Behind the Scenes at The Prairie Homestead: Keepin’ it Real

Dogs. Kids. And random farm animals running around everywhere.

Dogs. Kids. And random farm animals running around everywhere.

Every once and a while, I have someone tell me that they think I’m intimidating…

I always end up staring at them with a completely clueless look and I never know just how to respond.

Because let’s face it– I know myself. And I KNOW that there is nothing to be intimidated about. ;)

Yes, I am 5’11″, but I am also kind of a dork…

I make a lot of mistakes, and try-as-I-might to satisfy my annoying perfectionist tendencies, I always seem to fall short.

Even if I do give off an “intimidating” aura, I don’t mean to– promise.

I’m not the perfect homesteader in the slightest. And even though I might write a “homesteading blog,” I don’t claim to have it all figured out. I’m learning along with everyone else.

I have this secret fear that someday a random blog reader will drop by my homestead unannounced and ask for a tour and they will end up being horribly disappointed.

So, to prevent that from ever happening, I’m laying it all on table today.

(And please tell me I’m not the only one whose life is like this…*wink*)

Behind the Scenes at The Prairie Homestead

1. I milk my cow from the wrong side. Yes, while everyone else in the universe milks from the right side, I do it from the left. I blame it on being a horseperson. (Handling of horses is done from the left…)

2. I always wear a long, flowing white skirt and have my hair neatly braided while at home. <— Yeah Right! I wear old t-shirt and jeans embellished with all-manner of animal slobber while working around the homestead. And my hair…. let’s not even go there.

3. I love a clean house. I crave a clean house. But alas, my house is not always clean. Sometimes I feel like I’m opperating in triage mode, and the outside stuff usually wins.

4. Mopping. *cue hysterical laughter* Maybe once a month… but only if there is company coming over. And I usually completely give up on the mud room floor during the muddy months.

2012's weed patch

2012′s weed patch

5. I think I’m the world’s worse gardener… Animal husbandry is more of my thing…

6. I have no patience for growing flowers. I start off with good intentions, but usually let them die by July.

7. Watering…. oh how I hate thee. Last year we had a drought, and I completely GAVE-UP by August. Yes, I let the potted plants die a slow miserable death on my deck while I watched.

8. Sometimes I use white flour when I bake. It’s true.

Trash piles... Lots of trash piles...

Trash piles… Lots of trash piles…

9. Our homestead is/was a fixer-upper. It’s stil a work in progress. It was loaded with trash when we bought it, and there have been perpetual trash piles ever since as we gradually clean things up. I dream of the day when we are trash-pile-free…

10. I love my dogs, but they bark too much. And our newest dog just ate a 3′ foot chunk of my mudroom door molding.

11. I couldn’t sew a garment, knit a sock, or crochet a… (eh, what exactly do you crochet?) if my life depended on it.

I wouldn't dream of letting a dog up on the furniture...

I wouldn’t dream of letting a dog up on the furniture…

12. Sometimes I forget to collect the eggs.

13. I don’t milk twice a day. Heck, sometimes I don’t even milk once a day… If we are busy, I’ll leave the calf on for 24 hours.

14. When we have fresh milk, I love to make raw, cultured butter. But when the cow is dry, I buy non-organic butter. Shocking, I know.

15. I have no lawn… Well, I guess I do sometimes, but not with our current drought… It’s bare dirt right now. But at least I don’t have to mow.

There you have it– all my dirty laundry just got hung up on the clothesline.

I hope this list won’t give any of you nightmares. ;) I figure by now, you are either nodding your head in agreement, or running for the “unsubscribe” button.

So if you ever happen to swing by, expect to see me wearing jeans flecked with cow manure, while hollering at my dogs and trying to figure out how to push the baby stroller and the wheelbarrow at the same time.

It’s a messy, crazy, chaotic life. But I sure do love it.


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Jill Winger

Owner/Blogger at The Prairie Homestead
Hey! I'm Jill. I'm all about cooking from scratch, getting dirt under my fingernails, hoarding mason jars, and trying not to kill stuff in my garden. I firmly believe that anyone can be a homesteader. Stick around, and I'll show ya the ropes!

Latest posts by Jill Winger (see all)

Comments

  1. Darlene says:

    Ah,real life…I loveit!! :-)

  2. The adventure is in the living!! Real life.

  3. I’m a new stalker, I mean reader *lol*, and I truly enjoy your sense of freedom – it’s hard being a blogger and really feeling like you can put it all out there. Transparency is something I try and practice, though sometimes I think it might be frightening to some :)

  4. Carole Cannon says:

    Love it! You sound perfectly normal to me.

  5. I Think We’re Neighbors !!!

  6. Shannon says:

    Thank goodness for real life!

  7. Shannon says:

    PS, and for helping the rest of us not feel like failures. ;o)

  8. Janice MacRossin says:

    Not perfect? join the rest of us! :)

  9. Thanks for sharing. I sometimes dread pop-ins, too, as it always happens on the days I’m stil in my garish hot-pink flannel sheep pajamas, under my overalls, so if someone comes in the house I either have to entertain in my insulated overalls, or reveal that yes, I am still in my pajamas, and yes, they are garish and hot pink with white and black sheep. And then there are the stalls I might not have mucked yet. And the dog poop in the yard.
    It’s not always beautiful having the beautiful life :-) Cheers!
    -Tammy

    • Oh the dog poop… ALWAYS dog poop!

      • Oh I love your news letter, your site, and your openness about things.
        I was wondering what kind of dogs do you have? and the picture of the brindle one sleeping on the couch, is that a mastiff? I love those dogs, I had a bull mastiff for 10 years and she passed last year. She lived in the house. Thank you.

        • Yes! She is a South African Mastiff. We got in her December- totally in love with the Mastiff breed now! :) The dog in the first picture was our Blue Heeler, Slater, who passed away last year. We still have one other Blue Heeler as well.

  10. I have enjoyed your site for some time….and now I like you even more. It impresses me greatly when a blogger is honest about their lives, non-organic butter and all!

  11. Christine says:

    Love it! Now, I feel more normal. ;)

  12. Norma Hidalgo says:

    Thank you for the information! Sure helps me. Never was the world’s greatest houskeeper but now I have found other things to occupy my time. I liked the part about never mopping unless company was coming. i can relate. I milk my goats from the left side did not know it mattered.

