By Candance Johnston
Candance Johnston gardens and raises chickens in Krum, Texas. She plans to write about her adventures, misadventures and the lessons she learns as she expands her garden and flock and learns to preserve as much as she can of what she grows. She is interested in organic gardening and raising free range chickens, and is learning lots about what to do (and not do!) to keep things as natural as possible.
At the moment, Candance and her family are turning their backyard into more of a small farm/homestead instead of it being a small hobby project. They want to grow as much of their own food as possible (although the chicken are not food, only their eggs) and that goal is requiring a lot of planning and building they haven’t had to do in past years. Getting the new chicken coop put up, fencing the rest of the raised beds, planting the rest of the garden, learning to can and introducing the newest chicks to the established flock are keeping her busy, for now.
Candance says, “We don’t technically live in the country, although we do live in a town so small it doesn’t have a red light and in a rural area. We moved here almost 14 years ago because we wanted our kids to grow up in a small town environment so they would have a sense of being part of a real community and an appreciation for the hard work and dedication that goes into a rural lifestyle.”
She planted her first garden as a young single mother wanting to provide healthy fresh food for her daughter. Healthy food was too expensive, so she started growing her own. Gardening turned into a passion from there and is something she’s done almost every year since. This year, Candance has Brussels sprouts, broccoli, collard greens, asparagus, corn, onions, green bell peppers, banana peppers, sweet red peppers, cilantro, butternut squash, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapes and pumpkins in her garden.
She considers a homesteader “someone who is able to take the natural resources available to them and become mostly self-sustainable. Homesteaders grow as much of their own food as possible and learn to ration and preserve it to last them throughout the year and, often, also use what they grow and don’t use it for their families as a means to earn extra income.”
Mocho the cat is the queen of the Johnston homestead, at least in her own mind. Three sweet Buff Orpingtons named Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette and Hillary Clinton, two Rhode Island Reds named Meredith and Archimedes, two Silver Laced Wyandottes named Loretta Lynn and Lulu Roman, and one Brown Laced Wyandotte named Aileen Wuornos make up the resident flock. Everyone in the family got to name a chicken or two, so they have a bunch of random names!
Candance is an amazing cook and a great gardener. She has also acquired a lot of knowledge about raising and maintaining healthy free range chickens. This year she’s planning to add canning to her list of skills, and she looks forward to sharing that adventure on her blog.
Her philosophy on country life is this: “Life in a rural area takes you back to a time when things were simpler. We don’t need flashy things, a different restaurant to eat at every night or any of the hubbub of the city. Things move slower and we appreciate what we have because we work hard for it — whether it’s our home, our farm or ranch that provides our livelihood or even something like I have, which is a little backyard farm that I put my heart and soul into and take in pride in providing healthy, pure food for my family. It’s not a lifestyle for everyone, but it’s the only place I’ve ever felt at home.”
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