Taking Primal to the Next Level

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

In January 2011 my husband and I began a primal lifestyle cold turkey, after many years of failed attempts at other diets and changes. We experienced great success with both losing weight and health improvements and were the MDA Friday success story in July 2012.

In April of 2013, we traveled to PrimalCon in Oxnard, CA, and met Mark and a whole slew of like-minded friends. The entire trip was very empowering and invigorating (and not just because of the ice cold ocean plunge!). On the plane ride home we decided it was time to start taking control of the way we wanted to live and do something about the growing unhappiness with the location of our home.

We had recently gone through several extensive Ohio winters that seemed never ending (and this is coming from a gal that has lived in Ohio her entire life). I’m pretty sure a good bit of those feelings came from the fact that we were now healthy and active and that alone made winter feel longer and restrictive. The weather, coupled with the fact that we lived on a small lot (at an intersection of a busy road) and in a town with lots of property “rules,” started to feel like a tightening collar that chaffed a little more everyday.

PrimalCon OxnardIn Mark’s video “Under the Yellow Light” he talks about how adopting a Primal lifestyle can then make you want to take control of other areas of your well being – this suffocating urge for space was definitely a result of our new found relationship with ourselves. We had changed our bodies – now we were ready to change our lives.

For several years we had been talking about, but always putting off, preparing our house for sale. The market wasn’t good, the weather wasn’t good, there were too many repairs to make and we couldn’t afford to do them. I’m a worrier and a planner…and I guess a procrastinator, if the first two get overwhelming. When we returned home from PrimalCon, we decided to finally move forward with the business of tackling all the things we had been putting off, whether they were easy or not. We wanted land and space, and to not feel like we were living in a fishbowl. I have always been a country girl trapped in the city. I didn’t grow up on a farm or really have any exposure to a farm, but I have always known intuitively that’s where I needed to be. I was never allowed to own an animal other than a dog, but as a child, I dreamed of owning a pet store where I could “play with and care for the animals all day” – what I didn’t realize then, but know now is that I simply wanted to be a farmer.

PrimalCon Ocean PlungeNaturally, the quality of our food had become a big issue since going Primal as well. Of course we tore through veggies and meat, but [we] yearned for the ability to produce our own. My husband is a chef by profession and good food has always been celebrated, savored, and enjoyed. Since my husband’s background is in the food service industry, we have more ability than some to target an area of the country where we’d like to live. We considered possibilities for his employment in Ohio all the way to the Virgin Islands (where he’d worked for years in the past). The island life was especially attractive anytime I’d had a few drinks while listening to some Kenny Chesney songs. Leaving it all with two young kids (both on the autism spectrum) and starting over down there would leave us financially strapped and probably not able to live any farmer type of life. So we set our sights on the southern states, near the coast.

When Ed got a job offer in the panhandle of Florida, it felt like the perfect opportunity. We would be able to afford a couple acres of land AND be within 35 minutes of beautiful emerald water beaches. We had never been to or knew anyone in the Florida panhandle. The three hours the kids and I spent on the beautiful beach waiting for my husband to return from the job interview was the only introduction to the area I needed. This move required me exit my comfort zone more than I ever had in my entire life. A leap of faith that this was the right move for our family. My husband and I spent three long months apart as he had to start the job right away in Florida and I had to stay in Ohio with the kids and sell the house. That separation and stress was the biggest and toughest hurdle of the whole experience.

We will have lived here on Primal Acres Farm a year this October. The farming life has been everything I hoped and more. We go to bed every night tired as hell but with a new found sense of satisfaction and wake up in the morning well rested, content, and ready to tackle it all over again. The lows, when they happen are low…but the highs are so very sweet, personal, and fulfilling that the lows fade quickly. To sit on our porch swing at night with a glass of wine and be drowned out by the sound of singing frogs rather than turning up the TV volume because we can’t hear over the traffic noise is pure bliss. We were very lucky to find a property that had been a working farm in the past and already had all the infrastructure in place – water lines run, animal pastures, and a fenced quarter acre garden where the soil had been well cared for. That allowed us to do what they say you should not, which is jump headlong into everything. We had more projects started here in the first six months than some people get around to in the first five years. Yes, a farm really does tie you down – no longer do we have the ability to run off on several trips a year like we have in the past, heck going away for one evening seems like quite the obstacle at this point. The great thing is though that we live 35 minutes from the beach. We can do the AM animal chores, milk the goat, pack some drinks, and go for an early morning swim in the ocean. Have lunch at a beach restaurant and go home feeling like we’ve escaped to a different world for just a little while.

