Posted in Homestead

Tour of a Mountainside Homestead

My husband and I love to tour other people’s homesteads. We love to see what others are doing, be inspired, and swap ideas. We headed out to deliver medicine to a homesteading couple an hour southwest of us. The road rose to over 8000 feet. We came out of the trees and the road looked out across the most beautiful vista, the valley stretching across to the Sangre de Cristo mountains, those high, sun flecked, looming peaks.

Perched on the mountainside was their hand-built abode. A pole barn with an 800 square foot addition added for their house. Inside the house looked like a charming bed and breakfast with just what one needs, an open kitchen and living room, wood stove in the corner, and a view of the whole valley. A vermiculture tower of veggies was set up in their office. In the attached pole barn was their RV which acted as guest quarters. A wood cookstove, another wood stove, a seating area, dining room table and glitzy chandelier hung from the ceiling. A well stocked room was their pantry, and an upstairs loft was set up with comfy cushions.

The wind whipped across the drive and the pastures telling of an approaching storm. We passed several cords of stacked wood as they walked us through their large fenced garden. They used very tall frames and chicken wire that were used as drying racks at a marijuana greenhouse that had them for sale for cheap as fence panels. They dug down and put in chicken wire. The well secured space was being sectioned off for dual purpose chickens they were about to go into town to pick up. A few heads of lovely cabbage were left in the garden. They simply turned the soil and amended well with mulch and manure from local ranchers.

A cistern sat on a hill capturing rainwater (what little we get) and was positioned to move downhill to water the garden. They have a well that they are careful not to overuse. The lack of water here in Colorado is really the downfall of homesteading here, but clever homesteaders make it work.

Pushing my hair out of my face that the wind was whipping around, I entered the dome greenhouse and found myself in a quiet sanctuary. Water from the little pond trickled sweetly, the propane heater kept the space warm, and cucumbers and tomatoes scampered around the ceiling of the greenhouse. Herbs grew in pots and vegetables grew as if it were summer.

I mentioned how much I have always liked the domes but the price was so high. Mary explained that it was worth it. They were too old, she said, to do anything half way, to waste money on things that would not work. They bought a shed when they first moved onto the property while they were building their house. It blew away.

Mary and Glen hunt and process their own meat and have stored away non-perishables. They grow much of their food and have gradually built and moved to this carefully placed homestead. They are adding chickens and more solar panels to the property. They live a comfortable and cozy life off grid. Homesteads are all different and each one offers valuable wisdom and inspiration. I am thankful that this sweet couple shared their space with us and showed us around. Homesteaders are a generous and friendly group. I am glad to be counted among them.

Posted in Homestead

The Busy, Busy Summer

It has been an incredibly busy summer and here autumn is in full swing. Homesteading here is a pleasure and our first farming season was wonderful. In June, I was terribly discouraged, even considering giving up. I had started gardens six times bigger than any of our previous homesteads and was upset that I wasn’t able to keep up by myself.

Enter angels in cars and vans with backpacks and stories and ideas and joy and youth. Becoming a WWOOF host has been great fun. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is an amazing program; “The new backpacking across Europe,” according to my husband. A woman in her thirties with a master’s degree and a desire for a new career, new life, searching for herself (and a liberal cowboy). A young woman fresh out of college, feeling the peer pressure of starting a career, but really wanting more freedom and a homestead, fulling embracing her apron strings. A young man straight out of the military with some serious soul searching to do. A nineteen year old with ambition and wisdom beyond her years, with a great desire to change food deserts and start a farm. My last woofer is here now, a 6’7″, hungry, twenty year old basketball player. He is here for two weeks helping me put the gardens to bed and to prepare the homestead for the colder months. We will then have our house to ourselves again, and then will welcome more young, future homesteaders here in the spring. We have a greenhouse now, are adding extensive raised beds, and are putting in a vineyard with fifty-five vines. The help will be most welcome! I am eternally grateful to all of them. http://wwoofusa.com

These shelves are now much more full than when we took this picture!

I remembered exactly why we put up food! After a few years of slacking, the empty grocery store shelves of early spring reminded me. This year we put up over four hundred jars of food, have a full freezer, and root cellar vegetables. Our garden is still filled with root crops. Medicinal plants fill the front garden. All of these gardens were prairie and shale. I am enjoying teaching my techniques to create prolific gardens. A book is in the works.

