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The Ballard Homestead

3 deer visit the Homestead

It has been 6 months since we officially transitioned from Nomads and Full-time RVers to North Carolina Homesteaders, and life on the Ballard Homestead continues to thrill and amaze us. So, “What is a Homesteader?” you may ask. You will find multiple definitions on-line but our definition of choice is: “a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of food, and may also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use . Frugality, self-sufficiency and emergency preparation are our goals. We would love to have the ability to be self-sufficient -no trips to the store -for a few weeks or even months.

In light of recent events we’ve decided it’s good to be prepared. Things like COVID quarantines, natural disasters or food shortages are very real possibilities. Remember Texas’ crazy winter? Many were caught off guard with no alternate heating source when their electricity went out. Hoping to be prepared for extreme or unusual circumstances, we are asking ourselves a lot of “What if?” questions. We are staying positive and hopeful but also want to be good stewards of the time, talents and resources that God has provided us. Please note: Homesteader does NOT equal Hoarder. We do NOT intend to stockpile a year’s worth of toilet paper just because we have the space now!

The change of pace from RVers to Homesteaders has required a few attitude adjustments. We no longer have the anticipation of waking up to a new location BUT we now wake up to the excitement of walking back to the trail cam and garden to see what’s “new” in our little corner of the world. We have given up our freedom from lawn maintenance – a freedom we briefly took for granted in our Nomad days- and we are now responsible for the upkeep of our own land. We walk out to our mailbox each day to get the mail rather than going online to schedule a mail delivery from our mail service. After spending the last 2 winters in Arizona and Florida, this winter in NC was a little hard to swallow. Those 2 warm Nomad winters were just enough to ruin us for temps below 40 degrees but we have slowly adjusted! Overall, this change has given us some roots and a retreat for when RV life or the world in general starts to seem a little crazy.

In all honesty, we have toyed with the idea of selling Old Glory and committing to a full-on homestead with a small orchard, chickens, goats a bee hive and maybe even a DOG. We just can’t bring ourselves to do that YET. As we follow our RV friends on Facebook and Instagram we are a little jealous and still have that itch to see new things and meet new people. Having the option to take off for a couple of months during the COLD NC winter and head south is just too alluring. Stay tuned for winter 2021/2022 plans! Or tune in to see if we give in and commit to full-time Homesteading … you just never know ?

Celebrating Easter in our new location was inspirational, with a beautiful Seder meal at our cousins’ house. We attended the Easter service at their church, First Baptist of Hickory, on Easter Sunday. The “Carolina Crew,” as our family group calls itself, has enjoyed several gatherings and meals over the past month in celebration of the New York Ballards’ visit and family Birthdays. Our Hickory relatives know how to entertain! They are so gracious and thoughtful to include us newcomers in their festivities.

Our first Wachter Seder meal
thanks for the shooting lesson Uncle Lonnie!

We (mostly Andrea) are learning a LOT about gun safety and the proper way to handle and shoot a firearm from Uncle Lonnie. He has given us a couple of training days at his gun club and he knows his stuff! It’s nice to have family nearby who are willing to share their resources and expertise. We will be attending a formal class on Firearm safety in June.

Leilalynn finally met her Ballard Great Grandparents and Great Uncle

As I mentioned earlier the New York Ballards, Mark’s parents and brother, visited us this month. They made a stop in Maryland to visit their new Great-granddaughter/niece, Leilalynn. It was nice to see them and they finally got to see the Ballard Homestead in person after hearing about our little “Ballard Creek” and garden for several months.

Sisters: Aunt Karolyn and Mom Ballard
The Carolina Crew – plus a few New York Ballards
Photo Credit: Uncle Lonnie Hagadorn
The Ballard men by the “Ballard Creek”
A little trip to Blowing Rock and a Coffee Shop with the New York Ballards
Any day spent in the Ballard Homestead Garden is a good day!

The garden is doing well, in case you were wondering. Even after the 2 freezing nights at the end of April, almost everything survived. One tomato may have frostbite but the rest of them seem to have come through just fine. There are also some new flowers blooming on our land: Star of Bethlehem, Clematis, Iris and Azalaeas have all made their appearance. Very soon we will be seeing Peonies, and Roses won’t be far behind. Our Fig is also producing fruit and the Hummingbirds have arrived!

The tomatoes we started from seed made it out to the BIG garden finally
And then the weatherman said the “F” Word… “Frost”… so we covered our babies
Sugar snap peas are blooming!
Star of Bethlehem
We have milkweed coming up (this is the ONLY food that Monarch caterpillars find acceptable) come on Monarchs!
A baby fig
Hello Hummer
From the 1950s to 2021

And don’t worry, we haven’t run out of “projects.” Living in a house that was built in 1954 means there will always be something that needs attention. Mark is upgrading electrical outlets. Andrea is painting ceilings and cement porch floors. We both have multiple outdoor projects on our agenda whether it be planting, transplanting, mowing, weeding or just exploring and making trails through our own little forest. Mark has registered our 2nd-hand utility trailer for future use – now he is working on repacking/replacing the bearings and we’re good to go!

New paint on the porch ceiling – next is the walls and floor
Utility Trailer being upgraded
A little stepping stone path complete
Blowing Rock, NC

We recently took a full day to explore a little town called Blowing Rock. We had visited briefly while the New York Ballards were here but we wanted to hike the Glen Burney waterfall trail. So off we went about 30 miles north of our home! The trail was beautiful and we ate lunch by the waterfall. It was a moderate to difficult hike with lots of rocks, roots and switchbacks. After the trail we explored more of Blowing Rock with its little shops and coffee bars and we ended our day with a burger at the “Town Tavern.” The Tavern had been recommended by several locals and for good reason. They had great burgers!

3 waterfalls on this hike
A fun visit with the Bacons

Our friends from @baconsontheroad stopped by the Ballard Homestead for lunch and a quick visit while they were camping in our neck of the woods. It was so good to see people from our Moonshine Creek workamping days as we have followed their travels on-line for the past year. Check out their Instagram account to see all the fun they have traveling full-time in their fifth wheel with 3 cute, and very active, little boys or click here to learn more about the Bacons.

So what will you hear from the North Carolina Ballards this summer? Hopefully we will have lots of pictures and stories about an upcoming trip to visit our sweet granddaughter, Leilalynn. There will be a trip to Oklahoma to visit family in June. Maybe Leila and family will come to visit us on the Homestead? Of course at least one garden/canning/preserving update will be coming. We hope to find many more local hiking trails and then …you might just hear about a 2nd career in the works… or at least a fun occasional side job. If Adri, Josh and Hannah at Kades Coffee can train us, we will be running their coffee truck during their vacation later this year. You just never know what these NC Ballards might get into!

No post would be complete without a Leila picture ?