Friday, September 7, 2012

tell your story

I often get emails from people who share their dreams of owning a bit of land and raising their own food. They are magical, hopeful, and always appreciated. What amazes me though, if I get just as many emails from people who had dreams of owning a farm and no longer dream about it. They don't have to. They did it. They closed on their land, got their first backyard chickens, and broke ground on their first garden. I love these emails, and I read them all even if I can't find time to respond. They encourage me, and I need encouragement more than you might realize.


I wanted to just check in with you all. Where are you in your journey? Are you a dreamer at a desk in some city or are you about to head out on your horse to check cattle in the back pasture? Write in the comments about where you are at, both your location in the world and how far you have come in your dreams. Also share where you were 5 years ago. If you never commented before, introduce yourself. You might find that another dreamer is literally in the town next to you, and together your combined Barnheart could fuel each other into action! I know that happened when I befriended Patty Wesner. When I met her last January at a book reading I didn't know her from Adam. She invited me for a horse cart ride/lesson and now less than a year later we are putting together Merlin's red cart to join her in a Sunday drive!

I think your stories of dreaming of a farm will inspire others to let themselves dream, and for those of you who are taking steps to turn your dreams into reality - your stories are ignition sparks. When people read about other couples, families, single folks and such taking the leap, they see they can do it too.

So tell me who you are, where you are from, and where you are at in your own story? I'd really appreciate it.

photo by jk

100 Comments:

Blogger Megan said...

I'm Meg! 32 years old, formerly of Baltimore, MD and Brooklyn, NY where I kept bees, chickens and gardened. I relocated to Rumson, NJ a month a go to start a small diversified CSA farm on 20 waterfront acres. In BK I still keep rooftop beehives and teach classes on homesteading skills but mostly I'm just here expanding on what I know and trying to build a farm from the ground up (pun intended).

When people ask me how I decided to follow this path, I often am at a loss for words because it never felt much like a decision that needed to be made. As a child I loved nature and animals and I even dreamed of working for myself at a young age. At around 4 years of age, I would tell my mother "That's where I'm going to put my hotdog stand!" when we'd pass the same empty parking lot on the way to daycare. I knew then that there was power in working for yourself.

5 years ago a desk jockey in Manhattan at a small children's clothing company. My bosses were wonderful folks and I was happy to be working with a independently owned and operated business...but sitting behind a desk all day felt like a terrible fit, so I left after 3 years to pursue beekeeping and teaching in the city. I had no savings, I didn't wait for the timing to be perfect. I just jumped because my heart said to and I've never regretted it once.

2 years of self-employment later I am starting my own farm close to the city that helped me shape what sort of farmer and person I would be. It's full steam ahead! I got my first ducklings yesterday with a larger order of chicks, 7 have died already, but they seem to have stabilized. We're training our livestock guardian dogs to defend our flock, but they could maim or kill any of them before we get the routine down. Our three nubian milking goats come at the end of the month and will require twice daily milking. I've got 25 lbs of tomatoes that need canning yesterday...much longer and they become chicken food. We're building our outbuildings over the next two weeks. It's a mad rush and I'm terrified of failing but I know this more than I know anything:

This is what my entire life has been leading up to. If I reflect on any of it, the heartache, the mistakes, the seemingly random encounters, any of it...these moments were the equivalent to the cosmos taking me by the shoulders, turning me about and saying "this way, go!". The only thing I can credit myself for is never letting my fear of failure or poverty keep me from stepping forward. Perhaps unwise in this day and age, but I've been poor all of my life and I don't mind it so much. I still have control of my health and have amazing friends in my corner. That may not be good enough for long, but I can't imaging needing much more than that.

Anyway, that's my story in a nutshell. Wish me luck on my new (ad)venture!

September 7, 2012 at 9:41 AM  
Anonymous Fiona, Inner Pickle said...

I'm a fifth generation farmer in Gerringong, New South Wales, Australia, fulfilling a long held dream with my fella of quitting the city and the jobs and coming back home and raising free range poultry and pigs. Doing it.

Managing our cash flow via a farm-based biscuit business which has turned out more profitable than broilers so far!

We love reading Cold Antler Farm Jenna, you rock. First time commenting.

September 7, 2012 at 9:43 AM  
OpenID rawketstarling said...

A little starling living deep in Austin, TX right now. Dreaming of my own little homestead--large garden, chickens, bees, and a horse of my own! Looking around for my home has been discouraging and challenging, but I'm hopeful! The problem I'm facing right now is how to commute into work from the area I want to live in. I keep dreaming though, and doing what I can in my little rented space of 400 square feet. It'll happen someday :)

September 7, 2012 at 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm Katlyn, I am 24 years old and I am living at home with my parents in Arbor Vitae, WI while I try to get my pottery business established. I have a flock of 6 barred rock chickens that I got in May and my dad helped me build a moveable coop for them. Every year my parents and I plant a 24' by 28' vegetable garden. This year we might have finally figured out the secret to successful tomato and bean gardening. We have made over 60 jars of salsa, 8 jars of spaghetti sauce, 16 jars of tomato sauce and have put away at least 10 gallons of green beans. Plus we still have at least two more harvests of each before frost hits this fall.

Five years ago I was a sophomore in college working on getting my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and all I knew was I wanted to be a potter and have a garden. Three years ago I read an article in a magazine about some homesteaders living their dreams. I realized I wanted that too. Last year I told my parents I wanted chickens, they didn't say no, all my dad said was "let me know how big of a coop you'll need, and we'll build one." My mom just wanted to know how many eggs we would be getting from them.

My dreams have become more solid, (and more ambitious) since I started my collection of homesteading books. I read about what everyone else is doing and wonder if I can somehow fit it all into my dreams. I want at least five acres (more if I can afford it when the time comes) to plant orchards and berry patches, grains for my uses and feed for my livestock. I want to heat with wood, cook with wood and solar, run on solar, wind and human power. I dream about having a big flock of chickens, both for meat and eggs, some rabbits, maybe some goats, a pig for meat products (and I'm a vegetarian), maybe a small dairy cow, and perhaps one day a horse to help me with the heavy chores.

I want a sugar bush for maple syrup, honey bees and a massive vegetable garden. I want to live off of profits from selling my pottery and produce and products from my homestead/farm. I want to stand out on my front porch in the fall after harvesting is nearly done, watch the sun set, and know I have done everything I could to make it through the winter on my own strength and stubornness and hard work. That's my dream...

Katlyn ktbug22288@yahoo.com facebook.com/KatlynKoesterDesigns

September 7, 2012 at 9:55 AM  
Blogger MIB said...

Hi, all. I don't usually pipe up in the comments, but I've been on this site for about 5 years, I guess.

My name is Melissa, and my husband and I have a smallish (10 acre) place in Fonda, NY (southern Adirondacks). Five years ago, we had just bought our place, which we had been leasing; we had chickens and a horse, and we were expecting a starter flock of 10 Soay sheep from Oregon to arrive that October.

Since then, we've addeded ducks, turkeys, draft horses, a milking cow, bought and then sold off meat goats (just didn't work out for us), bees, and our sheep flock is up to about 80 (we added a handful of Shetlands last year).

I adore the sheep and, after going through four lambings, just can't imagine life without them. I've also grown to love horses, am learning to ride, and am smitten with the horse my husband bought me a few months ago, a Morgan gelding who I call Valentine.

For the future, I'd love to not need to work my office job full-time. I'm looking forward to trail rides, and my husband and I are hoping to expand our flock with some IV rare-breed lambs from the UK at some point in the future. We're also looking at expanding the sheep barn and building a proper horse barn, as well as buying more land adjacent to ours.

In short, the more I have this life, the more I want it. I couldn't have imagined such fulfillment; this is certainly not the lifestyle I was raised in. But I'm so happy and grateful that my path led me here. Much luck to all of you on your journeys.

September 7, 2012 at 9:59 AM  
Anonymous donna said...

OH SWEETEST JENNA, I HAVE BEEN WITH YOU FROM YOUR 1st BOOK AND BLOG RIGHT UP TO TODAY! WE ARE AMONG YOUR SENIOR FRIENDS, THE RETIRED COUPLE FROM THE BEE WORKSHOP! THIS 'VIDEO' IS SO EMOTIONAL, SO ENCOURAGING, MAKES THE VIEWER BEYOND PROUD OF YOUR BEST YEAR YET WITH MORE ACCOMPLISHMENTS AHEAD! WE ARE FUTURE BEE & CHICKEN KEEPERS,GARDENERS,BAKERS,ON N ON. THANKS TO YOU!YOU HAVE THE GIFT TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE OF ALL AGES-TO LIFT OUR SPIRITS TO A NEW LEVEL OF ACCOMPLISHMENT, YOU PUT THE STRENGTH IN BELIEVING = WE CAN DO IT !!WE LOVE & RESPECT YOU & GIBSON, MERLIN, JASPER AND ALL THE FRIENDLY BUDDIES OF COLD ANTLER FARM! WITH HUGS TO ALL, john n donna

September 7, 2012 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Kristen said...

We had been dreaming self-sufficiency dreams from our ghettofabulous home in the city for years. On a whim, I posted a wanted ad on Craigslist. I was contacted by a lady who had a farm to rent - far cheaper than I ever could have hoped. It took a lot of finagling, but seven months later, we were off to the farm.

Our landlords are like family to us, we have eight acres, a huge barn, a huge garden, two chicken coops (one my hubby crafted out of a couch and loveseat of all things), seven ducks, 16 chickens, and as of two weeks ago, a border collie pup the same age as our 10 month-old son.

But you know it's not always sunshine and roses - we had figured on having it all together by now with milk goats, meat chickens, a productive garden, canning our produce... uh, not quite. The chicken coops are knee-deep in shit, our lawn hasn't been mowed in two months, I get stinging nettle every time I go foraging in the weeds for a tomato or cucumber, and Polly the Collie has forgotten every training command she ever knew before she came to us, especially "Polly, come HERE!" Plus, even with cheap rent, we have one income and three kids and I still struggle to make payment on time.

But despite the nettles, you and me are living the dream, lady. We hang in there, because this is what we live for and sweat for and breathe for, and you're doing awesome. If I were closer, I'd give you a fist bump, my sister-in-chore-boots. Hang in there. :)

September 7, 2012 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger Peggy said...

My name is Peggy and am Fayetteville,NC. Was born and raised in the NC mountains and dream of one day returning. We have a very small (2 1/2 acres) homestead but try to use every inch for living a simple life. We have a few goats, chickens, turkey,geese, ducks, rabbits,guardian dogs, house dog,111 yr old cat, as well as veggie and herb gardens. 5 yrs ago I was caring for the homestead alone while hubby was long haul truckdriver who only came home for a few days every few weeks. Now we are both working the homestead and slowly getting it to pay its way. I have been selling soaps and eggs for years and do very well but this year added huge herb garden and small greenhouse and was able to sell lots of herb plants this past spring and now selling dried herbs and tea mixtures. It is such a blessing to see the pantry shelves filled with canned goods from our gardens. Milk,eggs,cheese,yogurt, and butter in the fridge from our animals and bathing and doing laundry with our own soaps. This may be a wonderful simple life but its a hard life that I wouldn't change for anything. We are an older couple and I grown children live hours away from us but are finally seeing the light and asking our help in simplifying their lives.

September 7, 2012 at 10:23 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hello, Jenna. I have been following your blog since I read your book about a year and half ago (which I loved by the way). How fearless you were in just following your Heart.
I am just in the dreaming stage right now although we do have a large garden. We are in Courtenay, B.C. and as of now not able to have chickens, bees, etc. because the city doesnt allow it. Although in bigger citys like Victoria and Vancouver you can have 3.
We are planning on getting land in Ontario next year and starting our future but as of now just reading up ( Chick Days, Homesteading books etc).
Just wanted to say your blog is really inspiring and wished I lived closer so I could have come to Antlerstock. That sounded like such a fun and educational experience.
I will say we are much closer to our dream then we were five years ago but not there yet!
Wish us luck and thanks for inspiring!

September 7, 2012 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hello, Jenna. I have been following your blog since I read your book about a year and half ago (which I loved by the way). How fearless you were in just following your Heart.
I am just in the dreaming stage right now although we do have a large garden. We are in Courtenay, B.C. and as of now not able to have chickens, bees, etc. because the city doesnt allow it. Although in bigger citys like Victoria and Vancouver you can have 3.
We are planning on getting land in Ontario next year and starting our future but as of now just reading up ( Chick Days, Homesteading books etc).
Just wanted to say your blog is really inspiring and wished I lived closer so I could have come to Antlerstock. That sounded like such a fun and educational experience.
I will say we are much closer to our dream then we were five years ago but not there yet!
Wish us luck and thanks for inspiring!

September 7, 2012 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger itchy feet said...

I currently live with my husband on our 15 acre sheep farm in NC. We knew when my husband finished his PhD that we wanted to live in a place that we could have a sheep farm. He only interviewed at colleges in rural areas and the cost of land was of huge importance in his job search. He was lucky to get an offer at a small college in rural NC. We have been here ten years and other than wanting more land we are very happy. We have a flock of hair sheep ( katahdin and dormer crosses) that we use for training our border collies and sell for meat as well as another flock of churro and churroxramboillet crosses that we keep for fiber. My husband teaches and I run a dog training business, teaching people how to train their dogs for dog agility competition. I feel blessed to have a life in which I make my own schedule and can pursue what makes me happy. To spend my days surrounded by dogs and sheep is perfect!

