I'm editor of Goat Journal and a contributor for Backyard Poultry Magazine and Countryside and Small Stock Journal. I'm the agricultural adviser for the nonprofit I Am Zambia, which teaches sustainable skills to women and girls in Africa. I'm a devoted wife and mother, large-scale gardener, president of the local homesteading club, and an author. I spend my free time eating lunch.
My homesteading story began 180 years ago, with pioneering ancestors who made drastic changes to preserve faith and values. With each generation the plot repeats: A diligent father works long hours to provide for his family. An innovative mother fills in the gaps while striving to uphold her faith and values. Children follow in their parents’ footsteps, returning to proven methods when modern times fall short on promises of a better life.
Now my husband and I live the lessons taught by our parents, working to support our family through conventional careers in addition to farming. We raise all our meat and eggs, rely on our gardens, and get through the winter with canning and food preservation. In the spring and summer we grow food; in the fall we preserve it; in the winter we make cheese and soap and chronicle the year’s experiences.
I began the Ames Family Farm blog on a whim, mostly to secure the name in case I took my talents further and started a greenhouse or an educational system. What came to fruition exceeded my own ambitions. Now I share my experiences through Ames Family Farm, Countryside Network, and the Countryside family of print magazines. I speak at conventions and work with school gardening projects, advocating sustainability and backyard chickens in urban settings. Mostly, I offer what I can as friends and acquaintances seek help with gardening or homesteading endeavors.
We recently moved from the city, onto 130 miles of rural Nevada desert, to partner with a nonprofit that helps small-scale homesteaders and teaches skills that are almost forgotten. We're excited to use this opportunity to help others within this country and to learn from the land so we can take the education back to Zambia. There's always more to learn; there's always a way to teach.
I believe homesteading is meant to save money rather than cost more. That gardening enhances health and joy as well as cutting costs, that canning and food preservation are keys to self-reliance when bad times hit. That everyone has the ability to homestead. Even if you live in a high-rise apartment and cannot keep chickens, you can make cheese or sew clothing. Even in a food desert you can budget and preserve food to protect your health and way of life.
May you find success in whichever homesteading endeavor you choose!