So many projects planned! Rain barrels, greenhouse beds, raised beds, and a modern root cellar addition to the house.

Baby lambs will be born any day now at our friend’s farm. The same gal we got two from all those years ago before we lost everything. Here, everything is restored. All things that are taken from us will always be restored. I have started weaving and will be selling my work. I work at a local winery on Saturdays as their in-house sommelier, and I just love it. I have visions of making our own wine from our own vineyard and using the pressed off wine grapes to dye our own wool from our own sheep and then spinning it into lush yarn to weave my own creations. Homesteading allows so many opportunities for creativity and peace.

Coming upon my eight year anniversary writing this Farmgirl School blog, I contemplate our journey. From farm to rented farm to apartment to urban farm to here- this beautiful spot on earth, and realize that in the craziness of the world, and elections, and pretend pandemics, and social media…there is no place like home. And may that home always be a homestead.

We found this street sign while out on vacation. How perfect if we lived on this road!
Posted in Homestead

Hooked on Homesteading

6:30 am: The wind howled at fifty miles an hour all night, folding pieces of the greenhouse and threatening loose objects. My wwoofer, Maycee, and I rapidly pick green tomatoes, filling two large canning pots, saving all we can. The tarp and blankets only cover 15×4 feet of tomato plants. We cover the zucchini and bid farewell to everything else in the gardens. All of the beautiful flowers at their peak. The beans nearly ready, but not quite. The squash and watermelons and peppers and dozens of other vegetables that won’t make it through the sudden cold front that is upon us. Tonight the freeze starts and the snow will come, heavy and suffocating. And cleansing. The fires here in Colorado have been awful and the dense moisture will lower the smoke, clean the air, and usher us into another season.

I mourn the plants I am not ready to see fold back into the earth. This freeze is a good month earlier than expected. Autumn has been sneaking up slowly though. We watched the corn change to crisp seemingly overnight. And birds in masses gathering frantically. The grapes brought in to the winery for crush a month early, as are the pumpkins we brought in the other day. Yes, the seasons change in our lives without us being ready and all we can do is flow.

My husband’s photo of our squash bounty!

8:30 am: My friend Annie that used to live with me (the one who grew up with my children and comes to help me can on the weekends, the one who is now hooked on homesteading after living with me!), she sends me a photo of her new pressure canner with excitement. This lifestyle is captivating. It is addictive and satisfying in a way that is hard to explain. The young people are often just now being introduced to it. And that is good. Our world needs more self sufficient people. More homestead/community minded folks.

10:30 am: The fire is stoked and the heat carries through the house. It seemed strange to be hauling wood in yesterday. It was nearly a hundred degrees outside. The clouds float towards us over the mountains. I look brightly at my shelves, filled with well over three hundred jars of vegetables and preserves for winter. Our friends came to visit us yesterday and stayed for lunch. They brought us a lot of frozen wild meat. We don’t often eat meat because we despise the factory farms of the world. But these items along with what other friends have gifted us, feel like bundles of sustenance, waiting for the dutch oven upon the wood stove. They feel like amazing gifts for winter.

Our pantry wall looks like the finest art installation!

11:30: A large basket of beans was brought in to further dry and to shell in the week ahead. The tomatoes will be set out to turn red. We are full from Kleinur (Icelandic beignets) that I fried this morning. Hot cups of coffee warmed us after scurrying around the farm gathering vegetables and unhooking hoses, checking on the animals, and we are now settled by the fire.

Cherokee black beans will be shelled for soups and many dishes in the coming winter.

The children are coming for a harvest festival here on Saturday. It will be gloriously autumnal by the end of the week with temperatures in the seventies and eighties. We will still have a lot of work to do- with cleaning up the farm, setting up the trellising and posts for the vineyard, fixing the greenhouse, cleaning up garden beds, and canning the rest of the tomatoes, potatoes, and pumpkins. There is sauerkraut on the counter that will be ready to can next week as well. The season comes to an end then we will be vacationing in Colorado wine country and visiting friends.

The new shawl I made on my loom with my favorite colors!

I will then settle in with my loom and create new pieces. Work at the winery on weekends. Enjoy the fruits of our labor of summer. Bid farewell to wwoofers and intense heat, and welcome in fall. Everything has a season.

Posted in Homestead

10 Rebellious Ways to Make a Huge Impact Now

Be the change you want to see in the world.

