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Homesteading and Sustainable Family Living | Speaking With Rachel

On Today's episode we have a special guest, Rachel, who will be telling us about her and her family's experience homesteading and how she teaches her children to prep and live sustainably.

"So I want their first option to not be to pick up a device. And what's interesting is when you have them outside or you help condition them to think that way they forget about it once they're outside or once they're distracted doing something physical. I've noticed that the device is in the back of their head, but it's not something that they immediately go to..."

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Nick: Hey everyone, welcome back to the Practical Prepper podcast. And this week we have a very special guest. Her name is Rachel and she is a mother who has fully immersed herself in the lifestyle of sustainable living and she's teaching her children every step of the way. You're not going to want to miss this one. He's got tons of great stories, tips, tricks, all that. So let's get right to it. All right everybody, we're back with another episode of the Practical Prepper podcast. And this week I am so grateful to be joined by Rachel, who is a mom trying to figure out the ups and downs and guide her family through just having a sustainable lifestyle. So, Rachel, how are you?

Rachel: We're doing well. It's raining, which means things are getting watered outside without a hose, which is always a good thing on the property.

Nick: Do you do a lot of hose watering? Is that part of treating your outside plants and garden?

Rachel:It is so full disclosure, my husband is my partner in all of this and we have twelve very large beds and yesterday the time was spent cleaning those out. We started kind of the remnants of setting up an irrigation system, but a lot of times it's just getting your hands dirty, seeing what's going on, what's wrong, where areas are that need attention. Sometimes the sun just hits in different spots, some things need to be moved. So a lot of that watering yes, is done by hand and it's also that way in the greenhouse when things start off.

Nick: Yeah, I didn't know if we just got lucky with the crazy climate here that the rainwater could do most of the dirty work for you or not.

Rachel: Yeah, you see a lot of that, like people kind of using that set up for watering, we just don't have that at our disposal. We also get a lot of sunlight. There's not a lot of shade between the house and the greenhouse and where things are planted, so they require a substantial amount of kind of TLC and water.

Nick: well, that's interesting. So before we get started, why don't you just introduce yourself, tell us what about you and your family and what you guys do.

Rachel: Sure. So my name is Rachel and I am a mother of three young and kind of not so young children, ten, nine and six. And my husband and I bought a property, gosh, about seven years ago with the goal of one day having a sustainable life. Animals, plants, we have a pond, but we're really conscious about what we put into our bodies. And we also enjoy having the space and freedom for our kids to grow up a little differently and disconnect and reconnect with areas that we think are important to them. Being outside and just natural things like sunlight and using your energy not in front of a device, which is a battle that I think every single parent is up against these days.

Nick: Yeah, I'm actually a new parent myself. My son will be one this month. And we've had lots of talk about, yeah, it's the best thing that's ever happened, but that's beside the point. People who have had a kid would know. But yeah, we talk about it all the time, about like talking to other people TV and devices. And we have friends, of course, that are just like they'll hand their kid a tablet and they're just like go do whatever. And it's a really bizarre world and a way to thing to navigate because when I was growing up, that was never a thing.

Rachel: Correct. It really wasn't an option. I think as a parent and man, I'm sure with your first one, I had a lot of unsolicited advice. Everyone always wants to, quote, help you raise your child. And I think for us, the biggest thing was I don't want technology to be the first choice I am completely guilty of, especially when they're that young, or when you're traveling, or when you are multitasking and you're meeting with the contractor or you're trying to get something done outside, or you're feeding the animals. Because for me, when the children were little, I couldn't bring a stroller into the goat pen because the goats like to climb on things. And I learned that very quickly. It was very dangerous. But I always want them to have something else as their first choice. So when they get up, I'll say, can you please, before you do anything, see what the weather is like outside. Or right now, some of them have Apple Watches. What's the weather like outside? Would it be a good time to go for a walk? Is it okay to feed the animals now? My son's real into fishing. So I want their first option to not be to pick up a device. And what's interesting is when you have them outside or you help condition them to think that way they forget about it once they're outside or once they're distracted doing something physical. I've noticed that the device is in the back of their head, but it's not something that they immediately go to and that's something that I have to really ask them to do every single day, unfortunately.