September 7, 2012 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Five years ago my husband and I were living in a 576 square foot studio and looking for our perfect first house together. We had lived there (in the studio) for three years and paid off all our debts except my student loans (equivalent to a house) and his truck payment. We were finally in position to make the leap. We'd already been prequalified and seriously looking for a year, and still had another year to go before closing on our little homestead. In 2008 we bought a modest home on 2.36 acres. We currently have a garden, chickens, and dairy goats. There are days when I want to give up. Life was much easier before livestock, especially dairy goats. (I currently have four in milk, and it gets overwhelming!) However, when I imagine being without my animals, depending on someone else to provide us with our daily milk, eggs, and veggies I see very quickly that I don't regret these choices after all. The road may be tough, but it's SO worth it! Thanks for all your encouragement. I hope you will be encouraged today, Jenna. You rock!

September 7, 2012 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger Wittgenstein's Watering Can said...

Five years ago I had not long moved from Scotland to England, and was still trying to find my feet in a new city. I was working in a really dull office job and living in a tiny apartment. I planted loads of chillis and herbs on the windowsills (which did quite well but had to be cleared out after a major infestation of greenfly!). I had a chilli plant on my desk at work. The second summer I was there I took over the back yard, which nobody else used, just a small square of concrete but I cleared the raised bed someone had obviously made a while ago, bought some containers and grew some veg. I got some salads and greens and some tiny potatoes. I found an apple tree nearby that nobody paid any attention to, and made some chutney. I realised that I loved the outdoors and messing about with plants as much as I had when I was a child, but I felt trapped in where I was and what I was doing.

Today, I’m in the same city but living in a 3-bedroom house with my boyfriend. When I moved in I brought the last of that chutney – it had matured nicely! The garden is bigger, and it’s packed with edible things and a messy flower/herb bed. We’re on the waiting list for an allotment and planning to have more land of our own in the future. We’ve been on courses to learn about chicken-keeping, bee-keeping, and general farm work. We go foraging for elderflowers and berries, blackberries, rosehips and wild garlic. Our cupboards are packed with homemade jams, chutneys, pickles, infused vodkas, herb vinegars, ginger beer (actually that’s in the fridge as it explodes if it’s not kept cold!). This year I started selling a few plants that I’d grown from seeds and cuttings and I was overwhelmed by how happy it made me to raise a plant then send it off to a new life with someone else who wanted to grow their own food too. I still work in an office, but in a better job that challenges me a bit and allows me to save some money for future freedom! In those five years I’ve finished a distance-learning degree, and started a Masters, another step towards being able to be more independent and find new ways to earn money so I don’t ‘need’ to be tied to a desk.
We're getting there.

I don’t spend so much time dreaming these days, well not in the ‘oh I wish... but I’ll never’. I spend it planning instead ;-)

September 7, 2012 at 10:51 AM  
Blogger PansWife said...

I did things a little different than some folks because I was determined not to have debt over my head. I worked in a well paying technology job for 8 years and put away every penny I could. I bought my (modest) farm with cash and had a $30,000 capital investment fund leftover for things like repairs and the usual emergencies. I was worried that money worries would keep from enjoying my dream. I knew I could live on my farm and make minimum wage to cover the general expenses, I then discovered farming was a lot harder than I thought, especially the money making part. I don't mind living like a peasant, I still do, but I eventually went into a more lucrative agricultural direction than farmer's markets and feel like I now have my rural cake and can eat it too. I would recommend anyone interested in farming to first work (intern) on a successful farm for at least two seasons to really understand the labor intensity and see if it's for you. The pastorial dream can be differnt from the reality. I still enjoy growing my own food and watching other people's journey that was so similar to mine.

September 7, 2012 at 11:06 AM  
Anonymous elsie said...

Twelve years ago we bought our 1.5 acres in Charlottesville and at the same time we started the complete renovation of the house, we put in our first garden bed and planted an orchard. Five years ago we have 6 garden beds and 11 new ducks. Now we have 9 beds, 8 ducks and two dairy goats (to be bred this fall for the first time). Someone just gave us a chicken coop and we are hoping to get that spruced up and filled with chickens for fall.

There is a lot of heartbreak, last weekend we lost 2 ducks to a fox and one that is still fighting on despite her injuries. It is hard to see, but we are doing our best for her.

These animals are more productive pets than farm animals, though the sale of duck eggs to neighbors pretty much pays for their upkeep while they are laying (8 months of the year). The fencing is most expensive and most important in trying to keep the animals safe and contained. Also the buildings for housing them, though we scavenge and build ourselves, can be a bit surprising in their cost.

We supply many of our veggie and all our egg needs and soon will be producing our own dairy products. Still, we say all the time when we have a devastating infestation in our organic garden how lucky we are to not be subsistence farmers.

September 7, 2012 at 11:19 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

My name is Jessica and I have just moved to Candler, NC, in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. My husband, four-month-old daughter and I live on 8/10 of an acre in a somewhat rural suburb along with a half dozen pullets (although one may be a rooster, too early to tell for sure), two cats and a German Shepherd. We left a beehive and a Nigerian Dwarf milk goat back on my parent's farm in Tennessee when we moved, but they'll be coming over sometime in the next few months after we get some fences and sheds up.

I used to dream of having a huge, diversified farm, in the spirit of Polyface, that I would earn an income from. Over the past few years I realized that as much as I wanted to farm, I wanted to be a mother even more. I also realized that running a large farm is next to impossible to do alone (you amaze me, Jenna...). With my husband at a full time job I wanted something more manageable. The house we just bought is perfect for me. There is plenty of room for our hens and milk goat (soon to be plural) and bees. Raised beds will go in before the spring. Over the next few years I hope to put in a mini-orchard of dwarf fruit trees, tons of blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc. We'll raise a few batches of meat chickens a year, put in a pond and get ducks and maybe even branch into rabbits or turkeys or something.

Although less than an acre seems really small in the dreaming stage, walking around my property I feel certain that in a few years it could provide us with all of our vegetables and fruit, eggs and milk, and quite a bit of our meat. It may not be the pastures and herds and rolling vistas I used to dream about, but I will be able to make every inch of our little homestead productive and still have time to lavish on my little girl.

September 7, 2012 at 11:37 AM  
Blogger Justine Navarro said...

I'm Justine! I'm 23 and I'm from BC, Canada - I live in Abbotsford, a small-ish town close to the US border.
My dream is fairly simple, I think. I just want to have a cute little house with enough land for chickens (I've checked that off the list, I have 5!), a garden big enough to take care of most of our produce needs, and a horse.

I've been a horse lover all my life. I took lessons when I was young but it was too expensive for our family. I've recently found a connection to a horse that I can ride now and then with a friend, but I so want one of my own!

It sounds like a simple dream, but I also want kids soon (also can be expensive), and my husband is going to be a Pastor which means two things 1) Money will always be tight, and 2) We'll have to move wherever and as often as his job requires.

I will not give up though - where there's a will, there's a way! I know it might take awhile but I'm doing my best to save money and practice my gardening skills on our tiny garden until the day comes!

You are an inspiration!

September 7, 2012 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Moose Hollow Farm said...

My husband and I live in a log cabin on 8 acres in Southcentral New Hampshire. We bought our homestead about 1 1/2years ago anticipating that we needed to downsize from the 2300 sq. ft. ranch that we owned since my husband has several health issues that, we knew, would force him into early retirement. It was imperative that we get a smaller house that was easier to maintain financially since we would be living on a very small income and we were not yet able to collect our social security.
We had always dreamed of owning a log home but it was delayed because of jobs and commitments. It was never the right time to homestead. We've learned the hard way that there is never a perfect time to take the plunge ~ you just have to do it.
Our dream is to be able to get through this recession with our farm intact. We have 38 chickens that we keep for their eggs, a small orchard (peach & apple trees)and a 30 X 50 foot garden that we plan to enlarge next Spring. I would like to add sheep to our menagerie (just 2 or 3 for their milk & wool & their company as pets). I would like to find someone in the area that could teach me how to make cheese from the sheep milk and find a way to market the wool. If our garden does well next year, I would like to begin selling vegetables at the Farmer's Market. Since we have had good luck with zinnias & sunflowers, cut flowers might be a good way to make a little extra money, also.
We are able to cut wood from our land for heating this winter ~ we have a wood stove and we are very used to heating with wood. When we were young marrieds with 2 small children, we had a house that was not insulated and the furnace was broken (we couldn't afford to replace it) so we heated solely with wood from my father's land.
Our barn is old and falling apart so it is on our list for renovations before any sheep can be housed there. The roof needs fixing, the stalls need to be repaired and I would like to put in a cement floor over the dirt that is currently there. I think it would make it easier to clean and we wouldn't run the risk of animals burrowing into the barn.
I am so glad that you came up with this idea, Jenna. It is encouraging for me, too, to see that there are so many kindred spirits all over the world.

September 7, 2012 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Lindsay said...

Hi there Jenna - I am from Oaksey, a small village in the Cotswolds in the UK. I used to have chickens, ducks and horses but alas no more, due to wonky knees. I absolutely love your blog and look forward to each posting. I think you have done really really well and lots of good luck for the future. PS: Keep posting!

September 7, 2012 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger DebH said...

I'm Deb from SD. I comment occassionally, and try to read your blog more occassionally.
I've got my own menagerie of farm animals, projects and improvements constantly in the works! Dreamt it about 12yrs ago and did it 12yrs ago. Been loving every minute of it, save for the worst of the snowstorms, the drought and the every spring hail storms that try to set me back. I rise to it eventually, and frankly have only gotten stronger, more resilient and much more patient. Funny isn't it? I've got goats, cattle (both beef and dairy), horses (pasture ornaments right now) and a large flock of chickens. I make and sell goats milk soap and farm raised eggs at the local farmers market, but keep my day job in the city for health insurance and paying off the place. My bills are quite manageable and life is good! My strong point is when everything breaks loose, jumps the fence or gets hung up in it, I figure it out. Figuring it out is necessary on a farm. Figuring it out and fixing it, yup...its what its all about. And while owning a farm gives you the ultimate in challenges, it isn't for everyone. It is just something I wish everyone could experience. Raising livestock and caring for life is a gift. First time I hatched my own chicks I felt a little like God in creation. To think your actually giving life to a creature. If I looked back on the last 10yrs, I'ld of never imagined of all the events that have transpired. I read once on someones blog a quote from a writer..and it pertained to the simple nature of an animal. The jist of it was how an animal has the constant drive to simply keep living. I see it in every single one of my animals. I'm just glad I can provide them with a good life. They also reward me with giving back.

September 7, 2012 at 11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm Erin and I live in Western PA. At age 23 I was shopping for a house with my boyfriend in the 50,000 range, which would have left us with a house in the city, or maybe a run down house with an acre in a small town but large commutes to work. My grandparents had 34 acres and I asked if they would sell five, They offered to sell it all to me for about the price we would have spent on a house! It does have an old trailer on it but no bank will give a loan on land with an older trailer, plus there was 10 acres promised to other family members who had paid for it but never subdivided it. So at 23 I started working on a subdivision, which in my township doing anything is never easy, a year and a lot of money later 24 acres is mine! To get the loan we put the trailer on 1 acre that my grandmother signed over to me and got a bare land/lot loan for the other 23.
This year we were able to build a boarding kennel with money we got from a gas lease. Over the winter we hope to get a loan to start building a small 24x24 house with a loft. Soon we will have our kennel license and be open for business! I'll be able to stay home while still making an income which is so exciting!
As for farming we have a small garden, hopefully I can put a bigger one in next year a manage it better. We have about 30 chickens, I'm trying to breed black copper marans so a large incubator may be in our future. Right now the chickens are a source of eggs and entertainment, and we eat or sell the surplus roosters. We have Sebastopol Geese which I can sell the offspring of for about $70 a bird once adults. We have a dairy steer that I paid $15 for at auction + the price of milk replaced. He will be big enough to go in the freezer by the end of next summer. We may get more calves but it's a lot of work and money to raise them, we lost one of them 2 months in. I'd like a small herd of Scottish Highlands someday when $ allows. Also thought about Finnsheep but I need new fencing first. We have 5 Alpacas that were free from my old job. They provide me with lots of yarn but I'd like something that could produce meat and wool.
I am so grateful to my grandparents for giving me the opportunity to keep this land in the family and keep farming livestock here. They had 9 kids and out of all the grand kids I seem to be the only one interested in farming, how is that?

September 7, 2012 at 12:07 PM  
Blogger greendria said...

I'm in North Carolina. Five years ago I had a tiny garden in suburbia. This morning in that same backyard five chicks hatched ( a product of my hen and rooster) in their tractor coop in the middle of my 25x50 garden.

September 7, 2012 at 12:13 PM  
Blogger Noël said...

I'm Noel. I grew up farming, participating in 4-H, and ranching and once I graduated high school left it for good. Or so I thought. : ) I am now farming again...yay! I've been married for 7 years and we bought our farm a year ago. We have 3 scottish blackface sheep, 2 cows, a dog and a cat. We are getting chickens in the spring and will hopefully have a few lambs then too. :) I have been very much inspired by you Jenna and am encouraged everyday I read your blog.
I live in Cottonwood CA and I would love to know if there were fellow readers in my area?

September 7, 2012 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger Jenni Whicker said...

My name is Jenni. Five years ago, I was in an accounting job in a desert out west. I am now in the mid-west, where there is a current drought, but usually has a pretty steady water supply, working for the school system (summers off to garden and can!!). I buy my milk from a local farmer, patronize the farmers' market, and am getting my first flock of hens in less than a month! My dream is to someday own my own land, complete with dairy goats, meat and egg hens, meat rabbits, honey bees, aquaponics systems, and a hefty garden (complete with enough home-canned items to get me through the winter). I'd like to be as completely water-secure as possible--collecting rainwater, reusing gray water, etc. I'm excited to see how far I've come, and really excited to stop puttering around and get going, all at the same time.