Day at the beach

People shake their heads at us – You mean you bought a farm and you’ve never lived on one? Nope. Have you ever raised (insert – goats, chickens, turkeys, bees, rabbits, etc.) before? Nope. Have you ever had more than an 8×10 garden before? No… but we have all that now and more. We are learning by doing and living and having a damn good time figuring it out together. As Joel Salatin likes to say, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly the first time.” People are so afraid to try new things these days for fear of screwing them up – it’s so sad! You have to get out there and do, and fall, and fail, and stand back up and try again. Unlike me and bowling, you usually do get better the second round. I am good with animals, but it seems that neither my husband nor I was born with a green thumb. So we are experiencing a large learning curve when it comes to gardening on a larger scale and what does well in Florida vs. the way we use to grow things in Ohio. It is amazing what you can learn using Youtube and Google and I am currently enrolled in a local gardening class. Several times a day I look up how to videos or plant identification or post questions on homesteading forums. I am always amazed and grateful that others share their knowledge so freely.


Farmer Ed

The goal is to eventually start selling enough things produced here on the farm that my husband can “retire” and stay home and work the farm. Hopefully his professional cooking and butchering skills can come into play by hosting classes for local folks and some other business ideas we are rolling around with. As it is right now, our weekends and evenings are overfilled with projects that require two people and his to-do list is always a mile long. I really wish I could afford to hire him on full time 🙂 One farm blogger I love wrote, “Sometimes I dream it’s Sunday and I wake up in a condo and the only thing I have to do is make coffee” – I totally get that now. As a child I thought, “Who wouldn’t want to live on a farm?!” But after my first couple days cleaning the chicken coop, I said to myself, “Yeah, I can see how this wouldn’t be for everyone.” The farm is a tough playground – no longer do I get to go to kickboxing class three times a week, but I feel like I walk miles everyday from one side of the farm to the other. The constant bruises on my legs, lack of fingernails, and scratches on my arms make me feel like a 10-year-old tomboy again. I lift 50 pound bags of feed instead of gym weights and feel like I sweat off quite a bit squatting in the garden. To workout after a day of working on the farm feels…very… laughable. We go to bed exhausted and sore but with a good sense of accomplishment. I’m glad I’ve never been one who enjoyed nightlife and party socializing, because socially, it’s isolating, mostly just by the sheer time it takes up. By the time chores are done for the evening and all animals have been wrangled away, a movie on Netflix seems like WAY too much of a commitment before bed.

Amy on the farm

The family is doing very well here. My youngest son (who cried the first night we moved in because there were frogs on the window screens) is now chasing around chickens and participating in 4H projects. My older son (who is moderately autistic) is thriving with homeschooling and getting outside more than he did living in the city. He loves the beach and finds the ocean waves very calming and will stay out in them for hours. We gave up some conveniences and luxuries that we had living in a high tax suburb, but the ability to have a backyard bonfire, talk in outdoor voices outdoors, and own noisy animals is very freeing.

Ed on the farm

So, what I have learned so far is that farming is not for the weak, lazy, or squeamish (all biggies!). It’s a life lesson filled journey and an adventure where you pick up all kinds of interesting travelers along the way. Like the beat up day old chick I had to save from the bin at the feed store that now walks on her elbows and has another chicken as a bodyguard, the horse with ligament disease in his back legs that can’t be ridden which makes for an expensive lawn ornament, and the turkey named “Lucky” that has been pardoned from Thanksgiving and follows me everywhere like a puppy. Every single one of them serves a purpose and teaches you something. The people we have met so far have been wonderfully helpful and kind. Each sharing with us their knowledge and expertise to make our lives easier. Amazing how finding like-minded people can make you feel so much less crazy. Primal living has changed our lives in so many positive ways I can’t even fathom where we’d be right now had we not taken those first steps toward change. I am truly blessed and grateful that I am on this path today.

