A lot of people wonder how we manage to do so much, why are we doing this and how did we learn what we have.  They also wonder if it was hard to transition to this lifestyle.  Did we have growing pains and regrets?  Did we miss anything from our past lifestyle?

Well, the truth is, this was always my lifestyle and I have known nothing else.

A little human interest back-story for new readers:

I was born in Hokitika, New Zealand, and lived in Stafford,an abandoned gold-mining town from the former gold rush era,  located outside of town in the “wop-wops.”  My parents were greenhorn  homesteaders and were living a life totally alien to them.  We harvested rainwater from the roof for our water supply, had an outhouse, chickens, ducks and goats, no telly, no phone and some electricity.  Our home was heated by a fireplace and we cooked our food on a woodstove and had a very fashionable wringer washer for washing our clothes. We hung our clothes out to dry. We butchered our own meat and chickens. Our water in our home was heated by the green woodstove from Ireland but there was also an outside fireplace in one of the outbuildings  that had a huge copper pot that sat inside it  where  my mother could heat up hot water for bathing or doing laundry.   At one time my mother had to do the laundry out by the creek nearby, pounding the clothes on the rocks. Our entertainment was listening to a huge 1930-ish radio at night. My dad was a beekeeper and we only went into town once a week for supplies.  We had one neighbor, an elderly woman, so the total population in Stafford was 4, 3 of which were Dervaeses.  I had the distinction of being the youngest born in the town in 100 years.  So, it wasn’t I who had to change much but my parents, and that was another story.  New country, new culture, new lifestyle, far from home…you get the picture.

My siblings were born in Florida on 10 acres where we continued our modern homesteading experience. Though not as isolated physically as we were in New Zealand, our family still “broke new ground”  in many ways.  There were the home-births of my siblings I assisted with and home-schooling for our education to add to our already nontraditional lifestyle. We relied on our faith for our healing and health and continued our homesteading ways.  There are so many memories om our road less traveled, some inspiring, many humorous, but also some heartbreaking.

As the story goes, we came to Pasadena in 1984 to start over once again with dad enrolled in a theological school. We bought our present home which was in dire need of repair.  Our extended family could only scratch their heads, wondering where this would all lead.  Now living in the city  in a neighborhood in Pasadena and dad attending a theological school made us appear to be traditional, but we kept our homesteading ways.  We thought we were only going to be in the city for a few short years.  But here we are, 27 years later. I think the hardest part we always had to deal with is explaining our choices to our family and friends.  As for the lifestyle, as I said, it is the only thing I have ever known and, so , I didn’t understand why I had to explain at all.

For many years, people often viewed our lifestyle as “upside down” or “backwards.” We kept taking steps back wards while  everyone was trying to go forward – progress.  But, as time has shown, we were really only turning things “right side up” where they should have been all along.

Readers, what are your homesteading plans, hopes, plans and dreams for the new year, care to share?

:: Resources ::

Homestead Timeline

Award winning short film HOMEGROWN REVOLUTION



  1. Deb says:

    I love reading about the path YHVH/God has led you on.

    Trying to keep this short; We have had a season of building our (sub)urban farm (too much debt to call it a homestead) for three years now. I have growing plans, but the paper mill we have had a love hate relationship with (we are thankful for the income but the work is soul snubbing) is closing. Ready or not, our farm has to feed us. I keep reminding myself that fear and excitement feel the same in the pit of my stomach….I choose excitement for tomorrow when it feels like fear.

    Will we embrace our plans for expansion this year? New raised beds, move the herb garden, bring in rabbits, build aquaponics, expand the orchard and start developing the front lawn to feed us and those we love…..we would like them all, but we can function without them. We have found that the one thing we must have is an alter for sacrifices of thanksgiving in our hearts and a voice to express our hope in Y’shua/Jesus.

    Choosing to feel excited, Deb

  2. Ginger says:

    You were the original Holly Hobby in that sun bonnet outfit. Cute. I don’t think you are backwards. Why is it backwards to follow one’s heart? I think what you do is wonderful and hope to continue to emulate your ideas.

  3. 1916home.net says:

    Just curious if ya’ll have a “smart meter” installed on your house yet? We do here in Claremont and Im worried about it. And if you do what precautionary measures are you doing to block any possible radiation from those meters? Would love to see a post about it. You guys and gals would really help the movement to get rid of these smart meters.

    Edison says they emit signals at least once a minute, while videos all over youtube shows these meter sending signals several times per minute. Imagine a house full of humans going from zero signals, to several per minute. Th

  4. 1916home.net says:

    Whoops…. pressed enter too quick.

    There is no hard scientific data on what these smart meters could do to humans or animals (and bees too). One house is bad, but imagine a city full of smart meters creating swarms of signals.

  5. Amanda says:

    I love reading about the things you do to simplify and be more self reliant. My hopes for this next year for my rental homestead (in a triplex of sorts) are to plant the garden this year (no one conquered it last year at all) and to possibly get chickens (our city ordinances allow up to 3 chickens). Who knows where it will go from here ;o)

  6. elaine nieves says:

    Thoreau would be proud of you and your family. He also took the road less traveled. However, he wrote about his experiences and opinions. Have you ever thought of writing a book about your journey along this path? I think most people would love to know more and you would have a great success with a book like this. Anyone else out there feel that this would be a good idea?

