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Homestead dreaming in the Bakken


I don’t remember when I started dreaming about a North Dakota homestead. I am a pretty logical gal so I knew that all the prior houses that we remodeled and sold while our kids were small were leading up to moving out of town. We realized that house number four was our ticket and the homestead dream was in full force.

We drove back roads and looked for every clump of trees that might’ve previously held a homestead with the land book open in my lap. We’d turn a corner and the loveliest old barn would come into view and I would ache for it to be ours. I would give my sister a list of names to call and pretend to be me and try to find out if it was available or not.

Now the boom wasn’t in full force, but it was about to be, and suddenly I would see oil locations popping up where I dreamed of making a home. And I would ache a bit more and try to think of ways to meet the landowners. I just knew that if they met us they would want us to live in their former homes. I wanted to tell them we would love it and use the clothesline and the coop and bring life back to it. Later, I would drive by those locations and see campers or leveled ground ready for something oil related and anger and loss would spring up.

Fast forward a few years, and 20 acres became ours. The boom jumped into full swing and the delay of things like electricity, water and phone was long. Some of the hardest and best times were those 15 months in the camper we lived in on our new land. I devoured Mckenzie County history and quickly realized we had it good in the cold camper compared to the tarpaper shack. I thought of the pioneers every night that we rocked to sleep in the raging wind or tried to get the kids ready for Sunday morning with no water, and me with naturally curly hair! I have the absolute best memories of the hard and lovely time that was the 26-foot camper.

Fast forwarding again to our little house and life and the encroaching boom. I know we were not the only ones who found ourselves surrounded by infrastructure and dusty traffic, but it was hard nonetheless. I loved our home, and yet I longed for that homestead I had pictured perfectly in my mind.

I used to ask if I was supposed to be content where I was or if I was supposed to keep dreaming for more. I knew the answer was yes to both.

One day, a new Facebook friend messaged me and said she loved my sweet little house and sweet little life and that I looked like someone who might know someone who would want to rent a rustic farmhouse ten miles east of town. I still get choked up with thankfulness because I know it was as if God said “Open your hands,” and then He placed this in them.

Things I know about this place: it is not ours. But I am loving it and enjoying it as if it were. I am proud that our family is bringing LIFE back to this place. That we grow a garden and watch sunsets and gather eggs and hang clothes here. That my heart skips a beat when I come to the part of the driveway where the little farmstead comes into view. And that we are gifted the privilege of living in a real homestead, as perfect as I ever dreamed of living in.

I am devouring all the information I can find on the family who homesteaded here and excited to find out more! I know this is an ongoing story and I am so thankful that the Lord cares about the desires of our heart and the dreams and plans that fill them.

Written by Rebekah Engebretson

Rebekah Engebretson

Rebekah lives in a little house on the prairie with her husband and 4 daughters near Watford City. She is a huge North Dakota fan and loves people and taking pictures and personality tests.

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