Who could have imagined that my weight loss journey would lead me to become an accidental backyard homesteader?
About 7 years ago we decided we needed to get our health under control and pharmaceuticals just weren’t cutting it. It seemed the more Mr. H and I went to the doctor, took the prescriptions and did what we were told by the medical community, our health continued to slowly deteriorate.
My husband wasn’t in too bad of shape…yet. He was overweight and had the normal aches and pains from carrying the excess pounds. His blood work was starting to climb to the high end of normal on a couple of things and he just didn’t have much energy anymore.
Me, well let’s just say I was a friggin train wreck! At the time I was 339 pounds, insulin dependent, lots of other diabetes meds, IBS with constant diarrhea, incontinence, extreme pain from head to to, insomnia, no strength or energy, ulcers…the list goes on and on.
Then someone turned me on to natural supplements that helped me on my weight loss journey and I got just under 300 pounds and felt much better. I was even able to get off some of my many meds.
But like many things, once your body gets used to it, the supplement didn’t work with weight loss anymore for me. It made me feel better and helped a lot of other health issues, but no more weight loss. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I had lost 47 pounds for goodness sake!
This led me on a roller coaster ride to continue to lose weight and get healthy. I saw what losing that 47 pounds did for my health and I wanted more!
I still take some of those original supplements today because they are so dang good and worked so well to get my gut health back. But I still needed to make some bigger more drastic lifestyle changes.
So we continue to eat healthy and as clean as possible to this day. The less processed foods that pass our lips the better. I can’t say I am perfect. We still go out to eat once or twice a week, but at home I usually cook from scratch and we eat good wholesome food about 80% of the time.
My wonderful husband gladly agrees and goes along with whatever I implement in our healthy lifestyle, but honestly if he were on his own, he would buy all the junk, eat bologna sandwiches, drive through tacos and pizza for every meal. He refuses to cook.
He really does appreciate everything I do for us and encourages (and finances 😉 ) me to keep researching and implementing these healthy changes, but he wouldn’t put the effort in on his own.
I said all of that to get to this…
We’ve accidentally on purpose become small backyard homesteaders!!
That original weight loss that led me on my original health journey was the catalyst that brought us to where we are today. Just 7 years ago we were an unhealthy, overweight, aging couple who were headed towards a life of nothing but sickness and disease, now we are living a healthy, vital, more natural lifestyle as small town homesteaders!
Seriously cool, huh!
Today we are healthier than ever and feel great. We have both lost a great deal of weight. I am working on my last 10 pounds and I will be at my goal weight (woohoo!) and Mr. Happy is has about 25 pounds to go.
But the coolest thing is how what began as a struggle to lose weight became something much greater! The desire to live a natural healthy lifestyle took over and morphed into something else all on it’s own.
I love to do research. Love it! But it leads to one thing then another, LOL. I go down rabbit holes like Alice and end up going in all kinds of directions. Which has been really good for our health and natural living journey.
A few years ago I started learning about and using essential oils (I use Young Living, Rocky Mountain Oils and Plant Therapy) with great success. This led me to start researching yet again and that led me to growing and working with herbs to bring even more healing into my family’s life.
This led me to strive for a toxin free home and to start making cleaners and body care products along with using essential oils for our health. Now I make our aluminum free deodorant, medicated body and foot powder, whipped body butter, as well as chemical free fabric softener, laundry soap, disinfecting spray, hand sanitizer, soft scrub, toilet bowl cleaner and lots more.
What I don’t make I’ve researched and learned which products are the safest. I never just pick up a jar or bottle of anything without reading the label anymore.
I canoodled Mr. H (I swear he is a saint of a husband) into putting up a chicken coop and run for me and got a flock of backyard chickens a couple of years ago. Now we have wonderfully fresh organic, antibiotic and drug free eggs. I’ve lovingly become the crazy chicken lady of the neighborhood 😛 and several of my friends and neighbors buy the eggs my girls produce! (Not so crazy, eh?)
We live in a very small town of a few hundred in a very rural farming community in Illinois, so being a country girl of sorts you would think I have been a gardener all my life, but nope.
I put off gardening for years because I was too out of shape to be able to care for a garden. The fact that we have a postage stamp sized back yard doesn’t help. The chickens take up the entire backyard which is only 8 feet deep! Yep, it’s that tiny. Our lot is long but very narrow.
So, I finally decided it was time to dive into gardening even if I had to become a container gardener.
I’ve got lots of big ol’ pots and 5 gallon buckets everywhere. This year I have 3 kinds of tomatoes, 3 kinds of peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, radishes, lettuce, spinach and mixed greens.