  13. Thank you for being real, transparent, and honest! I respect you even more now than ever and your credibility rating just shot-up! We need more bloggers to be this real! The best of God’s blessings to you!

  14. I think we are sisters and live on the same “hobby farm!”. Glad to hear that someone else forgets the eggs once in a while!!! Love to read your blog!!!! Happy farming my friend;)

  15. Amen Sistah!
    Homesteading is neither neat or perfect, and life isn’t either. Fullness in living comes in embracing it all…the good, bad, ugly, poopy, muddy, beautiful life. Here’s to embracing it all!!!!
    Blessings~ Wendy

  16. Wow… you STILL have it more together than me!

  17. You made me feel so much better! Thank you so very much !! I spend entirely too much mental time berating myself for not having everything done and tidy.

  18. I’ve had to deal with this a lot this week. We just moved to our homestead, and we built from scratch. So we have no landscaping and a lot of mud. No livestock yet, but four little doggies who like to be on the couch. Yesterday while “cleaning” (ha) I discovered lots of dried mud on my sofa. I never thought that would happen to me. But when you are gardening, canning, and then trying to keep up the momentum of laundry and meals, you just have to prioritize and let some things go. :/

  19. Love your blog, wish I could get mine going and keep it going lol. Love the homesteading life also and wouldn’t change it for anything, even if it did mean having a clean house lol!

  20. Jennifer says:

    I feel better now (phew) :)

  21. I am right there with you girl! It is nice and refreshing to ‘see’ the life on your homestead. It can definitely be romanticized and it can definitely be messy and dirty. I love living on our farm and when we bought it, it was covered in trash piles too. We are a work in progress as well and keep up the good work!

  22. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!! Almost 14 years ago, this city girl married a farm boy and while I have learned so much and continue to learn…my vices get the better of me! I have learned to garden, can, work with horses, cows, chickens and pigs. My house is always a mess – we are home 24/7( we home school and I have a business from home), there are months that I don’t leave the property, we went from living on the outskirts of town to a 25 acre homestead, to now we have control over the attached 151 acres too. While I blog about the chaos in our lives, it sure helps to read about someone else who is real, and doesn’t always get everything done!

  23. Sounds pretty much like our homestead. Thank you for this post. I now feel normal for having a few trash piles, using regular butter, white flour, and having a not-totally-clean house. :)

  24. Good to know- and ditto to all of the above, minus the dogs and replace with bunnies. Oh, and thankfully in the east coast we have plenty of grass. That always makes us feel like things are “prettier” around here, but so much mowing!!!

  25. Great post! Sounds exactly like me at our attempt at a homestead :)

  26. I tried to send via email, maybe all need this info??? Sorry so long.
    Hi Jill,

    My name is Wendy and I found your blog a few weeks back. I checked out a bulk of your posts and chose to follow because of the many things we have in common. You have many more things accomplished than I do and I love your input, suggestions, and style.

    My family is in the beginning stages of homesteading. I live in the Midwest and suffered the drought just as you did. But, I have something for you that I felt I needed to share. Six years ago I started my garden here in SAND country. I also live in Amish country so if they can do it, I should be able to do it…right? Wrong!

    Five years of failed gardens I had resigned myself to planning and saving for raised garden beds. A friend of mine stopped over one night and wanted to know my plans, as I explained she shook her head and then told me I needed to watch a video before sticking my money into raised beds.
    I watched that movie with my husband the whole time face palming it! I couldn’t believe that WE couldn’t figure that out, the answer has been in front of us all our lives and we couldn’t put two and two together.

    So in writing you, after reading all your posts about the drought and how it affected you I felt I needed to share this with you.

    http://www.backtoedefilm.com

    The movie is at this site, FREE! My husband and I did this last year and never got a drop of rain the entire summer. Our temps were anywhere between 105 – 110, which was so unusual for us. Because I was used to failed gardens we chose to leave this one completely experimental. Jill, it was a miracle and because it came straight from the bible I didn’t expect anything less. Here is our summary of our experiment with the Back to Eden Garden….

    NO WEEDS! I used to spend hours frying in the sun to rid my garden of weeds only to eventually give up because I couldn’t keep up and/or the fruit was proofing to be bad.

    NO WATERING! Seriously, I watered twice in that ugly drought, and you know how bad it was. I don’t even know if you can technically call it watering…..I just wet the top enough to make it look wet. Experiment, at that point I didn’t care if it didn’t survive, I needed to find out first if it would be successful and second how hardy it would be if I left it to FAITH!

    Jill, my tomato plants were 5’7″ tall. The fruit was so plentiful the cages, stakes &rope I used couldn’t hold them up. Everything was greener than green, my tomatoes were beautiful! No black, pussy dripping yuck! . I literally put in my garden and ignored it until harvest time came……I actually HAD something to harvest!

    I know this seems unbelievable but all it’s material came straight from the Bible. It really showed us, but mostly my husband how successful God is in our lives. As a new young mother this would be a huge time saver for you and your family yet assure your production for food preservation for your family.

    I hope you will check it out.

    My best wishes to you and your family Jill,

    God Bless,

    Wendy

    Sent from my iPad

    • Sherry H. says:

      I watched that film also…and am going to try a modified version of it. I am using triple shredded wood chips. I hope it works…it does make a lot of sense…..last year my whole garden died.

      • Hi Sherry,
        My chips were too big and all pine, which I know he said NOT to do, but in my neck of the woods….that is literally about all we have. I am hoping to find better wood chips this year. Just know that it still worked. Trust me, it shouldn’t have worked for the conditions and lack of care I was giving it……but it did.
        Good Luck to you!

    • I watched that film last winter and HAD to try it on my 4 raised beds. After praying about how to get wood chips, a truck showed up on my street chipping trees from under the power lines! They were more than happy to dump 4 loads in my yard for free. I used up 3 of them last summer, all with a wheelbarrow. My tomatoes usually need a ton of watering everyday..like a full watering can EACH (good thing I only had 8). That summer I had 16 and watered them maybe once a week! They did amazing! I tell everyone about using wood chips now because they work so well! BTW, I loved this blog post cause I can SO relate. People are constantly intimidated by me and think I do everything. Yeah, except for keeping my floor clean, keeping my dog from barking at the horses, keeping my kid’s fingernails clipped and clean, keeping the grass in my pathetic yard from dying, collecting eggs more than once or twice a week, keeping the horse pen manure-free…there’s more. I use white flour and even sugar sometimes. I never make smoothies. I use canned tomatoes and tomato sauce. I never do my hair other than a quick ponytail. I never “work out”. Ha! Cleaning the cow pen is enough of a workout for me, and that’s just one chore! We could so be best friends.