Nick: Yeah, I feel like it's hard that just because most people I know very few people that are like, we have maybe TV time is once a week for 1 hour, or they do let them do it, but it's very moderated. And so the general majority are going to think and kids are ruthless and they're awful to each other. The majority is going to be like, oh, you're weird. That's weird that you're not allowed to watch TV or have a tablet or a phone. And that part also is hard for me when I think about like, I want to do this, but I know it's going to be hard on them. Well, not necessarily hard, but it's going to be definitely a learning curve and something they're going to have to learn how to deal with, which I didn't really know I didn't have to deal with. So I don't really know what to say.

Rachel: Correct. It is a learning curve. I think the technology in the classroom is prevalent and the homework that they have is a lot of times on a device. And I think as parents, you're right, you don't want your children to not be exposed to something like that because then what ends up happening is they sneak it. I remember growing up, my mom said she used to make a lot of our food yogurt or things from scratch and she didn't give us sugar and she said, so what you would do is you would go to someone's house and you would overdose because you weren't used to moderating it. It wasn't something that you always got and you didn't know how to have it in doses. And I think technology is the same way. There has to be some kind of parameters and discipline with the kids and they have to be able to do those things when you're not around because they are going to have it accessible to them. Especially at my children's age, entering the tweens and all of those devices. You can't really escape it when they're at someone else's house. You have to teach your children with all things in life to know how to weigh the pros and cons of something and to think through the best way to get it done. Whenever my kids are arguing or they're frustrated about something, I always say something and sometimes my husband will say it when six-year-old arguing, what's your solution? Because I want them to be able to problem solve without me negating everything for them. Otherwise they're donors. I mean, they really are. And you have to structure that differently. Obviously for my six-year-old versus my ten year old, who should know better. He should know what decision he should be making or how to be safe or when to kind of remove himself from a situation. So with a six year old it is very different and that exposure comes a lot earlier with all of the things. But my goal as a parent is always to prepare them for how to kind of process and make decisions and that is something that they'll have for the rest of their lives. But it is a constant battle in the moment to kind of pull back and say, like when I just want to strangle them and say, why would you do something so stupid? Right? Because then they completely shut down. There are always these opportunities when you take a deep breath as a parent to kind of say, OK, how are we going to learn from this? So they don't make this mistake again.

Nick: Now, with all that stuff in your sustainable lifestyle, it seems like now. Of course now when you tell them this stuff and you can't do this or we don't want you doing that, they're going to hate it now or they're going to have some sort of pushback. But later on in life when they grow up, and they grew up without being attached at the hip to a device and they have all of these skills around, I can create a sustainable environment and home that I can live in. They're going to be very thankful that they didn't just have parents that were like, here's a tablet, go watch YouTube for 4 hours while I go to work or while I'm working or while I'm doing this, they will actually have valuable skills that they can then pass down. I feel like skills like that are slowly weaning away, like what you're doing within your family and your household. I mean, there has to be a very small percentage of people that are still doing that and working towards having that kind of life and those kind of skills

Rachel: There are. And I will tell you, social media has actually created a connection and a sounding board for a lot of parents that are raising their children that way. Which is really important because it's very easy to feel isolated in this environment when you have a property and your kids are fishing. People love bringing their kids over here because they are outside, because they are doing things like that. But I have to have a group to kind of keep me in check and to share ideas and to vent and to just ask questions sometimes and say, is this normal? Am I doing this right? And those moms, most of them are not local. For me, I have found them through the hobby farm community on Instagram. And that has helped give me ideas and just reassurance that I'm doing the right thing. Because as a parent, no matter where or how you're raising your kids, you are always questioning, am I doing this right? Am I messing up my kid? Am I scarring them for life? You always want them yes. To come back and one day my son and my daughter to say, gosh, I get it, I understand why you wanted me to do this. Or you know, thank you, which being a mom parent is a thankless job. But one day, one day they'll realize that. My son, who is ten, went outside before my daughter's soccer game and he said, I'm going to fish. And he caught the biggest bass that he has ever caught. He brought it over to the side of the house while we were loading up the car and said to my husband, can you put this on ice? Can we eat it? And of course, Nick was over the moon. Absolutely. So we ran inside, put it on ice, left for the soccer game, came back and he worked with Riker because again, it can be dangerous, giving them an incredibly sharp knife and saying, this is how you gut a fish. But he gut the fish. And then we had picked some ramps from the woods, which are those little kind of onions. And my other six year old was kind of peeling those and preparing those, and then we seasoned the fish. My daughter's very into baking, so her contribution was, this is where the things are. And this is the cutting board you need to use for the meat. Don't use that one because there are different boards that we use for different things. And all three of them, all three kids and my husband and I were in the kitchen preparing a meal together, which is so important for many reasons. One, I want my boys to know they're way around the kitchen. Two, when you engage kids in meal making and meal prepping, they'll eat it. We cook fish whole. So it's a little jarring for people because the heads there, the tails there, the eyes there, all that stuff. And some people are like, it scares them, it freaks them out. But the kids, they ate it. They tried the ramps and they tried everything because they had ownership in the meal and in what they were contributing. And I have found that is very helpful when it comes to getting kids to eat healthy and getting them excited about taking something from the garden, picking it. Even when we have play dates, the girls will go out there and they'll come back with lettuce. Can we make a salad? Absolutely. I will drop anything I'm doing to engage them in making a healthy meal. But because they have that, we're planning it in the garden, we're watching it grow. We are committed to making sure that it survives. And then once they start to see those tomatoes come up and they can pop them in their mouth and they can bring the food inside and contribute even as young as six and seven and eight. Which is when they started. It means a lot to them to feel like they are a part of something like that and that they you know. It's a way to make them kind of build their confidence in a different way. Being in the kitchen and seeing that was really cool as a mom, because that is really the first time without help that my son has asked to be kind of like the breadwinner for dinner, if you will.

