Welcome back to another edition of Highlight Homesteaders. This week I welcome Amy from A Farmish Kind of Life. She a farming, homeschooling, wife and mother with a BIG red barn! I’d say she’s living the dream…
Highlighting Homesteaders Amy
1. Homestead Name and where are you located?
Our homestead is named Clucky Dickens Farm, named so because one particularly wet year our yard was full of standing water and as we stood lamenting over the fact that our poor chickens would have to pretend they were “Ducky Chickens” to survive, we accidentally mixed up the words when we were speaking and instead said Clucky Dickens. It stuck! We are in central Minnesota, on the border of zones 3 and 4. We enjoy four seasons with high summer temps generally in the 80s and 90s and winter lows well below zero. The snow gets old but autumn is beautiful.
I share this place with my husband and two sons (almost 12 and 13). I spend most of my time in the garden, the barn, or the kitchen…or in my office, writing about it all. 😉 I also homeschool our kids. ‘Tis a good life.
2. How much land are you working with?
We have five acres. We are surrounded by all the fields that were originally part of this homestead, but someone else owns those and plants them. When we were looking for a place to move to, we were originally looking for 40 acres, but five acres has turned out to be more than enough for what we want/need it for.
3. How long have you been homesteading? What got you started?
We moved here in December of 2011, a lovely Christmas present to ourselves that we’d been waiting years to find. When my husband and I were first married we lived on main street of a small town. I did a lot of homesteady things there in the house and in our tiny yard, but never thought of it as homesteading (I don’t think it was so much of a buzzword at the time!) It was just “baking bread” or “gardening” or “mending clothes”. I think people just thought of me as “that gal who makes a mean apple pie and wants chickens someday.”
4. What gardening method do you use?
It’s affectionately called “Punting”. We till and plant in rows and hills the way I was taught way back when. We’re still trying to figure out the best method for where we are. Our gardens and corn field were AMAZING the first year we planted…and we have not been able to replicate that since. We have heavy clay soil. We’re always learning more about how to grow things better. I think that is part of the adventure. Last year we added a raised bed garden and that did really well. I would still like to add a greenhouse and look into cold frames.
5. Do you compost? And what’s your method?
We do not compost because, well…pigs. Our pigs get just about anything and everything that would normally be tossed in the compost.
6. What kind of livestock do you have?
We have chickens (egg layers and meat birds), pheasants, and pigs. When we first moved here we also tried horses and dairy goats but have since sold them – they were not right for our farm at the time. I’m not sure if we will get them again in the future. You never know what will end up here at Clucky Dickens Farm. Rabbits? A cow? Quail? I’m willing to try just about anything once. What I’ve learned regarding livestock is that sometimes the animals you were so sure you wanted (because you have researched, researched, and researched!) are not the animals that work out best at your farm. (Ahem, goats.) On the other hand, sometimes the animal that everyone else wanted and you thought would be a disaster, turns out to be the animal that is your absolute favorite. (Did I mention how much I love pigs?)
7. Tell me about your homesteading indoors (kitchen, crafts, medicinal, etc).
I enjoy cooking from scratch. I’m a really happy gal if I can spend the day in my kitchen. Living on the farm and being able to grow our own vegetables, raise our own meat, plus grapes and raspberries has really increased what we’re able to do in the kitchen. It’s so satisfying to create and then provide with your own hands. As far as other indoor homesteading things…I’d like to think that someday I’m going to finish that quilt that I started. Someday. And I’d really like to get to the point I can make my own clothes. Someday.
8. What have been your greatest challenges?
I think one of the greatest challenges is having a whole head full of plans and realizing that everything we want to implement here (even though we are very frugal!) still takes money and budgeting and planning in order to be able to do it. I think sometimes people jump into homesteading thinking it’s going to be a free adventure. It’s so not. At all. Also, there are only 24 hours in a day and 365ish days in a year. While a 37 hour day would solve a lot of issues, that isn’t what we get. Learning to say okay, enough is enough for today, has been something I’ve personally had to learn. I get impatient because I can see what things CAN be. We have lots of things we want to do here, but it’s just going to take time and money to get to it.
9. What are you proudest of?
Honestly? It still just amazes me that we made it here. That we’re doing this. That we’re living this life. That we make this work. “This” is such a huge word, isn’t it? Our family is now weaved into the history of this farm. I love that.
10. What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Do not be a slave to what you’ve read in blog posts. There is a lot of great information out there but personal, hands-on experience trumps a blog post every time. Everyone’s experience is different, so if yours doesn’t line up with what you read, it doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. Also, do not walk into a country place surrounded by farms like you know everything because you (ahem) read a blog post. Be willing to learn from everyone. Take what works for you, nod politely about the rest, and get your hands dirty.
11. In regards to homestead, what are your hopes and plans for the future?
I’d love to be off-grid. I’d love to be producing so much food that I have extra to give to people who don’t have it. I’d love to frequently host big get-togethers for people to just come eat good food and share conversation. But if we only ever have what we have right now, I’d be more than happy. ‘Tis a good life.
Where you can find Amy: