MollyGreen.com | Summer on the Homestead | Summer 2016 20
we built our cabin, a 12-foot by 16-foot
building. We learned that you should
consider shade, air flow, and water
runoff. While we lived in the cabin, we
spent several years experiencing the land.
After a few years, we built our 20-foot by
28-foot cottage. It’s built with a gabled
roof, pier-and-beam construction floors,
and traditional wood frame. We have one
bedroom and one open room and a loft
where the children sleep. We hope that it
isn’t the last home we’ll have and would
like to build a larger home one day. We
have an outhouse and a composting
MGM: Is it best to start a venture like
homesteading with very small chil-
dren or older children who can pitch
in and work?
MB: The first time we ever butchered
chickens, our two daughters were very,
very young and we didn’t know how to
introduce them to that. So we put them
in the house, closed the blinds, and had
some friends show us how to butcher the
chickens. About two or three chickens
into it, we looked up, and both children
were holding the blinds back, looking
through the windows. Later that evening,
my wife cooked one of the chickens, and
while they were eating my child asked
me, “Daddy, why did you cut the chick-
en’s head off?”
So we explained to them, that’s what
you’re eating right now, that’s where
chicken comes from. They had no
problem with it. In fact, by the time our
oldest child was ten, she was teaching the
other children how to butcher chickens,
and we didn’t do it anymore. Starting at
that age, they didn’t have any resistance
to eating something they had seen alive,
or anything dying. They understand the
reasons and rationale behind what we do.
The more children have been ingrained
with the industrial way of doing things
and that lifestyle, the more resistance
they will have to things like butchering.
With older children, those things have to
be overcome, even if they are obedient
and want to please you.
So while it seems like it may be more
beneficial to have older children who can
work when you begin homesteading, it is
probably easier to start with very young
MGM: Is it best to live in the context
of a community when you’re home-
steading, or is it possible to strike out
on your own and homestead alone?
MB: Living in a community has massive
benefits. When you have a small farm, it’s
very restricting; you have to stay on the
farm. But if you have to leave for something, a community can pitch in and
help each other. But certainly if someone
is in the pioneering mind-set, they can
homestead on their own. I recommend
homesteading with others, though. People who have the same moral, religious,
and work values can help each other
tremendously. Those things unite people
in their journey. For example, we pitch
in every month to a health account so
that if anyone in the community needs a
health practitioner, they can pay for that.
We also have a once-a-week workday, on
Wednesdays, where we work together on
someone’s farm or house. The old maxim
that “many hands make light work” is
MGM: Now that you are on your
homestead and have been there since
2005, do you still have to make money?
MB: We do make some money. If we
were forced to live without money, it
wouldn’t be pleasant, but we could. Our
goal has been to build infrastructure so
our children and grandchildren wouldn’t
need to make money. I feel like we’re still
in a transition stage with this. We have
raised all or most of our food before, so
we know we can do it. We can do one
day selling at the farmers’ market and
make enough to pay our property taxes.
If you don’t have an income, you don’t
pay income taxes, and some taxes are
voluntary—like sales taxes. If you don’t
consume the world’s goods, you don’t
pay sales tax.
MGM: What animals do you raise and,
of all of them, which animal would you
not want to do without?
MB: Chickens, Dorper sheep and one
Rambouillet sheep, goats, pure Longhorn cattle, a partial Jersey milk cow,
Durock pigs, and Californian rabbits.
Chickens are the primal and most
important homesteading animal. They
produce eggs, meat, and feathers. They
are the easiest and most reproductive animal to raise. You can grow enough grains
and greens to feed them. We grow wheat
and other grain crops that we feed to the
chickens and will sometimes buy scratch
if necessary to increase laying.
MGM: How do you care for your animals
when they need medical attention?
MB: For the most part we try to start
with animals that are indigenous to this
area or have a high resistance to disease.