Farming as a Working Family
We get this question ALL THE TIME: How do you do it all? We do it as a family. Homesteading and practicing "old skills" is a commitment we all made and a dream we wanted to work towards together for a long time.
I remember long family talks, evening walks, planning by the bonfire and dreaming together. Growing our own food, owning livestock to sustain us, and teaching our kids to be self-sufficient without relying on our daily conveniences were some of the goals we had in mind when we set out on this journey.
Though I was raised in a homesteading community and have learned a lot when I was younger, as I grew up, I moved away from home and enjoyed the luxuries we have available in our modern society, which also included little fresh produce, not the best quality meat (hello tiny paycheck!) and did not live the healthiest livestyle overall, with lots of hours spent at work and not enough down time or outdoors time.
All these things seemed fine in our early 20's and even when we first started our family, However, we quickly learned that this was not the way we wanted to raise our kids. Both of us had to work to make ends meet and we got to spend very little time with our kids, trying to keep our head above water, always one emergency away to not being able to cover the house payment. This was no way to live.
It all changed when Chip received an employment offer overseas. Though we both worked while living in the UAE as well, we had a lot of free and family time, we earned enough to cover bills and even save up money for the future! It allowed us an amazing few years, spending tons of time with our kids, and allowing us to travel with them. It also put us into a completely different culture and allowed us to change some habits, which included the change to fresh and high quality produce and meat.
From living in the Middle East we learned again to cook more with fresh ingredients, try new recipes and new things and live life to the fullest. It was a truly amazing experience and a time we will always look back on fondly.
Fast forward a few years, we knew we would move back to Florida upon completion of our contracts. Living in the Middle East meant, our kids were growing up in a bubble, not neccessarily reflecting "real life". With that knowledge, we also knew we did not want to go back to the same life we had before we left the US. We wanted to make sure we wouldbuild a life worth living and a legathy we can be proud of. At the very least, building up skills and passing on lessons learned, would be worth while
Arriving on our land at the beginning of 2020 was an adventure from the beginning. Though noone was prepared for what other difficulties that same year would throw at the whole world. Of course local restrictions made some things more difficult. We had to homeschool for the first time ever! Due to how remotely we are located, any stores are at least 30-45 minutes away via car. This means logistical planning is an absolute must and days must be planned out. In 2020 that was even more true due to restrictions and time limitations.
Building a small farm from scratch, in the middle of the Florida swamp, comes with it's own challenges. Being remote was something we were actively looking for when we bought the land. It came with it's own challenges, but we were also able to live a very normal life during the pandemic, as we had extremely limited exposure to the general population anyway. Life moved on for us, with or without restrictions and we were living it to our best ability, free as a bird.
We started our first small garden in 2020, added chickens for eggs and goats for milk. We also added livestock guardian dogs. It was a busy year of adding, building, learning and lots of hard work for all of us.
Our kids are an integral part of what we do each day and are actively involved in everything we do. Though they may complain here and there, chores help them stay organized and learn how to deal with responsibility for themselves and others. We wanted to make sure we instill good work ethics from the very beginning.
We have went down many different paths since we moved onto our land. We learned many skills from scratch, through trial and error, we persevered and came out the other side with skills and knowledge gained.
And now, we get to share what we have learned with others!