Our journey to becoming more self-sufficient homesteaders began before we were even together. Both my husband and I come from a line of homesteaders, I suppose you could say. We both grew up raising our own food, whether it be cows, chickens, or hunting. Jeremy comes from a long line of farmers, and I come from a long line of off-grid living mountain folk and true homesteaders.
We bought our 100 year old farmhouse on roughly 60 acres at the end of 2017. Jeremy’s great grandfather bought the house around 1914, and his grandpa Louis bought it after him. Jeremy was the last Smith in the family, and when the opportunity came up to buy the farm we jumped. We built enough fence to move the cows before the ground froze. Then we started remodeling our home and barn right away. We just wanted a simple hobby farm with convenience.
On New Years Eve of 2020 our world completely shifted. We had our first son, Harlen. Excited and scared new parents we tried our best to navigate our very traumatic birthing experience that ended in an emergency c-section. The entire birth was nothing like we had initially planned for, but when is an emergency cesarean ever something you can plan for right? We later learned that Harlen had come out bone dry, with absolutely no fluid on him, my amniotic fluid was nearly non-existent and my placenta had started to rot inside me, something called placental insufficiency. I was told I couldnt see my baby due to him needing to be monitored. I wasn’t able to touch, smell, or see my baby. I had no idea what Harlen looked like for nearly 7.5 hours.
It wasn’t until a lactation consult nearly four weeks later that I found out from the nurses that Harlen had to be resuscitated at birth after asking about a bill I received in the mail. My Doctor omitted much of my birthing story to me, all of which I had to ask the nurses over weeks later. This news was a massive shock. I didn’t even know what to think. Now, three years later I still get upset about this. I thank the Lord everyday that he’s a healthy, beautiful, and smart loving boy, now knowing how close I was to losing him.
About 3 months later after his birth, the pandemic had hit. I lost my job of hairstyling and that’s when I started digging. I dug on everything I could when it came to research; politics, money, science, vaccines, medication, chemicals, food, and more. One thing literally kept leading to another and I was blown away at how everything was so connected. I felt betrayed on so many levels thinking we had been taking care of our family one way for so long when really the amount of chemical intake was a shock to me.
It was around the beginning of April, so about 3 weeks into the “declared pandemic” and I called my husband and said we need a bigger garden and I want chickens. I had been telling him everything I was finding and he agreed right away. The talk of being more self-sufficient and not relying on the system sounded more and more appealing. Once we got chickens and a bigger garden we could already see the pay off on not only our health, but our mental health. Having that sense of control was huge during that time.
Since then we have only grown. Not only on our farm, with meat chickens, pigs and even more cattle, but also as a family, Our second son was born in 2021. We now have a deep desire to help others on their homesteading/self sufficiency journey. Teaching what we know about food preservation, holistic health, herbalism, baking, from scratch cooking, and all things regenerative farming. We have changed many practices on our farm including rotational grazing, 100% grass-fed beef, and no corn or soy feed for our chickens and pigs. We even started grinding our own feed. We are constantly learning, but taking people along with us. It’s one of the biggest blessings to us right now.
So, in a world filled with technological advancements and convenience there are still a few of us who want to take life slower and enjoy the old fashioned things. We feel most grounded in nature, with sunsets in the garden, and when we are returning to our roots. We want you to know that you can become more self-sufficient too. No matter where you are. If you’re on a one acre lot, or even living in an apartment! Here are a few ways.
● Cook from scratch
Using your staple items in your fridge and pantry, such as sugar, flour, butter, salt, milk and seasonings, would you know how to make a meal? I think this is vital as far as being self-sufficient goes. Rethink your food my friend! It can taste delicious AND be healthier than ones packed full of preservatives! This is one of the main reasons for my bread journey in 2022.
Here is a small list of things you could make instead of buying in the grocery store.
Rolls and buns
● Grow your own food
I know what you’re thinking, “Sarah, I don’t have acreage.”
Perfect! What a great place to start! Because (and I say this lightly) if you can’t grow an herb in a window seal or balcony, a 18×30 garden is going to be ten times more overwhelming for you. There is no better place to start than small. My first garden was a 2×8 foot watering tank. All you need is a pot, soil, seeds, water, and sunlight. If you have those 5 things then YOU. CAN. DO.
THIS! Isn’t that wonderful news?! If you’re lacking in sunlight grab a grow light and a warming mat from amazon, they are worth every penny.
In my opinion there is no better place to start than herbs. Most are hardy, and you can use them for medicine and cooking! They can add delicious flavor to any meal and are easy to grow. If I could choose one herb to grow anywhere it would be thyme. This herb is so versatile for cooking and highly medicinal for coughs and colds.
● Learn to preserve
If this intimidates you, start with water bathing jams. They will be delicious and so rewarding. You’ll be addicted shortly after! There are tons of great books on preserving including Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. You can also youtube anything! Once you have jams down try diced tomatoes with your water bath canner! I have all your canning needs in our “Preparedness” folder on our amazon page!
● Buy local
This really is huge, if you don’t have the means of being able to take care of farm animals, buying your meats, or even your produce from a local farmer, really gives you a clearer picture of what you’re buying. You’ll know where your food is coming from, know it’s not full of chemicals and preservatives, and that the animals are happy and healthy. You’ll also have that connection with a small farmer. Community and connection for homesteading lifestyles are everything.
● Know your remedies
Herbalism has brought so much joy and confidence into my home. Knowing I have herbs right outside my door that can help acute ailments is huge. My top plants to know would be: Plantain Yarrow, Thyme, and Mullein. With these four plants you can draw out infection, close up wounds and move fevers out of the body, help colds, and chesty coughs. There are a few books I recommend for natural remedies and herbalism: Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs. and The Prescription to Natural Healing by Phylis Balch. You can also check out my ebook on A Beginners Guide To Herbalism with recipes on the shop portion of our website.