Table of Contents
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Join Nicole and Teri Page, owner of Homestead Honey, as they talk about Homesteading with Kids!
What You’ll Learn
- How to homestead with children
- Challenges of raising kids on a homestead
- How to transition kids from a modern life to a homestead
- Homesteading activities for kids
- Homesteading homeschool curriculum
- Homesteading for single and busy parents
From our guest…
I’m Teri Page. I’ve been homesteading for 20+ years with my husband Brian, and our two kids. I’m the author of Family Homesteading and the creator of Homestead-Honey.com. I am also a life and business coach who works with women ready to live their homestead dream!
Homestead Honey is the go-to website for information and inspiration for your modern homestead! You’ll find hundreds of articles on homesteading, off the grid living, gardening, food preservation, and much more, along with eBooks and coaching to help you dive into your homesteading dream.
Resources & Links Mentioned
- Homestead Honey Books & Courses
- Homestead Honey Instagram
- Homestead Honey Facebook
- Homestead Honey YouTube
- Homestead Honey Twitter
- Homestead Honey Website
- Homestead Honey Pinterest
- Email us! Ask@HeritageAcresMarket.com
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Announcer: Welcome to the Backyard Bounty podcast, from heritageacresmarket.com, where we talk about all things backyard. Poultry, beekeeping, gardening, sustainable living and more. And now here's your host, Nicole.
Nicole: Good morning everybody, thank you for joining us for another episode of Backyard Bounty. I am your host Nicole and today we're joined by Teri with Homestead Honey and the author of Family Homesteading. We're going to talk about homesteading with kids, so thank you Teri so much for joining me today.
Teri: Thanks for having me.
Nicole: So, tell us some about your book and your homestead.
Teri: Sure. Well, I have been homesteading for about 20 years now and I've kind of gone from the West Coast to the Midwest to the East Coast, which is where I'm from originally. And I've homesteaded on a rental and then built a homestead from scratch, and then I'm back to homesteading on a rental. So, I've kind of done a little bit of everything and I've done this for the first 10 years or so. It was just my husband and I home sitting together and then we had my daughter, Ella, and then my son, Everett. So, the second half of our homesteading adventure has been with kids.
Teri: I wrote Family Homesteading, it was published last October, so almost exactly a year ago. And really I wrote that book as a combination of a practical guide to homesteading with children. But also just as an inspiration and this positive, uplifting message to parents and people who love children and people who work with children to just let them know that homesteading with kids doesn't have to be this big thing. It can just be a series of simple seasonal projects, recipes, connections. And really that's the whole point of it is to create a deeper connection with the children in your life.
Nicole: So, what does homesteading look like in your home? Do you homeschool your children and kind of activities do they partake in?
Teri: Well, homesteading with my children has changed quite significantly in the past year. We went from living on a completely off the grid homestead, in a 350 square foot house with no running water and solar electricity, and homeschooling our kids, to moving across country to Vermont, which is where we now live. Renting a house that is huge, we're not living off the grid, we're not homeschooling anymore. The kids are going to a Waldorf school in the town.
Teri: Homesteading used to be just this all encompassing thing in our lives. We had cows and pigs and sheep and huge orchard and gardens and everything. We did sort of all the things, all the homesteading. And now homesteading looks really different. I still have a big garden, this rental property has fruit trees, [inaudible 00:03:16] have a sugar bush that we're making maple syrup, we have chickens. We're still doing a lot of the things that we love to do, but it's just on a smaller scale. And so bringing the kids into that hasn't really changed at all. It's just what we're doing is a little bit different. It's a smaller scale. It's a more home scale instead of like a huge homestead or farmstead scale. And we're balancing homesteading with a lot of other life, classes and school and activities, work, all of those things.
Nicole: What have been some of the challenges that you've seen with raising your children on the homestead?
Teri: Honestly, I don't really see challenges with raising kids on the homestead. For us it's been a choice all along the way and it's been a choice that's been made out of joy and a desire to live a certain way, a desire to really be connected to the earth and be connected to the seasons and to know where our food come from and to grow our food. And involving our kids in all of that, it's really sort of just putting our values in action with our family and teaching our kids the things that are really important. I think the challenge when you're homesteading period is that there's always more work to do. You could just work on your homestead full time plus have helpers and still never get everything done that you really want to accomplish. So, I think the primary challenge with homesteading with kids is just knowing that you might need to pair back a little bit and finding that balance between what you want to accomplish and perhaps what might be reasonable or realistic to accomplish.
