By Rima Austin
Rima Austin makes her home on the Folly Mountain Farm near Sparta, Tennessee.
The focus of her blog is engaging others. "I want to start a conversation, share ideas, and fix problems that homesteaders face. My blog is about engaging in a conversation with others who want to live a simpler life. My life is a work in progress, and I am always looking for help and to make life-long friends. In a nutshell I want to connect with other people who share my love for this fulfilling life."
She says she also hopes to offer insight to others who may be thinking of starting projects similar to her own. "I am hoping I can make it easier for them and encourage their minds to think in different directions."
Currently, Rima is fixing a sagging ceiling. "It doesn’t seem like much but if I don’t get it soon I am afraid it will fall on my head."
And her to-do list? "My big project this summer is an all-glass greenhouse. Woo-hoo! That will be epic!"
When asked her definition of a homesteader, Rima says, "I don’t want to look up the definition and skew what I think a homesteader is. I think it is someone who lives a self-sustaining life, or as much of one as they possibly can considering some family commitments may dictate how far off-the-grid a family can live such as having small children. Basically, it is using the natural resources available to you to lead a self-sustained life."
Her move to the country was prompted by a series of events.
"My hippie ex-boyfriend (prompted my move). I was living beyond my means. I had a full-time job but I couldn’t pay the rent, couldn’t pay the note on my brand-new Honda. The day I made him hide with me under the bed when my landlord came knocking at the door, he said, “This is it, no more! I am going to show you how to live below your means and be happy.” So we took a two-month 'hippie trip' out west in his Econoline van, living on the generosity of others, and I had a blast! I had land in Tennessee so it was not like we were homeless. We decided to come back and build on the property, but the road kept calling him and he had to go. I understood and I will never forget the gift of freedom he has given me."
"As of now, lack of any kind of electricity or solar power is hindering me from being able to take care of livestock the way they should be taken care of," Rima says, when asked about animals sharing her Folly Mountain Farm. "I am looking into the best solar system that will fit my needs and my budget. When I do this I will bring them in two by two!"
The purpose of her garden has grown. "Initially planting the garden was just to grow the food that I loved. Then I got involved in local farmers' markets and wanted to offer people non-GMO, organically grown produce. Not just any produce either, the kind that isn’t offered in this region too much."
She grows, so far, tomatoes and peppers (Poblano, banana, and bell).
Rima says her country skills will improve in the future. "I am a greenhorn, plain and simple, when it comes to gardening. I can do minor repairs on my own vehicle, and I was a structural welder and iron worker for five years. I understand those things but I am learning every day how to do this 'homestead' thing."
And her philosophy of country life?
"I think it is underestimated by people who haven’t lived it. They think it is just riding around on a tractor but it’s hard … really … hard. I have virtually zero stress, though, as a result of my life change. I don’t get angry any more. It really, truly is a simpler way of life."
Contact Rima through her Facebook page, or her Twitter account, or Our Clean Slates, a blog on which she collaborates with two other bloggers. A farm website is being created and will be added at a later date.