September 7, 2012 at 12:40 PM  
OpenID domesteading said...

Hi Jenna,

I've commented many times but not in a while. I moved back to the family homestead in Northern California after 18 years of city livin. Not married, no kids, a huge pile of law school debt, but that didn't stop me because it was time to get back to my roots. I live on 25+ acres (more like 50 when you add in my aunt's and uncle's places next door) with 3 goats, 5 chickens, 1 horse, a hive of bees, a bunch of fruit trees and a big garden (and a dog and a cat). I have absolutely no regrets, and I thank the heavens everyday that I am lucky enough to have this place. Times are hard right now, and money is real tight, but I'll make it somehow because I have no other choice. I just wrote a check for 50 bales of hay this morning, so that's one less thing to worry about! I just harvested 20 lbs of peaches from my tree so I'll be jammin this weekend. To anyone considering taking the plunge, leaving the city, leaving the sucky job, starting something from scratch, I say go for it! This life is hard but it's REAL. You will never feel like you're spinning your wheels or going in circles. Everything you put into your life will yield tangible results. It may be more work than you ever imagined, but it will be worth it.

September 7, 2012 at 12:55 PM  
Anonymous Erika said...

My name is Erika and I live in the forests of the Pacific Northwest (across the sound from Seattle). Five years ago I was living in Oklahoma, married to an emotionally abusive man and hating my job. Last year I separated from my husband and my son and I moved back onto my parent's acreage. It all started with a new flock of chickens. That was what pulled me out of my funk. I raised animals during my childhood/teenage years and had been living in Oklahoma dreaming of starting my own farm. Once I separated from my husband, I decided it was time to "bloom where I was planted" and begin a farming adventure. My 18 month old son and I are currently living on my parent's acreage and raising chickens, ducks, angora rabbits, dairy goats and sheep. I am able to work in the family business (beekeeping) and I've even begun to sell many of my own products (yarn, lotions, soaps, etc). My goal is to own my own piece of land where I could expand upon what I am already doing. But, for now, I'm so happy :)

September 7, 2012 at 1:00 PM  
Blogger Jedediah said...

I'm Jennifer, I live in Germany in a fairly big city. I don't exactly dream of buying my own farm, but I grow potatoes and beans on my balcony, gooseberries (raspberries will come next year) in front of it, I make my own butter after I learned how here at CAF blog and next year I will start beekeeping. Right now, I'm busy harvesting all the apples, plums and pears that grow right here in the city on trees that belong to no-one.
Next project this year: growing mushrooms on old books. Since I have way too many old paperbacks anyway.

For now, I think this is enough for me. It won't make me self-sufficient, but it beats getting all my stuff from the supermarket. A small garden would be brilliant, though.

September 7, 2012 at 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Susannah said...

My name is Susannah. A while ago, I read a little book that made me think "I could make this work!" (Made from Scratch - thank you, Jenna!!) I've always wanted to homestead, but I rent. And although I really believe there is a homestead rental out there somewhere waiting for me to find it, I'm stuck in a rut on my road to becoming a homesteader. I'm doing what I can in the meantime. I have a flock of 11 laying hens. I grow my own food (in containers), bake my own bread, make my own clothes, but last spring I really felt my confidence in this endeavor wane. Summer has been a struggle to regroup, and I'm working on moving forward this fall.

Six years ago I moved from a metropolitan area to a more rural area on the coast of Maine. However I live in the downtown area of a tourist town. I can't grow anything in the ground because the soil is contaminated. I have plenty of room for my chickens, but I wish my girls could free range. I've got neighbors so incredibly close, they practically live in my house. And the road in front of my house is busy with trucks and buses all day. It's metro without the coffee and bookstores - not exactly what I envisioned. I started seriously looking for a homestead to rent in my area, but there is nothing. So now I'm looking in a wider geographic area, but still nothing. It's a real confidence zapper!

I want to homestead - I feel in my gut this is the best and most honest way for me to live. Jenna's story, the story of the couple from The Dirty Life, and the stories in the comments here are helpful. I'm just at a loss for which way to turn next - so I guess moving forward is my only choice.

September 7, 2012 at 1:55 PM  
Blogger RamblinHome said...

I'm Tiffany from West Gardiner, Maine. 5 yrs ago I was renting the house I grew up in from my folks, tending a little garden on a postage stamp sized plot and envying my friend who was raising chickens & goats. Two years ago, I signed on a duplex on an acre out in the country. I started my garden and raising chickens last summer with the intention of starting either bees next spring or goats, depending on what the budget allows.

I have this dream about buying the other 2 duplexes on my road, revamping them to make them energy efficient & off the grid, rent them out to farm-minded individuals and start an ecovillage. I really like that concept and know it would work where I am! I haven't given up hope of this dream and am working hard to get there, out behind the desk at the day job and out into the sunshine of my own farming ecovillage!

September 7, 2012 at 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Jenn said...

I remember watching my grandmother dutifully wash clothes and haul a 5 gallon bucket of waste water up the basement stairs to pour on her plants and then hang that load of laundry out to dry. I remember sitting and shelling peas with my grandfather, the picking of the apple trees and how raspberry bushes poke you when you're too excited about the first fruits of the summer to pause and avoid the thorns. My dream is to give a little of that to my own children and have that grounding of earth under their feet and peace of mind for the duration of my life.

Instead of the big farm dreams and old country homes my husband and I have accepted the creative challenge of suburban/semi-urban homesteading. We live in a townhome on a tiny plot just outside a small city in PA. It's been an interesting journey of learning. Limited by zoning ordinances I've had to put some of my desires to the side for now, like hens. We focus on edible landscaping so we don't get in trouble by those front yard garden police. We are still trying to figure out how to make both meat and fiber rabbits work for us in our tiny back yard. We have been blessed by really encouraging neighbors.

I work from home as a jack of all communication trades. It allows me to have the time to commit to things I wouldn't otherwise have time for if I was parenting, wife-ing and working full-time someplace other than home.

I've revived some of the skills my grandmother taught me when I was young. I knit household needs. I sew. We recycle like mad. "Is that milk carton for the recycle bin or are you saving it for something?" Is a common question around here. We have walls made from left over retail displays and shelving from similar displays have been re purposed for a variety of things.

Eventually when the children are grown and their immediate community is less urgent we'll be moving to a small, small home with off-grid capabilities, a few sheep, a few goats, maybe a cow (although cows are one the intimidatingly large side) a lovely little flock of hens and definitely some lovely rabbits. My dream plot will also have plenty of maple trees for syrup, space enough for an orchard where I can grow a variety of fruits. That the dream that is on hold to live the life I have now, which is quite dreamy enough some days.

September 7, 2012 at 2:00 PM  
Blogger Goat Song said...

I'm Caitlyn! 5 years ago I was doggedly pursuing a degree as a veterinary technician and was up to my ears in studying so I could get a scholarship to pay for school. I wanted a medium to high paying income, a small piece of property to putter on (maybe get a horse) and have a fancy, black-and-tan Saluki dog that would come with me to the local farmer's markets as we bought tomatoes and lettuce from nearby farmers.

Oh boy did things change... Now I'm a farmer. Two years ago, as I was just about to register for college and get things going, I realized that my heart had changed. I was about to start what I had always considered to be my dream, but something felt wrong. I felt empty... In the last year I had begun raising goats, rabbits, and chickens in earnest and was earning a decent wage from it all. As I stood between choosing a degree as a tech, or following the crazy, dirty life of a farmer, I realized that I was happiest when I was growing food for people and getting dirty outside.

I threw college out the window, never even started it and followed my heart. What a crazy ride it's been! Now two years later, and farming full time I am SO HAPPY!! I honestly would not have done any of this though if I hadn't had a certain blog by the name of Cold Antler to go to for encouragement. It's been this place and this community that have kept me going when things really did look impossible.

Right now I'm just on 1.3 acres and I have 10 goats, 2 cows, 50 chickens, and somewhere around 20 rabbits. Two weeks ago I was offered a 20 acre farm that has a house, orchard, forest, and fenced pasture!!! The farm is only 15 minutes away from me and the landlord said I can have it for FREE RENT!! She wants a farm manager to live there; someone who will make the place breathe again, and bring it back to its full potential. I am so excited about this possibility that I start shaking when I think of it. I want to become a licensed Grade A raw milk dairy with the goats, have draft animals (horses or oxen; whichever comes first), sheep, broilers, a garden, and a sturdy farm dog as my partner and helper.

Things still get crazy around here sometimes but I just tell myself, "If Jenna can do this, then you can do this!"

Go Jenna! :)

September 7, 2012 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 7, 2012 at 2:26 PM  
Anonymous GoingSlowly said...

Hi Jenna, I'm Tara :-) I've never commented before, but I've been following your adventures on and off for several years. Here's my story:

A few years ago, my husband and I sold practically everything we owned, said goodbye to our friends and families, and embarked on a slow, two year (mostly) bicycle adventure across Europe and Asia. It was a life-changing journey to say the least, one that took us from the craggy hills of Scotland, to the maze-like markets of colorful Thailand, and everywhere in between. Along the way we met hundreds of inspiring people who were living off the land, from beekeepers in France, to shepherds in Romania, to farmers in Siberia.

When we returned home from our adventure and attempted to settle back into normal life in the Midwest, we felt as if the very foundation of our lives had shifted beneath our feet. What we used to accept as normal in America now felt so viscerally wrong, so wasteful, so insane. It was from that culture-shocked place that we hatched our new plan, and threw ourselves wholeheartedly into our next goal: becoming off-grid homesteaders. Now, a year and a half after returning home from our journey, we're on our way towards living our dreams. After much research and several roadtrips, we discovered and fell in love with Vermont, deciding that's where we wanted to settle. We are now proud owners of 10 acres of land between Arlington and Shaftsbury (howdy neighbor!).

We're planning on moving out to our land in the spring, living in the meantime with (awesome, generous) family members so that we can save on rent and mortgage payments and put every cent towards paying off the land. Though we aren't even in Vermont yet, there is plenty of exciting work to be done, like designing the house we want to build ourselves, and learning about natural construction techniques. Just a couple of months ago, we signed up for a timberframing course taught by North House Folk School in northern Minnesota. During the intensive 9-day workshop, we went from knowing next to nothing about woodworking, to building the very frame for our own little 12 x 16 foot house! Now the mortise and tenoned timbers are in my mother-in-law's garage, ready to be hauled out to Vermont. I can't wait! Someday we'll have a thatched-roof cottage with thick, lime-washed walls. We'll grow gardens and keep chickens and goats. We'll tap our maple trees, and make aged cheeses, and brew beer. In the meantime, I content myself with putting up pickles and jams, dreaming, planning, and learning.

Here's to following your dreams!

September 7, 2012 at 2:27 PM  
Blogger gothicmuse said...

Hi!

I'm 5 years away from what will hopefully be the final move/choice. Where I live now would support a bit of farming, but the lack of rain and abundance of heat make growing much beyond chile and tomatoes a challenge, but I will keep working at it, if for no other reason than to give a head start to the the folks that will follow us.

Jo

September 7, 2012 at 2:47 PM  
Blogger Kira said...

I live in the mid-Willamette Valley in Oregon in a 100 year old house on a double lot - just under a quarter acre- on the edge of town. I can see the county line and much more rural properties from my living room. I take full advantage of the small space I have (I call it a micro-farm) and have 7 hens, 2 fiber rabbits, and as of this past June two goats - a wether and a mini Nubian for milking. And of course my dog and 3 cats and a veggie garden, berry patch and various fruit trees. I refused to wait until I can afford an acre or two so I made the decision to make the space I have work for the goats. So, here I am - working with what I have and planning for a move to some small acreage in 2-4 years. Meanwhile I'll happily take my goats for walks to make up for a lack of pasture and enjoy all the great dairy products from my own small herd!

I don't imagine a full time farm life is doable for me but I hope to cut back to 3/4 time to so in a few years to allow me more time with the animals I love. I'll take what I can get and keep planning and setting goals.

September 7, 2012 at 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Virginia said...

My name is Virginia and while I may never own a proper farm I do add to my little plot of land in NH raised beds for as much edibles as I can. This weekend we'll be putting up our first greenhouse and we're very excited about that! Maybe someday when we retire back to England we might be able to add some chickens and ducks but it's not in the cards now. In the meantime I enjoy all the local farms for the fresh eggs and meat. I love everyone's story so far. I see there will be a lot of success in the farming!

September 7, 2012 at 3:28 PM  
Blogger Alexandra said...

Write in the comments about where you are at, both your location in the world and how far you have come in your dreams. Also share where you were 5 years ago.

5 years ago I was in my first year of college working toward a degree in education, living in a dorm room, joining school clubs, and eating in dining halls. Hard to believe. I was happy to be on my own, but nowhere near as happy as I am today.

I did graduate with a special education degree last December. In June I moved from Illinois to Madison County, North Carolina. Currently living on a fledgling homestead with 5 other folks including my cousin. I work the 9-5 as a middle school special education teacher. But after school and on the weekends I take care of 4 goats, a whole bunch of garden beds, chop firewood, live with minimal electricity, cook meals from the garden, use a composting toilet. My landmates are really inspired people who are doing orcharding and agroforestry projects, building a straw bale house, building a pond, tapping spring water, and blazing forest trails.

So I'm pretty close to living my dream right now, just not on my own land. Owning land is a goal for me, in the future when I save up enough money perhaps. But for now I'm happy living in my tent, learning and participating. I'm on my way to where I want to be though.

September 7, 2012 at 3:48 PM  
Blogger Goat Song said...

