Posted in Homestead

How an Old Fashioned Life Benefits HSPs

What is an HSP? I first heard the term Highly Sensitive Person some dozen years ago. It is used to describe someone who is very sensitive and emotional. Words such as empath have come forth, but there are differences. An empath is someone who feels others’ emotions and feels empathy for them. My husband is an empath, but he is not an HSP.

I wish that more parents knew the traits of a highly sensitive person. They might recognize their own child and know better how to raise them. The HSP is generally the black sheep of the family because they are not easy to live with. They are emotional, anxious, and not like other kids.

HSPs are highly sensitive to artificial lights. Fluorescents can nearly take us out! (Or so it feels.) HSP’s are sensitive to sound. They are generally born with heightened sensory. So very loud voices, yelling, loud music, and crowds can leave an HSP in tears. School is usually very difficult for an HSP, as they would rather be anywhere but sitting still. They are also usually the targets for bullying. And not just as children. It is hard to be an HSP in the world today.

There are many great traits of highly sensitive people. HSP’s are wonderfully mesmerized by beauty and that rubs off on the people around them. They notice every bird, every color, every sound, the tastes of food, the moment in which they live. They are loyal friends and sensitive family members. Their empathy is beyond an average empath, because they physically feel what they see or what they are around. For instance, I cannot watch the news, because I physically will feel what someone who was beaten or raped or lost felt. That can be exhausting. An HSP has to be wary of what they see and what they read and who they are around. Highly Sensitive People are often psychic, because all of their senses are heightened. It isn’t far fetched to believe that hermits are all highly sensitive people! Maybe we don’t want to become hermits, but that is where living an old fashioned life comes in.

Last night, my husband and I sat in our rocking chairs listening to records by the light of oil lamps and candles. The calm of evening resets my senses and helps me to breathe. My friends and I joke that I become a pumpkin after nine. A kind way of saying I straight fall apart and end up crying after ten! I honor my circadian rhythms and that helps me to stay happy and relaxed.

To incorporate old fashioned living for a HSP is simple, here are some ideas:

Highly sensitive people need softer light. Oil lamps, candles, and twinkly lights all fit the bill.

I am overjoyed that I inherited my Great Aunt Donna’s record player the other day! Soft music is better than blasting music.

Highly sensitive people cannot deal with anger problems and fighting. Soft voices, sweet words, this is more important than I can describe.

Turn off electronics. The television overstimulates highly sensitive people. (We won’t get into video games.) The sound, the light, (the fact that there is nothing good on except The Voice…) it is often too much. Books and creative outlets are better. LED lights can be switched off. Unplug anything with a light shining from it.

Highly Sensitive People are better homeschooled and as entrepreneurs. Home should be a respite so decorate with comforting pieces, like quilts, musical instruments, books, soft lighting, and old fashioned items from a relatives’ house. My house is filled with memories since I use things that were once my grandma’s, my chosen mama’s, my aunt’s, etc.

Spend lots of time outdoors! HSP’s do better outdoors. Grow a garden, have chickens, and chairs that face the sun. Animals are important.

From scratch cooking and herbal remedies are important for health. HSP’s don’t do well with conventional medicines or vaccines. You will find that many HSP’s are vegetarian.

Highly Sensitive People do not have a disease or a disability and it is not something they can just get over or toughen up. All of the HSP’s I have met have been truly loving, extraordinary people. I think the lifestyle that we can create to accommodate an HSP is one that could benefit everyone! Being present, being positive, avoiding hysteria in the news and on social media, filling time with creative pursuits and great books, spending time with ones we love, honoring our circadian rhythm, improving health, slowing down, being easy on our senses; all these things make life a million times more meaningful.

Posted in Homestead

DIY Affordable Homestead Fencing

My husband, Doug, and I have never been accused of being handy. We do, however, have a great passion for homesteading, so over the years we have learned and we have made it work! We watched our first goats, adorable and nimble as they were, hop through the holes in the field fencing and go gallivanting around the fairgrounds beneath the hooves of horses riding by. Since then, we have put up fencing with smaller holes, specific to goats. It works great for chickens and sheep as well. No more five inch holes around here. No matter where we are homesteading, we have found that field fencing is by far the most affordable, fastest, and easiest for a few non-handy (but very passionate) homesteaders.