Smith Family

Come check us out on Facebook, or Instagram – We are just getting started over here! 🙂


TAGS:  guest post

About the Author

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

67 thoughts on “Taking Primal to the Next Level”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. What an inspiring story and that beach looks like heaven. Well done! xx

  2. What a wonderful story! My husband and I have big dreams of what we’d love to do, but have never been brave enough to actually map out a path to getting there. This may be just the inspiration we were needing. Thank you!

  3. What a beautiful story!! Good for you for taking that leap and being who you want to be. Congratulations on your new adventure. 🙂

  4. What a glorious follow up! I am so happy for you, and jealous, and inspired!

  5. What a great name for your new farm! Congratulations to you all. Having spent a few months traveling the coasts of Florida I know first hand how beautiful it is. I wish you all the best for your future there.

  6. LOVE LOVE LOVE your story! Kudos for taking the plunge and changing it up. Our family is going through that transition also and it’s terrifying.
    Two fb posts that recently resonated (that I think relate to this) are “Sometimes our lives have to be completely shaken up, changed & rearranged to relocate us to the place we’re meant to be” and “Making a big life change is scary. But know what’s even scarier? Regret”

  7. You may not be good in bowling, but you certainly threw a strike on this adventure. Congratulations you guys!

  8. Very inspiring story so thanks for sharing! In some ways I wish my husband and I could take a similar leap of faith – but at this point it would be too overwhelming. I’m hoping someday we can make some big changes and it’s great to read the stories of people who have done this and are living it!

  9. If you want more leisure on your farm I suggest you look into permaculture.

      1. Me too. I wish Geoff Lawton’s name/image was the first thought of famous Aussies (even though I think he was born in Britain) instead of Paul Hogan or Steve Irwin. Love his YouTube videos.

    1. Yes permaculture is high on our agenda! We have good friends here who are well ahead of us and very well versed on the subject, once we have our ducks in a row we’ll be evolving into strict permaculture,,

  10. Awesome! Just got back from Santa Rosa Beach and I miss it already. Nothing like 30A. You guys are living the dream that’s for sure. My dream!!! Not my husbands! Lol!

  11. Fantastic decision. It’s absolutely wonderful that you both want the same thing and were able to go get it just by making a primal decision.

    1. You do not need acreage to start. Urban farming, roof top farming, a balcony with growing buckets or even a small window planter to grow herbs.

      1. All good ideas and I am planning on getting my veggie and herb gardens going in full swing next season. However, I got to share my piddle 1/6th acre backyard with my 3 dogs so I still got to give them room to play and I don’t think chickens would fare to well back there with them. Dogs would harass them too much even if they were in a coop.

  12. Being from NYC originally and marrying a girl from Ohio (near Toledo) you might wonder why we wouldn’t embrace the city life. But my formative years and much of our married life has been small towns and country. There is something endearing about “space” and natural noise as opposed to the mechanical drones of city life.

    I see how hard being self-sufficient can be– but deep inside the reward for blisters and sore muscles can be a satisfaction of the soul found nowhere else by closer to God’s creation!

    Awesome job! We also lived for a while in the Panhandle of Florida– you’re blessed to have some acreage and time to develop the skills you’ll need to be successful.

  13. For those who want farm-fresh food but don’t want to give everything up for the farming life, check out your local you-pick farms. I’ve picked a wide variety of berries, tree fruits, and veggies. Farms also sell pre-picked produce grown on site, and have agreements to sell local honey, eggs, milk and meat from nearby. There are also many little country markets that do the same only without the you-pick. Admittedly, most of it is not fully organic, but I’d rather have local.

