Wednesday, May 15, 2013

How We Homestead Series: How It All Began

Perhaps it was in my blood before I was even aware of its existence. My maternal grandparents  moved from the city to the country and purchased a working farm when my mom was about seven. My paternal grandparents were always heavy into gardening and preserving, even at one point, owning a greenhouse and nursery as a business. 

Yes, now as I look back, my itch for self-sufficiency and dirt and land and lots of green and growth was definitely planted in my genetic material, right down into the very fiber of my being. That seed has grown into a deep-felt love for the rural life and the many possibilities it holds. 

Farming and gardening was at one time so much more than trendy. In fact, it wasn't trendy at all. It was essential. If you wanted to have food to eat, you planted a garden or butchered your animals. If you wanted milk, you had a dairy cow. You farmed, you planted, you kept animals in order to sustain your family. It was a matter of survival.

Now it seems that homesteading and self-sufficiency has become trendy. It's the cool thing to do now. So farming and gardening has gotten a new name stamped as "homesteading" on the header, and self-sufficiency has gained a whole new recognition and attention. And whether it's considered trendy now or not, I'm praying that this movement to grow and plant and provide in an independent way continues far into the future.

So how did we get started on our homesteading journey? You know, it's funny because we got married at age twenty. And by age twenty-two, we had built our home smack dab in the middle of an old pasture on my grandparents' old farmland. Thankfully, both my father and my mother grew up in this neighborhood, and both families owned an abundant amount of land. So when it was time for us to build, we got two acres of old farmland off of my parents. 

At that time, homesteading was not on the radar of my mind. I wanted a house and a family. And, I'll even admit that much earlier in our marriage, I even envied the life of suburbia. Now I wonder what I was thinking at that time. Neighbors so close together. No land. Having to be accountable to a homeowner's associations? Ugh! I'm so glad we didn't up and move to suburbia!

I would say that I became very interested in living more self-sufficiently about five years ago. We've always been big gardeners. That was passed on to me by my dad who has always planted and tended a large garden. But then I found myself starting to get interested in keeping chickens as well. It took a good year or longer before I got my sweet husband on board with that. It wasn't that he was interested, it was just that the thought of putting up a coop and taking on another financial responsibility was a little overwhelming since we had just returned home from adopting our oldest son from Ukraine.

But we put the idea on our homesteading "goals" list. We knew we eventually wanted to dig deeper into self-sufficiency, but we also wanted to be smart and not get in over our heads. I guess that's kind of become our thought on the whole thing: take things slow and consider all points but don't let fear hold you back from actually jumping in. And in that time of waiting, I do what I always seems to do: devour as many books as I possibly can on the areas that we're interested in.

So our journey started with gardens and green things and lots and lots of herbs. It started with rows and rows of canning jars filled with yummy things from our garden and a full chest freezer with frozen vegetables and berries. And then we threw six chickens in the mix last spring, adding another six over the winter (that we hatched ourselves) and then another eighteen earlier this spring. We also keep rabbits. We sold two earlier this spring, and now only have two, but those are more of pets for the kids than any kind of functional animal. 

So that's the skinny of how it all began. We're still very young and tender in our homesteading journey. We've got the gardening and food preservation down pretty good since I grew up doing those things, but we do have future plans on adding more animals to our homestead (which I will be talking about later in the series) and, hopefully, eventually honeybees. 

Oh, and I have named our place "Windy Knoll" because it is, in fact, very windy up here on this knoll of ours. Since we built in the middle of an old grazing pasture, all of the trees that are on our property are small because we planted them after building our home. So there is no natural windblock, and things get pretty windy up here. So it's a very fitting name. Ian made the "Windy Knoll Chickens" plaque last week with his new woodburning pen. Brad's going to hang it on our chicken coop. I love it. 

Now that you've read our story, go check out how these other bloggers began their homesteading journey: 

Staci at Life at Cobble Hill Farm
Tammy at Our Neck of the Woods
Daisy at Maple Hill 101
Meg at Little Homestead

Have a blessed day!


Rachel E. said...

Thanks for sharing. We are new to homesteading too. It is interesting to say the least. We have five acres, but because of the shape of the property, zoning laws prevent us from some things. We don't let it hold us back from homesteading though. We just need to make sure we do it right. We have a garden in the works and have poultry. We have talked about a goat, but not sure it would be accepted by all the family. Some of the kids are mighty picky concerning the flavor of milk. :)

Meg said...

Great story! I'm so glad you didn't pick suburbia too! You have such a beautiful property!

Our Neck of the Woods said...

Amber, I loved reading more about your story! I didn't grow up around farming and always lived in the city, so I had no homesteading background whatsoever but still found myself in this life somehow :)

I love the "Windy Knoll Chickens" plaque! It'll look cute in your coop. All the photos you shared are so great and your setup looks awesome!

Buttons Thoughts said...

Oh I love this I have two daughters that now live in the city far away from the farm but I secretly hope someday they will be like you and come back to the land.
I loved your story and look forward to more. B

Megan @ Restoring the Roost said...

You have made great progress! Wow! Happy to have met another blogger out there who is homesteading.
Your newest follower,

Staci said...

Amber - I just loved getting to know more about you. That's interesting that you actually built right on farmland of your family's. I guess it really was meant to be. :) Thank you so much for participating!!

Leslie Kimel said...

The Windy Knoll Chickens sign is so cool! I'm really enjoying this series you all are doing!

Teri said...

Hi Amber...such a wonderful post! Thank you so much for sharing! Blessings ♥ Teri

born imaginative. said...

I love all of your pictures! It's amazing how just adding something small turns out to be this marvelous adventure!

Pam said...

I love your story and your lovely pictures. I am thinking that perhaps in the days that are coming it is important that the "Homesteading" movement gains great momentum if we are all going to make it through. Your garden beds are so nice, and everything looks delightfully clean and orderly. "The Windy Knoll" is a wonderful name, with a whimsical sound. Thanks for sharing.

Love and Blessings,