Homesteading from scratch

The current state of our homestead

Homesteading, farming, insanity, whatever you want to call it, this is what it looks like at first. A whole bunch of nothing and a crap ton of work. I continue to be freshly overwhelmed by the amount of work we have ahead of us. It seems like more and more work appears every time I think about it. Just take a look at this to see what I’m talking about. So why are we doing it? And more importantly, why are we EXCITED about it? And just how do you go about homesteading if you have no idea what you’re doing?

Why Homesteading?

Why would anyone want to do this craziness?? There are tons of different reasons, and they are probably a little different for everyone. But here are a few that I think are universal reasons why everyone should consider at LEAST doing a small backyard or porch garden, or whatever your circumstances allow.

  1. Cut down on grocery bills.                                                                                                                     Everyone likes lower bills, right? Well, for about the price you pay for a few tomatoes, you can grow your own endless supply at home, and possibly even produce enough to sell a few to neighbors or friends and family to make a little extra cash. It’s really kind of a no-brainer once you do the math.
  2. Quality family time                                                                                                                              I have three kids and they all LOVE to help with planting. They’re pretty horrible at it, but the sure do love to help. It is so much fun to watch them learning a new skill, working together, and spending time in nature instead of sitting around staring at screens and fighting. They are always in a better mood after they go outside and help me with something. My  husband and I also enjoy being able to work together toward a common goal and spend time together as we do it.
  3. Healthier, yummier food                                                                                                                 This is one you hear all the time because it’s true. The things that happen to fruits, veggies, and eggs in order to get them to a store intact and ripe strip them of both nutrients and flavor. Did you know that fresh eggs taste different than the eggs you buy in the store? This is due to the eggs being aggressively washed before they are sent to the store. Weird, right?

How to begin homesteading when you have no idea what you’re doing

Seriously, I have no idea what I’m doing. Which makes writing this blog both daunting and funny. We have barely started! But here are some things that we have done, are doing, or plan to do in the near future as we continue our homesteading journey.

homesteading from scratch

What we have done

We started by making lots of lists. What do we want to grow for ourselves? What should we grow to sell? What kids of animals do we want? How many of each kind? What do we want our farm to look like in ten years? What are our goals?

Once we decided that our goal was to have a working farm that will eventually sell all sorts of fruits and vegetables as well as animal products and bee products, we looked at all our lists and pared them down to the essentials we need right now to get started.

We also made a plan for the timing. This is tricky for us. The property we have is too far away to visit every day, so we can’t just go and plant things all willy-nilly because we won’t be out there to take care of them. And we have to build a house, and that is going to take time. So, although we really want to start planting right now and move out there this summer, that is just not going to be possible.

Every situation is unique, so figure out the timing that works for you. If you’re going to grow inside or on your porch, you could probably start tomorrow, regardless of the season.

What we are doing

Even though we can’t plant much out on our property right now, we CAN plant on our porch, and that is what we’re doing. My mother-in-law had a whole huge thing of seeds, so we got some seed starting stuff (That’s the “technical term”, in case you were wondering) and planted a whole bunch of seeds, from tomatoes to beans to cabbage to broccoli. We also got a few seedlings. I got strawberries, cilantro, basil, and parsley. I have never grown anything, so this is a great learning opportunity for me.

a baby strawberry plant Basil! cilantro

We are looking into tractors and other homesteading tools we will need, trying to find good deals.

We are learning more about bee and chicken keeping.

We are trying to figure out house plans and find a builder who will build it for a reasonable price- more to come on this front for sure.

What we are going to do this year

My mother-in-law really wants to keep bees, and although this kind of freaks me out, I’m excited about the fresh honey and the different products we could make if we have bees. A friend of hers keeps bees, so we’re going to go learn from her and begin attending meetings with other local bee keepers.

We will probably be purchasing some hens here pretty soon so we can start having delicious fresh eggs.

