Welcome to our family’s blog, a place where we share about our adventures in modern day homesteading in Montana. Our family consists of myself, my husband, our daughter whom I refer to as “Little A” or “Big Sister” and our son whom I refer to as “Little brother”. We are also blessed with having my mom, whom we all call “Grandma”, live in a little cottage next to our house on the homestead.
I’ve always had a homesteader’s heart, it was just how I was raised. Some of my earliest memories are of me, my mom, my grandma and great-grandma in the hot kitchen of our old farmhouse canning and preserving the summer’s bounty. We had a chest freezer full of produce we preserved and a dirt floor cellar full of canning jars of food. There were bins of potatoes and onions from my uncle’s expansive garden up the road. My mom made our meals from scratch and taught me how to cook as a child. Many of the family recipes she taught me are “a little of this and a little of that”, nothing written down but passed on from generation to generation by speaking and teaching.
As I grew older and left home after high school to join the volunteer service, I started preserving my own food. I eventually decided to go to college in Montana. My first rental house in the city had me digging up the rocky soil next to the driveway to plant a garden. Every rental house I lived in, I put in a garden even if it meant digging up some of the yard to grow my own food! The first batch of pickles I canned all by myself without the help of my mom was 15 years ago in my rental apartment. All my friends were so amazed with how I knew how to do canning. To me it was just a way of life, how I was raised and part of who I am. They asked me to help teach them how to can and preserve food and thus started my path of helping others to learn this way of life.
I graduated from college with a degree in social work (my other passion in life is helping people) and went on to earn a master’s degree in social work. I found myself seeking more permanent roots and the ability to have a bigger garden and plant fruit trees so I began searching for a home to buy. All I could afford on my minimal social work income was a little old house out of town. The house had been owned by an elderly woman in her 90’s who tended a large garden in the back yard for many years. There I could really grow a lot of food! A large collection of canning jars came with the house, it was such a perfect fit for me at the time.
I met my husband and we started dating and eventually married. We dreamed of more space to grow food, plant fruit trees and raise animals so we started searching for a fixer-upper homestead. In July 2013 we bought a homestead on 4.5 acres that was a bank repo. It was a major fixer-upper which is exactly what we were looking for to put my handy husband’s skills to good use and build some sweat equity! You can read more about the projects we tackled in the first year on that homestead in this post. You can read this post to see the projects we tackled our second year on that homestead and this post has the projects from our third year.
Last August we began searching for a new homestead for reasons that I explain in this post. We moved to our new homestead in January 2018. We are settling in and planning where to plant an orchard and put in our gardens. The family that lived here before us were in their 90’s and had lived here for 55 years. We have been blessed with the opportunity to visit with them and hear stories about their family’s long history on this homestead.
We recently welcomed my mom, “Grandma”, to living on our homestead so now we have three generations canning and preserving as the kids are learning the homesteader’s way of life. It is such a joy to see the kids learn but it isn’t always easy! (I shared about some of those struggles in this post when Little A was a toddler.)
I always had an interest in the natural world and really delved into my studies of foraging and wild harvesting over ten years ago. I also began learning more about herbs and how to make our own body care products and medicinal salves. In June 2018 I completed an intensive course and am now a Certified Master Naturalist. I recently enrolled in the online Entrepreneur Herbal Course through the Herbal Academy of New England. My hope is to gain more knowledge to be able to safely sell our homemade herbal products in our Etsy shop.
I write about our family’s adventures (and failures!) on our blog as a way to help others learn and earn an income working from home raising our kids. We have an Etsy shop, Sweathouse Creek Creations, where we sell handmade goods we create on our homestead. I also work part time off the homestead as a social worker since I still feel the calling in my heart to help others.
We thank you for stopping by our blog! If you would like to reach us, send us an email at montanahomesteader AT gmail DOT com