I imagine someone has wondered about the name of the blog, if it’s a typographical error or an attempt to invent the word of the year, like Sarah Palin’s ‘refudiate.’ No to both accounts. I promise there was a smidgen of thought before typing out the title.
The Homestead Act of 1862 was signed into law by President Lincoln in the midst of the civil war. It granted citizens and intended citizens, who had never borne arms against the U.S. government, 160 acres of land. The deal was that they would improve and cultivate the land and after five years, that little parcel was theirs free and clear.
It’s been nearly 150 years since the start of homesteading (the act ended in 1976, in 1986 for Alaska). I like to speculate our acreage was once a fine homestead itself. It was built in 1900 and included a 1 1/2 story house with no bathroom or formal kitchen area (and who knows how many people squished inside) and a majestic barn for hogs, cows, horses and hay. By the time the property fell into our hands, it was anything but impressive in its rundown, sorry state. That’s where the term rehomesteading comes along. The underlying goal of moving into a dilapidated farmhouse was simply to improve it. It has taken innumerable drops of blood (mostly Jack’s–he draws blood every time he works on something–or so it seems), sweat and tears. The battle is far from over but we occasionally see the shimmering light at the end of the tunnel as the property regains some of its former dignity.