We will hopefully keep our plants alive and be able to harvest our own produce this year.

We will begin construction on our house and other structures.

We also want to begin planting some things in the fall, such as fruit trees.

homesteading from scratch pin to pinterest

What a year we have ahead of us!

I am very excited about all of the changes this year will bring. Slightly terrified, but excited too. I’m excited to document all of it and take you all on the ride with us. If you’re a beginning homesteader, I would love to hear from you about the things you’re doing! And if you’re an established homesteader, I’d love your advice! And if you’re not a homesteader and you think I’m insane, let me know in the comments!

3 Parenting Secrets Most Moms Won’t Tell You

Three parenting secrets other mom's won't tell you

I began my parenting journey like most parents do- bright eyed and bushy tailed, believing I would have angelic children who never did the horrible things other children do, and would be brilliant and talented and would grow up to be concert pianist surgeons who speak ten languages. You know, the standard stuff.

I believed (well, most of the time) that I would be the perfect parent who was nothing but loving and attentive all the time, no matter what. The kind of parent who had wonderful relationships with all of her equally wonderful children. In short, we all start off being embarrassingly naïve and having no clue what we’re doing.

My kids are now 6, 4, and 2 so I’ve had a little time to reflect and laugh at myself and be honest about where I started and how far I’ve come and, of course, how incredibly far I still have to go. Now, this is NOT going to be one of those sappy posts that end with the tear jerking “my kids make it all worth it. I love them so much!”

Let’s get real for a second.

I love my kids. They’re beautiful and funny and smart. They’re wonderful and YES, they are worth it.                                          Aren't my kids adorable?


Parenting is SUPER hard, y’all! I mean, like ridiculously hard. Before you have kids, you hear people say that and you believe them. You know it will be hard. But the word “hard” is kind of inadequate when talking about parenting. And don’t even get me started on the pregnancy and labor part… Sheesh.

Yes, we love our kids, but some days you just want to curl up in the fetal position and disappear.

I do not drink alcohol. At all. It is a personal and religious choice that I do not regret. But I have a lot of mom friends who do, and they all tell me the only way they survive parenting is with lots and lots of wine. For me, it’s Lindt chocolate and ice cream. Separately, of course (Most of the time). But I digress.

There are things you hear people say that you cannot fully comprehend until you actually have kids. But there is also a lot of stuff that you don’t hear. Things most moms won’t tell you. Things that are too hard or too embarrassing or too personal to admit in public. Everyone probably has their own list, but I thought I’d share a few of mine with you today.

