LHG Voices

Welcome to LHG Voices! Here you will find great content about all things homesteading.
From helpful tips to best practices to personal stories of the amazing women who make up this organization, this is the place to find out what is happening with Ladies Homestead Gathering.
We're glad you are here!

  • 10/17/2017 12:26 PM | Willa Beth Smith

    Most of you have probably heard of Fire Cider sometimes referred to as Fire Tonic.  It is an apple cider vinegar (ACV) based infusion of spicy roots, vegetables and herbs with a hot flavor traditionally used as a folk remedy for the common cold.  People have been known to take a spoonful daily as an immune booster and to aid digestion.

    The health benefits of ACV date back to 400 BC as noted by Hippocrates, but no one knows when the blended elixir we know today as Fire Cider first came into being.  It’s as if it has always been a part of the American homestead. Regardless of its origins, fire cider has been shown to shorten or lessen the length of a cold or flu and to reduce the severity of symptoms.  Though it’s health benefits have been touted by its users for generations, it has not been formally tested by the FDA. 

    Rosemary Gladstone, founding member of the Northeast Herbal Association, Inc. http://www.northeastherbal.org/, has a good basic recipe below.  Once you have mastered this recipe, feel free to add your own herbs and spices as your needs require. 

    Ingredients:
    • ½ cup fresh ginger (grated)
    • ½ cup fresh horseradish (grated)
    • 1 onion (chopped)
    • 10 garlic cloves (minced)
    • 2 jalapeno peppers (chopped with seeds)
    • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
    • 2 TBLS of rosemary, dried (or several sprigs of fresh)
    • 1 TBLS ground turmeric (or grated root, about 2 inches)
    • Apple Cider Vinegar to cover all ingredients in a quart jar.
    • ¼ cup of honey to use after it has infused (do not add at this time)
    Instructions:

    Put ginger, horseradish, onion, garlic, peppers, lemon zest, lemon juice, rosemary and turmeric in a quart canning jar.  Cover with raw apple cider vinegar by about two inches.  Using a piece of parchment paper or wax paper under the lid to avoid corrosion, close tightly.  Shake well daily and store in a dark place.

    Let it infuse for about a month or longer shaking it daily.  After a month, use a cheesecloth to strain out the pulp, pouring the vinegar into a clean jar.  Be sure to squeeze as much of the liquid goodness as you can from the pulp while straining.  This is when you add the ¼ cup of honey and stir until blended. Taste the cider and add more honey to reach your desired flavor.  Fire cider should taste hot, spicy and sweet.

    Store in a temperature controlled, preferably dark place and it will keep up to one year.  You can refrigerate it if you prefer it cold.

    When choosing ingredients, here are some notes on what to consider:

    1) Always choose raw ACV with the “mother”.  We recommend the brand called Bragg’s from the 20th century health guru, Paul Bragg’s, daughter found in most grocery stores.

    2) When grating a horseradish root, wear protective glasses and be aware of the strong pungent odiferous.  You don’t want to get it in your eye!  It will burn like fire!

    3) Root powder can be used as a substitute where the ginger, turmeric or horseradish roots are unavailable.  But where available, the raw root is best.  You do not have to peel the roots prior to grating.  Just throw it all in there.

    Fire Cider is also delicious used in a salad dressing, home-made mustard, coleslaw, soup and so much more.  Save the left over pulp and add it to stir fry vegetables or any hot spicy dish.  Use it sparingly as it can be quite strong!

    Could this be the “spring tonic” referred to in Mark Twain’s book, Tom Sawyer, in which Aunt Polly gives tonic to Tom? Then Tom gives it to the cat sending it into fits running around the house? 

    Have you made your own Fire Cider?  What special ingredients did you add?  Have you used it to treat a cold?  Share what you have learned with us.  We love to hear from our members. 

    CULTIVATING dreams  ::  GROWING COMMUNITIES


  • 09/12/2017 3:52 PM | Willa Beth Smith

    Willa Beth - HerStory

    Willa Beth has been a member of the South Hall, GA Chapter of LHG for two years where she serves as Secretary.  Here is her homesteading story:

    My first memory is the day my Great Uncle Joe gave us his old pony, Sherlock Surefoot.  I was three years old and stood barely knee high to my tall, skinny uncle.  The pony was fluffy and white, gluttonous and none too happy to be ridden.  My older brother and sister, Robert and Alice, were running in and out of the house, the screen door slamming behind them as they grabbed apples and carrots to feed the pudgy pony.

    "I touched his soft, fuzzy face and it was love, all at once."

    It was early spring and the wind was violently blowing my Great Aunt Ethel’s red hair and her blue dress all around making for a funny sight.  Mother and Aunt Ethel were deep in conversation but my dad, not wanting me to miss out on the new arrival, picked me up, smiling, and carried me over to where Sherlock was fenced in our corral.  I touched his soft fuzzy face and it was love, all at once.  Yes, I was one of those little girls who had a pony. Albeit a mean, ornery pony, but a pony none-the-less.

    Growing up on a small homestead surrounded by other farms was ideal.  My Grandparents lived just around the corner on a large tract which made our 40 acres seem small.  My Grandmother, affectionately known as Mimi, quilted, crocheted and knitted.  She also made sourdough bread and the best darn tea cakes you ever tasted. There were ever-changing ponds and creeks, forests and fields for my siblings, cousins and I to explore.  Like my parents, my grandparents had cows and grew hay which fed both our herds.  In addition to cows, we also raised ducks, sheep, bird dogs and lots and lots of cats. 

    During my teenage years, my oldest sister, Jo Wynn, moved into a small house next to my Grandparents and started raising all kinds of chickens and rabbits and a turkey named Troy.  She also grew a great assortment of herbs and was learning medicinal uses for each kind.  She was a hippy of sorts and believed in living off the earth and eating fresh and healing yourself through good nutrition.  Her influence combined with my pastoral childhood set me up to long for my own homestead. 

    But life throws you curve balls and dreams are put on hold. Unfortunately, my sister did not live past age 39.  The loss of my best friend/sister left a big hole in my life.  She taught me everything from how to grow mint to breastfeeding my baby girl. Then, a year after losing Jo Wynn, my first marriage failed and it was my role to provide for myself and my daughter.  We grew pumpkins in our back yard and had a compost bin, but, the dream of a larger homestead faded away and slowly, I stopped thinking about it.   

    "... we started with six baby chicks ... raising them in our bathtub..."

    Now, 15 years later, my daughter is grown and I am remarried and have three beautiful step-daughters.  With the help and complete support of my husband, Chris, we started with six baby chicks about four years ago.  We raised them in our bathtub while we worked on building a chicken coop.  One of the chicks began to stick its leg out and eventually fell over, unable to walk.  First I separated it from the others and called my sister Alice who is a veterinarian.  Alice came over and we created a paste of feed and probiotics and minerals to hopefully help this baby chick survive.  But, chicks are fragile and it did not live.  Alice explained that typically, out of 10 chickens, you might have six which survive.  Life in general is more fragile and more precious than I ever imagined. 

    About a year after moving to Flowery Branch, I received an email about Ladies Homestead Gathering and a new Chapter starting in Flowery Branch, GA.  Even though I was skeptical about it, my husband encouraged me to go and see what it was about.  After my first meeting where I met Esther Arkfeld, Jill Puckett and Jill Wolfe, I was hooked.  They were talking about fermenting and canning and making things like Mimi used to do.  Just like meeting my pony, Sherlock, for the first time, I knew instantly I was going to love this group.

    "...I started making sourdough bread, kombucha and homemade medicinal elixirs.."

    Through my association with these lovely ladies, I started making sourdough bread, kombucha and homemade medicinal elixirs like fire cider and elderberry syrup.  Then, I attended my first retreat hosted by National Ladies Homestead Gathering and the door opened wider.  I was astonished by all these women who had amazing skills which I longed to learn.  And they were more than happy to share my journey and help me along the way.

    With these new friendships, I feel like my life has really taken off and the hole left by the loss of my sister, Jo, is starting to feel more whole.  My passion for the homesteading lifestyle is blossoming again and I am on a grand adventure learning everything I can.  My family is looking for more acreage to build on and keep this dream alive.  With the support of my LHG tribe, I will finally achieve my goals.  There is so much still to learn! And, my sister Jo Wynn and Mimi are cheering me on! 

    CULTIVATING DREAMS  ::  GROWING COMMUNITIES


  • 08/28/2017 8:51 AM | Willa Beth Smith

    We All Need a Wingman!

    In the 21st Century age of technology the “butt dial” is a real thing. During a long day of trimming sheep feet, LHG member Jan Southers had no idea that she was calling fellow homesteader Mary Fucci’s phone over and over.  Mary could hear sheep in the background and knew that Jan was home, but when she would not speak on the line or pick up returned calls, Mary feared the worst. 

    What other choice did she have?  Mary and her husband Al got in the car and drove across town to check it out!  Not just around the corner, Mary drove more than 15 miles to be sure everything was okay. If actions speak louder than words, Jan’s bear hug testifies to the true friendship these LHG women share. 

    Even though a modern homesteader is one who has an attitude and philosophy of self-sufficiency, the women of Ladies Homestead Gathering believe in community and interdependence. Self-reliance isn’t about looking out for number one; it’s about building the strength of the flock.   Every member of the flock need s good wingman, and it feels great when you know your sister has your back!  LHG member Mary Fucci is a wingman, indeed!

    Picture of Jan Southers, and Mary Fucci of the Madison County, LHG Chapter in Georgia. 

    This story was contributed by Kelly Capers, a member of LHG. We would like to hear more stories of how we are supporting one another through building our community at Ladies Homestead Gathering.  Please contact us at info@ladieshomesteadgathering.org to send in your stories and pictures.

    Cultivating Dreams  ::  Growing Community
  • 08/17/2017 9:46 AM | Willa Beth Smith

    Do you ever feel lost? Like you are drowning in a digital ocean of social media forcing huge tidal waves of information crashing down around you?  As if at any given moment, the sky will fall and the world as we know it will end?  If you fall victim to 24-hour news feeds or the incessant notifications on social media, you might feel this way.

    Even Henry David Thoreau, famous writer of Walden Pond, felt as if the magnetic telegraph would disrupt the otherwise tranquil rhythm of his day.  And it was only connecting Maine to Texas through Morse code at the time. His reaction was to build a cabin and for a year, live alone, away from the hustle and bustle of the late 1850’s.  Imagine what Thoreau would think of us today. 

    As a society who rarely looks up from their phones, he would marvel at our digitally induced disconnectedness.  Let’s face it (no pun intended), we like meeting with other people face-to-face, hearing their voices and tone and shaking hands. Having someone be genuinely happy to see you and greet you warmly is way more satisfying than a smiley-faced emoji any day.

    Ladies Homestead Gathering is unique because it is based on direct, face-to-face, hands-on interaction.  Building a community of like-minded women is the foundation of our local Chapters and why we gather as a group every month.  We are the only all-woman homesteading organization which offers knowledge, education and friendship, all in one awesome package through each local Chapter. Our greatest successes come from working together, hand-in-hand as a community. 

    So, how does Ladies Homestead Gathering build community? 

    Through Face-to-Face Gatherings

    You have the opportunity to meet every month with people in your town who are learning or practicing homesteading.  Neighbors you didn’t even know you had who have been living the homestead lifestyle their entire lives or are just getting started.  Fellowship is what it is all about (not the hokee-pokee).

    By Making it Open to All Women Interested in Homesteading Practices

    Gatherings are FREE to attend.  All are welcome who have a desire to pursue their homesteading interests.  There are benefits to being a member as mentioned in a previous post, but, you don’t have to be a member to attend gatherings or workshops.  Once a newbie feels comfortable and has made a few friends, they will join!  It’s inevitable.

    By Telling Stories

    Yes, we love to hear your stories.  We all want to be heard and recognized individually.  Allowing everyone to feel comfortable enough to tell their homesteading story bonds us together.

    By Holding Yearly National Retreats

    Once a year, usually in October, we gather from all across the USA for a group retreat.  Whilst connecting with other women, we learn homesteading techniques and make useful things.  And you get to take all your goodies home with you to share with your home chapters.

    By Providing Hands on Training

    Each Chapter offers demonstrations, as well as hand-on learning of different practices like canning, soap making or anything related to a homestead.  These are free, but, there are often optional paid workshops offered by more seasoned practitioners in various areas of homesteading.

    Through ‘Atta Girls

    Homesteading can present some rather unique challenges.  To recognize a fellow female homesteader’s accomplishment or success, we say emphatically, “Atta girl”!  At each Gathering, there is a time set aside specifically for ‘atta girl’s.  We can all use a little more support and encouragement!

    By Connecting People, Goods and Services

    You are a gardener with a fabulous green thumb to grow herbs.  An herbalist in your Chapter needs fresh herbs from a known source.  Put these two together and it’s a match.  On a homestead, it is the rare individual who can do everything.  We all rely on each other to fill the gaps in our capabilities and time.  At Chapter gatherings, there is time prior to the demonstration to share, sell or swap goods.  A perk of membership is the ability to post on the Swap & Shop Facebook page for your chapter. 

