About two years ago, our family was given the chance to fulfill a dream I had been pondering for quite some time – To start our own farm. Originally, all I wanted was to get a little acreage, let the hubby get his man-shop, plant a garden, and get a few animals – nothing big and crazy. Maybe a few chickens and a little milking goat. How quickly it spiraled out of control! We now homestead in beautiful Washington state on five acres. Our small dreams have grown into 30-some-odd chickens, 5 ducks, 1 goose, 5 goats, and a cow! It still amazed me!
What does homesteading mean to you?
To me, homesteading is a way of life for us, but also a state of mind. It stemmed from a strong desire to provide for my family and feed them food that I can say I know EXACTLY where it came from. I started by cooking strictly from scratch, which then evolved to trying to determine how to PRODUCE the food we were consuming. We are not a self-sustaining homestead, but we are definitely headed in the right direction!
Neither of us had been raised homesteading, so this has been quite the learning curve for us! We found, however, that our hunger for knowledge was enough to keep us going – we certainly have made lots of mistakes along the way, but without those mistakes, we wouldn’t have learned!
Food and homesteading go hand in hand on the homestead, how has it affected your cooking and lifestyle?
I feel like my passion for food and its roots is was stemmed my desire to homestead. We try to make as much from scratch as we can, with our favorite staples being fresh bread, milk from our goats, eggs from our chickens, and vegetables from our garden. We are also fortunate to have elk or venison every year from my husband’s hunting. I continue to strive to make everything from scratch – to the best of my ability. My full-time job outside of the homestead can sometimes hinder my well-laid plans – Lots of planning goes into eating so well, but it is worth it!
How has homesteading changed your mindset?
I have learned to slow down and enjoy the moment. Life moves entirely too fast and we miss out on so much. It is humbling to see your food from seed to leaf, egg to chicken, baby to milk.
What has been the most influential book on your homestead journey?
Oh goodness, the books! They have been such a fuel to my fire! If I had to narrow it down to one, I would have to pick Growing a Farmer, by Kurt Timmermeister. As a newbie homesteader with zero experience, it was inspiring to see someone who had as little experience as I – and how they thrived in that situation. It really made me think, “Well why the hell CAN’T I do this?!”
What are a few ways on your homestead that you practice sustainability?
When I think of sustainability, one thing that comes to mind is a call to action. Our current food routines at home triggered an impulse in me to get to the root of food for us – and see it through from start to finish – field to plate. Since then, we have been growing our own vegetables. The scraps of those vegetables go to our chickens. Our chickens provide us with eggs – and when spent (or an aggressive rooster), they provide our family with meat. Seeing that path come full-circle, THAT is what sustainability is for us.
Currently, we cannot afford to homestead on its own. We do sell our eggs, which in turn pays for their feed. We both currently hold jobs as registered nurses outside of the home. However, it is truly a dream of mine to one day figure out how to make enough money on the homestead to cut down on my “day-job”.
What are some hard lessons you’ve had on the homestead?
Sometimes, no matter how much research you perform and how well you plan ahead, sometimes bad things happen. We lost two calves early on from circumstances beyond our control. We literally went above and beyond – and It didn’t make a difference. The biggest lesson we have learned is that sometimes, things are out of our control – and you just have to roll with it. You simply need to be willing to learn from EVERY experience that homesteading brings to you.
Do you have any long-term goals for your homestead?
Ultimately, I would love to be able to generate income on our homestead to enable me to cut down on my day job (aka time away from the homestead). We have no plans of ever moving from our current five acres, however, would like to figure out how we can incorporate some different animals on our homestead – Namely pigs and bees.
Final question, what does a normal day look like for you on the homestead?
My days always start with my morning chores – feeding the chickens, ducks, and goats, filling up water basins for all of the animals, and milking goats. On a day where I work outside the home, my day starts around 4:15am – otherwise I am up around 6. If I am not working that day, I then usually have food prep to be done, depending on the day – bread, yogurt, cheese, granola bars, etc. Oh, and don’t forget the housework! With my alternating schedule at work, my daily chores are never all the same – I usually just try to spread the out throughout my week. Eggs are usually collected a few times a day. Evening chores are usually done around 6:30 – feeding everyone, evening goat milking, and putting up the goats for the night. After dinner and dishes and preparing for the next day, it’s time for a warm drink to help me finally crash around 10pm!
– Abby Jo