Ghandi

It can feel so overwhelming. A single person on the planet amongst billions of others; our lives run by big business, lobbyists, and corrupt governments. Our ecological footprints growing larger by the day, farmable land expected to be gone in a mere sixty years, pollution, disease, starvation. We were never meant to know the problems of the rest of the world. Our minds cannot handle the influx of news and images- handpicked for chaos- across our screens. Whenever we feel overwhelmed, we simply need to step back to our own home. Our own neighbors. Our families. And our choices. It may feel like we cannot do anything about the mega-powers destroying our earth, taking away our choices, freedoms, and way of life, but that is a myth. We are the mega-power. There are things we can do that can make powerful change. Our own dollars keep those mega businesses in power. We are not helpless. We can make a huge impact on this planet and in our communities.

Heirloom “Moon and Stars” watermelon.

1- Buy organic. We should no longer be accepting the vast amount of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers that threaten our top soil and health.

2- Avoid GMO’s. Genetically modified organisms are everywhere. Seeds brought into a lab and changed and patented to withstand massive amounts of Round Up. Monsanto used to be the face of this, but they were bought by Dow. If they own the seeds, we lose our food security. Organic food cannot be genetically modified. See #1.

Handpicking squash bugs was so much more effective than I could have imagined. We have lots of pumpkins!

3- Buy local and organic if you can. Support local farms if they are sustainable. If they use pesticides, move on to another. (Note: If you live in Colorado- support Miller Farms if you are up north and Milberger Farms if you are south.)

4- Grow food. This is the single most political, earth changing, health changing thing you can do. Start a victory garden. Let it grow each year. Grow pots of tomatoes and basil on your apartment balcony. Grow corn in the front yard. Grow! Anyone can grow food. I have developed some amazing techniques using Permaculture and no-till methods to turn even our shale filled, sandy piece of land into a food haven. Use heirloom seeds and save them. Anyone can do it.

My wwoofer, Dominique harvesting basil for lunch.

5- Cook. Not processed food. Cook vegetables and lots of them. Grind or cook whole grains. Eat wild fruit. Throw beans in a crock pot. Use lots of spices. Animal agriculture and GMO’s go hand-in-hand. If you do eat meat, support a local farmer that uses organic grains and grass. You will be a lot healthier if you just go veg.

One of my “kids”, Annie learning to preserve.

6- Teach. Learn to can. Learn to preserve. Learn to bake bread. Learn to garden. Now teach someone else. The power of community has been forgotten as of late. Sustainability and homesteading is a huge way to make big changes and sharing that knowledge has exponential effects.

Anyone can make a few jars of cold and flu medicine, pain, allergy, and topical healers.

7- Avoid pharmaceuticals- I bet Big Pharma causes more deaths than any one industrial giant out there. Learn to make herbal medicines. Find a great herbalist or holistic practitioner. Grow medicinal herbs for teas and extracts.

Love your life.

8- Make your own way- Do not get caught up in the chaos. Social media may be the most damaging driver in our society. They like to keep us angry without telling us all the facts. Focus on your family. Your neighbors. Your friends. Love all the beautiful diversity and cultures around you. Respect police officers. Vote with your heart. Vote for our rights and freedoms. Find joy.

Slow, methodical tasks are imperative to good mental health and happiness.

9- Bring back the simple life. Invite people over for dinner. Put on a record on an old player. Take up crocheting. Can tomatoes. Take a wine class. Go hiking. Pick up the phone and call people you love. Unplug. Instead of focusing on renewable energy, focus on using less. There are so many ways you can use less energy and water in your household.

10- Click here to watch an important documentary. There is hope!

Posted in Homestead

Life on a Colorado Homestead

Colorado can be harsh and it can be breathtakingly glorious. It can be twenty below zero, a hundred and five, with a severe drought, or a wild flood. A month without rain then torrents then clear. A mere few miles to the south and also to the west of me, hail completely destroyed the gardens of friends and family. A few sprinkles hit our corn. In Colorado, you never know what will happen. The weather is as fierce as its beauty.

My grandfather, my father, Doug’s parents are from here. We were born here. Our children were born here. Our children’s children were born here. Despite our dreaming of other places, Colorado is home. It holds the people that hold our hearts.

