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Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.


A Kansas Family’s Journey to Self-Sufficiency Begins

Chicks in Brooder 

Wow! I am excited to be able to have the opportunity to write my first blog post with MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Gardening, healthier living, and self sufficiency are my passions, and while I have not always lived this lifestyle, I am here to advocate for healthy living for all now that I have experienced the benefits. First I want to give you a little background on my own journey.

My gardening experiences started many years ago. My family always had a garden filled with mainly tomatoes, green beans, corn, and a few other staples. There were a couple of summers that if it wasn't for our garden, we probably wouldn't have survived! A memory that stands out is from when I was about 5 years old and I was “helping” pull weeds. I was going to town, pulling one right after the other and not slowing down one bit until I heard my dad holler “STOP! What are you doing?” It turns out I wasn't pulling weeds — I was pulling tomato plants. It didn't take long after that to learn the difference between weeds and plants. After a few more years of living off the garden, life started happening and the gardening eventually dwindled down to nothing.

Moving to the Country but Still No Healthier

Fast forward about 20 years: I am now a married man with a small young family that I want to pass down the gardening tradition to. We had just a small yard with not much room for a garden, yet it was big enough for tomatoes, hot peppers, and cucumbers. After a few years of this, we moved to a different town and finally lived in the country.

Our family grew to five and I was trying to start a lawn care business. We were still trying to garden but having some difficulties in this new location, and although we were gardening, we still weren't eating any healthier due to the pesticides that I was using. My lawn care business wasn't really getting off the ground like I had hoped for and as I was getting older, I noticed my way of thinking was changing. I was also writing a lawn and garden newsletter for an area newspaper and noticed that my lawn and garden newsletter was slowly becoming solely a gardening newsletter.

I began to pay more attention to what was in our food—not only what we were eating at restaurants but also so-called “healthy” food from the grocery store. What am I doing feeding chemical and processed poisons to my children, I thought. Every little fact I learned about our food made me sick. Not only were we eating these poisons but we were also terribly out of shape. I couldn't run or exercise like I used to and I was eating antacids like they were candy.

My wife was working way too many hours at a convenient store and eating all that wonderful (sarcasm) convenience store food, if she would even eat at all, plus all the soda pop you can drink right at her fingertips.

In short, we were miserable! It was only after all this that we decided that there needs to be a change.

Healthy Living Becomes a Reality

Jump ahead once more to the present time: My wife left her convenience store post and is now a substitute teacher for our local school district and exercising every day. We are all watch what we eat a little more and I don't even need to mention how much better we feel. My lawn care business has given way to a natural gardening and farming business using only heritage breeds of livestock and heirloom vegetables.

We also try to assist people in becoming more self sufficient with classes and workshops for adults and children alike. We currently grow several different vegetables in our garden and raise chickens but have plans to expand to beef and pork. Writing has become a big part of my life with the newsletters, and goals of magazine articles, how-to books and children's books.

Start Small with Self-Sufficiency Goals

Even though our goal is to be completely self-sufficient, one thing that I stress is that you don't have to be completely self-sufficient — just make it your goal to become more self-sufficient than you are right now. Start by growing a few container vegetables or a few vegetables in a small garden.

In this blog, you won't hear any advertising gimmicks or sales speeches but you will hear about all the steps on this journey and whether those steps worked or didn't work. One of our main goals for this blog is to help people become more self-sufficient by leading by example, right or wrong.

We encourage any feedback that you may have that will help us or others reading this, or just let us know how you're doing on your journey (you can sing into the comments section below). We are thrilled for anyone that wants to join us and live a simpler, healthier, and more self-sufficient life! So here is your official invitation: Please come and join us!


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robinm
7/20/2015 4:38:44 PM

An excellent post, Jeremy! Welcome aboard, and I look forward to reading more of your posts.


jeremyo
7/15/2015 4:28:36 PM

Congratulations poniard! I love watching my boys as they help me with different chores around our place, especially my youngest with the chickens! I hope you enjoy our journey and please don't hesitate if you have any questions or comments!!!


poniard
7/13/2015 5:25:11 PM

I recently started on the journey to self sufficiency. I have fruit trees, herbs and berries. I just built a chicken coop after getting chicks and should have eggs in another month. The best part of it is my kids are helping and I'm seeing them start to become more interested. We live in the city and my wife is even coming around. She's a city girl but just started talking about bees. I will continue to add one thing at a time and deliberately move the the homestead life I envisioned. Thanks for your post. It good to know I'm not alone. Cheers!