Susan Gregersen, Self-Sufficient Montana Homesteader and Food Preservationist
Name: Susan Gregersen
Occupation: Writer, Author
Place of Residence: Fortine, Montana
Background and Personal History: Susan was born and raised in rural Wisconsin. She worked with her siblings alongside their parents in a half-acre garden and assisted with raising and butchering hundreds of chickens for meat. Susan’s dad hunted and fished to round out the family’s diet. When she was an adult, Susan said she would never have a garden or butcher her own animals again. Ten years later, she was obsessively gardening and getting “refresher” courses from her mother in food preserving.
Susan branched out from canning and freezing to learn how to dehydrate, smoke, pickle, and otherwise preserve food. For several years she moved around the country looking for the “perfect place,” trying out nine different states. For the past twelve years, the family has owned twenty acres with a log cabin in northwest Montana.
The property is 3 miles from the nearest power line and the utility company needed $27,000 to run power to the property. For under $5,000, Susan put in an adequate solar power system. However, it was not enough to power a refrigerator and the family could not afford a propane fridge. So Susan learned how to can meat and dairy products, dehydrate eggs, and even to can leftovers because she had no other way to safely store them.
Susan began running out of canning jars after canning so much chicken, turkey, venison, fish, cheese, and butter and so started doing a lot more preserving with alternative methods such as dehydrating. Those foods can be stored in other containers. She didn't have to worry as much about having jars freeze and break.
Susan learned cold-weather gardening techniques from her neighbors and planned her garden around what and how she would be able to preserve the harvest. She hand-dug a root cellar and built it with salvaged materials.
She subscribed to all the magazines related to homesteading and gardening and after a while, her husband began writing and submitting articles to some of them. That inspired her to do the same and a couple articles were published. A third article that was sent back to her asking for expansion on it. Around that time, she heard of Kindle self-publishing and decided to expand the article into a book. The book sold well, so Susan wrote more, and more and more, and published several books in both print and kindle formats. Her husband then jumped on the book publishing train, and between the two of them, they make enough to keep their homestead going without outside jobs.
Susan raised seven children and currently has ten grandchildren. She is also raising one of her grandsons, an unexpected journey that began in October 2011 when he was almost a year old. Having him by their side and teaching him all that she knows has been a real joy.
Current Projects: Susan is building a solar food dehydrator and a meat smoker, preparing the ground to rebuild a fence around her garden, is in the middle of residing the barn, and is expanding a rainwater collection system. She is also working on both a fiction book and a nonfiction book, both of which she hopes to have published before the end of the year.
Other Fun Facts: Susan has lived most of her adult life either without (grid) electricity or running water, or either. She’s an avid bicyclist who has ridden three cross-country bicycle trips. She is also into kayaking, including kayak camping trips on large reservoirs and rivers. She loves to camp and hike and to have cook-outs with family and friends.
More Places to Find Susan on the Web: