“To me, being a homesteader means having interest in growing and raising your own food,” says Samantha Graham, who regales her Instagram followers with the daily goings on and inner workings of her family homestead in Powell Butte, Oregon.
“Even if that’s just microgreens on a kitchen window, a handful of chickens in your backyard or even just buying local from a neighbor farm.”
Beyond food, Graham has also graduated to making her own soaps and salves, determined to craft “anything I can manage to do myself instead of purchasing it elsewhere.”
We spoke to Graham about pantry stocking tactics and the feeling of wellness that homesteading can bring. We also got into the business of making your own cheese at home.
The Roots of a Homestead
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Still working on potting up 200 tomatoes, then it’s planting the 700 or so brassicas outside, then up potting flowers all while trying to keep some kind of organized system going in the greenhouse ? i keep thinking what have i done starting all these plants that i now have to care for only to remind myself it’ll all be worth it come fall when my freezers and pantry are stocked with food for the winter ??
“Homesteading is not something I grew up around or probably even knew existed,” says Graham when asked about how her interest was sparked.
“For me, it started with a few chickens in our backyard when we lived in town. After experiencing the feeling of raising our own food, even if it was just eggs, I knew I couldn’t stop there.”
After moving to a larger property complete with some land, Graham added birds, dairy goats, pigs and meat rabbits to the homestead.
How To Stock A Pantry
Stocking a pantry can feel like an overwhelming endeavor for a lot of people, but Graham has some smart advice to help you get started.
Firstly, refrain from buying things you don’t regularly eat. “I know this sounds like common sense,” she explains, “but I think many people, myself included, stock up on things they think they should, like dried rice and beans, when they’ve never cooked with those before or don’t eat beans.”
Graham adds that every pantry is naturally going to look different, but a solid stocking tip is to try and double or triple up on buying items you use a lot of when something runs out and your budget allows for it.
“Run out of ketchup? Buy three or four bottles when you go to get more and stick three in the pantry,” she says. “Just don’t forget to rotate your pantry items before they go bad!”
Making Cheese With the Community
If you scroll through Graham’s Instagram account, you’ll notice that she’s begun adding cheese making to her already expansive repertoire. She admits that making cheese can still feel intimidating at times.
She suggests asking a more knowledgable friend for help. In her case, she consulted with a pal on social media, Kate from the Venison for Dinner blog.
“She was a blessing to me and I probably wouldn’t have tried making cheese if not for her,” says Graham, who also recommends cheese making books for guidance. “But really, you just have to try!”
A Smorgasbord of Cheeses
Asked about her favorite cheese she’s made so far, Graham says she personally goes for feta. As for the rest of the family? The kids are all about mozzarella, while her husband plumps for the gouda.
The Homestead Glow
“The feeling of sitting down at the table knowing that your own two hands raised a good majority of the food on that table is an indescribable feeling,” says Graham, pinpointing the appeal of homesteading.
“Truly, I could have cried when I cut into our first wheel of cheese and tried it and realized how good it tasted and how that possibly could have been from something I made from the milk of our sweet cow. It was just mind boggling.”
Follow the Graham Family Homestead at Instagram.