Hey there, I am Jen. I am a Jesus loving mom of four kids, 6 chickens and 2 dogs and wife to Matthew. We live in Northeast Ohio near the Great Lake Erie in a small town of 10,000 – that’s pretty small for us anyway. I was a city girl most of my life and never really considered any other way of life until my sons reached middle school age and I knew I didn’t want them being influenced by the school they were in. My soul was seeking a slower pace of life and it coincided with life circumstances that moved my family from a larger urban suburb of Cleveland to a smaller sleepy town on the lake.
I was working with an organization that had plans to help victims of crime overcome what they had been through with the use of holistic therapies, including gardening. The problem was I knew nothing about these things and I reasoned if I was going to teach women how to garden I should learn myself and thus I planted my first garden in the spring of 2016. It was a 4 x 4 raised bed that I implemented a square footage system in and it did OK (nothing fabulous) for the first 2 years.
Fast forward to the winter of 2018. I was feeling overwhelmed and rundown in life in general. The busy pace and stress of the world we created was wearing on me and I felt “sick” a lot of the time. Some friends of mine were very smitten with essential oils and suggested I use them to help with how I was feeling. Well, I am a research junkie so obviously I began researching essential oils which led to a rabbit trail which took me down the road of chemicals present in most beauty and household products, the benefits of essential oils, natural household cleaners, the dangers of some over the counter medications and prescriptions, herbal remedies and so much more. One thing led to another and another and another. My eyes were open to the world around us in a new way. The more I learned about these things, the more I also learned about local farmers, the benefits of supporting local businesses and – most importantly, in my opinion – the absolute need to be self sufficient on some level. Make your own, grow your own and raise your own is necessary.
I also became glaringly aware that most of the skills that would allow people to be self sufficient are becoming rare and not being taught to our younger generations. I have always been a good cook (praise!), but there were so many things that I just had no clue about. Take my garden for example: even though I measured out the square footage and planted the seeds for the past couple years I was ignorant to the importance of soil health, permaculture, pests, etc., etc., I had planted lemon balm against my house 2 summers ago (not knowing what it was or the many health benefits of it) and was annoyed when it spread. I had no idea how to sew, how to make a simple healing salve, how to can, and on and on…….I also realized there were not many places to learn these skills. Thank God for the internet and the library.
I dived in and started making changes around our home. My family thought I lost it. (They still may think this.) But let me tell y’all, the more I learned and the more I focused on this “new” way of living for us, the less stressed I felt, the less rushed I felt, the closer to God I felt. This spring as I tore out the dead green beans from the season before (I know y’all, I know…) I felt God teaching me and showing me how gentle He takes away the dead in us and makes it new. I learned medicinal properties of dozens of plants and foraged in my own yard (and everywhere else I could) for things I would later turn to salves and tinctures. I am in constant awe of all that God has provided us.
I picked every fresh fruit and veggie in season and learned to can and make jams. I started making our own deodorants, sunscreen, lip balms and so much more and took them to the local farmers market where I was surrounded with like minded people who knew way more than I did. I was blessed to become friends with a beautiful young woman that has so much in common with me it is sometimes scary. She has her own homestead not far from me with acres of beautiful land and dozens of chickens and ducks. I would talk with her about my dream to homestead and she encouraged me that even though I lived in city limits, homesteading is a mind frame and there was no reason to wait until I had acres of my own to do it.
So here I am y’all. I am urban homesteading full time, relying on God, learning about herbalism and working with what I have in order to be one step closer to being self sufficient. I am a long way off. A long way. But I figure, why not record this journey and share it with you? My days are full of craziness, chasing around our 4 month old Lab mix, Bixby, and 7 year old Catahoula, Blue and learning how to keep chickens and learn all the skills under the sun. Someday, I hope to have a “real” homestead of my own where I can add some goats and maybe other livestock. It is also a dream to teach others the skills I am eating up and the importance for them to be self sufficient too. But until then, let’s get froggy.