Deborah Niemann

Thrifty Homesteader is about creating a more sustainable life, but what exactly does that mean? It means making choices that will make you healthier, save money, and save the planet. Living greener is not about deprivation or spending a small fortune. When something is sustainable, that means it can go on — or sustain itself.

Today, too many people are literally sick and tired all the time. That is NOT sustainable, and we can’t afford it. Our modern lives are filled with conveniences that are killing us slowly. We spend too much time sitting and eat too much so-called food that didn’t exist 50 years ago. So, what’s the answer?

Start cooking from scratch. Plant a garden for fresh veggies. Get a few backyard chickens for fresh eggs. Step away from the desk. Move!

My story

One of the first questions anyone asks when they hear about my lifestyle is, “Did you grow up like this?” Whether they are asking about our homesteading lifestyle or my diet, the answer is a resounding, “No!” I grew up in Refugio, Texas, a small town on the Gulf Coast, and I couldn’t wait to move to the big city. I spent many weekends in Houston, and after graduating from high school, I attended college at Eastern Connecticut State University. I ate out more than I ate at home, and when I did eat at home, the food often came from a box or can. I was close to my teen years before I ate a raw vegetable, and that was iceberg lettuce drowned in salad dressing.

When I became pregnant with my first child, I honestly believed that a cheeseburger and fries was a good, healthy meal. I had my meat, dairy, bread, and vegetables. Yes, I thought that a piece of lettuce, a couple pickle slices, and french fries counted as vegetables. I was proud of myself for eliminating caffeine from my two-liter daily soda consumption.

After my baby was born, I started reading about nutrition and thought that maybe my poor diet had contributed to my constant illness as a child. Hoping to save my own children from the same sad fate, I started eliminating artificial ingredients from our diet and began baking bread. Over the years, we became more conscious about our dietary choices, and by 2002, it seemed like moving to the country to grow our own food was the next logical step.

So, we moved to 32 acres on a creek in the middle of nowhere. We built our own home, and we filled the pastures with poultry, goats, sheep, cattle, and pigs. We planted fruit trees and a garden. And we made a lot of mistakes.

Actually, the first mistake we made was thinking that we had to move to the country to live a more sustainable lifestyle, but I’m here now and loving it, and I’m not leaving! But the good news for you is that you can get started where you are. Whether you live in a condo or a cabin, you can live a healthier, more sustainable life.

You can do it too!

Deborah Niemann
Me and Mary Poppins the goat

It was a true fish-out-of-water experience as we tried and failed at many things. But we were determined and refused to give up. As we figured things out, people started asking me to teach them things, such as how to make soap or cheese. The requests became so numerous that I decided to start teaching classes on the farm. Then I started speaking in other places, including the very first Mother Earth News Fair in Pennsylvania in 2010. Since then, I’ve spoken at about 20 of them, as well as many other homesteading and sustainability events across the US and Canada.

I started writing books, as well as this blog. I always say, “I made all the mistakes so you don’t have to,” and I’m only half-joking about that. Luckily since I’ve started writing and speaking, plenty of people have shared their successes and failures with me, so I know that I didn’t actually make all the mistakes. It only feels like it sometimes.

I always say that if we can do this, anyone can, and I’m not joking. Our livestock experience consisted of caring for two cats and a poodle when we moved out here, but from reading books, finding mentors, trying, and making mistakes, we’ve learned to do everything we do today. If you’d like to know more about our homestead, visit our website, Antiquity Oaks.

So, have a seat, grab your favorite beverage and start reading!

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