Living off the Land…


To date this is probably one of the more difficult posts I have ever written.  I feel rather silly having these issues but most of my content is unobjectionable, bubble gum rather and for the first time I feel like I’m opening myself up to judgement…I can see the grim looks on some familiar faces and that is okay.  I am comfortable with my decisions.

Papa Bear and P recently shot a hog.  This is a relatively new avocation in our household and I am completely supportive of it. There are many lessons about the mortality of life and it’s importance being conveyed, the act of learning to be acutely aware of your surroundings and what’s living in them and then the fresh food aspect to be thankful for and shared with family and friends as a celebratory payoff for the hours of patience endured.  For several months P and her brother have been visiting the hunting area mainly to explore trails looking for tracks, spread corn and sometimes to just sit quietly, absorbing nature at her finest.  It’s amazing how the senses are heightened when you are encompassed by everything that is alive, pulsing on a vibration that most people are unaware of because they are so distracted by noise.  It’s amazing and peaceful.


Papa and P had talked about their plans the evening before while I was going to just wait and see if merry sunshine would actually get up.  Sure enough I heard the pitter patter of feet and there she stood in the bathroom doorway, bed head kicking, rubbing her eyes as she stated in her small cute voice, “I’m ready to go hunting.”  My concerns were the frigid cold temperatures and the exploding noise from the gun (she did have ear plugs), but sitting uncomfortably in the back of my mind I wondered how she would react to personally witnessing the animal being shot.   I didn’t want her to be scared but I wanted her to experience an emotion for the animal and the life they were taking.  Responsibility.  We managed to get her dressed in reasonable warm clothes and they were off on their life changing adventure.  At this point I should tell you that aside from cartoons… P’s favorite shows are Alaska, The Last Frontier, Gator Boys, and Call of the Wildman.  I also know that she was in the best hands…her father’s.

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It was a balmy 42 degrees…

I received a cute text and a picture of them cuddled up on the tree-stand eating muffins.  They would sit there completely still, quietly waiting and listening for almost an hour before the shaking in her legs cued Papa that is was time to get down.  They decided to walk a bit to warm up and see if they could spot any fresh trails.  At this point P stated they should go back to the tree-stand.  Papa Bear assessed her request and made sure she had warmed up enough and then decided… well, alright then.  They wouldn’t make it to their destination before a hungry pack of hogs broke through the palmettos.  He couldn’t believe it.  Turning to look at P and see if she was okay, he told her stay behind him as he aimed and took one..clean..shot.  The next order of business was a trip to show her grandpa and then her best friend Sydney.  P had helped get her first hog, her smile was radiant.

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Photo by: AJ Neste

In my mind there is a great sense of accomplishment when you feel like you are able to take care of yourself.  This begins with being able to repair your car, fix your plumbing or better yet being able to provide food for your family. This mindset could have started with the small family gardens my father would always grow or perhaps it stemmed from a day dream I had of living off the land in my late teens, early 20’s.  Thinking that life would be a better quality if all it consisted of were working for survival and enjoying the fruits of your labors.  Of course my land was also nestled in a fertile paradise overlooking a dreamy uncrowded point break.  I have sensed realized how much work there really is to living sustainably off the land, I’m still not opposed to it but I am adamant about it being in the most perfect location-(insert dreamy point break here.)  Add to that mentality a string of conspiracy flicks and some poignant food documentaries and learning not just about where your food comes from but how to get it yourself seems like just another great tool to have sharpened in your belt.  Mix in these crazy days of weather and it makes you wonder…what if something happens and that ever so convenient store doesn’t have what you need or worse yet…isn’t even available to you.

How would you survive?

I feel rather lucky that I am in good company with folks who not only have great assets in which to barter with especially if times get rough, but it also just seems to fit within the parameters of what I feel is important in life…basic needs.    My good friends, the Neste Family have taken their commitment to living off the land by only eating meat they have caught themselves.  They have been practicing this lifestyle for over 7 years now and will never look back.  It’s expensive to buy quality, humanely raised meat in the store and it makes perfect sense when you can get it yourself and know exactly where it came from.

You also appreciate it so much more.

Below is a video shot by Interpret Studios and A.J Neste Photography about being getting back to nature

featuring Professional Surfer:  Evan Geiselman

 The flip side of the coin are my friend’s  the Biata’s.  A family that enjoys the bounty of  fishing and hunting  but are vibrant examples of folks who grow food not lawns.  All but the front yard is bursting with rows of organically grown seasonal herbs and vegetables.  It’s pretty awesome to see kids taking a head off a broccoli stem and popping it into their mouths as the run and play on their imaginary pirate ship sailing on the high seas. It confirms the  belief that kids will eat what they grow

…you just have to teach them.pasang collage

And then there is my friend Maria who’s family’s way of life is living off the land, as they are longtime farmers and cattle ranchers.   A beautiful quote by a friend sums it up “Maria Henry is no “hunter.” She is Diana, Goddess of the Hunt; stronger, more powerful, and embodying the feminine more with her camo-clad spirit of resilience and fortitude than ever possible in dance costumes.”  Maria is the epitome of “do it yourself” as she tackles life by the horns and  has taken her family skills one step further by marketing her lifestyle into a brand called Creek Living.  Not only does she pluck her own chickens but she designed the apron she wears while doing it.maria collage

Lastly, is my sister the park ranger.  While she doesn’t practice living off the land like my friend’s above, she has studied for years about Florida natives and happily passes on her wealth of knowledge to anyone willing to listen.  Her passion to preserve and understand our natural habitat both flora and fauna is infectious and eye opening.  Especially after you have spent hours wrestling with the removal of certain plants only to find out later that not only are they edible but were a staple in the diet of Native American inhabitants. Makes perfect sense, right?


 In the end… life is what you make of it and I am learning to make yummy dishes out of wild hog- who would have ever guessed. Cheers!

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*on a recent trip to Maria’s we got hooked up with some fresh eggs, a genuine cow lick, couple of cute aprons,  and some fresh venison sausage…

it’s great to know good people :))

Thanks to the following!



Cheers to Living 🙂