Welcome back to Highlighting Homesteaders! Highlighting Homesteaders is a weekly post, each Friday, where I introduce you to backyard homesteaders, urban homesteaders and homesteaders with acres. This will give you a chance to see what others are doing, be inspired, learn something new and just meet a fellow like-minder homesteader.
Today I am excited to introduce you to Jessica of The 104 Homestead. Jess has a 1/4 acre and she is making the most of it. She’s a mom and wife who is juggling family life with a garden, chickens, ducks and quail. She does it all with her budget in mind as she works to achieve the life she wants. Jess is very inspiring!
Highlighting Homesteaders – Jessica of The 104 Homestead
Homestead Name and where are you located (include climate information)?Our homestead, The 104 Homestead, is located on the Maine/New Hampshire border. We experience a lot of weather extremes being in the foothills of The White Mountains, making it hard to care for plants and livestock. Our gardening zone is 5a.
How much land are you working with?
We live on 1/4 acre, just a few blocks from our small, one-light town. The back of the lot has a lot of shade because of tall trees on the adjacent property, but the front gets wonderful sun exposure for growing.
How long have you been homesteading? What got you started?
I began homesteading 5 years ago, but began taking it more seriously when I started blogging in 2013. The adventure began when I
was suddenly laid off and too pregnant to find another job. I realized that to make ends meet, I would need to transition from hobby to real self-sufficiency.
What gardening method do you use?
As of 2014, we have been using Back to Eden method in our vegetable garden. It has eliminated almost all of our weeds, reduced our need to water, and greatly improved the condition of our soil.
Do you compost? And what’s your method?
I compost with the help of my chickens. We have a three-sided pallet bin in the chicken run. They eat what they enjoy, and dig and turn what they don’t want. They add their manure straight to the compost, so it has a great nitrogen ratio. We also have a kiddie pool for the ducks that drains into the bottom of the compost bin.
What kind of livestock do you have?
We have poultry right now (a combination of meat chickens, laying hens, ducks, and quail), but we are getting two Nigerian Dwarf goats in the spring, which I’m very excited about. By the end of next year, we will be providing most of our vegetable needs, as well as all of our dairy, egg, and meat needs. It’s exciting to eat from our own backyard.
Tell me about your homesteading indoors (kitchen, crafts, medicinal, etc).
I work very hard to make as many of the products we use as I can. I make our shampoos, soaps, deodorants, and lotions. I sewed unpaper towels to reduce our dependence on paper products.
What have been your greatest challenges?
Space is definitely our biggest challenge, but I’ve learned to embrace our small homestead and can’t imagine doing things any other way. I’ve found a way to squeeze in everything I need right here.
What are you proudest of?
I am proud that I’ve never given up. Homesteading isn’t easy. Animals die, crops fail, projects flop. It’s easy to throw in the towel, but it’s rewarding when you pioneer on.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Take it slowly. The easiest way to become discouraged is to take on too much too soon. Choose a few plants to grow. Select a few animals to raise. Pick a few things to start making from scratch. As your confidence grows, you can add more things.
In regards to your homestead, what are your hopes and plans for the future?
My plan is to hone in on my gardening skills so I can provide for the majority of our fruit and vegetable needs. I’ve learned that you can plant a lot more intensively if your soil is healthy, so every year, that’s one of our primary focuses.
Thanks to Jessica for joining me on Highlighting Homesteaders! I hope you find her inspiring as you are on your own homesteading journey.
Where to find Jess and the 104 Homestead
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