We have had the great privilege of purchasing a little over an acre in the country. My husband works full time-plus to support our little farm (having learned early on in this journey that a regular income sure comes in handy), so we are limited to weekends to complete tasks. The first of our tasks was to separate the acre into thirds. The back third is left wild to honor the many cedars, wild plants, and animals that hop about back there.

Rescued farm animal yard and mini-barn in a fun pumpkin orange. The coop will be painted to match!
Gandalf the White(ish)
For extra security, dog panels cannot be beat to protect your flock.

A third for the future pet farm animals and their guard, the Great Gandalf. Part of that third, directly in the back of the house, was fenced off for a garden.

55×40 fenced in kitchen garden. The pallet compost bins are just over the back fence.

The front third will be medicine gardens and a corn field. There was a vineyard planned, ’cause a farmgirl can dream, but it turns out that we have need for more tomatoes than wine grapes so the vineyard got nixed for Amish Paste and Romas. (We will still grow some grapes for the table and juice.)

Larger poultry yard in the foreground and tomato canning garden.

Next week’s task is to further separate a 30×30 area in the front pasture so that the chickens can have a bigger area. The front garden fence was intended to keep stray dogs out (they could jump the fence, I suppose, but usually a fence will dissuade dogs, and to keep cars out of the future garden. Folks see dirt and park wherever! Get off my imaginary garden! Fences keep some out and some in. A field fence easily manages that.

Medicine and Perennial Garden, Corn field beyond, and fruit trees and bushes lining the side fence all the way down.

Ironically, it costs a bit to get started as a homesteader. For less than $500, including the post pounder, we were able to fence in what we needed of an acre. That is pretty good. Gates are important for pasture rotation, moving animals about, and ease for the farmer to get where they are going! Once we have the chicken area up, we will have six gates. Gates are the most expensive part of fencing, so if you can find some used, do that.

Setting up a homestead needn’t break the bank. We have been in our home going on six months now. We have put in a wood stove, put up a mini-barn, and fencing. Next week is chicken fencing, the week after will be the clothes line, and so forth. Keep doing projects throughout the winter as you can because come spring, the focus moves to the garden!

Posted in Homestead

Sweet Homestead Days

The wood stove comes alive, savage and hot. The whirl of orange and red feel so comforting, so primal, so homelike. The living room will be warm soon. I prepare my coffee and watch through the picture window as the sky slowly begins to lighten with dawn. A new day is upon us.

The kitten walked by me on a mission, head focused, tail out, looking to murder a hair tie or catnip mouse. As she passed, I made kissy sounds towards her, which made her tail flutter straight up as she gave me a cute sideways glance, all sass and adorableness. Life with cats is lovely.

One of my favorite sounds in all this beautiful world is the calling of geese. I hear them before I see them, then watch them, uniform and village-like floating overhead in a hurry to get to their vacation home. Then I hear them later in reverse passage, all chattering noisily. So much to say as their caravan marches back across the skies. They sound like home, like season’s changing, like joy.

The three day weekend of fair weather helped us get some projects finally finished on the homestead. Field fencing is complete, leading from what will be one of my huge gardens and the back porch to nearly a third of an acre section for my fluff of a Great Pyrenees and his future charges. The gate is open, freedom is granted to Gandalf, and he laid back down. “Maybe he thinks he will get in trouble!” our daughter, Shyanne, speculated. He is quite happy on the couch on the porch and has no desire to be gallivanting around open pastures. He is only two, not an old man in the least. We always get the odd ones around here.

