Our drastic lifestyle change began in 2007. Listening to a radio show one day, we heard trends forecaster, Gerald Celente, talking about the future. He was predicting all kinds of dire events leading up to a second great depression. His advice on what we all should do was short and simple and made a lot of sense. “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best”. To us it meant becoming self sufficient.
At that point in time our family’s equestrian gift and jewelry business had slowed down drastically due to the downturn in the economy. Steve and I suddenly had a lot more free time on our hands. We decided to follow a dream we had shared for many years. We would turn our 16 acres into a homestead and learn to live as homesteaders. Quite a stretch for two people who had spent the last 10 years working 60 to 80 hours a week in an office.
From the beginning we have attempted to follow many of the farming practices of our early rural ancestors. In the early 20th century the small family farm was the backbone of our country and often called a homestead or frontier farm. If we could step back in time to visit these homesteads we would see a vastly different farming system than what is practiced today.
During the 1920s and 1930s an estimated 74% of the population lived rurally. The collapsed economy and the environmental impact of the ongoing “Dust Bowl” were the main catalysts for devising a food production system that was highly efficient and cheap. Through trial and error people learned how to maximize raising livestock, poultry, grains, vegetables, fruit and a family on only a few acres constrained by an unbelievably tight budget.
I wish we could step back in time and ask the families, living on the most productive homesteads, to explain why their system worked so well. Most would probably be at a loss for words. They could not explain that it was the synergy created by a diverse group of living organisms achieving a perfect harmony. They just knew that if many different living things were allowed to live together they were happier and healthier than if they were isolated with their own kind.
Steve and I have work hard to emulate the homesteads of early 20th century America. The creatures on our farm live on pasture with plenty of room to roam. Geese, ducks, chickens, guineas, hogs and sheep all intermingle. We now make our own animal feed from what is nutritious, cheap and locally available. Our animals and birds have a show ring shine, peak growth and fertility because they eat food that is made fresh each day from dried fruits, nuts and grains. You won’t find any “grain by-products” on our farm.
We like to share the “old ways” of farming and poultry keeping with the modern world. We have had the pleasure to meet many people, these past few years, who have suddenly felt the urge to start raising some of their own food. Often it starts with a small garden and a few laying hens. Seeing the joy on a child’s face when they hold a chicken, duckling or lamb is one of the many things that make our new lifestyle so worthwhile.