    Want to end the disconnectedness and meet new people interested in the same things? Come to a Gathering and see if it is a good fit for you.  To find a Chapter near you, check the banner above called Local Chapters and you will find dates and topics for a Gathering near you.  Not a Chapter near you?  Start your own by visiting our Home Page. 

    Cultivating Dreams  ::  Growing Communities
  • 08/01/2017 1:03 PM | Willa Beth Smith

    Karen Smith Herstory

    When you think of homesteading, most people think of vast farms with huge tracts of land and oceans of grain or corn growing in the fields.  But a homestead isn’t defined by how much land you have or by how much produce you grow.  Homesteading is truly a mindset, a lifestyle, with a foundation in loving and preserving the earth and all its abundant resources.  It is a way of living sustainably by using what is right there around you.  One such person who epitomizes the homesteading lifestyle and mindset is Karen Smith.  She is an active member of the South Hall, GA Chapter of LHG.

    Almost everything Karen does has an air of conservation and an organic flair.  She has learned a lot through trial and error.  As an involved member of our LHG community, Karen openly shares her experience and knowledge, as well as her plants, seeds, and homesteading techniques with the South Hall Chapter.

    Karen was an Agriculture Major focusing on Plant Sciences from the University of Connecticut.  Karen grew up in Connecticut.   Her interest in plant sciences stemmed from dabbling in gardening tomatoes, squash and raspberry bushes. 

    After college she met her husband, Steven, and they moved to Buford, GA.  They were able to buy enough acres to have a few cows, plant fruit bushes and trees, raise chickens and a garden.   She began composting and experimenting with soil and earthworms.  As she learned more about organic gardening, she decided to stop tilling the soil, a practice which kills many of the micro-organisms that provide key plant nutrients. 

    "After giving homemade jelly to one of my boys' teachers, she asked me if I was from the country.  I said, no, I am just an old hippie."  ~  Karen Smith

    Karen possesses a unique talent for reusing and repurposing old items on her homestead and has taught our Chapter many useful things about conservation.  Last year, there was a serious drought in the southeast with 30 consecutive days without rain, a record in Georgia.  This caused the loss of plants, as well as low food production, and severely impacted the native bee population.

    To be more drought ready, Karen decided to make a rain gauge to determine if her plants were receiving enough rain. By using an old plastic peanut butter jar with the top removed, she attached a long metal gutter spike with a washer adhered with epoxy.  The gutter spike was then stuck into the ground and leveled to hold the rain.  From these homemade rain gauges, Karen could determine how much additional water the plants might need by keeping a record of the rainfall. 

    Then, with the help of her husband, she created a watering system for her blueberry bushes and tomatoes from five gallon buckets and a stiff old watering hose.   By positioning the buckets atop poles, this created enough gravity to pull the water down through the hoses which had been punctured with nails to allow the water to slowly seep into the ground around her plants.  As needed, they could simply fill the buckets and let gravity do the work. 

    Some of her water comes from the reuse of an assortment of food-grade plastic barrels she uses to catch rain water off of her shed.  She attached an old washing machine hose to the lower part of the barrel and a valve to allow the release of the water.  It’s an ingenious way to save water whether you have a well or are connected to the county water supply.  (Check with your county or city to be sure it is acceptable to collect rainwater in your area.)

    To help the bees, Karen attended a workshop on how to make nests for Orchard Mason bees and other solitary bees by using an open faced wren’s box or by reusing large baked beans cans.  Either can be mounted, south-facing, on trees or other structures, out of the drip line. Then she inserted small rolls of newspaper, about the size of your finger bunched together, as the nesting for the bees.  By creating a habitat for bees, Karen is helping the species flourish while also attracting pollinators for her plants. 

    Her efforts to deal with drought creatively by reusing and repurposing old items is an excellent example of homesteading know-how and perseverance.  These qualities have enabled her to be successful and to endure life’s little curve balls. We are thankful for Karen and her willingness to share her homesteading journey, its challenges and solutions, with us.  We continue to learn from her as well as from each other.  That is, after all, what Ladies Homestead Gathering is all about, sharing and growing together.

    If you have a special member, like Karen, tell us about her in the comments section.  How does she demonstrate the qualities of community?  What is her extraordinary talent? We love hearing from you.

