You don’t really need acres of land to become a homesteader. A simple pot on a windowsill is a great place to start. Justin Rhodes, author of “The Rooted Life”, inspires millions to grow their own food on his YouTube channel and streaming platform, Abundance Plus. Today, Justin offers insights on the ups and downs of the homesteading way of life, how he and Rebekah got started on it in the first place, and why your family just might see you as crazy if you decide to get into it yourself.
Whether you’re looking into living off the land or simply need a glimpse of a sustaining and gratifying lifestyle, you may find what you’re looking for here, as Justin peels back the curtain on his homestead and heart.
Listen to the episode here:
A homesteader is an individual or family who chooses to live as sustainably as possible, growing their vegetables, raising their own animals. Homesteading is becoming increasingly attractive as our world seems more unstable. What you may not know is that you don’t have to own several acres and have a substantial farm to homestead. Even if you have a windowsill, you can grow something and learn a little bit more about a rooted life. This is episode 346, and our guest is Justin Rhodes.
Justin teaches and inspires millions of people to grow their own food through his popular YouTube Channel, Justin Rhodes. His streaming platform Abundance Plus and his number one best-selling book, The Rooted Life. He and his family of seven are the 4th generation to sustenance farm on their beautiful 75-acre homestead in the mountains of North Carolina.
In this episode, Justin gets real with us. He tells us how he and Rebecca got into homesteading in the first place, and here’s a hint. It had to do with an a-ha moment at the checkout counter of his grocery store. He also describes the highs and lows homesteaders face, including those they’ve gone through with their own families. He also covers plenty of benefits too, like nourishing food, the satisfaction of knowing that you grew it yourself and the copious amounts of time you get to spend with the children. As Justin puts it, “As you push through the worst of homesteading, you come out victorious with a better command of your life and a better appreciation for the life-giving rhythm of the world around you.”
Head to Redmond.life and use the code word, WISE, for 15% off at checkout and enjoy.
Welcome to Wise Traditions, Justin. We’re in the Rhodes home here in the Holler Farm. It’s good to see you.
It’s good to see you.
We’ve been together every day now. Honestly, Justin, it has felt very beautiful and wonderful to be here on your homestead, but I know not every day is peaches and cream. Can you tell me a story of one moment on the homestead that was rough?
There are a lot of moments. Trying to narrow that down to one can be difficult because a lot of times you think, “It’s going to be kicks and giggles.” You imagine when you dream this lifestyle, you imagine the unicorns farting rainbows. You don’t imagine the calloused hands, the broken arms, the sprained back. Probably the first one that stuck out to my mind was day after day, doing this, starting out, having young kids. That time, we were milking early. I can remember it was dark. It was cold, and you do this. I saw that he was stepping up. This is something you do every single day, rain, shine, cold, whether you’re feeling good or not.
This particular morning, maybe I was crashing with my Lyme disease and whatnot and feeling depressed. I remember having two buckets in my hand. I don’t know the significance of that, but I remember walking underneath my basement and getting ready to milk. I collapsed with grief. I put the buckets down and wept. I ugly cried. I was being overwhelmed with the grind. We all come for the glory of the raw milk, the finished table, the kids drinking a nice cold glass around the table, but that’s only a little bit of it. Once you get into it, you get tricked. You come in for the raw milk, but then you have to fall in love with the process. The process can be very difficult sometimes and it can grind on you. I’ll be the first to tell you, there’s not a whole lot out there.
Letting the chickens out every morning, putting them up every night, you’ve done that for ten years. You’re talking about thousands of visits to the chickens. At some point, to get it into a lighter mood here, Rebecca and I were lying in bed one night and she said to me, “Did you put the chickens up?” I was about to go to sleep and I thought, “No.” I’m not feeling that great because I was getting into the Lyme disease symptoms and stuff. I stayed there and she said, “Are you going to?” I said, “No.” She said, “Something’s going to get them.” I said, “I hope they die,” because you get there sometimes. Let’s be real. I think it’s the grind that’s supreme in my thought when she asked me that question.
I’m glad you’re being so real and raw with us because a lot of people now are thinking, toying with the idea of starting their own homestead. I think they need to go into it with our eyes wide open. What’s one thing you would say they need to know besides what you said, that it is a grind?
