The Christys have been building and living on their remote 40 acre homestead since the early 1970s. The property was inaccessible and basically untouched when they bought it. It was miles from the nearest power line, had no water, and barely had a road to the small piece of flat ground on which they carved out a garden and house site. In the early days, the road was so difficult and steep that the only vehicle they could get up and down the driveway in the winter was an old Caterpillar tractor from the 1930s. To get to town, they'd drive the Caterpillar down the hill, then get in a WWII- era Jeep (since sold) to drive the four-wheel-drive road out the the "decent" road. Then they'd switch vehicles again and drive an hour to town and to the jobs they held when they initially purchased their property. In the evening, they reversed the process, utilizing 3 different vehicles to get home to their property that initially had no water, power, or structures. Those were hard years, before the property became more developed, but Jim was in his element: putting his shoulder against the forces of nature and pushing. He wanted to live life on his own terms, and the remote property offered him that opportunity.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, there was a huge "Back to the Land" movement, founded by people who wanted to live life on their own terms. Some estimates suggest that a million people went back to the land in those years. The vast majority of "back-to-the-landers" who tried to homestead or otherwise make their living from the land did not make it for more than a couple of years. The life could be brutally hard, and required a lot of skills that the average person did not possess. There were bears, and there were poachers, and broken down trucks. Freak hail storms could flatten a garden and ruin an entire summer's work in 5 minutes flat. There was never enough money, never enough day light, and always more work to do. Ruth Ann and Jim watched as other would-be homesteaders came and went. And year after year, they stuck it out. I'm not sure that they ever considered NOT sticking it out. They built a house and then a root cellar and slowly improved and enlarged the garden. They both had grown up on farms out East, which likely contributed to their understanding of what a homesteading life consisted of, even before they set foot on the blank canvas that was the 40 acres where they'd build a life. They had skills, and where their skills were lacking, they acquired new ones. Ruth Ann knew all about gardening in Kentucky, but she had to develop a whole new skill set to coax life into tiny seedlings at 9,000 feet above sea level, where the ground doesn't even thaw until May, and the first freeze can hit in late August. Jim had been fixing and making things all his life, but when faced with a broken truck in the "middle of nowhere," survival skills kicked in... and grew.
And so the years passed, and they grew gardens and chickens and a house, greenhouse, root cellar, and shop. Two boys were grown into men there, (one of which eventually married the likes of me), and still the Christys homestead on in their quiet little corner of Colorado. Through the years they collected wood-- including Bristlecone that was gathered from Bone Mountain. That wood continues to be collected to this day. Gardens continue to be planted, and they continue to worry about hail in the late summer. Trucks still break down (unfortunately), and the building projects continue. Today, the strength of teenaged sons has been replaced with the lifting power of Bobcat skidsteer. The pitter patter of little feet comes from 2 granddaughters, though the Christmas donuts they enjoy are exactly the same as they've always been. And as always, the donuts are mainly made by Ruth Ann for Jim's benefit, though the other family members enjoy them as well.
Everything has changed, and everything has remained exactly the same.