    Cultivating Friendships :: Growing Communities
  • 07/10/2017 1:23 PM | Willa Beth Smith

    ...As If you needed a reason...

    You know that feeling you get when you complete a task?  The juicy, deliciousness of your first tomato grown in your own backyard. The thrill of bottling your own batch of Kombucha.  The elation of finding your first egg in the hen house.  Even if it was hard work, you feel something good, a sense of accomplishment.  Maybe even peace of mind in knowing you can do it. A sense of self-reliance.

    This is the essence of homesteading; creating rather than just consuming.  Whether revamping an old peanut butter jar into a rain gauge or starting your own bee colony, you are doing something which will enhance your life and possibly the lives of others.  How does homesteading do this, exactly?  We aim to tell ‘ya . . .

    1)   To Be Healthy

    In this modern world, we are far removed from our food sources.  We don’t really know where it came from or how it was grown.  Even with labeling, we don’t really know what’s in it and the long term health implications of additives. Is it organic, non-GMO, natural or no pesticides or treated with antibiotics? 

    Grow your own: by growing or raising your own vegetables, fruits or livestock, you know the answers to all these questions. 

    OR

    Join a CSA: as a member of a Community Supported Agriculture, you can actually visit the farms and speak with the farmers about how they grow their food.  This way, you know the source personally. 

    If you grow your own or reap the benefits of a CSA, you can obtain enough produce to can and dehydrate your own food for storage.  Again, the guess work is eliminated and you know exactly what you are feeding yourself and your family.

    2)   To Become More Self-Reliant

    During WWII, people were encouraged to grow their own produce and raise their own chickens.  It was a time of rationing and if you didn’t grow your own, sometimes you did without.  Prior to WWII was the Great Depression.  Not surprisingly, people in rural areas who grew their own food and used techniques of dehydration, canning and fermenting, fared better than those in more urban areas without the same resources or knowledge.  Homesteading offers the opportunity to learn how to become more self-reliant.

    3)   To Save Money

    Tired of paying big bucks for produce, organic eggs, raw honey or Kombucha? 

    Make your own!  It’s easier than you think and the return is much greater than the initial set up cost.  Once you are set up, you will produce more than you ever imagined.  In fact, some homesteaders start just to keep their families fed only to discover they have more than they can consume.  So, they start their own Cottage Farm Foods and sell to others.  It’s a win/win situation! 

    What do all of these 3 things add up to…? 
    Peace of mind!

    So, what are you waiting for?  If these reasons aren’t enough, then check out some of our blogs called HerStory about other members of LHG like Esther Arkfeld, Missy Crane or Jill Puckett.  See why they do it, what lessons they have learned and how their lives have been enriched.  We encourage you to ask questions, research on your own and find other women who value these timeless reasons to homestead. 

    Check out the laws in your area, first, before selling produce or animal products to others at http://forrager.com/laws/.

    Let us know why you make your own (fill in the blank) and how you do it by leaving a comment.  We would love to hear from you!

    CULTIVATING DREAMS ::  GROWING COMMUNITIES
  • 07/05/2017 8:39 AM | Willa Beth Smith

    Jill Puckett hERSTORY

    Jill Puckett is a member of the South Hall Georgia Chapter of Ladies Homestead Gathering where she serves as the Community Director.  She has been a member for three years and also serves on the planning committee for LHG retreats.  Jill served her country for seven years in the Army. She was a UH60 Blackhawk helicopter mechanic and was stationed state side in Colorado Springs and Texas as well as abroad in Korea, Germany and Iraq.  She brings a wonderfully unique perspective to our organization. 

    Here is her story:

    As part of a military family, we loved to garden and to explore nature all around us.  After graduating from high school, I joined the Army and followed in my Dad’s footsteps in Aviation.  I loved being a mechanic on UH60 Helicopters and flying all over the world.  The one thing I knew deep down is that I wanted to be a mom and set my roots down and create a sanctuary for my family.

    Fast forward 13 years since leaving the Army and I have a husband, three kids that I homeschool, a dog, two cats and six bunnies.  We have created something for sure!

    My involvement with LHG started through my friendship with Esther Arkfeld.  We had fascinating conversations about her dream to transform their property, her desire to become an herbalist, raise chickens and create a homestead.  The word homestead reminded me of the book series Little House on the Prairie (which I love as much as Anne of Green Gables).  Hearing her family’s ambitious dreams and her encouragement to do stuff in a yard in a subdivision planted a desire and dream in me to achieve a homestead in a manner that worked for my location and my family.

