Starting to settle on our homestead


Once we decided on the land, it immediately became easy and joyful for the soul. The first stage was over! In the autumn of 2008, we filed papers for the registration of our land. We dreamed all winter in the city, planned our upcoming activities, read various books about plants, Lyosha searched for information about construction (we didn’t yet have the Internet), and we were looking forward to something very important and joyful. 

Our first “business” visit to our homestead was in the spring of 2009. We arrived with my daughter, and not empty-handed! We brought a whole car full of of apple and pear saplings… But I’m skipping ahead a bit. We had purchased the seedlings at Zhitomir market. We chose to plant varieties that we loved and wanted to have around our home. But at the end of spring when the leaves blossomed, we could already see that instead of two what we thought were pears, apple trees of an unknown variety were growing on our land. And in 3-4 years, when the first fruits began to appear on some of the apple trees, we realized that almost none of the varieties corresponded to their names. Instead of Antonovka, we got sweet, red-cheeked winter ripening fruits; instead of summer apples, we got winter or autumn, and vice versa.

At first we were very upset, but having once tried some apples and appreciating their excellent taste, we calmed down and even began to be rejoice that they were growing with us. Several seedlings did not survive – nibbled by mice and hares. We also planted all the types of trees that we really wanted, bought them in containers from the the nursery to facilitate the plant rooting. Now we are waiting for our beauties to please us. Maybe someone might benefit from our experience, so I recommend that everyone who plants trees should turn to professional gardeners and proven nurseries.

We brought our first seedlings of fruit trees, and, of course, spring flowers as well: snowdrops, crocuses, lilies of the valley, primroses and tulips. We already planned in advance the places where all the trees should be planted, having designated them on our little draft. But all the same, sensing the hints of this land, we introduced “amendments” to our draft. Then our first plantings began. Each tree was planted with love and good wishes. I remember how much joy it was!!! Especially when 3-year-old Anyutka was running beside us, and helped us as best she could. So much land, take it, plant it, whatever you want, wherever you want, take it and create your paradise!!!

Going to plant Thuja in the hedge (month of March)

We came to our place at the homestead for weekends, holidays, and vacations for 7 years. Since we didn’t have any buildings on the site, we couldn’t even spend the night. For a while, especially in the spring and autumn of the first year, we stayed at our friend and neighbor’s place, Yura, who kindly provided us with shelter. Thank you, Yura, for the warmth of your home! In warm weather we spent the night in our tent.

At the end of the same year, we decided that we needed a kind of garden hut for garden tools and other things. To this end, we came upon a little bread-baking booth (2.5m x 4m). When we brought it back to the site, we realized that by altering the roof and making a few repairs inside, then it is quite possible to spend the night there. So in the autumn, my husband and his father and brother remade the roof. And the next spring, Lyosha diligently began to tidy the room’s interior. He really wanted to finish the details and have time to celebrate his birthday on the homestead. And it happened.

On the festive day, our neighbor-friends came to congratulate Lyosha, and in the evening we drank tea and ate a birthday cake with different treats, sitting at a table in the so-called “temporary dwelling”. A couple of weeks later, furniture appeared there: a folding bed downstairs, a bed above it, a cabinet for plates and kitchen utensils, a folding dining table (like in a train), and a refrigerator. Space in the room is small in general, but thanks to thoughtful furniture, it was quite cozy there. We installed a little wood stove. We even wintered on our own land, sometimes for a week, and sometimes on the weekend. It’s warm in the cabin, but on the street – 20 degrees below zero! A snow fairy tale all around!

A strong frost on the street, but nice and warm in our cabin.

The first thing we did was clean out two wells, one of which pleased us with delicious clear water. We had the electricity restored, although it was very difficult. For the first two years, we did a lot. We planted lots of fruit trees, berry bushes (always a few more of those to finishing off planting), loosened several flower beds for flowers, made several permanent vegetable beds (we even had the first crops), and began to plant a hedge.

One of our first flowerbeds

Our hedge is gaining strength! Beauty!

Our first beds

And then we built a “miracle house” and decorated it with carvings that Alyosha made over winter in Fastov. But at first glance, nobody could tell that this was such good accommodation!  … Maybe you could guess?

The Miracle House

Olga Lyakhova
Our homestead is in Emelyanovka Family Homestead Settlement, Zhytomyr region, Ukraine.

First published in Russian, 28 March 2018
and 12 April 2018