Hello, I’m Steph. Welcome to Hopewell Heights Homestead!
The blog is named for my husband John’s family farm and homestead here in rural Missouri. We’ve lived here with our three kids since the fall of 2017. But we’re far from the first of our family to live and work on this land!
John’s great grandfather John Henry and his wife bought this 185 acre parcel in the 40’s during WWII. So our kids are the fifth generation to live here. History and legacy have always been so fascinating and important to me and I have to pinch myself every day that we’re growing our babes in a place with such deep roots already. There are creeks that run through the property, ponds, woods, pasture, and right in the middle of it all – the homestead. Our farmhouse surrounded by barns, outbuildings, shops, grain bins, gardens, the coop, and even the original outhouse that’s still operational.
I grew up in a subdivision, but always dreamed of life on a farm and lots of kids – back before homesteading was cool. In fact, on one of John and my first dates, I could tell we were both really liking each other and I told him before we went any further – I needed him to know that I wanted 10 kids. He said, “ok!” Nine years and three children later, well, we’ll see what happens!
How I Got Started
I first took an interest in simple living, cooking food from scratch, and homesteading after we had our first baby, John Jr., in 2011. He was a preemie so I was extra determined to give him a good start and pave the way for him and our growing family to be healthy and happy. I was in nursing school at the time, and went on to work in some amazing specialties in the medical field – ICU, cardiac cath lab, and lactation – that reinforced my passion for holistic health and shaped the person and mother I am today.
I learned that…
no government or institution is going to save us or make us healthy, nor should they have to, it’s up to us! And that’s what my purpose is here on the homestead. To grow closer to nature and live well for our children and future generations, and to inspire others to do so too. I joined Young Living in 2018 as a part of our family’s movement toward a non-toxic lifestyle and share that part of our journey on the blog and social media – it’s been a game changer for our family and has become an additional stream of income too!
You Probably Don’t Know This About Me
I’m a gym junkie. I love working out and lifting weights!
I’m an in-home lactation consultant and still practice occasionally, just by word of mouth. It’s one of my greatest joys to visit a new momma and baby.
I can juggle.
I love fried food and beer (& indulge a lot when we go out! which motivates me to be healthy at home)
Right Now on Our Homestead…
We have a small flock of hens and two roosters, with some new chicks in the incubator, due to hatch at any time…
Three dairy goats. Mini Saanens to be exact. Which is a cross between a Nigerian Dwarf and a Saanen. They’re still fairly young so we haven’t bred them and don’t have any milk yet. They’ll be bred in the late fall of 2019. SO we’ll have our first goat kids in 2020.
Two puppies. Our neighbor had pups last fall and they got out one day and ended up here. He was planning on finding them homes anyway so we kept two! They’re Australian shepherd, black lab, and blue heeler mix.
Two gardens: one traditional and one raised bed.
What We Have Planned for 2019…
Where to start?
Well, we need to set up a better place for the goats that gives them access to their favorite place: the woods. They’re in an old farrowing house now which works well, but they’ll be happier when we move them. We’ll need to set up fencing and build a shelter. That’s on the top of the list.
Pigs. We love bacon. And sausage. And all pork. I’ve never raised pigs but have been reading away. My husband grew up raising them so he knows what to do. We’re getting three, just enough for our personal needs. They’ll be here sometime in early spring.
More chickens. I already mentioned hatching some of our own eggs, but I’ll be ordering more eggs from Cackle Hatchery to introduce some new breeds (and egg colors) to our flock. On my wishlist are Polish, Marans, Legbars, Ameraucanas, and a few more silkies, just ’cause they’re cute!
More chickens. For meat. We eat a lot of chicken and I’m ready to know where it comes from, that it’s pastured, raised humanely, and fresh. I’ve never butchered a chicken…this will be interesting.
Turkeys. You know, for Thanksgiving and such.
Ducks. Duck eggs, duck confit, roast duck…I’ve never prepared duck in the kitchen. Something new!
Bees. Good for the garden, lots of medicinal properties and uses, and a great addition to our homestead kitchen.
Dairy cow(s) & maybe a bull…. I’ve gotten the go-ahead from Big John (what everyone calls my husband, including me and our whole family) and we know which pasture and building they’ll go in. I just need to find the perfect Guernsey or two and maybe a bull to go with.
A MUCH bigger garden. I mentioned to John last fall that I’d like to expand the garden. He talked to his Dad and they decided to move a huge section of fencing thats currently pasture to give me a space thats four times the size of our current garden. I’m beyond excited and so grateful that they support my vision for this place and put the elbow grease in to make most of it happen! This garden will be different than the last. More on that later.
An orchard. Because I now have a huge pasture to use as I please for food growing purposes. I’m reading up on this currently in Introduction to Permaculture, but I know apples and peaches are in our future.
A vineyard. I like wine. And the kids like grapes. Alas, we must have a vineyard.
House Work. When we finished building the house (which we designed and built ourselves) I was so excited to get to work on projects outdoors that I never did much to decorate or put finishing touches on. We need to landscape and have some work to do inside…I always manage to put other to-do’s first though!
Whew! Well, as daunting as that list may seem, it really doesn’t overwhelm me because it’s just tentative. It takes time to establish a true, sustainable homestead. I’m a go with the flow girl and as much as I love to dream and roll the dice, I know the Lord’s plan always prevails. And thats cool, I don’t like driving anyway. I’m just here to enjoy all of the beauty and emotion on this ride we call life, one day at a time.