By Mary Niehaus Ralles
Mary is working her way back to living in the country after having grown up with a rural lifestyle. “Brooks and Dunn said it best with their song, Red Dirt Road: ‘I’ve learned that happiness on earth ain’t just for high achievers.’ After a season of urban gardening, tilling city soil, and pausing to take snapshots of sunrises with the obstruction of telephone lines, Mary is finally getting ready to pull up roots and trade in some square footage for acreage.
The primary focus of her blog is the search for her own little homestead to build new memories with her children (as she had as a child), grow a garden, play in the dirt, and enjoy life. She also hopes to add a small group of baby chicks to the animals that call her family “home” — an little, mixed-breed dog (Buddy) that is about twenty pounds, and a four-month-old yellow lab, named Eileen, “who is just about the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen.”
As a gardener, canner, seasonal baker, quilter, and jewelry maker, Mary doesn’t lack in country skills. She has plans to finish several half-completed quilts, teach her kids to fish with a cane pole, expand the garden in the spring, and double up on canning efforts. Her garden is a large part of her journey:
“Having ‘picked’ dinner every night in the summer as a kid in my grandparents’ garden, I started wondering what more I could do if I moved my urban garden from containers to soil. It’s infectious, therapeutic, and once I started, I found myself wanting to do more. Sharing learnings with more seasoned gardeners and delighting in snapshots of ripe tomatoes turned into my new daily routine. And what I lacked in quantity this first year, I made up in laughter and enjoyment. I still remember the day I “harvested” strawberries ... a total of two, and I cut them in half to share with my kids. Best tasting berries ever!”
As her journey has progressed, so have Mary’s thoughts on homesteading. “I thought being a homesteader required a rural landscape, and that it would have to keep until a future point and time. What I realized was that you take the heart of homesteading wherever you go. It’s a mindset and a choice. In my youth, I failed to see the purpose in doing something by hand when it could be done more efficiently. I now realize that much like life, it is intended to be savored, lived deliberately and with intention ... and at whatever pace you are most comfortable with and in a way that brings you personal satisfaction. Even without an isolated country road, I can still find the sunrise and feel good about the start of a new day, and I can look forward to finding a new homestead in the future.”
You can find Mary on her website: