As you know, our plan is to put a small home on our land and build our dream homestead. While we’re still a while off being able to do so ourselves, I live vicariously through other people in the mean time. One way that I do this is listening to podcasts and learning what I can. My favourite person to listen to right now is Karin Copperwood from Tiny House Homestead!
Karin was wonderful enough to agree to answer some questions about her life on the homestead. It certainly gave me a lot to think about and I hope that you will get as much from it as I did. She truly is an inspiration, overcoming her own obstacles to build her house, and gives me hope that one day soon, I will do the same.
1. Please share a little bit about you and your unique lifestyle.
I live on 4 acres in rural Oklahoma. When I moved here the land was unimproved. I built my tiny house on a hill that overlooks my land and partially in a forest. Lots of folks commented that building a house into the forest would not be good, especially if high winds caused a tree branch to fall, but I found the canopy of leaves provide me with shade in the hot summer and protection from high winds. I was certainly happy to sleep in my home after living outside for about 6 weeks, but I also miss sleeping in the cool night air under the stars. I can’t express how excited I was to have electric again just for the convenience, but I miss the sounds of the crickets at night and the distant howling of coyotes as they hunt. I had a well thought out plan in my head when I started building, but it has been neat to see how things evolved once I began putting those ideas into reality and saw what really worked and what didn’t. Building a tiny house can certainly be a reality check! I had some fanciful dreams when I started, but modified many of them and abandoned others once I was actually in the space.
2. What made you decide that this was how you wanted your life to look?
Although I was born and raised a city girl, I always had a deep calling to live out in the country. I have spent most of my life fascinated by the pioneers and by those who survive in the toughest of times. More than once others have told me I was born at the wrong period in history. I love learning the skills that have been lost by modern convenience. Once my son married and moved away I wondered what the heck I was waiting for and dove in headfirst. I bought some land, designed my tiny house, and began living my dream.
3. There are a lot of people that dream of this life, but a lot fewer who achieve it. What do you think is holding them back?
I think many people are held back from their dreams from fear. Fear of failure, fear of others disapproving, etc. Many are too worried to take the first steps. I find many like to live vicariously through my adventures, but wouldn’t dream of actually doing it themselves. I have also noticed that there is a failure on the part of the homesteading and tiny house communities to be honest about the trials and tribulations of the lifestyle. Too often I see blogs with perfect photos of perfect settings where everything looks just amazing. I don’t feel that is reality and I want those who follow my blog and podcast to experience the ups and the downs. I try not to sugarcoat anything. I know that I love listening to and reading about real experiences of real homesteaders and those who really live in a tiny house, not just talk about someday doing it. Good, bad, or ugly, experiences are what life is really about.
4. What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge has been my health. Shortly after I completed the majority of my tiny house, I ended up requiring neck surgery. I had no prior issues with my neck when I began this project, no injuries I can trace an injury to, but just woke up one morning with a knot in my shoulder. Within a two days I found my left arm in so much pain I had to go to my local hospital. It turned out I managed to blow three discs in my cervical spine and had to have surgery. I haven’t bounced back like I had hoped and the financial costs are still tough. Many projects have been put on hold as a result and I find myself having to ask for help on some things I once found simple. But, let me add this, when I moved here I was dreaming of isolation and peace. What I have discovered is I have made fantastic friends and have wonderful neighbors. I could not have gotten as far as I have without them. There is great wisdom in the old adage “No man is an island.”
5. What have been your favourite resources or go to for information?
I love the internet. I love libraries. I love asking a ton of questions of anyone I think has knowledge I can learn from. I think other homesteaders, bloggers, farmers, and folks who grew up in the country all have amazing things to share. I am sure I must drive others nuts by my constant question asking. I Google just about everything. Every choice I have made with regards to my homestead and tiny house have been made after careful consideration and lots of research.
6. When you aren’t working on your homestead, how do you like to spend your time?
I work a ton. I work a job that doesn’t go from 8 – 5 and build up lots of overtime that is translated into “comp time.” When I have time off work I love to explore and travel. I love to go to thrift stores, second hand stores, junk sales, etc. I also take classes or seminars related to homesteading or self-sufficiency when I find them available. I moved to Oklahoma less than three years ago, so I like to explore different areas of the state and get to know the people and history of my new home. I embrace canning, preserving, cooking, and other skills many of our grandparents knew well. I scour antique stores, thrift shops, and junk stores for items other’s no longer find useful that I know will continue to serve me well for years to come. I am always excited to find items that replace electric appliances. When weather turns poor and power goes out, I fire up antique gas lamps and snuggle down under warm quilts. No power hardly makes a difference in my life. My adventure is ever evolving and never boring.
7. If you could share any tips for people thinking of taking on this lifestyle, what would they be?
Be flexible. Don’t get down on yourself. Some things are not going to work out as you want them to. Be willing to think outside the box to find solutions to tough problems. Some of the best parts of my adventure have been the direct result of something not going as planned. Enjoy the adventure.
You can follow Karin’s adventures over on her site Tiny House Homestead or follow her podcast!
Over and out,