Why would a family of 6 choose to live in a tiny house? The short answer is this: we want a full, rich quality of life for our family. But to be honest, the tiny house is one small part in a larger mindset shift that Trent and I have experienced. To explain our story in full, I have to go back in time.
I grew up in Oregon on a few acres and my best childhood memories include making teepees with the long pasture grass, pretending fallen logs were horses, and talking to chickens. My dad grew a garden and my mom homeschooled and cooked healthy food from scratch. I wanted to do what was expected of me and I colored in the lines. I always thought I would grow up, get married, and live the American Dream.
Trent’s childhood was similar: he grew up in the country, his mom homeschooled and cooked from scratch and his dad grew a garden. He spent those years making and playing in forts, digging tunnels, and riding bikes with his brother as fast as he could down steep logging roads. He didn’t color in the lines; instead, he drew fantastical beasts and futuristic spaceships. He dreamed of living in an underground house. The American Dream was just not creative and unique enough for him.
Trent and I got married when I was 19, and in the next two years, we had two kids. We changed a lot of diapers. We were too tired to dream of fantastical beasts or underground houses. We ate whatever unhealthy food we wanted, went shopping a lot, and took the kids to the park. That’s what the American Dream is all about, right? But our rental house was a major roadblock to being normal. It was a old pink house with a long gravel driveway. Not cool.
After a few years, we had a baby girl. When she was a chubby 6 month old, we found a documentary on Netflix called TINY. All of our childhood interests in making small dwellings welled up inside us. We were intrigued. You could build a whole home on a trailer and tow it behind a truck? The cute loft and tiny bathroom were too enticing. We had to know more. We wasted no time looking at Tumbleweed trailers and floor plans. We even made a small mock-up with boards on the ground to see what the space would feel like. But that’s as far as it went. We had three little kids and were expecting another and those days were long and hard. But we never stopped talking about living in a tiny house someday.
Making the plunge
A few years later, once our fourth and final child was born, Trent and I looked at each other and said, “Are we going to keep talking about this tiny house or are we going to build it?” It was a hard decision for me; it would mean giving up on the American Dream. Then it occurred to us: we could dig up an older version of the American Dream and start a homestead. We could roll our tiny house onto bare land and have little to no debt.
The more we thought about a homestead and a self-sufficient lifestyle, we began to apply that thinking to other parts of our lives. Taking charge of our health was next on the to-do list.
Changing our Diet
Trent was having joint pain and our daughter Elsa was suffering from a gluten allergy. Our bad eating was catching up with us. We weren’t thriving, and I knew we could have a better quality of life.
We heard of the GAPS diet, which promised us healing from inflammation and restored gut health. We knew it was a massive life change, so we chose to try it for a month. I enthusiastically gave it my all; making bone broth, deboning meat, chopping veggies, soaking nuts… it was all new for me. We began to see results immediately. Our brain fog was lifted, we had more energy, Trent’s inflammation was better, Elsa wasn’t head-banging at night anymore, and my baby weight was melting off! At the end of the month, we adopted the diet as part of our life. I kept cooking, even though I was getting weary of chopping veggies and convincing little kids to drink broth. The changes we saw in our life kept us committed to continue.
Once I began to take responsibility for my family’s well-being, it began a waterfall of change in our life. We rapidly began to realize how ill America has become and how little modern medicine is doing to heal and restore health. We began to pull dandelion roots out of our yard in the winter, clip nettle in the spring, dehydrate calendula in the summer, and pick elderberries in the fall. We discovered several medicinal plants that had been growing in our yard the whole time. Now, the little pink house with the long driveway became a place of life and health. The house was humming with broth pots, sauerkraut crocks, and tinctures. Our permaculture chickens fertilized our garden in the winter and gave us beautiful brown eggs for breakfast. Our no-till garden produced the veggies we needed and craved. We felt a deep sense of humanity and vibrance. We were changing, and we felt truly alive to enjoy it all.
Go to part two of Why Live in a Tiny House?