Teri: And also being patient, knowing that when you have children there's quite a bit of a learning curve. There's a learning curve of how as a family you interact with the homestead and how your children or the children in your life are learning. But at some point they catch up, and then all of a sudden they're able to do things and there's actually helped. Like my daughter now is pretty much completely in charge of our chickens and I don't need to worry about whether or not the eggs are getting collected or the chickens are being fed or let out because I know that she'll do it and she'll do a good job. So, it's almost like now the work that we've put into it it's actually coming back and our kids are helping us, which is really beautiful, actually, to see that happen.
Nicole: So, for those that are interested in maybe jumping into homesteading, and maybe they live kind of an average American life now and they want to explore this world of homesteading and they have kids, what are some advice or tips that you have for them in making that transition?
Teri: Yeah, so I get asked that question quite a bit actually and my answer is always the same, which is just take baby steps. I think sometimes homesteading, there's this perception that if you want to homestead, like with a capital H, you need to have land and you need to have animals and you need to be doing gardening and food preservation and this and that. And you don't. Homesteading it's a huge umbrella of activities, and if we did every single one of those activities as homesteaders, we would drive ourselves crazy. You just can't do it all.
Teri: So, if you're interested in trying out some of the homesteading lifestyle or some of the activities that fall underneath the umbrella of homesteading, then I would say two things. One is find something that you think you would enjoy and two, find something that you think would make a really big impact in your life, and then try one thing and get good at that one thing and learn about it. And then when you feel like that has become habit and it's just part of what you do, then maybe add something else. I've been homesteading for 20 years, for me it's not that big of a deal to think about having a milk cow or growing all my family's produce for a summer. But if I had started out thinking about having a cow back in 1999 when I was growing my first garden ever, there's no way I would have succeeded.
Teri: What I did is the first year I had a little garden, a really small garden, and that next year we added some chickens and the year after that we started learning about sourdough bread and fermentation and brewed some apple cider, hard apple cider. And so it was just a matter of time and really just taking baby steps along the way. That's really the core of it. And the other thing I should say is there's so many things that you could do, even if you don't have land, even if you don't have a backyard. You can get food from the grocery store or from the farmer's market and you can learn how to ferment, that's something you can do on your counter. You can learn about foraging and learn how to safely wildcraft food in the outdoors. You can learn how to preserve food by different methods, freezing, dehydrating, canning, et cetera. You can learn about herbal and have some tinctures going in your kitchen cabinet.
Teri: There's so many things that you can do no matter where you live that I think anybody interested in homesteading will be able to find something that excites them and something that will really help their life in some way. Whether that's growing healthy food or learning how to make your own medicine, that I just think anybody who has any interest in homesteading at all, should just dive in.
Nicole: Yeah, it's kind of interesting. You start out generally on a small scale and then work your way up to it. I was actually just reflecting the other day how, even though our quote unquote homestead or backyard farm is more of what I call it, is relatively small scale. If I was trying to do all of the things that I do now, just jumping in with both feet, it would be so overwhelming. But it just kind of incorporates itself into its own routine and then it's not so scary and the next thing you know you're like, "Oh, well look at all the stuff I'm doing now."
Teri: Right, exactly. Exactly. It just becomes habit. It just becomes what you do and then when it becomes what you do, then it's not really a big deal anymore. So, yeah, exactly.
Nicole: What are some of the activities that you've found that your children have enjoyed the most?
Teri: Well, to be fair, the thing is my children have enjoyed the most have been things that really have only been possible because we've lived in rural settings on land for most of the time, all of the time actually. And we've rented two of those properties. So, it's not like you have to own land, but you do have to have landlords that are open to you having lots of animals, which we've been very lucky in that regard. My daughter loves chickens. Really, really loves the chickens, ducks. We've had dairy animals over the years and they've really enjoyed spending time with the cows or the sheep. We had goats when they were really little. So, that's probably their favorite, is the animals.
Teri: And then I would say the second favorite thing that we enjoy as a family, that's been really fun, has been tapping trees to make syrup. And that's just something we've done for so many years now, since we first moved to Missouri in 2012, so maybe 2013 was the first year we did that. But it's just become part of our winter seasonal rhythm and it's so fun. We all go out together and into the woods and it's beautiful and the weather is finally warmed up a little bit. So, you feel that Spring like feel in the air and then you spend time together over either with an open fire or like an evaporator of some sort and at the end you have this like amazing, sweet, delicious product that you've created. And then it's like a great excuse to make some pancakes.
