Lauren is a homesteading mama and small business owner. She and her three kids live just outside Austin, Texas on 2.5 acres. She’s taught homesteading and healthy home workshops for the last 10 years. She has a milk cow, bees, broiler and layer chickens, a large garden, and a draft horse. She has a passion to help others create healthy homes and learn to homestead no matter where they live.
I didn’t grow up homesteading. I actually had no clue what the word even meant until about 15 years ago. When I was seven years old, my parents bought land about 30 minutes outside of town. No one lived out there. My parents had no clue what they were doing, but we were excited to have space. My childhood was full of riding horses, building a barn with my dad, clearing out poison ivy from fence rows (then getting covered in it), and burning brush piles. We didn’t homestead, but we did live on a farm. It was a great childhood. We worked hard but we played hard too.
I think a love of nature and animals has always been inside of me, but being raised the way I was really fostered and nurtured that love. I’ve always taken a dog and horse with me everywhere I’ve moved. When I went to college, they came with me. When I moved to California, they came with me. But it wasn’t until I was about 21 that I really started learning about homesteading. My senior year of college, I lived on a working horse and cow farm. I traded my rent and my horse’s board for helping out mornings and afternoons feeding and scooping stalls. One day my boss and friend handed me what looked to be like a publication that was 100 years old and told me he thought I would really like it.
I opened it up and realized it had actually just been printed that month. It was called The Small Farmer’s Journal. It’s a modern publication all about people who farm with horses. I wept. I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t know why, but at that moment, I knew I was supposed to farm with draft horses. I wanted a self sustaining farm that used horse power instead of tractors.
Fast forward 15 years. I’ve moved 11 times, lived in 4 states, gotten married, and had three kids. That’s a lot of moving around for someone who wants to settle down and homestead. But all along the way, I’ve continued to learn and grow and add to whatever land we’ve lived on. In our first home when we got married, I was able to buy my first draft horse who actually knew how to farm. I also got laying chickens and started doing the no-till organic gardening method. A few homes later I added in goats, an orchard, and a bigger garden.
When we moved to Los Angeles, I got my lifelong dream of a milk cow. It’s also where I realized that no matter where you live, there are always aspects of homesteading that you can do. Of all the places I’ve lived, Los Angeles is by far the worst place to try to jump into the world of owning a milk cow. But I did it and it worked out perfectly. It was also in Los Angeles that I began beekeeping.
Then we moved (and settled) in Austin, Texas. In our one year here, I’ve added more beehives, gotten into broiler chickens, brought my milk cow with me, and started a new garden spot. The two and a half acres we own now is far from the amount of land that I dream of owning one day but I’ve learned in all of this moving around that I can create a beautiful homestead no matter where I live. It might look different than I expected, but I can still do it.
For me, each year is about learning more and taking slow steps to self sufficiency. For 2021, we are raising our first batch of broiler chickens, raising our first meat cow (the calf from our milk cow), and hoping to build a greenhouse. After homesteading for 15 years, I’ve learned that slow is best. I am a very driven person. I tend to try to bite off more than I can chew. But lately, I’ve realized that taking this homesteading journey slow and steady is not only more effective but it’s also more enjoyable. I continue to dream about what I want to see happen on our homestead, but I am continually aware and thankful of how far we’ve come.