Enjoy Part 2!
Shownotes for this Podcast episode:
Homegrown and Handmade
This is too much fun! Today, we have Jill Winger of The Prairie Homestead on a 2-part conversation!
On today’s episode, we get into the life that lead Jill and her family to have a 9-year (and running) blog into their lives on the homestead!
We also talk about her journey toward living a more natural and healthy life, discussing the 5 Pillars of Unconventional Wellness.
As we talk about in the Episode, you can check out Jill’s new book, The Prairie Homestead Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Heritage Cooking in Any Kitchen! Get your copy: HERE!
Enjoy our conversation!
Here are the shownotes for today’s episode:
Well, it’s been nearly 8 months since we gave up our big city-living and moved to the backwoods of Western North Carolina. My husband and I were both raised in large cities, so raising our children the same way just felt normal.
However there always was this itch and this itch just started to grow and grow. It would be in small ways at first…like me traveling hours to visit small farms to let my kids play with the animals or to pick blueberries. Then it grew much bigger…we started searching for homes in the suburbs that allowed chickens and possibly goats. Our realtor thought we were crazy and didn’t understand us. We hit roadblock after roadblock and after *almost* buying a very expensive house on ONE acre (which we thought was a lot of land), because that was all there was, we felt like our dreams of homesteading were crushed.
I remember the first time we played the “what if” game. My husband said to me one night, “what if we moved somewhere else.” At first, I was caught off guard that he was entertaining the same thought I was. Then I played “devil’s advocate” and said that we were raised in Orlando, this is where our families live, this is where we *should* live……….right?
This went on for months and we started going deeper with our feelings. My husband asked me where I always dreamed of living…he knew my answer but it’s just a dream….right? I mean, it’s just a game you play, like MASH as a little girl. You don’t really go and live in your dream place. You just dream about it...right?
Ok, so you get the drift of how confusing of a time this was for us. We both loved Western North Carolina. We loved visiting it and we even rented a cute little cabin near Asheville one year. We finally agreed that WNC was our dream place to live and we finally entertained the thought that we had the choice to move there *one day*. Sigh….one day….there it is again.
And then I said it. I said, “Why one day?” And my husband looked at me and felt the same way. Let’s do this NOW! Life is too short to not live and do what you dream of doing! And that was how it all began!
This is much harder for some people…I know that. But, it’s worth trying, right? So, we drew a 100 mile radius around our dream city, Asheville, NC on a map and my husband applied at all the jobs in that radius that fit his career. We heard back from a few and we chose one! We came and visited the nearby city and we fell in, complete, love with the place. Actually how it really happened when we sealed the deal was like this: we went to a nearby vineyard and sat down and looked out at the beautiful mountains. I looked over at my husband and said, “let’s do it“!
We still weren’t ready to buy. We have been aggressively paying off debt for a year now following the Dave Ramsey plan. So, we knew that we needed to find a rental home that allowed us to start doing our homestead dreams. We found a perfect home on Craigslist that had 4 acres of land, a barn, a huge chicken coop, and a beautiful fenced pasture. We plan on staying in this home for a few more months till we are ready to buy.
This was the hardest part of the move. It’s hard to leave your family, but it’s so rewarding to follow your dreams. So, we downsized and sold a lot of stuff to make the move easier. We sold our king set (we just sleep on a mattress on the floor now!), dining room table, and all our large furniture. This isn’t necessary but we wanted a fresh start and we needed the money for the move. In fact, we are just now (8 months later) starting to buy furniture again! We waited till we were 100% out of debt, which we are now!
Seriously, I had the chicks ordered and planned for delivery before we were even in the state! I was so excited to start homesteading and couldn’t wait for my own pastured eggs! Chickens are the best way to start homesteading. They are the easiest animals to care for. It takes about 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes at night to care for my chickens. As chicks, you need a few things, like a brooder area (we use stacks of straw for this), a heating lamp, and food and water bowls. Start-up costs is under $100 and that is including ordering the chicks online and paying shipping. You usually can find chicks local at a feed store for pretty cheap too!
I had my goats planned, as well, before we even were in North Carolina. I knew I wanted fresh, raw, goat milk. Goats are MUCH easier to keep than cows and I am more keen on goat’s milk than cow milk. I found a lady on Craigslist who was selling a goat-in-milk and her doeling. I arranged for us to pick them up about a week after we moved. It actually is a hilarious story if you would like to go read about it! I watched You Tube videos on how to milk a goat for hours but it did NO good. You have to just learn it hands-on and it does take a little practice! However, it’s so worth it. My goat has been giving us nearly a half gallon a day for the past 8 months that we have had her. Sadly, I’m drying her off right now because she is pregnant (and so is her baby!) and needs a little break before her babies come in the early summer.
There is a local furniture store near us that gives away pallets and these large pallet containers. We grabbed them and started using it to hold our compost in. We definitely planned on a spring/summer vegetable garden so we started composting right away. We throw most our vegetable and fruit scraps to the chickens but we compost everything else! Composting is so easy.
I don’t even know how we started doing this but it has become my husband’s favorite thing so far. We have 3 does (the moms) and 2 bucks (the boys) and we breed them every other month or so. Actually they are due any minute now for this round! The benefit of meat rabbits is that they reproduce a ton and have short pregnancies. Their meat is like chicken too! One set of meat rabbits (one buck and one girl) can give you 400lbs of meat a year! We pasture the offspring before they are ready to be butchered, that way they are living as natural as possible and eating lots of fresh grass.
This has been THE HARDEST thing for me to do since we have moved away from our city life. You never would have thought that slowing down would be so difficult, but it really is…especially if you are used to hurry, hurry, hurry everywhere you go. The drivers here drive me crazy…they are so pokey! It’s all a mindset and just truly realizing that being rushed is pointless. It doesn’t’ get you anywhere any faster. It just stresses you out and causes anxiety.
We couldn’t be happier with our decision to ditch the city and start a farm. Our kids absolutely adore their new life here. They miss their family, of course, but we are our own family now and it’s important to us to do what is best for them. The city was scaring me more-and-more and the thought of raising my kids there just kept me up at night.
Now they are able to cherish simple things like the joy of collection eggs, and planting seeds and watching them grow, and watching animals give birth! It is amazing to see how they thrive in this environment.
Books I Recommend: Raising Dairy Goats | Raising Chickens for Dummies | The Self Sufficient Life and How to Live It | Back to Basics | Let it Rot | Storey’s Guide to Raising Meat Rabbits
Websites I Recommend: The Prairie Homestead | Weed em’ & Reap | The Elliott Homestead | Blue Yurt Farms
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