Thursday, September 18, 2014

Meet the Homestead and Preparedness Writers Stacy with Game and Garden

For this week's interview I am super excited to have someone from my home state. Stacy with is very widely published and highly educated. She left a career as an attorney to live a simpler and more sustainable life. I do not know if she has read my blog at all, but if she hasn't we are "preaching" the same message about not being motivated by fear.

I would like to point out that Stacy is the only one so far who has refused to answer how old she is. That is fine, I just found it funny. I tell all of the writers I interview that if they do not want to answer any of the questions I send them to just leave them blank and I will delete them. 

I really enjoyed getting to know Stacy and I think you will too. She has a lot of good things to say.

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

I don’t really consider myself in any particular category, but by default, I probably fit the mold for both and more. I believe that all thinking people that aim to live a healthy, abundant, quiet life will have many of the characteristics of a prepper and a homesteader. It is just common sense that we need to be prepared for disasters, grow our own foods or get it from reputable farmers, eat honest pure foods free from added hormones, genetically modified organisms, and to be as self-sufficient as possible so that we can help others. I have been making this my ambition for the past 20 years.

I am a prepper to the extent that I believe it is only wise to be on the watch at all times and to be prepared for future events, good and bad. They will both come. My step-dad was a Green Beret and taught me self-defense, to be aware of my surroundings in parking lots, schools,…everywhere. With the world changing today, this is a must. We should NOT be motivated by fear, but not we should not walk around with our heads in the clouds either. As for disasters, they happen all the time. We had a stint in Alabama about 15 years ago where there was no power for up to a month. Preparation for this kind of disaster will save a lot of heartache when disaster hits, and it will hit.

I certainly fit the bill as a homesteader, but never really set out to be a homesteader.I suppose you could call me an accidental homesteader. One of the reasons is quite simple. Fresh food tastes better and is more healthy. I know their are more added reasons to be a homesteader such as being self-sufficient (which I love), but everyone in the world will agree with that statement. It only seems natural to grow and harvest your food yourself. The two go hand in hand. Throughout the years I have increased the size of our garden to suit the size of my family, developed a hydroponics system with the help of my husband and boys, raise chickens and bees, have an outdoor oven built of clay, sand, and water (incredible fun and great food to boot!), use compost for fertilizer, and love wild edibles from our foraging adventures. 

On your site you state that you left a career as a lawyer. What were the reasons for making that decision, especially when popular convention states that everyone should pursue a career?

Popular convention also says, “Make as much money as you can”, but true worth isn’t wrapped up in what you have in the bank. Practicing law is a very important job, but being a wife and mother is more important. Although some women may be able to do both, I couldn’t give my all to my clients and my all to my husband and children at the same time in my life. I already had a baby when I graduated law school and once I had my second child, I needed to focus on caring for my children.

The world’s definition of success is far different than true success. "And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul,” or to me my children’s souls. My place was at home. I continued to have more children and they needed me there. I also wanted to learn how to produce healthy tasty meals, how to inspire creativity and hard work in my kids from an early age, and tend to my husband’s needs.

I am now able to do more “in the world” than I was able to when I had all small children and my older kids help a ton (and enjoy it) which enables me to share the things I have learned along the way. 

What do you think the greatest challenge our society faces?

I believe apathy is a very real and great challenge in our society. The moral fiber in our society is being torn to shreds and at times seems to have to be legislated which ties the hands of those of us desiring to make a difference. Our freedoms and rights are gradually being overtaken and “we, the people” sit idly by allowing it to happen. I think people aren’t finding motivation and purpose in much of anything. I also feel that people have given up on having their say in the government and their communities. We need men and women to stand up for the freedoms that America was founded upon. We need people to CARE and feel that their vote means something; that THEIR VOICE MATTERS. I am beginning to sound like a politician, but we are all politicians because we DO have a say…WE NEED TO SAY IT.

You have chosen to home educate 7 children. Can you tell us why you made that decision and some of the challenges of home educating your children? 

While my oldest children were still babies, I was reading about home education. Quite frankly, I had a hard time with the fact that I was going to miss the best parts of the day with my kids. I really wanted to be with them when they were at their best and I was my best. I wanted conversation in the mornings, work and school mid-day, walks in the afternoon, dinner preparation in the evening, and so on without being rushed.

As far as education is concerned, my husband and I feel that all of life is education.For instance, children learn math, genetics, basic science, chemistry, history, reading, and horticulture from gardening. How many asparagus plants do I plant for a family of 9? What is the origin of pumpkins? Why are there so may varieties of pumpkins. All learning leads to more learning.

I wanted to teach the kids everything that I know as well as learn with them a life of self-sufficiency that would give them the confidence to overcome problems, excel in life, and enable them to share with others. I would have missed so many opportunities for sharing my knowledge, my struggles and how I overcame them, and so much more had we not homeschooled. I am sure there would have been other opportunities had they participated in the traditional form of education, but I am quite sure we made the correct decision to homeschool.