She is blind and runs into doors and leans against my leg. She was supposedly one years old when she was brought to me, but I know very few animals with cataracts at the age of one. How old is this chicken? I wonder. It matters not, for she is the sweetest feathered girl. Our granddaughter, Maryjane, flits out to the coop. “Good morning!” she sings to the chickens, “Good morning, Heihei!” I pick our docile chicken up and hand her to my beautiful farmgirl. Heihei snuggles into her coat and is content. Each one of our chickens has a vastly different personality than the others. We have Yogi, who believes herself to be a rooster. We have Esther, the quintessential pretty snob. And Eloise, who is quite sassy, but not so much right now, as she is molting and looks like a decrepit turkey. Our one year old granddaughter sees a lovely blue egg in the coop, grabs it, and will not let it go.

The oil lamps are cleaned with fresh wicks and are ready to fill. A half finished baby blanket is attached to the yarn weasel waiting for another skein. A few loads of wood ought to be brought in today. Granola bars, vegan cream cheese, and burger buns will be made in the homestead kitchen today. I choose a pretty apron to wear.

I have my seeds picked out. All heirlooms. I will begin saving seeds again. Soon, soon, my hands will be in the warm soil. My beautiful space here will be positively transformed. I do love the reaction folks have, how shocked they are at how quickly a farm can replace barren soil. I will leave a third wild. While I wait for spring, I get all the reading done I wish. Plan my sewing projects and mending. Clean out cupboards and closets and get the nerve to tackle the garage. I walk around my land and smile. Home. Home is certainly where the heart and animals are.

Posted in Homestead

Top 10 Homesteading Tips I Have Learned Over the Years

This was hard to narrow down, because in each area of homesteading, there are many great tips available. I wanted the most useful tips for this article; the ones that I use all the time.

1. Steaming Eggs- even following a plant based diet, we have happy chickens that lay a lot of eggs. Not ones to let things go to waste, and knowing that it isn’t harming anyone, we do enjoy our farm fresh eggs. Now, how to hard boil them so that peel without exhaustion, frustration, or loss of all the white part! The best tip I learned was to steam the eggs. Place the eggs in a steamer basket above boiling water, covered for 30ish minutes. Perfect every single time.

Last year, I asked my granddaughter, Maryjane, if she wanted to color Easter eggs. “Grammie, the chickens already colored the eggs!” The Araucanas are her favorite chickens with their beautiful blue eggs.

2. Freezing Greens- we grow a lot of greens. How I love curly kale, lacinato kale, 5 Silverbeet Swiss chard, spinach, and wild greens. But, how do you preserve them? Jars of mushy greens turns my stomach. They won’t stay good forever in the fridge. A great tip I learned from an old timer’s homesteading magazine was to stuff all the fresh greens tightly into a freezer bag, seal, and place in the freezer. A few hours later, or so, as the greens freeze, quickly use your fingers to crush up the greens through the bag. Don’t let them defrost. Keep doing that occasionally until you have a whole bag of crushed frozen greens. To use, just sprinkle a handful into soups, scrambled eggs, or stir fry. It is a delicious way to preserve excess greens.

My favorite recipe for frozen greens comes from my friend, Rodney. It is a rough recipe that we alter every time we make it. It is a delicious soup of potatoes, garlic, onions, greens, veggie sausage, and lots of white wine.

3. Labeling Canned Preserves- I used to dutifully notate the contents of each jar with carefully written labels. Should the labels get wet, they fell off. Should the labels be of good quality, they never came off. Perhaps the print was smudged or maybe I ran out of labels. A useful way to label home canned goods is with a Sharpie. A Sharpie is a homestead necessity, y’all. Just clearly mark the contents and date on the lid and that will stay put for as long as your have your beautiful jars of food on a shelf. The sharpie can be rubbed off with a little elbow grease, or maybe you won’t be using that lid for canning anymore so it won’t matter.

My new house looks like a show home. It is lovely and comfortable, but not made for a homesteader. The prior owners apparently never put up several hundred jars of produce. There is simply nowhere to store them. The house is undergoing a slight makeover soon with rows of rustic shelving all along the north wall. 60 feet total. Cookbooks, canned goods, pantry staples in canning jars, and this and that, shall grace one full side of the main area of the house. It is not often that folks showcase all of their food, but it is so lovely, why not? A half wall is coming down as well to open up the kitchen to the living room and create more space for visiting and cooking.