@ Kira: You live in Oregon too!?!? And you have goats too!? I live in Sheridan, which is about 20 minutes west of McMinnville, are you anywhere near that? I'm so excited to see another Oregonian here at the CAF blog! :D

September 7, 2012 at 4:03 PM  
Blogger Fernleaf said...

5 years ago my boyfriend (now husband) and I were living in a tiny apartment in Bellingham, WA while I worked on a bachelor's degree in Biology. My classes were starting to awaken me fully to environmental challenges and other major issues but homesteading was still a dormant thought for me, although I had grown up on a hobby farm.

Much has changed in those 5 years and as I have learned and grown and read I've come to realize that I never really wanted anything else. Despite my love of science and my time spent earning my degree (which I loved every minute of) all I really want to do is have a farm, teach people about farming, and spread the goodness around. And for the longest time this all seemed like a huge pipe dream that was never going to stand the test of reality.

But last year we moved into a rental house that was outside of city limits (and noise ordinances) and had some property to go with it. We put in our first garden this year, which is producing decently well considering our limitations (poor soils, less than fantastic sun exposure), we have a small flock of chickens that should start laying soon, we've been getting duck eggs since February, we raised some ducks for meat and they are now in the freezer, we have dipped our toes into the food preservation pool...things are starting to come together.

We still hope to start some rabbits here, and if we can talk our landlord into it, a goat!

Our future dreams and plans are always changing and shifting but the basics are there. A homestead that produces veggies, milk, meat, honey, flowers, friendships, children, horsepower, medicine, beauty and health.

Your story has always been such an inspiration to us, Jenna, and hopefully we can return the favor in some small way.

September 7, 2012 at 4:10 PM  
Anonymous Ginger Ivey said...

Hi Jenna, thanks for all the hard work you do and especially for your books and blog. It makes me happy just to know that people like you exist. It's so generous of you to open your life up to people (friends and strangers!) every day and to let us have a peek inside your world.
I'm living with my husband, our four month old daughter and a grumpy chihuahua here in Southern California. We have an herb and vegetable garden but no livestock to speak of (except for the aforementioned chihuahua.)We are lucky to live in a semi-rural area where there are still wild spaces to explore. I'm always finding new projects to dig into, new recipes to try, and more books and blogs than I'll ever have time to read.
Thanks for being you, Jenna. You've taken your dreams and made them a reality. And good luck with your winter prep.
Best Regards,
Ginger Ivey
wildesthorse.wordpress.com

September 7, 2012 at 4:12 PM  
Blogger Bethany said...

I don't dream of a farm, exactly, but rather an urban homestead. I'd like to live in a nice city that has more of a village feel (my parents live in Glens Falls, and I consider it an ideal type of town) and have a house with at least 1/4 acre that I could grow most of my own food. I'd like a few chickens and a pair of mini-goats. I'd like to be totally energy off-grid. I'd like to be completely debt free without a mortgage and without utility expenses. I want to be able to cycle or walk to local stores that support local artisans and farmers. Pretty far from the dream right now, but a girl can hope.

September 7, 2012 at 4:31 PM  
OpenID sheepsclothing said...

Hi!I'm Denise, from NW Washington. My husband and I moved out of town and bought a small place (2.25 acres) about 7 years ago, and after a few years of getting the place cleaned up and cleared out finally have some chickens and shetland sheep. Our critters are in the middle ground between pets and livestock. Guess they are kind of like employees of the homestead. Too attached to all of them to ever eat them, but they keep us in eggs and wool. We also have fruit trees and usually put in a vegetable garden. Would love to get some bee hives going, but haven't acted on that impulse yet.
I just love your first year video. always makes me choke up a little bit.

September 7, 2012 at 4:40 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Lots of great stories I want to read when I have more time.

I am Kris at Outback Farm in Chickamauga, Ga. A few miles from the Tn. line and Chattanooga. We have a 3 acre farm where just about every inch has gardens or chickens, sheep, goats, dogs and cats.

I am a farmer. I have market gardens and meat chickens and lamb for meat and goats for milk, cheese and soap. I have milk and cheese customers. I sell soap. I have hens for eggs that I sell. I just sold a steer and made quite a bit of money with no overhead at all. Raised by his momma and ate grass and hay his whole life. Sell meat chickens too. And the lamb.

I got to farmer's markets. I am just starting at the Brainerd farmer's market in Chatt. tomorrow! I am so excited about that. I just asked and there it was.

I love farming and milking goats and being a shepherd. LOVE it! Wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Just here.

I love visitors so if anyone is in town and wants to come by, come on!

You can check out my blog too. It shows a lot of what I do around here. kris-outbackfarm.blogspot.com

September 7, 2012 at 4:51 PM  
Anonymous Lizz said...

My name is Lizz, I'm 22, and I live in Canon City, Co. I was introduced to you blog just after I got my first house with a tenth of an acre, my first laying hens, and I kid you not, my first violin. I've been reading ever since. I have been inspired to search out angora bunnies, which I now am breeding, to use an old school stove top percolator, and to make my own bread.

My goal is to get a piece of property in the next few years so I can have my animals with me and expand to be as self sufficient as possible. In order to do that, I just started my own online business to sell my arts and things. No sales yet, but I hope it will take off soon.

Right now, I am keeping myself busy with work, trying to learn violin, and all my critters. I have 5 angora rabbits here at my place, along with my dogs, cats, and four laying hens. At my mom's property, I have my flock of heritage black spanish turkeys, of which 3 will be held back to start breeding next year, my big sorrel gelding, Remington, and my sheep, which are very recently acquired. There are only two, and they are little primitive breed mutts, but they are friendly little things, and have super soft fleece.

I try to grow a garden every year, but this house I'm in now used to be a rental, and the soil is to depleted to do much. I will be adding raised beds this winter. I plan on putting grass in the back yard since it's so shady, which I'm rather opposed to, but I guess it's okay if I can use the rabbits and sneak the sheep in to mow it. Oh yeah, did I mention that it's illegal to have any livestock in town where I live? Oops. :)

September 7, 2012 at 5:42 PM  
Blogger kara d said...

Hi!
I'm 32 years old in live in a suburb of Chicago with my husband, our 2 kids, 2 cats, and a dog.

His great uncles were all agri-business farmers, so when he thinks "farming" it means combine-harvesters and watching corn prices.

My mother is a fiber artist, so when I think "farming", I think of sheep or goats and chickens for eggs.

Ultimately, we'd like to be a little more rural and a little farther east (like east of Ohio).

In the meantime, I am figuring out how much to plant to feed the four of us, researching chickens, and making art (which is what fuels my soul and tiny bank account!)

I love your blog! Your story helps to give my husband a better idea of what I'm dreaming.

Thanks!

September 7, 2012 at 5:48 PM  
Blogger Katy said...

Hi I just found you!

I'm in SC, saving up money to buy land. Right now I live in the suburbs. I'm watching the MLS listings daily, and wondering if I should settle for a few acres or move out even further and go for more -- like over 10 acres. I'm having trouble deciding.

I'm a single mom with 3 young children, and we all want to have a homestead. Chickens, ducks, goats, vegetable gardening, a greenhouse, beehives, you name it -- me and the kids want to do it!

Just trying to figure out how much money we need. Fencing looks insanely expensive, banks aren't giving out loans now unless you've got tons of money down, so on the one hand it feels like a pipe dream, but on the other I know we can do it. *argh*

September 7, 2012 at 5:55 PM  
Blogger missliss40 said...

My name is Melissa and I live in southern WI. In the last 2 yrs I have divorced and remarried. Starting over in all aspects of my life. I am a self-employed seamstress and dressmaker. We are renting a house right now, but do have a small garden. Our first step towards our dream farm was gettin three bee hives, but they are not on our property because we live in a subdivision. We have a small garden and have made about 3 dozen jars of various pickles, saurkraut is bubbling in the basement, 3 braids of onions are hanging from a rafter, peach jam is in the cupboard. We are doing what we can for now to be self-sufficient. Our 5 year plan is to have a small farm, raise chickens, ducks, turkeys, milk goats, and fiber sheep, greatly expand our hives and beeswax products, and make or recycle as much as we can. My husband can build a house and almost anything else, I am a seamstress and also quilt, crochet, and knit. I want to learn to spin this winter. I have learned that if I want to realize my dreams, I have to set a date. Write it on the calendar. Learn to spin on October 3rd, build more hive bodies on Jan 15. Set a date for when you want to do something, not just keeping saying "one day I will learn or do such and such." Nothing ever gets done otherwise. I would love to connect with anyone in my area, and if anyone knows of a farm house with a few acres, even for rent, I would love to hear about it.

September 7, 2012 at 6:17 PM  
Blogger Dee Anne said...

Hi Jenna!

Let's see - five years ago I was living in Kansas in a home I owned. I taught high school, had a huge rose garden and veg and herbs as well. Then I decided to get a PhD. :-) I moved to New York City to work on a PhD at NYU, and now I share a small apartment with two other women. No backyard, no garden other than plants in the window. However, I'm ABD and I hope to finish in two more years. Then the goals are 1) find teaching job where I can buy a small house with land, 2) have dog, chickens, rabbits, garden, fruit trees, and 3) PUT DOWN ROOTS!

Living in the city has cemented my desire to leave it for a more rural space. I love NYC, but it will forever be a place I love to visit, not live. At the same time, I don't want to be a full time farmer, because I love teaching. I'm so excited to find a job where I can continue to make an impact on future teachers and young people. I deeply miss waking up early, getting a cup of coffee and heading out to the garden to weed and deadhead the roses just as the sun is coming up. I long to be in that space again... Soon and very soon!
Dee Anne

September 7, 2012 at 6:45 PM  
Anonymous Gail said...

I'm Gail, mid 40's and currently living in the suburbs of Brisbane, Australia. I have quite a large yard here, well by today's standards, and have chooks,fruit trees, raised garden beds and a worm farm. I have always wanted to live sustainably on acreage and 3 years ago I purchased 12 acres in northern New South Wales with the hope of one day building a strawbale home and having a permaculture forest food garden and of course some animals :) I have recently taken up knitting so my new passion is fibre animals. This year I even flew interstate to go to the Australian Wool and Sheep Show so I could go and have a look at all the different breeds of sheep and goats :) About a month ago, after a bad day at my cubicle I just decided that the time had come to put a plan in to action so I am currently in the process of having a shed put on my acreage block so I can hopefully change to part time work in the city and spend more time out in the coutry,try it on and get to know people before I hopefully make the full time move down there.
My work in an office job is just not for me (I'm sure my work mates are sick of me talking about growing your own food, chickens and the like:)) but at this stage it is a means to end to get me to my dream of living full time on my land. Love your blog Jenna and it has taught me that living the dream life is not all sunshine and roses and that times can be tough but hey I'm sure they make the good times all that much sweeter :) I definately have Barnheart!

September 7, 2012 at 6:54 PM  
Blogger maddie said...

I'm Maddie, 21 and from Canada! I've been following Jenna's blog since a friend of mine bought me Made From Scratch for Christmas three years ago.

I'm still very much in the dreaming stage where I haven't quite decided what I want. I know I want to be self sustainable and I would like to have a somewhat historically important/patriotic farm. I'd like to have breeds that were developed here in Canada such as the Chantecler chicken, the Canadienne Cow, and the Canadien Horse (a.k.a. the Little Iron Horse).

I used to want a farm, but after working on one last summer I was able to fine tune that want a little. I would like mostly to be self sustainable and produce a little extra to have a small CSA. I've also played with the idea of running a B&B with my mum where people will be served fresh produce from the garden, eggs from my chickens (or ducks), milk from my cow(s), and toast from my own flour.

I'm working on finishing my degree (might as well finish what I started), then I plan to spend next summer and hopefully fall on a farm or maybe visit a few and learn a little more; diversify my experience a bit. I'm okay with renting (the last farmer I spoke to said it's actually far more affordable to rent (once you spend all the interest and your mortgage for your land you've spent double it's listing price?) - so I may take his advice, we'll see) and I have a family friend who apparently just bought some land and has asked me to make him a chicken coop! We'll see where that leads.

Good luck everyone with your dreams, thank you Jenna for being such an inspiration! I'm still waiting for Barnheart to come out in Ontario, but Made from Scratch is still my fave!

September 7, 2012 at 7:00 PM  
Blogger Tiffrz-N-Kidz said...

Hi, I am Stephanie and I suffered all my life from what I now know, thanks to Jenna, was a bad case of Barnheart. It was a long and winding road that got me here, mostly filled with half hearted attempts at 'normalcy'. College - marriage - kids - houses in the burbs... But I was always happiest at the barn with my horse, and trotting down a wooded trail with the sunlight sparkling through the trees was heaven on earth.
I remember the first time I stayed in a home that was heated with a woodstove. It was in Galway NY and it was BUTTA$$ cold and that 250 year old house felt SO good. And the people up the road at the Waterwheel shop made their own cheese. It was so good! I did not know people could make their own cheese. Then I went to PA and had the opportunity to see the Amish and meet raw milk farmers and pick blackberries right off a bush that you could actually eat and not get sick. (I grew up in TX, not everything that looks like a berry here should be eaten!) The milk straight from the cow was an experience I will never forget, kindof like my first kiss.

