A Journey begins with one step away from your normal.
I can start my story with something inspirational, a heartfelt story of how we conquered adversity to get to where we are today, but that is not what we did. We didn’t have that moment when your life is so bad you need a change, where you sell it all and wave goodbye to the city life. Our story is more of a long journey of learning, of realizing that certain things are more important than all the comforts of the modern world. Our story is also still writing itself as we discover more things we want to accomplish and learn, but for now, let’s start with where we are and how we got here.
My husband and I did not grow up raising livestock, growing our own food, or even trying to be sure every meal was homemade. We had a stereotypical childhood, public school, fast food, sports, we did not have to work for our food any harder than walking to the refrigerator or going up to the store to get what we wanted. So to say that we are starting from ground zero is not an exaggeration, we have had to learn so much just to get what we have so far. As a child, I did not focus on if my food was organic or from a local source, but as I got older and learned more about food sources and treatment of the animals I began to lean more and more toward a mostly organic diet and eventually finding farms that raise the animals more naturally.
We started small, we started by changing our milk. We would only buy organic milk and we could taste the difference. Then we added buying certain fruit and vegetables organic, looking at lists like the dirty dozen to help us choose which ones we needed to change. Then we had a kid, and when he came along we took our adventure to the next step. Our oldest was fed mostly organic food, that I made into baby food, we even did cloth diapers to help reduce our waste. As each kid came along we did the same thing while also changing other aspects of our diet. I began to make bread from scratch, changing what we look for in our packaged foods, and trying to make more meals at home more often. At this point we were still living in a tiny 2 bedroom, one bath house, we had 3 kids, 4 dogs, and a cat. To say we had outgrown the space is the understatement of the year, so we began to search for the perfect house. I wanted lots of land with a creek and woods for the kids, my husband was just concerned that we had enough space inside and that he gets to have a riding mower.
This is the point in the story where our homesteading game changed from a dream to a full-on lifestyle. We found a house with almost 10 acres, a creek, woods, and space. Within the first 6 months of moving, we got chickens. I think I was the most excited about them. We started with three, 1 hen, 1 escape artist, and a rooster. I built the most rudimentary coop, just some poultry netting, and some heavy stuff to hold it down. It worked, mostly, except when a chicken would escape, like every week, but it was a start. During that first year, we lost a bird to the dogs, who didn’t know birds are not a snack, so we quickly put up a fence so that when a bird would escape they would not just waltz into the backyard. As time went on we added birds a better structure and eventually a nice coop and fenced in area for when they are not out free-ranging. It has been 6 years since our first birds, we now after many adjustments and deaths from sickness or predators have almost 40 chickens and 5 turkeys.
During this time we have also started and failed at a garden, then started and realized we rock at growing beans and potatoes. Gardening is our next big growing point each year I have been adding and researching new methods to try until I find what works for us, but it is still the most exciting thing to walk out to the garden and pull out whatever food we can! This year I have added a lot of new plants to my list of ones to try and have started my planning earlier than ever before, so hopefully, 2021 will be the year I earn my Green Thumb.
The last and most important part for me in this journey is how we now approach our food. We now strive to cook virtually everything at home. Don’t worry we fail at that but we succeed more than we fail. We focus on things with no High Fructose Corn Syrup or just any Corn Syrup where we can. We like using Pure Cane Sugar, Organic Maple Syrup, or Honey from a local beekeeper as our sugar source. We found a local farm to get all of our meat, even though it is more pricey, we know the animals are raised well and we get to support a small farm instead of some larger cooperation. We also have for two years in a row now raised and slaughtered our own Turkeys. We did 2 birds the first year and 4 birds this year with hopes of doing more next year and adding meat chickens. We have not done everything we have wanted to yet but we hope you guys enjoy coming along on our adventure and learning as you go.