    • Graciela says:

      Dear Wendy: thank you so much for sharing that film with us! I watched the first 13 minutes of it and I had to stop and come back to thank you! It is so true what that farmer says we complicate everything because we forgot to look around and see how God creates effortlessly, the same way we are supposed to live.

      Truly, a very inspiring film and it’s only been 13 minutes of it. Can’t wait to watch the rest!

      God bless you!!!!!

      • Oh my goodness, you are so welcome. God Bless you too!
        I just want to add a couple of things that others have said that we introduced to this gardening. One friend wanted to skip the newspaper…DON’T DO THIS….the newspaper is exactly what rids the garden of the weeds. I , also last year put plastic down in my flower garden….didn’t work, by the end of summer, all the weeds poked through. So this year I will be doing the Back to Eden garden for my flowers as well, we have bees, so I like to keep them “fed”….naturally. : )
        Tip on newspaper….if you have a newspaper facility near you, they may sell newspaper on the rolls that never were processed and put out. This makes it so easy to put down, compared to the hours I invested in laying down pieced papers….the wind was not my friend. A friend of mine went into the bigger city closest to us and they sold them a huge roll for only $1.00.
        Have faith! And be ready to CAN!!!!
        Blessings!
        Wendy

    • Yes! I have watched Back to Eden and I LOVE the concept! I need to watch it again, actually. I plan on implementing some of the ideas in my garden this year. I know that ANYTHING would be better than last year’s results! And I love that it’s following God’s natural design of things too. Thanks SO much for your comment Wendy!

    • Wendy, you beat me to it!

      I think most counties have a freecycle bulletin board type of thing online, where people can advertise if they have things like free manure (Probably not a rare commodity on a farm, though, but people in the Seattle/King County area might find this type of a list useful http://www.kingcd.org/programs-farm-manure.htm *wink* ) or a surplus of wood chips. As the video points out, too (the how to is on the website, too) you can use grass clippings, fall leaves, anything that will create groundcover, even pebbles, so don’t be afraid of experimenting.

      Because of my husband’s IT job, we currently live in the rainy Pacific Northwest, so we didn’t get nearly as badly hit by the drought, however, if I have my way some day in the future, we’d live somewhere east of the Cascades, where you can get a ranch for the price of a two bedroom condo in Seattle. Of course, that side of the mountains is dry country, and being able to have a lush garden that does well without irrigation will help a lot.

  27. Fernanda says:

    Thank you – I am not alone! Lol and I don’t even have farm animals to deal with. You made me smile!

  28. I’m so very excited to find out that I’m not the only Homesteader who’s house isn’t always pristine, floors aren’t shiny, and occasionally doesn’t get to milking. I’m PRAYING that I an be dedicated to watering, but this is our first growing season, we’ll see!! Thank you for letting me know that I’m not alone, and that my plan of just “winging it” might just get the job done!!

  29. Ah, yes… so much of this sounds familiar! I appreciated your honesty so much, in fact, that I decided to write my own “dirty laundry” post this morning. http://jules138.blogspot.com/2013/04/confessions-of-modern-homesteader.html Thanks for your inspiration!

  30. Sue in NC says:

    Oh hurray, I am not alone!. And I only have a teeny tiny plot of land.If you wee a little (ok a lot) closer I’d gladly take your trash pile though, or at least part of it, I really need some roofing for my new rabbit shed. : )

  31. Larissa says:

    This is so true. I have a small homestead and am often told I’m living the dream. Just come over unannounced, you will find me in sweat pants & a t-shirt looking like I just rolled out of bed at 4 in the afternoon with last nights dishes still in the sink. We can’t do it all its just an illusion. :)

  32. Sherry H. says:

    Love this….I only have 3 acres…but I have trouble keeping up with it since I work full time…Oh how I would love to be home and working around the house. So much more rewarding…..maybe someday.

  33. I really enjoyed your post today…I feel the same way about several of those items you listed, especially the floors :)

  34. Amen! Thank you for sharing that post, and it came at a perfect time! We are just starting our second year on our little homestead and there are times it sure feels like we haven’t acheived much and aren’t getting anywhere fast. We are the first ones in our circle of family and friends to leave the city and try this homestead thing (some of them think we are crazy). So with many friends and family coming for a graduation it is overwhelming to think of all the things we need to have done to make this place “presentable.” Thank you for making me feel like I’m a failure if the house isn’t spotless, and there isn’t green grass with an English flower garden, chirping birds, butterflies, and a disney theme song in the background greating our guests as they arrive.

  35. What a coincidence! I wrote about this last week and it has been one of my most popular posts! I think people felt the honesty and identified with it. Our farm is the only income we have right now. As a business person, I’m constantly selling our vegetables, and in turn, ourselves. I have to say and believe “we’re the best!” Well when things don’t go well, like this crazy year (http://lastunasfarm.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/never-count-your-chickens-before-they-hatch/) I started to feel like I was lying to everyone and that we are failures! The support I got from being honest was incredible. Just like you said, we have a lot to learn and we just do the best we can!

  36. Leslie Edgemon says:

    Your post is so endearing, funny, and COMFORTING! You have made me feel so much better about this perfectly imperfect farm I live on. Thank you for your honesty and humor! One of my favorite blogs!

  37. Yes, yes, yes. I try to “do it all” and fail frequently. But, I keep trying and that’s what matters. Sometimes, the weeds even take over in the garden. I do crochet…blankets and scarves. That’s all I know how to make and I think my kid is tired of getting scarves. :D

  38. Cyndi Davis says:

    Your living my life! I’ve always liked your blog because you say whats on your mind and your not afraid to drop a ‘bomb’. You keep me laughing. Your real. The intimidating reference reminds me of my sister. She doesn’t know she’s doing it either. I get it :) When is your birhday? Are you by chance a Gemini too? If I’m letting the chickens out, I’m in my pajamas. I don’t have kids anymore, but if I can persuade my husband, I have dogs everywhere! I love animals. Especially in the summer, I’d rather be running around with manure on my jeans than in front of the TV. Keep up the good work.