Eventually I worked my way back to TX and landed in a nice suburban house less than a mile from my parents, which made them very happy. My neighbor was a veggie gardener, and I just wanted to grow a little garden of my own and have a couple of chickens so I could get a tab self-reliant. (The socialist republic of Benbrook had other ideas, btw.) That was it. I had no idea where to start, so I went to Half Price books and picked up a couple of books to help me learn backyard sustainability, and one was called "Made From Scratch". This was after I had killed off an entire batch of illegally kept "Rainbow Layers" and when I read that your dogs had eaten your chicks, too, I no longer felt alone. I followed your blog through 2009 and 2010 and was working through my own fears right along with you. I wanted to live on a farm, but everyone I knew thought I should live in the suburbs, but the animal control nazis were banging on my door, and everyone seemed to be against me, except for your blog which kept telling me it COULD be done, and one dear friend who lived on 3 acres just outside town. She also happens to be a real estate agent.
By March 2011 I finally thought, "If a 20-something can up and do that, so can I, and I better do it now before I get too old to set the place up." (I am 47.) The For Sale sign went in the yard and Debbie and I started looking at farms. There were family hysterics and funding gyrations that I won't go into, but then one day my mom looked at me with this weird look on her face and said, "You're really serious about this farm thing, aren't you?" I just shrugged because I didn't want to fight. She floored me by saying "What can your Dad and I do to help?" 60 days later I closed on a 3/2/2 home with a makeshift barn on 5 unrestricted acres in a nearby town, one with a great school system for my kids and close enough to civilization that my parents are not afraid I would die before the paramedics can get to me. :-) That was a little over a year ago. I have since witnessed my first goat kiddings, sheeps lambing, raised 3 batches of broilers, and installed a 30x60 garden that is a learning place in progress. The peach tree bloomed and fruited in spite of the drought, and I have plans to expand the 'orchard'. Parker County Peaches are life altering, but that's another post entirely. So this is long, and meandering, but you asked. I am here. I made it this far and there's just more good stuff to go. Thank you for all you do to help others find their feet. BTW, I planted the seeds from Annie's last week, so thank you again for helping make that happen. You're a real inspiration and I look forward to many more years of Barnheart treatments.

September 7, 2012 at 7:10 PM  
Anonymous Eileen said...

I'm Eileen,and I moved in the last year from Florida to Southwest Ohio. I found that Ohio is a place that I want to settle down and in less than a month my family and I will close on our dream home which consists of a bungalow and five acres. I credit this blog and your books with putting me on this path. In the spring we will be getting bees, chickens and rabbits. If we handle that well, we'll be adding goats. I'm a knitter, a sewer, and a dabbler in clawhammer banjo :) Life is good! Thanks for giving me courage Jenna, even though I don't know you, I feel like we're friends. Thanks for all you do for us dreamers.

September 7, 2012 at 7:54 PM  
Blogger Denise said...

Hey guys, I'm Denise from AL. About 7 years ago my husband and I moved to Alabama and now live in a subdivision. We garden and have chickens in our backyard. But we had a dream to have a farm. We didn't have so much money though. We found a piece of property in TN. We had enough for a down payment and the bank loaned us the rest. We have had the land less than 3 months and already have put a down payment on a cabin which the Amish are building for us. It can be done. You just have to tighten your belt and cut back on unnecessary spending (who needs cable or satellite), put enough money in the bank, keep up on your other bills, go to the bank, ask questions and look and I mean really look for a promising piece of property. Our property is not great but the potential is there and it was in our price range. We will be paying it off in the next couple of years and have our cabin paid for. We will be living in that cabin within 5 years. Nothing is going to stop us! Jenna you have inspired us like no one else has.

September 7, 2012 at 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Kamela said...

Of course my dream began, like many others, with turning of the first pages of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Growing up in washington state, so close to the dream of the pioneers, their spirit was all around me. I longed for the simple life, herbs to cure and food to grow. Years later I have a masters degree in Classical Chinese medicine and my husband and i rent land on a farm. My chickens are my alarm clock waking me much more gently than any alarm clock. I walk outside to milk my sweet nigerian dwarf girls, they greet me with licks and nibbles. While im milking i look at the barn window to my horses entertaining me with horse farts and funny face (really). When im done milking i let the siilly horses out to graze and i am greeted wtth loud chirps by the ornery turrkey that manages to sneak out of her electric fence EVERY morning to roost on thhe BBQ. I water my animals and my garden that is much smaller this year than i would like, smelling and touchng my plants and herbs and hoping that my tomatoes will stop being green. I look at the long list of chores that must be done before winter comes, knowing they always get done even when it feels overwhelming. i get a nice reprieve from chores and give a treatment, using the skills i acquired in school I ask for help and channel the healing powers of the divine, nature and plants to help someone who is suffering. I get lots of time to breathe fresh air and feel the nice evning breeze, coook dinner with my husband and be removed from the husle and buslte of city life.
After a year and a half on a farm and many years of urrban farming there is still so much i dream for. My own farm, land to roam, more food to grow, more time and comfort horseback, having more put away for winter, more money for all these things... But I feel so blessed and so thankful for every moment. So satisfiied at the end of the day. Even in the whirl of it all when animals are hurt, dying, food and money are low, chore lists are neverending, the fire goes out and it gets cold, there is nothing i would rather be doing no where i wouuld rather be. It fills something so deep, it plasters the fractures in my soul from the stress of modern life. Even with the salt of failure, death, birth, sweat and joy stinging my face i go to bed at night knowing im stronger. I lay next to my husband and we just cant believe how blessed we are.
Kamela

September 7, 2012 at 8:55 PM  
Anonymous Faith Veley said...

Hi Jenna This is the first post I've sent to you. Five years ago we dug up our back yard for a garden in town. Each year we expanded a little more. I began reading your blog about year and a half ago and it fueled me for even more. One month ago we sold our home in town and moved to a 40 acre farm with hay fields, pastures and barns! We are gardeners, not real farmers and will learn as we go. We adopted a 10 week old English Shepard this week,chickens and bees to come later. Thank-you for your inspiration!

Faith from Eben Junction, Michigan

September 7, 2012 at 9:27 PM  
Blogger Kira said...

Goat Song.
I see your blog. I'll email you. I'm about 1.5 hours south of you.
Kira

September 7, 2012 at 9:42 PM  
Blogger PattyW said...

This is Patty of the CAF Mark & Patty and our Livingston Brook Farm - just north of Jenna. I thought I'd add our story of dreams come true. Five years ago Mark and I had recently moved into together to a rental with 1/4 acre in the village of Cambridge, NY. Mark has always been an avid gardener even while living abroad and New Orleans he managed to find or lease space for veggies and fruit trees. In Germany, he collected dropped pears from neighbors to make schnapps and rented a strawberry patch! So in Cambridge we started with a huge garden, apple trees, bees and raising rabbits for meat. Rabbits proved to be the perfect meat animal in a small village as they make no noise and the manure is easily and wonderfully incorporated into the garden. (Chickens were outlawed up until last year!).
I am one of seven children- growing up with plenty of company, collecting critters and aching for a horse to just be around. Never imagined that I would ever have a horse or a farm but dreamed of just that.
When I turned 39, with two children - one with many special needs needing 24/7 care- I realized that no one was ever going to give me a horse. At the time I was looking for a handicapped riding program for my son and was told "he is too handicapped". When I told some close friends about the reaction I got from so called "therapeutic riding" programs, friends stepped up and said "if you get a horse you can keep it with us". That encouragement led to my first horse - given to me- as a retired polo pony- crazy and fast and no brakes and a lamb around my son in his wheelchair! Horses know, animals know, my horses and dogs and chickens all sit quietly or stand quietly with their heads in my sons lap- it is truly amazing.
Anyway, three years ago, after several years searching for a decent home with land, barns, water, etc, a friend called on a Wednesday about a farm 11 miles north. We went and looked at it on Thursday -halfway between our jobs, enough bedrooms, land, water, barns and wonderful neighbors to keep us busy into retirement. we put in our offer on Friday at 11am and had our farm at 5pm!
Since then, our farm from 1764 has come to life along with our dreams! We have 2 horses, 2 dogs, 2 cats, heritage geese, chickens and rabbits. We have a tremendous garden thanks to Mark's hard work. And....We have repaired every imaginable moving part in a house that could break, built barn doors, walls, a chicken coop, a goose pen, fencing, restored barn floors, pulled out acres of honeysuckle and grapevine (invasives) and rented about 20 of the 42 acres for hay and corn. I have learned to work my draft horse to bring in firewood, plow and drive a cart, wagon and sleigh. We often say we live in "vacationland" when we have a chance to sit and watch the sunset. There's nowhere we'd rather be. And as Jenna knows - I still dream - about driving my own team, raising a foal or pups or who knows what else- a girl's gotta dream!

September 7, 2012 at 9:51 PM  
Blogger J 'n E said...

You have greatly inspired me to take the leap. I bought a small farmstead this year after many years of dreaming and driving around many country sides. I am chronicling the journey myself on my blog themakingofafarmstead.blogspot.com. I wish I could add Monday to the crew. He is adorable.

September 7, 2012 at 11:02 PM  
Blogger Glyndalyn said...

I am Glyndalyn and my husband and I live in a tiny rural hamlet in Middle TN. We own the Phony Farm. I grew up here and returned after a long abscence.

I grew up on a horse's bare back. It is second nature to live an independent life. Many of our neighbors do the same.

We grow and preserve much of our own food, have a small orchard, and cut, split and stack our wood. We buy blueberries and strawberries and honey from a neighbor's U Pick. Eggs come from another neighbor. We use what we produce or give some away to neighbors.

At one point, we owned a small meat goat business. Now our neighbor runs a few cattle.

My husband builds fine furniture from traditional Southern walnut and cherry. He dreams of turning this hobby into a business.

I knit, sew, quilt, make soap, ect.

Yes, we work 2-3 days/week at a regular job. Having time to sit down and comment on Jenna's blog is a luxury.

Most anyone who wants to live the "homestead" life can do so. Stay realistic about time, energy, and space requirements for fowl and livestock. Pay off ALL debt. Work hard, stay positive, remember the Lord.





September 7, 2012 at 11:55 PM  
Blogger English sheep gal said...

Hi Jenna, I'm Hannah, currently living nr Buffalo, NY - although I grew up in Worcestershire, England. I read Made From Scratch and loved it. Then found your blog, now I like to check in daily if possible and see what's happening on your side of NY State!

My husband and I took the offer of a UK to USA relocation with his employer in 2006. 5 years ago we were settled enough to work out where we wanted to live, and moved out of the rented apartment in the suburbs to the home we bought on 5 acres in rural Town of Wales, about 40 mins away from Buffalo.

I have a job I love working with animals, so do not feel so desperate to escape it all and be a full time farmer.

We have always had a small garden, but this year we bought a cultivator, tripled the size of the garden, installed a head height fence after the deer and rabbbits ate our fist set of seedlings - used llama poop from a neighbor for fertiliser and got a pressure canner. We grew the most we ever have this year - beets, beans, garlic, peas, tomatoes, chard, corn, celery, blackberries, strawberries, peppers, herbs. We have been freezing, dehydrating, and eating lovely fresh produce for months - wonderful.

We helped make friends locally by answering an advert for volunteers to build a straw bale house nearby, tomorrow we attend their fundraiser where entry fee is waived if you bring a homemade pie (we're planning shepherds pie made with lamb from the farmers market and veggies from our garden).

'Mountain Music' not going so well - we bought a dulcimer in Gatlinberg, TN on a roadtrip last fall I can just about manage Amazing Grace, and thanks to Jennas free webinar
boil dem cabbage down - however that is an area that needs more work - and time dedicating to practicing.

Livestock wise my passion is sheep - my first solo road trip within months of moving here was to the sheep and goat symposium at Cornell University in Ithaca.

I helped out with lambing on a farm in Shropshire - beautiful Kerryhill sheep, and got my hands on my first fleeces, got a wheel and learnt to spin.

In future I would love to have my own sheep, for meat and fiber, in the meantime I have been able to get my sheep fix by helping out on local farms, through vendors I met at Fiber Festivals. Most recently at my wonderful neighor Amandas, she only lives 5 mins from me, and has shetland sheep, llamas, chickens, and goats. She runs a fiber business from home www.inspirationfibers.com in exchange for help around the farm including lambing, shearing, cleaning out the barn, collecting eggs, dyeing and carding wool - she helped me with refresher spinning lessons, and next is knitting lessons, so I dont have to knit yet another scarf!

2 NY State events coming up that may be of interest to people in this area, Hemlock, Finger Lakes - there is a Fiber Festival on Sept 15th & 16th. Then at the end of the month, my local event, Western New York Fiber Festival takes place on Sat Sept 29th, 10-5, at Emery Park, nr beautiful East Aurora. See WNYFiberFestival.com

Finally, following Jennas mantra of 'you CAN do it' instead of just taking nature and farm pics, showing them to people who told me they were good, then putting the photo album back on the self, I took the plunge, got prints made, mounted them on photo cards - and a little bit of bartering.... if I help out at the Inspiration Fibers stall at the WNY Fiber Fest I can have some display space to try and sell them.

Not quite as big a step as leaving my job to start a farm, but this time last year I had never met a llama, angora goat - or been able to identify a flock of 9 Shetland sheep by name, and tell you their family tree!

Jenna you should make this an annual update thing, what stage will be all be at 1 year from now?

September 8, 2012 at 12:11 AM  
Blogger Ivanhoe said...

My name is Ivan, I'm 24, I live in a city of 100 000 on a wet rainforested island off the west coast of Canada. I don't want to be a farmer, and I intend to live in cities my whole life (with frequent visits to farmland and the wilds), but I love all of you people for striving to live lightly on the planet, for growing the delicious food that I eat, and most of all, for sharing and following your dreams, no matter how terrifying. The world needs people who do exactly what they want to do, which means much diversity. This is awesome.