  1. Mommy rage is a real thing. And it’s horrible.                                                                      I promise you, it will happen at some point. You WILL lose your…you know what. You will look at that precious little face, and you will just want to smack it. Like I said, there are things that are hard to admit, but they’re true.                                                                                                                                                                                        Kids will do every single thing in their power to drive you past the edge of your sanity to a place where it is almost impossible to control yourself. And you will fail. And you will feel horrible. You will vow to never let yourself get that mad at your child again. And I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but you will fail.                                                                                                                                                                                    Failing is part of life. What’s important is what you do afterward. Be prepared to fail again and again, but learn to forgive yourself. We’re all human. We all have faults and we all have limits. Learn to apologize to your kids. This is hard for me for some reason. But I try REALLY hard to do it anyway. And I always feel better for it.
  2. You WILL turn into your parents. And it’s not a bad thing.                                       This one is hard for people for some reason. We always hear people talking about opening their mouths and hearing their mother come out, and we talk about it like it’s this horrible thing.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          For me, this has actually been a good thing. I had a fairly difficult childhood. Nothing too crazy or horrible by most standards, but my dad was in the military and we moved around a lot. It was extremely difficult to keep friends back in the days when we only had email and snail mail and I was just a little kid besides. I spent a lot of very lonely years playing alone in my room. And then my parents got divorced when I was 13. This was very difficult for me and there are some things that took me a very long time to process and get over.                                                                                                                                                                              I never had a super stellar relationship with my dad and there were a lot of things I didn’t (and COULDN’T at 13 or 18 or even 25) understand. Not until I had kids of my own.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You see, I’m much more like my dad than I am my mom. We deal with stress in very similar ways and express ourselves similarly. And I got his temper. For sure. (See item #1) As a child I couldn’t understand his reactions to certain things or the way he handled certain situations. But NOW… I understand him SO much better. I view those memories in a completely different light because I have dealt with similar situations in similar ways, whether good or bad.                                                                                                                                                                                   So for me, at least, becoming more like my dad has actually helped me to be a better daughter AND a better mother. I have forgiven him for things I once thought unforgiveable and feel much more love for him as a result. And I can be a better mother because this process and these realizations I’ve had, help me to have a better perspective on stressful situations and my own reactions to them.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              For me, I believe that if I didn’t sometimes remind myself of my father, I would struggle more to forgive myself for my shortcomings. I try to take the good and the bad, be honest with myself, forgive myself, and be better than I was yesterday.
  3. Sometimes you don’t like your kids. And that’s okay.                                                    Right now, and for quite a while, actually, I have struggled with liking my oldest child. I love her. But sometimes I don’t like her. She is ALWAYS grouchy. She has a horrible attitude and is rude to me and her sisters CONSTANTLY. And she whines a LOT. I HATE whining.                                                            Whiney children are no fun                                                                                                                          Every day I tell myself that I’m going to have a better day with her. I won’t yell, we’ll have great conversations, I’ll talk softly to her no matter what. And almost every day I fail. (See items 1 and 2) I want so desperately to improve things, but it is REALLY hard. She just pushes all of my buttons all the time!                                                                                                                                                                                  But here’s the thing. I love her. A lot. That never changes, no matter how frustrated I am with her. Sometimes I don’t like her.  But I always love her. Whenever I am struggling, I try to cling to that and just hang on. Because it’s ok not to like her sometimes. It doesn’t make me a bad person or a bad mother. It makes me a normal human being.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I can’t think of a single person that I like 100% of the time. Sometimes I don’t even like my husband. I hardly ever like other drivers on the road. It’s ok.

So those are my big three. Whether you’re just starting on your parenting journey or you’re an old pro, we all struggle. We all have shortcomings that we hope never see the light of day. Don’t be too hard on yourself.  Forgive yourself. Try your best and be better tomorrow.

What about you? Do you have struggles that are difficult to admit to? How do you deal with them? I’d love for you to leave your message in the comments!3 parenting secrets other mom's won't tell you

How to start a life changing journey when you have no idea what you’re doing

Honestly, this post is mostly for me. I need to get thoughts and ideas out of my head and onto the page so that hopefully I can get my ducks in a row. But if there’s anyone else out there who may be trying something new and feels overwhelmed, this is for you too.

You see, I have no clue what I’m doing. I used to do a blog, but it was just a way to upload pictures of my kids and tell about what was going on in our lives so that family could see it. I’ve never even thought about doing an actual blog that strangers might read because, well, there was nothing even remotely interesting happening in my life.

I’m a stay at home mom with no crafting or DIY skills. I hate cooking and know nothing about gardening. I’m no style guru. I’m just a regular person! I love to sing and read and watch TV shows.

And then something happened. My in-laws came up with this CRAZY idea to buy a bunch of land WAY out in the country, get some animals and start growing stuff. Let me just tell you, my husband’s family does nothing by halves. It is usually one extreme or another. They currently own no animals and although my mother-in-law says she loves gardening, I have never seen her do it in the 8 years I’ve known her.

Even though it seems completely insane, my husband, Dan, and I are both really excited about it! We have a TON of ideas for how to make this thing work and what it will look like once it’s up and running, and we’re starting some projects so that we’ll be ready to start planting next spring (we literally just closed on the land a couple of weeks ago and there are no structures on the land yet, so we still have to build a house on it!).