Nick: Yeah, that's really cool. I have to take a note here that I need to remember this stuff as my son gets older. And this is the kind of stuff you got to incorporate and push on them so they know that this is the way it should be. So when you're talking about your sustainable lifestyle, when did you get into it yourself?

Rachel: So that's really interesting because I grew up in South Florida. I had exposure to eating healthy. My parents were very into reading labels and knowing what you're putting in your body, but you don't have the land and the opportunity here. So when I met my husband, it was something that we had talked about having a farm, and then my grocery bill was always pretty substantial. And it was really surprising to him how produce and eggs were so expensive because they came from different places. And again, they're reading the label and the knowing where the produce is coming from and how the fish was raised and things like that were ingrained in me as a child growing up. So we talked about it and we started looking for a property and we found this property and it had been on the market and off the market, and it took us about seven months to go through the process of buying it because it is large enough for a neighborhood. So there are other developers that wanted it. And once you have a property like this, you can't not do it. It had a barn, it had a place for animals, it had a chicken coop, a walk in walls up ventilated chicken coop and a caretaker cottage. So there was no way to get around what the purpose of this place was supposed to be. It didn't have like a main home, which we built, but it had the skeleton and the parts to grow and roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty and clean it up and make it what it was supposed to be. So we had the vision for that. We knew we wanted it. And when this property was discovered by a friend of his who happened to be fishing on the property, we knew right away that down the road it would take some time. But we had a vision for what we wanted it to be for our family. And we're still growing on all of that and adding you have to as you go and as your kids get older.

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Rachel: None. Absolutely none. Which is really funny. We had a garden when we were first married at our house in Lakewood, on the side of the house. And that's all my husband's doing. So I learned a lot of that from him. But what's really funny is one of us is the book reader, which is him, highlights, researches, all of that. And I can't learn that way at all. I look at it and go, well, that doesn't look right, or man, the gap in that fence is big enough for something to happen between the male and the female goat. I am more of an intuitive kind of hands on learner. So we decided first through the groups that I kind of shared with you, chickens were an easy thing to start with because there is a reward for them. You're doing this work. You're setting up the nesting bins, you're cleaning the coops. You're giving them scratch screens. You have to have the water. But you get this reward pretty quickly, which is eggs. And I said, let's get six chickens. Nick said, let's get 20. So we got 20. And now you have 1718 eggs a day from these chickens. But they came from a balance of him doing some research and saying we should probably get some commercial sized feeders and nesting bins and water because it'll make the workload a little bit easier for us. We don't have to be out there a couple of times a day, even though we are, to check on them morning and night, make sure they have water and they're doing okay. We don't have to be out there constantly making sure that they have the space and the food and the water and the nutrients that they need. And then once we were out there with the chickens, the instinct kind of kicks in of they're in the bin and they're sitting on the eggs because some of them, even though there is no rooster and they are just the farm fresh eggs and they're not fertilized, the hens will still sit on them, so they get brody you learn these things, instinctually, pecking order. They sleep a certain way. They have to be off the ground, and you make these ladders for them to sleep on. And that's where pecking order comes from. The chickens that aren't seen as whatever. For whatever reason, the other hens and the coop have decided that they're not better than them. They sleep on a lower rung, which is really interesting.

