let’s hear it for the girls: raising girls who know how to homestead

Today, my 13-year-old daughter and I worked finished her extreme bedroom makeover.  Yep, 3 months after we started it, we committed to finishing it.  We both agreed we would commit to the following:

  • no whining
  • lots of humor and laughter to ward off frustration
  • no longing to be outside
  • a commitment to working until we finished
  • sharing the responsibilities whether they included screwdrivers, drills, hammers, or paintbrushes

Now, I realize as I type this post, you are probably asking yourself, “Where is this going?  What does cleaning a teen bedroom have anything to do with gardening, farming or homesteading?!?”

I’ll tell you.

I am raising a girl who will eventually become a woman. I am nurturing her, tending to her, raising her.  Just as my parents did for me, I am teaching her skills she’ll need to be independent and self-sufficient whether she follows in my footsteps as a farmer and homesteader or not.

I am amazed that in this time and day that stereotypes still exist about what girls can and can’t do.  For example, did you

and pink tools make us better homesteaders how?

know that girls can hang a picture and drill a hole, but that we need a pink tool kit to do it.  Seriously?!

So how do we raise girls to become women who can not only bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, but can also launder it, build it, hang it, drill it, hoe it, nail it, rake it, plant it, and on and on and on?  Well, here’s what I’m doing:

  • Model it–I don’t just fix things on my own, I let my daughter get involved.  I show her how to do it first then give them the opportunity to try it herself.  My daughter wanted to put all the door knobs on our doors when we started converting our home to a little farmhouse.  At 10-years-old, she learned how to accomplish this task.  Even if we still have to tighten them time and again, her sense of pride when she was done is worth it.
  • Share it–I tell girls about my successes, mistakes, and dreams.  I let them know they can do anything.  Mistakes are ok, successes are many, and dreams are always attainable.
  • Try it–Girls of a certain age have a tendency to feel insecure about their abilities.  I show them first then teach them  how to do it for themselves. I offer a lot of encouragement as they complete a task.
  • Be it–I don’t expect my daughter to pick up skills from tv, magazines, cell phones, and computers.  She needs to see me cook, garden, plant, fix, build, etc.
  • Talk it–As I “be it,” I also “talk it.”  She needs to hear the step-by-step process by which I complete my homesteading/farming/gardening tasks.  If she doesn’t participate, I also tell her how much I love being outside, canning jams, fixing things around the house,etc.  She may not think they are “cool” now, but I’m planting seeds for the future.

    now, that's a tool box that's been put to work

Most importantly, enjoy it!  It doesn’t have to be “work.”  Make it engaging and interesting.  Needless to say, sometimes, teens and tweens don’t necessarily want to do those boring or hard jobs they see us do as adults.   It is our attitude and approach, however, that determine if our girls grow into women who can, as Beyonce so fondly sings, “run the world.”

As for my daughter and me, we may not be running the world today, but we sure did install a ceiling fan, hang box shelves, and patch holes in the wall.  For today, that is enough.

growing grace farm

Tonight, I made homemade salsa to go with our dinner.  Yum–bring on the cilantro!  I find, however, that when I buy a bundle of cilantro, we end up eating half right away, then it starts to rot if I don’t watch out.  Made me start

brainstorming about how I could save that cilantro or other fresh herbs that I don’t want to turn to compost sludge in the lower drawer of my fridge.

Here’s a list of ideas that I’ve tried or read about recently, including some great stuff from Pinterest.  I encourage you to spend some time searching for instructions that suit you and your resources the best.

  • Chop and freeze with a little oil (keeps them from browning) then freeze in ice cube trays or small containers.  These work well for sauces, pasta recipes, fish, etc.   Do the same with water and herbs for soups, drinks, and…

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thrifty thursday–a weekly list of whimsical and useful ways to repurpose and upcycle

Ok, someone suggested to me that I need to include something catchy in my blog that would be of interest to people and keep them coming back on a regular basis.  Clearly, the person who made that comment didn’t find gardening, homesteading, or farming interesting enough to keep coming back, BUT she did have a point.