Don’t let the grind deter you because this is what happens. We had a lady come and she said, as we were about to go milk, “I can’t wait to have a family cow. I am going to have my own raw milk.” I hope I wasn’t rude, but I had to say, “You better fall in love with the chore as well, or you’re going to burn out.” At some point though, it’s me collapsing on the floor with grief. I ended up going and putting the chickens up that night, pushing through the calloused hands, sore back, and walking pneumonia you caught from milking the cows in the pouring rain for an hour. When you do sit down to that glass of milk, not only do you know the story. You could buy milk locally and know the story, but there’s something very special about being part of that story.
A story is not special and epic unless there’s a super grind. In the Lord of the Rings, Frodo takes the ring to be destroyed. It’s all those obstacles that make that so victorious. When you finally sit down to that glass of milk and you remember squeezing the tiny teats in the cold rain, the time you collapsed on there, then that meal is so victorious.
The milk, and I think about the meals we’ve shared here where every item on the table was either grown or raised by you all, that brings a level of satisfaction that you don’t get from the stuff you buy wrapped in cellophane at the grocery store.
I was thinking about that. You guys made some fries from our potatoes. I tasted a little bit of dirt in some of that. You city folks are used to cleaning potatoes coming in the package, so you didn’t clean them 100% thoroughly. That’s the story. That potato had dirt on it. I can remember planting those potatoes and weeding those potatoes, and because I got reactive arthritis at some point, dropping off the wagon with those potatoes and weeds coming around. Thankfully, the potatoes had been far enough in advance. Going out and harvest is pretty much on a hunt because the weeds are crazy, but they had grown enough.
We found those potatoes. We had friends at that time at the guest house there and they helped us harvest the potatoes. She’s like, “This is my favorite garden.” Her positivity rubbed on me because I was like, “I’m not even going to eat the potatoes. I eat mostly meat.” When she pointed that out, it was nice because we were digging in the dirt, earth and it was warm. It was a little chilly that morning, but the earth was warming our hands. We were talking with friends. Now, I’m telling you a story about what we ate. I’m telling you about some of the struggles and why that mill was so special to me. We could go on. We also ate lamb, onions, garlic. All those have special stories that make those meals so meaningful.
You all have friends. You were talking about digging with a friend and we’re here, but is homesteading isolating too at times?
Yes. That was when I was crying over having to do those chores. I was doing everything by myself. I had young kids. I bring the kids. Kids want to “help” when they’re little. We’ve got to let them, even though it’s no help. I always tell people to plant 50% more than they need if you’re going to have kids because they’re going to step on it and they’re going to pull it up. We get a little less angry when they do. That moment, I think it was more about loneliness than drudgery because fast forward six years, I’m still out milking. I milk two cows every day by myself or whatever. Jonah comes up and he says, “Don’t you ever get tired of this?” He hates milking. He’ll do anything but milk.
He might even do dishes as opposed to milk. We’re milking. “Do you hate this?” I had to think and I thought, “I don’t hate this.” There was a time I couldn’t stand this. One thing I would do is I figured out to listen to an audiobook or a podcast while I did it and kill two birds with one stone. Majorly what it was, I started thinking about Lily, who was on the other side of me at this point, eight years old, milking away. For a while, it was her and I milking. We wouldn’t say a word sometimes. Sometimes I would ask her questions and we had this romantic moment.
Don’t let the grind deter you.
It’s what’s you’re picturing when you have this dream idea that here we are. She and I are bonding. We don’t have to go to the Fun Depot, the go-kart world. Whether we say anything or not, we’re together. There was something special about that. At that moment I realized, that was my problem. For me, my children needed to grow up a little bit. That was a stage and that’s the hardest stage.
A lot of people that I meet usually start in your homestead when your kids are small. You have to grin and bear it during that time. The children are an investment on a farm because they don’t help at first, but they want to. You got to let them because you got to let them get excited and associate the farm with something good and learn. One day, they will be milking with you and you won’t be nearly so lonely.
Given the things you’ve said though, that does make it hard, the isolation, the chores, the grind, the difficulties and the mishaps. What makes people get into it in the first place, or maybe I should ask you what made you get into it in the first place?
Rebecca got the idea that you’re not supposed to eat high fructose corn syrup. When we ran out of anything that had that in it, we would buy organic or the alternative. Next came milk. She found out there are hormones in conventional milk and stuff like that. I don’t even think she knew about GMOs at the time, but there would have been that in it. We replaced conventional milk with organic milk.
