In 1990, my husband and I took all the money we saved from our wedding gifts and a year of living frugally and working like rented mules and bought 7.5 acres on the Big Island. For those of you who live on the mainland, that might seem little more than a big house lot, but believe me, growing up on Oahu, that looks like abundance. We didn't really know what we were doing, but at least we had the sense to look for property with dirt. The Big Island is very young, lots of it is just lava rock - on those properties, it takes a jack hammer or dynamite to create a garden. After that, it sat. We visited the land and dreamed.
In 1995, the dream took a little more concrete shape - we flew over and built a small 10x 12 cabin with 10x12 deck. Because in the intervening years between purchase and building we discovered we had bought land in what amounted to the wild frontier, we were concerned enough to hide the cabin behind trees. This meant that we hauled all the materials in through a small path in the forest - every board, concrete pier, nail, and roof panel. This is while toting a one year old and a three year old on our backs. We built that cabin with hand tools: a handsaw, a hammer, some nails. It listed somewhat, and later, we found that we had put the windows in backward (the sills were outside), but there it sat. Something solid to point to, a bare possibility of escape from the constricted life in a condo, and escape to a more self-sufficient life.