My dream is to be a touring, recording jazz musician, teacher/professor/lecturer at a university and/or private high school, and writer. I'm well on my way. I just finished my music degree, and I've already done everything from score-writing for films, to musically directing for theatre. I have already experienced exactly those activities that make me come alive, and now my task is just to make them happen more frequently!

Currently, I'm getting my first ever band started -- it'll be a vessel for all the music that passes through me and will probably follow me my whole life. I am practising my instruments daily, honing my musicianship so that I am able to play in all sorts of situations. I'm working a couple of non-musical part-time jobs that I love a whole lot -- they're interesting but simple, and pay for my expenses at the moment. I also meditate each early morning for two hours in the forest next to my house, spend time with friends, clean my house and clear it and my mind of unnecessary gunk, and do silly fun things to take breaks from the intense concentration required to be a musician.

Next steps: after a couple of years of more practise, shows/concerts with my band and solo piano/accordion, maybe some touring and a CD, I will travel to a few different places around the world where I'd like to study different styles of music, share what I know, and maybe play in someone else's touring band! We'll see how long this'll take. Then, I will get a master's degree somewhere where I will write and do research on my thesis idea about the parallels in the relationships in music and in ecology. Theeen... I shall search for the ideal teaching position at a coastal or mountain-town university/music school/private high school (has to be ... San Francisco or north, or the Appalachians, or New England area... I cannot go too long without either mountains or ocean!) and from there I will base my further musical activities.

Tomorrow I'm going to go buy a kite for a beloved neighbour's toddler son's birthday and then go visit and chat with one of my former professors. In the evening I'll invite friends over to watch a stupid movie.

And now I shall just go to bed! Good night! :-D

September 8, 2012 at 4:00 AM  
Blogger Ivanhoe said...

Oh, I totally forgot to mention that five years ago I was one year into the deepest, darkest, suicidal depression that ended ony last summer. Very few people knew about it. Everything was mechanical, hopeless, joyless, disconnected. I never quit school or work during any of it, and I am astonished at how I managed to do so much because I am a COMPLETELY different and way better person now.

September 8, 2012 at 4:03 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I am on my draft horse farm in Maine. I live in a 2200sg ft home over my barn. Five years ago I lived in Carver Ma. in a 4 bed room 2 1/2 bath Colonial. This is better!

September 8, 2012 at 6:33 AM  
Blogger Natural Mark said...

5 years ago we lived in a small town outside of Toronto, Ontario reading inspiring books and blogs like yours dreaming of living a more natural life.

Today, we live on a smallish 6 acre century farm outside of Brantford. I run a graphic design business from home and my wife homeschool/unschool's our kids as we all slowly learn how to live off the land. We have chickens (egg and meat), fruit trees and organic veggie gardens (and we setup a community garden too).

This month we're learning to can for the first time and already have pickled peppers and salsa's lined up in the pantry. My goal this winter is baking bread in our old wood cookstove - one step at a time! Maybe this spring we'll add turkeys or ducks and then... the possibilities are endless.

Thanks for your inspiration!

September 8, 2012 at 6:55 AM  
Blogger Natural Mark said...

5 years ago we lived in a small town outside of Toronto, Ontario reading inspiring books and blogs like yours dreaming of living a more natural life.

Today, we live on a smallish 6 acre century farm outside of Brantford. I run a graphic design business from home and my wife homeschool/unschool's our kids as we all slowly learn how to live off the land. We have chickens (egg and meat), fruit trees and organic veggie gardens (and we setup a community garden too).

This month we're learning to can for the first time and already have pickled peppers and salsa's lined up in the pantry. My goal this winter is baking bread in our old wood cookstove - one step at a time! Maybe this spring we'll add turkeys or ducks and then... the possibilities are endless.

Thanks for your inspiration!

September 8, 2012 at 6:56 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Mac said...

I am a farm girl without a farm ;)
Hubby and I built our home in 2007. Live in a fairly rural area. No debt. About to retire. Love gardening and making EVERYTHING from scratch. Am surrounded by wonderful farms that grow our meat/milk/eggs. Even with the help from farmers, life is very full and rewarding.

September 8, 2012 at 7:27 AM  
Blogger Crisy said...

I am a 41 year old single mom of 2 wonderful boys...A few years ago nothing made sense; fluorescent lighting, the food we eat, the general corporate cloud that was everywhere. Always I have been a reader of survival books and personal triumph tales.I was searching Amazon one night and came across your Made from Scratch and ordered it...then when I was able I made the trek to your farm for a workshop...suddenly everything that was out of line with my thinking - I suppose what I had been searching for but couldn't quite put my finger on presented itself!

It's been like in inner desire to become fluent in a new life-if that makes any sense. Ha! I live in a townhouse so I have become a professional Farmstalker of sorts - but it can only be a matter of time before I get my own 'dirt' Im in a rural area of NJ, and I have stepped way out of my comfort zone and started opening my mouth and asking questions. Reading your books and your blog make it all seem possible!

Being a mom this has trickled down to my teenage boys - when I signed up for membership at the Sussex County Poultry Fanciers club my oldest insisted on the family membership so we could 'do this together mom'

This life that you have presented to me has changed things. I am so humbly grateful to you! But it is seeping it's way into my boys as well. Work, grow, raise, sleep, be content and know what that hard work will bring - it has expanded us all!

I recently started a blog (learning that has been fun and frustrated so I am looking forward to Words and Wool w wild abandon!

I will get my dirt one day Jenna - And I will thank you for that!!!

September 8, 2012 at 7:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, my name is Vicki! After a year of health problems and lots of research, we are eating organic and growing some of our food on our humble half acre. My great grandparents were farmers and I have a deep yearning to follow in their footsteps. At the same time, I am pursuing some home based business ideas and focusing on becoming more self-sufficient.
Your books and blog are an inspiration and daily source of encouragement to me. Keep up the good work!
Looking forward to seeing you at the Mother Earth Fair. I'll be there with my granddaughter who is also named Jenna!

September 8, 2012 at 8:43 AM  
Blogger Rich With Life said...

Well I may not be a homesteader,yet, but I am working my way up there one day. Five years ago I was in high school (Yup, I'm not even 21 yet), living with my mother. Now I am going to a small private college full time on scholarship, commuting to my home (built by my grandfather over 50 years ago) on 1.5 acres in Carroll County ("Cow County"), MD. I live there myself, and have for the past year.I have two off-and-on part time jobs, I intern at a vet hospital, run a pre-vet club, am in various other activities at the school, and take care of my property all on my own, including my modest garden and herb garden, a few fruit trees which I can/freeze, a small flock of chickens and my horse. I am lucky enough to be surrounded by farmland and pastures on all sides, and my grandfather lives down the road with 20+ acres (this is where I keep my horse). With the help of some farmer neighbors, we bale our own hay and store it in the barn we built with our own hands. The chickens were a recent addition, and my family members helped me build the coop. I can and freeze all veggies from my garden, and sell eggs to my neighbors to help pay for upkeep. Split and stack my own wood, and run the house off of the wood stove in the Winter to save on bills. It gets pretty hectic at times, but I love it.

My dream is to go to vet school for large animal/farm animal medicine, and to open a farm of my own one day(hopefully with substantial help!), with cattle or sheep.

September 8, 2012 at 8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, my name is Vicki. I have always yearned to follow in the footsteps of my great grandparents who were farmers. After a year of health problems and alot of research, we began to eat organic and planted a garden on our humble half acre. What a difference it has made-physically, mentally, and spiritually. We are now pursuing home based business ideas and taking steps to become more self-sufficient.
I have read your books and read your blog daily. You are such an inspiration! Keep up the good work!
Looking forward to seeing you at the Mother Earth Fair. I'll be there with my granddaughter who is also a Jenna! :)

September 8, 2012 at 8:47 AM  
Blogger Holly said...

Hi all. My journey has similar aspects to others. I am Holly age 48, two boys ages 4 and 15 from Illinois. About 7 years ago I left my full time social service job to homeschool my son. I developed a housecleaning job which allotted me LOTS of time to think while I cleaned:) And I thought a bunch about what I wanted from life and how I wanted to live. And a few years later this country entered recession and that got me to thinking about how I could position myself to be recession-proof as possible. 2 books made sense to me Carla Emery's and Amy Dycyzyn's. One about farming and the other about frugality. And I worried that my kids would be subjected to same recession issues. So I volunteered on a CSA. Learned to can, planted larger and larger gardens in the city. Read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and decided to find land and become as recession proof as possible. So, in March 2012 bought 5 acre farm, sold my home in June 2012, and paid off farm. Am working on farm as I have money, currently living with my mom this year while we recover the farm land and make the barn's lean to habitable. My goal is to be move in spring 2013 to the farm. Farm is off-grid so as not to incur utilities expenses. Bought a used truck last Tuesday and have a pt. job to pay that off by spring. Also am scouring sites for free materials/reduced materials to use in construction.Have a flock of 11 chickens which provide a little money for some extras. Basically I'd like to raise enough food for my family to use, sell and barter so I won't be dependent upon cash except for minimal personal needs. I hope to teach my kids the old skills and ways to live that are rapidly vanishing in society. So, bees, goats, sheep. more rabbits, and more chickens are in the works as well as a few pigs. And I want us to be healthy and satisfied at the end of the day that our labors yielded this life:)

September 8, 2012 at 9:23 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

When I first read Made from Scratch, I was so excited to find out that there were others out there who wanted to know how/where/why the food/clothes/soap they used came from. Living in the suburbs of Chicago as a children's librarian turned stay at home mom, sometimes the dream of being able to make and use what we need gets muddled with schedules and convenience, but I've got apple butter on the stove, a freezer full of peaches, blueberries, and watermelon, herbs to last the winter, and some pickles (grow, you pickles!) that will be dilled and bread and buttered before long.

I grew up next to my grandmother, who taught me everything I know about sewing and crocheting, canning and baking. The idyllic days of my rural childhood (growing up on land that had been the "family farm" for nearly a century!) are something that I wish my two children, ages 6 and 4, could experience on a daily basis. My dad raised rabbits, taught me to fish, and is the most resourceful person I know when it comes to creating tools you need from things you have. My mother taught me to share the gifts I am given with others and to pursue the dreams I have while maintaining the responsibilities of everyday life.

My son drew a picture for me of my "dream farm". It was complete with a red barn, chickens, goats, cows, cherry trees, a combine (that only he would get to drive), and lots of fruits and vegetables. Someday, we will have that to share (maybe without the combine :).

In the meantime, we'll just keep learning and enjoying the moments that bring us closest to the "dream farm"!

September 8, 2012 at 9:39 AM  
Anonymous Jessica said...

Five years ago I was sitting fairly miserable at a college, not pursuing the degree I wanted and listening instead to everyone around me. I also thought I'd have to work a miserable corporate job for money. I was just about to discover tiny houses on wheels and the fact that if you keep your living expenses low, you don't have to work for so much money. You can have *time* instead!

Now? Graduated with a degree in philosophy from a university that suited me much better, married to an incredible man, and we are building our own tiny house on wheels!!! I have a job that is so flexible it's ridiculous. After discovering homesteading several years ago (thanks to your blog), I've been slowly working on becoming a producer instead of a consumer: soap-making, deodorant-making, cooking from scratch, and finally finding a local beef supplier!!! We are no longer buying factory meat. WOOHOO! And I have several pots of tomatilloes going outside (never grown anything successfully before), as well as a steaming compost pile and two buckets of worms inside. It's ridiculous how much I love my compost. I think I love it more than my plants.

Our long-term goal is to grow most of our own fruit and veg on a small piece of land (preferably free in exchange for caretaking it) where we can park our tiny house. Then we can travel abroad every summer when the garden lays fallow (we're in Texas). I really just want to decorate our tiny house for Christmas. I wake up each morning right now and visualize sleeping in the loft with the skylights above me. :-) I've recently thought I wanted to farm food for other people, but more recently I think I want to teach people about great, local food and show them how they can support themselves with compost, veggies, etc.

September 8, 2012 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I'm Rebecca, and i'm a baby homesteader.

Two years ago I was terrified of killing plants. But my roommate held my hand through both having a community garden and digging our own from scratch in the back yard.

this year we have a prolific community garden that husband and I are working on ourselves. I'm doing some networking and research on what we'd need to do to acquire some rabbits in the spring.

It's taken me a while to actually believe that we can do this, even if we never live on a farm. And to have enough patience with myself to add just a little at a time as we pursue our other dreams (we're also both full time grad students, work part time, and run small businesses out of our house). I have my whole life ahead of me, and its okay if I don't even know what I want it took look like now. We can take our time, and every day do little things that make for more wholeness, sustainability, and wisdom.

September 8, 2012 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Dear Jenna, you´ve made my `ending up on a farm` go to a `starting at a farm`. I´m 25, starting a (para-veterinary) study this november that will hopefully be finished in the beginning of 2014 and the only reason I´m staying urban. Once I've earned my degree I want to find a farm to do part-time farming and working. My goal is to raise goats, sheep, honey bees and the occasional happy pig. Thanks for your inspiration!

September 8, 2012 at 1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in one of the last remaining rural pockets of New Jersey with my husband and two children. When I was a kid, my family raised sheep and turkeys just a few miles from where I live now. Needless to say, a lot has changed in this little corner of the world -- the land is almost completely developed, and farmers have all but disappeared because it's just too expensive in New Jersey!

Right now we've got a beautiful set-up on seven acres -- a creek, a nice mix of woods and meadow, good soil. We have chickens, a big garden and 40 mature high-bush blueberries. We tap our sugar maples and harvest all the wood we need from our own property.

That all said, it's just not cutting it on so many levels. My husband has a job that fits him like a shoe ten sizes too small. He's on a treadmill he just can't get off -- making enough money to sustain a lifestyle that he doesn't have the time to enjoy. I work part-time, am home with the kids and dabble in homesteading. We're like fish out of water, for the most part surrounded by folks with very different priorities.

