As parents to being pregnant and having young children, it was a pretty crazy dream to start a homestead. Sitting around our big kitchen table, we thought – what if we actually did that? Will we like it? Does this fit into our lives? Our increasingly active and inquisitive kids 3 boys were growing much too fast and through our longing to stay connected to our kids and to the simplicity of a farmers world, our homestead was born.
Neverever Stop Learning – Becoming a Pioneer
From an early age I was taught that learning and being outside were just about synonymous. This gift, along with many others is something I’ll never take for granted. Having children of my own drives me to the same conclusions – if we want to observe, absorb, process, and discover, we need to be in a natural learning center. For us, having our own homestead is the perfect avenue to do just that.
Hard Work, Hard Play – Starting a Homestead With Kids In Toe
If you’re interested in starting a homestead and you have young children, start small. Remember, working a homestead can be difficult if you take on too much too fast. The first year we started with a couple rows of pumpkins, and three chickens. The second year we added a few more plants, and now we are handling about fifty pumpkin plants, several dozen squash and zucchini plants, cucumber, beans, corn, and many different herbs. We hope to add more chickens, sheep and a horse to the mix, but we also know that we have to work up to these things, because our first priority is having a relationship with our kids, not just our crops.
A big part of homesteading is the garden. Choose to plant things you and your kids are really excited about! This will make the process of planting, nurturing and harvesting even more memorable and fun. I remember the first year we planted corn and the boys had no idea what it was. We talked about corn every single day until it was ready to eat. When we finally cooked it and put it on our plates, the boys hated it! But they still told friends and family they loved it. I’m pretty sure this is due to the fun experience we had building up the anticipation.
Adjust your homesteading and gardening expectations. Make a safe place for the seeds you are excited to sew and grow. Then make a separate section of garden just for the kids. The idea of respect for precious things is taught and the learning period is variable. If you don’t want your kids tromping in the freshly planted garden beds or pulling up seedlings by the handful, show your kids an area where they can dig in the dirt freely. This will take a lot of the stress out of the equation.
But, Do I Have To…?
If you want to teach your kids about nature and sustainability, am I saying the only way to do this is through having a five acre homestead? Absolutely not. Teachable moments can happen right inside your kitchen window. Start with something simple like planting an herb garden in small pots (or stopping by Trader Joes and picking up an herb garden in a pot) or try growing a simple bulb (Paperwhites are beautiful and fun!) Whatever it is, start small and experiment with what is practical and works for your family. As you plant your indoor garden, talk about what you are doing with you children. As the plant grows talk about what you see, what does the plant feel like? Does it have a smell? Could we eat it? Why or why not? Waiting for your indoor garden to grow is an excellent time to talk about patience and seeing things through –the excitement of waiting for something beautiful to happen at the end of all that time is an excellent thing to focus on.
The Wrap Up
Whether you decide to start a large homestead in the backyard or scale down with a couple pots in the kitchen window, take time to appreciate the work that’s been done after harvest. Sometimes to connect with our families, we have to create a bit more work for ourselves at first. It might be a little dirty, but it will always be beautiful and worth it.