(Editor’s Note: This week’s Storyteller is Kristen Daub from Maryland. Kristen and her husband Peter decided to leave behind their life in the city to pursue the Lord’s call to work on the land. They moved to a homestead farm with their four sons and have started a podcast to support other families who also desire to homestead.)
Thank you so much for giving us the opportunity to share our story on Catholic Rural Life and a special thanks to St. Isidore as well. As I drive around our area my heart breaks as I see many farms and woodlands being developed while there are many families who would love to care for, cultivate and respect the land. However many of these families have so many obstacles in their way that it does not always seem possible. I decided to pray a novena to St. Isidore with the intention being that somehow more families would have the opportunity to live and raise children on small farms. I searched the Internet for a novena and then I found this great ministry through the novena posted on the website. Shortly after praying the novena, my husband and I felt inspired to create a podcast that would help encourage and support families who feel the desire to homestead especially those who, like us, have no experience at all.
Our names are Peter and Kristen and we grew up on the same street in Baltimore, Maryland. We were married in 2006 and we bought our first home across town where we began raising our four boys (who all came very quickly). Our plan was to stay there our whole lives and grow old in that house yet we were growing more and more unsatisfied with the world around us and there became an ache in our hearts for something more. We were becoming tired of trying to fill our days with entertainment and running from playgrounds to pools to sports and to events. We were tired of the busyness and the demands that culture was putting on our family. We wanted to be home together building relationships with each other and we wanted to be working towards something together as a family.
We had no experience, knowledge or even interest in homesteading or farming until about three years ago when we decided to plant a few fruit trees in our front yard. Working in the soil, even just that little bit, stirred and awakened something in our hearts. We started learning more and more about permaculture and farming that could be done in a way that respects nature. Our eyes also became open to the ways that the culture of death had seeped into the soil around us. We began to feel a desire for more land and to homestead yet on every practical level we felt like it was a crazy idea. In reality we had no clue how to homestead or if we were even capable of it as we had no prior experience. Yet, lucky for us, we just aren’t very practical. We began to pray and to discern God’s will for our family and the desire to homestead grew larger than the fear and doubt. Within a couple of months we decided to leave everything that we knew and now we are living on a ten-acre farm. The day after our offer was accepted on our farm the Papal Encyclical “Laudato Si” was released and it felt like a confirmation that what was happening in our hearts was a call not just for us but for the world.
After we moved to our homestead, our family quickly grew and now includes a dairy cow, a beef cow, 24 chickens, two dogs and two cats. We have also planted countless fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowering native plants. We never thought that we would ever milk a cow or for that matter own a cow but now we aren’t sure what we would do without her. We make our own butter, cheese and yogurt and we know that there is still so much to learn.
When we stepped out in faith and moved to our farm we had no idea how much life it would bring to our family and to our young boys. We never dreamed family life could be lived in this peaceful yet exciting and adventurous way. Our boys are homeschooled and it is such a joy to watch them experience the beauty and wonder of God’s creation every single day. Everyday their minds and hearts are being trained to respect, appreciate and care for all living things. We are watching our boys grow in maturity and responsibility as they handle their small chores around the farm. Everyday there are new things to discover and to explore and learning is a natural part of our life.
We invite you to hear more about our story and to join along in our homesteading adventures through our podcast “Homestead Story – Chickens, Cows, Kids and Catholics” and visit our website.
Family photo courtesy of Kuzmak Photography Studios.