Liz Haselamyer is a homeschooling mother to three beautiful daughters, wife to a small business owner, and founder of Homegrown Education. Liz is on a mission to help change the way the next generation views food and farming through accurate nutrition education. She and her husband work hard to raise their well-nourished fam with hunted game, raw dairy, homemade sourdough, and their humble garden harvest.
Do the best you can with what you have. If there was ever a life mantra I try to live by, that would be it. My husband, Joey, and I live on a small cul-de-sac with our three daughters about 20 minutes from the city. My parents live just five minutes down the road and we enjoy the convenience of a quick drive to the grocery store. We don’t own any land, but we’ve made friends with a farmer who allows Joey and his hunting crew to use his land during deer season. On one hand, we’re a very average family living in a bustling residential area. On the other hand, we spend our days homeschooling our children, clearing our front porch for the local farm drop, and tasking our 10-year-old to make squirrel noodle soup from scratch.
When our house flooded four years ago, we rebuilt the entire first floor, including the kitchen. We fell in love with the remodeling process and have dreamed of building a custom home on land of our own. But that day has not yet come, so here we are, doing the best we can with our suburban lifestyle and homestead-longing hearts.
We haven’t always had this dream of self-sustainability and homegrown food. Although my husband comes from a long line of hunters, early on in our marriage, our lifestyle and food choices (aside from wild game) looked very similar to the standard American way. Weeknight dinners consisted of instant rice packets, Pop-Tarts were a weekly vending machine purchase at my office, and we ate out regularly.
All of that changed when our second daughter was diagnosed with a birth defect. My OBGYN smugly told us that, “Of all the birth defects, bilateral clubbed feet was the best one to have.” Those words crushed me. I felt angry and confused the moment we got the news at our anatomy scan. The very first question I asked my husband as Ruthie was born was, “Are her feet okay?” He shook his head, and I immediately knew the long journey of weekly castings, years of foot and ankle braces, and the surgical severing of her Achilles’ tendons lied ahead.
On top of her clubbed feet, Ruthie struggled with horrible sleep patterns, colicky behavior, and full-body eczema. Although all of those symptoms were written off as “normal,” I searched for a solution to her discomfort.
I started reading books, watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, and digging deep into the science of nutrition. I found community with others who were embracing a real-food approach to life and began to swap out one thing at a time. Ruth’s health challenges pushed me to become utterly discontent with our family’s way of life. Our eating habits became the main area of concern because I knew we could do better.
The first major step we took towards nourishing food was our transition to raw dairy. We did so in an unconventional manner, as I was really looking for a way to supplement our daughter with something other than commercial, store-bought baby formula. At the time, my husband and I both worked so we had a nanny helping with our two daughters. I’ll never forget trying to explain why Ruthie’s homemade formula solidified in the fridge (because of the added gelatin) or why it smelled of fish, (thank you, fermented cod liver oil). We took a huge leap of faith by transitioning her to a real food formula which ended up being one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Her sleep regulated, her eczema disappeared, and she no longer struggled with painful gas or colicky behavior. I thought to myself, if a simple swap to Ruth’s nutrition could revolutionize her health, what could it do for the rest of our family?
Five years later, we’re still enjoying raw dairy and embracing traditional dietary wisdom. We utilize the entire animal: organs, bones, animal fat, and all. We enjoy genuine sourdough bread with loads of grass-fed butter. We eat mostly what is seasonal and grown locally and enjoy the abundance of our humble garden, conveniently located in my parent’s backyard. Our daughters watch as my husband skins our deer and they help us process and package the meat at the kitchen counter. We drive over to my parents to check the garden as a family and discuss the reasons why we choose to spend two hours of our day re-staking tomatoes when we could just as easily buy them from the store. It’s these little moments when I feel most inspired, knowing we are creating a foundational love of real food in our children.
We may still live in the same house as we did five years ago, but we are doing the best we can with what we have. As we move closer to building our dream home on the future Haselmayer Homestead, we will continue to enjoy this life living amongst neighbors, supporting our local farm, and squeezing the most out of our kitchen. It’s really a sweet time in our lives and one I feel compelled to share with others as an encouragement. I don’t claim to have all the answers to parenthood, homeschooling, or traditional ways of eating, but I am leaning into the lessons I learn as I train for the years to come.
Wherever you find yourself on this journey towards self-sustainability, the pursuit of health, or slow living, your experiences now are leading you to something greater in the future. It is the little things we do each day that bring us closer to our goal. The moments we spend reading to our children hoping they cultivate a love of learning, the hours we spend mastering sourdough hoping we can someday start a bakery, the months we spend unlearning the dietary falsehoods of our society so we can teach our children the truth about real nourishment, they all add up. Over time, we can look back and clearly see the fruits of our labor. But in the moment, when we feel discontent and in need of a change, we can harness that energy to do the very best we can with what we have.