To begin my presentation at the Mother Earth News Fair, I confessed that I’m not a seasoned public speaker. My speaking has been limited to ladies groups and retreats in the church setting, and leading homeschooling support group meetings. I shared about my sister calling me to check out my wardrobe for the occasion and warning me that I simply must NOT wear my Birkenstocks.
I wore my Birkenstocks.
Really, Sis, did ya’ think a homesteading, homeschooling mama would go to a farming convention and wear a pair of heels?
You know, when a homeschooling family leaves the city for that dream of living off the land, AND they find that they cannot start school lessons until the cow is milked, AND they can’t milk the cow until they shovel last night’s snow from the path to the barn, AND they cannot shovel the path until they find the snow shovel that a child left lay in the yard (now buried in snow); THEN the romantic paradise is reduced to a burden that interferes with the homeschooling. And winter brings on talk of moving back to the city.
And that is why I do what I do. And that is why I traveled to the Mother Earth News Fair to share three ways to make your homesteading/homeschooling journey a successful one.
Most folks spend their time before moving to a homestead dreaming of that day. For our family, we watched the movie The Wilderness Family over and over again. I call that The Wilderness Family syndrome. Rather than dreaming, do something positive to prepare. Read and practice skills while still in the city.
Then, when you do make it to your land, the first thing to do is to Start Small and Simple. Spend your first year getting a feel for your land. Watch the sun and wind patterns. Get your animal housing and fencing ready.
Then add one thing at a time. Get one animal–not a pasture full. Start a kitchen garden, not a U-pick field of vegetables. Trust me, you have time. Growing your homestead at a slower pace will save you time, money, and stress.
The second thing you want to do is to Assess Your Expectations.
Take out a sheet of paper and draw a chart like you see above. Write down what your expectations are for your farm, and what your expectations are for your homeschooling. Then, when you think you have it all out, ask yourself:
Do your expectations on the left support the expectations on the right? And vice versa?
Finally, you need to Integrate the homesteading and the homeschooling into one cohesive lifestyle. Just as a man and woman marry and live with a common purpose and goal, the homesteading lifestyle and the homeschooling lifestyle need to mesh, they need to support each other, or one or both will suffer.
At our place, when an animal is giving birth, biology moves to the barn yard. When the corn needs planted, math is found in the garden. In fact, our kids learn more from living a life on the homestead than from a textbook because the homesteading lifestyle assists them in having something to link their lessons to. It provides a connections that quashes the oft-heard questions, “When am I ever going to use this in real life?”
Of course, if you need help with this integration process, I am here. You’ve already discovered this website and blog. But do you subscribe to the Lessons from the Homestead newsletter? Delivered free-of-charge straight to your inbox each month, this newsletter offers the same kind of encouragement that you read about here, and more. So if you don’t subscribe, do so today. If you leave me a comment letting me know that you subscribed this week, I’ll send you the latest issue with a special discount code for my five-volume set of e-books.
Oh yeah, the other way I have to help you is with my Lessons from the Homestead e-book series. If you haven’t checked them out, please peruse the “E-Books” tab at the top of this page. Although you can purchase each e-book individually for the amazingly low price of $3.99, you can save even more by buying the 5-volume set for $14.95! And with the discount code mentioned above, you can get that set for $10.95.
In a nutshell, that’s what I shared at the Fair. If you were there, please share your impressions in the comments. And if you weren’t, I’d love to hear how you’re doing in your homeschooling/homesteading journey.