    “It’s amazing how a group of women can come together and share ideas, share products and sources, and encourage one another in whatever capacity needed.”

    Esther had been attending LHG Gatherings in different locations and had participated in several workshops.  She was creating this community that I slowly joined in on with her.  When she asked if I would be a part of her Chapter for the South Hall area, I was thrilled to finally see what it was all about.  I was instantly in love with the group, the organization and the community that has been built through the founder, Cyndi Ball’s, vision.  It is amazing how a group of women can come together and share ideas, share products and sources, and encourage one another in whatever capacity needed. 

    My families’ homestead consists of discovery.  Being a homeschool Mom, our yard and home is a living classroom.  We planted sunflowers last year and spent a morning watching the bees feed on them. We read about and observed a huge Praying Mantis which led to discussions about camouflage in nature.  My absolute favorite has been picking up a jar full of Black Swallowtail caterpillars and watching their cycle of life, transforming into butterflies.  It was incredible to sit with my coffee and devotion watching these guys eat, turn into chrysalises, then morph into butterflies.  The kids would name them before their release into the world.  It was something my kids will not forget.  It was intense and beautiful.

    “Each of my children (and myself) have their own bunny to feed, check on and love.”

    Our next big project has been adopting bunnies into our pet population and experiencing what they can offer our family outside of being pets.  Each of my children (and myself) have their own bunny to feed, check on and love.  They are learning a huge lesson in responsibility to care for all living things through experiencing the bunnies.

    My goal in homesteading is to teach my kids to appreciate the life God has given us, share it with others and protect it.  We are working on Bat conservation, growing a pollinator’s garden native to Georgia, and being as organic and pesticide-free as we can.  Through these efforts, we have seven baby toads jumping around our garden and insects that are new for us to study.

    “We sliced our grocery store tomatoes and planted them along with Lima beans, Great Northern Beans and Blackeye Peas from a bag of soup beans.”

    We like to grow vegetables but with a new puppy, we didn’t trust major results.  The kids and I started a potted garden from grocery store produce.  We sliced our grocery store tomatoes and planted them along with Lima beans, Great Northern beans and Blackeye Peas from a bag of soup beans. We grew corn from popcorn as well as celery and romaine lettuce from the bottom two inch scraps.  It has been amazing to watch these grow and produce food as well as seeing how we can use stuff at the grocery store to grow our own food.  Anyone can garden. This is definitely the conclusion we have come to learn as a family.

    “I finally feel my roots are down and they are drinking water.”

    We have loved this experience and are excited for the future ahead of us. We would like to move and have land we can build on.  We don’t know when that will happen but when it does, I am more than confident I will have the support of the LHG community here in South Hall, across Georgia and across the U.S.  Through LHG, I have grown as a woman, a wife and a mother in many ways and developed relationships that I have always wanted but could never find.  There’s a reason it’s called Mother Earth!

    Thank you, ladies! I finally feel my roots are down and they are drinking water.  I am home!

    Jill Puckett

    So, what’s your story, your goals, your ambitions in homesteading?  Tell us more about your journey.

    Cultivating Dreams :: Growing Communities
  • 06/28/2017 8:43 AM | Willa Beth Smith

    The Long Anticipated Retreat

    Each year, National ladies Homestead Gathering gives its members and guests the opportunity to connect during a weekend retreat.  As our logo says, “Knowledge, Community and Friendship” is what we strive towards and the annual retreat allows us to accomplish all three.  There is plenty of social time to reconnect with distant friends and to make new ones.  We also learn new homesteading skills to take home and share with our community.

    The Long Winter in the Camper

    Our Education and Events Director, Trina Reynolds, said she came up with the knowledge portion for this retreat after living in her camper all winter.  During Trina’s long winter in the camper, the water would freeze for days at a time which meant hauling water in from somewhere else (in this case, her mother-in-law’s house), much like a pioneer had to haul water from a stream or well.  Then, the water had to be boiled before it could be used to do things like wash the dishes.  The bitter cold winter reminded her of the struggles she read about in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book series, Little House on the Prairie.  Thus, came the idea for this year’s retreat, Survive: A Day in the Life of Ma Ingalls.

