Living the Dream: Homesteading Stage 3

A view of my garden and yard
Welcome and pull up a chair to my virtual kitchen table! I have the coffee on and if tea is your choice I have that too. How are y’all doing today? Life is zooming along here at Mama Jess’s. We had a pittance of snow from the storm last night, but alas it is what it is…. life goes on. Homeschooling still marches on….. though my youngest sure wishes it didn’t. Are you ready for spring yet in your neck of the woods? I’m in a mixed frame of mind about it all. In a sense I want a little more winter in hopes of gaining some much needed water; on the other hand I’m beginning to itch for open windows, fresh air, and warm dirt to dig my hands into.

Speaking of digging in the dirt, let’s talk about the final instalment in my introductory homestead series…. Living the Dream – Stage 3. Even though this is the final installment of this series it should be noted that learning never ends. I have found, not only with myself, but countless others is that no matter the years you have under your belt in steading you never stop learning. Not only have I learnt so much from my mentor (my aunt-in-law) who has 40+ years experience in steading, but actually been able to teach her something new from time to time as well. It never fails to amaze me in the ingeniousness that comes from ‘steaders’.

Steaders must have a few qualities that either come natural or are learnt over time. Often is a mix of both truth be told. Some of those qualities are as follows: patience, perseverance, ingenuity, ability to learn on the fly, stick-to-it-ness, self motivation, and more. These are all necessary qualities to make a success at homesteading. I say this because here’s the thing….. homesteading is a life time lifestyle. Gardens may come and go to some extent but animals and the upkeep of land do not. A homestead in a way is a living, breathing thing. It produces life just like its’ bigger counter parts the farm or ranch. Some years are really tuff and other years are so awesome you wonder why all don’t homestead.
Some of my girls
So, let’s move on….. you now have a dream with at least an out line in place. You now have a few skills under your belt. You even have decided where to start and what to start with as far as land size and type of stead you want/can manage. Now what? Putting it all together even with all of that in place still seems daunting. I mean there’s a garden to plan, animals to plan for, and resources to obtain. My advise is to start slow. I know it seems so counter intuitive after all that planning, but I promise I have a sound reason for this.

Costs are a huge factor in steading. It takes money to get to the end results that we all dream of. Most of us do not have that kind of money to just plunk down to get started. There is the costs of land, home, supplies, animals, seed, dirt or amendments, equipment, fencing, and more. Note too, the more property/ bigger the operation you want the more it’ll cost.

I promise, as much as I knew, grew up with, was mentored on, and researched I sure didn’t know it would end up costing as much as it did. I even went about it fairly cheaply too. My saving grace? I went about it slowly, a section at a time. I started with the most obvious to me (this may differ for you and your needs), which was fencing and my garden. I knew I couldn’t get to any other section with out fencing. We have dog(s) and deer that needed to be corralled. Plus, no animals until pens were set up as well. So, fencing was a first priority. The garden followed closely behind. I chose a raised beds for various reasons and put in the time and money with the Maintenance Man to put in my garden. After the first two years we then added ducks and eventually chickens. Until I figure out how to convince the Maintenance Man to get goats I’ll continue on in my co-op milking. For me, from here on out it’s all about refining and adding to my stead. I only have a half acre so not much left in animal options (though I’m planning on meat rabbits and turkeys in the near future).

Getting in over your head is another reason I say to start slow. I’ve seen too many people go whole hog and some thrive in that situation; but most do not. Most people get overwhelmed and give up before they really get the swing of things. Going slow lets your land speak to you, telling you what it can handle. Bonus, it allows you to have the availability to change your outline and adjust to your needs as you introduce a section at a time to your stead. I thought I wanted a mini cow for the longest time, then as time went on and my dietary needs changed I found what I actually needed was goats. I learned to adjust for the meat animals as well for changed dietary needs and costs. Plus, I’ve learnt a new garden style I’m highly thinking about switching to… doing a test run this year to see if it’ll work for my needs and land. This leads me to my next point….
A past winter – the entrance to my coop
Learning Room….. This is my final point for this post, but it’s a point I cannot stress enough. Learning never ends on a homestead. The minute you think you’ve learnt everything something new will bite you in the rear. This, to be honest, is my personal favorite part of steading. I just love learning. I have a ton of books on the subject (most I have yet to read though, LOL) because I just love learning. As much as I enjoy reading I enjoy learning by experience more. The best two ways I know to learn is by mentor and experience. I guarantee (well, almost) that steaders are the most generous with knowledge. We love to share our know-hows with anyone who’ll ask. Should I mention the sheer number of blogs and video channels? However, as good as those resources are an in person mentor is better. Find a family member, friend, neighbor, or next town over buddy to pick their brains. They’ll be glad to share and glad you asked. I do tours of my tiny stead to anyone who wants to see…. I mean, who doesn’t love sharing their hard work?

That’s all for today…. is there a subject you want to know more of? Leave a comment below or email me (see contact page) so I can tackle them on future posts.

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 21+ years to my Maintenance Man, mother to 3 teens (Munchkin *18 years, Lil’ Bit *17 years, and Bubby *14 years old), and I’m also a full time homesteader of 7 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. J 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 6 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. J 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 (yetJ). As I have extra ducks and chickens I use them as freezer meat. I have been a homemaker for 21+ years now, 14+ 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 this past school year. 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