  14. I have been a lurker on MDA for over 2 years now and don’t think I’ve ever left a comment on one of the Friday Success Stories (even though I read them each and every week). But your story was too fantastic to not! I especially love “People are so afraid to try new things these days for fear of screwing them up – it’s so sad! You have to get out there and do, and fall, and fail, and stand back up and try again.” So very true and a great reminder to not be afraid of failure. Just use it as a learning experience, get back up and keep going.

    Thanks for your refreshing primal perspective!

    1. The quote I put on all of my apple devices (I have several) is: “The only failure is the failure to try.” I believe it. I live it. Fantasic story. Kudos to the both of you.

  15. Jealous, you are about 8-10 years ahead of my plan. I have the location picked out and everything. My wife has an aunt that owns and operates a farm in DeFuniak Springs and we have the goal of taking it over to live the same dream.

  16. Wow, a “where are they now” story! LOVE UPDATES….
    Thanks for the update and all the wonderful photos. It is really encouraging for us to see transitions happening so we are motivated to have courage to keep stepping forward in our lives with changes of our own.

  17. Ummm.. can I bring my autistic son down there and build a tiny cabin for us to live in so we can farm with you?! That sounds amazing!!!!!!!! Well done!

  18. Amy,
    Thanks for the inspirational success story. My husband and I did much the same thing on a smaller scale. We have our 22 layers and will be expanding our flock by 24 at the end of September. Do we feel that MDA and primal eating/exercise attributed to our decision to relocate? The answer to that is a resounding YES!!! Prior to MDA we would not have the health nor energy to live like this.
    Not that we didn’t like our neighbors – we loved them – as is necessary when your tract-housing walls are only ten feet apart. Our vertical garden worked, but in such small amounts it was not sustainable.
    My husband has repurposed almost everything we came across for our raised garden bed and the permaculture we used inside them. We moved here a year ago and our first experimental garden crop is amazing to us. (We have baby cauliflower heads in an area, we were told, that cannot grow cauliflowers!)
    I want to echo what everyone has previously said. Congratulations on your successful transition. We admire your tenacity to choose and follow your dream. We also highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in being self-sustaining primal eaters.

    1. Cindy, sounds like you folks are on your way as well. I’m glad you shared a bit of your story with us too.
      Did you move to Florida too?

  19. Aces! What a great journey you have all made. I will be following your Facebook page.

    We lived in San Francisco for 15 years and then moved to 3 acres in rural Northern CA where we keep horses and dogs. You do get tied down on a rural property where animals depend on you and there are loads of chores and upkeep. You just can’t get away for very long without major issues piling up at home. While we loved the city and still like to visit and travel my tolerance for crowds and traffic is nil these days, it’s great to get back home and walk the dogs under the stars in the quiet, no lights and nary a soul around. Yes, we can also be as loud as we care to be, we do enjoy some private dance parties late at night!

    30 yrs ago I was living in the Wash DC suburbs with a ‘good’ job and hating my life, after wasting my twenties there I vowed to move to California and first live in the city and then later in the country, no more suburbs or commutes. Like you I procrastinated a bit but overcame the inertia and forced myself to make things happen, I don’t have to tell you how satisfying it is to make a life plan and then see it actually work out!

    Now after 13 years here in the country we are getting a little restless and contemplating selling every single possession and just going nomad internationally. In the near term one idea I am kicking around is house swapping for a month or more with city people from Portland or Seattle who might want to chill in the country for a while. I bet there are loads of folks who would love to experience your farm if you ever want to do a getaway…

    All the best, Dave

    1. PS. We’ve often thought of keeping goats and sheep but they are so cute and personable I don’t think I could slaughter them once I got to know them. Even a steer can have a distinct personality much like a dog. Beware, once you name them they are pets!

      1. Our goats are dairy goats and will be spared the knife, we will expand to meat goats eventually but everything else is literally on the table

  20. What an incredible story! It motivates me to look at my own life and see what things are possible for my future. I especially loved the part about the chick, the horse and the turkey. How very special you and your family are to love and protect these special little souls. Thank you for sharing your beautiful life with us. Continued happiness to all of you!!!