Ok, so enough about where we are...this is where we're going. Vermont. It's been a dream of ours for the last 20 years, and the place we keep returning to again and again. People here consider us crazy to think nothing of driving the six hours north to get a breath of fresh air in our adopted state. There's surely a well-worn path between our front door and Vermont.

So, putting our varied and sundry fears aside, at the end of this month the For-Sale sign is going up in front of our house. And here's what I envision happening. Our house will sell lickety-splickety. We'll find a great rental in Vermont near the kids' school (right now we drive 30 minutes to get to school. Talk about not being sustainable!). After a year of searching high and low for a farm within our budget, we'll find it -- THE place. Not too big -- between 10 and 15 acres with a nice size creek, a spring, a good mix of woods and open meadow. We'll move in with excitement and joy, and slowly but surely my husband, children and I will build our homestead. I envision having sheep, chickens, a milk cow and bees. We'll have a dog again (our beloved Aussie died two months ago). I see us with an orchard, nut trees, berries, and of course a big veg garden that doesn't need to be fenced. I'll get back to spinning (I've been spinning since I was 13), and plant a dye garden. Our kids will continue to be the wild creatures they are, but with friends who are just as rooted in the natural world as they are. My son will continue wittling, woodworking and foraging. My daughter will continue talking and singing to the plants, and making gnome houses in the woods. My husband will wean himself off his job (he's lucky enough now to be able to work remotely -- the only reason we can even dream of moving). Our family will know what it's like to be rooted in a place we all love. And perhaps most importantly, we will know what it's like to live in a community of similar-minded folk. Is it too much to dream of a community that's happy to trade work, and share skills and meals every once in a while. Is it too much to hope for more music in our lives? I know I'm all kinds of naive, but this is my dream.

Thank you, Jenna, for being the inspiration and the kick-in-the behind we've been needing. I can honestly say that your blog has helped both my husband and me to let go of the fear and plunge forward into making our dreams a reality.

September 8, 2012 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger Sarah C. said...

Hi, I'm Sarah. 5 years ago I was on my way to earning a phd in archaeology from Purdue University. I finally realized that the academic life was not for me, as much as I loved the travel, and I left the program to get a "real job" with a real paycheck. I met my husband in grad school and together we weathered the bad economy and managed to buy a house in indianapolis on a quarter acre.

I am originally from California and thought that our still tight wallets would benefit from employment in Los Angeles as it promised higher paying jobs and more opportunities. Seven months later, we can't wait to move back!

The house that seemed lacking now holds the secret to our happiness. With that quarter acre, we plan to have chickens and raised beds of produce and we may even try root cellaring- who would have thought!

It took some time and a different environment to realize that we had what it took to be happy in hick-ville. I even like it better than LA...blasphemous, I know! We are making the most out of our rental ( rent is three times our Indiana mortgage) and are growing tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, kale, and zucchini in our garden.

When we get back to Indy, we hope to open a fitness studio and save up for a larger land purchase in southern Indiana or northern Kentucky where the landscape is a bit more varied and the winters are slightly less frigid. Wouldn't it be great to be more self-sufficient and have a homestead!?

I just read your book and am working my way through many others so I know where to begin and can learn from everyone's advise. I am so glad to have found out that you also have this blog. What a great introduction this has been to a wonderful community of dreamers!!

September 8, 2012 at 2:13 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Hi, I'm Rachel!

I'm a 21-year-old college student in my fourth year, currently attending Central Michigan University.

I live in a little apartment with 2 kitties and my boyfriend. We're as DIY as we can be in this teeny place, and are always trying to learn and do more. (There is an entire bookshelf devoted to DIY, and space is at a premium here!) We grow a bit of produce in a community garden plot, grow sprouts, do a bunch of canning every season, love to visit u-pick orchards, and are excellent chefs! I love to sew and knit, and have recently taken on some simple apparel projects like sundresses and skirts.

I really enjoy my job at the local food co-op, GreenTree Cooperative Grocery. It's full of DIY and self-sufficient people, local farmers, "hippies" and organic foods that you can trust. Local, community-based businesses are where it's at!

Someday, I plan on having a little house and a barn, tons of garden space, chickens, sheep, and an apple orchard. Here's to dreaming!

I blog about my adventures here if anyone is interested: http://spice-n-stitches.blogspot.com/

September 8, 2012 at 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Dani said...

50Hello to all. I don't really comment much but my name is Dani. I was raised in Surburbia but have dreamed of owning my own farm since I was a little girl. I used to steal away pictures of farmhouses from magazines and store them in my pillowcase. My dream car was a 57' Chevy Pickup(well, it still kind of is). I have always been fascinated by animals and my father continued to tell me one day I would live in a barn(I took it as a compliment).

Through all the years this direction has never wavered, only grown. I am passionate about heritage crafts such as knitting, quilting, sewing, spinning, basketmaking, etc. I dream of one day living on my farm with a small herd of sheep, goats, chickens, horses, corgis, and an Irish Wolfhound. I wouldn't complain if there was Sun Conure in the mix as well. I currently live in a tiny three room apartment with five animals to give you an idea. Living with and just being in the presence of animals has been one my greatest pleasures throughout my entire life.

I am currently looking to move out of the city of St. Louis and begin the journey I have dreamed of for a long time. I am twenty five years old and have applied for a position on an organic farm in Southern Illinois. I am a student of herbalism and have begun course work for this and hope to continue studying it all my life.

I hope to dedicate the next few years to travel, study, and experience to gain knowledge in sustainable living, organic farming, herbalism, midwifery, and animal husbandry so I can one day settle down and return this knowledge into my community. I'm hoping to save money for an older RV to be my home on wheels during this time.

To force myself to jump on this I have quit my conventional job. It has been both terrifying and exhilarating. I have very little money left but a lot more freedom and enjoyment.

Oh and I have a violin that I don't really know how to play. I would love to play gypsy jazz.

September 8, 2012 at 2:51 PM  
Anonymous Lisa in Colorado said...

Hi Jenna! I'm Lisa and I live in a suburb of Denver, in a more rural part of town just two blocks away, you can find the big city. Many people are surprised when they find our neighborhood. We are zoned for livestock, though we don't have any, but many of our neighbors have horses and chickens!

I grow a garden every year and we have 5 fruit trees. I also grow lavender and use that to make soaps and sachets. Although this year has been hard for all of us, with the hottest and driest Spring and Summer on record. I don't have nearly as much in my freezer as I normally would. Thank goodness for Farmers Markets!

I have been following you for years, since I read your first book, right after publication. I don't want livestock or bees, but I would like to be self sufficient with our food. I enjoy making candles and soaps, and baking so that also helps us in that journey. I hope to have a more simple life. Rely less on stores and more on us. You are very inspiring. I use your pancake recipe, from your blog a couple of years ago maybe, once a week. Very yummy!

Now, I'm getting ready to put in the fall garden in hopes that my harvest will be bigger than my summer harvest.

Many blessings!

September 8, 2012 at 4:01 PM  
Blogger RLFaller said...

Hey Jenna. I've been reading for a while, and just never commented. I tend to be a little introverted.

I am currently living in Montana, after moving from Ohio in April 2012. I have the perfect picture of what I would like in my head. The gardens (flower and vegetable), the barn with the meadows and pasture behind it. A goat or two, chickens, sheep, rabbits. Possibly a beef cow and a pony (I am in horse and steer country after all). If I can find a species of bee that can last through Montana winters, those are there as well. I'll work from home through the farm, and by creating handmade jewelry, a hobby that I would love to see turn into a career.

It'll be a while before I can make the dream come true. I have a very low paying job, and am living with the in-laws at the moment, but each day I look forward to when I can harvest and eat my own food that I grew with my hands. So I keep trucking to and from work, watching the pennies add up.

May your dreams keep flourishing, and I'll be sure to cultivate my own. :)

Renee in Montana

September 8, 2012 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Sue said...

Only my husband and a close Aunt knows that I have dreamed about living on a farm since I was four. Yes, I used to pretend to be Laura Ingalls, and although my dream farm has changed through the years I still want to be that farmer.

Five years ago I was working as a bartender in a nice restaurant, but after working in restaurants for over twenty years I was feeling trapped. I was dating my future husband, and I had a dream of my future daughter. In the dream I was hanging clothes on the clothesline and she was a little redhead sitting on a blanket and we were living out in the country.

Last year she was born with bright red hair. She brings so much joy to our lives, and I hope to teach her how to be self-reliant. She already loves our two cats and our black lab.

Now I am a stay at home mom, and someday soon we will be living on our homestead in NW Wisconsin raising Alpacas, chickens, bees, worms, maybe goats, and a lot of gardens. I dream of this each and every day. Going to the farmer's market in River Falls today made me a little homesick as we drove back home to the small town we live in, because all those farmers were so happy. Fresh air and working with the land and animals will do that for you.

September 8, 2012 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

How did I miss this the other day!? I'm Kristin from Georgia, wife, and homeschooling mom of twins.

We live on 8 mostly wooded acres and had been looking for the perfect farm neearby for years. Then I had an epiphany. We couldn't find what we thought we wanted because we weren't taking full advantage of what we had!

I had a large vegetable garden, beehive and a rather large flock of laying hens.

Since the epiphany, I have put up a fence and a barn, added 3 dairy goats, half a dozen more blueberry plants, a handful more hens, started growing mushrooms, making mead.

And my biggest adventure-Raising Pastured Broilers in chicken tractors. We have had two rowdy butcher days (sold out of chickens both times) and I have people asking weekly when we will have more chickens available.

I now spend more money at the feed store than at the grocery store. I sell honey, eggs, produce, milk (when I have extra) and chickens.

September 9, 2012 at 8:48 AM  
Blogger blind irish pirate said...

I'm M. I hail from the Midwest. I am a country bumpkin, but not a farm kid... big difference when the saying is that there is More than Corn Here. I'm a veterinary technologist - I chose to live out my dreams of animal care by learning to take care of everyone else's animals. I work predominantly in an equine referral hospital, with a special focus on critical care and surgery. 5 years ago, I would have told you I would be working on the East Coast on Olympic caliber hunter jumpers, but then I got married and stayed in the Midwest. Not a big deal, it's home. I am a good equine nurse.

I also burnt out hard core last year. There was something about burning my candle at both ends for other people and a big machine that just about did me in, among many, many other factors. I was tired of living transiently, waiting for my stars to align themselves. I contemplated new jobs far away, I contemplated new careers and finally I contemplated my life, here, with my husband.

Suddenly, with a change in perspective and a job promotion that took me out of the running of 4+ months on the night shift to only 2, we were able to make a move to a little ranch home on just under 2 acres of land. Nothing special, nothing fancy. Just... us.

And I haven't quit moving and shaking since. Had our first garden. Canned our first salsas, sauces and beans. Keeping a bee hive. Repaired a shed and are making plans for expanding our garden adventures and honey business.

No, it's not living in Appalachia, and I doubt that I will ever invest in a horse... my career is still my career, and while it's certainly possible to do that, a certain part of my childhood dream of horses died, and that's just fine. I think once you are in the health side of the industry, maybe you get a little deterred. Whatever, my bike is my steed. :)

In any case, I do love looking into sustainable and rustic life. Baby steps, greenhorn-ness, etc.

September 9, 2012 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger Wipaddler said...

Where in s wi are you? I'm in eacst central we have some grass fed beef and 80 acres of woods and pasture. I knit crochet and I'm wanting to learn how to sew better but with the farm fencing and everything else that goes along with it I don't really have the time. send me an email at wipaddler@gmail.com. and if you are near where I used to live I will send you the phone number of my old land lord he has a couple of houses for rent/sale that have a few acres with them

September 9, 2012 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger J.D. Collins said...

Hmmm. There is a painter from the Hudson School named Thomas Cole. Cole painted beautiful works containing the most incredible light. I want that light to guide my life...to live within me.

My father passed in July, so I've been caring for my mother in her home.

Am I closer to life on a farm? Well the freezer's stocked with tomatoes and kale. My herbs are drying on the antique herb rack and I'm planting winter wheat this week.

And, I bought a puppy, a Cairn Terrier, whom I've named "Dickens" after my favorite author. (It's also easier to say he's cute as the dickens, smart as the dickens, and the often-used "What the Dickens!!!!!!" He's four months old and playing with his "Bully Stick" as I write this on a crisp September morning. (a feeling I've longed for)

I knew my dog would find me, so I'm praying my farm comes along when the time is right and after I've learned more about this rural life I seek.

September 10, 2012 at 8:58 AM  
Blogger Lara Katherine Mountain Colley said...

I am Lara, a 32 year old homesteader without a homestead. I made it close to my dreams with a 1 1/2 acre farmstead in rural oregon, but a divorce and settling in to single parenting half the time was a bit of a setback last year. I now rent a cottage on a 20 acre working organic farm where I keep a flock of chickens, an aviary of quail, have my own large garden space and greenhouse and lots of orchard fruit around me for canning. I make it as much of a homestead as I can. I also make soap, brew beer, make things with wool for my craft business, http://www.mountainhearth.etsy.com, and do as many things as possible from scratch. I make my life as much of a homesteading life as I can. My dream, ultimately, is to have some land and an old farmhouse up the the Oregon Coast Range, where I don't have any neighbors around me and I can grow my own orchard, have many chickens and other poultry, and sit out on my back porch playing my banjo in the evenings with a homebrew. Just me and the bears. Right now, I piece together so many different odd part time jobs to get by and have time with my kids, that the reality of getting financing as a single lady like myself seems far down the road, but I hold onto my dream every day and live out as much of it as I can right now. My life is proof that one can certainly be a homesteader without a homestead.

