of ours were trying to sell their property and partially finished home in KY. Curious as we are, we ventured down south and camped on the property for a weekend to “scope it out.”

Fast forward to 2014, we needed to find a new direction to move in and were offered an opportunity to work, live and start farming on the very same property in Kentucky.

Jackson is now the sole general contractor and property manager of Gusty Branch. Since we moved to KY last Spring, we’ve also partnered with the owner to begin raising animals. The variety and numbers continue to grow and we’re excited to start living out some of the sustainable lifestyle farming has to offer.

#Kentucky #thejacksonshouse #livewellrockwell #sustainableliving #farming #family

Our story, continued.

Kevin Jackson and I both grew up downstate Michigan. But after beginning our lives together there, we soon realized that our larger goals and dreams were not going to happen where we were at – so we had to make a change. We sold our first home in Howell, MI, sold a lot of our belongings in order to simplify our life, and headed West in the Land Rover, for the adventure of a lifetime.

After having our first son Abraham in Boise, Idaho where we stayed for 6 months, Our search became to find a place where we could obtain property, live as a small community to farm, where we could live a self-sufficient lifestyle, providing not just for ourselves, but a place for others in need.

So our search continued. The next step towards farming, was going to be education along with work. Jackson applied to many positions on farms across the country, but just so happened to get a Farming Internship in Leelanau County, where our trip began, at a Certified Organic Farm, Isadore. So back across the country we headed.

We first moved to Northern Michigan in a friends bunkhouse above their garage, in Glen Arbor. Next, to a lovely rental home up a hill in the woods in Maple City, where we’ve been at for over a year. We believe that the next step will take us to a larger place on some land here in Leelanau County: A place where we can find some roots, begin to start a farmstead, grow a small business, grow our life, grow some food, raise our son, and eventually help grow our community.

Dreams happen by taking action on a passion, and for Kevin, it started years ago with an unfamiliar burning in his belly. Now he is leading us to farm, raise animals and food organically, sustainably, and responsibly. We’re traveling towards unfamiliar territory, but living our life with more purpose.

long haul to Boise

It is pretty desolate from Crater Lake, Oregon to Boise, ID. There are really only two major routes east and west through Oregon – the northern route or the southern route. Since we’re in a Land Rover, why not take the unbeaten path? On Forestry roads we went, roads that are too small for even a map, or an App! Gas up baby, cause you won’t see many cars, let alone towns or even gas stations till you hit the eastern side of the state.

Babe, can you look where the next town on the map might be? I’ve got to pee. While we pass, we might as well top off the gas.

Well, here’s one: Christmas Valley. Maybe we’ll see some good scenery! Christmas in a Valley. There must be mountains surrounding it. Just kidding. There’s nothing there. Open desolate farm land, houses and trailers planted in the middle of nothing. How do they even get water out here? A convenient store (no gas station), a post office, and a four way stop, with streets named Vixen St. and Snowman Rd. This is weird. Its a dessert. There’s nothing Christmas about it.

Read how an agressive salesman promoted Christmas Valley to retirees from California, falsely advertising it’s appeal.

Next, we played a car game as the sun set behind the dry and flat horizon, betting length of time until we would see another car on the road. It got dark and we continued our quiet and desolate haul until reaching a town in eastern Oregon before making the final haul into Boise, ID.

Skyler loves riding in the Rover with her head out the window, but this haul seemed to be taking a toll on her. There were more shoelace strings of saliva streaking the window than usual and she was a bit anxious, whimpering little cries every now and again. I chalked it off as too much water before she got into the vehicle. At the next pit stop she threw up her bowl of food on her bed in the back. We figured she had just had enough, or maybe the elevation played into it, or she injusted some bad water.

On this cold and frosty night, we finally arrived at the rental in the North-end of Boise, with a house key and some logs for the fireplace waiting for us – as the gas and hot water was not turned on yet. We set up the air mattress and sleeping bags in the middle of the living room and emptied out what we needed from the Rover. That night, we barely slept. Skyler was pacing, crying, dry-heaving, and trying to lay down but with discomfort. At one point in the wee hours of the morning, I laid on a cold blanket in the frosty grass next to Skyler while she cried and I had this flash of the scene from “Marley and Me” when Marley roamed to the base of the tree by himself to peacefully go to sleep. I cried and then as soon as we could, called a Vet we didn’t know anything about and got Skyler in first thing.

After taking a look, he said we had 3 minutes to make a decision. Either put her down, do nothing, or give him the okay to go in and do emergency surgery, with a 50/50 success rate. “There’s no way to tell if it’s too late or not for her”, he said. Her stomach had likely flipped. He described it like a baloon. The blown up balloon is the stomach, and the end had twisted, causing nothing to be able to go in or out of it, causing great pain and slowly getting larger in size. When they went in, her stomach

was purple, like a finger that had been tied off, with no blood flow. There was a chance that the organ was already dying and would not recover even after flipping the stomach and attaching it to her side to keep it from flipping again.

God provided again. He took us to a vet in town that was willing to come in before business hours, perform emergency surgery and charge us the cheapest rate in the Valley. Not only that, but after a few days of recovery, Skyler was given a clean and miraculous bill of health. The Vet said he did one of these surgery’s on a German Shepherd just last year and the dog didn’t make it. Our St Bernard’s life is a true blessing.


Portland, Oregon

The Landrovers visited Kelly Jackson, Kevin’s sister in Portland, Oregon. This week was the last destination “planned” in our trip. It was definitely a crossroads for us. We did a lot of relaxing in her apartment downtown, caught up on some work and phone calls, but also had to make some decisions. We were coming to the end of our budget for this trip, and after visiting Boise, ID and falling in love with the Baby Place (to have our baby) some decisions on what to do next, needed to be made.