4. Unclog a Drain- I had to use this one just the other day. It doesn’t work if it is something like a washrag or huge clot of hair, but it works for slow running sinks. Pour a heavy hand of baking soda down the drain. Top off with a good pour of white vinegar and let sit. It shall bubble and start clearing. An hour later, pour in a kettle or two of boiling water. That should do the trick!

5. Replace Dryer Sheets- should you have to wait for a clothes line until spring as I do, you can create a simple dryer sheet that will leave your clothes smelling fresh and static clear. Take a washrag, dampen it, and shake about 5 good shakes of lavender oil onto it. Throw in dryer with clothes. Brilliant.

Dryer sheets have a lot of toxic (to you and the environment and are very harsh on the skin) ingredients in them and are just not necessary.

6. Bring Back Aprons- if you know me, or you have read my blog for some years, you know my obsession with aprons. I traipse all over town in them. I adore them whether they are vintage and have a story or the ones that were made by a few Mennonite gals for me. Aprons keep your clothes cleaner so you have to wash less. Aprons have pockets for eggs, clothes pins, quarters, a cell phone, a handkerchief, and children’s toys. I cannot wait until mine are holding seed packets again!

7. How to Take Care of Plants- I had the black thumb of death for so many years, it is hard to believe that I can grow plants so well now. Houseplants and garden plants succumbed to fates that I rather regret. A fellow at the garden center said this simple statement that changed how I take care of plants, “Treat the plant as if it is in its natural environment.” Tomatoes are tropical. They need sunshine and lots of water. Succulents and cacti go for weeks without water. My jasmine plant is crawling all over the bathroom because it loves humidity and filtered sun and a good watering once a week. My fine old aloe loves water every two weeks and at least a bit of direct sun.

8. How to Water Plants- this was a big one for me. I assumed one must never over-water the garden! It wasn’t until my friend, an accomplished Master Gardener, pointed out that it is really difficult to over-water in the high desert! For every plant, place a finger into the soil next to it and it should be damp to the second knuckle. Corn, houseplants, tomatoes. It changed the game for me.

9. How to Easily Garden- well, this one I came up with myself, but it is brilliant if one does not want to rototille the dirt driveway (or anywhere else). Dig a hole or a trench. Place a handful of organic gardening soil into it. Plant seeds or transplant seedlings. Cover with garden soil. Water. Place cardboard around plant and top with straw. Do this all over the yard and driveway. Every year the soil gets better and better.

10. Plant Perennials- by planting perennial food crops, one can assure harvest of something year to year. Annuals make up the majority of our food, but perennials create food security. Fruit bushes and trees, wild foods, and annuals that reseed themselves are all helpful on a homestead. Raspberries, burdock, apples, arugula, even lettuce will reseed itself if you let it.

I have learned many things over the last ten+ years, but these ten tips can be used anywhere, on any sized homestead or garden. I hope they make your life a little easier! Do you have a homestead tip to share? Write it in the comments! Happy Homesteading!

Posted in Homestead

Baby Steps; How to Begin Homesteading

It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.

J.R.R. Tolkien

We moved into an apartment four years ago between homesteads. It was a beautiful, top floor, one bedroom with views of the mountains and a fireplace with a light switch. Lush carpet, a large bathtub, and walking trails everywhere. We had just come off the worst year of our life and we seriously considered giving up homesteading and farming and just living like this. Not a bad life. We’d peruse the stalls of the farmer’s market (our first year not being a vendor in a long time), then after bringing our bounty home, we would dip into the swimming pool. But something was missing. We could both feel it. I rented three large garden plots at the community garden. I canned peaches from the farmer’s markets. I looked out across the sea of cement and knew what we were missing. Doug knew it too. Once you begin to homestead, it entwines itself into the fibers of your being, it cushions your heart, drives your decisions, and makes you feel at home. There are no U-turns. Once a homesteader, always a homesteader.

As we drove through the parking lot of the beautiful apartments, we could not help but notice the overflowing dumpsters and sea of trash. The lack of recycling. No place to compost. No food gardens. Non-stop electric use.

