Alicia is a homestead mama who, along with her husband and two boys, lives on a 100+ year old homestead in the upper Midwest. They raise dual-purpose chickens and ducks, pastured pigs, dairy goats, a few beef cattle, a Jersey cow named Mabel, and have around 20,000 square feet in vegetable, herb and flower gardens. With a background as an RN, Alicia started learning more about holistic medicine in 2010 when her boys began to have medical issues that the allopathic medical community didn’t have answers to. She now is an herbalist, iridologist, GAPS Practitioner, and will be board certified as a naturopath later this year. She is passionate about creating a holistic life not only for her family, but for their animals, their land, and ultimately, for anyone who wishes to live a more natural lifestyle in harmony with nature.
“In some Native languages the term for plants translates to ‘those who take care of us’ … the land knows you, even when you are lost.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
I was raised on a farm in the Midwest, for which I will always be grateful. While we were a conventional “monocrop” type farm (we milked 150-200 Saanen dairy goats and sold the milk to a large corporation), it instilled in me a love for nature and the peace that one finds when living on land.
I ended up leaving the farm at seventeen to go to nursing school; I became an RN, married a guy from Bosnia (who grew up herding sheep in the mountains), and ended up in a small upper unit condo in the city. I grew a few flowers on our balcony and saved all the abandoned animals that I could find (at one point we had two frozen kitties in our kitchen that I was bottle feeding around the clock, and a boxful of baby sparrows that my husband had found in our dryer vent). While I felt like I was in prison living in town, homesteading still was not on my radar at all.
Then our son was diagnosed with severe autism in 2010, and our lives changed dramatically. I started researching what we were eating, I started growing vegetables on our balcony and learned what “gluten free” and “organic” meant. In 2012, we bought a house in town on half an acre, where I had a large garden in the backyard. We did the GAPS protocol for three years with our boys, which brought much healing. I started buying produce from a grassfed farm an hour north of us, and our fridge was full of raw cream, homemade yogurt, and real beef.
With a garden and our boys healed, I thought that this was as good as it was going to get, and I was content with it.
Fast forward to 2019, and my mom told me that a farm near them was going to go up for sale. Up to that point, we had not even considered buying land, as farmland in our area is ridiculously expensive: but this was do-able. We made an offer, they accepted, our house sold in eight hours, and a week later I ordered 30 baby chicks that lived in our garage until the move (thank goodness the sale didn’t fall through!). In June 2019, we moved in … we were now the proud owners of a farm! The house was over 100 years old, the barn was even older (the part of it that still stood), and we couldn’t wait to start clearing brush to see what other treasures were hiding there.
I still had no clue what homesteading was, I was just SO EXCITED about the animals!! Within two weeks of moving in, we had our first herd of seven wild Alpine goats, who rapidly ate a tunnel through the overgrowth, discovered that our fencing system was decades old, and took off … we spent four days chasing them through the cornfields to get them back home.
Then, as with most of us, 2020 changed some things. I started looking at our land as more than just a place for me to hoard animals. While our friends lived in lockdown, we spent our days in the sunshine, expanding gardens and adding to our herds with purpose.
I was experienced in “human healing” … now I started to focus on healing our land, healing our conventionally raised animals, and finding ways that we could use this gift that we were given to help heal others. In the process, I began to heal myself. Because when we work to heal the land, the land heals us.
I found that spending long days barefoot in the sunshine helped ease some of the symptoms of neurological Lyme that I was fighting. I felt less anxious when curled up next to my favorite goat. Spending afternoons in the pasture watching the animals graze grounded me deep inside. And every time I could help an animal get well using natural methods, it reaffirmed to me the power of plants and the wisdom of our Creator.
I could go on and on about our homestead and what it means to us … you all get it! But I just want to sum up with something I saw recently on social media. The essence of it was:
We weren’t meant to live in a box, work from a box, move in a box, eat from a box, think from a box, sit in front of box, and ultimately be buried in a box.
I feel like this applies to us as humans but also to our homesteads. When we try to force life to thrive in an unnatural way, we cannot be healthy, and neither can our animals or the nature around us.
And homesteaders are the ones who feel this deep down in their gut. They feel the healing that comes from the land, from the sunshine, from their animals that the homesteader loves well throughout their lives and who later nourish the homesteader. We come for the fun (all the baby chickies!!!!), but we stay because there truly is no lifestyle like one lived in harmony with the earth.