    • Anais Dervaes says:

      Yes we have and we have been approached by many many major book publishers. Unfortunately we were not happy with some of their writing terms. We have often thought of self publishing but we just haven’t the time. Our family has too many projects going on at the moment but do hope to put somethings in writing one of these days. Perhaps a cookbook too!

      • Stacy~Creativemuse says:

        You may like HayHouse Publishing. They are localm Healthful, Spirtual!

      • Melba Dagan says:

        You might consider publishing a small book to start with. You can negotiate better terms for a second book. Publishers love a winner and will be encouraging you to write a second book or a cookbook, especially if the first one sells well.

  7. jengod says:

    I think this is the year we’re FINALLY getting chickens. Whee!

    • Anais Dervaes says:

      Congrats. Happy for you! Chooks will be so much FUN for you… and they give eggs too! 🙂

  8. martin, outer hebrides says:

    Hi there Anais & family.
    I am sure that at some time you must have felt isolated, even though physically surrounded by close neighbours. I am glad you had the conviction to continue doing ‘the right thing’ and i hope you continue to do so. I think you ended up being urban pioneers for a reason – to show others in your situation how to do it! Well done. I know you don’t need our thanks, but you have them none the less.

  9. kaycee says:


    I love your blog and site. I have checked many times and learned much
    We are raising bunnies and planting all the crops our yard can handle.
    Thanxs for all the advice!

  10. kaycee says:

    Oh and I forgot to say, what I know on the Smart Meter issue. These meters are dangerous, many, many people have become ill with them connected to their homes.
    What everyone has to do is call their electrical company and say I OPT OUT!
    Make sure you lock your analog meter and post a sign on it that says in large letters, NO SMART METER

    Your electric company should issue a yellow tag to show the contractors they have hired that you are an OPT OUT. And don’t forget that if you are a business you also need to call and OPT OUT. Also if you have the time or are around when the installer comes,y ou can also stand guard at your meter and tell the installer you OPT OUT and then follow up with a call to your electric company. Diligence is the key.

    Lastly you need to call your Congressmen and Senators and Governors and let them know how you feel namely that these meters invade your privacy and radiate your family.
    We all need to work together to make our planet a healthier place for us all. If we continue to pollute our planet, what will be come of us. Were will we go?

    I want to encourage anyone who has the desire and time to consider a run for political office, it’s time for us to all get involved to create the kind of change that serves We The People! Please don’t forget that our kids have to live on this planet long after we are all gone!!

    • Anais Dervaes says:

      Thanks for sharing this important information. I am just about ready to write a post on Smart Meters, stay tuned!

  11. grizzly bear mom says:

    May God bless you with mates, if you want them. So few people live by their spiritual, or emotional, or intellectual or phsycial pricniples, if they even had any! I’m much more mainstream than you are and didn’t met a peer until I was 51.

  12. Melba Dagan says:

    I also was born in a rural community and some of my first memories are of toddling along behind my grandmother in her garden as she weeded and harvested her vegetables or flowers. Being in Louisiana where natural gas was dirt cheap at that time, she had an old gas stove, a real ice box (with delivery man), and an out house. We bathed in a #3 washtub on the back porch with water carried from a huge catch tank and heated on the stove. I don’t think the water was ever more than 3″ deep but somehow we got clean. Since we went barefooted, the last thing we did at night was wash our feet. I still remember how wonderful it felt to climb into a clean bed with freshly washed feet. She always had chickens and sometimes a cow so gathering eggs and feeding the stock became part of my chores as I grew older. It was from my grandmother that I learned how to string a wire fence, mend a barn door, care for animals and plants, can vegetables and fruit jams, and all the other things that are necessary on a farm for survival. When my family moved to Texas so my father could find work, I missed my simple life so much. I looked forward eagerly to the summers when I could stay with my grandmother and help in the garden, climb under the house to retrieve the canning jars, heat water in an iron pot once a month to do the wash and play for hours in the woods that surrounded her house. We walked to the lake (about 10 city blocks from her house) through the woods, trudging along with a bar of soap, towels and wash cloths, and a fresh change of clothes. We spent hours picking blackberries and putting up peaches bought from a neighbor who came around selling them from the back of his ancient truck for $1.50 a bushel. Her food came from her garden, her water came from the rain caught as runoff from the roof and stored in a huge galvanized tank, and our entertainment was made by our own imaginations and our once a week two mile walk to church. It was the happiest time of my life and I wish everyone could experience the joy I felt all of the time. Hours in an airplane, lunch in the Russian Tea Room or some other fancy restaurant, or walking through a museum in Europe (all things I’ve done) can’t come close to bringing the joy I felt at going into the garden and picking a warm tomato to munch on for a snack or watching birds building their nests in the rafters of the barn. I read in a book once that we are “wired” for God. In other words, like an appliance that is wired to work on electricity, we can only function well when we are in touch with and in tune with God. I think we are also wired for God’s creation and cannot find peace nor happiness unless we live our lives close to that creation.

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