While browsing Amazon.com for books on farm business we read many review where the buyers of these books were terribly disappointed because they wanted to learn how to farm, not learn how to do the bookkeeping. Yet this is exactly what we were looking for. We are already farming, already homesteading. We don't need to read yet another book about how to till or not till the soil or how much sun a tomato needs or have chickens explained to us. This is not to say we don't read these types of books, we do, we just don't read as many as we did in the beginning. The more books we found of interest for our farm business, the more reviews we discovered with this same complaint. This sparked an idea for one of our blog sections. What better way to practice this minimum of a post a week thing then to discuss homesteading?
We will start at our humble beginnings. We hope you enjoy our story.
Our diet was your typical sad American diet. We diligently clipped coupons & shopped the local grocery stores sales flyer to get the best deals. We fell for the soy milk is better for you than regular milk lie & as a result started drinking loads of soy milk and eating loads of tofu. We would bring Slim-Fast to work to have for lunch. We added a generous chunks of tofu to our Slim-Fast & put it in the blender, then stored it in Tupperware tumblers with lids to tote to work. It helped us stay full longer & we were getting all that so called healthy soy protein. We ate fat free cookies, TV dinners, Quorn (because we were told meat was unhealthy), cereal bars, instant oatmeal, used artificially sweetened & flavored coffee creamers, used Splenda, enjoyed mixed drinks of hard alcohol with diet coke, ate chips & fat free crackers. We used conventional beauty products such as antiperspirants, lotions with artificial fragrance, fluoride toothpaste that made the lining in our mouths peel away, wore perfumes & colognes, had Glade PlugIns in every single room, used harsh toxic cleaners & laundry detergents, the list goes on & on.
We did not exercise. We had sedentary jobs that took us 45 minutes to get to and 45 minutes to 1 hour to return home from thanks to rush hour traffic. We sat on our bums in the car, sat on our bums at work, sat on our bums at home watching TV. We were not obese but we were certainly not fit or at an ideal weight.
Not once did a traditional doctor ask us about our lifestyle. We never were asked what supplements we took, how well we slept, what our jobs were or any other relevant information.
As the health problems grew, an older health conscious family member started sending us the free magazines from the health food store along with vitamins & healthy snacks. We started to shop at the natural foods section in the grocery store. We were floored at how expensive everything was. This is how rich people shop, not a couple barely making more than minimum wage. Yet this was working for us.
Gradually all our conventional food items were phased out & replaced with natural or organic foods. We started to question what the doctors told us & began to take our health in our own hands & we began to heal. We ate nearly the same way as before except we swapped out conventional for natural & organic. We switched from conventional household products to natural & organic. We threw away all of our PlugIns, room sprays & anything else we learned contained toxic ingredients.
At the time there was no USDA Certified Organic. It didn't exist. We had to trust the manufactures. These were small businesses then. Now most of them have been gobbled up by the big manufactures. Back then Burt's Bees, for example really was a small business, not part of the Colorox Company like it is now.
Health problems like unexplained rashes went away. Headaches became a thing of the past. We had more energy, slept better & to put it simply started to get more joy out of living. All of this just by switching from a conventional lifestyle to an organic one. The extra cost of such a lifestyle proved in more ways than one to be worth every penny.
We decided to start our own organic garden next. This proved to be much more work than we'd anticipated, yet we stuck with it. There was something about being outdoors with our hands in the soil that was addictive, even therapeutic. We no longer sat on our bums when we got home from work. Instead we would come home, pour a glass of home brewed organic unsweetened green tea, then hit the garden to pull weeds, squish bad bugs, & bring in that days harvest so we could make dinner.
We stopped spending so much time on the couch watching pointless TV shows & sipping hard mixed drinks. We cancelled our cable. We went for long bike rides & walks to the bay. We jumped in the creek during the summer to cool off. We caught frogs & let them go. We picked wild blue berries, watched barn sparrows & crawled around the cranberry bogs in the fall to make cranberry sauce. Life was busy but in a good way. We read more, including a lot of homesteading books such as The Encyclopedia of Country Living & Back to Basics. We also read a lot of books on natural health such as Nourishing Traditions & Wild Fermentation. These types of books & our new healthy lifestyle made us want more.
We started visiting Murray Mcmurray where we oo'd & ahh'd over all the beautiful birds. We wanted them all, preferably one of each & all hens. One of our family members was going to a livestock auction & they offered to pick us up some chickens. "Get us big ones!" we exclaimed. The next day we were the proud owners of two hens. We knew nothing about caring for chickens. We didn't even know what kind of chickens they were. All we knew was, we had chickens!