Editor’s Note: Lehman’s invited local homesteader Sarah Kroger and her family to attend this year’s Country Living Workshop. In exchange, she’s sharing her experience. Enjoy!
When I told my daughters, ages 9 and 11, that we were going to Lehman’s Country Living Workshop, they looked at me kind of like confused puppies…heads cocked, brows furrowed. “Don’t worry, it’ll be fun!” I said.
I’m not sure they believed me, but they went along like good sports, (the fudge they were given in their kid packets upon arrival helped) and we were on our way.
I always love the drive from my house to Lehman’s. I never knew how fortunate I was to live so close. This homesteading thing is new to me. I grew up in the suburbs with pet dogs and a little raised bed garden. It’s only been in the last few years that we’ve branched out into growing more food with purpose, raising animals, preserving, and building community with others who do the same.
So when I had a chance to come where all of my teachers would be in one place, you better believe I was all over it. Not to mention the fact that Joel Salatin himself would be there. His book, Folks! This Ain’t Normal, was amazing in how it laid out how things “used to be” and gave some simple steps on how to get back to that simple life. Frankly, most of the speakers were celebrities in my mind. I attended Aaron Weaver’s Beginning Beekeeping course at Lehman’s a few months ago and was excited to pick his brain about varroa mite treatment and hear what his advanced session would bring. I attended Karen Geiser’s gardening class last year, but this time she was talking about fermenting fresh veggies and I love that that’s the only preservation method that actually increases the nutritional value of our food! I love Deb Gray. She’s a local goat keeper, and lotion and soap maker and has been my “goat yoda” for the last year as we’ve been beginning goat owners. My daughters were so excited to hear what she had to say. They also loved making butter, ice cream, noodles and hearing how other kids help on their homesteads. At the end, they said they really had a great time.
We’ve been following Off Grid with Doug and Stacy for a while now and came to see them last fall when they were at Lehman’s for their Field Trip Friday. This time, rather than just a social meet and greet, I loved hearing about food as medicine. Stacy did an amazing outline of the different colors of veggies and how each was a healing agent to your body. Doug gave us some great tips on choosing what to plant for success at farmer’s markets as well as how to arrange things to be attractive to customers. They’re so gracious as well. My 9-year-old drew Stacy some pictures over the course of the day, and in addition to accepting them with a smile, she even thanked my daughter on Facebook! Sure made her feel special.
Frankly, though, the piece that was the most impactful to me over the course of the day was looking around and seeing Community, Education, and Inspiration happening all in one place. You see, some of the things I’m doing with my family are so far removed with how I grew up and how many of my friends are living their lives. I am setting up to have my hands on most of my food during the course of its life, preparing it myself, tying myself to my homestead, and doing things to create, not an easier life….in fact, at 40, this is the most physically demanding my daily life has ever been…but a simpler life. We started our journey looking for “cleaner” food, now we are moving toward “one ingredient food” and knowing where as much of it comes from as possible.
Now, despite what it says in Mr. Salatin’s book, THIS life is what’s not normal. We rarely use a microwave, and I basically make three meals a day from scratch. Who does that?
Well, many of the people at this workshop do. I learned many new things, and in fact, I am trying Mrs. Geiser’s recipe for “wimpy American kimche” later today! But looking around and seeing people who are “like me” and are thriving in this simple life was gold. Listening to Joel Satalin talk about raising the next generation to caress the land while hearing cows moo in the background and children giggling over the ice cream they just made, I left inspired to try new things and share what I’ve learned. I left encouraged that I really am providing a good life for my children. And I left with connections that I never would have made had I not attended this year’s Country Living Workshop. And of course, I can’t wait until next year’s!
Were you unable to attend this year’s Country Living Workshop? No worries. Lehman’s offer other great in-store classes and special events, too. Click here to see the full list.