But how on earth do you start a huge project like this? You make a list of things you need to do to start a huge project like this!

  1. Get ALL your ideas down on paper                                                                                        Write everything down. Big, small, crazy, conservative, it doesn’t matter. Any idea you think of that would be cool to have or do, write it down. You’ll be surprised how many more ideas will come to you as you start to write. When we started talking about what crops we wanted, it started out small with things we eat frequently-broccoli, carrots, asparagus, that kind of thing. And that will probably be where we start, but the more we talked, the longer our list got and it grew to include things like flowers and herbs that we hadn’t thought of at first.
  2. Start researching                                                                                                                         The more research you do, the more prepared you’ll be once you actually begin. Pinterest is your best friend. Other search engines are great, but you can’t beat Pinterest when it comes to saving and organizing information. There are so many awesome tutorials on any topic you could possibly think of. At the same time, this can get a bit discouraging because it starts to feel as if there is nothing you could possibly add to what is already out there. Which leads me to…
  3. Have a firm intention and have faith in yourself!                                                               Starting any new venture is stressful. It is difficult to put yourself in a position to fail. It is easy to get overwhelmed, flustered, and frustrated when things start to get hard. But if you have a firm grasp on what you want to accomplish and why, it can help you power through the tough times and stay on track. Don’t give up. Trust your instincts. We all have something to offer the world and the people around us. Don’t forget that! When I first started talking about starting this blog, my husband asked me (scoffing) “Oh yeah? And what exactly are you going to write about?” This took me aback for a minute, but I’m glad I had that initial opposition to the idea because it gave me a chance to really think it through and gain confidence and faith in my idea. And the more I talked, the more excited and supportive my husband became. Don’t let anyone’s negativity get you down. Use it to fuel your fire.
  4. Start prioritizing                                                                                                                                Once you know where you want to go, it’s time to figure out how to get there. Go back to your list. After you’ve done your research, it’s easier to figure out what things are feasible at the beginning and what will take extra time, money, and probably even extra research. What things do you absolutely need and what can you live without? What can you afford? I mean, I would absolutely LOVE to have a super adorable chicken coop and a chicken run that goes around our garden (just like the one I saw on Fixer Upper last week) but that’s probably NOT going to be in our budget right away and is going to have to go on the back burner, sadly enough. But my father-in-law has tons of wood in his shop, and there are tons of easy DIY plans for chicken coops on Pinterest.
  5. GET TO WORK                                                                                                                                      Making lists, prioritizing, and researching are all super important, but if you never do anything with that information, what good did it do you? None. It is easy to spend hours on the internet reading and pinning and planning and plotting, and I know for myself, most of the time that’s where it ends. I spend tons of time looking at things and thinking about things that never happen. DO SOMETHING! It doesn’t have to be perfect. But you are MUCH more likely to follow through on something if you simply start it. Take this blog for instance. I know Jack Diddly Squat about writing a blog and promoting it and making pinnable pictures and all that jazz. But I’ve spent hours reading and thinking about it. It is not perfect. I still have a LOOOONG way to go before it looks and functions the way I want it to. But it is up. I am writing. I am figuring things out, very slowly but surely. I speak from experience-just do it.
  6. Keep going                                                                                                                                              This is where I am right now. Well, between this step and the last actually. If we’re talking about this blog, this is the step I’m on. But with all things farming, I’m definitely still on the last one! My mother-in-law and I just planted some seeds on Saturday (Which I need to take pictures of and blog about), but that is only the very first step. Make plans. Get a calendar and start planning exactly when you’re going to take each new step and then hold yourself accountable. Put it where you will see it every day.

Trying new things can be scary, but it can also be really rewarding. I’m really excited for all of the crazy ups and downs this next year (and beyond) will bring, and I’m excited to share it with you. What crazy adventures are you thinking of taking this year? Let me know in the comments!