Thursday, October 30, 2014

Meet the Homestead & Preparedness Writers Angi with Schneider Peeps

This week we get to know Angi with Angi has written 4 books and shares her experiences homesteading and homeschooling. Their family has gone through some tough times, but have grown through them all. I hope you enjoy getting to know her.

How old are you? My husband and I are both 46

Do you consider yourself a prepper, a homesteader, or a mixture of both?
I consider us a homesteading family but with homesteading comes a natural tendency to prepare for the future and for emergencies. We preserve produce from our garden each season with the goal of not having to purchase vegetables (and one day fruit) from others. That could be considered prepping; we like to consider it being good stewards of what we have.

You are mother to 6 children. What are some of the challenges and victories of raising a large family?
Our first five children were born within eight years. I think these were the most challenging years. It is very physically exhausting to have little ones who depend on you for so many things. During these years the extent of our homesteading was having a garden that we could enjoy with our children. There was no way I could handle any livestock at time in our lives.

When our youngest child was 7 we had another baby, which makes six. Because of the large age gap and because all of her siblings adore her, our 5 year old has a much different life than our older children did. The challenge here has been to not be so teenage focused that her childhood is rushed or be so baby focused that our older children do not get to do the things they want to “because we have the baby”.

Even with a five year old, I feel like I’m on the downward side of the parenting mountain. Or oldest son married last year and we now have a grandchild. Our second son has graduated and is in college and working. It is so rewarding seeing our children having the confidence to follow their dreams. They all know how to work hard (well, the 5 year old is still learning) and are often hired by church members or neighbors to work for them. They also have compassion for others. When a widowed neighbor called to ask our beekeeper son (who was 14 at the time) to come remove some bees from her porch, he did…and then declined payment. I’m very proud of him for that, not many 14 year olds would have thought to bless someone like that on their own.

What do you think the greatest challenge our society faces?
I think the biggest challenge is to raise children who actually become adults instead of kids in adult bodies. We have to stop giving our children everything they want and nothing that they need. We have to teach them to work, to give and to save. And it has to happen BEFORE they reach 18. We are raising a generation of children who never become adults. It is a child who wants mommy and daddy to fix whatever problems they get into. And a child who refuses to delay pleasure (and so goes into debt for school, food, cars and anything else he desires.)

How involved are your children in the homestead?
Our children are pretty involved in our homestead because they all like eating. ;-) Any of our older children can pretty much do anything on our homestead that needs to be done. We believe that teaching our children these skills will make them a more productive member of society. Now, whether they use these skills as adults is up to them.

The 50 chickens belong to two of our children. They are losing interest in raising chickens and so we will not be replacing hens all the hens when these stop laying. Our 16 year old son is the beekeeper. It is completely his endeavor and he loves it.

When we purchased our property 3 years ago we were very careful to purchase only what we felt like we could reasonably care for without our children’s help, because they were already growing up and leaving. Homesteading is mine and my husband’s dream. Our children each have their own dreams they want to pursue. Like all parents we want to encourage them to follow their dreams, not have following our dream trample their dreams.

On your site you talk about homeschooling. Why did you make the decision to home school? 
We originally started homeschooling because my husband was in graduate school and worked in the evenings. If our oldest son had gone to a traditional school he would have only seen his daddy on Sundays. And I figured I probably couldn't mess up kindergarten. I went into homeschooling reluctantly but that didn’t last long. I truly believe there is no better education a person can receive than one that has been designed just for him based on his interests, abilities and challenges.

What are some of the challenges of homeschooling different ages of children?
The biggest challenge for me is time. With several of my older children we had some reading and speech challenges, these were stressful years. Because I would spend extra time focused on speech therapy activities and reading lessons, other things like history and science got taught all together. I learned that I really liked that approach, so until my oldest son was in the 9th grade all history and science learning was done as a family with each child learning at his level.

Now that my older children are teenagers (and adults) I find that I’m more of mentor/tutor than teacher. They take several classes at our home school co-op and at the community college. They are also very independent learners so even with things like math I’m really just the tutor and grade keeper instead of the teacher.

In what section of the country is your homestead?
We live along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Did any of your family members try to discourage the lifestyle you have chosen? Our family is pretty cool with the fact that we have a garden, orchard chickens and bees. It reminds our parents of their childhoods and our siblings love hanging out at our place.