Teri: So, that's been really fun, just kind of a routine. And really, it's the seasonal things, it's the rhythm of doing things that I think we all enjoy. Our kids now know, "Oh, it's apple season. It's time for us to go to the orchard and pick lots of apples and then we're going to make apple butter and we're going to make pie and we're going to do this." Or, "Oh, it's blueberry season and we're going to preserve all these blueberries for the coming year." So, it's like the homesteading activities have become part of our family traditions and that's really fun for all of us.
Nicole: Did you find it challenging to try to incorporate the homesteading as well as homeschooling at the same time?
Teri: I didn't really because we were... Well, number one, we just kind of treated all of homesteading as part of school and we were also using a curriculum that was very nature-based and play-based and put a lot of emphasis on being outside in nature. So, it just all dovetailed together really nicely. And even now, they're at school, but their school has a... It's called On The Land, have this amazing land based program. And when my kids come home I'm like, "Oh, what did you do in On The Land today?" And they'll be like, "Oh, well we harvested apples or we learned how to prune fruit trees or we collected seeds from the garden." So, it's all really the same sorts of homesteading activities that I was doing with them as part of homeschooling. And then of course we would do reading and writing and math and all that too. But to me, homesteading is learning about the natural world. It's learning about biology and it's learning about numbers and keeping track of things and it just all became part of school for us.
Nicole: I imagine most people kind of imagine homesteading with kids and it being a full family unit. But what if it's a single mom that wants to go through this adventure? Is there any suggestions? Because I'm sure that that's more challenging to manage when there's less help.
Teri: Yeah, completely. Not only just a single mom, but if you're somebody who maybe just doesn't have a lot of time because you work a lot or your family unit works a lot or is balancing a lot of different needs, any sort of situation that is something that's putting extra challenge on your time or your resources, then of course that's going to look really different than my experience. I know that. My experience has been homesteading with two parents and a lot of the time that we've been homesteading, we have had jobs at home, we've been self employed. So, there were many, many years when we did a lot of homesteading because my husband and I were both working from home. So, if one of us needed to go check on goats in the middle of the day or if we needed to arrange our schedule because all of the tomatoes were ripening at once, then we could.
Teri: And now our life is really different. My husband works full time away from home. I have multiple jobs that bring me away from home, the kids are not at home anymore. So, our life has really shifted quite a bit. So, for anybody that's dealing with a lack of time or a different family structure, I would just kind of go back to the other question about how to get started, which is to just really narrow down your focus and I kind of touched upon this, but let me just go into a little bit more. When I say choose the things that will make the biggest difference in your life, I think health is so important, what we put in our body is so important. So, if you know that you can increase the quality of food for your family by growing it yourself or by sourcing it from a farmer's market, then maybe that's your first priority.
Teri: Or if you're somebody who has struggled with food allergies or other health issues and making some natural remedies at home is going to make a huge difference in your ability to heal your family, then maybe that's where you want to focus. There's so many different areas that you could narrow in on. But if time is a challenge, if support is a challenge, then I think it's even more important to really narrow down and to not overwhelm yourself. Because I've seen, and I work as a... I mean, I write about homesteading obviously, but I also work as a life coach and business coach for women. And so I've worked with a lot of women, moms, a lot of moms, over the years. One of the most common things I see is that people take on too much and then they get overwhelmed, or they take on too much and they get burnt out and it's just not fun anymore.
Teri: And if it's not going to be fun, if it's not going to be something you enjoy, if it's not something that brings you together with your family, together with the children in your life, then maybe it's time to reevaluate. So, I just encourage anybody starting out with homesteading, whether you have a partner or not, or you have support networks in place or not, just to really take one little baby step at a time and be just mindful of how much you can take on at any given time. And make it fun. I got to a certain point where certain things fun for me anymore and I just decided that it wasn't going to be something I prioritized. Like canning, I hate canning. I really, really hate canning. I hesitate even saying that in homesteading circles because it really seems to be this mark of a good homesteader, is if you've like lined your shelves.
Teri: But I just hate it. It's in the middle of the summer, I don't want to be standing in sort of boiling water. I want to be out doing things. So, I just don't do it anymore. I let my husband do it if he wants to, but I just don't. And I find other ways of preserving food or I just grow food year round so I don't have to preserve it, or store it in a root cellar in a basement so I don't have to preserve. So, yeah. I try and keep it fun. In our modern world, most of us are at the point where we're not homesteading for survival, like some of our ancestors may have. Where a lot of us are homesteading as a choice because we enjoy the lifestyle, because we like the benefits that it brings us and the health that it brings us and the cost savings and whatnot. But I also think we do have that luxury of doing it because it's really enjoyable. So, you want to keep it fun also.
