Jill Winger, one question many of our Rural Living Today readers have in common is “Where do I start?” We’ve been addressing that question in several different ways, and today we have a great addition to our tool kits.
Jill Winger of The Prairie Homestead has written an excellent book called “Your Custom Homestead”. Jill describes it as a “How to Organize Your Thoughts, Dreams, and Ideas to Turn Them into a Unique Homestead” book.
We knew our Rural Living Today readers would love that!
Jill graciously sent us a copy to review, but we liked the book and Jill’s ideas so much that we decided an interview was in order as well. Your Custom Homestead is a step by step guide to defining and designing your own homestead life in 21 days.
For each day there is a topic to evaluate, plan for, or put into practice. Week one is for brainstorming, week two for planning. During week three, we get down to action and practice some skills!
The end result is a notebook full of ideas and plans. In Jill’s words:
If you yearn for country living but are stuck in the middle of the city (and not getting out anytime soon), then make the concepts of a rural lifestyle come to you.
Create a customized version of homesteading that works in your unique situation. This is what I refer to as practicing contentment through creativity.
This really does work!
I am currently stuck too close to the city and while we are making progress towards our goal of being out on the homestead with my folks on our own little part.
It has been a journey almost 5 years in the making and it will most likely be a few more before we reach that goal.
Being able to do my own version of homesteading, even when we lived in an apartment, was life-saving and helped me emotionally deal with the fact that we were not where we so desperately wanted to be.
Not only that, but the practical skills we have learned during this time have been invaluable and will help us “hit the ground running” once we are able to move out to the property.
Chat with Jill Winger, author of Your Custom Homestead
Jill, how did you get started in the homesteading lifestyle? It began when I learned how to start composting. We purchased our property in 2008 just with the intention of wanting room for our horses. I’ve always been a horse person, but homesteading was a concept that I’d never even thought about.
I started researching ways to deal with our mountain of horse manure, and came across the idea of composting it. Of course, then I needed a garden, and after that I discovered chickens, and the rest is history!
What’s your favorite part of this lifestyle?
There is so much I love about it. I love being able to provide homegrown, wholesome food for my family. It’s a joy to watch our daughter grow up around animals and dirt, since I didn’t have that privilege.
I love the empowering feeling that comes with knowing how to do things and becoming more self-sufficient.
What inspired you to start blogging about it?
I originally started my blog just to be an online journal for the daily workings of our homestead. However, I quickly saw the need for a website that offered real-life tutorials and a personal perspective of homesteading.
I also wanted to inspire folks from all walks of life that they can pursue their dreams of self-sufficiency.
Of the things you’ve accomplished or learned to do, what has surprised you the most?
If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would have a milk cow and be making cheese, I would have said that you were absolutely crazy! I also used to despise cooking and ate lots of processed food and soda as a single gal.
So, sometimes when I find myself elbow-deep in bread dough or putting up quarts of pickles, I can’t help but laugh. ;)
Are there any skills or projects you haven’t been able to master?
Despite my mom’s best efforts, I never learned how to sew. I greatly regret that now, however, I also don’t have time to learn at the moment. I’ve also really struggled with making cheddar cheese, but I am determined to master that in the near future!
If you had unlimited funds, what would be the first thing you’d do on your homestead?
Oh dear, that’s a tough one! But if I had to choose, I think I would build an additional barn/storage building for our tractor, hay, and equipment. We have a nice sized barn, but it’s filled with critters at the moment!
What’s your favorite kitchen tool/gadget?
I couldn’t live without my stoneware! Back in the day, I always used the cheapest baking items I could find, and was constantly ruining or burning things.
But now I’m addicted to my stoneware items. I use my flat stones for pizza, cookies, and biscuits, and I refuse to use anything but stoneware when baking my bread. They produce such a superior product, spending the little bit extra is totally worth it!
What’s your favorite post on your blog?
Hmmm… there are many! But the post where I ramble about my old butter mold is a definite favorite, for some reason.
What inspires you?
Seeing other folks chase after their homesteading dreams, no matter unlikely they may seem, is a huge inspiration to me. After I finished reading a blog post by a beginning homesteader like that, I always get the urge to go outside and dig around in the dirt.
It’s so refreshing. ;)
Jill Winger could tell potential homesteaders one thing, what would it be?
Wherever you are right now: an apartment, a cul-de-sac, or on 10 acres- THAT is your homestead. Embrace it!
Here at Rural Living Today, we agree. Start with something small. Buy a compost tumbler for your patio, or learn how to grow hydroponic tomatoes. Start a small garden, even indoors. You can grow a basil plant and other herbs. Start small and build from there. Perhaps there is a community garden in your area you can enjoy working in.