There are many reasons people choose to homestead. One of them is a desire to walk softer on the land. To leave less footprint. To attempt, however feebly, to lesson our damage to the earth. Another reason folks turn to homesteading is to feel something real. Homesteading life is real life. It is doing things with your own hands, creating, growing, watching Mother Nature work, feeling truly alive. Another big reason is that people want to work less. Homesteading can be expensive. It depends on how much you need, what you want to do, and how cheaply you can come across instruments for your farm. But the more you do yourself, the less you rely on others. If your grocery store is in your root cellar, you don’t need to give so much money to all the middle men from farmer to store. If you grow your own food, you really save money. If you sew your own clothes, or shop second hand, you save money. If you buy bulk, hand make meals, use wood to heat your house, or find entertainment at home (nothing like a glass of homemade wine and a lawn chair to watch chicken antics), you can save money. A penny saved is a penny earned. The less you spend, the less hours you put into an office job. The less hours at an office job, the more time in real life. On the homestead. There is great joy in homesteading. Maybe that is why more and more young people are seeking this lifestyle. I read a blog recently where a young housewife was wondering how to begin homesteading. So much to learn, so much to do. Baby steps, y’all. One thing at a time!

When something breaks, begin replacing it with a non-electric counterpart. Or sell the electric version and purchase the hand cranked model.

Here are some non-electric alternatives that are great on a homestead:

  • Hand cranked coffee grinder
  • French press or percolator
  • Kettle
  • Tea strainer
  • Hand cranked food processor
  • Cast iron Dutch oven
  • Cast iron pans
  • Wooden spoons
  • Good mixing bowls
  • Canning jars
  • Clothes line
  • Hand washer and clothes plunger
  • Wood stove
  • Grandfather or cuckoo clock
  • Oil lamps
  • Candles
  • Water bath and Pressure canners
  • Grain grinder

Pretty soon the power will go out and you won’t even know it!

Electric items that really help get the root cellar filled and dinner on the table:

  • Vitamix
  • Excalibur dehydrator
  • Pressure cooker
  • Crockpot

Basic homesteading skills to learn:

  • Gardening
  • Canning
  • Preserving the harvest
  • Sewing
  • Fiber arts
  • Cooking
  • Baking
  • Herbalism
  • Animal care (a new term I learned is, veganic homesteading. We aren’t using animals for food on our homestead, but we do have a menagerie of pets!)
  • A skill that can bring in some income.
My friend shared this funny photo with me from the internet. Hilarious!

Good homesteading habits:

  • Do you need that? Only purchase what you need.
  • Try to purchase things second hand first.
  • Borrow reading materials and movies from the library.
  • A deck of cards and a couple of board games are a lot of fun!
  • When making your grocery list, look at the items and see what you can learn to make. Ketchup? Granola bars? Cereal? Crackers? Bread?
  • The only gardening tools one really needs is a good hoe, rake, pitch fork, shovel, and hand trowel.

Just start:

  • Start a farm in pots in the south window, or the balcony, or a community garden, or in the front yard.
  • Start a compost pile under the sink with worms, or with pallets in the garden.
  • Check out library books (or read my blog!) and learn how to start a garden, harvest, prepare, cook, can, dehydrate, freeze produce. How to sew, crochet, play musical instruments, make candles, soap, herbal medicines, and cleaning products.
  • Let go of vanity. You look fine. You don’t need makeup, fancy clothes, or high heels. Old clothes, a good apron, and galoshes will do.

My go-to books (and my own books!):

Growing 101 Herbs that Heal by Tammi Hartung

The Homesteader’s Pharmacy and The Herbalist Will See You Now by (yours truly) Katie Lynn Sanders (http://authorkatiesanders.com)

Little House Living by Merissa A. Alink

Farmgirl School; Homesteading 101 again by moi, Katie Lynn Sanders

Preserving the Fruits of the Earth by Stanley and Elizabeth Schuler

Grow Your Own, Eat Your Own by Bob Flowerdew

Plus myriads of great cookbooks and homesteading memoirs. The best thing to do is to start somewhere, anywhere, and the more you do yourself, or without electricity, or simply, the more it becomes second nature.

