Read all of Kat’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
Occupation: Homesteader, homeschooling mother, and educator at Willow Creek Farm
Residence: Colorado Rockies
Background: Kat Ludlam has long been passionate about family, animals, writing, and teaching. She attended Colorado State University, where she studied Equine Science, and earned her Therapeutic Riding Instructor Certification through NARHA — now Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International, —in 1999. She married her high school sweetheart, Daniel, and they began building a family together.
As Kat’ sand Daniel’s children were born, Kat left her budding career to focus completely on her family. Homeschooling her children became her priority. Since she was now at home full-time, she desired to have a homestead where they could raise healthy food to feed their growing family. Daniel and Kat have always loved living at 7,500 feet altitude in the beautiful Rockies of Colorado. As they began their homestead, however, they found that the altitude and climate made learning to homestead more difficult. It affected everything from the obvious things like gardening, to the much less obvious things like hatching. These challenges were not highly documented and finding sources to learn about how to be successful homesteading at altitude was nearly impossible. So, Kat decided to start a blog, documenting the adventures, successes, and failures that their family faced as they learned through trial and error how to successfully homestead in the Rockies.
Willow Creek Farm was born. Kat and Daniel started with a vegetable garden, meat rabbits, and laying hens. Over their 13 years of homesteading, they also raised cows for dairy and meat, dairy goats, meat chickens, and sheep for wool and meat, along with the livestock guardian dogs needed to protect their animals from the many predators the Rockies house. Kat has expanded her gardening skills to include not only vegetables, but fruits and both kitchen and medicinal herbs as well as seed saving. She preserves food through canning, freezing, dehydrating, root cellaring, and smoking. And she makes all types of dairy products and cheeses with the milk from their livestock. Kat’s and Daniel’s main goal is to feed their family as much as possible from their own property, while selectively breeding their livestock and plant varieties to perform well in the high-altitude climate.
Through the years, sheep have become the hoof stock focus of Willow Creek Farm. Daniel and Kat and all their children enjoy the personality of sheep and the fiber arts. They love using the wool from their sheep to spin, knit, crochet, weave, and felt items for their family and gifts. In 2017, they opened their dream business, Willow Creek Fiber Mill, and began custom processing alpaca, wool, angora, and exotic fibers into roving and yarn for their customers. While Daniel handles most of the mill work, Kat enjoys filling her days with homeschooling their five children, running Willow Creek Farm, and teaching others about homesteading through her writing.
Kat’s latest dream that became a reality was the addition of dairy sheep to the flock. She’s now learning the ins and outs of dairy sheep and plans to selectively breed sheep to be triple-purpose and hardy for high-altitude climates. The next big goal is to add a greenhouse that will extend their growing season and potentially give them the opportunity for year-round growing.
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