On the Oregon trail.

Two-and-a-half years ago my family took on a brand new endeavor. We began a journey that we hope will lead us to a sustainable life. Why, you ask? The financial and political stability of our world seems precarious at best. Specialists from all walks of life and both sides of the fence are predicting a recession that will rival The Great Depression of the 1930’s. Is this guaranteed to happen? No. But we asked ourselves, what if it does, what then? Are we living in a place where we can grow enough food to sustain our family? Can we keep our children safe? Do we even know enough to teach them how to survive off the land?

The answer to all of these questions was no. So after much soul-searching we decided to join my brother and his family and my parents, who had a couple of years earlier, relocated to Northwest Oregon. The Mid-Willamette Valley is an abundantly fertile land with a lot of rain, mild weather and a great growing season. Not to mention it’s extraordinarily beautiful terrain. Thus began our experiment to learn sustainability. Are we there yet? No flippen’ way! This is hard work folks, especially for a gal whose previous idea of sustainable life included other people growing and preparing everything for her. I’m pretty sure that we aren’t even one tenth sustainable. But we are learning and growing and practicing. Heaven forbid we actually need this knowledge some day. But if we do, we will be prepared. And by virtue of our foresight, so will our children.

In order to do this experiment right, we have decided to bring the generations together and combine households with my parents. This allows more hands to get more work accomplished. Is a four bedroom house ideal for four adults and two small children? Not hardly, but we are making do until we find the Homestead that is right for us. We begin our journey on one half an acre. We are gardening and composting and making the most of what we have so that when we move to 10+ acres we will know what we’re doing.

We have under our roof my father Reiner Sr., a.k.a., “Poppy,” who grew up on a farm in South Dakota. He is our resident farm boy and is a fount of information. My mother, Libby, a.k.a. “Moses,” did not grow up farming but threw herself into it with wild abandon during my formative years living in Central Illinois. She learned canning, freezing and other means of preserving food. She is both determined and formidable. My husband, Jimmy, is a former actor and performer. He is our brawn and brute force. If a hole needs digging, a fence needs fixing or soil needs hauling (to name but a few of his many tasks) he’s on it. He laughs and says, “I still don’t always know what I’m doing, but I try to act like I do.” All that training has come in handy! Then there is me, Whitney. A former model with visions of servants dancing in my head. I am the resident baker, jam maker and weeder. I am the mother of two beautiful little girls and I am determined to do right by them.

Please join us as we share our bumpy, funny and sometimes painful journey of growth. We are The New Pioneers; a modern-day Green Acres if you will.

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