On a forested section of Centralia-Alpha Road near Onalaska a sign reads “Haven Homestead.” Turn down the gravel drive that leads to a modest, two-story house and you will find a self-reliant haven.
This is the home of Chris and Lindsay Hodge who have spent the past five years turning their four and a half acres into a self-sustaining home for their two young children, Emma (7) and Liam (5 ½).
“Sustainable living is trying to produce as much of your day-to-day needs as you can on your own property,” Chris said. “So if you have energy needs for heat, you try to maintain a wood lot so you can heat your house. If you have food needs, you try to raise your garden and your animals so you can maintain your basic necessities.”
“It’s about creating as much as you consume so you can have a sustainable life,” Lindsay added.
Chris grew up in an environment of self-sufficiency in southern Idaho. With a family of seven children, his mother did a lot of cooking from scratch and everyone learned to live cheap. “I’ve always been interested in homesteading,” Chris said. “In my free time in college I learned all I could about homesteading because I thought it would be neat to go stake a claim and have an off-the-grid sort of thing. “
Lindsay grew up as a Navy brat, moving from place to place. “But I always wanted the simple life,” she said.
Their goal was to homestead and have a bed and breakfast near the I-5 corridor, somewhere between Portland and Seattle. They found their property in 2012 for a reasonable price and moved a camper onto the property the next year. Emma was two years old and Liam was 10 months old. There was no power, just a generator and batteries; no running water and weekly pumping of the holding tank in the camper.
“There were times when we were living in the brush in the country in a trailer with no space when I was kind of freaked out,” Lindsay said. “I felt a little trapped because I didn’t have a safe place for my kids to play.” Liam has a “dimple” on one cheek from falling in the stubble after brush hogging the land while he was learning to walk.
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