Because of this, we choose to homestead here. I realize after talking to perspective wwoofers that the perceptions of Colorado range greatly. Denver is not in the mountains. We are in the high desert. We rarely have snow. The mountains are where the snow is. We are often in drought. We have a four month growing season. Cactus and cedar grow best here. The wind blows most of the time. It is cold most of the year, but with the sun shining on your face, even winter days can be wonderful. If you can learn to farm here, you can farm anywhere. The views are staggering, the weather this summer quite pleasant, and the gardens doing well.

In the morning, I rise, let out the chickens, throw them scratch and watch them run free. I let out and feed the ducks and watch them flap their wings madly in the morning light. I throw hay to the goats and a scoop of food to their faithful guard- an oversized Great Pyrenees who watches his fortress with grace and a bit too much tenacity. I feed the cats and give them fresh water. The kittens chase flies and toy mice. Our oldest kitty endearingly watches Dad work. He is so happy that Doug works from home presently.

Coffee on a homestead is next, of course. If it is winter, the wood stove would be stoked. In summer, I stay outdoors as long as I can, writing, reading, putting the hot, dark liquid to my lips.

Weeding, watering, killing squash bugs, harvesting, replanting, making sure the resident toad has water, admiring the foliage, the colors, with gratitude for the sustenance contained within a mere seed that will fill our bodies and pantry with food. I watch the hummingbirds and listen to the song birds. The ducks swim in their pool, the dog sleeps in the shade of the barn, the chickens bathe in the dirt. The heat comes quickly so I work faster.

Canning, housework, cooking, laundry all fill the summer days of a farm wife who is also the farmer. The busyness feels good and I stretch to relieve my tired muscles. When my farm interns arrive this week, we will tackle the larger projects of painting the large chicken coop, mucking the coop and mini-barn, and starting keyhole gardens. Making sure we still have time to sit on the porch and admire the view of the Sangre de Cristo mountains and watch as a hawk lazily glides overhead. The breeze through the trees and the fresh air of country caress as we enjoy sweet tea.

I work on my weaving in the late afternoons. Or maybe read a magazine before I realize another task undone. Winter is for resting. Summer is for doing and my mind and body love it.

I love homesteading. Up with the sun. Working with my hands. Doing things from scratch. Dedicating my life to hard work, family, animals, and creating beauty and sustenance. To be grounded with hands in the soil, my eyes on the horizon, my heart at peace.

Posted in Homestead

The Amish, Pioneers, and the New Homesteader

Ruth and Joel’s house was cozy and warm. The sun shone through the large windows looking out on the cold mountains just yonder, the wood stove stood guard against the chill, in front of a wood cabin wall. Their children played with simple toys and brought me books to read them. Ruth had sewing waiting for her- a task she dislikes despite her very fancy sewing machine plugged into the outlet that is supplied by propane. She brought us out sweet rolls and a drink. We talked of her husband’s job, canning, her makeshift root cellar under the house, and about the animals. It was really no different- to my surprise- than if you visited my farm some January morn. Except that her husband rode his bike or hitched up the horses to go to work, whereas my husband starts the Fiat, which is much smaller than Joel’s buggy.

Ruth and Joel are Amish. We have a small community not far from here and a good number of Mennonites as well. Tourists snap photos of their buggies and horses and sweet caps and darling children.

I, myself, was rather fascinated by the Amish. The simplicity. The family focus. The back-to-earth lifestyle of gardening, chopping wood, living off grid, and staying away from the chaos and destruction of social media and television. Living on faith and hard work and enjoying the slow, simple life of a happily busy existence is something most people these days are searching for, which just adds to our fascination of people brave enough to live that way.

The Amish didn’t create anything new. The pioneers lived that way out of necessity. The indigenous cultures of each country lived that way at one time. Some still do. The back-to-land dreamers of the 1970’s saw the benefits. There are men and women who quietly live this way today.

People choose to live a homestead life for many reasons: food security, and health, to live closer to the earth (therefore feel closer to the Creator), and to walk softer on the planet. The focus is on simple life requirements such as: growing food, saving water, raising animals, being close to family, having faith, and providing basic necessities for oneself, like heat, medicine, clothes, and other handmade items.

It starts with the buying of a few cute oil lamps at the antique store. Next thing you know, you’re weaving scarves and sewing quilts and making baskets. Soap, body products, cleaning products can easily be made. Then you are cooking on a wood stove and have your crocheting nearby. Instead of fine art, you display five hundred stained glass-looking, sparkling jars of food. Researching rain barrels and organic methods to gardening and increasing the size of the tomato rows is next. Then you are making mead, inviting friends over for farm suppers in front of a bonfire, or getting the instruments out to strum some music for the ducks while watching the sun set neatly behind the mountains, splaying splashes of vibrant summer colors across the clouds that you pray rain will come from.

