I am absolutely loving the golden nuggets from this series, and I hope you are as well! Today, we have Amy of The Fewell Homestead joining us for another round of 20 Questions Homesteading Style, and I could not be more excited to have her included within this project!
Amy is one of the people responsible for my yearning to learn more about herbalism. If you didn’t know, she has actually written a book all about it, and she shares why she learned this homesteading skill below with us.
Shall we get into it?
20 Questions Homesteading Style – Amy @ The Fewell Homestead
Please introduce yourself & your blog.
Hi! My name is Amy Fewell, and I am the homesteading mama, wife, and blogger of The Fewell Homestead. I am an author, photographer, and chicken wrangler.
I’m also the mama to a spunky 9 year old boy, and another little boy on the way (due June 2019). I am the Founder and organizer of the Homesteaders of America foundation and annual conference.
On my blog I talk about daily homesteading life, homemaking, herbalism, livestock care, and more!
My family and I live in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains here in Virginia, and we couldn’t ask for a beautiful place to homestead! We raise chickens, ducks, quail, rabbits, and more!
How did you start your homesteading journey? How long ago was that?
When my son was a year old he was diagnosed with childhood asthma (2010). We saw how many medicines he was being placed on, and the toll it was taking on his body, and decided we wanted a better life for him. This set me on my journey to herbalism and a healthier diet.
We discovered herbs that helped him, and us, as well as the use of raw milk. So in 2010 this set us on a journey that we could’ve never imagine. Eventually we got chickens, started a large garden, and the rest is history!
How big of a property do you currently have for your homestead? Do you think that is ideal for you or do you dream of changing that one day? Why?
My family and I currently live on a half-acre in Virginia. It has been enough for our basic needs. There are a lot of things you can do on a half-acre. However, we are looking to buy a larger property (10+ acres) in the next two years, and will more than likely build our own home.
Our goal is to be as self-sufficient as possible, and grow as much of our food as possible. This requires us to have a larger property. Also, as our family continues to grow, we need more than our little 900 sq ft house to live in!
What is your favorite thing about the homesteading lifestyle?
The way it makes us feel—physically, mentally, and spiritually. Living a back to the land lifestyle truly brings a sense of accomplishment and “real life” that people don’t understand unless they live it.
Sure, it’s not always easy. But it’s always worth it.
We are physically more alive, healthy, and revived. We are mentally sound and less brain foggy. And we are more spiritually connected to the sacrifice of growing a garden, being good stewards of the earth, and butchering our own meat. It’s an incredible experience altogether.
What is your least favorite thing about the homesteading lifestyle?
Dirt under my fingernails. I know, it’s so simple and inevitable, but I can’t stand dirt under my fingernails!
What does a typical day on your homestead look like?
Because we are a homeschooling family, typical mornings look like getting up, getting my husband off to work, making breakfast, do chores, and then diving straight into school work. We’re always done before lunch time, which gives me a lot of time to get work done on my blog, website, and on the Homesteaders of America organization. However, I try to have all of the work done before 2 pm so that I can get the house tidied up, dinner started, and ready for the husband when he gets home.
In the busy summer months, days are longer, and there’s a lot of gardening, preserving, and canning involved! Weekends are set aside for butchering.
What animals do you have on your homestead, and what is their purpose?
We have chickens for eggs and meat. Ducks for eggs and entertainment (let’s face it, they’re adorable). Quail for eggs and meat. And we randomly raise rabbits for meat as well, however, we’ve recently gotten rid of rabbits to take on more quail.
We also do a lot of breeding projects. For example, we love French Black Copper Marans and Olive Eggers. So we do several breedings each year for those. And we plan to add some special quail breedings in the future as well.
What is your favorite thing to grow? Why?
Tomatoes. I love tomatoes, doesn’t everyone? But I love experimenting with different types each and every year.
Are you a seed saver, do you order seeds, or a combination of both?
I do both! I like saving seeds for projects and to increase the bounty each and every year. But I also have a seed order addiction like most homesteaders.
Are there any animals or plants you don’t have currently, but hope to one day?
I’m always experimenting with new plants. However, the one thing we don’t have on our homestead that we will expand into when we purchase a larger property is a dairy source. More than likely, goats!
What are some of your favorite things to make?
I really enjoy creating herbal preparations of any kind—tinctures, salves, ointments. Tinctures are probably my favorite though.
What is the hardest lesson you have learned on your homestead?
You don’t have to do “all the things”. It’s so easy to get excited and think that you have to have it “all” on your homestead . . . but trust me . . . you don’t. In fact, you shouldn’t. Learning how to live with far less, more efficiently, wasn’t easy, but it has been life changing.
What is your favorite recipe to cook from scratch?
Chicken pot pie. It’s my family’s favorite too!
What homesteading skills are you thankful for learning?
All of them. While I had some knowledge of homesteading skills coming into this, I would say my most favorite skill to learn has been herbalism, wild foraging (still learning), and different types of preservation for food.
What homesteading skills are still on your list to learn?
I still need to expand my wild foraging skills greatly. I feel like I will forever be a student! Cheesemaking and all things dairy are on the list as well.
What is the funniest thing that has happened on your homestead?
Funniest and most gross, probably. We had a chicken with bumblefoot once, and as I was cleaning her foot out, I decided it would be a great time to “squeeze” the infection out instead of just flushing it out. Wouldn’t you know, out like a rock the infection flew . . . right into my mouth. Bleh.
Horrible, horrible story. I laughed afterwards . . . I mean, what are the odds. But in the moment, it was horrifying. Ahhh, the romanticising of homesteading.
When you are having a hard day/week, how do you keep yourself motivated?
One of my favorite quotes is “When you’re tired, learn to rest . . . not quit.” If I’m having a hard or challenging day/week, I’ve learned that it’s ok to stop and rest, even if just for an hour. Read a book. Take a nap. Pray. Go for a walk. Sit in your car with the music blaring. Whatever it is you need in that moment, do it.
Motivation comes when your mind is clear and you can think efficiently.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start their homesteading journey?
Start small. Ease into it. You don’t have to jump all in. Learn your land and how it works first. Then, as you learn it, add to it.
When it comes to resources, what are some of your favorites?
I’m a big follower of Joel Salatin. His books and lectures are some of the most amazing homesteading sessions you’ll ever find.
What are you most excited for in 2019 on the homestead and for your community?
We’re looking forward to welcoming baby #2 in 2019. [CONGRATULATIONS!] This year is our year of rest. We’re actually not planting a garden or expanding much. And that’s completely ok! Sometimes you just need a year of rest on the homestead.
I’m also looking forward to the publishing of my second book, The Homesteader’s Natural Chicken Keeping Handbook, which is coming out in May! You can find my first book, The Homesteader’s Herbal Companion online now, which was published in April 2018.
To learn more about Amy and The Fewell Homestead community, be sure to check out her YouTube Channel and on Facebook! Also, be sure to check out her Chicken Pot Pie recipe she mentioned! It looks delicious!
As always, if you enjoyed this interview in the 20 Questions Homesteading Style Series, be sure to let us know in the comments! Amy and I would love to know your takeaways!