Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Homestead Highlight: Krystyna

 My greatest inspiration in my own backyard farming adventure has been to hear the experiences of others. I invite you to read along here as Homesteaders share their adventures and experiences from their own farms, backyards, and homes.
Want to be featured as a Homestead Highlight? I would love to hear about your experience. For more information follow the link to the information page and share your own homestead here at the Backyard Farming Connection! 
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 Today I welcome Krystyna to this space.

 Marine Corps Veteran, brain surgery survivor and mother of two active boys, Krystyna stays busy helping her husband (and best friend!) with the daily demands of life on the farm. With a family to nurture, food to grow and preserve and animals to raise, there is never a dull moment in her life. Krystyna is a city girl gone country and natural living enthusiast who is passionate about sharing her homesteading experience with others.
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How long have you been backyard farming? What got you started?

My husband has been doing some variation of backyard farming his entire life.  I'm lucky in that sense - he already had some experience when we started venturing in this direction, because I had zero experience with farming or gardening before getting married.  We started years ago, when we first got hitched and were living in Japan.  We both worked full-time in the Marine Corps and had a small apartment, on the top floor, of an apartment in town.  The produce available to us at the local grocery store was extremely expensive and the options at our military base were very poor quality, due to being shipped from the U.S.  We dove into container gardening and set up pots of tomatoes and peppers.  That was over a decade ago, and since then we've continued in our progression over time.  Our first home was a comfortable acre, and we were able to till up a garden and supplement our food purchases.  As the years passed, we moved regularly, due to the military, but always tried to have a small space for herbs, tomatoes or other items easy-to-grow food plants.  It's all paid off, allowing us to learn slowly and improve from our (many) failures.  We are in the middle of a move to a 50+ acre homestead now, to become our "forever" home.

What does your backyard farm look like? Where is it?

Right now, our backyard is in (way) upstate New York, nestled on the Canadian border.  We have just over a handful of acres, some wooded and some clear.  When I look outside, I can see a large barn that my husband built, our livestock guardian dog (LGD), Athena and our goats peering out at us.  I can hear roosters crowing and hens singing as they lay an egg.  A short walk through the woods would let me see the place our pigs spent many months growing before they filled our freezer.  I can see the snow dusted over our old veggie garden, tucked in for the winter. 

If all that doesn't sound (& look) beautiful enough, our forever homestead is in Spring Mountain, Ohio, sandwiched between Columbus and Cleveland.  It's a dreamy 55 acres, perched at the top of a little mountain.  There are lucsious woods for forraging and hiking, a small pond for fishing, a spring and lots of open space for farming and livestock to range.  There are barns and buildings, built my my husband's family, and in just a few months, the rest of our animals will travel to their new home.  And we'll begin building our "forever" home, and continue to cultivate the land.

What has been your biggest success and biggest mistake? 

I believe our biggest success has been a combination of setting reasonable goals combined with self education.  Setting goals that you can reach is important.  Instead of deciding, "I'm going to homestead," one day and going out to purchase a large plot of land, try starting slowly, taking things one step a time.  It's a better way to set yourself up for success and avoid the aggravation of trying to do too much at once.  Education is a key factor in our success as well; we research, research, research.  And when we're done researching, we do some reading (to research).  Reading can similar books or articles can feel redundant when you're trying to learn, but one of the best ways to be prepared is to be educated.  Knowing as much as you can on a subject will help you be more prepared, make less mistakes and be able to react faster.  For example, before we decided to raise goats, we made sure we knew what they required to survive, as well as how to care for them when sick, kidding, etc.  When we had a goat that became ill, we were already prepared to treat her, vice running around frantically trying to figure out what to do.

I think our biggest failure, initially, is not working together as a team.  For a long time, my husband handled the firewood, I was the seamstress and cook, the children had simple chores and schoolwork to work on.  Having separate (and stereotypical) jobs caused us to butt a lot of heads, feel unappreciated and generally didn't accomplish all that was needed.  Recently, we've taken on homesteading as a family experience and it has drastically improved things.  Everyone in our house is now responsible for participating in the daily demands of life.  We can all help with the firewood, even the children can help with cooking, my husband can stitch a ripped seam in a pinch.

What plans do you have for the future?
In the short-term, we will be finishing up our move to our "forever homestead," in Ohio, building a green home (cobb), adding solar, cultivating a spring, and working more land.  And of course, we plan to continue to educate ourselves, and help pass on new knowledge to others wishing to lead a similar lifestyle.


  1. Thank you so much for featuring me (despite my gramatical errors! lol). This was a fun experience & I hope it helps others who are just getting started.

  2. I love all your photos! How exciting that you are moving to your "forever homestead!" I'm sure you will do amazing things on your acreage :)

  3. I loved reading and learning about you, Krystyna! Thanks for sharing this series, Gretchen, it's awesome! :)
    And thanks so much for sharing this at Farm Girl Blog Fest #21!
    ~Kristi@Let This Mind Be in You

  4. Great interview! I love hearing about other homesteaders. :) Thanks for sharing this on The HomeAcre Hop!!! Can't wait to see what you share this coming Thursday :) Here's the super easy link to the next hop!

    If you haven't checked out Wildcrafing Wednesday yet, please do! :) It's a hop I co-host for herbal remedies, natural living, real food recipes, and self sufficient living. Here's the link for tomorrow's hop: