October is our featured reader month. We still have LOTS of openings! If you want to have your story featured on the blog, please go to this page and fill out the available form. Remember to send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org
I am excited to introduce you to a special young woman today! Natasha is a wife and also the mother of two young girls. She lives on an acreage in the north and has recently developed an interest in gardening and preserving. Here is her story.
Your Name: Natasha Thielmann
Tell us a little bit about who you are:
I am a young mother of two little girls, River and Crystal. I love being a mom and making a home for my girls and husband, Danny.
I enjoy crafts, writing and crocheting, although I don’t make the time for these as much anymore. I recently found that I enjoy gardening and preserving food. I would not consider myself a super healthy person, but I am enjoying putting up my own food and knowing that it is good, healthy, and not full of preservatives.
Share some details about your home/land situation:
I live outside a small town in what some would say is northern Alberta. My husband and I bought an acreage two years ago and had a house built on it. It is 1200 square feet with a walk out basement and a big beautiful covered deck.
We are tucked into a patch of trees on a hill, and I love where we live. My hubby loves trees. We have planted several rows of spruce, pine, willow, and Manitoba maple trees along the north side of our house to make a bit more of a blockage from the wind and highway. This summer we planted grass all around our house and it is growing.
We dream of developing our place more. We want fruit trees, and berry bushes, and of course a garden. This past summer I gardened with my in-laws because we were not set up for one. But next spring I hope to plant my own garden here, on our own property. I love the idea of being able to go outside and pick fresh veggies!
Which parts of a traditional lifestyle have you embraced?
I enjoy cooking from scratch and baking. In the last year I started making our own bread…and we love it! I grind my own flour and do about two thirds whole wheat flour and one third white.
I have been learning quite a bit about canning in the last year too. My mom gave me a little pressure canner so I have tried my hand at beans, wild game meat, and even chicken giblets (don’t know if I will do those again).
I’ve also done some water bath canning this summer, so far just fruits, jams, and pickles, but I plan to do tomatoes and salsa still.
I grew up hunting but I have not hunted since living in Canada. My hubby hunts mostly for deer, but maybe someday he will bring home an elk or moose.
We don’t have any animals yet except for two cats which my toddler loves! Maybe someday we will get some other animals for our little acreage. We buy farm eggs from some friends when they have extra. We enjoy eating and living healthy, but we still enjoy our chips and homemade cookies too. 🙂
Which aspects do you most enjoy and why?
I love knowing that my own food grown in the garden is healthy and free from preservatives and pesticides, not to mention it tastes way better than fresh produce from the stores!
I have enjoyed learning how to preserve my own food through canning. Not only do I know it is healthy but there is a sense of accomplishment and feeling good about myself and the work I have done to put food up for the winter.
Oh and I almost forgot to mention the price. Yes, canning takes a lot of work, effort, and time…especially with little ones. In the long run though, it is cheaper for me to preserve my own food than it is to buy canned foods. I enjoy being at least somewhat healthy and saving a buck at the same time.
I hope to make canning and preserving food each summer a normal part of life for our family, and when our girls are older, I want it to be fun for them to help as well. 🙂
Name one skill you’d like to learn in the future and also why:
I would like to learn/try lots of things: how to can potatoes, hamburger, and jellies. How to make natural pectin from apples. How to use plants like dandelion and rose hips for tea. Just some simple things that I’ve heard and read about but have not yet tried to do myself.
I would love to learn how to grow and dry my own herbs. They can be so expensive to buy! But I’ll have to experiment in this northern climate to see what will and will not grow well here.
Tell us about one of the difficulties you’ve faced on the journey and how you deal/dealt with it:
I am not very far into this traditional lifestyle thing yet. I am just learning. One simple difficulty I have found is with making applesauce. We don’t have many big, sweet apples up where I live, mostly just little sour crab apples.
I would love to learn a way to make applesauce so that it tastes good without loading up on sugar. I have heard that some people use honey in their canning instead of sugar, but that can get expensive very quickly.
Apples (fresh from British Columbia) usually go on sale in our stores in the summer, so maybe I need to try making applesauce from them next summer, instead of crab apples!
If you could give advice to someone following in your footsteps, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to try something, and know that it’s ok to make mistakes. I made applesauce earlier this year and a bunch of jars came unsealed. I talked to my mother-in-law about what I did and she was able to tell me where I went wrong and how to do it better the next time.
Learn from the things that you got wrong. Don’t view them as a failure, but rather as an opportunity to learn. Along with that, be willing to take advice from others who have gone before you.
Is there anything else (tips, advice, encouragement) you’d like to share with us?
Enjoy the ride. If you don’t enjoy what you are doing, maybe it is not for you. Not that you won’t have bad days. But overall, try to enjoy it.
Thank you Natasha! I so enjoyed your story. It’s easy to look at those who have been practicing traditional skills for years and compare ourselves to them. But we need to remember that everyone started somewhere. I’m so glad you shared your story because it will encourage others who are just starting out. And your tip is such a good one: “be willing to take advice from others who have gone before you.” So important for us to hear as we step into learning new skill sets!
If you have any questions or comments for Natasha, you can leave them below in the comment’s section.
All photos property of Natasha Thielmann. Used with permission.