So, because I am interested in recycling, upcycling, and repurposing (and a recovering Pinterest addict), I’m thinking Thursday nights will become “Thrifty Thursday!”  Each Thursday night, I’ll list a few ideas for taking things around your homestead and reusing in creative ways to save money.  Who doesn’t like that, right?

This week’s topic:  Paper towel and toilet paper tubes

Did you know that every year in the US, it is estimated that 17 billion paper towel and 26 billion toilet paper tubes are thrown away.  YES, thrown away.  Seriously?  According to Scott Paper Company (and a math teacher who had his class prove them right), 17 billion paper towel tubes would fill the volume of 2 Empire State buildings.

So what can we do to eliminate that much waste (and that doesn’t even include the 26 billion tp rolls being trashed as well)?

1.  Garden:  Ok, gardeners and farmers, here’s the easiest one.  Cut them in 1-2 inch width circles and sprout seeds in

them.  You don’t even have to pull the see out.  Simply plant in the ground, as these tubes are thin cardboard which will decompose.

2.  Compost:  Which brings up the next suggestion:  Compost them.  I tear mine up in several pieces and put them right in the bucket with veggie/fruit scraps in my kitchen.  They seem to break down pretty quickly in my compost pile.

3.  Donate:  Face folks, besides having limited funding, teachers are merely pack rats in disguise (I can say that bec/ I was one once–a teacher that is).  Paper towel tubes make some cool telescopes, kaleidoscopes, tunnels for cars, maracas, rain sticks, etc.

4.  Holding plastic grocery bags:  If you are still using them, that is.  Stuff several down in a paper towel tube and keep in your car for trash bags.

5.  Use them for storage:  Fold up cords and put inside or wrap cords around the outside so they don’t get tangled (same goes for holiday lights).  Tape one end shut and use them to carry wet paint brushes or sharp utensils.  Store candles in them so they don’t get scratched or nicked.

6.  Make kindling bundles:  Stuff sticks inside the tube then light the tube.

7.  Call your child:  No, silly, not like playing “telephone” with tin cans.  Paper towel tubes make nice megapho

naturalhome andgarden.comnes when your tween has a terminal case of selective hearing.

8.  Feed the birds:  Instead of making the homemade suet I posted, take your shortening/peanut butter mix, let it cool a bit and dip the tube in it.  Roll the tube in a tray of birdseed then hang outside.

9.  Use for sewing: Wrap smaller pieces of fabric or ribbon around tubes so they don’t get wrinkled; makes for easy storage.  I’ve also been known to use them for my quilting pins so I can grab more easily.

10. Create: Between Google and Pinterest, there are thousands of beautiful and cute projects for the young and young and heart.

giving thanks for the farmers

Give thanks for the farmers, and for everyone in the
long chain from soil to mouth via sun and rain.
Give thanks for the plenty in our lives.
Let every mouthful remind us of the privilege of
being alive and more-than-adequately fed,
of being among like-minded souls, and
sharing a wholesome, flavorsome meal.

~Modern prayer from Sicily, Italy

a week's harvest

In the desire to live more sustainably, I evolved in my gardening skills to take on vegetable and fruit gardens.  In the past 3 summers, I have found that I have felt more connected with Creation as well as developed a deeper appreciation for what it means to farm and live off the land.  It truly makes me feel alive to be in the midst of the soil and seedlings and marvel in awe at the first shoots as they push through the dirt and reach towards the sun–that a small entity that looks shriveled and dead can create such life–life that becomes nourishment for other living creatures.

When I sit down to a meal now, I find that prayer time is much more intentional and meaningful.  I feel connected to the Creator and am grateful for the food that is before me as well as thankful to those who tended and harvested it.   I am especially grateful for the fact that my daughter and I are blessed with adequate and healthy food resources.

grateful for fresh and healthy food

As I spend time in my garden, I find that interaction with Creation makes me feel alive and whole.  Because most of us do not live in agrarian communities, I believe we are disconnected with this sense of life and what it means to our spirits.  My prayer is that each of us will take this season of planting and tending to reconnect with the Earth, appreciate what it provides for us, and give thanks to the Creator and Provider.