I was born on a small homestead in upstate NY. we had approximately 5 acres and raised goats, cows, horses, sheep, chickens and a whole lot of garden. The homestead was moms idea, as she was coming of age during the summer of love she came to the realization city life was not for her and moved out to the small town where I was born. Knowing nothing about any pets other than dogs n cats, everything was cute to her and she needed it. Needless to say,I was born right in the beginning stage of her farming days on what was known as the "funny farm". (yes it was a rather funny little farm). Growing up I learned the basics of animals, raising for fun n profit , for food and product. I saw the life and death cycles and the hard work and joy it brought. I did the 4H thing and fairs, suffered in the freezing cold and sweated bringing in the hay . I decided it was too tough a life. As most teenagers do, I ran from the farm life .
I found myself going to nursing school, had a couple kids, married , divorced and quickly realized that animals were more my forte. Circumstances led me back to a small family run farm. Over the years i worked my way up through the ranks, went to more schooling and seminars and got to see gov't testing on animals (joy joy) . Over time the farm grew into more of a factory type farm (milking 1600) and after 12 years and differing views on farming , I left.It was time to embark on some new adventures.
the story of us
In 2002 , I came to the mountains of north GA and began homesteading here with the manthing whom i had met on the internet way back in late 1994-5. We have about 15 acres nestled into the northern part of the Ga mtns of a small community just on the edge of the Cohutta Wilderness on the border of Tn, Ga and NC. The wilderness is literally our back yard.
Our acreage is very challenging , a 4 wheel drive is almost always needed to get in and flat spots are hard to come by. Most of the land is wooded with about 5 acres actually carved out for homesteading. The woodlots are managed for firewood and we utilize as much of our surroundings in our daily life as possible while keeping harmony with our earth and surroundings. . we try to keep our environment as it was meant to be taken care of, we dont believe we own the land but are simply caretakers of it for the time being.
Currently we have 6 goats , 6 hens and two breeder doe rabbits, a buck and piles of babies. We also employ two dogs in the protection of both animals and ourselves. All of our animals are raised here for a purpose, none of them are raised for just the fun of having a pet.They either have a job, produce something we use or will become meat.
In addition to the animals we also have a couple acres of veggie gardens and several herb beds. We grow , change and learn with each season and will keep on doing so in order to diversify and make improvements upon what we are doing here. Our goal is to be as sustainable as possible in the most primitive means as possible yet still live comfortably.
Until near three years ago (Jan 2007) this was just a past time or hobby type of thing for us and we opened our doors to traveling folk who needed a place to stay while we both worked full time. They were to help a couple hours a day for room , board etc. . unfortunately more often than not most people simply do not get what simple living is, walking softly on the earth or what the meaning of work really is . It became more work for us to continue bringing people in that in was worth.
As we saw work (new home construction) slowing down and we began paying a bit more attention to the world around us, we opened our eyes and saw that we needed to take things a bit more seriously as we were likely to be out of work eventually and this lil bit of heaven could be our saving grace. This is when we really went to expanding gardens, growing grains and growing year round in our quest to be sustainable. Food wise we have gone from about 20% to about 90% in the last few years. If we were to sit and figure in all things , we would be about 80% sustainable.. We never expect to reach 100% because something we simply cant raise or choose not too.
The biggest lesson I personally have learned through the years is that everything ties in together in some way, shape or form. Animals, gardens , living on the earth , environmentalism, you name it . It is all a very precise balancing act that can not be taught in books or otherwise. It is something you truly have to live n learn.