    Ma Ingalls may not have viewed hauling water and boiling it for sterilization as a struggle.  It probably seemed like a normal day’s work.  These were simple daily tasks used to stay healthy and, in tough situations, even alive.  For one weekend, we will learn hands-on how it was done by our Great-Great Grandmothers and do it like the pioneers.

    Farmer Girl

    During the Retreat, we start a project to work on during our down times. The Lucet, an ancient cord making tool used to make everything from fine thread lace to horse halters, was the tool of choice to make items necessary to live on the frontier.  We will learn to use the Lucet to make something to take home and share with our home Chapters.  Then, on Saturday, we typically have Workshops where you can focus on what interests you the most or you can switch from station to station.

    Lucet
    Some of the Workshop options will be:
    • How to Yield an Axe (without cutting off your foot)
    • How to Build a Fire
    • Cast Iron Cooking
    • Frontier Medicine (poultices, chest plaster, etc…)
    • Quilting and Blocking
    • Drop Spindling
    • Archery

    We will also make tin can lanterns and dip candles to take home.

    Big Lodge in the Mountains

    We will learn how the pioneers, like Ma Ingalls, lived, but, we won’t actually be living like a pioneer.  No dirt floors, no outhouses and no wild animals! Trina found an awesome lodge in the mountains of Gatlinburg, TN.  This area was chosen specifically to help the Gatlinburg economy following the forest fires which ravaged the mountains last fall.  Each double queen room has its own bathroom and balcony and will be shared by two women.  This is a big step up from life on the prairie and sod houses.

    Additionally, there is a full kitchen and dining room for our use.  We will have rabbit and vegetable stew with sourdough bread on Saturday night, much like the pioneer meal, only with more spices.  There is an enormous Gathering Room on the second floor, with an incredible view of the mountains and a huge stone fireplace.  This is where we do most of our socializing and meeting together.

    The balconies are plentiful with rocking chairs and views of the mountain wilderness. Dinner will be provided both Friday and Saturday night and breakfast on Saturday and Sunday.

    Little Town in the Mountains

    As always, we plan for leisure time and eating out.  Gatlinburg is full of places to eat and things to do.  Typically, you have time for lunch in town.  Pick someone new to tag along and get to know them.  This is your chance to learn more from members in other Chapters and to help grow your own Chapter.  Find out how it is done in Colorado or Virginia.

    Ladies Homestead Gathering is growing like wild fire (no pun intended). Originally, we started with 64 spaces available for this retreat.  Discounted registration opened to LHG members in March, and registration is now open for everyone until August 31st. Registration for the weekend is $224 until June 30th and then it goes up to $249 from July 1 through August 31st. There are still a few spaces open at the posting of this article.

    When: October 6 through 8th, 2017
    Where: The Lodge at Wafloy Mountain in Gatlinburg, TN – www.wa-floyretreat.com 

    Open to everyone starting May 1, 2017, Early Registration Discount before June 30, 2017.

    For more details, go to https://ladieshomesteadgathering.wildapricot.org/event-246857

    "THANK YOU"

    Members who helped organize this retreat; Trina Reynolds, Jill Puckett, Beth Spinella, Amanda Bayles and Debi Chandler. Thank you so much for your hard work!

    Have you attended one of our Fall Retreats? If so, tell us about your experience.

    CULTIVATING DREAMS ::  GROWING COMMUNITIES
  • 06/12/2017 8:17 AM | Willa Beth Smith

    Missy Crane - hERSTORY

    In the summer of 2013, we sold our business in Atlanta, GA and moved to the Athens, GA area.  Mainly, it was for our son who was starting high school in Oconee County.  But, we also wanted OUT of the city onto some land.  We did this without knowing what our next business was going to be.  We thought about several options for future businesses.  Should we start a coffee shop in Athens, a college town, or open a Subway, or what?

    "Well, we bought a farm! Ok, so it wasn't a farm to begin with..."

    Have you seen the movie with Matt Damon called We Bought a Zoo?  Well...we bought a farm!  Ok, so it wasn't a farm to begin with, but we had some ideas.  The main one, the CRAZY one, was, let's make a living by farming!! My husband had a fairly decent green thumb and we were an animal loving family, so, hey, how hard could it be??

    We began our homestead, of course, with chickens.  Then we began building a large garden that we had to water by hauling buckets by hand.  Thankfully, my husband is pretty handy and was able to convert an old concrete well house into a walk in cooler.  We began filling it with our garden produce and it filled up pretty quickly.  After setting up a Facebook page for our farm, we opened a loose CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and built an email list.

