Working almost non-stop as young professionals, they knew something was missing.
“We were both working a lot of hours – 80 hours per week — eating out three meals a day, coming home to a dark house,” says Cody, one of the stars of the Wranglerstar You Tube channel. “Everyone you meet says, ‘Oh, you guys have it made. You’re making so much money. You’re building these careers.’ But we didn’t really like it. We didn’t get to spend any time together.”
That’s when his wife, Jessica, learned through a Bible study about a couple who had moved to Montana, dropped off the electrical grid and created a new life.
“It was just happen-chance they were speaking in town,” Cody says. “We met them and they invited us to spend a weekend with them in Montana. On the drive home, we decided to do this. We put our house up for sale when we got home.”
What has followed is the creation of the You Tube channel where the couple and their son, Jack, share their story about modern homesteading. Despite putting a part of their lives out on the Internet, the couple prefers to maintain their privacy and asked that their last name not be used in this story.
Jessica also has written a book. They’ll hold a book signing from 4-6 p.m. Friday at Yankee Peddler West in downtown Fremont.
The You Tube channel started out as a hobby. But it’s grown into much more. It now has nearly 271,000 subscribers and the videos have been several million times.
And it has become a way to help support their lives.
“When we made that decision, no one was making money on You Tube. It was done as a hobby,” Cody says. “I remember when we got our first check from You Tube. It was $100 or something. I thought, ‘This isn’t real. This is never going to cash.’ … That really changed my way to thinking.
“I think she was really annoyed from my You Tube videos. I think probably she thought it was taking away from a real job. But I really started to realize we could do this, we could make a living at this.”
It is more than they anticipated, Jessica says.
“The subscribers want to watch daily,” she says. “It’s definitely more work than we anticipated.”
Still, they are able to keep some privacy.
“When we do apple pressing (the subject of recent video), that’s half an hour of our life,” says Jessica, who grew up in Fremont – a fact not mentioned in the videos. “The rest of our life is not shown on camera.”
All those videos – and the connection to their subscribers – led to the new book.
“There’s this publishers and his wife is a viewer of ours,” Jessica says. “She went to him and said, ‘I think you guys should have them write a book.’ So they approached us about writing a book, and we had no aspirations about writing a book. But it’s doing well.”
Long days and nights – and a few too many frozen pizzas for dinner – followed the decision to write the book. Now they are in the process of helping promote it.
Next Friday’s book signing follows a trip to Topeka, Kan., for the Mother Earth News Fair where Cody will be a featured speaker.
The book, like the videos, shows the process of the couple’s move from the city to rural Pacific Northwest. The reality – warts and all – of the process has caught on with viewers.
“We were showing the process of moving out of the city – two people that really didn’t know anything about it,” Cody says. “We were really careful to show when we messed up.”
They had plenty to learn once they made the decision to move out of the city.
Their first move was to an acre-and-half piece of land. That was followed by a 26-acre homestead that was completely off the grid. But now, home is a 1903 cabin with many of the modern conveniences – including a satellite Internet connection.
Moving back onto the grid seemed like a failure at first, Jessica says.
“I think we thought like a failure for a while,” she says. “But you have to give yourself grace. You’re going to make failures. You’ve got to pick yourself up by your bootstraps.”
While they live in a remote area, they see their neighbors more often now than when they lived in a busy city. They like it that way, knowing they can depend on those neighbors for advice and support.
Both are active in the community, too. They volunteer – he’s on the local fire department and she is a master food preserver who shares that information with others.
Neither foresees a time when they’ll move back to the city.
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