By Jennifer Quinn
After almost giving up her search, Jennifer Quinn found the perfect homestead in rural Virginia. She calls her slice of heaven Panther's Hollow.
Her main topic will be homesteading, and she'll also write about country living, new adventures after 60, gardening, chickens, nature, and life in the Southern Appalachians.
She is currently focused on her first flock.
"Raising 16 chicks to begin my first chicken flock," Jennifer says of her current project. "This will require completing permanent housing for both them and my five young Guinea fowl. I plan to use an old camper that’s been gutted and is presently housing the Guineas, and try to move the Guineas to an outdoor enclosure. Both still need perches installed, and the outdoor enclosure needs to be covered on top and made secure."
Other projects on her to-do list include revitalizing several old apple trees; planting hazelnuts and rugosa rose (Rosa Rugosa); and exploring the feasibility of raising tilapia in an old bathtub with aquaponic plants and growing mushrooms on logs.
Jennifer was looking for more space when she found her country spot. "I wanted to have more space for gardening and to keep a chicken flock; also, I’ve always wanted to live in the country, and finally it was time to take the leap!"
She defines a homesteader: "My idea of a homesteader is someone trying to live off the land as much as possible while respecting the natural environment and trying to live in harmony with nature."
Her garden is a primary focus of Jennifer's homesteading efforts. She says, "I wanted to avoid as much as possible being dependent on Big Ag for my food supply, and especially to have locally grown, organically raised produce right at my fingertips. There’s nothing like being able to just go out to the garden or down to the basement when you want some parsley or onions or potatoes!"
At the moment, Jennifer's garden contains potatoes, garlic, spinach, onions, carrots, parsley, beets, corn, beans, squash, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, strawberries, fennel and dill; also native wildflowers and annual beneficials such as nasturtiums.
As she mentions her homestead is shared with five young Guinea fowl, 10 Icelandic and six Buckeye chicks, and five cats.
When asked about her country skills, Jennifer says, "At present, mainly gardening. I’m working on learning canning and preserving, and maintaining my spring-fed water system."
And her philosophy of country life?
"I’m trying to strike a balance between my desire to eke out a living on the land with minimal inputs, more like our ancestors did 100 years ago, and wanting to apply the knowledge, techniques and standards of sustainable farming as it’s practiced today. My challenge is that we think of homesteading as living 'the simple life,' yet, with all the techniques and cultural values we want to bring to it today, it’s anything but simple!"