Our Story

It's us!
Once in a while we take a nice picture!

Hello Everyone and welcome to the Goldenrod Homestead!

This is the blog of homesteaders Ben (left) and Justin (right). Here you can join us on our adventures in Permaculture and Market Gardening.

How Did We Get Here?

Justin and I met in college, he was a year ahead of me. At first, neither of us liked the other. I thought he was stuck up and prudish and he thought I was a snotty kid. By my junior year of college we had taken a liking to one another and we started dating. Unfortunately, during our first few months, my mother died from cancer and Justin’s parent’s got a divorce. We leaned on one another and from that point on we were inseparable.

As for homesteading, it was born out of necessity. After both of us graduated college, we found that we graduated into one of the worst economies the US has had in a while and the highest unemployment we’ve seen in decades. This meant that even though I was working two “real” jobs and Justin was a full time insurance agent, neither of us made enough money to buy groceries after bills. After a months of eating instant noodles and spaghetti, I started learning how to make our most expensive items from scratch. After that, I was hooked. I was already growing plants on the balcony for fun, so it was only natural that I should run across homesteading.

Our Homestead

In 2013 we decided we wanted to buy a house. We were immediately told that our credit sucked and that we weren’t ready. So we spent over a year bolstering our scores, paying off debt and saving up a little money. In late 2014 we started looking for homes near my hometown of Saranac, MI. In February of 2015, on the coldest, windiest, most bitter winter day, after all of our prospects had fallen through, we took a chance and viewed a home with three acres our agent didn’t even know was for sale. The online photos made it look nice, but everything else had looked nice too. We walked into a home heated to almost 80 degrees with a pellet stove, walls covered in warm pine paneling, and were immediately in love. We wrote the offer up on their dining room table.

After two months of the worst closing anyone has ever gone through and three times as much money as we expected to put in a down payment, we got the house and the three acres. We moved in on April 29th with a single U-Haul truck and no furniture, we were home.

Join Us on Our Journey

Please join us on our adventure! You can click the “Follow Goldenrod Homestead” button on the left if you have a wordpress account or you can sign up via email in the left panel as well!

You can also check out our Goldenrod Homestead Etsy Shop with handmade items from our homestead including soaps, seeds, seed bombs, live plants, plant cuttings, and art!




48 Comments Add yours

  1. You guys are adorbs! Keep going with it, I’m enjoying your blog.

  2. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but it’s so nice to read a blog about homesteading that is by a couple that hasn’t had it easy! So many seem to be by people with plenty of land, and ‘perfect’ lifestyles… Of course, they may not actually be projecting their real lives, but it can be depressing rather than empowering to read those blogs when you will never have those opportunities yourself.
    Your story is so different – very honest and inspirational on a very practical level.
    Lots of love and good luck being sent to you from our tiny plot over the pond x

    1. I have felt the same way about almost every homesteading story I’ve read. Especially the stories that get media attention. My favorite was “Man Quits 6-Figure Job to Live on 15 Acres with Nothing”, when, in reality, he bought all that prime land, some majorly nice appliances (woodstove, camping van, etc) and gardening tools. Then, instead of using all the excess food he grew to help people, he invited his rich co-workers over and threw a party. It just sickened me.
      But I digress. In our story we plan to build from nothing to something spectacular. I don’t want to be rich, but I want my life to be rich and that’s what we’re aiming for. I know we can do it, it just won’t be as easy as quitting a job and then having enough money to live on for years.

      1. ‘I don’t want to be rich, but I want our lives to be rich’ – this gave me the biggest smile ever! I can’t wait for more updates from you guys.

      2. I’m glad! I’m hoping to write a book about all this someday. I’ll make sure to include that.

    2. quietowlfarm says:

      What Roe’s Cottage said. I’m really enjoying this blog, 2boys. I’m trying to (very slowly) start the dream myself with 45 grand in student loan debt and a full time job, so it’s inspiring to know I’m not alone in having real world struggles. Keep up the good work!

      1. I’ll be right there with you, between Justin and I, we have over $80,000 in student loan debt. We’ll be working on that for a while. Thankfully Sallie Mae will lower the payments because we don’t make a lot of money.

    3. SplittingElm says:

      Good luck on your journey!

  3. Good luck. Hope all your dreams come true.

  4. Crystal L says:

    Hi there! Let me start out by saying that you are both too cute!

    My husband and I are just starting out with trying to achieve a small farm, too. No nest-egg, no help.

    I can’t wait to follow your journey! It sounds like we have a lot in common (I want goats-and chickens- and the hubby has expressed an interest in bee-keeping.

    Can’t wait to get to know you!

    1. Sounds like you guys are in the same boat as us. We’re finalizing our thoughts at this point and trying to pin down exactly what we want. We should start home searching in March or so. I can’t wait to get there myself and get to work!
      Good to meet you!

      1. Crystal L says:

        Good to meet you, too! I hope y’all find something!

  5. Sagdrina J says:

    Here I am thinking I’m all unique being a black homesteader/blogger! Ha ha! Y’all have me beat! Love you guys, love your story.

    1. I’m Ben (the white guy, lol), I do most of the blogging, but Justin wants to get more involved. He’s just so busy working all the time!

      Thanks for the love!

  6. Feel free to use what you need in my archives. Mike and I have been together 12 years and love every minute. Find me on FB and I will introduce you to a few groups.