  21. What an amazing story! This reminds me of the quote by Anais Nin: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” You took a big leap of faith and it looks like it’s paying off greatly!

  22. Thank you so much for this. I read your first success story as well, and it’s so fun to see how you continued to grow and didn’t stop with just changing the way you ate. I envy you, in a very good way. Congrats!

  23. I loved your story! I’m originally from east central Ohio myself (living in Texas for the past 35 years) and those winters are no joke! Even the Texas winters bother me now that I have less body fat than I used to. And I also have a son on the autism spectrum and spending time in nature and caring for animals is so good for him, I’ll just bet your boys are thriving more than they ever have!

  24. Love the story….we are looking for escape from the cold also! Maybe we’ll check out the panhandle!

  25. Mine was last week’s Success Story… and I was so glad to get comments and inspire people… but I have to tell you, you have TRULY inspired me. I have been looking for a big change in my life. Even to rival my Primal change, which was obviously a big one. Thank you so much for your story. It has strengthened my resolve to make another BIG CHANGE! As soon as my [email protected] house sells 😉 Ha!

    Good luck on the farm!

  26. Fantastic story, very inspiring. I still want to make some changes to my life other than diet and you are great models. To your continued success!

  27. Great story! I have lived my whole life (41 years) in Northeast Ohio. I dream of the day my husband and I move someplace warmer! Congrats to you and your family for wanting to change and making it happen!

  28. Great story, thanks for sharing. I have lived on farms all my married life (27 years), and we raised 3 strapping lads on acres. We have always said that the greatest thing we did for our kids was a country life. I know it’s not possible or feasible for everyone, but it worked for us. I have no trouble raising animals, but I’m a lousy gardener. Will get out and give it a go again this spring, that’s if it rains;)

  29. Great story. Am also a former Buckeye, but I couldn’t stop thinking about “Green Acres”.

  30. I loved reading your story. Living in Ohio and being in a house with a back yard viewable from six other homes in typical middle class suburbia, this really resonated. My city won’t let me have chickens. My garden speaks to your quote about doing something poorly the first time. Your story is good inspiration to follow the yearning…

  31. I will admit the whole farming thing does not really appeal to me, but the fresh eggs, dairy (if I could eat it, but at least my husband can) and space does very much sound inviting. Good for you! Congrats on finding your happiness and I hope that you continue to discover what makes you most happy. Living in Cincinnati right now, but we are looking towards living full time on the road eventually, so not farm, but LOTS of space in the future for us, too:)

  32. Farm certainly doesn’t seem easy, but having a beach like that in your backyard certainly makes it a lot more bearable! 🙂 Best of luck with your future endeavors!

  33. Wow, just…wow! What an inspiring story. Although farm life isn’t something I aspire to, the fact that you wanted it and found a way to do literally brought tears to my eyes.

    Seeing someone reach their potential is a powerful thing – whatever that potential may be. You and your family have found that. Congratulations!

  34. Wishing you all the best from Burgenland, Austria, where raw milk is legal and no one tells you what you can and can’t do with your front yard! Good luck!

  35. Sounds like you’ve found your place in the world at long last. Congratulations and good luck. It sounds lovely.

  36. I love this story, great to have two people on the same page willing to take risks! I am curious: has becoming Primal helped both your sons autism?

  37. What an inspiring story! You seem to speak right out of my heart.
    Ever since I can remember I wanted to own a farm. Yet as a child I wasn’t allowed to have any animals except a rabbit, which had to live outside. In my current situation, keeping animals isn’t possible either. Your story gives me the hope that even though I haven’t been able to gain many experiences in this sector, making my dream come true one day (even if it might be on a small scale) is still a possibility. Thank you!

  38. Thank you for this empowering story! I too am a city girl with the soul of a country girl and I know the plight of feeling like to need get away. I’ve recently made my first step toward living the homesteading life, and your story is very encouraging. 🙂