Nick: Really?

Rachel: I have never really understood where that came from. But when you check on them at night, or if you shut some people shut the door to their coupe, they'll start to take their places and two things happen. The birds of a feather, the ones that look similarly, they line up, most of them. And then the ones that try to go up to the top rung, they'll push them off and they'll move down, and then they all settle. So the saying of the birds of the feather and the pecking order is all true, and it comes from you're of chicken behavior, which you pick up on pretty quickly, just walking around in there and spending some time becoming a crazy chicken lady, which is what I've become, essentially. There's really no way around it. You always want more chickens and you're always adding as they become spent hens and they can't lay anymore, you naturally have to phase them out and bring in new ones to keep getting the eggs, the reward for your work of those farm fresh eggs.

Nick: So if the chickens were from garden to chickens, then what was the next step after that? Is it kind of like now we like, I want more check in? Yeah. Is it just like, well, now I feel like we could do this and we could do this?

Rachel: Sure. No, I mean, I think that's a totally fair question. People ask us this all the time, and I guess I never thought about it because there was this natural progression again, where when you're one of your few friends that have a hobby farm, and it's a hobby farm because this is not how we make our living. This is something that is a hobby that we really enjoy. You get tagged on all of these random posts that people say, there's this random duck that needs a home. Or there's these chickens and I'm moving. Or a pig. We have a rescue pig that someone found in downtown Cleveland. So you get kind of tagged on these posts. And there was a post out there about these sheep. We knew that sheep were easy because we weren't going to eat them, so we didn't really have to worry about that. All the kids are going to get attached to name on, which they did immediately. And they were in our Christmas card photos. There wasn't that kind of dilemma of how to approach that which we had had before with our Turkey Glenda that we ate for Thanksgiving, and it did not go off. So we got the sheep next and we had them sheared. And my husband found someone to kind of process the whole because it's just something that I'm just not super interested in doing. I haven't really connected with that. From there, we got goats because, again, they were miniature goats. They were safe for the kids. We knew that they were friendly if you got them at a young age and we knew that down the road we would breed them. And what we did last year and what we're about to have somewhere in may have milk and goat cheese and things like that. So it started and now that we feel comfortable with that and we know what we're doing, we added the pigs somewhere in between. I think the first female goats that we got, we ended up with the miniature Koony koony pigs. And then again, that kind of process of breeding and butchering and different people have approaches for that with how they process their meat. But it started with chickens and sheep and then goats and then pigs and then the rescue pig that someone pulled on the driveway and they had the pig in the back of the car and now Ginger is ours. Our little red-headed pig.

Nick: Wow. So are all pigs, and forgive me if this is an obvious question, I'm not that familiar with the sustainable farm hobby, farm style of living. So are all pigs generally they are raised to be eaten, correct?

Rachel: True. Our pigs are the Koonikooney breed, which I've learned, my husband and I have learned through this process that they are a sought after breed because of their meat. So for us, our first round we actually had people in the community, the farm community who wanted our pigs for breeding. So they came out, they did hair samples because these are people who it's not a hobby for them. This is what theysought-after do for a living. They don't want to inbreed from different lineages and they're very particular about if they're going to show and sell down the road, it needs to have certain framers that they have to follow. So we did have some people come and pick them up and they use them for breeding. Some of the females and then the males, you have to decide when you have them. If you are going to sell them to someone who wants to breed them, you keep them intact and those that don't get sold to be used for breeding have to be castrated if you use them down the road. For me, again, things I never thought about and never knew and now we all do. You have to castrate the pig if you want to roll the pig and then butcher it for me

Nick: With the butchering, I know you've commented on Glenda, the turkey for Thanksgiving. How do you go about explaining that or breaking it down for your children? Like you said? I know they were like we want to name them and kids get attached to animals. How do you go about that?

