10/10/2012 10:44:00 AM Homestead skills sustain family
Marie Dempster’s family works to take care of their animals, milk, garden and can the produce they grow in Chino Valley. These skills have helped sustain the family since Dempster’s husband, Scott, became ill.
Getting back to basics is what a lot of families are doing today by growing and preserving their own food, not only to save money but to eat healthier.
Marie Dempster of Chino Valley has been doing this for the past several years.
Fifteen years ago Marie's husband, Scott, became ill and could no longer work. Since Marie had always been a stay-at-home mom and home-schooled their three children, Michael, Stephanie, and Julia, this was going to be a real hardship for their family.
"After Scott got sick we knew our lifestyle had to change, so we decided to cut expenses by providing for ourselves by learning 'homesteading skills'," Marie said.
"We bought chickens for eggs and meat, goats for milk and meat, and we planted a large garden with a variety of vegetables, herbs, and berries. We also have fruit trees of apples, peaches, and apricots," she said.
A lot of hard work goes into planting and preserving food for their family. Marie gets help from her two daughters still living at home.
Stephanie helps more with the garden and Julia feeds and milks the animals.
"When we plant our large garden, we all join hands and pray that the Lord will bring fourth a bountiful harvest. From May through October the whole family helps and we are tilling, planting, weeding, and harvesting, then canning, freezing or dehydrating every day. I don't mind because this is my contribution to make it work for my family. Our goal is to put up a couple hundred jars of vegetables and fruit each year, which will last us until the next year when we start canning again," Marie explained.
Marie loves doing all her canning on an old 1951 O'Keefe & Merritt stove. She inherited the stove from her grandmother, who also used it for canning tomatoes when Marie was a little girl.
Besides preserving fruits and vegetables for her family, Marie learned how to make her own soap, lotion, deodorant, and even toothpaste.
"I did a lot of searching online to learn how to make these things. What is so good about this is that everything is natural," she said.
Marie has learned many homesteading skills in the past several years and is proud to be able to pass this knowledge on to her children.
"The richness of knowing you can take care of yourself is wonderful," Marie said.
"I enjoy this lifestyle, because there is no greater satisfaction than