September 10, 2012 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger gooddoug said...

We recently moved to a larger parcel, just over 1 1/3 acres, and have been slowly building it into a somewhat farm. We have 3 children and 6 chickens, and people are always interested in how we have time for the chickens... turns out the children are much more work. Because I need to ease my more practical wife into this, we have the chickens and a beehive. We have quite a few mature fruit trees along with some baby ones I grafted and planted myself. We have a nice garden space, but spent this year struggling with soil, gophers and birds. I commute quite a ways to my desk job, and that along with kids activities (I coach soccer, schools also demand a bit of volunteer time) makes it difficult to really do what I would like to do here.
I'm hopeful it will get easier someday, and hopeful that we can become just a little more self sufficient. I'd like to expand the garden, get some pasture animals (sheep might be the thing) and really enjoy our space.

September 10, 2012 at 1:29 PM  
Anonymous iacowgl said...

don't know if anyone is interested in an old farmhouse in eastern iowa that has been remodeled, but a friend has theirs listed...it sits on just under 2 acres I think and has some sheds and a big machine-type shed...let me know and i will find the link if anyone is interested....

September 10, 2012 at 6:51 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I'm Jenn, 32 from Michigan but currently living in Ohio. 5 years ago I was looking for a corporate job, going back to school, still trying to figure out my life's path. I wanted a little house in the city, a cute little car and a stable income.
Funny how things change.
My fiance and I are trying to buy a house on 6.67 acres with a pond, a nice barn and a big fenced pasture. I work as an intern for a small homestead nearby and love every minute of it. I don't think I have read anything but homesteading and farming books and magazines in years! We dream of making our living off of our land near Edgerton Ohio and raising a little family with country values.
What changed my path? My health. I have been in so many doctors offices and hospitals trying to cure my disease with pills and potions. It was getting old and I was getting sicker. So I did some research of my own. I learned about the effects of the food we eat on your health. I learned about dioxin and GMO's and the frankenfoods. I learned that I could make myself better without pills and potions. I have always loved the country but never really appreciated it for what it was. A true healthcare system.
Needless to say, I am hooked on homesteading and have become known as the girl who knows how to make her own food.
If you live in Northwest Ohio I would love to meet some fellow CAF fans.
dragonscapes 24 @ yahoo . com
remove the spaces and drop me a line. I'll respond after I am done with chores. :D

September 10, 2012 at 10:34 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Hello! My name is Dana and I live in CT. with my husband and 2 kids (5 and 7 years old). We have 2 mostly wooded acres. I have been a stay at home mom since the company I worked for went out of business a couple of years ago. I didn't know that what I wanted was a farm, but is seems that it is the way things are going.

We have lived here for 14 years and started with a vegetable garden 8 years ago. Since then we have expanded the garden, added a flock of about 30 chickens, and have been tapping our maples for syrup. We have many wonderful farms around us that we are able to get milk, beef, berries, and other things that we haven't produced for ourselves. I have become infatuated(obsessed more like) with the idea of growing and making the things that my family eats and needs.

I want my kids to enjoy being outside, learn to grow food, and understand that things do not necessarily need to be purchased from the store. I have learned/am learning so many things that I didn't know I could do like cheese making, canning, and gardening. This coming spring I will hopefully be adding bees and turkeys to the mix. We will clear some trees this fall so that we can plant fruit trees, expand the garden, and perhaps add a pasture area.

Jenna I am thoroughly impressed with what you do everyday on your own. It is such a huge commitment. I also understand the joy it brings! I am new to your blog, having just read Barnheart a few weeks ago.

Oh, and I have had a dulcimer since I begged for one when I was a kid. Santa brought a kit that my dad put together. I haven't played it in a long time. I am enjoying everyone's stories. Thank you for sharing.

September 11, 2012 at 9:56 AM  
Blogger Tam said...

Merry met, Jenna!

My name is Tam and I have been following your blog for about a month now. My fiance and I have recently both been struck with severe cases of "barnheart." This whole drive started with food: we were both fed up with the processed garbage in the grocery store and we wanted to realize better health so we made steps to change our diet to a whole-foods one. This led us to where we are now: shopping at farmer's markets, fermenting foods for the winter, planning our garden for next spring, trying to grow our soil, obsessively reading every Storey book ever published and figuring out how to incorporate the two chickens our city will allow us into our backyard. While I wouldn't quite call it an "urban homestead" yet we are avidly pursuing the goal nonetheless with hopes of eventually acquiring land, raising livestock and building our own house. Ultimately, we want to be completely self-sufficient; in the meantime, I derive a goodly amount of satisfaction from the small steps I am taking to reclaim the lost homesteading arts!

Five years ago? I was just starting out in my military career, married to a mooch and pursuing a BS in environmental science. I was obsessed with doing more and neglected some deeper, creative part of myself that I feel like I have finally been able to assuage with the rediscovery and pursuit of domestic arts!

Good luck with finishing up your book--I cannot wait to read Barnheart! Your blog is extremely inspiring to us dreamers and I really enjoy living my dream vicariously through blogger-homesteaders like you! :)

September 11, 2012 at 12:56 PM  
Blogger Magill said...

Hello, I'm Magill. Ironically, I grew up in the country part of SC and now live in the city part (Charleston, SC)! My grandfather kept goats and horses, and was sweet enough to let me ride them and later, let me board my own horses there. My parents kept a backyard veggie garden wherever we lived. I also grew up hunting and fishing.

Now, in Charleston, horses are waaay out of the question, and hunting requires land and money too. Luckily, Barnwell (country town where I grew up) is only two hours away if I need a fix, but my grandfather and his horses and goats are gone.

My Barnheart goals are to keep a seasonal, organic veggie garden and to one day talk my husband into having chickens. Where we live on James Island, people are allowed 4 backyard hens...I checked! We do have two adorable (non-working) dogs.

I want to get really, really good at producing and preserving my own food, organically. Maybe one day I'll get to ride a horse again, and I've looked into pygmy goats.

Your blog is a serious inspiration, Jenna, and I am in awe at what you've accomplished over the years. I look forward to sticking with you during your journey, and perhaps having one of my own!

September 11, 2012 at 3:41 PM  
Blogger Speaktrue said...

Hey Jenna or who I fondly refer to as "my blogger". i live in gainesville, fl in a house with a regular sized yard. when we first moved in, the yard was neglected, so when we landscaped we made it an edible landscape. we've got lots of fruit trees and bushes and the large majority of our back yard is veggie & herb garden raised beds. it's quite pretty too!! My wife and I are doing our best to tread lightly on the earth. i've been following you for years and feel a sweet connection to you...I hope to visit one of your workshops one day and give you a hug in person. Tracy (-:

September 12, 2012 at 10:58 AM  
Blogger Speaktrue said...

Hey Jenna or who I fondly refer to as "my blogger". i live in gainesville, fl in a house with a regular sized yard. when we first moved in, the yard was neglected, so when we landscaped we made it an edible landscape. we've got lots of fruit trees and bushes and the large majority of our back yard is veggie & herb garden raised beds. it's quite pretty too!! My wife and I are doing our best to tread lightly on the earth. i've been following you for years and feel a sweet connection to you...I hope to visit one of your workshops one day and give you a hug in person. Tracy (-:

September 12, 2012 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger Speaktrue said...

Hey Jenna or who I fondly refer to as "my blogger". i live in gainesville, fl in a house with a regular sized yard. when we first moved in, the yard was neglected, so when we landscaped we made it an edible landscape. we've got lots of fruit trees and bushes and the large majority of our back yard is veggie & herb garden raised beds. it's quite pretty too!! My wife and I are doing our best to tread lightly on the earth. i've been following you for years and feel a sweet connection to you...I hope to visit one of your workshops one day and give you a hug in person. Tracy (-:

September 12, 2012 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger Speaktrue said...

Hey Jenna or who I fondly refer to as "my blogger". i live in gainesville, fl in a house with a regular sized yard. when we first moved in, the yard was neglected, so when we landscaped we made it an edible landscape. we've got lots of fruit trees and bushes and the large majority of our back yard is veggie & herb garden raised beds. it's quite pretty too!! My wife and I are doing our best to tread lightly on the earth. i've been following you for years and feel a sweet connection to you...I hope to visit one of your workshops one day and give you a hug in person. Tracy (-:

September 12, 2012 at 11:01 AM  
Blogger cschoer said...

Hello Jenna and fellow bloggers,
My name is Cathie Schoer and we (my husband and I) live on a 10 acre piece of heaven. We call our mini-ranch the “Oleo Ranch” – it’s one of the cheaper spreads. We have raised five wonderful children and now are having the times of our lives and enjoying our ranch. We moved to the country almost 5 years ago. Our place is located outside of Billings, Montana, near the small community of Shepherd. We are at the end of a road, off the beaten path. Our home hadn’t been lived in for several months so we began our animals with some cats. Shadow, Thomas, Spud and Tubbers were welcomed to our home via the shelter. We now include pigs (7 currently), 4 cows, 6 guineas, 4 ducks, 87 chickens, 15 turkeys and Dolly, our Golden Retriever. Life is wonderful. We are so blessed to have such wonderful place. I have researched our home at the court house and found records dating back to the when our acreage was included in the Crow Indian Reservation. Most currently (1960’s) our home was built by a Botanist, Mr. Martin. He planted many, many trees including peach, pears, varieties of apples and crabapples, plum, buckeye’s, assortments of pine, cottonwoods, mountain ash, to list a few. This past spring we planted approximately 200 trees (variety of pines, cottonwoods and shrubs) as a wind row. This fall I have frozen and canned corn, peaches, pears, strawberry/rhubarb jam, plum jelly, salsa, tomatoes and made pickles. We also have raspberries, rhubarb and asparagus. We raise our cattle for our meat and sell the rest; the same with the hogs. We sell chicken/duck eggs and butcher them as necessary. We will butcher our second crop of turkeys the weekend before Thanksgiving. I raised 22 last year and butchered them in one weekend with the help of Noreen, my best friend. We bought a plucker for this year. My husband, Gary has built jack-leg fence out of recycled timbers which makes our place look wonderful. We have two garden areas so summers are busy. I currently work full-time for the government in Billings during the week but in 2 years I will retire. We are living the dream.

September 13, 2012 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger Megan, Rudy's mom said...

Hi all, I'm Meg 31 years old still living with my parents in CT while I finish school and get my ideal life together.
Someday want my own place where I'll have chickens, alpacas, pigs, goats, a donkey named Dominic, a garden, and great dogs. A place where my friends kids can come and learn how to earn and make their food. I can't wait till I can have a breakfast with eggs, veggies, and milk that I grew myself. I want to raise an animal right and have the pleasure of eating it for a special occasion.
After being addicted to Jenna's blog during last fall I started my own garden this summer and a worm bin. It's 100sqft of MY OWN hard work. Up till then I hated sticking my hands in dirt afraid I would get bitten by something. Now I forget my garden gloves! My dogs help me out in the garden and keep me company espically when I share the bounty of "our garden". The "Wee Farm" as I call it has taught me tons this season. The most important lesson was that it was something that I couldn't control I just needed to be patient to let Mother Nature do her work. It made me take time to learn so much about bugs, working with and against them; the balance of it all. As fall comes I will miss my garden but if I want it I know it'll be back next year with another level of understanding. Hopefully the garden will give us most of our veggies for Thanksgiving dinner and I made the best pickles ever which were the harvesting goals early on in the season. Now if only I can my parents to let me raise a turkey..Bliss It's so liberating to finally make goals and meet them. It might sound weird but I'm so very proud of self.

I'm also learning how to can and put food up. Just recently I did a ton of berries, peaches, and pears. I'm so proud that I can pull out these things and make something special for a dinner party or a treat for my family. Soon apples will coming in and I want to try to can applesauce.
Most times I feel I'm an older more traditional person trapped in this time. But most of my generation seems to feel that.
I'm working on a degree in business where I hope to open a small holistic grooming and retail shop so I can help other people rear their pets naturally and responsibly.
With this community I found and that Jenna has created for us I don't feel so out of touch or feel like the weird one.

September 13, 2012 at 5:29 PM  
Anonymous Elizabeth said...

I see I'm a bit late to this thread, but wanted to comment anyway :) I'm Elizabeth, from Scotia, NY and I found this blog over the summer but only just checked in again a couple of days ago. I've always had this feeling that I wanted to create a more fulfilling life for myself, living close to the land but wasn't sure how to go about doing it--so reading these blog posts/comments are really encouraging for me. I've worked on a small produce farm near my house for the past 5 summers, and about 3 years ago two friends of mine invited me to the alpaca farm where they worked; I started going with them regularly because I enjoyed the work. The alpacas are great, but I'm even more interested in the chickens that also reside there!

Now I've been itching to start becoming more self sufficient, and my plans are modest at the moment--I want to have a place with enough land to start gardening, and I really, really want chickens. Unfortunately circumstances aren't ideal at this point--I graduated in May with a degree in fish and wildlife science, but discovered that job offerings are typically seasonal/temporary in that field. So I've decided to continue on and pursue a 2 year degree in vet tech. It's a little frustrating to be in school all over again, but I'm hoping it'll all work out in the end, and I'll be able to save up to buy enough land. The great thing is that I'm in a major agricultural region of NY now (Delhi, Catskill area) and will hopefully be able to make even more farm connections while I'm here--this area seems to have a farm-related festival every week! It might be a while before I can really homestead, but I'll just keep researching and dreaming for now :)

September 18, 2012 at 7:29 PM  

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