Family Homesteading: Beyond the Basics

family homesteadingWendie and I made the decision to change our lives to a family homesteading track with little input from the kids. Of course they were kept in mind, but as we are very much into 'adulting' these days, we accepted the responsibility for any negative affects that may have befallen the kids. You know, things like an exponentially better school-system, clean air, a safe and expansive neighborhood and an great deal more family-time.

Their chores increased somewhat, with an expanded garden, a larger chicken coop and the absolute fun of having to clear snow from the driveway and road before school after each winter storm. City life offered it's benefits, of course, but those pale in comparison to the opportunities the kids have out here in the country. 

Family Homesteading: Beyond the Basics

family homesteading
Family homesteading works best, we've found, when everyone in the family is involved. If someone is not onboard, then we cannot expect a wholly sustainable lifestyle for the family. Each of us does bring a unique ability to our homesteading life. Some are builders, some are problem solvers, some have a green thumb, some enjoy raising livestock and some are great cooks that can transform our bounty into delicious and nutritional family meals.

Granted, these are also learning curves for the kids. Their chores and family-time revolves around watching and learning, then applying their lessons for themselves. As new skills are gained, new responsibilities are added to their list. At ten and twelve, our two girls are more advanced in their knowledge than we'd hoped. Carolyn is discovering a love of baking and cooking, while Elizabeth is mastering the chickens. All winter, their wellbeing was her primary concern. 

Sammy is seventeen and close to striking out on his own. When ever an opportunity arises, we try and pass along those life skills that will help him be successful, withy advance lessons in wood working, household finances management and the ever important 'being true to himself.'

Homesteading Life: Off the Grid

homesteading lifeWhen we still lived on our urban homestead, Wendie and I were concerned about not only the violence and drug use that was becoming evident on every street corner, but also the rate at which the kids' peers were maturing. Many had cell phones by the age of eight, and with smart phones, that meant they were directly interacting with the internet with no adult filter to explain what they were experiencing. The longer we have to teach them about what is out there, the better prepared they will be to analyze and make sense of it all.

Social media and electronics in general are monitored by Wendie and myself. The tablets the girls have are kept down stairs with us, and the girls must 'earn' their media time. We are always present during these sessions, and though we trust them to know what is acceptable or not, our being there let's us explain and monitor the information they receive. Yes, they can message and chat with friends, visit age-appropriate websites and watch Youtube videos. We aren't enforcing a creative blackout on them, only helping them to make the right choices.

Heart of the Homestead

family homesteading
For us, and I suspect many families regardless of geography, the homestead kitchen is where everyday life revolves. Homework is done at the kitchen table. Our food is of course prepared here, as well as preserved. We even go so far as to keep our record collection close at hand to teach the kids about when music was better. (It's an education based on the classics. Bowie. Duran Duran. Eagles. Grateful Dead.)

For quiet spaces, each of us have our preferences, and that doesn't always mean our bedrooms. The kitchen is often the most populated, though Wendie enjoys her office space downstairs, while Carolyn soaks up the sun outside on the deck or the dock to read whenever she can. Elizabeth moves from one place to another, while Sammy prefers his access to ESPN, so either our bedroom or the tv down in the family room. 

Family Homesteading Life

family homesteading lifeI hope to can see that we're not approaching modern family homesteading like the Ingalls family. We are fully connected with the outside world, and working from home means reliable internet connections and related technology. Rather than abandon society, we have selectively drawn what we need to be successful and have applied it to our lifestyle.

There is balance as well as a reduction in the consumer pitfalls of consumption. We abandoned a credit-based existence and have turned to one of self-sufficiency and sustainability. It is a lesson we are imparting to our kids.

We love sharing our family homesteading life with you all, and equally love to hear from you. Is a homesteading life something you practice, or something you wish to do? Let us know by joining the conversation below, and don't forget to subscribe for daily homesteading goodness!


lisa lombardo said…
It's wonderful that your family works so well together! Keeping the kids involved is so important. I homeschooled my son for a number of reasons and part of his school day involved homesteading projects. I think it made him a more resourceful person.

Keep up the great work!
WT Abernathy said…
Hi Lisa!
We always work to improve our children's successes with the things we teach them around the home, especially with the costs of higher education becoming so prohibitive. This includes not only homesteading lessons in farming, animal husbandry and DIYs, but also history, math,English and the range of information that makes up who we are as a community.

Not to say we won't send our kids to college if that is the path they are heading, but now we are also considering the trades as well as homesteading at younger age for them. We want them to be happy and be able to support themselves, not be in debt with a four year diploma and a promise empty wealth.

Thanks for stopping by!
Lisa Lynn said…
I highly recommend a community college for the first 2 years if they decide to go to college. It is much less expensive and they will be closer to home. Your kids will do great whatever path they choose!
WT Abernathy said…
Our plans exactly:) In fact, I teach at one of our local CCs, and the value is tremendous, especially if they decide to continue onwards. I see it every day, where my students are working hard to earn an education and seeing the value in it, while in traditional four year schools, the focus seems to be on something else. Of course, not for all students, but the waste of money that goes towards higher education so kids can figure out who they are and rack up massive debt is ridiculous. Community colleges offer solid education with a tuition rate that won't make graduates destitute when they do get their diploma.