The Short Road to the Homestead

How did you get started homesteading?

Way back in the 1960’s my family moved from Iowa (my grandfather’s home state) to Alabama (my grandmother’s home state). My dad was just a kid when they made the move. They had a plan.

My grandmother wanted enough land for a huge chicken pen and a large garden to feed the family. They ended up with four acres of land and everything my grandmother wanted.

By the time I was born my family no longer processed chickens, but my grandmother still had her chicken pen and garden. Between the ages of 4 and 7 I helped out with the chores. We spent a lot of time in the garden and the chickens didn’t get the one on one attention mine get. Sometimes we’d head out to my dad’s cousin’s place to pick corn, beans, peas, and whatever else he had by the trunk load.

We actually just finished off the last jar of green beans (yum!) from some time in the 90’s. Some of you might be making faces, but as long as they look and smell like they said the day they were canned they’re fine. The beans were still firm, no discoloration, and basically smelled like brine water and partially cooked green beans. I’m a bit sad that we don’t have any more jars. My grandmother passed in 2008 and we weren’t able to do anything like this again.

Shortly after my grandmother had her first stroke in 2004, my parents, my brother, and I moved back in with her. We’d moved out 7 years prior to give everyone their space, but we moves less than a mile up the road. My grandmother didn’t dial 911 when she fell. She called us, because that was why we stayed so close. For her safety.

Our gardening didn’t end when we moved and it didn’t end when we returned. We tore the chicken pen down with my grandmother’s permission after StarBuck arrived in 2005. She didn’t have chickens anymore at this point. Just a few ducks in a pen I’d helped my dad and one of my uncles build.

A year later we began raising American Game Fowl, chickens commonly used in fighting. A beautiful rooster we named Reggie wandered onto our property and we managed to catch him a month later. AGF are fantastic layers, so we raised them for eggs. We had to be very careful when selling chicks. Two years ago we sold off the whole flock.

About 4 years ago I started to really get into chickens. We’d almost always had them, so it had never really been a big deal for me. Around the same time I got my first dual purpose chickens, 3 Rhode Island Reds and a Black Australorp. I’ve expanded far beyond those common breeds.

So you see, I never actually started homesteading. I was born to it. My family have always been homesteaders. I just have to keep working to remove the mass amount of superstition from the way we do things.


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