Rachel: So I have had friends, kids leave here vegetarians, they've asked questions that my kids have known the answers to. So I apologize. That's always a risk when you send your kids over here. But less I feel with kids is appropriate. So we don't hold things back from them. They do know with Glenda that they could have said their goodbyes if they wanted to. I chose not to. And that dad was going to butcher her and process her. And that part is very important to us to control that. Because growing your own food and you have this attachment like you said, I want to make sure that any of my animals lives is respected and not in pain. And that the stress of being taken off site to be butchered in a setting that's unfamiliar to them. They release hormones and that is exactly the opposite of why we're doing what we're doing. It's really making sure that from start to finish that they are the best type of meat and produce and eggs for our family. So we explain that to the kids. They've had store bought bacon, they've had pork shoulder and pork button, all of that. And we explained to them. So this was what it was from the store and then this is from the pigs. And so we grow the pigs. They won't be babies, they get big and then we butcher them and then we put them in the oven and we eat them just like Linda. So they've made the connection for sure. They have not had a problem the older they've gotten. But when we did butcher Glenda and put her in the oven and then we took her out, no one ate except for my husband. I don't even think my mother it was a little traumatic that first time. But now that we have with the older boy, made him part of the cleaning process and the removal process, they can see that the animal has passed. It's not scary and they can kind of participate in that part of it. So I think it takes a lot of that sometimes in your mind if you don't have enough information, the older you get, you can kind of make up these scary stories. I think for kids they have an imagination, but it's not as fully developed. So they ask a couple of questions, we give them short answers and unless they ask for more information, we are not giving them the full fledged detail of how all of this goes down, which I think is important when they are small, we would never bring them out at this point to the barn to watch them be butchered. I don't think that they are ready for that yet. But if they ask, that's something that we're going to have to discuss and make a decision on for sure. There's no way around. It would be difficult. They always name them, but yeah, Nick does the butchering and we will when we move forward to the pigs and that will be something that's newer for us. This year it's butchering the pigs. So it's been the poultry before, but this will be the first year that we are actually processing. The pigs ourselves. So he does know someone that will come and help with that. I think that's really important. It goes back to you can read, you can be intuitive, but there are those people in the community and I have found that they are incredibly helpful and open and wanting to share with you. This is the way that I've done it, this is the way that it's worked for my family and they have offered to come over and help with that process, which I think just makes it that much more meaningful for us to have those connections with people and to just learn firsthand this is how my father did it and now we're sharing that with you. It's that passed down, not in a book. Sharing of information that is so completely lost today on so many aspects of life. So to have that opportunity to hear those stories, because everybody has a story, it's really incredible to have that connection with people and to have them share those skills with you and have those with our family and then obviously passed on to our kids on the road.

Nick: Yeah, that's a really cool feature that comes with that lifestyle is getting to do that pass those skills down and like I said, it's a story everybody you're getting to hear about somebody's great great grandfather through a community, through butchering a pig. It's really cool. Versus store bought and what you create, let's say in-house like how much of your shopping is done store versus what you get from your own property at this point, sure.

Rachel: So I think what's tricky living in Cleveland is being able to master a greenhouse, which we have not done. I had a very difficult time the first go around with bugs and nothing survive. It's really hard after that point not to just throw up your hands and say oh my gosh, after all that work, I'm completely frustrated, especially when you see other people succeeding at it. Aside during the summer we are set. So right now as things kind of come out, mushrooms like chicken of the woods we've had morels like I talk to you about the stuff that we've planted that's kind of starting to come up again. So what is it may that stuff is available all through the summer and then as we get towards the end of the season, we will pick stuff. Pickle stuff. I'm looking at some jars that are on. We're kind of towards the end of our honey and our pickles and our onions and the things that are pickles. We will start to process those things and they will last kind of as long as they last. The same thing with goats and milk and cheese and things like that. I would love to say that we freeze a lot of it, but it is so good and we don't have a barrage of goats right now. As these females become older and we do read them, we will. It goes really quickly. So the things that lasts the most are definitely the produce, if you decide to cannon and pickle it. And then the eggs, we keep lights. We have dimmers in our coop, which some people think is bonkers. But chickens, they stop laying when they molt and get new feathers and transition over to the cooler temperatures. And when Cleveland kind of loses that light, the longer that you can kind of trick them and their body into thinking that, oh, no, it's still warm outside, they'll actually produce a lot longer. So we do have those dormant months where we don't have a lot. But having three kids and being a destination playdate home, I am at the grocery store more than I would like to say because the kids eat me out of house and home. I don't even know how it's possible for so many small bodies to consume the amount of produce and chips that they consume, but it is mind blowing to me what these kids can pack away in one weekend of spending time at our property. So it's definitely a balance of both. And I would love for that answer to be less, but it's not right now. So it is still a balance. Except for the eggs and the goat cheese. It is still a little bit of a balance of finding kind of what's in our fridge from our farm and what we've already gone through. But we do have a big freezer, and we're getting a meat freezer for the pigs. So there's probably the top of my freezer still full of some meat right now that we're going through.