We had checked out a rental home in Boise (via a friend of a friend) so we knew there was an opportunity to have a short-term lease and have the baby with the Midwives at the birthing center of our choice. At this point, no other doors had clearly opened up before us, but we still felt uncertain. By the end of the week, a friend had generously donated to The Landrovers, allowing us to take the last leg of the trip and make it comfortably back to Boise, ID.

We got surprised with a visit from Kevin’s sister, Julie, who was in town for business. She treated us to dinner at Deschutes Brewery in downtown Portland. Skyler made a friend at the dog park down the road from Kelly’s apartment. His name was Bruiser, a Bernese Mountain dog – like cousins to the Saint Bernard. We visited a traditional Irish Pub, got a late night taste of the famous Voodoo Doughnuts (after standing in line for 20 min – but totally worth it), got our fix of Autumn by going to a Pumpkin Patch just outside the city, and had lunch from a food cart – not sketchy at all!

The Non-Plan Plan

[box]Plans never seem to go as planned, so that’s why we’re going with, what I’ve been calling, the “Non-Plan Plan.”[/box]

This isn’t a decision made on a whim, a leap without knowing the risks, or an action without any thought. Rather, this Non-Plan Plan has come from life lessons and a new level of maturity that has led us to a place of surrender and acceptance in whatever lies ahead. It consists of thoughtfulness, preparedness, dreams, ideas, and research, leading to a decision or action in which one is okay with whatever the outcome. This type of plan means doing what you know you can do, surrendering to the path ahead, being open to the endless doors of opportunity, embracing both joy and adversity, and allowing yourself to let go of the things you cannot control. These types of decisions take a lot of trust that you will be armed with whatever you face, and they take knowing that you will not be given more than you can handle.

Much of the ancient stories in the bible are this way. For example, Moses had a speech impediment.

“When God told Moses to free the Israelites (Jews) from slavery in Egypt, Moses replied, “But my Lord, never in my life have I been a man of eloquence, either before or since you have spoken to your servant. I am a slow speaker and not able to speak well” (Exodus 4:10). After reassuring Moses that he was the man for the job, God told him that his brother Aaron the Levite would speak to the Israelites on Moses’s behalf.”

-Above quoted from:  www.enotes.com

Moses was called to be a leader but didn’t think he was equipped for the job. However, God armed him with the help he needed to carry out the task. Kevin and I have been pushing hard for months now to get to where we are at today, but in particular, it’s been a long couple of weeks. Kevin came up with the metaphor of us trying to leave our life behind and take this trip, launching us into a new Chapter. It’s been like running a marathon. Both mentally and physically challenging, we’ve been running without stopping until we reached the finish line. Periodically through the week, I’d think “ok…we’re on mile 13. Keep going.” Then a few days before we left, it was like mile 17, when they say while running you “hit the wall,” so to speak. The the day we packed up the last item in the Land Rover, we did one last walk through the house, said our goodbyes and hit the road. That’s when we crossed the finish line. Well at least for that chapter of the story.

Things came up that we didn’t count on, in addition to lots of loose ends to tie up, but we keet diligent and now it’s paying off. We’re on day 2 of the journey with both body and mind feeling unburdened and totally loving every second it. There are lots of surreal moments and it’s just starting to sink in that it’s actually happening. I look forward with hope, to the path that lies ahead, as we “let go and let God.”

What am I doing?

Our good friend Matt, shared the site manvsdebt.com with us. I’m sitting here, already being misunderstood and called crazy, thinking “what am I doing?” Then I remembered his slogan:

Sell your crap. Pay off your debt. Do what you Love.

-Adam Baker

People that travel and blog usually have some tangible goal like: camping in all 50 states, or traveling the entire world in a Land Rover, or Driving from Alaska to Argentina with 5 kids in a truck fueled by bio-diesel. Then there’s us.

We’re getting ready to be “homeless” on purpose, pregnant, and traveling in an old Land Rover with the “non-plan plan” in the horizon, all while pregnant. It sounds crazy, but then the answer to my question “what are we doing?” dawned on me.

Our first home doesn’t have enough land for our bigger dreams, and we just aren’t satisfied with the suburban lifestyle for long periods of time, Don’t get me wrong, I love cities. In fact, if money was no object, we’d have a skyline view in a penthouse loft, with a roof garden in Chicago, just to go there on the occasional weekend get-away. But we’re just not designed for the daily grind. We can work long and hard, but when there’s no bigger picture that we have like-minded vision with, I just can’t justify it long-term.

We’ve watched our parents generation loose their “secure” jobs, and seen people with college degrees not be able to find steady work to feed their families, and high paid engineers loose everything they had, long-time employees be offered a small severance package to leave. So what you’re “suppose to do out of high school” just doesn’t add up.

Kevin and I were entrepreneurs when we met out of college, but had to end our small business due to the change in the economy. Then we went to hourly wages, which is just not going to support the lifestyle of starting a family. Call me crazy, but I just don’t see it. So we’re selling our crap, working towards paying off debt, leaving our hourly jobs for a while, and getting ready to start doing what we love and living more passionately.

Hopefully our actions will inspire change in other people’s lives, and we’re trusing that we’ll make ends meed somehow. Just don’t look at it logically, and it’ll make sense. When I start over thinking it, that’s when I scare myself. But when I trust my gut, I trust my God, and I move towards the unkown that lies ahead, I know it’ll be just fine. Surrenderring to that fact that it doesn’t all have to be figured out, leaves room for the the Man above to do His part.

If you are considering a leap of faith in your life, trust your instinct. Listen to that still small voice, whom childhood stories call Jiminy Cricket.

Be okay with a little. Be okay with adversity, seeing it as opportunity. Be okay with the unknown. Be okay with just being in…today.