  39. I am the perpetual perfectionist who usually falls short….I am also an over committed, control freak . Farming has thought me to prioritize, to take things as they come, and that no one notices the little stuff I don’t do except me….I love that you are honest and it makes me feel like i am not alone.

    happy farming

    • Yes, if I’ve learned anything from homestead life, it’s that it is NOT gonna be perfect. But I suppose that’s good for me to figure out. ;)

  40. Sounds like I’d be right at home :)

  41. Love it — Love it!! I just came in from milking my ND goats, took off my camo coveralls ( oh, and Tammy , I have my hot pink with white polar bear flannel PJs on underneath) and read through all the responses. So great to see there are actually people out there “like me” !! I live in the delta of Arkansas!! WET does not even describe our weather!! Raised beds are our salvation. We can plant when other people cant even step in their garden!

  42. Looks like we have a big ole “bonding” moment among us homesteaders! Nice to just “show the ugly side” now and then. I’ll even add that some days on the farm you end up taking 3 showers a day, some weeks I haven’t got 3 all week – that’s what ponytails are for! I was so excited getting to our 2.5 acres and adding goats, chickens, garden, orchard, etc. over a year ago. I was still trying to keep up with our homeschool friends from the city, it took a year, but we have finally decided to do what WE NEED to do here and not worry about everyone else. We have milking twice a day and bottle babies 3 times a day and that’s how it is in the spring, and instead of “spring cleaning” our house gets worse this time of year, and DON”T stop without warning…….or we may just have to talk outside.

  43. Ahhhhhhh! A good, honest dose of REALITY! Thank you for being human…(especially about the floor mopping part… I’ll sure keep THAT in the back of my mind…..LOL! And,….. What is “dusting”?)

  44. OMG, your homestead sounds exactly like our homestead—minus the goats, cows and pigs—but were working towards that, LOL! My dogs bark too much as well, I’m sick of chicken poop on my porch–but I love my chickens–our home is a fixer upper built in 1865 and we have what hubby calls “useful junk” all over the place! Although, to his credit, he does usually find a way to use most of it. I have to get outside this weekend and start weeding the garden that was taken over last August—isn’t it amazing how during a drought all your prized veggies die—yet the super weeds can still grow like crazy and take over everything??!! That’s where I left things last August—so now I have to clear out the super weeds and try again.

  45. Our fam lives in Ohio, so gardening has been pretty easy, we just poke a seed in the ground & watch it grow… but, this past summer, I did water frequently, but hated doing it!!! I am totally going to watch the back-to-eden-film!!! thx for the post! We just moved to our dream house in the country last yr, so we are just beginning to homestead!!!! yay!!! I am currently talking my darling husband into must making our chicken coop out of stuff we have lying around!!! Next week is supossed to be in the 60′s everyday so…. can’t wait to buy our chicks!!!! I just know I am going to love chickens!!! Next yr we are installing a wood stove and buying a couple of nubian dairy goats!!! I am laughing….. I have 3 grown man-cubs that are leaving my nest (there goes our help!) and 2 ity-bity’s left at home, we homeschool and I work 3 hrs in town every morning, so my home is crazy, but I absolutely love it!!!! I love this blog! This post has been so refreshingly funny!!!

  46. I love you even more. :-)

  47. Graciela says:

    Thank you Jill for keepin’ it real! I am so tired of the fake “white picket fence”, perfect house, perfect wife, perfect garden…. Nature is messy! we are part of nature and messy can be beautiful as long as at the end of the day we can say: Love is what’s driving my life. Love for nature, love for ourselves, love for our family, love for our neighbors….Love for life!

    Messy is beautiful! :)

    God bless you!

  48. Right there with you on the fixer upper thing I want it to be cleaned up too here we always have some kind of new project going on here. My husband is always dragging something home he might get some use from I end up using it more than him in my projects and they are pretty big ones when I get my mind set lol! We will be making a big dent this year for sure though that is a promise! I won’t complain if we come off with freebies along the way those things are really put to good use. We are building a green house with someones old windows this spring and Pallets are my best friend right now for my outdoors living area! I can always find something I can use out of it all. I wish you the best there :)

  49. What?? You aren’t super-woman??!! Actually, I know from whence you came and no one in our family – or rather NO ONE can do it all perfectly all the time. It’s impossible. I love your “real life get’s in the way” admissions and down-to-earthness. Still, you have inspired me and thousands of others. Keep it up!!!! I I love reading your blog!!!

  50. Thank you for being real and not perfect! You are an inspiration, really! I live on a farm, we have horses and I have poultry… notice the, I, part because they were my idea and I don’t think my hubby would be caught dead in the chicken coop, lol. I decided to take the plung and buy a couple goats for milking, I emailed the breeder today, so excited. I have 2 little girls, 3.5 and 2 years, and there are days I skip collecting eggs too, especially if I know their auto feeder and waterer is full, lol. Just last month I decided to go more organic and start eating real foods instead of so much processed foods. I thought it would be so hard, but I have just replaced one thing at a time and I am feeling so much better, physically and mentally!
    Thanks so much for sharing your world with us out in the blogosphere!
    Kelsey

    • You are welcome Kelsey– it’s all about the baby steps, huh? ;)

    • Denise Smith says:

      Its so good to hear other people are like me. I just got chickens and my husband said “this is you thing not mine”. I would love to get goats to milk but first I have to sale my house and get a place with a little more land. My husband thinks I”ve gone crazy. (He’s a city boy and I was a country girl who when city girl and now want to return to my country girl roots). I too am trying to eat more fresh and raw and less processed food.

      • Denise Smith says:

        Wow, Major type-O’s. Sorry, I meant to type “your thing” and “who went city girl” and “now wants to return”

  51. Sounds about right. :) I think it’s funny that people hold others up to such a high, impossible standard. Like just because we blog, we’re perfect or something.
    That’s so not true!! Most days if I get dishes and a few loads of laundry done, I feel like a champion. Mopping isn’t even on the radar most weeks. (months?) lol
    Thanks for being real about your life!