Nick: It's interesting because when I think about it, all the things that you've stated already that you get from your farm, to me, those are like, you know, meal pieces of a meal that like, oh, you've got produce and you've got pigs and goat cheese. But I know with kids, snacks are king. Every kid, they just are snack machines. So I was curious as to what, other than if you are doing like veggies, like, what kind of snacks you get from that lifestyle.

Rachel: Yeah, so we also have berry bushes. So they do have raspberries and blackberries and things like that. What's interesting, because they're familiar with it and because they've seen kind of where it comes from and how it gets to their belly, that is actually a snack that we keep in the house. So whether it comes from the store or they are able to pick it, we go through a substantial amount of blackberries, blueberries, raspberries. The kids, they put them on each finger and they walk around with raspberry hands. And that is something that they do reach for. Cucumbers are another thing that they eat oh, my gosh. Regularly. And then even those little tomatoes, like, they'll pop little tomatoes in their mouth. I never did that as a child. They were gross to me because they would explode in your mouth. But they do like to eat those. But kind of going back to what we talked about earlier in this conversation, I also keep snaps because I don't want them to be the kid that goes to someone's house. And this has happened. They've never had soda before. We don't keep that in the house, or they've never had cheetos, and then they binge on it because it's something that is unfamiliar and fun. So we do keep a substantial amount of chips, and they are hummus junkies. We have gas station Mama Mary, she also grew up with goats and a farm, and we've connected with her and that family, and they had this cult following, and they started selling their hummus out of a gas station. And my son has eaten the pickle hummus with his hands since he was a baby. So hummus is something else that it's a good food. They can kind of understand how it's made and where it comes from. So those are definitely staples in our house. And my daughter has just gotten into making her own pretzels. So you know those pretzels with, like, the seasoning on them that you just dig at the bottom of the bag and you look at the bag and it's empty because you've eaten the entire thing? So my daughter, starting at the age of seven, started baking different things. And during Covid, that was something that she picked up. And my friend Amy shared her secret pretzel recipe. And now my daughter will bake these pretzels with this seasoning, and she's nine years old, so we have those for snacks, too. And we fight like those. We fight over we fight over those pretzels. There's been blood drawn over those, and I will hide those because I am the mom, and I do sometimes hide those things from my kids and from the people that come over so I can selfishly eat them myself.

Nick: Yeah. I am curious. So would you bake them? Are they, like, the soft pretzel or the way they're baked? They are actually the hard crunchy. Hard pretzel.

Rachel: Hard crunchy absorb the oils and the garlic and the salt. And I'm glad they're not in a bag because I don't know the calorie or the fat count as I'm yeah,

Nick: or the volume that you've eaten. If you can't measure it

Rachel: correct, you have no idea. You have no idea. You just polish it off and then she refills it. It's fantastic.

Nick: Yeah. I'm an absolutely pretzel fiend, so I'm like, in my brain, I'm like, after this is over, I got to get that recipe. I got to figure out what that is.

Rachel: Yeah, you can make them sweet and savory, or you can make them with the garlic and the dill. It's unreal for. Unreal.

Nick: Yeah, we have to talk offline about getting that. That sounds really good. Another thing that's not really on the topic, but our mutual friend Joe, who is the other host of this podcast. He also lives by that gas station where Mama Mary sells the hummus. And he was telling me about it, and he actually brought me some. And when he was saying that, like, yeah, I get this gas station. It's famous, this gas station hummus, I was like, I know, I'm good. I don't want any hummus from the gas station. And he brought it to me, and I was stunned, absolutely stunned at how unbelievable it is.

Rachel: What kind did he bring you?

Nick: I think he brought me just an original. A buffalo chicken, maybe?

Rachel: Yeah, buffalo chicken. Sundry. There's sun dried tomatoes. I got sundried. I got buffalo chicken.

Nick: And that might have been it.

Rachel: Yeah. There's also a nutella one, but you have to know someone. You have to be on the inner circle if you ever want to try that. Wow. It's dangerous. Yeah, it's very dangerous.

