I'm so excited to welcome Karen Lynn of Lil' Suburban Homestead to Dandelion House today for a some good old fashioned homestead " girl talk". Many of you already know Karen through her well known blog, Lil' Suburban Homestead and her weekly blog hops, but did you know she is also a member of the Homestead bloggers Network and a podcast hostess with the mostess with The Survival Mom Radio Network? There's just so much to learn from Karen and her homesteading journey so let's just dig in. For those of you who haven't met Karen yet, I know you'll love her cuz she's just friendly and welcoming as she looks and she's got some great homesteading tips no matter what size your homestead is! Karen's motto is,
" If you've got a home, you're a homesteader "
Karen~ Deb I am so grateful that you invited me to come by and visit Dandelion House and flattered. Your blog is so inspiring and I have visited years and you know I think it is so beautiful and welcoming.The impetus for my blog was that I had battled thyroid cancer and won and had dealt with some other MAJOR medical issues in our family and I realized that I needed to share with others that we can take matters into our own hands and work on our health and one quick way we can all do that is to start growing our own food, another issue was sharing with folks that no matter the financial adversity they faced or where they are located that they can start taking baby steps right now to improve their quality of life, and lastly there is nothing like facing death straight in the eyes to aid you in finding your voice and that is just what happened. I decided to open up my life and that of my family to share this knowledge and sometimes our failure and successes with the world to encourage and to also show that at our Lil’ Suburban Homestead we say “Where Innovation & Homesteading Meet” because we had to be innovative at first to thrive and now we love innovating and we as a result thrive……I hope that makes sense ;)
Deb~ What was your vision in the beginning and how has it changed and surprised you over the years?
Karen~ My vision was simple…teach others what we know and learn from others along the way…if you have ever read my blog a constant theme is that I say “Come Join Us On The Journey”…the homesteading journey is not for the faint of heart. Raising chickens and beekeeping which came a little after the blog all of the requires boldness and courage and truthfully I was afraid of keeping bees at first because I lacked a little thing called knowledge and that is the beauty of homesteading blogs you don’t just visit them to read a funny story although that is great. You visit them to learn and to share or at least that is what I do. I always tell people if I can do it they can do it! I didn’t just wake up one morning and become a homesteader and I had no natural talent for it just a love for it and that was evident when I got married and started canning right away and wanting to grow food and at first it might have seemed out of left field but once you research my family history I have a lot of farm girl in my DNA. I had two women in my family that were turnkey chicken farmers….I come by it naturally and my Mom always encouraged me to read and correspond growing up and blogging is a lot like corresponding only I am writing to my readers!
Deb~ What has been the most rewarding and challenging thing about keeping up your blog?
Karen~Hands Down the people I have been able to meet and the lifelong friends I have made along the way. The most challenging is the administrative portion such as making sure all my links and pictures showing up. I love writing, I love taking pictures and I love chatting with folks…it’s a dream hobby and a reflection of our life!
Deb~ I know you are a beach Farmgirl just like me where you live in North Carolina. How far from the beach are you?
Karen~ We are 2.9 miles as the crow flies but it takes about 10 minutes to drive there traffic and all you know…but we have lots of sandy soil which has really influenced our raised beds and container gardening.
Deb~ I recently had the great pleasure of being your guest on your new Podcasting radio program for Survival Mom Radio and it was so much fun! How did you get started in podcasting and what do you enjoy most about it?
Karen~It all really happened so fast I applied to The Survival Mom Radio Network and the rest is history. I love it, I love being on such a wonderful team of all female radio hosts! The best in the business as far as I’m concerned but then again I might be biased. ;). I so enjoyed our interview after years of us being fellow bloggers and it further validated how much we have in common and I love that we are both “Beach Farm Girls” pretty cool!
Deb~ It’s easy to see that your blog is a family affair. How do your husband “the Viking” and your children contribute to your homestead and your blog?