It’s all her idea. I’m going along with it because I love the garden piece. Happy wife, happy life, “Let’s do this, honey.” I noticed when we started shopping on the outside of the grocery store where the Whole Foods are, the perimeter where the organic vegetables are and fruits, meats or whatever, not the processed stuff, it was getting way more expensive. Organic milk is more expensive than conventional milk. Milk is one thing, but then she’s everything. You run out of salt, “Let’s find the cleanest salt we can get.” We run out of pepper, “Let’s get organic pepper,” like everything. Eventually, we were checking out and she thought, “Justin is freaking out.” We didn’t make a lot of money at the time, but I’m going with it. I’m going with the garden of peace, trust in it.
Are you seeing those numbers go up on the register?
The numbers are flying and Justin’s about to have a heart attack. I look over. We’re checking out bunches of kale or lettuce. I look over and I see a seed catalog or a seed packet stand. Out of curiosity, I go over there because we’re checking out these bundles of lettuce. It’s like $3.50 or something. While I go over to the seed packet stand, a packet of seed is about the same, $3.50. It’s got 100 seeds in it. I knew enough to know one seed is going to be a bunch of lettuce. For $3.50, that’s 100X the amount I could get from my money.
I’ve lived in the country. We were already living in the country. It was a no-brainer for me at that point. We had more time than money as well, “Let’s buy this packet of lettuce.” We didn’t know how to garden. We contacted the closest friend that we knew of to come help us get a garden in and off to the races.
Your new book is coming out, The Rooted Life. In it, you mentioned starting small and right outside the door. Talk to us a little bit about those two ideas.
To continue to bring it back, we were talking about the struggles. Now, it sounds like we’re going to talk about the possibilities. Anybody can do this. A lot of times, as me being somebody who’s teaching this, they’ll say, “Where do you start?” Do start a permaculture principle, which I’ve studied. Permaculture will tell you it’s a design idea to start right outside your door. Don’t be overwhelmed by all your grand idea. You’ll get a lot of ideas. As somebody who’s wanting to get into this, maybe you want to grow some eggs, grow a garden, have honey, get bees, have devil eyes, which is what I call goats. You want to do all these things and you can’t because you only have so much time, money and energy.
Start right outside your door. If you can’t cultivate and develop right outside your door, who says you can do 8 acres? You work full-time on 8 acres. Seriously, start outside your door. This is what I see a lot of people doing. Don’t say, “If only.” If only’s will kill you. “If only I have 5 acres, if only I have a half-acre, if only I have a yard.” Start outside your door. If there’s nothing outside your door because you’re in an apartment complex, please tell me you have a window. Go to Walmart, Target, Amazon, get you a 5-inch terracotta pot. Buy what you call potting soil, put it in that. Buy a basil plant, buy some basil seeds at the grocery store, and plant that in there and put it in the windowsill. You can do that.
We traveled in America for ten months in a converted school bus, and that didn’t stop us from growing. We put a pot on the windowsill of a moving bus. We had to get Velcro to make it stay put. We had some basil. We planted basil in Iowa. By the time it grew up and we could harvest it, we were in Wyoming, and we put basil on our pizza.
Why did you do that when you could buy basil wherever you went?
A couple of reasons. First, it’s a lot more fun, isn’t it? It’s a lot more fun to sit here and tell you I grew a basil seed in a window of my bus. The crazier circumstance you have, the more epic of a story it’s going to be and the more fulfilling. Why am I talking to you about that pizza? If I bought that pizza at the grocery store, I wouldn’t be talking to you about that pizza. That will be how your life is. It will be so much more enriched because this will not be one meal because you’ll get hooked and you’ll grow more. It’ll be your lifestyle before you know it.
Another thing about growing outside your door that I want to hit on is you want to make sure you grow outside the door of your heart, as I call it. Only what you like. Some of you are probably like, “I don’t even care about basil.” Don’t grow basil. Some of you might like a tomato. You can also grow a tomato in a container on a sidewalk outside. In the city, you have these strips of land between the street and the sidewalk. You could grow something there.
