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Today I welcome Lisa to this space.
Hi! I’m Lisa Lynn. My family and I live on a small homestead in northern Illinois. I graduated with a BFA in Painting and Drawing, and I love photography and writing. I also earned a degree in horticulture and worked in landscape design until I decided to homeschool and homestead full time. Now I have found the perfect medium for all my skills…blogging! I would love to have you visit my blog, The Self Sufficient HomeAcre.
I grew up on a small farm in Western NY, and that lifestyle is still in my blood. I remember planting bean seeds in the garden with Dad and helping Mom measure flour as I stood on a chair at the counter when I was 3. I was making pies and helping prepare meals by the time I was 8 or so. Our family worked together to grow a large garden every year, harvest the bounty and preserve it. Wild foods were also used in our meals.
I remember reading through my Dad’s Mother Earth News and survival guides. In the summer I would forage for wild edibles, finding it fascinating that you could go out in the woods and provide a meal for yourself for free! There were dandelions, broadleaf plantain, wild onions in early spring, and wild strawberries in June. We went fishing and my Dad shot a deer for the freezer most every fall. Our whole family foraged for wild blackberries in July. We canned them by the bucketful for the winter. We put up corn, beans, peas, carrots, and beets from our large garden, along with applesauce and cider from wild apples, and peaches and cherries from the local orchards. Jams and jellies were canned and savored through the winter. Potatoes, onions, and garlic were stored in the cellar.
A great deal of our food was produced on our land. We raised beef cattle until the oil embargo of the ‘70s made hay and grain production too costly. We also kept pigs, chickens, ducks, ponies, and horses. Our meat animals were processed by a local butcher, right next door to Grandma’s house. I’ll never forget the fearful bleating of the animals, then a sad silence. When Dad butchered chickens I caught them and helped pluck. I knew the very real source of our meat and learned to appreciate that a life was taken to provide it. It might sound like a tough life, but I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything.
Nowadays my husband, son, and I make our home on an acre of land in northern Illinois. We moved from a subdivision to this property in 2010 so we could have livestock and a big garden. Since then I have planted apple, pear, peach, cherry, and plum trees. I put in small fruits, such as currants, grapes, blueberries, and raspberries. We also have rhubarb, asparagus, horseradish, and perennial herbs in the garden. Each year I make my garden a little bit bigger. Our garage was originally a horse barn that was converted. We turned part of it into a chicken coop for laying hens and meat birds. They have a large pasture to roam in. I let them outside much of the winter, unless the temps are too cold or there is snow on the ground. We live right across the road from a subdivision and the village. It’s a short walk to the post office and then right back to our humble little homestead.
One of the things I have enjoyed the most since moving to this property is having poultry. There have been some problems with disease and predation, but overall I feel quite proud of my chicken flock. At present, I have over 60 hens. When the young pullets start to lay, I will butcher the older hens for soup or pressure canning for later. I successfully raised turkeys to put in the freezer this fall and I must say that I really enjoyed that. Butchering my own poultry has been a very successful experience too. It’s great to know that it was done as humanely as possible.
I would have to say that the least successful experience was raising rabbits for meat. I raised a lot of rabbits, and I butchered them myself. We ate a lot of rabbits, but we didn’t like the meat as well as poultry. I sold all of my breeding stock, butchered the last young ones, and sold the cages. I also admit that it was harder for me to kill rabbits than to kill chickens. Turkeys were another creature that I had a hard time killing, but we are really enjoying the meat from them, so I will raise them again. I would also like to try raising and processing ducks and geese.
I continue learning new skills for homesteading on a larger scale in the future. In a few years, my husband and I would like to move back to western New York and build a home on a corner of the old family farm. We would have more property to build a barn and raise larger livestock, such as pigs and maybe a dairy cow or some goats. I am already thinking about where to dig a pond and plant an orchard, things we might be able to do before moving. Sustainable energy sources are another part of our plan, and we dream about setting up an education center for people interested in the crafts of homesteading and sustainable energy. Through all of those changes I plan to continue sharing my experiences with the readers on my blog. Homesteading is an adventure that I intend to enjoy to the fullest.