Karen~Well our daughter is on her own now and our son is now a senior and is working and juggling Football and School. I think now it’s more how I see their attitudes about healthy living manifest through their own lives. A lot of folks don’t know that I home schooled my children for part of their childhood and we even studied the Laura Ingalls Wilder Curriculum which advocated self reliance at one point. My children were very involved with the garden, raising chickens, and rabbits when they were younger and they would help us go pear picking, berry picking you name it they were involved. Now my daughter is very selective about what she eats and avoids chemicals, my son prefers healthy snacks and home-cooked food and I am proud they picked up so much along the way and hopefully will carry on and advocate the homesteading lifestyle with their own families one day.
Deb~ What is your favorite thing about living the homesteading lifestyle? It’s different for all of us and I love knowing which aspect people get especially passionate about.
Karen~ Even though I guess No one is really ever completely self reliant…..I like the fact that my husband and I have joined together with other like minded folks and we look for solutions and ways to improve our quality of life! I could never pick one thing, the bees, the herbs, the home-made cooking, our chickens, canning, it’s all so much fun! I do love that it always challenges me and that there is always something new to learn!
Deb~ What do you find the easiest to grow and the most challenging?
Karen~ Jerusalem Artichokes are definitely the easiest I think they have plans to take over my yard LOL! Green beans are also very easy but we have a horrible time with any squash because of the infamous squash borer Ugh!
Deb~ What changes or improvements do you dream of making on your homestead?
Karen~ We have plans to add a sun porch and a patio and around the patio and sun porch we plan to add more raised beds with edibles. I am excited about the sun porch because our mosquitoes are horrible in North Carolina but this will enable me to feel like I am in the garden and with my chickens longer every day! We are definitely expanding our beekeeping operation and we added 4 new “Teen” chickens this year!
Deb~ Have you ever hosted a Homestead Tour or Workshop at your home?
We have been on the local greenhouse tour twice…..we have been asked to be on the local chicken coop tour and we have had either a family emergency or college visits both times so we have decided to hold off until probably once my son goes to college. We have been asked by several people and I do believe we are planning on possibly having a chicken and beekeeping open house this fall!
Deb~ What is your favorite re-purposed project on your homestead?
Karen~ Deborah Jean, this is such a tough question but hands down it would have to be our “Mostly Recycled Greenhouse” which I have a podcast and a blog post about that one! My second one is a tie between our DIY Rotating Strawberry Planter and our Upcyled Chicken Coop. I just want folks to know they don’t have to spend a fortune and they can raise chickens, grow food, and even during the winter!
Deb~ Did I hear that you have collaborated on a homesteading cookbook? Would love to know more about that and where it’s available!
Karen~ Yes I was so excited! I am also a member of the Homestead Bloggers Network and we put together a cookbook as a group for the holidays and I submitted my Granola recipe and I believe it’s the last recipe in the cookbook it’s awesome! You can get a copy of the book on Amazon.com.
Here is the link – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00H5G5L4C/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00H5G5L4C&linkCode=as2&tag=httplilsuburb-20&linkId=V6ISPAPOTP2WZLLJ And it would really be perfect for any holiday season!
Deb~ How long is your growing season? What are some of your favorite things to can and why.
Karen~ We can grow from about March until October. Spring and Fall the greens such as Swiss Chard, Bok Choy, and mustard greens grow amazingly well here as does spinach! Surprising beets and radishes do great too!
Tomatoes are my favorite veggie to can and while I do can my own tomatoes to keep us in the volume of tomatoes we need we buy them from a local farm too and eat tomatoes all year long! I think tomatoes are my favorite because I love to make bunches of salsa! Plan to make a boatload this year there is nothing like homemade salsa. My second favorite item to can would be applesauce and our pantry is stocked with both all year long! I make our homemade applesauce with just apples and honeys from our bees….Isn’t that what food should be? Food that nourishes us and makes us healthy.
Thank you so much for inviting me over to Dandelion House you know I could go on and on but I have so enjoyed the podcast interview and getting to be a guest at your place as well! Hope we get together again soon!
Welcome To Our Lil' Suburban Homestead