It is a good life, and every year we strive to become more and more self reliant while still immersing ourselves in our community. The reasons that people do not choose to homestead are things like: no time (didn’t you just post that you binge watched something like eighteen hours of some ridiculous show?), no skills (no time like the present to learn! There are lots of great books in the library or you can order mine here!), too hard (you can reverse ailments and get super healthy farming), and then there is the age old don’t-want-to-give-up-anything. Just remember, that big house, green lawn, fancy electric appliances, gas guzzling multiple cars, credit card bills, manicures, hair dye, and restaurants all have to be worked for. They cost hours of your life. I’m not saying those are bad things, but if we want a life of peace, then we must choose what we want to spend our life working for. If homesteading is on your list, this is a great time to get started.

Posted in Homestead

Being Prepared (homesteading and becoming aware)

As we walk around our little town each evening, down red dirt roads and surrounded by mountain ranges, we are amused by the eclectic makeup of this place. We pass run down trailers, the yards filled with decades of accumulation. We pass new houses (definitely city transplants)- large “country” homes with landscaped yards and a few horses. We pass lots of old houses with large signs that state, “Enter at your own risk! No trespassing! Shots will be fired!” By looking at the old places one can certainly guess that government conspiracy theories and old Veterans might live here, and that would be true. I’m not ready to put up a sign, but I will tell you the older I get, the more I stand with them.

This Covid thing just increased my skepticism in the sanctity of government. The CDC keeps getting caught in lies and misinformation. During the lockdown, a bill requiring children to have any vaccination the state sees fit was pushed through quietly. Information changes daily, the government wields its agendas while more people than I have ever seen in my lifetime lose their jobs, and continue to do so. It makes you kind of wonder about things.

If my husband lost his job today, would we be prepared? (a resounding NO fills the air) Most of us wouldn’t. If the grocery store shelves were once again empty, would we be prepared? Homesteading isn’t a fad or a crazy hermit mentality. It is not an extreme lifestyle or a paranoid action. It is just smart. Plain and simple.

You don’t have to list your house and move to the middle of nowhere. You don’t have to go off grid. You don’t have to buy overalls (though they are super cute) and stock up on shotguns. But, let’s be honest, we have to do something! We have handed way too much power over to companies, entities, and government.

Maybe today list 5 things you could do to be prepared in the case of job loss, empty grocery store shelves, or natural disaster. Do you want to try to save an extra hundred dollars a month? Do you want to learn to pressure can? Want to get a clothes line? Want to get a wood stove? Want to list your house and move to a cheaper state? We can go as simple or extreme as we want, but let’s do something to be prepared for emergencies and life changes.

My blog can help. If you type in anything you want to learn into the SEARCH section on the side of the page (if you are on a computer, at the bottom if you are on a phone), you will likely find informative posts and DIY. The internet and old books are filled with valuable information for those of us raised post World War II! That was the pivotal era when folks opted to buy frozen dinners and pharmaceuticals and move to the suburbs. We don’t have to get paranoid (how come the advertisements on facebook are for the very thing my friend and I were talking about the yesterday?), but we can get smart. Maybe a ’38 Special and canning jars aren’t such a bad idea.

I want to make it clear that we aren’t doing these things out of fear. Being prepared, and being fearful are different. Homesteading is really a beautiful way to live. We used to be much more sufficient and we are working towards that again. Seeing jars of beautiful vegetables and fruits lining wooden shelves, the smell of clothes fresh off the line, wood smoke and a Dutch oven of stew simmering on top of a wood stove, money in a coffee can, and friends over to play instruments while watching the sunset with a glass of homemade wine. Rows of vegetables growing, medicinal plants in the gardens, chickens laying eggs, children running through pastures with goats. Peace. That is what homesteading is really about.

Posted in Homestead

The Wisdom of Simple Living

A fascinating book dropped into my home library by way of a student who thought I would enjoy it. It is the second in the series, and by god, I am enjoying it! Foxfire 2 has delighted me this past week with recipes, anecdotes, and interviews with homesteaders that were born in the late 1800’s. What began as a journalism class at a high school in Georgia in 1970 turned into twelve-plus books in the Foxfire series. The students interviewed and photographed elders in the Appalachian communities and surrounding areas about life during a time that most of us have never seen and most of us will never read or hear about. Without these books, a hundred years of homesteading wisdom, history, and life would have vanished. I saved up enough money to buy the whole set and I can’t wait to keep reading.

