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I am wife to Stewart, mama of five, homeschooler, messy cook, and avid fermenter. This is where I tell our story... of building a sustainable off-grid homestead in a Christian agrarian community... of raising this growing family of ours... of the beauty and the hard and the joy in all of it.
883 articles written by Shannon


I realized recently how many things I have forgotten: What it’s like to flush a toilet… how I never used to hear that sleepy breathing of our children as I crawled into my own bed… that everything begins at home… how I could pull the first string that could be the unraveling of my own children.



It’s funny to watch them pitch hay and milk goats and wash clothes without a washing machine and realize that they are learning how to do these things at the exact same time as their mother. And they watch me while we do those things – my actions, my words, my attitude – and it terrifies me and it awakens me.

I wonder where I’d be if I didn’t have children. Not in the sense that they are my identity, but that they have been a means of showing me the deepest depths of my own depravity. I suppose if it weren’t them then it’d be something else… but it has to be them and it had to be them because here we all are.



I have been in need of quiet for some time now. Not from these little ones around me, though that is sometimes welcome, but rather from my own lips and thoughts. So I have tried to pull back here and elsewhere to be still and listen to things like this:

“Conversion is not the smooth, easy-going process some men seem to think… It is wounding work, this breaking of the hearts, but without wounding there is no saving… Where there is grafting there will always be a cutting, the graft must be let in with a wound; to stick it onto the outside or to tie it on with a string would be of no use. Heart must be set to heart and back to back or there will be no sap from root to branch. And this, I say, must be done by a wound, by a cut.”
― John Bunyan

These are the days that shape us all.

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We’ve had a buildup of roosters and now old laying hens so the past few weeks we have been butchering 2-4 per week for meat and broth. It’s been a real blessing.

The boys have been asking about learning to butcher for some time now. We’ve been trying to give them their own homestead domains, both to give them something of their own to work towards and to foster a sense of responsibility. So far this has looked like gardens and chickens but more animals is high on their list of requests.

First, I suppose, is learning to go from flock to food with what we already have. So last week Stewart stood by them at the counter and talked them through the gutting of the chickens. These photos are of Abram’s time at the butchering block but Elijah, ever the extrovert, came directly to me after his turn and proclaimed it “Fun!” with two eyebrows up.

So I’m thinking they’ll want to continue helping with this for the foreseeable future. Which is great since I learned to butcher roosters at 29 and they, at eight and ten, would do well to get a jump start on me in just about all areas of life.