I’d rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.

George Washington
Posted in Homestead

The First Things to do to Start a Homestead and Winter Reading

When you first move onto your property (or to your house in the suburbs), or when you first decide to homestead (or just live more sustainably), it can feel overwhelming. What to do first?

I suppose my moving in the fall was a very good time to relocate. Yes, I lost all of my harvest and my pantry is a few hundred jars of produce short, but I have had time to sit with my new property. See what all can be done here. Where to leave wild. Where could I keep animals (we’d like to rescue a few). What I want to plant, how extensively, and where.

Here are the first things to do:

Set up a compost bin. 7 pallets become a three space compost bin. Screw them together creating open sided boxes. That way you can start right away collecting grasses and old straw and pouring your coffee grounds into a pile. Click here to read an amusing and informative post of mine from six years ago all about composting. It will give you more instruction.

I do hope you found a place with a wood stove. If not, I do hope you have some cash reserved to get one! This is one of the very best ways to become a little more sustainable. Wood is carbon neutral, and when you find cords of wood cut from already downed or diseased trees, your heat is carbon neutral. The electric companies lose some money and you lower your footprint. Not to mention the deliriously luxurious feel of wood heat. Forced air just cannot compare. Our little stove and installation came in at $4500. A used stove would have been cheaper. That little stove easily heats our 1100 square foot house.

Plan what you will need for your extensive garden this year. Do you have wildlife? The deer will be awfully glad you moved in! What fencing needs to be done to ensure your crops safety? How about field fencing for other animals?

Winter is a wonderful time to reassess how you want your life to look. What do you want to add and what do you want to walk away from? What do you need (pressure canner, gardening soil, chickens) to do those things this year? What do you want to learn how to do?

Now, order yourself an heirloom seed catalog to read during snow storms. I am reading a really interesting books called Will Bonsall’s Essential Guide to Radical, Self Reliant Gardening; Innovative Techniques for Growing Vegetables, Grains, and Perennial Food Crops with Minimal Fossil Fuel and Animal Inputs. His dry humor makes reading a text book style farming manual fun and I am learning lots of ways to improve my food growing. The author is vegan and has deemed his way of growing “veganic.” It is an interesting view of how to grow a farm and eat sustainably and very well without having to kill chickens. Eloise will be relieved.

Posted in Homestead

Holly Hobbie (and the need for more homemakers)

Denise Holly Ulinskas (born 1944) is an artist and writer. One who has captured the hearts of many. She goes by the name of Holly Hobbie. In the 1960’s American Greetings bought her paintings that were based off her own children and the charming life of New England in a previous time. The little girl who loved cats and was dressed in blue patchwork didn’t have a name but readers gave her the moniker of her artist, and Holly Hobbie was born.

When I was a child I had a copy of this darling book, Holly Hobbie’s Around the House Book. This book took ordinary household chores and made them beautiful. It gave a new life to homemaking.

Just recently I heard Michele Obama tell a group of children that they can all be lawyers and doctors and teachers! What about homemakers? Doesn’t anyone promote that anymore? Why not?

Even in the 1980’s I fielded questions about why my mother didn’t work. Never mind that there were five children at home. When we all moved out, I was surprised that she did not look for work. I, too, was a little brain washed from the latch-key era. Women are every bit as amazing as men (true), so women should be in the workforce! (Wait, what?)

Women can very nearly get by now in society if they are staying home with children (cost of childcare, etc.), but what happens when the kids move out? There are several housewives in my family tree. I grew up in an old fashioned family where my dad worked and my mom stayed home and tended to children, laundry, cooking, and supported and upheld the family system. There is great honor in that, even when the kids are gone.

I now spend my days quilting and painting, caring for animals, cleaning the house, doing laundry, bringing in wood, meal planning, cooking, growing and preserving food, making herbal remedies, and I probably should do more mending. My business card would read, Creator of Home.

