In her blog, Jen plans to focus on family stories.
“In my estimation, there’s nothing worse than photos in an old shoebox whose stories have wandered off. My effort to recapture those stories is what fills my blog. I write so that my children will know the roots of their amazing family history, which includes a lot of tales about agricultural and rural life. It’s important to me that, although they’re being raised in a suburban neighborhood, they have as many benefits of country life as I can give them. So we plant a garden, save the seeds, raise chickens and Monarch butterflies, and get into nature as much as possible. My writing often reflects these efforts at keeping threads of country life woven into the next generation. That’s the inspiration for my blog’s name, Farmburban.”
She will also focus on her hobbies and day-to-day life. “I enjoy crafting, cooking, gardening, iPhone photography, and family adventures, so I’ll sometimes just share photos of daily life as it unfolds. I also often write on topics related to our family’s faith and daily life at my personal blog, Epistellein.”
Currently, Jen is working on running electricity to the chicken coop as they are anticipating another harsh winter in southeast Pennsylvania. She says, “My city-boy husband can’t take another spell of chickens in the garage!”
On her to-do list: Building a row of compost bins from old pallets; re-fencing the garden; and building some chicken tunnels (“chunnels”) from a roll of old deer fence.
While the family doesn’t live in the country, Jen says, “I grew up on a farm until I married my husband at age 22, at which point I started my suburban season of life. We’ve been married 19 years and are raising our triplets in a small town north of Philly at the end of a cul-de-sac. I strive to keep my farm roots alive in our backyard where I have a small chicken coop, garden, and heritage flower beds. My husband, the ‘fauxmer,’ was raised in Philadelphia, but I’m ever-so-slowly turning him into a Farmburban boy.”
Her definition of homesteading: “I think ‘homesteading’ is rooted in love of the land, no matter how big or small that piece of land happens to be. I wouldn’t consider myself a homesteader on our suburban 1/3 acre, but I do consider myself to have a homesteader’s heart as I am always looking for ways to nurture an appreciation of how life unfolds.”
Regarding the family garden, Jen says, “I grew up with my mom’s large vegetable garden on the farm. I don’t can or do too much freezing, but I do want my children to understand where food comes from and to have a role in tending the garden so they develop a love and appreciation of the land.
“This year I planted a variety of tomatoes, sunflowers, some pumpkins that came from my grandfather’s farm, and strawberry popcorn. There’s also a handful of wild morning glories growing among the rows of corn and sunflowers.”
The family shares Farmburban with a few critters: “We have a small flock of mixed breed chickens (five right now). We also have an elderly indoor cat and an elderly Dachshund who knows that the chickens rule the yard! For the past five summers, Monarchs have stopped by our milkweed way-station to deposit their eggs and we raise the caterpillars inside.”
Jen lists her country skills: “I spent many years helping my dad make hay on the farm so I have some familiarity with that job. I have a fair green thumb in the vegetable garden and a strong green thumb in the flower beds. Chickens are my husbandry of choice. Cooking is coming along. I also learned how to quilt from my grandmother and hem from my mom but my favorite needle skill is cross-stitching.”
And her philosophy of country life?
“There’s a little bit of country life that appeals to everyone, even if everyone didn’t grow up with it. Not everyone wants to live the country life, just as not everyone wants to live at an urban or suburban pace. And thank goodness for our differences! But given a chance, I’d bet that something of country life, whether it be the pride of serving a salad from the garden or the leisure of listening to peepers in the spring pond, appeals to each of us and makes us feel at home.”