I think the folks that were interviewed in the Foxfire books would be most surprised by our lack of neighborliness and community these days. Back then, midwives delivered babies, neighbors dug graves and built caskets, elders took in the homeless, black and white folks were family to each other- the community was strong because that is how it survived. It seems a close community would have made life a whole lot less lonely and a lot more fulfilling. Wouldn’t they be surprised that we don’t know most of our neighbors’ names? That is something we just have to get back.

A long time client and friend of mine passed on last week. Death is a part of life but it always makes you sit up a little straighter and look around. Are we living the life we want to live?

You know over the years we have gone back and forth, forwards and backwards, from suburb living to hand washing clothes with a plunger and a two sided tin tub to fancy coffee machines and new clothes back to aprons and simple living. I tell you what, nothing beats simple living.

I can give you lots of reasons ranging from less bills, less stress, more security, healthier food, less hurry, more satisfaction, and more time with family. We still work hard, but that’s alright. Working hard keeps you young and makes your heart feel good. Simple living and homesteading is about choosing one’s priorities in life. Looking at one’s footprint on the earth. How much time one has for relationships that are important. And taking time to build community and help each other out. Everything has become about money. It’s not all about money. It is about community. Those around you. Your life! Sometimes it’s nice to sit with a glass of homemade wine next to your spouse and just watch the corn grow.

Check out the Foxfire book series on Amazon. It’s like gathering wisdom from the elders that have passed on.

Posted in Homestead

This is Why We Homestead (and how we will prep better this year)

Five pounds of smoky, rich local coffee beans are a comfort to have. We still have 3/4 of a fifty pound bag of organic, unbleached flour. We have lots of wheat gluten and jars upon jars of pulses, like barley, rice, and pinto beans. Did we know that there would be a worldwide pandemic? Yes and no. We knew there would be something, and it is just a smart way to live. To be prepared. It is as comforting as a big cup of hot coffee on a cool spring morning.

We homestead for many reasons. Everyone knows that the power can go out at any time. Job losses and lay offs happen. Natural disasters happen. People get sick. But we don’t just homestead for disaster preparedness; there are other reasons too.

We homestead to save money. A five pound bag of organic coffee is $60, recently roasted locally and the beans are sourced sustainably and fair trade. A fifty pound bag of flour is about fifty bucks. That is a stellar price for organic, unbleached flour. Organic is very important to us and we would like items that we can’t produce ourselves to be fairly and sustainably grown and sold.

We also save money by preserving our own food. I save scraps from vegetables, the ends of onions, carrots, celery, leeks, mushrooms, veggies that are just turning, and make them into savory jars of broth. I make fourteen jars at a time for free, basically. I guess the lids cost a couple of bucks. A quart of organic vegetable broth in the store is a minimum of five dollars. I have jars of broth at the ready for cheaper than a Walmart special.

By having pulses and foods on hand, we eat out a lot less because we have food here. It is all displayed in beautiful canning jars and is easy to see and be inspired by.

We homestead for better food. By growing our own food, we control what is used to produce it, how it is handled, when it is harvested, and its freshness. And to have food. I suppose a lot of y’all are going to have a garden this year after seeing so many empty grocery store shelves! We have fresh eggs (we are vegan outside of that), plenty of grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and vegetables canned and frozen.

We have candles, lamp fuel, water in jugs, cleaning products, a bag of homemade soap, and craft projects for days. But here is what I have learned from this quarantine.

We need to save more money. Well, we need to save money period. All our bills are paid and we have everything we need but in these situations, an emergency fund would be more of a comfort than a cup of coffee.

We need to preserve more food. Last year we moved before harvest time. The year before I started a shop that promptly closed, but took up all my time during harvest season. Luckily I had canned a lot before that, but geez, no more slacking! I usually put up a couple hundred jars of food a year. This year I have a lofty goal of over five hundred jars of food and several gallon bags of frozen vegetables. I am also growing and/or buying a lot of things to dry and dehydrate.

We need to figure out how to save more water. We will look into rain barrels and ways to save drinking water this year in case of emergency. Right now, with our animals, we have maybe two day’s worth saved. Not enough!

