By Rhonda Crank
Rhonda Crank from Many, Louisiana, says she will focus her blog on “offering help, instruction, ideas, encouragement, just anything we can to others who are seeking to have a more self-sustaining lifestyle.”
“We do this by sharing our knowledge based on the things taught to us by our great-grandparents and grandparents and our own experiences. We are available to answer questions and concerns, and we welcome ideas from our readers.” Rhonda says the blog will also focus on a non-GMO, organic lifestyle on the farm and in the home.
She has always lived in the country, with a few exceptions: “except for short stints with my husband’s job (three months is the longest, and boy was it long!”
When asked for her definition of a “homesteader,” Rhonda writes, “Although I usually call it farmsteading, to me the term means doing everything within your power today to provide for yourself, your family and your animals from your land with as little dependence on the outside world as possible. That means if you are only able to have a few veggies in pots, then that’s what you do; if you are able to produce much of what you consume, then that’s what you do. Tomorrow there may be more opportunities to increase self-sufficiency, by the grace of God, but today is all there is and so that’s what I focus on.”
As for her garden, Rhonda can’t imagine being without one, and her current plot is 100-by-50 feet, and they hope to double it next year. What’s planted in the garden? “Wow, let’s see … we are all non-GMO and organic: Pinkeye Purple Hull peas, Lady Crowder peas, five kinds of beans, corn, popcorn, sweet potatoes, three kinds of potatoes, buckwheat, pumpkins, Above Ground sweet potatoes (squash), butternut squash, zucchini, yellow straight neck squash, two kinds of watermelon, cucumbers, bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, banana peppers, three kinds of heirloom tomatoes, asparagus, lettuces, two kinds of cabbage, kale, mustard, turnips, carrots, beets, radishes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cantaloupe and swiss chard.”
The farm is also home to a fruit orchard with “pecan trees, muscadines, four kinds of fig trees (one tree belonged to my great-grandmother), peach trees, blackberries, grapes, hickory trees. We also have a section of the land planted in pine trees for timber.”
The animals on her family farm include Pit Bulls, Labradors, chickens (Speckled Sussex, Black Australorps and Rhode Island Reds), goats, cows, pigs, horses and ducks.
Rhonda is currently working on upgrading the family farm. “Oh, my, which one to pick … we have taken over the family farm since my parents are both ill. The farm is in disrepair and due to our time constraints, the farm is not getting back up fast as we would like. Our biggest project is repairing the fencing around the whole 110 acres so that more animals can be reintroduced to the farm for our sakes and the land’s sake.”
Her to-do list is, understandably, long: “Well,… an herbal garden and learning how to use it; a smoke house; enlarging the fruit orchard by adding more variety; enlarging the garden to allow room to grow more feed crops for the cows, pigs and chickens; digging a root cellar; getting some sort of solar power backup; putting a hand pump on the well … I guess I’ll stop there! LOL”
As one might imagine, Rhonda’s list of “country skills” is somewhat lengthy. “Between us both: gardening, animal husbandry, cooking, haying, equipment maintenance, poultry care, some sewing, food preservation of all sorts, land maintenance (including the woods, we have 110 acres), milking and using the milk for all sorts of goodies, butchering and processing of livestock, cutting firewood, pond maintenance, fishing, trapping, hunting, small building projects around the farm.”
Rhonda writes, when asked about her philosophy of country life, “To me, there is nothing like the fresh clean air, the toxic free zone created here on our farm. The animals, the garden, harvesting all that God provides for us and knowing what it is I am putting on the table. My Grandfather Ford taught me there are as many ways to accomplish a farm task as there are farmers. No one can tell you what is best for you, your family, your farm, except you. Being willing to listen to and help others is important. Besides building relationships you may need down the road, it may be that we can learn from them, even it is to learn how not to do something.
“I strongly believe the old ways are the best ways, especially in this unstable environment here in the U.S. Less reliance on the electrical system and the ‘system’ in general is a wise move. We can put the old timers’ wisdom into practice in our modern day even with the use of time- and money-saving devices. We practice the same style of farming as did my great-grandparents and my grandparents. Of course, they did not have to worry about non-GMO/organic issues, all food was non-GMO and, for small farmers like them, it was organic. Today a farmer has to do some careful planning to produce truly healthy things for their family.”