There have been challenges to home educating as there is in most everything worth anything. For me, managing my time and the time of my kids has been a challenge. There is so much work in the home, in the gardens, and life interruptions that a clear schedule needs to be attended to. The schedule has changed every year with the addition of children, or as of late, two of my children graduating and entering college.

Another challenge has been home educating different ages with very different learning styles and interests. I believe that each person has a certain bent that needs to be developed, therefore, my teaching is very individualized to each of my students. Time management is a must! By nature, I am not a very organized person, but homeschooling has certainly forced me to become more organized. I have to admit it is still a struggle, but a discipline that I am leaning and get most excited about sharing with other moms.

On your site you talk about learning to prepare wild game and how at first you were not a fan. How did you begin to change your opinion of wild game?

My husband is an avid outdoorsman and quite the cook. He loves great food. For the life of me, I could not figure out how to make venison taste as good as the beef from the supermarket. I wanted to please the “hunter gatherer” side him as a newlywed, therefore I began searching ancient recipe books on how to cook meat. The meat that our ancestors cooked was what today we call “wild” or “free-range, organic” meat. As I studied and mastered the ability to cook wild game, I began to understand how the flavor was developed from the fact that it was free-range. The health benefits were evident to me and I determined that I could control much of my health by my control over my food source. From then on, our family has made it our ambition to harvest and “put up” as much of our food as possible for optimal health. This is where my first book,Happy Healthy Family Tracking the Outdoors In, comes in. I wanted to make it easy for others to cook wild game, and free-range/organic meats and fresh vegetables as possible. That is what the book is all about.

What are some tips you can give to those who are hesitant about eating game? My wife is not really thrilled about eating what I harvest either. With wild game, it is all in the preparation. To extract the best flavor and texture (not gamey or though), you will need to treat each animal and cut of meat a particular way. In my book, Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living, I give you a chart on how to treat each cut of meat as well as a substitution list for meats you don’t have available. If prepared correctly, you are going to treasure the wild meat any day over the farm raised unless of course it is raised as God intended - without unnecessary added hormones, GMO’s, and antibiotics. 

You are quite widely published. Tell us a little about which of your books you think would be the best starting point.

I will tell you a little about each book and let you decide. Photographs are very important to me in that I am a very visual person. All of my books have a photo accompanying any subject or recipe.

Happy Healthy Family Tracking the Outdoors In is my first book written to encourage people to cook wild foods for their family as often as they get the chance to do. I also have wonderful vegetables and salads and a few tips on growing your own vegetables.

Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living is my latest book and gives tons of tips for growing heirloom vegetables, herb pots, saving seeds, raising chickens and bees, composting, as well as tons of great recipes using the vegetables, fruit, chicken, eggs, and game that you harvest.

My DVD,Gourmet Venison, takes you through 15 venison recipes, some of which can be found in my book, Recipes and Tips for Sustainable Living. I take you through every step of each cut of venison and how to make it tender and succulent. 

Which magazine publication did you enjoy doing most?

I have loved every one of them. I know that sounds crazy, but they have all come from different angles and have shown the truths of how I live and why. I am just as excited and honored every time I do a magazine, tv, radio, or blogger interview. Each article takes on a different personality because each interviewer has a different personality. It is really quite enlightening.

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

Not at all. We have always lived a little outside the box, but really there is nothing tremendously unusual about our lifestyle. Almost everyone back in the 1950’s had a kitchen garden and a few chickens running around in the back yard, canned overflowing vegetables for future use, and bought local honey from their neighbors. Food has always been a big part of life. Only recently have people entrusted large supermarkets for their sustenance and trusted the government to take care of them. 

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

I want to encourage people to start where they are. You don’t have to own 50 chickens, a few cows, bee hives, run a top notch garden, have a composting bin right now. Learn a little and put it into practice. Learn a little more, put it into practice. Enjoy the process and soon enough you will be pretty well self-sufficient or at least locally-sufficient. I think my gifts are mostly to inspire and teach and make it as EASY as possible for people to get started and finish with pride. My books are full of EASY tips about living sustainable, eating wild, preparing beautiful delicious foods. 

If you could tell everyone one thing what would it be?

Be thankful. Find joy in living the day to day mundane as well as the exciting times. Put your sufficiency in Christ because no matter how much you prepare for the future, you are not completely in control. This is an ongoing lesson in my home. No matter what the situation, if you can give thanks, attitudes change and you will make better decisions. Take nothing for granted. 

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Stacy with When you drop by her site please tell her The Rural Economist sent you.

Stacy is just one of the many writers who are trying to help you achieve your
Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

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