  52. christina taylor says:

    I fully agree nothing is ever completely finished always new projects and I find it refreshing that out on the clothesline is where most of us are. There are no perfect pictures only works in progress. We all have our own way and sometimes are able to get help or ideas from others that make it a bit easier. I warn you now if you ever pull up to our homestead wear white if you dare but be prepared to be loved on made dirty and even maybe put to work if you visit ; )

  53. Thanks, you made my day! Love it, and so nodding in agreement!

  54. I had to laugh at some of the things you said, like milking from the wrong side! I didn’t know there was a *right* side to milk from!! I have always milked from the left, cause that’s how our headcatch is set up! Ha! Also, I had a gal from church ask me last week if I make EVERYTHING from scratch! I had to laugh and tell her that, no, we have boxed and store-bought canned goods, too!! Thanks for the honesty and sharing with us…you are NOT alone!!!

    • Hehe– I didn’t know I was milking from the wrong side for a long time either, lol :)

      • There for a minute, I thought you were talking about us. The only time I milk twice a day is after the calf is gone, IF it isn’t too close to her next due date and I milk from whatever side she decides to let me get to (our cow is the boss and she knows it). lol. I may have a mop somewhere, can’t remember–it’s probably next to the broom. Fireants get into the compost pile, so I don’t use it to start my seeds (peat discs are great). There is always too much of something to get it all canned, but the cows and chickens don’t mind being garbage disposals (right now, we don’t have any pigs to take on this chore). Jobs tend to take more time than they should because if something doesn’t need to be fixed before you begin, then something breaks after you get started and you have to stop and fix it before finishing the task. An early frost got most of the winter greens when they were too young to bounce back. Sometimes I have to use a saw to cut the root shoots from around the fruit trees because I they grew too much before I found that “round-to-it” button. I can’t imagine living any other way!

  55. I love that you are able to write about it. I fell less alone in what we live because you are brave enough to ‘publish’ it. We were weird to all our friends and some family. I do everything backwards and not so simple. I nodded at every line and pray for you always because you are beginning, training up your children. This is the life ~ a peaceful life ~ because we know we can do it.
    Thank you for this wonderful blog!

  56. Tammy Maynard says:

    Bwaahaahaa!! A real life homesteader is what I would call you!! I’m the same way and happy to know that there are more of me out there! Love this life. :)

  57. I think I’ll start referring to you as my “sister from another mister” :p Your homestead sounds very, very similar to my own! I sometimes hate to look around the place we’ve lived on for four years now and STILL see trash piles! ARG! I told my DH that THIS IS THE YEAR it is ALL GONE. Of course, I say that every year and every year we find something else that is more important than ensuring ALL the junk is gone (though the mess does get smaller and smaller).

    What breed of hogs do you have? Spotted? We have been educating ourselves on hogs; we settled for some Herefords from Nebraska :-) We’ll get them at the end of summer! Cannot wait!

  58. Your “Junk” piles look more like treasure piles to me. I love building things for the chickens, and the garden out of junk. You live a blessed life :)

  59. Catherine McKaskey says:

    My Dog Gets.On The Couch When We Are Not Looking And Slithers Off When She Hears Me….Your “Trash” Pile Are Just ” Work In Progress” And Leave The Vacuum Cleaner Plugged In By The Door So If You Have Unexpected Guests You Can Let Them Use Their Imagination To Think You Were Interrupted In Your Cleaning….I Love To Read Your Blog. We Just Sold Our “Farm” House ( But Really An Old SHouse In The Middle Of The City With An Acre To Mow) And I Miss My Chicken….They Were adopted , Coop And All Out Inthe “ReaL”Country And Still Lay Their eggs Faithfully…..

  60. OMG!!! I love this! I feel so much better now about how I do things around here! (take that mom and mother in law!!!) There is no “perfect” homestead! And that’s okay as long as it works and makes us happy!!!

  61. Love it! True life on a farm. When I first moved to my husbands family ranch, I HATED the trash everywhere! When I asked when they were going to clean it up….I just got a perplexed look. “What? You mean the salvage yard?” Five years later, that “trash” is now my chicken pen, dog kennel, flower boxes, etc.!

  62. Denise Smith says:

    Be comfortable with who you are and never feel like you have to explain yourself to anybody. Most people know that nobody is perfect. When I read your blog that it all started with a compost pile and then chickens, I said “that is me” and now I have some chicks to hopefully get eggs. I would love to get some land and have some animals, it is my dream and my goal. I wish I lived closer so I could see your place and gets ideas and suggestions.

  63. You get so many responses, I know you are swamped. I just want to say, as one farmsteader to another, I hear you. I love the way you said it. I’ve quoted you and directed others to read this today. It’s funny and it’s true. I don’t often get to feel very accomplished, because I’m new at this and it’s a lot to learn, but sometimes we have a good day, and make the kids laugh, and that about does it for me. I love your blog. Thank you.

  64. Love it!

    #2 is a farm safety no-no anyway! Long flowy skirts= Let’s get caught in farm machinery, caught on fencing and tangle you up, stepped on by livestock.
    #3Mopping… we farm and do NOT have a mudroom… you can imagine the manure on my kitchen floors with 6 of us. Shark Steam Mop= Best invention ever.
    And I milk our cow on both sides… her bag is so dang low and she milks so weird so I milk two and two. Our other cow that should be coming fresh anyday, is able to have her 4 teats milked at the same time. I’m going to have to learn how to do it normally!

    ANYWAY, sometimes I think of our great-great grandmas and go, “They must think we are CRAZY sometimes by not taking advantage of some of our modern day advantages…” It makes me feel better when I have to buy an emergency loaf of bread or use disposable diapers in the daytime (we usually only use at night and cloth in the day) and stuff like that.

    • Oooh.. that steam mop sounds fascinating! ;) And yes… emergency loaves of bread or packages of disposable diapers are just fine during those busy seasons! ;)

  65. Jessica says:

    I love your blog, and I love the fact that you aren’t perfect:)

  66. Thanks for making me feel better about my efforts. I love reading the blog, get lots of ideas, try some. intend to try more, but you know how that goes……

  67. I enjoyed this. When I find out someone’s coming over on short notice, I quickly vacuum the living room…because it always needs it. Then I scuff my feet around on the carpet to get rid of the vacuum marks so it doesn’t LOOK like I just vacuumed. And my loveseat has become my dog’s personal bed. Sometimes I think I shouldn’t let him, but he just looks so comfortable.

  68. Hello from the other side of the world! Glad your prairie chaos is so similar to mine here in Australia. Especially your trash piles ;)

  69. Just got my subscription and read about you…lol. I think I know and love you already! Your place sounds like my place…floor mopping, plants dying etc. A woman after me own heart. Looking forward to more. Thanks for the giggles…Moe

  70. Wonderful. I too am 5’11″ and a red head, I’ve been told the combo. Is intimidating. Ha. Also, I tend to have a Midwestern “I can do anything and I don’t need help” attitude.
    Very nice post and the reactions are great. Thanks so much.
    Not everyone understands this lifestyle.

