Thursday, October 2, 2014

Meet the Homestead & Preparedness Writers Nicole with Little Blog on the Homestead

This week we will be getting to know Nicole with There are several things I really like about Nicole and her site. One she is young and knows what is important. She and her husband to be are working toward self sustainability. I think you could learn a lot from this young lady. I hope you enjoy getting to know her. 

How old are you?

I just recently turned 27. Last year was rough, now I am officially late twenties ;-)

Do you consider yourself a prepper, a homesteader, or a mixture of both?

I am a mixture of both. In our world we feel that the two go hand in hand. Being a prepper shapes our world view, and helps to encourage us to learn those extra skills, or can that extra couple pounds of beans because you really never know what might happen. In my opinion, homesteading is the ultimate prep because it gives you the chance to become self-sufficient and then you can face any emergency with the confidence to know you’ll not only survive but thrive.

What do you think the greatest challenge our society faces?

Our lack of awareness. All to often when I talk to people about our lifestyle they are completely flabbergasted. Most people don’t know or care where their food comes from, they think that the government or someone will always be there to help them in an emergency. People are willing to take everything at face value and not question what they’re told. I’ve always been a non-conformist (or a pain in the butt if you ask my mom) being told to do something wasn’t good enough for me, I need concrete reasons for why you wanted me to do whatever. This lead me into homesteading/prepping because I questioned everything. And when I couldn’t get good answers from the establishment I looked elsewhere.

On your site you state that you are engaged. Did you and your husband to be decide to be more self sustainable together or was one of you the leader?

We actually came into it together. He has always been a bit of a prepper (he is our security and zombie apocalypse expert) and I have always had the drive to be self sufficient. So it was actually a perfect union. We have different strengths and life experiences that pair nicely together. He built a completely off-grid home/ranch with his dad while he was growing up, so he has a lot of the hands on experience with animals and building things and knowing how to make things work. I have a lot of the more domestic skills, I grew up doing a lot of the cooking at my house, always fascinated with creating and crafting and have always had the thirst for knowledge/researching. So I am the dreamer and he is the doer. Together we have really been able to do a lot that we would never have thought to separately.

What is some advice that you would give couples just starting out?

Start small, start with your passions. If you have always wanted to garden but fear committing to something large get started with container gardens (that’s where I started and have gotten bigger every year). Learn everything you can, ask questions, find experts, find mentors. Talk to your grandparents or go to the senior center. The knowledge base there is incredible and so many of them would love to pass on that knowledge but don’t have anyone in their family who cares. But most importantly, don’t be afraid to fail. Now is the time to try things and learn from your mistakes.

Did any of your family members try to discourage the lifestyle you have chosen?

Oh man. I get all the weird looks and questions whenever we go to family functions. I wear my Buy Local Produce shirt and bring our canned goods for presents and espouse my theories on whole foods, off-grid living, and sustainability and they just look at me and wonder where I came from. I remember our very first Christmas together we went to Dustin’s grandma’s house. We have a pretty low meat diet, I have been a vegan/vegetarian for years but now settled nicely on locavore-flexitarian. We love cheese but really other than that could give up animal products quite easily. His aunt went off on me about protein and the importance of animal products and spouted off all of the FDA-meat/dairy industry propaganda. I had known this woman 5 minutes but she was so sure we were wrong to do anything different than textbook. You just have to learn to shrug it off. Do your research, find what’s best for your family even if it isn’t ‘normal’ and than live that life. You have to accept that people will tell you how wrong you are, so be willing to listen respectfully, be willing to hear different opinions and then embrace your weirdness.

You are trying to homestead in a suburban environment. Have you faced any challenges with neighbors or HOAs?

We luckily do not have HOA, and our neighbors have been incredibly supportive. When we are out working in the garden (which is our front yard) people will stop and ask how the garden is growing or give encouragement. It’s been wonderful. People are curious and are starting to realize all of the things we’re told might not be true. On top of that we live in a really great town (not that I’m biased or anything) that is very locavore friendly. There are a number of CSA’s, an amazing Farmers Market and a growing community of homesteaders. The local college (and my alma mater, GO Lakers) has an apiary and holds beekeeper meetings, we have multiple health food stores, a great recycling program and a bunch of community gardens.