Nicole: Yeah. If it's not fun then that really makes it challenging to stick with it.
Teri: Yes, very much so.
Nicole: So, is this information also available in your book?
Teri: Yeah. So, Family Homesteading is the name of the book and it covers kind of a wide range of topics. The beginning of the book is more of an introduction of what are some ways that you can make homesteading with babies, homesteading with toddlers, homesteading with young kids easier and more... Certain ways that I said it was easier to do my homesteading work and involve the children and keep my sanity all at the same time. So, that's the intro of the book, and then the book goes through a different chapters dealing with different aspects of homesteading. So, there's gardening with kids, cooking in the kitchen with kids, forging, fermentation. And so every chapter has kind of an overview of tips and ideas for making homesteading with kids fun and enjoyable for everybody.
Teri: But then there's also quite a few projects and recipes. So, you'll learn things like how to make fruit leather out of apples and beets and I can't remember what other fruits I used in there. How to make butter in a jar by shaking heavy cream, different foods that you can forage or kid-friendly forment, things like that. So, each topic kind of touches upon a different aspect of homesteading. And quite honestly I've had people buy the book who don't have kids, it's also a book that's full of recipes and ideas that I think other aged people would enjoy as well. But it was designed for people who are working with, living with, spending time with children and particularly children that are, I would say, under the teenage years because that's what I know best.
Nicole: Sure. And so where can we find your book?
Teri: Well, Family Homesteading is available on all of the major book retailers. My favorite thing to tell people to do is to go into your local bookstore, your local independent bookstore, and ask them to order it for you. But that said, if you prefer ordering online, you can get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, all of the major online book sellers. I also have signed copies available in my Etsy shop, which is called Acorn Hills Handcrafts. And yeah, you can also go onto my website, which is homestead-honey.com and find not only Family Homesteading, but I also have four other eBooks that I've written, two of them by myself and two of them collaborating with my husband, Brian. So, those are all available on my website, as well.
Nicole: And what are your eBooks about?
Teri: Kind of ranged, the first one that I wrote is called Creating Your Off-grid Homestead, and that pretty much is what it sounds like. It's a little bit of a guide for people who might be interested in living off the grid and not only talks about different aspects of living off the grid, but also offers questions and thoughts. So, you can think through some of the issues that come up as you're creating an off-grid homestead. The second book is called The Backyard Bread And Pizza Oven. And that's the how to on how to build a brick cob hybrid, a pizza oven, and that's a really fun how to book.
Teri: The third book is called Building A Homestead Root Cellar, and that one again is a how to. It teaches you how to build your own root cellar, which is a big project. So, that's a little bit more of a specialty book, but it's a great resource for someone who might want to do their own root cellar project and it's such a great thing to build. And then the fourth book is called Homestead Honeys Guide To Fall Gardening. And that, again, what it sounds is just sort of your basic how to grow food year-round potentially, but at least how to grow a fall garden and then protect it from some amounts of cold, with cold fray and blow tunnels, etc. And so extending your season and being able to grow more food.
Nicole: Awesome. Well, I know I'll be picking up at least the root cellar book because that is something I have my heart set on.
Teri: Oh, cool. It's such a great... I mean, it was a big project, I won't lie, but it was such an amazing addition to our homestead. It really just changed the way we were able to store food. I definitely recommend you go in for that.
Nicole: Awesome. Well, Teri, I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day and I hope that those that have children are a little bit more inspired, if you're not homesteading already, to jump in there and get started. You've provided so much great information and I really appreciate you sharing with us today.
Teri: Oh, yeah, no, it's been so fun. Oh, and I should also mention that I am on Instagram quite a bit, so I would love for people to find me there and I'm just @homestead_honey on Instagram.
Nicole: Perfect. And we'll put links to all of your resources on our show notes as well so people can find you without having to look you up.
Teri: Oh, that'd be awesome, thank you.
Nicole: Well, thank you again, Teri. I really appreciate it.
Teri: Yeah, it's been so much fun. Thanks for having me.
Nicole: And for those of you at home, thank you so much for listening to Backyard Bounty and we'll see you again next.
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