Grow inside your heart. Don’t grow kale because it’s cool. Grow what you like. If you’re a meat and potatoes person, then grow some meat and potatoes. You have a small acreage, you’re in a city and you want to grow some meat. We’ll get some Cornish cross meat chickens and they don’t take up much space. Some chickens that lay eggs, you don’t have to have a rooster to lay eggs. These lady hens are going to be laying these precious, perfect food for you nearly every day.
It is a lot more convenient than going to the grocery store to get those eggs. You roll out of bed. I know I read that story in your book. Speaking of that, you mentioned the 1% rule in your book. Talk to us a little bit about that.
Talking about overwhelm and being overcome and having all these ideas, you never get to the end of that. You never get things accomplished. Every night, I help the boys clean their room and get laundry started. I feel like we’re chipping away at it, but there’s always more. Our farm is not as organized as I would like it to be. We have arrived as far as we’ve got all the animals we want. We’re doing as much gardening as we want, but let’s take your organization for example. You guys might imagine starting from scratch, doing with growing with food. It seems overwhelming as you get into it. There’s so much to learn. There’s so much to do. Do 1% every day. Make a 1% change and you have the rule of compounding.
If you change 1% every day, it doesn’t take 100 days to double. It takes only 72 because that’s the rule of compounding. By 72 days, you’ve doubled. One percent is better than nothing. If you’re doing nothing on overwhelm, which is what I find a lot of people doing, do 1%. Sometimes, that 1% is finding out a little more information, “I’m going to find out a little more information on how to garden,” then you find the Square Foot Gardening method and say, “Tomorrow, I’m going to order that book.” You ordered the book, Square Foot Gardening or my book, The Rooted Life.
That comes and you figure out, “I want to build a raised bed.” That was your 1% that day, “I’m going to order all the supplies for the raised bed.” The next day, you’re going to find the soil to fill in the raised bed. You don’t have to be a hero and do it all in one weekend. What’s going to happen? You’re going to get overwhelmed, burned out and do nothing. It’s better to chip away at it.
It reminds me of the fly lady. Have you heard of her? She helps people tidy their homes. You go to open up a closet and you’re like, “There’s too much here. I can’t get started.” You can get started doing one shelf at a time or setting a timer for ten minutes and dedicating those ten minutes. As you said, you’re chipping away at your goal.
If you can’t cultivate and develop right outside your door, who says you can do eight acres?
I thought you were going to talk about the lady who swallowed the fly. I thought we were going there because something was happening. She kept swallowing bigger things, that concept.
Until she got to the horse, we won’t go there, but we will go there because what I wanted to ask you next is, do some people get so overwhelmed that they decide, “Forget it, I’m not going to homestead after all?”
I think so. Joel Salatin was saying in his book, Polyface Micro, that the average homesteader doesn’t make it seven years. It’s probably because it’s not all people come for the glory, but they come for the finished fill, the milk, the meal, the plate at the end of it, then they realize there’s this process. There’s this journey to get there. They don’t realize that part is so precious and it is crushing. It can be crushing and intimidating. Your friends and families are not doing this. They’re going to thank your bats.
Remember, we talked about it being lonely. Not everybody is doing this. You think, “What do you mean? You’re going to be a weirdo for putting a basil plant in your window sill?” No, you might be pretty cool to your friends and family, but what’s going to happen is you’re going to have that pizza, that basil leaf on your pizza. They’re going to think, “What else is in this pizza? I could make my own tomato sauce.” Before you know it, you’re like, “I could have made my own cheese. I need a cow.” All of a sudden, you’re moving to the country. You could go down that route. “There’s a weed in it,” if you have a crust on your pizza or whatever. You could grow that too. You’re going to end up growing your own pizza.
They’re going to think you’re crazy, but they might also come running into you in time of crisis. People keep saying, “There’s going to be trouble with the supply chain. Our infrastructure is going to fall apart and people are going to be looking for food.”
I think we should go ahead and let them know that now. Go ahead and sell shares in our farms because that’s not fair. We’ve had people say to me, “I’m coming to you if the crap hits the fan.” I’m thinking, “Where’s your share money because I’m putting it all in now?” I’m getting my pastures totally more productive every year by moving the cows every day, even if it’s raining, even if it’s cold. Where were you? You better be putting some skin in the game if you want to be showing up.
Thanks for saying that because I was thinking we’ll go into Joel’s or Sally’s.
