Star 2015 Modern Homesteaders

As with the previous years we have called for nominations for our Homesteaders of the Year, we had many more incredible candidates than we could feature in print. You can read about the four families we chose to feature in 2015 Homesteaders of the Year: The Many Paths to Self-Reliant Living [link to 2015 HOY article]. Below, you’ll find the stories and a few photos of a selection of runners-up who are living inspiring, unique lives on their own path to self-reliance. Find all of our nominees for each year we’ve held our Homesteaders of the Year contest on our Star Modern Homesteaders  page.

The Cicarelli Family Cicarelli

There are many things that made us start down this road to self-reliance and homesteading, I would say one of the biggest is just that we love country living, knowing were our food comes from, and the challenge. Every year that goes by we add more and more to improve our way of life .We moved to New York from Connecticut about 10 years ago after we married so we could buy farm land at a good price.

We purchased our first chickens back in 2007 and then a couple pet goats the following year and then we purchased another goat and a cow the year after that. However, it wasn’t until about three years ago did we go “all in”. About three years ago, I was working for a trucking company that unexpectedly closed their doors. I came home from work that day devastated and crying. My husband looked at me and said “Why don’t you make soap? And I will make maple syrup!” Here were two people who have never done anything like that. We purchased a book about living off the land, and now here we are.

We are hoping to be off the grid in the next year or two, and would love to work only on the farm within five years. We just built a solar heater that is piped into our fiberglass greenhouse. Since this was such a great success we are talking about building one on a larger scale to heat our home. We also think that it is pretty great making our own compost. We have a tumbler but our chickens seem to do a better job.

We probably produce 80 to 90 percent of our family’s food, depending on the season. We have lots of apple trees and we have also planted pear, peach, and cherry trees, grapevines, blueberry and raspberry bushes, blackberry bushes, and strawberry plants.

We currently have four cows, and plan on breeding more. We usually butcher at least two beef cows every 1-1/2 years, and we butcher three hogs every year. Last year we raised 25 meat birds, and this year we are waiting on 85 that we ordered.