Angela Miller is a mama homesteader to two sweet kiddos in Middle Tennessee. Alongside her husband, she raises her two dairy cows, a gentle giant guernsey and her sassy jersey, seasonal meat birds, a layer flock, and a garden for fun. Although Angela has been homesteading since she was a teen with her parents, she is always excited to learn something new and pursue a new hobby on the homestead.
After a loss in their family, Angela realized the importance of community and how integral it is in all of our lives. She is committed to cultivating community through the Women’s Homestead Society which she founded as a place for women to meet up and link arms and support each other at their early conferences and online summits throughout the year.
Have you ever had one of those days? You know the days when you are cleaning the baby’s diaper, milking the cow, scooping poop in the barn, wiping noses, and cleaning more poop off of kids’ shoes. You lay in bed thinking; I am tired of dealing with bodily fluids. I am right there with you, mama! I am deep in those trenches or mud right now in Middle Tennessee. My precious kids are two and five, and sometimes I surprise myself at how I no longer am shocked by the things I pull out of their hair or clean off their bare feet. While I don’t have everything perfect, I am learning. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it fails horribly, but hey, it’s okay to pivot. Here’s what I have learned:
Bring Them With You If You Can
Unless you love cleaning up spilled wheat berries off your floor or trying to restore the structure to your leaning pile of dishes that somehow they managed to tip over, reminding you that you probably should get them washed( okay, side note: why does homesteading come with so many dishes??) It is sometimes easiest to bring them with you. Strap them on, buckle them up or prop them in the wagon and have fun! We are currently getting a greenhouse built, and I plan on having a sandbox with toys, and during the gardening season, I got a cheap canopy tent and put that up so they could get out of the sun but be near. But I also find there are moments when bringing them with me is hard!! On cold mornings it is almost impossible to get everyone ready to go milking. That’s okay. Some days I weigh the pros and cons and let them stay inside while I quickly run out and take care of the chickens. Sometimes it turns out great and others, well, let’s say we are getting good at playing the clean-up game
Ask for help
Asking for help is a lesson I have learned and relearned this year. It’s okay to ask for assistance. It doesn’t mean I am weak or can’t do it; I am human. Even the Proverbs 31 women had support. There’s no shame in it. If paying for help isn’t in your budget right now, look for a young teen girl at your church or homeschool coop and ask if she would be interested in helping in exchange for something small. Especially on big days when you need to get canning or harvesting done, that extra pair of hands makes all the difference in the world. In these toddler years, it is challenging to get it all done with two hands trying to get things done and two more right behind trying to learn and help. This brings me to my next point…
Take time to teach
I know it takes much longer to get things done with your toddler helping you, and maybe it’s not up to your par. But Mama, you are teaching the next generation of homesteaders. These little souls you are shaping need these skills and lessons to become the best version of themselves. You are raising the next Joel Salatin or Beth Dougherty, maybe. The homestead is your classroom for your kiddos. Slow down. Lower expectations ( I know it isn’t straightforward) and get on your kiddo’s level and teach them about what is ripe and what’s not in the garden and how to collect eggs and make bread. At the moment, it might be challenging, but they will be so grateful for those skills down the road.
Know that some days are just plain hard
We’ve all had those days when the kids are sick or just woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and you HAVE GOT TO GET THAT PROJECT DONE!! It can’t wait any longer, but they can’t see that, and all they want is for mama to hold them. It’s okay, mama. Take a deep breath and remind yourself that every day doesn’t look like this. Give yourself grace. Tomorrow is a beautiful new day with great opportunities. Some days are beauty and sunshine and rainbows and Pinterest-worthy moments, and others are days filled with some struggle and growth. Everything is a season. It will pass. One day you will be an empty nester homesteader, and you will look back at the ‘good ole’ days.’ It will pass.
Make Easy Meals
This ties in with lowering expectations; quick, easy food that is nourishing is better than drive-through fast food anyway. I love what Holistic Hilda says about food made with love and how it impacts our bodies. During the summer months, we live off of tomato sandwiches and homemade canned soup, and leftover produce from the gardens. If I am making bread, I like to make a big batch and throw some extra in the freezer or make a few different pizzas and put them away for busy days. Done over perfection is my motto this season, and I am sticking to it. Simplify your meals and repeat a monthly menu.
Remember what’s important
When it comes down to it, my heart desires to tend my kids’ hearts just as I manage my livestock, with thoughtful care and intention. I want to cultivate my little guy and gal’s soul with purpose, just like I grow the garden. These kids are our biggest blessing in the end. If you are struggling, I see you Mama! I am there with you. If you are having a wonderfully easy season, Mama, I rejoice with you and applaud you for the work and effort you have put in! No matter where you are, I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you!
Angela Miller @themiller_homestead
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