A lot of people equate homemaking with laziness and I can tell you right now that a 9-5 job would be easier! In our society right now, we are collectively concerned about health, obesity, children with disease, lack of activity. We are concerned about where our children are, if they feel secure, and we are trying to raise children who will be ready to take on the role of adulthood. These are not always our own children because the children around us are all of ours. We are concerned about pollution. We are concerned about economics. The myth that it takes two incomes to survive is driven off of a need for things that were never important in a bygone era. Smart phones, cable television, subscriptions, gym memberships, restaurants, fancy gadgets, new clothes…new everything. Homemakers have always contributed some money; selling eggs, or crafts, or the like. A housewife is a powerful source of security in our society. If there were more housewives, we’d have better health, more economic security, happier and more active children, and a simpler life.

What Holly Hobbie did was create a world where folks could see the every day beauty and sacredness of domesticity. I have always carried that in my heart.

Posted in Homestead

Creating a Life to Help You Really Live

There is a peacefulness here in the mornings. The sun shines hopeful light over the mountain sides and the breezes are light. The changes in season are obvious and there is a certain beauty to the washed out pallor of late autumn. During this season, I feel very thankful for everything in my life. Truly, honestly, thankful. For my husband, my children, grandchildren, friends, animals, nature, health, comfort, and this lovely piece of land where the hearth fires burn. We purposely build a life that feeds us, inspires us, and fuels us. A homesteading life.

A homesteading life looks different in different situations with correlating bonds. We have chosen that I be a housewife. I make a little off of book royalties, and herbs, and this and that, but my place is in creating a home. We used to think that homesteading required two people at home. But we learned the hard way that to homestead in the state we were born in, one of us had to get a full time job. Many farmers and homesteaders do. In many cases, both parties work outside the homestead.

Having and pursuing a trade is a wonderful way to work towards self sufficiency. (A note on self sufficiency: it truly takes a community to sustain, but we will use the phrase to denote taking care of ourselves and others to our full ability.) If you can do something well, and it is a needed skill, then you can often support, or help support, your family with it. It is important that we begin to encourage as many folks to go to trade schools as college. The next generation will be stronger for it.

How does one get started homesteading? There are a few gals at my husband’s work that want to come down to our farm and learn to make cheese. I will be happy to teach them. It won’t be long before they begin to bake bread. Or make their own candles. Pretty soon, they have goats and a small dairy. Homesteading grows. You see something you would like to do yourself; sewing, crocheting, gardening, baking, cheese making, soap making, candle making, wood working, raising farm animals, wine making, herbalism, and decide to learn how to do it. You incorporate that into your life. Look at your grocery list, what can you learn to make? Do you need to buy all of the packaged boxes of junk or can you learn to make granola bars, cookies, and bread? Can you make cream of celery soup? Can you make gravy? Spaghetti sauce? Can you grow the tomatoes for it? Oh, then you are really going. Pretty soon you have a full out farmstead.

My granddaughters, Ayla and Maryjane, wearing the dresses I made them.

The peace of mind and pride is profound in this lifestyle. Do it yourself. Even if it isn’t perfect, you did it! The peace of mind of knowing you can heat your house if the power goes out. Feed your family for awhile if there is a natural disaster. Take care of yourself if an economical collapse occurs. There is peace of mind in knowing what you eat and what you drink were grown by you, prepared by you, and there are no crazy chemicals in your cupboard. Your cleaning products are truly clean, your muscles toned from doing everything by hand, your heart light at watching the fruit of your labors expand. This lifestyle is filled with planning, hard work, and life and death, but it is truly living. Being in the midst of it all. Purposely creating a good life filled with sustenance. A good life that feeds you, inspires you, and fuels you. A homesteading life. Start today. What would you like to learn?

Posted in Homestead

Seeking the Simple Life and Penpals

The sun is rising, splaying pink and metallic colors across the mountains and along sides of structures. I am so thankful to be in the country. I watch the horse across the street from my office window run and jump, darting through trees, and landing in a swirl of dust near his food bowl as his owner comes out with hay.

