Learning & Practicing-Homesteading Stage 2

How have y’all been? It has been busier than a bee in May here at Mama Jess’s. Let’s see…. Second semester has started; we’re almost to Easter Break it seems…. Garden is to be planned soon, and cleaning is never done it seems (I’m testing out a new schedule for myself to see if I like it)….. Whew! That made me tired just telling y’all let alone doing it.

Whelp, let’s move onto Stage 2: Learning & Practicing.

So, you may not be at a season you can just move. There are plenty of reasons why: jobs, family, location, etc. So? What now? Practice and learn. That’s right, Practice and learn at least one new skill a season if possible. Any progress is great progress. Let’s start at the beginning… the most essential and basic aspect of homesteading is gardening. Yup, gardening. I have yet to meet a steader who doesn’t garden.

Start by planting a few herb pots if you’re in an apartment or town home. If you have an urban/suburban home I suggest a garden by the square foot type garden or a few raised beds. If you have .25 acre or more then plan a garden with just a few of your most favorite veggies. Mint (in its own container always), sage, cilantro, and oregano are just a few easy to grow herbs. Tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, and peas are some of the easier veggies to grow that are also easy to find. Squash is also very easy to grow but does require space and some basic knowledge in cross pollination. (Another post for another day.) Cucumbers can be grown trellis style in small spaces as well as along the ground as normal. The whole point is to have fun, learn, and practice! Start small…. Pick your favorites, and do not be afraid to ask for help.

The next skill I highly suggest is food preservation. Pick one and learn the style. There is drying, canning and smoking to name the most common. Drying and canning being the most popular amongst homesteaders. I do all three truth be told. However, I mostly smoke for fun.

Drying is the most versatile that can be done in most any size space. Simple dehydrators can often be picked up for a few bucks at yard sales and thrift stores. Better ones can often range between $50 to $200, $120ish being the median range on the “good” ones. However, my basic one I use averages between $30 to $50 and does just fine for my needs. What I really want is a freeze dryer….to make astronaut food….BUT that’s another story.

Canning is my love…. I can almost everything. Though, there is plenty I don’t can for various reasons. Some things are because in my area some items are actually cheaper already made in the store, and bonus! They already have minimal ingredients as well. Others are because as cool as it is to can and keep it shelf stable (i.e. Breads) I find I like keeping the ingredients on hand in bulk better to fresh bake like our ancestors. Plus, I cook from scratch all the time, so… I actually need such ingredients in bulk for many other uses as well. Lastly, canning (well any preserving really) is limited to space to hold said items. (My house is smaller, 3 kids, and no cellar limits how much food I preserve.)

Smoking is for dinner and preservation. It’s a very fun option. Smoking is done in many various ways. I use a pellet smoker, mostly because, as mentioned previously, I smoke to make dinner. I will however; if enough interest is shown for this method, do research for a later blog post.

The last main skill I recommend practicing is sewing. Yep, read that right, sewing. It’s a highly useful skill that is so often under rated. No, you do not have to become a seamstress or tailor, but the basics are a must. I patch clothes, mend clothes, and alter clothes all the time. I also make curtains, aprons, and quilts because those are the items I need the most it seems. I’ve made doll clothes for my girls as well when they were younger. (They’re 18 & 17 years old now.) I, as a side note, also crochet via looms to make things like hats, scarves, and dish clothes. Well, at least I do when I have time….. The last three years have been a story unto its own.

That about wraps up this blog post….Until next time…we’ll talk about Living the Dream.

Blessings from My Home to Yours,


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Jessica Stewart: An Introduction

Hello and Welcome! Pull up a chair to my virtual kitchen table at Mama Jess. Grab a cup of coffee and let’s chat! My name is Jessie; I am a wife of 22+ years to my Maintenance Man, mother to 3 teens (Munchkin *19 years, Lil’ Bit *18 years, and Bubby *14 years old), and I’m also a full time homesteader of 8 steady years. I had urban stead before my tiny steading (half acre) for about 8 years. I have been learning and practicing many of the steading skill most of my life in one form or another. Let me tell you about my mini farm! When I say mini, I mean mini. I homestead on a half-acre! Shocking huh? Welp, I’m here to tell you it can be done. I currently have a decent sized raised bed garden (20 food boxes), and about 25ish birds (a mix of chickens and Muscovy ducks). I have future plans of adding meat rabbits and turkeys. I do currently milk for a local co-op once a week for the last 7 years. I’ll try most anything at least once. I have learnt many skills and yet, at the same time, not near enough. (I think most homesteaders feel this way.) I make cheese, yogurt, and plenty from scratch (for multiple dietary needs). I love cooking and baking. I find it therapeutic and love knowing what’s in my food. I am an avid canner (of serval methods). If I can stick in a jar, I’ll can it. If you say I cannot can it, then you’ll probably find me in the kitchen figuring out how to can it anyway. I love gardening (have my whole life). I love the old school farm to table….You grow it, butcher it, preserve it, and eat it! Speaking of butchering, I do that too. I do have to put in a disclaimer here; I’ve never butchered large animals (yet). As I have extra ducks and chickens I use them as freezer meat. I have been a homemaker for 22+ years now, 15+ of those have been full time. I have had many side hustles over the years to help with the need of extra income for things not easily budgeted for, such as kids’ clothes, school supplies, etc. Of those side hustles, being a professional cleaner was my mainstay. I have lots of tips and tricks to clean in any season of life. I am excited to share what I have learned over the years to help y’all in some small way. My kids have been public schooled, and now my younger two have been switched to homeschooling about 2 years ago. I find there are pros and cons to both and as of right now; I find homeschooling fits our current needs. I’m happy to share how we have chosen to homeschool along with my thoughts on public schooling (plus what to look for in public schooling) to help y’all choose what’s best for your kids. I also have friends who advocate for both and hope to have them guest post soon! I’m a firm believer in Real Life Economics 101. These will be posts that share real life skills that are much needed in today’s life that I believe are slowly dying. These skills range from homesteading skills to homemaking skills. They also include basic finance skills to manage your monies more efficiently with much less debt. Due to these basic skills my husband and I live on 1 main income for a family of 5. It’s not easy and does require some sacrifices to be made, but if you’re interested in such a life style or just learn how to reduce your debt then these posts are for you. This blog is my journey on homesteading and homemaking. I hope to pass on some dying skills, share my ups and downs, and family life as we go along. I love sharing recipes (of all kinds: from food to cleaners to beauty products). I hope to share both written and video how-to(s), along with written and video blogs. I have soooo many idea, tips, and know how’s to share I can’t even state them all here! Are you up to joining me on my homesteading/homemaking journey? Homesteading and homemaking means so much too so many…. This is my take on it all. Blessings from my Home to yours, Jessie