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Serenity Hill Homestead
Welcome to Serenity Hill Homestead, our little piece of paradise! We are Bob and Deb, a couple who has been married for over 39 years and counting. For most of those years we either lived in Military housing or rented a house, sometimes good, sometimes not so good. One of our desires has always been to find a place where we want to settle and develop the place of our dreams going into our retirement years. For us, it isn’t just about a house to live in, but a place where we live in harmony with the land and enjoy what it can provide for us.
After many years of fruitless searching, I finally found a job near the area we wanted always wanted to live – the Ozarks in Southeast Missouri. We began our search for a homestead site near a lake that has been a favorite place since childhood. Unfortunately like so many things that we think are great as children the reality doesn’t match up later in life. The land for sale in the area was pretty rugged and would have been costly to build on. The very rocky soil is a challenge for gardening. There are no codes, so a lot of really trashy places have popped up, and when I did a search for known meth labs, many popped up in the area. To top it all off, Deb had a hip replacement a couple years ago and just isn’t up to rugged terrain anymore. We both had to realize that it wasn’t going to be the best place for us.
Making a List and Checking It Twice
After regrouping, we sat down and did a checklist of what we wanted in a property. We also discussed finances and made a checklist and plan for paying off debt and boosting our savings. Then we began searching for a place that met our needs. We found a newly opened area with nice dead end gravel roads and county water already in place. The area has gentle hills and is very heavily wooded. It is 10 miles from Current River, a part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, and near several Conservation areas. After roaming around several of the lots, we found one that met our criteria and we decided to make the leap.
Our initial purchase was 5.3 acres and Deb wondered what in the world we were going to do with all that land. As the other lots began selling and we spent more time on the property we began discussing purchasing the 5.9 acres on our north border. A couple months ago we signed the paperwork and expanded Serenity Hill Homestead to 11.2 acres.
Slow But Steady
To date we have cleared a curved driveway, area for garage, house, and septic system. We used to have to park our car on the grass at the bottom of the hill and tote everything up to where we were clearing because the red clay soil up close to the driveway location was too soft after a rain. When we finally got the drive and house areas clear to the point we called in an excavating contract it was celebration time. Getting that culvert and drive in was a big milestone for us. The topsoil is soft and ruts easily, so I had him put a layer of clay and gravel on the drive. It has hardened to the point that even after torrential rain we can drive on it with no problem, and when dry a dozer doesn’t leave tracks on it.
In August we had trenches dug for our foundation footings. Another exciting day! Now comes gravel, rebar, and concrete. Once we have the footings in place the electric utility will run power to it so we won’t have to purchase a generator to run power tools. More money available for building supplies.
As soon as we get a livable house we will be moving to the property. Once we get there, we can begin developing the rest of Serenity Hill Homestead. In the meantime, we are getting rid of a lot of “stuff” we have accumulated in boxes in the basement. No need to move things we haven’t used in years and boxes that have remained unopened through 3 moves! Mind boggling when I think about it.
What are we building at Serenity Hill Homestead?
- 32 x 40 Cordwood home with shed roof, full length porch, and lots of windows
- 25 x 30 Cordwood garage/workshop
- Forest garden utilizing hugulkultur beds
- Chicken coop and possibly rabbit hutches
- Fire pit and picnic area in a small clearing about 150 feet from the house
- Pond, approximately 1 acre
- Walking paths with seating to just enjoy the woods
We are doing most of the work ourselves and hiring out work that requires equipment or expertise that we don’t have. Our goal is to have a mortgage free home since retirement is just a few years away. Some people think we are crazy, some people are excited for us, and some people don’t know quite what to think. Everyone, it seems, has ideas about what a home is or what it takes to build a home. When you do something outside that box they don’t know quite what to think.
But then, that is us in a nutshell. We have always done things a little differently than everyone else. We value different things than most of our friends and family. Life is too short to spending it trying to impress other people, best to spend time doing things that make you happy, enrich the lives of those you hold dear, and create wonderful memories.
More to come. We hope you enjoy following our journey.