  71. Having had people attempt to be, erm, constructively critical? of my flour and butter habits (to my face, not even on my blog!) it’s actually a comfort to read that you use both white flour and conventional butter.

    And don’t even get me started on my kitchen floor.

    (Also, I get intimidating. I’ve even gotten terrifying-apparently knitters/canners/spinners are a scary bunch.)

    • Wow– I can’t imagine people criticizing your choice of ingredients to your face– that takes a lot of nerve! Yes, I am NOT a perfect eater– there is no shame in non-organic butter sometimes. ;)

  72. I have to admit…I am one who is intimated by you :O) Not of your perfection, but of your shear determination & now honesty. You are taking your dream at all (most) costs & sacrifices. Good job.

  73. Thank you for all the stuff you teach. I think you admitting everything isn’t like a farm fantasy makes everyone feel a lot better. I know in my own homesteading adventure I feel like a juggeler trying to keep a whole bunch of plates spinning at once. And most all isn’t it cool to hire your cows calf to do milking chores. I do that too and I couldn’t ask for more highly expert reliable help. Lol

  74. Definitely nodding my head in agreement! Thank you for sharing this. It’s too easy to portray the homesteading life in only the brightest of lights and most people in internet land don’t see the bad and the ugly. We’re all human and we get by the best we can, even if it’s not living an idealistic fairytale! I love your honesty and anyone worth their while will stick around for it as well!

  75. I just found your wonderful blog and I am fascinated with everything about it! I was starting to think life was one big, ridiculous reality t.v. show and was wondering where all the creative and self-sufficient people might have gone off to. We recently moved from the bustling Bay Area, CA to five acres in northwest WA. I cook mostly everything from scratch and since our move we rarely eat at restaurants. I never liked the malls and prefer to spend my time creating by way of sewing/quilting, wildlife & landscape photography, knitting, and home DIY projects. Your blog has reinspired my wish to learn to can and to hone my gardening skills! Thank you.

  76. Oh, the smile this brings! I sometimes worry that visitors would be disappointed too, but there’s truth in that too! It’s your perspective that gives your life value, not your image. My husband and I agreed to be more self-forgiving about the house in the busy warm months and just to focus on our two main rooms (living room and kitchen/dining room) and I can’t even keep up with THOSE floors! Who has time to mop when there’s animals to be fed, bedding to be cleaned, water to fill, veggies to gathered…new grass and wildflowers and baby bluebirds to watch grow?!

  77. Hi Jill – Been following your blog for about a year now since I retired and moved from city life in a condo in Denver to a manufactured home on 13 acres in Mid-Missouri. Sometimes I wonder if I did the right thing, and then the snow melts and the grass turns green and the trees start to bloom and the smell is so perfect and I can’t wait to get started all over again on my “projects” and I wouldn’t trade it for the world! Also wanted to thank you for the great blog today — makes you all the more human! But the main reason I decided to speak up today is because you should know that I have been making your spicy refried bean recipe (with milk) ever since I first saw it and it is the absolute best!!!! I had been meaning to write and say “thank you” and today seemed like the right time to do it!

  78. I think you are my new favorite blogger. :D

  79. I think we have the same dog! except ours is a blonde brindle! what kind is the one on the couch!?
    Thank you for being so honest, this has totally been one of my favourite posts for awhile only because I can relate so much to it. It’s amazing how pictures of your life and home in the blogging world aren’t always a reflection of what really goes on. I have friends that come over and go your house is so much messier than your blog! yep. I have a 6 month old and a 3 year old and 2 dirty mutts. it happens.
    I am very intrigued by this Garden of Eden I will have to look into it. It sounds very permaculture like, which we are trying to do in our garden. I’ve almost given up on rows entirely and mostly grow via polyculture.

    LOVE your blog. it was actually the first homesteading blog I ever came across.

  80. there is nothing like a bit of truth to make one feel better about the way THEY live their lives. i feel your “pain.” as the wife of a farmer (and i am careful to say i MARRIED the farmer, i am NOT the farmer myself) the one thing people always seem amazed when they visit is the amount of dirt generated by farmers! lots to learn about the dream of farming and the reality…thanks for sharing your TRUE story…inquiring minds want to know! well done you.

  81. Katrina Tholen says:

    Have you ever considered babywearing? Yes like the Nat Geo pictures you see of mothers who are farming with babies on their back. I can’t imagine pushing a stroller and wheelbarrow at the same time! I still wear my 29 lb 2 year old to keep her out of trouble in the garden.

    • Yes- I actually have a Moby Wrap, but I’ve never been very good at using it! When I’m outside, it seems like I’m always bending over (weeding, watering, cleaning pens), which is pretty hard with a baby. Although maybe I’m just not using it correctly. ;)

      • Katrina Tholen says:

        You might want to try a soft structured carrier (like ergo, boba, beco) if baby can sit up. Because then you could wear baby high up on your back. A moby isn’t structured for back carries. The wrapping is tough to get down. That is why I got a k’tan. It has two loops of stretchy material that you manipulate over your head. Much easier to learn in my opinion. Babywearing is the only way I get stuff done.

  82. Just read this and i have to say first off, I love your dog! At this very moment I am barely sitting on the edge of the recliner because our big dog jumped up here and went to sleep, pushing me over and over and over, until she was nice and comfy. The puppy is on the other recliner nice and comfy. So, I am so appreciative of your openness (?) with regard to your homestead. My garden is about 4 feet of weeds, for the 2nd year in a row, and I also kill plants. :) Living “real life” is the best life to live. I thoroughly enjoy your blog and you truly encourage me to keep going. Thanks Jill! :)

  83. I love that you admit all this. We all struggle to keep up with every day life. Thank you for taking time out of yours to share with us. Love your blog

  84. Best. Post. Ever. I think the thing I relate to with the most gratitude might be the trash pile. There is ALWAYS junk around that doesn’t belong anywhere but can’t quite be thrown away. I’m so glad to know that this doesn’t just happen in our yard!

