Rebekah Rhodes hardly needs an introduction. She along with her husband Justin create wildly popular Youtube content around their 75 acre North Carolina homestead, all the while getting their 4 (soon to be five) children involved. Their goal is to inspire others to grow more, a call that many of us homesteaders were encouraged by. The following is an excerpt of a previous Instagram takeover.
What homesteader doesn’t have a huge to-do or want to-do list? I thought so. Quickly after deciding this life is the one you want, everyone starts thinking of *all* the things they want to do on said homestead. I mean who doesn’t want to have it all?
I find that having kids can complicate this at first. When I was a new mama, I barely got involved. Heck we started a CSA and then when morning sickness started. I was on the couch and Justin took over! I remember early on when I was able to be more involved it was a big struggle. I would start in on a task and then a baby needed to be nursed or a diaper needed to be changed. And man, nothing kills the joy then getting all the stuff ready, actually starting and then having to step away to maybe not return for a good bit of time. Then coming back to find your other child(ren) has gotten involved in your project and all the supplies are strewn about.
The beauty though of kids is they grow up and they want to help. They want to get involved. They have ideas that are better than yours. They are companions in the homestead. I have found that this is a really sweet time in which your relationships with your kids can grow. My kids are growing and not even to the teen years yet. But I am seeing the future and it is sweet.
Homesteading can be lonely. You can feel like the only people in the world who want to know where your food comes from. You want friends and it would be even better if those friends have kids because then your kids can not feel lonely either. It was easier when the kids were younger because they didn’t know what they were missing out on.
Now, we belong to a strong group of homesteaders in which we get together for gatherings but also for butchering days. We gather at whoever homestead needs the help, we get our hands dirty, the kids play, and we share a meal of some sort. We are having a chicken butchering in 12 days. I know the exact number of days because one of my children keeps asking when her friend is coming over. She hasn’t seen her in a while, and she has some questions to ask her. She literally just told me this an hour ago while putting up sheep fencing.
One thing we read early on was from Joel Salatins’ book “You Can Farm”. His first of the ten commandments for succeeding on farm is #1 Stay at home. This was hard the first time I read this. But after really thinking about it, it makes a lot of sense. you can’t run off and do a bunch of stuff when animals needs need to be met. I also find that when I would leave and do off homestead stuff many days in a row it left be so far behind on the chores (inside and out) and I would get very overwhelmed.
Finding friends in a homesteading community can be difficult. One suggestion I have and that worked for us was to stop at a neighboring farm that used @premier1supples electric netting. We saw that and knew they were someone who would be good to know. We also looked for others through various venues like FB. Another way would be to ask around at the feed store, maybe put up a flyer to have a homesteader get together. There are lots of ways build community.
Our kids are all in with the homesteading goal at this time. We have the expectation that when our children grow up and leave the nest, they may not want to continue this lifestyle and that is ok with us. We want to support them in whatever they decide to do. My mama heart of course wants to keep them here on farm as long as possible, but they also may fly away. It helps to start them off young. We already had chickens and a garden when I was pregnant with Jonah.
But if you have children and you want to get them all in, I would suggest giving them some free rein to do something that is their project alone. You may need to help them, but they call the shots. You could pay them if it is a job that they help you with that is paying you.
Another strategy we have used is to not necessarily make your kids do the task with you but keep them close by playing near you while you do the task. That way they associate being with you on whatever job you are doing with having fun.
Our children are huge parts of this homestead operation. They can move the mobile electric netting and the animals. They can feed and water the chickens, milk the cow, and water the plants. They don’t love weeding but will do it especially if they can listen to an audio book. As well as helping in the butchering of these animals.
We talk a lot about why we do this homesteading and why we raise our animals in this manner. They honestly don’t know much difference since we have been doing this since Jonah was a toddler. If you are coming into this lifestyle with older children, I can see that this may be an issue for some. My thought is talk with them openly. Allow them to voice their concerns. Don’t make them do a job they have strong moral feelings against (ie butchering). Encouragement goes a to further than mandatory participation.