|1973 Carthage, Maine|
Once we had the land, it was necessary to get myself ready. Hand tools, and certain power equipment including a chainsaw, a truck and a generator are basic necessities. We already had camping equipment from our journeying around New England in search of land.
Before leaving Pawling, New York, I took a job as a framing carpenter. In only a couple months, I was able to acquire a basic knowledge of the framing techniques necessary for constructing a home. I also got some experience with my chain saws, something that has been a basic part of my yearly chores ever since. I still use the old McCulloch Super 250 chain saw with a 36" bar for cutting up firewood.
The most important thing, with tools, is to find out about and learn some basic safety practices. Homesteading is fairly synonymous to farming and that has always been one of the most dangerous professions. A lapse in concentration can cost you a limb or your life. Using simple safety equipment should be second nature.
One thing that is absolutely indispensable is enthusiasm. Looking back, I wonder how I did all the work and accomplished so much. I can only attribute it to youthful enthusiasm. What only seemed natural then appears herculean now. Today, I marvel at and am in awe of the young folks continuing the traditions of farming while raising their families. The cost of living and equipment lessens their ability to make ends meet with only the same physical limitations our bodies have always had for thousands of years.
From the start, in 1972, the work was the way. I was lucky to have a small grub stake to help me get started. Pursuing a career with the idea of homesteading later in life, just wouldn't have done it. Now, 40 years later, I sit behind a desk. I do so with the confidence and satisfaction born from performing skills that may prove helpful to me and those around me, should the need arise. Safety in this world is not guaranteed. As true now as ever.