You’ve got to get some skin in. If you want to go to Joel’s, you better become his number one customer, like ordering from Polyface Yum and supporting them any way you can.
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We’re talking about people giving up, and I’m thinking that milking takes time. All of this takes energy. We were processing chickens. That’s painful emotionally. There’s a weight that comes with all this. Why don’t you, Justin Rhodes, give up?
I can’t give up because we came in at this for health, and we end up staying for the health because we ended up coming into some health issues. We can’t quit. It is not an option because we cannot buy this food. You say, “What is the reason for growing the basil or the whatever?” It’s because you cannot buy that quality. For us who believes in nutrient-dense meat and fats, you cannot get it. You cannot even get it at Whole Foods. The meat back there is GMO-fed. Who knows what you can believe on grass-fed? Unless they say it’s 100% grass-fed finished, it’s not. You can get organic. You can get sugar-free organic bacon at Whole Foods.
I think I’m going to do a story on, “Where’s the rest of this pork?” There are no organic hams or organic pork chops, or even sausage is hard to find organic. You can’t get organic, but you can get 100% grass-fed lamb unless you’re going to get it from New Zealand, then it’s expensive. We have to. There’s no option. I was injured one summer suffering from reactive arthritis. There were points I had to use a walker to get out of the house. I had to get in my wheelchair. It’s nicknamed Willy because it was my wheelchair because we have to do this. There’s no option. For us, there’s a point of no return now.
It’s almost like you’ve tasted the good stuff. I don’t only mean the food, I mean this whole lifestyle. You’ve tasted what it is to eat your own food, but also be so close to the land to nurture your children, having them close to you. You can’t go back now. I get it, especially because I’ve been here. I’m like, “Can I live here now?”
You’re changing your plan to go to Joel’s when the crap hits the fan in here now, aren’t you?
You can see it in my eyes.
You want to make sure you grow outside the door of your heart. Only grow what you like.
You’ve got to be first share, Hilda.
I’m down, but I was going to ask you, Justin, you mentioned health. I was surprised at the subtitle of your book, which is Grow Your Own Food for Health and Wellness. Talk to us a little bit about that.
That’s because I think that was maybe what was lacking in homestead books. There’s a lot of how-to out there, a lot of guides but there’s not so much about lifestyle. As I was telling you, you grow the basil, then all of a sudden, you’re growing the pizza, and it becomes a lifestyle. That’s what we’re talking about. It is health and wellness. It’s not only growing the food to consume it. Remember I told you to enjoy the process? When you’re carrying a bucket, carry two buckets. You need one bucket of water out there, carry two, and pump some water while you’re on the way out there. Don’t look at that as a chore. Look at that as, “I can cancel my gym membership.” Enjoy Earth’s gym and start pumping some water on the way to chores.
All our structures, you’ve noticed, are mobile. We have a chickshaw that we move our chickens in. We have a pig sled. That’s a shelter for the pigs. Moving that can be a pain. Chores can be a pain. They can feel like, “Go out there and hoe. Go out there and split wood for your wood burrowing and staying warm in the winter.” You can look at it like a chore, or you can look at it like a workout. That’s the health and wellness part. It ends up being a healthy lifestyle.
For my bio-hacker friends that are all about getting the sunshine, getting their shivers in, you are doing that because you’re outside your route.
Don’t even get me started. All the health aspects, you’re supposed to see the sun in the morning. You’re supposed to see the sunset. You’re supposed to get sun exposure. You are supposed to get cold exposure. You’re supposed to eat well, exercise or some of the other. There’s a spiritual element of being in nature. Being in the country is going to lend to being away from EMS and the hustle and bustle and extra noises. The kids are running around barefoot all the time. I should do more chores barefoot. Marjory Wildcraft, I don’t think she ever wears shoes, and she’s a homesteader. Cold, warm, whatever. It’s all packing in there naturally.
What ends up happening is you’re out there working. You’re doing your chores, you’re moving, and whether you want to or not, that’s been the greatest thing. For me and my illnesses, as I aged, as I struggled with Lyme disease, I’ve got to go milk like I don’t care if I feel like it or not. I’ve got to get out there and gird my loins and milk the cow. Move them and let the chickens out and put them up. You have to move even though you don’t want to. It turns out that’s good for you.
