Grit Blogs > The Girl From Town

An Introduction, or How Not to Homestead

KristiFor my first GRIT blogpost, I thought I’d tell y’all a little bit about what not to expect from my posts. I’d hate to think that anyone came to me looking for advice or tips on gardening or farming or raising livestock or canning or cooking or sewing or how to keep birds from stealing your cherries or how to keep snakes from curling up on your porch or how to find those elusive free-range chicken eggs. You should, under no circumstance, expect anything like that from my blog. Why? Because I haven’t quite gotten all that stuff figured out yet. I’ve made countless attempts at it all, but usually my attempts fall a bit short of the mark. I am making headway though and will doubtless be a preeminent homesteader in, oh, probably around 50 or 60 years.

See, I’m pretty new to all those things. New, like a matter of months new. So far, I’ve grown more grass than veggies (although my garden is actually making food! I know! I can’t believe it either).

grassy tomato

I’ve made pets out of all my animals.

Sherlock Combs

My jam doesn’t jell and my lids don’t suck down; I burn food in my cast iron (not to mention the small blaze when I tried to season my dutch oven); I harvested all of one cherry that the birds didn’t get; I had a snake on my porch that I had to shoo off with a stick, then tried to shoot and completely missed; and I haven’t found eggs in over a week. (Probably because I missed the snake. A moving snake is a tough target with a .22!) So, if you’re looking for sage-like, tried and true advice on how to run a homestead, you have come to exactly the wrong place.

What you CAN expect from me, however, is folly and misadventure. You can expect to laugh at my mistakes as I learn the ins and outs of my new life. You can expect to feel better about your own mistakes as you see just how badly I muck things up. You can learn, along with me, how NOT to grow a garden and how NOT to put up squash or make blackberry jam. You can even learn how to set your oven on fire while seasoning your new dutch oven (if you’re into, I don’t know, arson or something).

Now, understand, not all of this stuff is completely foreign to me. I didn’t grow up on Mars or in Manhattan or anything. I actually grew up in rural Georgia. But I grew up “in town.” Granted it was a tiny town, but goodness knows, growing up “in town” is a far cry from growing up in the country no matter the size of said town. While all my grandparents and further back grew up on farms, everyone moved “to town” in the 1940s and 50s. They then became storekeepers and gas station owners and bookkeepers and never looked back.

My grandmothers on both sides always put food up in the summers, but as a teenager I didn’t see it as a vital skill and completely missed the opportunity to pick their brains, because it was so much more important to, you know, go to the lake or drive around aimlessly for hours or sit in the Hardee’s parking lot. Same with gardening. I remember my folks growing tomatos and squash when I was young, but again, I missed the boat.

So. What in the world was I thinking moving to the top of a mountain in Tennessee with my husband to start a homestead? Well, I guess I was thinking total immersion, trial by fire, hit the ground running, or … go down in flames?

Either way, in my posts here, you can expect to see my learning curve, my successes and failures; you’ll hear about my cuts and bruises, my run ins with the local wildlife (I heard a coyote outside last night!), my adventures picking berries in the woods; you’ll see pictures of my critters and my ugly, ugly garden; and, I hope, you’ll share in this adventure with me.

sunflower backs

If nothing else, you’ll feel better about YOUR homestead after hearing about mine!

If you’d like to read more about our (mis)adventures in homesteading, go check out my personal blog at The Little Farm.

chris davis
12/5/2010 11:30:57 PM

Kristi, You might want to try getting a .22 carbine and load it with snake shot. I don't know how well it will work, but it would be comforting knowing you can pull off a couple of quick shots while zeroing in on the target if nothing else. :) Good luck with your homestead, and that's a gorgeous bird! Here's hoping you have lots of fun with the blog.

kristi cooper_4
8/1/2010 7:49:30 PM

Hey I am another Kristi that is starting to try to homestead. I am looking forward to commiserating with your blog!! LOL I am so glad I am not the only one tripping along with this!! But one day I plan to prevail!! LOL

s.m.r. saia
7/26/2010 9:03:47 AM

Kristi, welcome to Grit! I for one am glad to see that someone else has as much grass in thier garden as I do!!!!!!

