“We were old enough to know better, yet still young enough to dream.” I wrote those words in 1984 as we prepared to leave suburbia and move to 160 acres of rattlesnake and rock along Oregon’s wild and scenic John Day River. While my husband, Jerry, had long hoped to make this transition to the land, I struggled with the leap of faith. My skills as a mental health professional would have little place on property seven miles from the mailbox and eleven miles from a paved road. For nearly five years, I resisted the move. But one day when I asked, “What will I do there?” a still, small voice said, “Trust. Go to the land and write.”
Building the Dream
With no running water and no electricity, the Kirkpatricks eventually built a hanger, a barn, a road and a two-story energy-efficient home. They laid their own telephone lines and acquired water and electricity. Iin 1991, after living without electricity for a time, hauling water from the nearest town 25 miles away, building a house and barn, burying phone lines seven miles – twice, and finding strength for physical and emotional and family stresses neither of us had ever imagined -- Jane Kirkpatrick, Homestead.
A Life from Scratch
Millions of Americans move each year, usually for job-related reasons. But Jerry and Jane Kirkpatrick did more than just change jobs -- they changed lives! The couple left successful careers to build a life from scratch on 160 isolated, rattlesnake infested acres along Oregon's John Day River. Whether you’ve ever longed to pursue a dream that others thought less than wise; or whether you’ve wondered if the strain and struggle we call life will ever have a hopeful outcome, I hope our story will speak to your journey.
Many asked about what happened after 1991. Homestead: A Memoir of Modern Pioneers Pursing the Edge of Possibility (2001) (WaterBrook Press, a Division of Random House) was my answer to their question. Homestead, re-released in 2005, includes a fourth section called “The Harvest of Starvation Point.” Most recently Homestead: Modern Pioneers Pursuing the Edge of Possibility was re-released in 2012.