I want to ask you a few more questions as we start to wrap up. Can you give us one real practical gardening tip and maybe one real practical farming tip? It’s for those who are like, “I’m inspired. I do want to get started. I’ve already got the basil in my kitchen window. What’s next?”
Next step, let’s say you’ve done container garden because that would be the first step with the basil in your container. Now, you want a legit garden in the ground. Go to the closest spot to your front door. Remember, start it right outside your front door. The flattest spot closest to your front door also gets sun, so it doesn’t need to be right next to your house. Observe the sun. Check it out in the morning, in the day, in the evening. Watch, see where it is. In this hemisphere, the Northern hemisphere, it’s in the South. You would want to plant a garden on the South side of your house. Flat, close to the door, South side. Mark out a 4×8 foot area or a 4×4 foot area.
Mow it down, take a string trimmer. At that level, you could go out there with scissors and get it done and do the scissor workout at the thing. Get that grass mowed down as low as you can. Leave it there. We’re not going to till. We’ve learned that we’re going to get away from that because there’s a wonderful life in the soil that we don’t want to disturb. We’re going to feed that life. We’ve mowed the grass down, take some kitchen scraps and put it on there. That’s going to end up being food for the worms. That’s going to attract some worms. Pee on it, if you want to.
I’ve heard of people doing that.
That’s a sterile fertilizer. It’s a wonderful fertilizer. Buy some compost. For that area, get a 50-pound bag of compost at the gardening store. Don’t be a hero and make your own compost, especially starting out. It’s difficult. Buy it. We’re going to spread out a 50-pound bag, 40-pound bag of compost on there. We’re going to get some weed paper. Your gardening store might have it but you might have to order it. I know Amazon has it. It’s Dewitt or something like that. Ask Mr. Google for a toxic-free weed paper or weed barrier, and it will come up. It’s paper. Don’t use cardboard because they use glue and dyes and stuff like that to hold the cardboard together.
If that’s all you have, it won’t be the end of the world. Put some of that paper down. The paper is going to keep weeds from coming up. Mow your lawn and rake up the grass clippings, or if you’re planning ahead, go around in the fall and get you some leaves. People bag up leaves and put them on our curb. Save those until the spring to use it for this next level. We’re going to put down a layer of 4 to 8 inches of mulch. You could buy organic straw. You could buy a pine-shavings, a tractor supply. Any of these types of things, grass clippings, pine shavings, wood chips if you can get ahold of wood chips.
A lot of times, your local city public works. You can call them. You can go and pick up wood chips for free. What we’ve done is we’ve mowed the grass, we’ve put some food scraps down and we’re putting some weed paper down. Before the weed paper, we put down some compost, and that’s like the foolproof, the compost. The weed paper, then the mulch, then go to the Lowe’s or Home Depot or the gardening store and buy some plant starts. These are plants that have already grown. They’re already like 4 to 6 weeks old. These could be tomatoes or cucumbers or squash, anything like that. You notice we’re doing this in the spring. We’re not doing this first starting out in the fall or the winter. We’re doing this in the spring and we’re buying these plant starts, and we go into this. I call it the bulletproof garden because it’s bulletproof. You’re not going to fail.
There are more instructions in my book on planting guidance, but let’s say you’re doing a 4-foot by 4-foot area. There are 16 square feet in that. If you get a plant start, the general rule of thumb, you can plant one plant per square foot there, easy. For the lettuce, you could put four in one. How much lettuce do you need? Do you need 16 times 4, whatever that is? Put 5 or 6 lettuce heads in a couple of square feet, then tomato and cucumber. All of a sudden, in a 4-foot by 4-foot, you’re growing a jamming garden and you’re the talk of your friends, neighbors and families. Hopefully, you’re breaking them in because you grew the basil in the pot. That was cool. Now you’re doing the little 4-foot by 4-foot bulletproof garden. It’s even got a cool name. You’re warming them up. All of a sudden, you’re milking the cow out in the field every day.
Let’s go to that for a second. Let’s say I’m like, “I’ve got the garden thing down now. I want to go to the next level and get some meat for my family or milk or eggs.” Where should I start?