Plus I’m growing lots of herbs that I’ll harvest, dry and use for herbal tinctures, oils, salves, lotions, balms and other things to add to my ever growing home herbalist apothecary. This makes my ❤️ so happy. Out of everything this wonderful journey has given me, my love of herbs and becoming a home herbalist brings me so much joy.
Between a couple of small flower beds, pots and filler herbs in veggie pots I’ve got kitchen herbs like thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary, cilantro and sage. And to flavor teas I grow spearmint and peppermint as well.
Then there’s the medicinal herbs (many of the kitchen herbs are medicinal too) like lemon balm, catnip, yarrow, plantain and lavender. This is the the first year for planting this type of herb so I imagine by next year the kinds of herbs I grow will quadruple. I don’t do anything halfway, LOL!
I’m also learning to identify and wildcraft plants! I an a little hesitant about wildcrafting, so I’m easing into it. However, a 10 minute drive home from church this week took me 30 minutes because I kept stopping to take pictures of plants I would like to identify. Did I mention I like research? 😯
The herbal formulas I’ve learned to make have helped bring our bodies back into balance so they can heal themselves. Herbs are amazing! We rarely visit the doctor anymore or take many pharmaceutical drugs. I still have to take a couple of things but that’s it. I used to take 13+ prescriptions each day!
Mr. H rarely takes OTC medications but asks for my home remedies when he feels like he’s coming down with something or has aches and pains. Not that he wouldn’t take meds if he needed to, but he hasn’t needed to. Just a cold or sinus infection and normal muscle aches and pains, sprains, cuts and bruises. And I have a tea, tincture, salve or essential oil for that.
Please understand, I am not a doctor. We believe there is a time and place for doctors and western medicine. Some issues need professional medical attention. We still do go to the doctor if we need to, but we take care of what we can at home, naturally.
My top picks for home herbalists…
Also this past year we decided to find a way to stop buying canned goods. Many cans have BPA in the lining which is very hazardous to your health and we want no part of it. Even though food manufacturers are becoming more mindful of consumers demands and leaving the BPA out, the chemical replacement they use may be an even worse option. So no cans in the Happy household. (see resources on this below this post)
This led me to learn how to pressure can. I’ve learned to can so many things. If I find a good buy on fresh veggies or meats at the store I buy them and can away!
I honestly don’t know if I would’ve learned to can if I had to use a big old style klunky pressure canner where you have to watch the gauges and adjust the heat up and down for 2 hours. I’m too impatient for that and I have better things to do with my time. I actually bought a stove top canner, but never even got it out of the box. I ended up returning it.
Instead I bought a Carey/Nesco electric pressure canner. I know, I know…USDA says they are not safe. Well, the USDA admits that they have never spent the money to test them so they really don’t even know if they are safe, so they err on the side of caution. Carey has done their own 3rd party testing to be sure that the canner gets up to pressure and stays there (it has a self regulating feature) as well as many safety measures. I’ve got a friend who loves her Power Pressure Cooker XL electric canner, although I’ve never used one, she swears by it.
I have literally canned hundreds of jars of food. Everything from fruits and veggies to chicken, beef, pork, beans, stew, chili, spaghetti sauce and more. I have never had a lid not seal. Not once. I did mess up and crack a couple of jars by filling them too full of dry beans and when they expanded they had no where to go but out. Other than that, awesomeness!
There is a true sense of pride serving food I have preserved to my family.
Once again my research has lead me to look for the most nutritional fruits and veggies. The ones from the store are hardly nutritious or fresh. They are picked green and ripen for weeks or longer in warehouses. YUK!
This led me to trying freeze dried fruits and veggies. I’ve researched and contacted several companies about how fast they are freeze dried after picking and most say a week to several weeks. Fruits and veggies lose much of their nutrients in a matter of just a few days.
For instance, did you know that once spinach is picked it looses 100% of it’s vitamin C content in just 4 days?!!
That’s why we buy Thrive Life for fruits and veggies. They are flash frozen and freeze dried within 24 ours of being picked. I may get other freeze dried foods from Amazon, but not my freeze dried or dehydrated fruits and veggies.
We do also use some frozen fruits and veggies as well.
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So there you have it. With just a little nudge in the right direction and just a little research you can become an accidental homesteader as well. I always thought homesteading was cool, but never thought I was homestead material. I assumed you had to live out in the country to be able to pull it off. It appears I was wrong.
Take what you’ve got to work with and make the most of it. Where there’s a will there’s a way. If we can do it, so can you. I promise. Just decide where to start. Then start. One thing will eventually lead to another. It’s not an overnight process, it takes time. There will be successes and set-backs, but you too can be a small town backyard homesteader if you want to.
I so enjoy taking you on this journey with me and look forward to seeing where it all leads.
I would LOVE to hear what you are doing along the road to homesteading too! Please share in the comments.