  85. Yup, that sounds like home! The way I see it, chaos is only truly bad if it’s not a joyful chaos!

  86. You have no idea how happy I was to read this! I’m a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom of four (in a pre-child life I was a professional dog trainer in MD with a BA in business and English), who valiantly tries to run a diversified livestock operation in the midst of the chaos. We live in New York (the real upstate – as in, the Adirondack Mtns) and our grass and weeds never stop growing, the yard always needs the trash removed (I swear the piles of leftover building projects grow on their own), my flower and veggie gardens get weeded once a year (I start out with marvelous intentions every spring), and it seems that every day I find another animal species has figured out how to escape (We have 4 horses, 5 meat goats, 14 pigs, 50 or so chickens, 25 meat chickens, 1 turkey, 10 or so ducks, a heifer, 2 alpacas, meat rabbits, and 2 pigeons. In our house we have a variety of reptiles/amphibians, finches, a cat, a dog, a rabbit, fish, and four kids under 8)! I live for the dream of having a day that goes according to plan, one day building a bigger house with a mud room (our house is less than 1000 sq feet), laundry caught up, and CLEANLINESS!!! (Especially during mud season…) I’m just so happy to hear that somebody else with a similar life has – imagine this – similar frustrations! :-D Thanks for sharing, I feel much better (and it is so hard to choose between chores, cleaning, gardening, and spending time with family!). Oh, and I used to have dairy goats and yes, sometimes they only got milked once a day and I made my own cheese – but in the off season we used non-organic stuff too! ;-)

  87. It is great to hear others tell it like it is…….. I live similiar but totally different rural life in Florida. House gets a swat, try to keep up with garden, critters and everything else….. I feel like a hamster in a wheel most days. God Bless you and your family and keep on doing what your doing!!!

  88. I love love it! With animals and I have three girls life’s crazy… Love it… Love all of it but it’s not all perfect! We have got the same here and I loved loved your post! It’s real :)

  89. Jane O'Shea says:

    Just nodding my head to all your confessions and smiling. I milked from the left, too, also from having horses for many years and being left-handed. Actually, when I started milking I sat behind her and milked from the back. I don’t even remember why now, but think it was because when the calf was really young I only milked one or two quarters. If I have a choice between the garden and the house, the garden and the animals always win, so often I would come in at 6 in the evening, make supper and then start on the house. The ironing pile used to get about six feet high as that is my least favorite chore! I lived in overalls, rubber boots and men’s undershirts, adding a warm vest in the wintertime (we lived in Australia so winters were mild compared to MN.) We also left the calf on the cow so we had the option of not milking if we did not have the time. We are overseas now in the city and I count the days till I can be on the farm again. I still keep two small rabbits and a compost heap as I cannot stand to toss scraps. I am the most unglamorous woman I know and I really do not care, dress like a hippie and at 49 no longer care what other people think. =) To me the only way to live is on the farm sustainably, wasting nothing and being close to the earth and the animals. To my surprise women are coming out of the woodwork to learn from me. I plan to teach cheesemaking when we are milking again and I love how excited people are to learn these almost forgotten arts. It gives me hope.

  90. Why not put the baby IN the wheelbarrow–then you’ll just need to push one thing around! ;) I loved reading this today. Some days I look around at all of the mess around here–dust, trash piles, (Excuse me, piles of stuff that will one day be useful to someone) dirt and other things tracked through the house, no garden due to the ongoing drought, animals who should be named Houdini–and I just want some order to everything. Then I figure out that God still is on His throne, and He reigns, and so I figure all this stuff really isn’t all that important.

  91. James Gallagher says:

    You have wonderfully shared the difference between pursuing perfection and pursuing excellence. I worked in Quality Assurance for a jet engine manufacturer, pharmaceutical and roofing materials company. (Makes me sound smart, if you think so . . . . I have oceanfront property in Montana I want to sell you!) The biggest lesson I learned is that success comes from honesty. Honestly state how things are. Honestly state how you think things should be. Honestly share those with others and ACCEPT input (not necessarily agree, just listen well). Honestly pursue change that fits your values. Honestly reevaluate things (constantly). Honestly celebrate success. Honestly admit failures. Translate “failures” into opportunities for improvement. Start again – WITH JOY! The above deals with “failures” in a way that is humbling. That helps to keep you honest. Those that pursue perfection on the other hand, see failures as humiliating. Same failure, different perspective – often leading to a different result. People who pursue excellence do well and are happy. People who pursue perfection sometimes do well but are rarely happy. Definitely not joyful (there is a difference).

    Anyway, great job. Keep up the great work. Keep pursuing excellence. Let those perfectionist comments slide right off and be glad you are not one.

    James
    Peru, NY

  92. Thanks the honesty. Sometimes reading blogs can be so discouraging because it feels like everyone in the world has it together except you. I love your admission about white flour and non-organic butter because as much as we strive for a “perfect” diet we don’t always make it. And my house not being clean – don’t even go there. I would love to have a perfectly clean house but with eight children I’m learning to live with the lived-in look. :)

  93. I love your blog. I am 63 yrs young and new at homesteading and need to learn as much as possible. I sure wish I had started this years ago….. But at least now I can enjoy my animals, I have 23 chickens and a rooster and just acquired 25 mini Nubians goats. I got them from a guy in Colorado….ooh did I mention I live in Texas? I got a few that we’re still in milk so I learned how to milk. I now have several bags of frozen milk in my freezer. But I did keep some out to drink and it was really good milk. I would say better than cows milk. Anyway I want to learn how to make soap, lotion and cheese , then maybe try yogurt and ice cream . There are 4 bucks 2 adults and 2 baby boys all the rest are does. The girls have discovered oak trees and they even eat cedar trees. It took them a few weeks to get comfortable with the new area but now they seem to be having a ball. We live on a hill so they get a lot of hill climbing. I have noticed that they are not eating as much hay since they discovered the trees. The boys get limbs that I cut for them. But as soon as my hubby gets time he will fence in more area for them. And I will use the area they are in now for breeding. We had a steel barn delivered that we need to get put up for them for protection and also a place to house our hay and feed. Living here in SW Texas we do not often get really cold weather. Our biggest problem now is the drout. Our well ran dry and we had to lower our pump so now we have about 100 ft of water. We are thinking of d,filling another well but they want $25,000. We still may do this and really need to. Before my hubby retires.
    I also have 8 dogs, 2 Catahoulas and 6 little ones…1 Papillon, 1 Pomeranian, and 4 chihuahuas. 2 of them are old ladies they are 13 and 15 yrs old, 1 is 7 yrs old, 2 5 yrs olds and 1 2 yr old. I know I have a lot but I love my babies. I also have 2 Ragdoll cats that are 2 yrs old. We live on 13 1/2 acres. I have a garden that is a raised one since we live on rock, and also some fruit trees. My garden did pretty good in the spring I canned about 20 jars of pickles, 10 jars of carrots, and I put several packages of green beans in the freezer. I have grapes in the freezer also that I still mean to make into grape jelly. And tomatoes that I am going to make tomato sauce or spaghetti sauce and then can them also.
    My grand kids love to come to Nanas house to play with the goats and gather eggs….ooh yes and I am also one that doesn’t always gather the eggs daily.
    Thanks for your blog I just wanted to give y’all some info about me.
    Kathy

    • Hey Kathy!