Maryjane (my six year old granddaughter) had her first riding lesson. She at first did not want to go because she found that her cowgirl boots were too small. She perked up the minute she saw the horses and she fell in love with the bubbly, blond instructor, Miss Britney. These were great horses; Maryjane clutched one large horse in a hug and he did not budge. Maryjane easily learned how to guide the horse, as her little sister, Ayla, blew kisses to all of the horses. These are country girls.

At Grandpa’s house Saturday, we celebrated his 92nd birthday. He had to take off work to do so. He is forever at his drawing board, on the phone, or meeting with clients. He sipped his coffee as he told us stories of working on a dairy farm, milking eighty head, or helping the vets bring down the draft horses for treatment. He once rode round-up moving horses from Sterling to Estes Park, 146 miles. His stories about being a cowboy, the rodeo circuit, World War Two, working on the sugar beet farm for his uncle during the Depression, and working at a dairy come with a final relief that he moved to the city.

We are lucky to be modern farmers and homesteaders. I am able to romanticize it a bit. It doesn’t hold the same urgency of survival as it did in Grandpa’s time.

Doug and I chat in the car on the way home about our ideas and goals. We have done this before so we know what to expect and how to do things better this time. We want to live simply. So simply (and prepared enough) that if the power were to go out or a storm were to rage, we would be snug in our home with plenty of light, warmth, water, and food.

Simple enough that our electric bill stays lower than if we purchased solar. The clothes being cleaned with a washer plunger in the summer and dry flapping in the wind on the clothes line. Food chosen from rows of dirt or rows of canned goods. Meat from our own chickens or from our friends’ cows and pigs. We seek out and associate with other homesteaders/ranchers/farmers. We travel long distances to each others’ homes for dinner. Keep up on social media. Cheer each other on. Support each other.

One of my favorite old activities is to write and receive letters in the post. A moment to sit with a cup of tea and an old friend in prose and see what is going on in their world. Then with pretty stationary and pen, share our private life, thoughts, and ideas. Now that we are settled into our home and winter is upon us, if you would like to be pen-pals, please write me! I would love to correspond.

Mrs. Katie Sanders, 790 9th Street, Penrose, CO, 81240.

Posted in Homestead

Farmsteading Scenes and Living Life Well

When we first began this journey, we went into it wholeheartedly and completely naive. We learned, we cried, we laughed. A homesteading/farmsteading lifestyle makes life amplified. The good is really amazing, healing, and life-giving; babies being born, fresh food from the garden, baby goats prancing sideways, a lamb’s comical yell, gathering fresh eggs from the coop, watching the sun set, waving at friendly neighbors, gathering wood to bring inside before an approaching storm, hanging clothes on the line while watching wildlife.

Crop losses, predators, freak accidents, money worries; there are a lot of things to worry about while being a homesteader. The neighbor’s wolf/husky got into my coop last night and killed my favorite chicken, Bubba. I was mad at myself for not closing the coop sooner. I was mad that I purposely chose this lifestyle! Where there is life- and farms are teeming with life- there is death. And it is much more in your face than apartment living. When we lived in an apartment, on our way to our next homestead, we had plenty of stresses and things to worry about then too. So, it really is a matter of how you want to live. This lifestyle gets ingrained in you, so that you have no other choice but to live like this. And we do love it.

Being a homesteader and farmer comes with a great sense of accomplishment. I tend to point out everything on a guest’s plate that I grew or handmade. I love the methodical motions of traditional domestic work. We appreciate the intense rush of love that comes over us when we see a baby being born. We appreciate seeing the horizon and knowing how to judge the weather by watching nature. Homesteading and farming is all about family, and living life to the fullest. If life is short, then I want to spend time bottle feeding precious infant goats, and being followed around by lambs and chickens. I want to laugh at duck antics while sipping homemade wine. I want to watch the fire swell up as it fills the wood stove. I love tying off the final piece of yarn to finish a project or snipping the last thread on a dress I have made.

If you are considering adopting this lifestyle- Do It! You won’t regret it. It costs some to get started but it pays itself back quickly. We save money, eat well, live healthier, have a happier marriage, a closer family, and a sense that we are really living. Start somewhere. Get chickens, or cheese making equipment, or get out yarn to make holiday presents. This is a very good life.