In her blog, Rachel plans to share lessons she's learned the hard way in her journey to living a homemade life. She and her family live in a small town in Michigan, with a large garden, honeybees and a small flock of chickens.
Her secondary focus will be "inspiring a younger generation of homesteaders, farmers and urban gardeners to be more self reliant. Shouting from my soapbox to at least 'give it a try' and have a little fun, screwing up is inevitable."
Rachel is currently refinishing a high chair she found on the side of the road, returning it "to its former piney prettiness. It was crying by the curbside … painted hot pink and adorned with leopard spots. When I hear a cry for help, I answer it."
On her to-do list: re-painting one top bar hive and getting it ready for the next season; fashioning an easy opening/closing coop door for her "girls"; digging the rest of those potatoes; and refurbishing “Wonder Horse” for her twin boys' first birthday.
She defines a homesteader as "a person who holds self-reliance close to the heart, with a willingness to support local farmers and artisans, and strives to live a sustainable lifestyle.
While the family lives in a small town, Rachel says they "currently long for a home in the country. But as we patiently wait, we have turned our little patch of town grass into a homemade haven."
She says her family always had a garden when she was growing up, and they always canned. Her current garden was planted when she needed something to do when she moved to home by herself several years ago. This year, she has planted canning and paste tomatoes, three kinds of potatoes, green beans, assorted lettuces and greens, beets, peas, sweet potatoes, zucchini, watermelon, sunflowers and zinnias.
The family shares their in-town homestead with a number of animals: Molly, a 6 year old chocolate Labrador ("and my best friend," says Rachel),;Charlie, a 10-year-old-going-on-2 yellow Labrador; four Cochin hens [Karhl (Blue), Audrey (Silver Laced), Claudia (Partridge), and Oatmeal (White)]; two Buff Orpingtons (Cornflake and Helen); two mixed breed chicks hatched this year (one is a suspected Easter Egger – Reba and Aretha; three Kenyan-style top bar hives filled with magnificent Honeybees (the hives are called Grandpa, Burned hive, and The First); and many garden toads.
Rachel lists her country skills as gardening, poultry, canning, sewing, cooking, baby food making, cloth diapering, crafting, beekeeping, salve making, tea brewing, baby wrangling, hard cider making, and maple sugaring.
And her philosophy of country life?
"The old ways are important. We need to learn these skills before the people who possess the knowledge are gone. It's about working your behind off and having a LOT to show for it. Knowing where your food comes from. And supporting your community."