Emily Popa is the homestead mama behind Wilders Homestead, a 2.5 acre homestead in Wilders, NC where she lives with her husband and daughter, raising a variety of birds, hogs, rabbits, and bees. The following is an excerpt of a previous Instagram takeover.
Hello Mamas! I’m Emily from @WildersHomestead in Wilders NC, and I’m a first time mom to the most incredible little girl Violeta (yes, I’m biased!). She is 17 months old, she is packed full of energy, and having her has changed every aspect of our homestead.
My husband Dragoș, a blacksmith/metal fabricator @raleighiron and I have 2.5 acres tucked into the woods in central/eastern North Carolina, just east of Raleigh. Our homesteading goal is to raise and grow as much of our own food as possible. We’re about 90% there, not too shabby!
We keep turkeys, guinea fowl, ducks, and chickens for eggs, meat, and pest control. We raise goats for milk. We have hogs for all the delicious pork goodies, rabbits for meat, and bees for honey & pollination. We also have extensive gardens, plenty of fruit trees & berry bushes, mushroom logs, and we love to forage for wild edibles in the nearby woods and fields. Oh, and we’re putting in a blueberry U-pick farm at my in-law’s house just down the road… so there’s that. Needless to say, it is busy enough around here without adding a toddler to the mix!
I’m so excited to share with you lots of “days in the life” posts that you can relate to, some inspiration, a few tips I have learned along the way of this motherhood homesteading chaotic-but-awesome journey, as well as plenty of issues we struggle to overcome. Stay tuned over the next few days as I share some posts and IG stories! I look forward to getting to know some fellow Homesteading Mamas and sharing with you as we learn together.
Just this week, one of my Nigerian Dwarf goats has mastitis, and my Mini LaMancha goat has oozing gash in her leg. I’ve got rabbits expected to kindle any day. Ducklings are set to arrive from the hatchery, we’re selling a few of our pigs to a neighbor. I’ve got gallons of Sugar Snap Peas to harvest and ferment into our favorite probiotic pickles ever, greens to steam and freeze, radishes to pull, potatoes and corn to plant. I have a wheelbarrow of rabbit manure to put out on the garden.
My husband is working on expanding the shelter for our rabbits, installing more cat doors so our farm cats have better access to the mice, fixing the electric hog fence, putting in organic mole/vole deterrent at our future blueberry u-pick farm, and fixing the lawn mower. He also works a highly physical day job, and has to watch our little girl while I milk the goats. And oh yea, I have to find time to raise my kid, cook for my family, pack lunch for my husband, and do the dishes. Laundry, cleaning the floor and bathrooms, washing windows… those are on the list too.
This may read as a list of complaints as well as a to-do list, but in reality I’m excited by most of it. I get to learn to treat mastitis naturally (it worked!) and heal a pretty bad wound on a pregnant animal (doing okay, but taking suggestions). The baby rabbits will be the first to be born here on our homestead. Our ducklings are a new-to-us breed (Welsh Harlequin), and I’m looking forward to teaching my neighbors about raising hogs and hog fencing. I’m thankful to have a garden that’s producing food for my family, and I enjoy the rituals of cooking and cleaning. Well, except doing the dishes. I hate doing dishes…
I try to do most of my chores before my kid wakes up, while she is taking a nap, or after she falls asleep. It’s easier said than done, though, so I often find myself busy with some sort of project when I really should be paying attention to my little girl. I owe it to her to refocus my energy on her several times a day. At least once in the morning, and once in the afternoon, we go outside and I let her choose what we do. More often than not, she chooses a walk in the woods where we keep our goats. I let my toddler be a toddler: climbing trees, balancing on stumps, and splashing in holes where trees used to be.
Sometimes this means she gets caught in a patch of briars and scrapes up her legs, but that’s part of learning. We just wash it off when we get back inside and put some tallow balm on it. The scars will fade but the memories will keep forever. Maybe not the memory of any particular day, but the memory of the feeling: Walking through the woods with all her beloved goats in tow, waiting for their next treat.
We bend down skinny trees so her herd can nibble on the topmost leaves. She races the kids to the top of the big leaning Hickory tree. They always climb higher, but I think she has more fun. Maybe she spends 20 minutes picking up handfuls of sand and piling them on her favorite goat’s back. Whatever it may be, it’s better than being stuck inside. It’s better than being on a strict schedule or timeline. It’s messy, it’s fun, and it’s a real childhood. On days when I’m a less than perfect mother, I try to remind myself that, at least in general, my little girl is living the way kids should live.