You make it a point to share mistakes as well as triumphs. What is the biggest or funniest goof you have had?

Oh man, to choose just one? Let’s see, we decide to get away for the weekend and went up north to the property. We took our guns and planned to have some target practice, wander around the woods, cook over the fire, just enjoy a good off grid getaway. We love shooting, going to the range is one of our favorite date nights and I had just gotten my new 9mm so I was really excited. So we would line up, shoot the targets (we had awesome hostage targets that were really fun to use) and then go check how we did. We are big on gun/range safety. Anyways it was about 90 degrees and so I was wearing a tank top to try and stay cool. Dustin is 6’1 and I am 5’5 so I knew I would be standing to the left because I really didn’t feel like getting hit with hot brass. Well, best laid plans and all that, at one point I was reloading my mag (I only had one, sad face) and had stooped down and somehow ended up on the left of Dustin. The guys decided to shoot off another round as I was standing up…I ended up getting hit with about 3 pieces of brass including one that seared to my skin. I was holding two guns at the time and wasn’t going to just drop them so I had to get them to the ground and then pull off the piece of brass…I still have the scar. Hurt like the dickens. The guys gave me crap for wearing a tank top, I gave them crap for shooting without me and it’s still one of those things we laugh about. And I ALWAYS stay to the left now!

If you are a prepper what preparations have you made or do you feel everyone should make?

If you are going to do anything, focus on the big three. Have food, water, shelter/heat. Those three things can get you through any emergency from storms to zombies. It’s amazing how often people don’t have enough supplies in their homes to last a couple days. I go to my friends/families houses and when I worry for them. Because if something happened they wouldn’t do well. Once you have those things under control you can focus on learning more. But until then all the preps in the world will do no good if you can’t eat or stay warm.

IF you are a homesteader tell me a little about your homestead.

Our homestead is a lovely little house smack dab in the city center. We live on a fairly typical block with small yards and alleys. It’s not ideal, but it’s where we are now. So we get creative and do what we can. We have our garden in the front yard, 4 3x6 raised garden beds. I have containers in the back yard. We have rain barrels (which are semi operational since I’m still waiting on someone to put my gutters up…ahem Dustin) and we compost. We buy a CSA every year and this year I have been borrowing my grandparents pressure canner to really step up that area of prep. We bought butchered chickens from my cousins (who homestead about 40 minutes north of us) and we live frugally, on a cash budget, so that in 5 years we can buy our own property and build our dream homestead.

How long have you been homesteading, prepping or both?

I was homesteading/prepping before I even knew what it was about 4 years ago. I started learning to can and garden, I had emergency bags set aside just because I have always been freaked out by natural disasters and was living in Arkansas at the time so I was super paranoid about tornados. I feel like my homestead journey really took a turn though about 2 years ago when I bought my house. That’s when I started to learn about what homesteading/prepping were and realized that was exactly what I wanted. I also got divorced around that time so it became a necessity to be more frugal and learn how to make my own rather than buy.

If you could tell every person one thing what would it be?

There is nothing worse than regret. So take chances and try new things, the worst that can happen is you don’t like it/screw up. That’s so much easier to handle than wondering ‘what if’.

What do you think your best asset is in helping others achieve self sustainability?

That I am willing to share the good and the bad. I get so discouraged when I read blogs/books and it seems like they are so perfect. I will always share my failures as well as my successes so that others can learn from both. I want people to see that it is ok to try new things and learn through trial and error. I’m a typical girl who grew up in a fairly typical town with fairly typical life experiences. If I can do it anyone can.

There you have it. I really hope you enjoyed getting to know Nicole and when you stop by her site be sure and tell her The Rural Economist sent you. 

As you can see from these interviews, there are people of all ages and all areas of the country who are trying to help you achieve your

Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

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