    1. I will give it a shot! Thanks!

  7. L Lindall says:

    Share the Love….Share the Truth. I’ve shared your story. It will work…Believe it will be and so it will be. Happy Homesteading 🙂

    1. Thank you! I know it will work out!

  8. Thanks for the follow! It’s great that you’re building a self-sufficient life together and I’m sure it’ll be very rewarding. All the best 🙂

    1. Thank you! I hope so too!

  9. Yanic A. says:

    What a lovely story… We too bought our home at a less-than-perfect time. We weren’t looking. We had a 11-month-old in tow, no down payment, but the property was so perfect with this tiny little 900 sq.ft house on it. We just couldn’t resist. Now, 3 years later, I’m a stay-at-home mom and newbie-homesteader, we have 2 amazing children and our so happy. If you really want it, everything is possible. I look forward to reading about your adventure! 🙂

    1. Thank you! I know we can do it, we just have to jump in and go for it. I can’t wait to share it all with everyone!

  10. nepermhome says:

    Have you looked at any kind of natural building rather than buying a house? You do have to buy some land, but that can be far less than buying a house. We have absolutely no money so we are planning to build our own house rather than buying. It will take plenty of time, but I think it will be worth it. I should point out too, that we have no building experience, we are learning as we go. Natural building it much easier than conventional. Check it out! You never know…

    1. We actually found a great deal with the USDA, they have a zero down, low interest loan that is perfect for us. We have enough money to pay a house payment (it will be less than our apartment now), but we have no building experience and as much as I love learning, I want running water as soon as we buy the place. I love the idea of homesteading, but I don’t want to give up running water and electricity for any period of time. I also need a place to set up a pottery studio immediately so I can get to work!

  11. Robin says:

    I’m so glad to have found your blog today. I’ve been following links from blogs I enjoy. Good for you for following your dreams of homesteading. It’s been very rewarding and fulfilling for me.

    I lost my Mum 16 years ago to cancer. Life’s never quite the same again. I hope you’re doing alright getting on with life day to day.

    1. Thank you. And yeah, I’m doing alright. I’m getting to the point where thinking about it isn’t so sad anymore. But I’m still in super-purge mode. I’ve been getting rid of everything in my life that is negative because I’ve realized it’s not worth it. She always wanted me to follow my dreams, so I am!

  12. queenieminx says:

    You guys are awesome! I’m working on my homesteading dream as a single mom, so I’m also glad to see a blog done by folks who haven’t had it as easy as others. Homesteading is rough hard work, but so worth it in the end. Keep up the great work guys.

  13. Gene says:


    I read about your struggles dealing with your mom’s passing, and your quest to start a business (yes a homestead is a business). My partner and I are also starting businesses, abeit separate ones. Mine is American Craftware, his is oil painting. I just wanted to tell you what has inspired us to fight the good fight and keeps us from getting down and losing heart. It is our study of philosophy. Yep, I know, nobody thinks philosophy is important, but in fact it is the most important of things to understand about yourself. It is what guarantees that my partner and I will both have success, and it would do the same for you, provided it is the right philosophy. If you are interested, I will toss some book recommendations to you. If not, OK. Best wishes for you.

    1. Thanks Gene, I appreciate the support. I’ve taken some philosophy classes in college and I’m sorry to say that I didn’t find them that interesting….Justin and I have calm debates about things that could be categorized as philosophical, but he gets more out of it than me.
      Thank you for the offer though! I wish you and your partner the best of luck!

  14. Chris says:

    Sorry to hear about losing the house you guys were looking at. Thought i would attach this link for this place down the road from us that is selling cheap, homestead possibilities http://www.auction.com/michigan/residential-auction-asset/1847431-16644-92799-county-rd-652-marcellus-mi-49067-o_512

    1. Thank you. Unfortunately, we aren’t buying in cash, so I can’t do the auctions.

    1. I have. I’m still trying to decide how I feel about it.

  15. Jim Tillmans says:

    I F!#%ing love you guys. High speed, low drag, built on love. I will save time every day to send you both the greatest of success and love. Carry on gentlemen.

  16. You go guys ! Great to hear your story of love and self-sufficiency, good work and nice to see such a dedicated couple to low impact living.

    1. Thank you! We’re doing our best!

  17. Lucy & Brian says:

    Your blog inspires us so we’ve added you to our list of 10 for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! https://moreofwhatmatters.wordpress.com/about/
    Lucy & Brian

      1. Tea-el Rose says:

        Hi guys! So delighted to have found your blog and look forward to keeping up with the life you’re building.

        Only been on website 5 mins so far so haven’t spent as much time figuring it out as I should have before asking this ? but here goes: is there a way I haven’t discovered of ordering your postings chronologically – or is content accessible by subject only, as it appears from left-hand column?

        I’ve been wishing I could find a homesteading website to follow from early days (even back to looking for property) and go along, seeing how such a complex, challenging life step unfolds in real time.

        Also, my mind just always craves stories that move forward in time.

        I will enjoy hearing about the things you’ve figured out, checking out what look to be recipes I might enjoy, and the rest of your content anyway.

        Best of luck hanging in and hanging together as your great adventure in self-sufficiency unfolds. I’m so impressed to hear what you’ve managed to do in such a short period of time.

      2. I’m not sure if there is a way to view them chronologically, but I think you can just scroll back through our posts, page by page. Thanks for joining us here and I hope you like our stuff!

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