In this collection of blogs, Anneli Carter-Sundqvist takes the reader through a year of living on a self-sufficient, off-the-grid homestead on Deer Isle. She and her husband Dennis live in a small cabin, heat and cook with wood, grow a whole year’s supply of food, raise pigs and chickens, provide their own building materials, garden amendments and energy.

In the summers they run the only hostel on the Maine coast, the Deer Isle Hostel, providing budget accommodation and positive-impact living education for hundreds of travelers each year.

Anneli tells the day-to-day stories: digging out new garden space, swimming in the pond, chasing the pigs and preserving 150 heads of cabbage. She also shares her political and philosophical reasons for why in the 21st century, with an unsettled global economy and changing weather patterns, homesteading and living off the land is not just something from the past but rather a sensible, dignifying and viable option for the future.

Anneli and Dennis opened the Deer Isle Hostel in 2009. They were awarded The Homesteader of the Year 2013 by Mother Earth News and the Best Budget accommodation in the Down East Magazine.

The blog posts are published in the book, A Homesteader’s Year on Deer Isle (visit


When I as a kid dreamed about what to do with my life, homesteading never crossed my mind. I came from Sweden to America for the first time in 2005, to drive a car through what I perceived as the outrageous South, aiming for the Wild West coast. In my early 20s, Maine, from a distance, seemed pretty dull.

Still, here is where I ended up a few years later.

Dennis and I met in the south of Georgia at a hostel and a year later my travels around the world brought me back to the U.S., and this time to Deer Isle. Not even then did I think I would actually stay, not even then did I think of homesteading as something I would do as a way of living.

In 2009 we opened the hostel in a 17th century inspired timber framed house that Dennis built from the granite foundation up, on the same land as our much smaller cabin. As the years passed, I found myself extending my visa over and over and somewhere along the line I started to think about this as a long-term commitment.

Eventually, Dennis and I got married and I was able to stay in the country permanently, settling into the rhythm of living off the land and running a hostel.

A homesteader’s year is in some aspects similar from one year to the next. I plant the garden in the spring and harvest it in the fall. In our case, we run the hostel in the summers and we do forestry in the winters. As we develop our skills and thoughts on various matters, engage in new projects or try other ways of doing things, the years will also be very different. The texts are blogs I wrote and published on Mother Earth News’ website as a way to paint a picture of our lives at present rather than to tell a story about one specific year.

A keen reader will notice that some thoughts around how and why we do things here come back throughout the book. It’s inevitable, since what we do here is all interconnected.

Our striving for self-reliance and independence influences us on a daily basis, in almost every aspect of what we’re doing, as does our connection to nature.

The homestead exists for us to live from and in, but also for the hostel guests to enjoy. The garden is a part of our livelihood, but also a part of our educational program. Our work in the woods is integrated with our food production in many ways; for example, we keep the produce in boxes made from spruce boards, packed in sawdust we get as we mill the lumber. By giving our animals damaged and diseased fruit from the orchard we both feed our livestock from a backyard resource and promote better health for the trees. Our appreciation for natural materials is connected to our desire to live in a natural setting.

Whether you already live as a homesteader, have the ambition to someday do so or whether you live a whole different life quite happily, I hope and believe you’ll find something in these texts to take with you while walking this planet.

Enjoy the read, and enjoy the walk!