Today it is my pleasure to interview Teri Page from homestead-honey.com. Hopefully her answers to my questions will offer a new perspective, and will get you to rethink your homesteading plans.
- What got you into homesteading, and how long have you been doing it?
I started homesteading in 1999, after spending several months work-trading at a sustainability education center in Oregon. That experienced opened my mind and heart to the wonders of growing food, and I have never turned back.
- How long does it take to become a successful homesteader?
I wouldn’t label someone a “successful” or “not successful” homesteader because there really is no one-size-fits-all version of homesteading. Of course there are the generalities of creating a more self-reliant lifestyle, or perhaps even shifting your focus from consuming to producing what you need, but what homesteading actually looks like is so varied that only you can decide what your version of success is, and if you’ve reached it.
- What’s the worst homesteading experience you’ve had to go through? What about the best one?
We’ve had many beautiful, brilliant homesteading experiences, many of them involving the creation of infrastructure/finally realizing a goal, or the raising of animals. One of my favorite memories was sitting down for breakfast with my kids, when my husband rushed in the door and said, “guess what I just found in the pasture?” It was our first calf, MayApple, who had been born early in the morning.
We’ve also lost many animals and had to sell or give several away. It’s never easy to say goodbye to a creature you love and have cared for.
- What would you do differently if you had to start all over again?
If I could go back in time, I’d probably buy land in my early 20’s, build a house and plant an orchard, and now be basking in the abundance of fruit and food from our land. But although that hasn’t been my path, I have no regrets because I’ve learned so much along the way as we’ve homesteaded on multiple properties, in three different regions.
- What are the top 3 homesteading skills everyone should know?
I’m a bit biased towards food, so I’d say growing food and medicine in a garden, learning at least one method of food preservation that you enjoy and will do consistently, and learning how to cook from scratch.
- Top 3 most important tools in the homesteader’s arsenal?
That’s such a tricky question because it really depends on what your homesteading focus or interests are. I couldn’t live without a good shovel and digging fork for gardening, stainless steel pails for milking, and a Berkey water filter for living off the grid.
- Is homesteading a way of preparing for disasters and emergencies? Why (not)?
I absolutely think so, because homesteading gives you two essential tools that help you in any emergency. 1) Homesteading offers a can-do mindset. As a homesteader, you are constantly faced with challenges that are opportunities for creative thinking, problem solving, and collaboration, all of which are essential traits to have when you are in an emergency setting. 2) Homesteading provides you with a skill set that might mean the difference between life and death in an emergency. From foraging, to growing and preserving food, to creating off grid infrastructure, your homesteading lifestyle will support you when the unexpected happens.
- How much land should a homestead ideally have? How much is too much?
I don’t think there is a magic number. I have seen amazing homesteads on ¼ acre city lots, and I’ve seen beautiful 100 acre farms. It really depends on what your intention is for the land and how much energy you have to maintain it.
- What are some of the things you DON’T waste time doing? What are homesteaders doing that is robbing them of their time and resources?
My general philosophy is that if you love it, you shouldn’t worry about whether or not it is a “waste of time” because it is something that is life-giving and fun for you. There are homesteading activities that I do because I really enjoy them – preparing my large garden with hand tools, for instance – that someone else would hate! On the other hand, I don’t love canning food, but others see canning as an essential part of homesteading.
- Is homesteading running your life? Should it?
I think homesteading can run your life, if you desire it, or let it. In my late 20’s, I barely left the homestead ever. We didn’t travel, we didn’t backpack, we just gardened and took care of animals and cooked elaborate home-grown meals, and loved every minute of it.
As a forty-something year old mom of two who runs multiple businesses, I can’t dedicate the same focus to homesteading. I also love traveling and make decisions that allow me to leave the homestead, if I like. It really all comes down to your interests and priorities.
- Is homesteading enough to make a living? Should people quit their job to do it full time?
You could certain make a living with homesteading activities and there are many good examples out there of people successfully financing their life via homesteading. My own family has, at times, sold cheese, raw milk, eggs, meat, and rented pasture to make money.
But (you’ll probably sense a reoccurring theme here in my responses), I think if you have a job that you love, you should keep it! If you hate your job and wish to be full-time on the homestead, you should find a way to make that happen. We are very blessed to live in an age that provides so many opportunities. Seize those that light you up and bring you the most joy!
- What’s the best way to teach homesteading to your children and/or grandchildren? How do you make sure they won’t start to lose interest as they grow older?
The best way to teach homesteading to children is to simply share your passion for homesteading with them. Invite them to join you in the garden, at the table, or in the barn. Give them opportunities for responsibility and nurture their interests and passions.
However, I can’t guarantee that they won’t lose interest as they grow older. I think it’s important to honor the unique interests of kids and support them as they explore their interests. On the other hand, families share responsibilities, so I think it’s perfectly reasonable to have some expectations around chores.
- What are the first steps newbie homesteaders should take?
There are so many areas of homesteading that someone new to the lifestyle could dive into. If you enjoy walks in the woods, perhaps dive into foraging. If you are a foodie, think about growing a backyard garden. If you want to explore traditional ways of preserving food, fermentation is fun, easy, and delicious.
But whatever you do decide to try, my advice is to take baby steps. Tackle one area of interest and dive deep! Seek out mentors in your community and be a source of value to them, while simultaneously soaking up their wisdom and experience. Take advantage of the wealth of information on the internet, but ultimately, put down your phone and just get started!
- What are some of the Amazon books and courses you’ve written that you’d recommend to the NewLifeOnAHomestead.com community?
Thanks for asking! I just recently released Family Homesteading, which is full of projects and recipes to share the homesteading lifestyle with kids. It can be found on Amazon or at www.familyhomesteadingbook.com
I have also written several eBooks that are available on my website, Homestead-Honey.com. These include Creating Your Off-Grid Homestead, Building a Homestead Root Cellar, The Backyard Bread & Pizza Oven, and Homestead Honey’s Guide to Fall Gardening.
I also offer one-on-one and group coaching programs for women interested in making their homestead dreams happen.