Homesteading is an adventure. One can do it from anywhere. Joining a community garden, buying produce from a farmer’s market, canning in an apartment, saving jugs of water under the bed, learning to sew, getting a few oil lamps, buying second hand; the ways are endless. We gradually improve our ways of homesteading by experience. This year will be our most ambitious farm yet and this quarantined time has showed us what we need to focus on. I hope something good will come out of this time for all of you out there. How are you homesteading? What skills will you learn this year?

Posted in Homestead

The Right to Homestead (and the ability to stop panicking)

In my mind, especially after watching the absolute chaos of this week unfold, I feel like old fashioned principals and homesteading practices have never been more important to incorporate into one’s life. Then one might not be so apt to wipe out the shelves of Walmart hoarding toilet paper over a cold that Oregon Grape Root and Elderberry can get rid of. This is a homesteading blog, so instead of being quiet (as I have been this last week and am in every day life so I don’t offend my friends who I love), I will write.

Image from internet

I want you to note what has happened this week. We as a society have placed all of our trust into a money driven medical system and have disregarded the use of plant medicines. A new virus will actually be more easily fought with western herbs because it hasn’t had a chance to adapt to anything. One of the primary goals of homesteading is to be self reliant. By having a good grasp on herbal knowledge, you will be better prepared for anything. I have half a gallon of antibiotic, a gallon of cold medicine, and several pints of lung specific herbs at the ready. I am not worried in the least. Plus I believe this virus has been going around for months; we just haven’t recognized it because it has the exact same symptoms as a regular cold!

I also want you to note the immense power that media has. The media has the ability to cause mass panic, chaos, every-man-for-themself terror. If you had no knowledge of this virus, you would just think you had a cold (which you would) and you would treat it with your herbs and get better and that is that. See how easily everyone is being manipulated? It is disconcerting.

Just some of our medicines.

Homesteading principals also lead us to being prepared. Not only for a cold outbreak, but for a natural disaster, or if the power or water was interrupted. It is really easy to have food, water, toilet paper, batteries, a flash light, and blankets on hand. This should be a no-brainer. Homesteading takes it further by saving money by growing our own food, canning and preserving our own food, having plenty of herbal remedies, food, water, and firewood on hand. When we empty a glass jar, we fill it with water and put it in the crawl space. We put money into getting a wood stove and have another cord of wood to heat the house and cook by if needed. We have oil lamps and candles. There is no panic here. (There is nothing to panic over anyway, but we aren’t panicking all the same.)

I also want you to note that this is an election year. Did you know that a mega-virus hits every election year? Isn’t that interesting? Homesteading principals also rally for our freedom. Freedom to treat ourselves. To not be forced to go to the doctor, have poisonous vaccinations, and to pay for everyone else’s medical bills through our own hard earned work. To not be forced to send our kids to public school. To have the freedom to teach our own. To teach our kids what we value and what history really looked like. To teach them skills that are actually necessary in life. Our taxes are really high and they go to fund abortions (don’t say the money goes to screenings, there is no separate fund), slaughterhouses, big AG, big Pharma, big Oil. To raise our taxes even higher…don’t get me started. If you value your rights and freedom at all, vote Republican. Seriously. I stay quiet when all my democrat friends go on and on about a president who tells it like it is but hasn’t done anything that prior administrations haven’t done (just more quietly) and have helped more Americans lead better lives. Folks, the Constitution is important. My rights, your rights, the rights of my daughter who homeschools and treats her children with natural remedies is important. The rights of my friends who have guns for protection is important. The right to work hard and actually keep what you made by working hard is important! Why would you want to take away rights?

So new mindset, let us teach and inspire everyone to grow their own food. What a difference a garden in everyone’s yard would make. Teach and inspire everyone to grow their own medicines. Teach people to have toilet paper on hand before panic hits. Teach people to utilize the library system and educate themselves always. My blog is intended to put the power of self reliance in the reader’s hands. I hope you see how a virus with a very low fatality rate can caused so much disorder around us. How we have let media cause us to panic and fear. Now let’s get our shit together and start leading with love, kindness, and generosity instead of fear, hoarding, and anxiety.

That is why we homestead. Preparation. Confidence in our own abilities. The option to laugh at the media. The ability to help others as needed. Let’s get our wits back and do a raid on library books and craft supplies instead. We are all going to be okay.