Homestead Featurette :: Gretchen of The Backyard Farming Connection

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the first of many Homestead Featurettes to come! Gretchen of “The Backyard Farming Connection” and “Simply Joyful Living” blogs is here today with a little about herself and her homesteading adventure. Take it away Gretchen!

Our Homestead Adventure


I live on a 2 ½ acre emerging homestead in upstate NY with my husband and our three young children. After many years living a relatively nomadic life and working onboard tall ships running education programs, we finally ‘settled.’ We’ve always been drawn to simple living and started looking for a home with a little land a few years ago where we could invest ourselves in growing and raising our own food. Our 2 ½ acres backs up to woods, so while we are conscious of our neighbors, there is a sense of living in the country.


Why we homestead…
Choosing to start backyard farming was an easy decision for us. Both my husband and I enjoy the work and rewards of working with our hands to build and create, and are passionate about doing our part to care for the earth. Knowing that producing our own food is better for our bodies encourages us to do more each year. With young children (4 year old twins and a 1 year old), spending time working and playing together in our backyard strengthens our relationships and is just plain fun.

While I did not grow up farming, I was raised to think about the earth and our impact on it, and encouraged to do my part. My mother has beautiful flower gardens and encouraged my brother and me to spend as much time outdoors as we could. I know that my appreciation of the outdoors and gardening is in large part due to this.


A bit about our Gardens…
Since our soils are heavy clay and drain poorly, most of our gardening is done in raised beds. As we’ve cleared back the land and cut down trees, we’ve used the logs to build up the garden beds and brought in compost to enrich the soil. Currently we have 15 raised beds, an extensive bee garden around our hive, and an assortment of fruit trees and bushes that will hopefully start producing soon. I love getting into the garden and the simple magic of making food grow from small seeds. While we don’t grow enough to feed our family all year, we do eat fresh food from our garden for most months of the year.

Our Animals…
Over the 2 years we’ve lived on our homestead, we’ve added chickens, bees, and recently 2 Pygora fiber goats to our home. Since our house has only a single garage and no outbuildings, we’ve been hard at work building sheds and coops and putting up unending amounts of fence. I know my husband comes home from work each day with his fingers crossed that I won’t have found a new animal to acquire or have plans for a new project to undertake: I am often a bit impulsive in that department.


Inside our Home…
Inside our home we are constantly finding ways to revisit traditional skills and make as much of our own food and household items from scratch as we can. It’s not uncommon for us to spend a Friday night elbow deep in a new project (like the candle making that went on here this week). Things just taste and look better when their made from scratch. I have grand hopes of using the goat’s fiber to spin and knit up something from start to finish.

The Future…
There are so many plans for the future: bigger gardens, more animals, more land, an old farmhouse, etc. Right now I’m thinking we’ll start with getting either ducks or bunnies next year although we’ve also got our eyes on some turkeys. Our biggest goal is to simply live fully aware of each moment here in this space, and to appreciate the time we spend engaging in the life we’ve chosen to live. By sharing my experiences and adventures on my blog, I encourage myself to dig deeper into this life and continue to push myself forward in our homesteading adventure.

20121118-195639.jpgGretchen spends her days on her 2 ½ acre homestead in upstate NY with her husband, 3 children, a dog, 5 chickens, 2 goats, and a hive full of bees. You can follow her adventures at The Backyard Farming Connection or learn more about her life at Simple and Joyful.

6 thoughts on “Homestead Featurette :: Gretchen of The Backyard Farming Connection

  1. Thanks for sharing your story Gretchen, I really enjoyed reading it! I love how you chose to live a simpler lifestyle, it is something that can be very rewarding. Working your own land and being out in nature is extremely fulfilling and teaching your children to respect nature, how to grow their own food and be self reliant are great lessons to teach them!

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