7/23/2010 10:56:51 AM

Wow, thank y'all for such a warm welcome! I'm really looking forward to this and I can't freakin wait to get to know all of you and what you're all up to. I have no idea why the good people at Grit decided to give me a swing at this, but I feel like I'm in excellent company. I have a feeling I'm gonna learn alot from you folks :)

7/23/2010 8:53:11 AM

Bless you Kristi and welcome the GRIT community. While we all have knowledge in one thing or another I think the thing we pride ourselves most on is the ability to laugh at our own misadventures. We are a tight community and are always willing to encourage each other and lend a tip or two. I think you'll fit right in. I actually DID move from NYC (Brooklyn, actually) to Barnesville, Georgia, with my wife to live on the family farm. Up until that point I had only grown tomatoes and some herbs on a rooftop in the middle of a housing project. You can always find me at and you are always welcome to send a question, laugh at me, or cry with me. It's part of the adventure!

nebraska dave
7/22/2010 3:46:50 PM

Kristi, you are a brave person to jump out of burning frying pan (pun intended) and into the trial by fire. I was definitely a black thumb grower up until I discovered this website. Because of all my friends that I have acquired here, I had the best ever garden last year but the real gardening experience was in the flowers. I came from a Nebraska farm background and as you have stated never really paid any attention to what Mom did in the garden expect make me pull weeds. I had other things to do as well like explore the creek, or climb trees, or kick the tractor brake off and coast it down a hill into a tree. You know boy things. So when it came time to satisfy those dormant farmer DNA yearnings, I didn’t really have a clue how to grown anything that couldn’t be plowed, planted, and cultivated from the seat of a tractor. Yes, I finally discovered how to drive a tractor without hitting a tree. Welcome to the Grit community. It’s quite a diverse community with folks all across the country that contribute and help each other with questions and answers. When things begin to come together for you, there’s no other satisfaction that can compare.

mountain woman
7/22/2010 9:54:47 AM

Hey Kristi, Greetings from a Southerner who is now living in Yankee territory. I'm so glad I'm no longer the only Grit blogger who doesn't know anything about what she's doing. You are a woman after my own heart. My chickens are pets too (I think I have the same breed of chickens) and I burn everything I touch. I'm so glad to find you! Mountain Woman of Red Pine Mountain blog P.S. - Your sunflowers are gorgeous.

7/22/2010 6:21:07 AM

Thanks Cindy! I'm looking forward to poking through everyone's blogs here and seeing what I can glean from a few more experienced hands :)Like you said, it's an adventure!

cindy murphy
7/22/2010 5:21:56 AM

Hi Kristi, and welcome to Grit. I currently live in a small town that sounds similar to the one you grew up in....and currently, am still learning...and still making mistakes along the way. Trial and is an adventure, and as Mom would say, 'it builds character!'. I'm looking forward to reading more of your adventures as you learn along the way. (Love the sunflower shot, btw.) Cindy ~ A Lakeside View

7/21/2010 9:40:30 PM

ohh wish I had could use that one but no-it's all my doing! You definetly will be fun to read vickie

7/21/2010 9:12:35 PM

Let me say in my defense, however, the folks who lived here before us planted a bunch of lovely centipede grass between the rows of the garden. So, while I have to deal with it, it was not of my doing!!

7/21/2010 5:59:11 PM

Thanks, Vickie! Hopefully by my next post my fingers and toes will still be intact :)

7/21/2010 3:28:49 PM

Welcome Kristi, Already laughing because I've done it all -it's better though when someone else is making the mistakes. Sometimes my garden looks like yours still -just depending on what has transpired that summer-you never know what life will throw at you. It's amazing what it will still produce-I've canned a lot of beans I've found in the weeds! It'll be interesting hearing about your trials by fire but be careful. vickie