    "Next thing you know, we are delivering baskets full of our fresh, garden produce to households all around Athens and Atlanta."

    Then we focused on raising two hogs on our land and filled our freezer with ham and pork and LOVED IT!! The following year, we raised five hogs and pre-sold them to customers.  The next year we increased to seven hogs and took two of these hogs to USDA certified processing.  This allowed us to resell to the public. This will be our fourth year raising hogs and it keeps growing.

    "...filled our freezer with ham and pork and LOVED IT!!"

    We also raise meat birds and process them on our farm for our family and to sell. We have LOTS of eggs to sell from our 65-ish free ranging ladies.  We have a handful of dairy goats and are crossing our fingers that next spring will be our first productive one with them.  We currently grow on almost an acre of land, including in a high tunnel with raised beds.  We've expanded our fruit production with blackberries and blueberries and many more fruit trees.

    Next, we would like to raise our own steer for meat and maybe have a dairy cow. We still have lots of ideas to toss around. For instance, should we continue with a CSA? Or build a farm stand to sell from on our property? Or paint an old ice cream truck green and cruise the local neighborhoods passing out cucumber slices and asparagus while blasting Veggie Tales songs? Who knows?

    "But for now, I have a hen and her 11 chicks that need moving into their new maternity ward."

    What's your homestead story?  Please share it with us! We love to hear from you!

    Cultivating DREAMS ::  Growing Community
  • 06/05/2017 9:00 AM | Willa Beth Smith

    Who are we?

    Homesteading, be it farming or fermenting, isn't as common as it once was. "Over 200 years ago, 90% of the U. S. Population lived on farms and produced their own food to eat" according to an www.AnimalSmart.org article, Comparing Agriculture of the Past with Today.  Now, we are turning back to our roots to have more control over what we eat and our overall health.  Women in agriculture is growing so much that even the USDA.org has recognized this unique community by offering mentorships to women.

    Our founder, Cyndi Ball, started with a simple vision.  She wanted to fill the gaps between workshops and conventions on various aspects of homesteading by creating a network of women with similar interests within her own community in Statham, GA.  This small vision has expanded into a national community of women within the past five years aptly named, Ladies Homestead Gathering.

    What do we do?

    1)  We educate each other....

    Everyone has something to offer and something to gain from coming together. Each chapter holds monthly meetings to teach through demonstrations anything from backyard gardening to how to use the latest power tool.  They also hold workshops where members receive a discount to learn a new aspect of sustainable living.  And, as mentioned above, the awesome retreats!

    2)  We give back....

    Each chapter gets involved in their local community to offer help with everything from donating our skills for a community landscaping project or helping a sick neighbor harvest their garden.  National Ladies Homestead Gathering also gives back 20% of each members' yearly dues to their local chapter. This allows the local chapters to give back to their members and so on.  And, as NLHG grows, we hope to offer scholarships to women in hardship situations trying to get started in homesteading.

    3)  We receive discounts....

    As a member, you receive discounts to local workshops and national retreats. As your local chapter grows, we negotiate with local businesses to offer discounts to our members.

    4) We support your Agri- or Homesteading business....

    As a member, you are able to list your business in homesteading or agriculture on our national website, www.ladieshomesteadgathering.org.  Plus, local chapters have a Facebook Swap and Shop page where any member, nationwide, can sign up to either buy or barter or sell their homesteading wares.

    5)  We support each other by creating a community of women....

    Because the term homesteading covers a wide array of skills and interests, no doubt you will find someone who makes something you need for your area of interest.  Maybe you like to make Jun Kombucha and need raw honey on a regular basis.  You could trade your Jun Kombucha for raw honey within the group.  Or purchase the raw honey and sell your Jun Kombucha to each other. However you do it, you have a reliable source from someone you know personally.  

    Why do you need a community of women?

    Fellowship with other women, especially ones who are on a similar path, has a calming effect.  A stress relieving hormone, oxytocin, is released when women come together.  "Oxytocin is released when people have a sense of connection," according to Larry Young, a research at Emory University (see article from www.verifymag.com, Does Oxytocin Give Women and Edge?). Ladies Homestead Gathering offers a sense of connection to all women who are yearning to live closer to their roots, closer to the earth and closer to each other. You are not alone!

    Tell us what you have gained from being a part of a community or member of LHG.  We would love to hear from you.

    Cultivating DREAMS :: Growing Community

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