This is the progression. Gardens are socially acceptable. Oprah has a garden. Martha Stewart has a garden. It’s socially acceptable, but you know what comes after the garden? Chickens. It makes total sense because, we could have put those chickens where we wanted that garden. I didn’t go there with you. Let them scratch and till. That’s what they do all day. Scratch, till and peck. They could have prepped the garden for you. You wouldn’t even have to mow it and they would have fertilized it. You wouldn’t have to throw down food scraps because they would have pooped there. You move the chickens on and you plant your garden there. What comes next? You’ve planted that garden. This also makes sense. Put some chickens next to that garden.
Also, get you a temporary electric poultry net. Premier One makes them and puts them in an electric net. If we’re going to start small, we have this small 4×8 foot garden. Build, do it yourself, chicken tractor. The plans are for free online. Ask Mr. Google pants for them. You built this 4×8 foot chicken tractor, which is what we call it. You buy chickens and you put four chickens in there. You leave that there for a couple of weeks if you want to, then move the chickens on and plant a garden there. If you don’t, leave that there. As the chickens need it, right before it starts to smell or a little bit every day, put a little bit of deep bedding in there, a little bit of that pine shavings or leaves or grass clippings.
The chickens will turn that. They’ll manure in that and they’ll mix that. It won’t stink because that stuff would absorb their manure, but that stuff will also turn into compost. You see what’s happening? Our chickens are right next to our garden, so we’re taking our weeds from our garden. We’re throwing it into the chickens. They eat it or till it in. We take our extra produce. Remember, if we grew sixteen heads of lettuce, we’re not going to eat all that lettuce. It’s going to go to seed before we can harvest it. We’re going to throw that to the chickens and they’re going to eat it and turn it in.
After a while, after chickens have been on this deep bedding, right beside your garden, after about six months, you’re continually throwing in some fresh stuff every day. Underneath all that is going to be compost. You don’t even have to buy your compost. You’re going to rake the deep bedding aside and pull up some of that compost and throw it in there. What you’re going to do is you’re going to go from gardening to chickens, then you’re going to get four chickens. You’re going to get more than twelve chickens, and you’re going to be a crazy chicken lady. You’re off to the races because the chickens are the gateway drug to homesteading.
It’s not just growing the food to consume it. Remember to enjoy the process.
They are on my list. I like that you kept saying, “You’re going to do this. You’re going to do that.” I’m like, “Yes, I am.” I’ve seen with my own eyes obviously, meaning a lot of farmers over the years, what it takes, but I feel like your book and your life lay it out clearly in a way that makes it seem like it is attainable.
When our daughter read it, she said, “It makes me feel like I can do it.” That’s because you can. I think I have a section in the book, or maybe this is new, I’ll include it here, but we’re getting into this can’t talk. I’ve stopped saying ‘I can’t.’ Stop saying ‘can’t.’ I understand there are limitations. Shaquille O’Neal is not going to be a Kentucky Derby winner. As the writer, you laugh because you imagine him writing. Shaq shouldn’t say, “I can’t win the Kentucky Derby.” He should say instead, “How can I?” Shaq says, “Of course, I’m 300,” or however big he is. These guys around here are 100 pounds riding these horses.
“How can I?” He starts racking his brain. Shaq can own the team. He can own the horse. Don’t say, “I can’t because I’m in the city.” There are community gardens in the city. There are windowsills in the city. There are container garden possibilities in the city. There are friends you know who live in the country where you could buy in and say, “What if I come and help you once a week? Could I get a dozen eggs when I come and help you?”
You start getting out of this excuse mindset, and it might be a little legitimate excuse. You might be saying, “Chickens are illegal in the city.” You could go rogue and you could do it anyway because sometimes doing the right thing is what you need to do, whether it’s legal or not. Maybe there’s a community garden where it’s allowed or maybe you can get quail or maybe you can get rabbits.
That’s why you have to say, “How can I?” instead. You have to say, “How can I?” and you have to force yourself to give you six reasons. We went to Washington, DC on the Great American Farm. Somebody was raising guinea pigs. There were no rules against guinea pigs in Washington, DC, and there were probably no rules against grasshoppers. These two things ended up being pound profound some of the most efficient protein you can grow.
In other countries, as you know, it’s totally socially acceptable to eat guinea pigs. You could use these guinea pigs in these cages, perhaps. They were using these guinea pigs to mow their lawn. They had it so the grass could come up through the bottom of the cage and guinea pigs are eating that. You could do that with a rabbit. You could raise some meat rabbits. Are there rules against bunnies? Probably not. Get outside the box and don’t say can’t. Say, “How can I?”