If you are a prepper what preparations have you made or do you feel everyone should make? The only natural disaster we prepare for is hurricanes. Other than that we prepare for things we think everyone should prepare for like power and water outages, medical emergencies, death and finances.

If you are a homesteader tell me a little about your homestead. Our homestead is 1.5 acres just outside the city limits. We can be anywhere we need to be in town within 15 minutes, which is really great with active kids in the house. We have about 48 hens and 2 roosters – yes, I know the numbers are not ideal, but the roosters aren’t complaining. Our son also has a small apiary. We are fortunate to live where the winters are mild and can keep our garden going year round. The hardest months for gardening are mid-July to mid-September, because of the extreme heat. When we moved here we had a lemon tree, two pecan trees and a mulberry tree that is on our neighbor’s property but hangs over our fence. We have since added fig, orange, grapefruit, lime, apple, pear, peach, plum and pomegranate trees; along with blueberry bushes and grape vines.

We’d love to add some more fruit trees, like avocado but we have no intention of adding any other livestock.

How long have you been homesteading, prepping or both? We've been gardening for over 20 years and have always had a mind to the future. But we've only had chickens for four years and bees for three.

What do you think your best asset is in helping others achieve self sustainability? I think letting people see what really takes place on our homestead is one of my greatest strengths. When our garden is being burned up and eaten up in July, I still post our monthly “what’s happening it the garden” post –with photos; even though everyone else on the internet is posting beautiful photos of their amazing harvests and beautiful gardens. I often get comments from people thanking me since they thought they were the only ones with burned up gardens.

Also, I don’t have strong opinions about most homesteading things. I really think that people need to experiment and if something works they can keep doing it and if it doesn't work for them, they should try something else. So, I share what we’re doing and how it works. If someone tried it and found it didn't work for them, I love for them to (nicely) comment on the post so others can learn from them. There are just too many variables in homesteading for any one way to be the best way for all homesteaders everywhere.

You have written 4 books. Which book was the most difficult to write? Which was the most rewarding?  The most difficult of my four books to write was Hope-Thriving While Unemployed, which I co-authored with my husband. Writing with my husband wasn't the reason it was hard, though, I loved that part. Since the birth of our second son (18 yrs ago) I have been a stay at home mom and Carl has been the breadwinner for our family. Like many families we have experienced a layoff or two over the years. Most of the time Carl has been able to find another (better) full-time position very quickly.

However, from April 2008 to May 2012, Carl did not have a full-time job. Yep, that’s four years. During that time he worked 3 to 4 part-time jobs – concurrently. On so many levels it was an extremely hard season of life. It was also during this time that our youngest daughter was born, my dad passed away suddenly, we moved three times, four if you count the our semi-homeless two months that we lived in RVs in an RV park while we waited for our mortgage to be approved for the property we now live on. Even now, writing about that four year season hurts my heart.

But it also brings Hope to my heart. During this time we saw God do some really amazing things in our lives, like bless us with a baby after 7 years, give Carl a part-time job that he loved that eventually became a full-time job and give us a forever house. God also provided for us in so many ways and through so many people that we know (and so do our kids) that there is nothing we can go through that God will not be there to walk with us though it.

But because I am somewhat shallow emotionally, these emotions were really hard work through as we wrote. Fortunately, Carl is very deep emotionally and kept the book from being just a bunch of bullet points and encouraged me to go deeper. We’re a good balance for each other. This is also the book that I think has the ability to truly help people change their lives and their circumstances. I've received many emails from people who have read the book thanking us for writing it and telling us how it is helping them. That makes the hard work worth it.

The book that was the most rewarding to write was The Gardening Notebook. This is the first book I wrote and I learned so much about the writing and publishing process. The Gardening Notebook was born out of my own garden notebook that I had kept for years. I saw a need in the market place for something more than just a notebook with blank pages for the gardener to fill out. But I didn't want to write a gardening book because so much of successful gardening is about observing your garden and your climate. So, I took the notes I had for many fruits and vegetables and created notebook pages with plenty of white space for gardeners to make their own notes. With over 100 pages there is plenty of information to get a new gardener started and a seasoned gardener organized. It is, by far, my most popular book.

If you could tell every person one thing what would it be? Grow some food. Put seeds in the ground, water them and watch them grow. It really is simple.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Angi with and will swing by her blog and say hi. If you do go by her site please remember to tell her The Rural Economist sent you. Oh and check out her books. 

Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

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