Nick: Yeah, that was really good. I gave a little bit to my son trying to get him those new flavors and easy thing to make sure

Rahcel: it is an easy thing to make at home. My kids also will make a lot of shakes because we have the Vitamix and they like to follow a recipe, and I do the green smoothies. And so that actually is something else. As much of like a mass and as crazy as it is, they do like to just throw stuff in a blender with some protein powder and make a shake, which is fantastic.

Nick: Awesome.

Rachel: I completely forgot about that. That is another snack that when we have friends come over, Miss Rachel, let them rummage through and make a complete disaster and make a shake. Or they'll put into like, a little popsicle mold and they have to wait 3 hours, but they'll make the homemade popsicles, which I remember as a child. My mom making those for me, so it's really cool to do that with my daughter.

Nick: If we could go back real quickly to talking about the greenhouse and how you said you haven't quite mastered it yet. It's pretty difficult. When you said that you put all this work into it and it got devastated. So what happened with the bugs? Did you just put all this time and effort into it and you went out there and what had occurred?

Rachel: friendIt was slow. There started to be like some of the things weren't taken. And then I noticed these white kind of dots. And so I googled it and then reached out to a couple of my friends who said, I think it's this, and the name escapes me. It haunts me, though. And I was told that once it happened, there's no way to get rid of it. So it's take what you can that hasn't been infected, put it outside if you can, but to cut it down, it's completely like a lost cause. So there were a few things that we were able to move outside. I think it was a lemon tree, lime tree, things like that, but otherwise that was it. I also had a lavender plant, and I had this cute little sign that my girlfriend had bought for me celebrating this greenhouse, and it was in a pot. And I remember my friend Brooke coming over and looking at all of my herbs and she looked at my lavender with the thing, and I said, yes, it hasn't budded yet, but it's growing really tall. And she put her hand on my shoulder and she said, I don't know how to tell you this, but as your friend have to tell you that's giant weed. I said no, it's not. It's like a domestic weed that you have beautifully grown in this gorgeous hot. You need to label it a weed. And it's so humbling. As with so many projects on this property, when you really think that you know what you're doing and then you just realize you learn something every day. So the greenhouse is a learning process, and we are just trying to figure it out. We have used it for a party that I do over Christmas where people bring practical gifts for men or homestead gifts and drop them off and we serve some food in there and we put up some lights, and it looks absolutely beautiful. But it is something that I'm going to have to have the minds and we have some people that do know what they're doing that have moved in closer our property that have said, we will help you with this. And they're actually excited to do it, and they put some stuff in there yesterday. And as the weather turns, it will become a destination again for us to be outside and see the sun come in and be in that environment and just start small. You eat an elephant one bite at a time. So we're going to start small again and see what we can make out of this.

Nick: Yeah, I was curious as to what I mean, to me, it seems like it would be extremely difficult with a greenhouse, especially with Ohio weather. And it's different all the time. We just have flowers that will grow outside of our house. We're like, oh, they bloomed and they look really great. And then it goes from one day to where it was 80 deg, and then the next morning it's 30 degrees and everything is dead. And that's the end of it.

Rachel: That's the end of it. You don't even have time to process, I think the loss of what just happened and the weather here, it's incredibly frustrating. And I have to remind myself as we travel to other locations, if we weren't living in Cleveland, we wouldn't be able to have 35 acres. You don't have a lot of those opportunities in Florida, where I grew up, in an environment where down the street there's stores in a grocery store and great schools and things of that nature that are really important when you have a family, to not feel completely isolated. So if we were living in a place with a more regular climate, we probably wouldn't be able to have this opportunity to have this type of land and property. And I know growing up in Florida, we had a great fruit tree as a kid, and there was oranges, and we would grow stuff in our backyard, but it wasn't always readily available. And there were problems that you had different types of a different set of problems that you'd be trading in if you were in that environment as well.

Nick: All right, and that's going to do it for part one of our interview with Rachel. Hope you guys enjoyed it. There's a lot to unpack in there, and part two, it only gets better. So please join us for part two here in a week or so. And we'd like to send a shout out to our sponsors. As always, valid food storage for all of your long term food storage needs. And just for listening to this podcast as an exclusive to you guys, if you use the code practical 15 at checkout, you can take 15% off your next order. So head on over to and check them out. Thanks. Bye.