In the short amount of time, you’ve taught us a little bit of what it takes to cultivate a homestead and to cultivate the right mindset to go about starting one. As we wrap up, I want to ask you now, if the audiences could do one thing to improve their health because this show focuses a lot on that, what would you recommend that they do?
I’m going to say grow food. Start a farm. Even if it’s in the yard, I’m going to say that because maybe you are in the country, but I’m going to say start farming, even if it’s micro like the basil. I’m going to say start farming because of what we touched on. I cannot think of a health aspect that does not touch on naturally in the way you’re doing it. You’re working together, doing something positive with your family. Every day is bringing your kid to work day on the farm. Most of my followers are working 9:00 to 5:00. They come home and they’ve got to do chores, whether they want to or not. They’re getting exercise. They’re doing something with their family.
They’re going to eat some of that food, which is going to be much healthier than anything you can find in the store. They’re seeing the sunrise, the sunset, getting sun exposure, cold exposure. What have we not touched? They’re getting away from the EMF. To harp on this, I’m trying to think of all your guests. You might have a better idea, but we’re much summing up everything they’re teaching us this wonderful stuff.
You had to have Redmond Salt on here. You’re going to consume salt because you’re going to eat whole foods. You’re going to be eating your own meat and they need salt. That’s the magic. You’re going to be getting that in. Maybe the health aspect I can think of is talk therapy, but maybe you could invite a friend over and get your talk therapy and I don’t know. I’m stretched for a health aspect that the farming does not touch.
What you’ve shared is absolutely perfect. Honestly, I told you it’s so idyllic here. Even in the midst of the struggles and the mishaps and the hardships, I see the beauty and the health of it. Thank you for inviting me to be in your home. Thank you all, Teddy, Rebecca and the whole family, for hosting us here. It’s been a joy and a pleasure to talk to you, Justin.
Thank you for coming.
Our guest was Justin Rhodes. Check out his YouTube Channel for more insights on homesteading life. At the end of the show, here is a Letter to the Editor or a review from Apple Podcasts. I have a Letter to the Editor from the fall Wise Traditions Journal. “I was wondering why no one has made any attempt to clarify that using Vitamin D, especially in high amounts, unopposed without Vitamin A, retinol and K, menaquinone, as per Chris Master John’s work, can be dangerous. I see expert after expert pushing high doses of Vitamin D, even the pharmaceutical grade of calcitriol, without a clue.”
“I see good nutrition science at webinars and summits lacking. I think a good case could be made for taking cod liver oil to fight COVID. It must contain some iodine as well. Measles in the past was cured by retinol, but the FDA would not be happy to get that word out. Also, glutathione in raw milk is important to fight COVID as well. Those who have taken the vaccine would likely be very depleted.” This is a letter from Dr. Gray in Austin, Texas.
The response of the editor of the journal was this, “Thank you for your most important letter. We too are very concerned that COVID has become an excuse to take lots of pills and potions, with people taking way too much Vitamin D along with glutathione supplements. Vitamin D must be balanced by A and K2, as in cod liver oil. Plus, high vitamin butter oil and/or EMU oil and processing denatures glutathione and milk. Only fresh, raw and/or cultured milk provides effective glutathione for detoxification.” Thank you for your letter and thank you to the editor of the journal for those words of wisdom. Please feel free to write us a letter to the editor. You can write us at Info@WestonAPrice.org and put ‘Letter to the Editor’ in the subject line. Thank you so much for reading. Stay well and Happy New Year.
- YouTube Channel – Justin Rhodes
- Abundance Plus
- The Rooted Life
- Timeless Principles of Healthy Traditional Diets
- Square Foot Gardening
- Polyface Micro
- Polyface Yum
- Instagram – Force of Nature
- Apple Podcasts – Wise Traditions
About Justin Rhodes
Justin Rhodes teaches and inspires millions of people to grow their own food through his popular YouTube channel, “Justin Rhodes”, his streaming platform Abundance Plus and his number one best-selling book, “The Rooted Life.” He and his family of seven are the 4th generation to sustenance farm on their beautiful 75-acre homestead in the mountains of Fletcher, North Carolina🖨️ Print post