Greetings, everyone! It’s time for another edition of my series, Homestead Progress. If this is your first time visiting this series, please pop over to a this post I have that explains it. Today, I want to introduce you to Dawn, a self-proclaimed “wannabe homesteader” and blogger at Oh Sweet Mercy!
We have just under half an acre near a lake out in the country. We have one apple tree and lots of space for a garden, but since we just moved here in May, we did not plant one. I don’t like where the garden is and want to move it anyway. We also have 3 1/2 (3 full size and a bantam) chickens and various herbs.
Would you file yourself into the category of homesteader?
I don’t necessarily consider myself a homesteader, more of a wannabe! When I think of homesteading, the image that comes to mind is living on a bunch of land in Montana or something with livestock, a huge garden, and very little dependence on “the system.” It’s a dream, but we have to start where we are, right?
Very true, Dawn. You DO have to start somewhere. I think it’s important to remember that most people don’t become self-sufficient all at once. When you and your husband began your venture, did you start slowly or dive in all at one time?
It’s kind of happening all at once, but we pretty much have a blank slate to work with. There is definitely potential here, it will take a lot of thinking and planning for sure to get our place more like that Dreamy Montana Homestead I envision.
Can you give me an idea of what a typical day is like at your home?
We homeschool and schedules and routines have always been difficult for me. I’ve been particularly convicted in the last year or so about being more schedule-y and routine-y and have been working on developing that discipline. The last 2 moves have helped tremendously – going from a big, old house full of too much stuff to getting rid of a lot to move into a teeny, tiny house. Now we have just the right amount of stuff for the bigger space we have. I’m determined to keep it that way, so the chores we have right now mostly focus on keeping order around the home. The kids both help take care of the chickens, but I clean the coop and pen area. I thought I would pass that chore on to my daughter before we got the chickens, but honestly I enjoy doing it. It doesn’t take long and I can check the girls and make sure they are doing ok. My little guy (6 years) gathers eggs and does a great job. My daughter (14 years) takes care of watering them, giving them scratch, letting them out to free-range and putting them back in the pen. If we had a garden that needed weeding, we would do it together.
Does your husband’s busy outside-the-home work schedule affect your homesteading ventures?
My husband works full time outside of the home and works a lot of hours in the spring/summer/fall seasons (when he makes the majority of his income) so yes, that does make it hard to do extra projects around our “homestead.” He doesn’t feel like doing things after working a lot of long, crazy hours. He did build the chicken coop though! He and the daughter mow the yard, I will help out if necessary. But other than that, there’s not a lot being done around the place. The weeds in the landscaping are getting out of control again, so that needs done and will most likely be done by the kids and I. I maintain a blog and do some virtual assistant work, so that added to just keeping things running and homeschooling makes it hard! I could do more if I managed my time better, but that is a work in progress! I am also a Torah Observant believer, so from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday, I do not do any work. It’s sometimes hard being on a schedule so opposite from family and the rest of the world, but it has been a tremendous blessing for me as a believer and I wouldn’t change it. We do tend to the chickens, of course, but no other work is done then.
Homeschooling in itself IS a lot of work – I understand how busy you are with that! And blogging is time consuming too. You mentioned doing virtual assistant work, as well as your husband working outside the home. Are there other ways you help to supplement your income?
Right now, my blog isn’t making money but that is the goal. We have been a one income family for most of our life together – we really believe that my main job as a mother is at home with the kids, and especially since we have chosen to homeschool! How that works is that we do without some things we’d like to have (newer, nicer car, new clothes, cable TV, etc.), I shop clearance racks, thrift stores, “dented can” grocery stores or other discount stores. We have always been blessed from time to time with clothes for the kids and even us grown ups. I’m thankful my kids don’t feel like they have to have the latest fashions! I make what I can myself (laundry detergent, toiletries, cleaners, “convenience foods” like taco seasonings), try to can something every year and put some meat and produce in the freezer for the winter. I need to do a better job of budgeting so we can start doing more homestead projects around here!
Speaking of budgeting, coming up with the money to fund things can be a problem for a lot of us. What tips do you have for people that feel like it’s just too expensive to get into this lifestyle?
Look at where your money goes. If you have money going to cable TV, for example, look into ways to reduce that expenditure. We have a Netflix account for $8 month and an Amazon Prime membership that’s about the same amount (but also includes other perks like free shipping so the cost for streaming videos would be less) and that is it for TV for us. The kids got a Wii as a gift from grandparents, and we had bought a Roku box several years ago, so we stream Netflix and Amazon through that. Hubby would like to be able to watch Nascar races, but we don’t want to pay crazy cable/satellite bills just for that! You can do the same with any category. You just have to decide what is more important for you – what you’re spending money on right now or sacrificing some of that in order to buy that solar panel system or whatever.
What made you decide to start a blog and share your personal life with everyone out there on the world wide web?
Writing has always been something I’ve enjoyed, even as a kid. The internet and blogging just opened up a whole new world of writing. I keep doing it because I want to encourage other moms and women to do the best they can with what they have and always work to better themselves so they can be a blessing to their families.
I’ve always enjoyed writing as well, even as a small child. I love that you see the internet as a way to inspire and encourage others. We need more people like you encouraging other women, instead of tearing each other down! I know you’ve recently moved from town. In these last few months, do you feel like you’ve made any steps forward in your goal to become more self-sufficient?
Considering just months ago we were living in town (and had been townies for the last 13 years), I’d say we’ve made progress! Ask me this next year! We have a lot of things we’d like to do here – I dream of a big herb garden, a garden that produces enough produce to can for the winter, planting fruit crops, adding more chickens and some ducks, and maybe a couple of goats down the road. But for right now, getting fresh eggs from the backyard and snipping fresh chives, dill and thyme for an omelette from the front yard and picking fresh strawberries is a huge step forward for us!
Dawn, I am so glad that you see you have made progress! Each, tiny step is something to be proud of and take note of! And I will ask you again, in a year – thanks for that challenge! Thank you so much for letting us all get to know you a little better. Can’t wait to talk to you again next year!
Be sure to keep up to date with Dawn and follow her adventure in becoming more self-sufficient by connecting with her at her blog, Oh Sweet Mercy, and following her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.