Grit Blogs > Adventures on the Homestead

In the Beginning

Monica SmithI have thought about raising animals for meat for a very long time now. And I have attempted gardening (half heartedly really) in the past with no success. But now, things are changing. My oldest son has been diagnosed with High Functioning Autism, ADHD/ODD, and depression. His younger brother has been diagnosed with ADHD/ODD, anxiety, and is treated for impulsivity. Then, there's my own problems: Narcolepsy with cataplexy, ADD, anxiety, dpression, migraines, and cluster headaches. I used to think that all these diagnosis were just a doctors attempt to get more money. Now I see. Now I believe (and deep down I know I'm right) that it all comes down to what we put into our bodies and into our childrens bodies. Therefore, this begins my life of homesteading.

It's kind of ironic. All throughout my childhood, when hunting was discussed in our house, my mom would emphatically tell me, "We don't eat Bambi!" I knew that hunting was a 'necessary evil' or else the population would get out of control. There has to be balance. But I swore I'd never marry a hunter. Boy was I kidding myself there!

By the time my husband and I got married, I reconciled myself to the fact that he hunted but I made sure he knew that I was not going to eat it. It wasn't about the taste. People had a hard time understanding that. I remember my grandfather trying to tell me how good that deer was he was cooking at that precise moment. He kept trying to make me take a bite. So finally, I grabbed the piece of meat, ate it even though my stomach was churning, and looked at him and told him, "It tastes good. Now, I don't want any!" They finally left me alone after that.

My husband was cooking some deer one day, and I was really hungry so I finally ate some. Man he cooked it good. After that day, I ate it more often. But still, there was no way I could kill an animal. I certainly couldn't raise an animal from a baby and kill it! That's just cruel! Or is it …

Fast forward. My boys have health issues. I have health issues. I know so many people who have gotten cancer, and I have known for a few years that what you buy in the grocery store contains carcinogens. Finally, my brain has gotten over its absurd aversion to what is natural and realized the fact that I am literally feeding my children cancer, leukemia, ADHD, ODD, anxiety, depression, etc etc etc.

I joined several homesteading groups on Facebook and started watching Youtube videos and one thing stood out clearly with everyone in these groups. They all LOVED their animals. Yes, they still harvested them. There is s difference in harvesting and butchering in my book just for the record. Butchering is what goes on in the chicken plants. There, they are killed one after another, with no love, no respect, no understanding of the animals sacrifice for us. When a homesteader harvests the animals, they are raised with love and care. They are given a good life, fed good food that helps them to be healthy and therefore FEEL better and yes, in the end it gives us better health so that we can feel better too.  And on the day of the harvest, the animal is still looked on with love and respect and above all, with a thankfulness to that animal. Big difference in the way those animals live and die.

I watched a few videos on the actual harvesting of chickens and animals and my children were interested in it too. I figured if they were going to see it in real life then there was no harm in letting them see a video and truthfully, I wanted to gauge their reactions to see if they could handle it. My girls looked at me and said, "Can we keep the feathers?" I laughed and told them about down feather pillows.

It's going to be a bit yet before we get our birds. Longer still before we get our rabbits. But for now, I can work on the garden. I can't use our tiller since it is actually too powerful for me and my husband is afraid of it getting away from me and hurting me or someone else. I don't know how to use the tractor. Truthfully, I'm good with good-old-fashioned labor. I bought a broadfork to dig up the garden instead. Which brings me to present day …

I started digging up the garden last weekend. We got a small portion of it dug up, not big at all. We were only working in the evenings for two days though, so it was good progress regardless. That Sunday, I was just tired and my narcolepsy was giving me a run for my money, so I decided to just chill for the day. And that's what I did. And then it was bad weather for the rest of the week. I was kicking myself in the butt so bad!


Today was the first day I was able to get back out there. It was in the lower 70's and bright and sun-shiny. My legs were bothering me pretty bad (my quads will feel … cold. Like really really cold and achy even when it’s warm weather. Not circulation problems. Don't know what it is) but I made myself get out there anyway. I had to stop and start several times. Being overweight is very hard on someone trying to do some labor, but hopefully the labor will help in that as well!!! Between last week and this week, I've got 18 x 28 feet (roughly) dug up. Let me not forget to mention all the help I've had from most of my kids! They help with the broadfork, although the girls just don't have enough weight on them to pull anything up with it. They help get the grass out of the garden for me which is harder on me than the broadfork. I'm hopeful that we can get the last 18 or so feet done in the next two days. Monday is the end of the month and I just really want it done by then. I also hope to start on my chicken coop and run this week as well. I THINK I have most everything I need here.

Super excited to see what this week brings!!!