      Sounds like you have a wonderful homestead! I enjoyed learning more about you– thanks so much for being a reader and taking the time to comment! :)

  94. Heheee, Jill, I’m glad you re-posted this. I always suspected you were a real person, and I’m so glad to see photo proof of this! That just makes you even better, in my book! I wrote a blog post about being REAL too and if you’d like some more proofs of realness, take a look! http://vomitingchicken.com/the-problem-of-perceived-perfection/
    Jill, I’ve heard that word before: “intimidating” and when I wake up from the floor, after the dead faint, I always dissolve into hysterics. Intimidating. hrm.

  95. Not intimidating at all. More like…endearing. =) Your imperfections make you human. Gotta love the humans. We are all in this together. ;)

  96. Virginia Kaiser says:

    I really love your blog!! My family is currently living in town but we are planning a move to the country part of Arkansas this summer when I finish my associate degree. I’m ready to get some animals again, we’ve had goats and chickens before and I miss them(as well as the fresh milk and eggs;))!! I didn’t realize there was a wrong side to milk, does it apply to goats too?! When I milked the girls I say in between the two and milked one from the left and one from the right lol. I love how real you are and the information is so helpful, glad I found you on Pinterest!:)

  97. Debbi/Ohio says:

    I enjoy your posts on Facebook and I also enjoy your blog. You encourage me…and these days that’s very important. :)

  98. It is funny how much of this is true in my life too. I do occasionally wear my long skirts though and I do crochet sew and we live in the fixer upper w/ all the great pile that came w/ it. don’t have cows yet but in the spring but not for milking that is what my goats are for. I do love to garden and great seed starter but like my animals much more too. Mopping is just about the same with all the dogs it is crazy. I love my life on the farm and wouldn’t give it up for much of anything. :)

  99. Thank goodness I am not alone!!!
    I often times feed the animals in my muck boots and pajamas. Except this time of year when I have to put on about 7 layers or I’ll freeze to death( Live in Lakes Region of New Hampshire).
    Our little homestead started in the fall of 2012 with a few mature chickens we got from a neighbor. We have expanded to having 33 full size chickens, 13 bantams, 15 ducks, 5 goats, 2 pigs, 2 cats, 2 dogs, 2 bunnies, a turtle and an almost 10 year old daughter. Add in my husband and myself and that is a lot of mouths to feed, provide shelter to, keep healthy etc.
    My husband and I both work 30-40hrs a week each on top of farm chores. And we are doing it all on a tight budget so there is always something that needs fixing or building( darn pigs keep getting out). As I write this we just got 10″ of snow dumped on us too.So there are always challenges.and no days off.
    We also try to be a whole food family. We do not eat processed food unless it is organic and non-GMO verified. But like you when money is tight and I don’t have time I will pick up a package of regular butter or when our hens stopped laying during molt store bought eggs,
    It is nice to know pthers face the same issues and do the best they can just like we do. While it is a lot of hard work I wouldn’t trade my life for the world.

  100. I love how you are real and unashamed! It’s just great to be oneself. I am one of those dreaming of a little homestead yet stuck in the city. Trying each year to do something more natural and healthier for my family. My husband often calls life chaotic, but I just tell him it’s just a flurry of activity. Just smile….you’re making memories! :)

  101. Oh, so glad you wrote this. I think most of us would have to agree and we are right there with you. So many of us are new to homesteading/farming and we are always learning. I couldn’t knit if my life depended upon it either!!! :D

  102. Angie Sommers says:

    Your not alone in milking on the “wrong” side. When my husband does the milking he milks from the left side :)

  103. dave stewart says:

    You just have to pay attention to the important things in life. I tell others who see my garden and small farm that the most important crop is my children! The education they can get growing, caring, and fixing is invaluable. And understanding farm things helps bring clarity to many portions of the Bible. I do expect you keep a place for the Bible in your busy days. ‘Only one life, will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last’

  104. Kirk Gantz says:

    As far as the piles of trash be careful. Sometimes those are really another form of a savings account. Just keep them in a place to find the stuff you want. I have done remodeling for years the old copper, brass, aluminum, lead and steel is money in the yard. Just sort to separate it and take it to the scrap yard to sale. a few years ago things got slow, I got busy and sold $3000. worth of scrap. Some trash can be there to be used to fix things that get broke. On and on, just have to look at it with a different shade of glasses. I have always told my wife the Lord gave me another savings account.
    All said you sound like a keeper, God Bless!

  105. i just want to say how much i have come to love and appreciate your blog. i stumbled upon it by accident and this post is so endearing. i especially appreciated hearing about your lovely stature (being 5’10 myself) and seeing the pic with your beautiful dog on the couch. totally hit a special place in my heart. our 65-lb. hound is currently asleep on my lap. so, just wanted to say thank you for being a huge inspiration and for the honest gritty truth above all else. looking forward to a wonderful 2014 and hoping the same for you and your family :-)

  106. Judy Brooks says:

    When I was young…(eon’s ago) with 4 young babes, I found myself apologizing to a Pastor for my cluttered home. The response has always stayed with me…” the graveyards are filled with women who kept spotless homes.” I got it, Do what is most important in your life and don’t worry about the rest. Being a wife and mother takes priority…to all the other clutter in our life’s. Blessings
    Oh by the way. I have great adult kids but still have a cluttered messy home, still kill plants in my yard and inside my home. Isn’t life great!

  107. And you have the most wonderful sense of humor. Fantastic, I love your blog; wish we lived closer, we could become friends.