This past Sunday and Monday we were able to attend the Homesteading Life Conference in Hannibal, MO. We were really looking forward to it. I mean, seriously, I was totally giddy about it. I don't even apologize for how dorky it might be. We thought it would be a great way to learn more homesteading ideas and practices, glean info from others experiences, and to meet other farmers and homesteaders. Bonus: Mommy and Daddy get a little time away which is needed once in a while. Can I get an AMEN?! We rarely do something like this so now you can understand my giddiness! (Huh, that is actually a word, thanks spell check.) It did not disappoint. But first - a funny, pre-conference, story for you!
Hannibal is about a 3 hour drive from our farm. We enjoyed the drive because it allowed for good conversation without small humans complaining of other small humans breathing on them. Plus, I always enjoy a little serenading from my husband. This is usually a good indication that we've been in the car for almost too long and he's over it. I would say 87% of the time, the song is "John Deere Green", as it was in this case. It'll be stuck in your head all day now. You're welcome. That was then followed by "Amazing Grace". Nice, right? :)
We arrived and checked into our hotel room. We ALWAYS ask for recommendations or suggestions on local places to eat. We are usually disappointed because we get lame... yes, I said lame, answers that direct us to fast food joints or chain restaurants that are subpar. We're looking for local diners, cafe's, that hole-in-the wall, mom and pop place that serves amazing "___________". We were pleased to get a suggestion this time that was a local place. So we headed that way. The parking lot was packed; sometimes a good sign. As we went in and were seated, my gut simply said run. Get up, walk out, and don't look back. It felt so "cafeteria-ish". Something you should know about me... I have commitment issues. I'm not fully committed to stay at a restaurant until my food comes out. I am easily grossed out and expect cleanliness and friendliness. I will leave if I see, hear, or smell something I don't like. Yes, I know that sounds picky but I see it as a health and well being issue. OH! ... one more thing... absolutely never will I eat at a buffet. I do not trust the general public around food I may consume.
We decided to stay as our waitress was very friendly and helpful in our decisions as to what to order. Another red flag... if the menu is so huge it's basically a book, they can't make any one thing good. Quantity > quality is never good when it comes to food. Our food came out and Mike kept asking me "what's that smell?" Then he made me smell his sandwich. I couldn't pick anything up but Worcestershire. At the same time I'm noticing my "fried chicken salad" doesn't look like it has fried chicken but maybe chicken strips? Ok, no biggie. Except that upon further investigation it looks like last weeks chicken strips. Seriously. We hesitantly ate. I was SO hungry. I did pick all the chicken out and only ate salad. Not a great dinner for a hungry, migraine-prone, fluffy, farm gal like myself. Throughout the dining experience we did, at least, enjoy some hysterical moments thanks to my hubby. His wit and sarcasm flowed like honey from heaven during the whole meal. I'm telling you there were tears, snorts, and I almost sucked a cherry tomato down my throat. The funniest thing he said I can't repeat in my blog. (Don't worry, it wasn't bad, just gross.)
We left quickly and stopped at a gas station to grab snacks. I was STILL hungry. Don't get me wrong, I like salad, a lot. But I am not a rabbit. Back at the hotel we settled in for some t.v. and snacks. It wasn't too long before Mike had an upset stomach. Uh-oh. Let's just say... come 4 o'clock in the morning, that stinky cheesesteak reared it's ugly head. It's not funny really, but oh my gosh, it's so funny! Poor Mike was feeling pretty gross the rest of the morning. I am often reminded, by a very reliable source, that he's "tougher than lips on a chicken", so he toughed it out and thankfully it didn't get worse or last too long. Moral of the story? People will eat anything and call it good. Don't trust them. Side note; the nice coffee shop next to our hotel made some money off of us.
Let's talk about the homesteading conference. This really was very exciting. There were several speakers, there were vendors to check out, and even some demonstrations. We enjoyed visiting the vendors and getting to learn what they do on their farm/homestead or what they were presenting and why. There were solar ovens (which we totally want!), alpaca wool, elderberries, garden charts and more. We also enjoyed listening to the speakers and hearing their personal stories. One speaker in particular spoke on "Why Homesteading?". It was enjoyable to hear his reasons for choosing to homestead and there was such sincerity in it. We were able to really connect with it. It was a great reminder for us. When things seem to be moving slowly or even going downhill, when it all becomes overwhelming, or even if all feels great at the moment, keep in mind why we started it in the first place. Another great speaker, one I enjoyed greatly, shared so much knowledge about medicinal herbs and plants to have on the homestead. She was so fun and cheerful while speaking. I am so excited to get these plants in the ground on our own farm. I took so many notes! I have big plans for all kinds of infused oils, salves, rubs, teas, etc. I am very interested in a more holistic, natural way of doing things. Especially when it comes to our health. Our awesome Creator made all those plants, herbs, flowers, and roots for very good reason!
I saved the bees for last. We both are crazy excited about bees but Mike is over the moon! Bees ARE happening for us. This is something we are definite on. Listening to the speaker on bees and natural bee keeping just fired us up about it even more. Mike is certainly a "prepper". I don't mean doomsday in this instance, but that he researches and learns absolutely everything he can about whatever it is he is interested in before tackling it. He has done so much reading and watching on bees. We came home with two more books about beekeeping too! Talking to Dr. Leo about them in person was a great experience for him. So, some time this winter will be spent building swarm boxes and hive boxes. When spring shows up, you can bet Stoney Hill Farm will be putting together it's apiary!
There were so many other speakers on things such as elderberries, tiny house living, solar power, GMO's, etc. Some we sat in on and some we skipped simply because they didn't necessarily apply to us. We used those times to take walks through downtown Hannibal, eat, visit vendors, or check out the raffle prizes. Speaking of which; we won a phenomenal basket from Baker Creek Seeds! This basket is chock-full of all things gardening including a gift certificate, hand tools, books, and SO MANY seed packets! We are basically set on seeds for next years gardens, summer and fall. Say whaaaat?! It's pretty awesome. We picked up a few things from vendors throughout the visit also. One thing nice about this trip was slowing down. Not feeling like we had to be here, there, and wherever. We really took time to enjoy time off from the everyday busyness of life.
The last time we were in Hannibal we learned that we love gelato. So, that was a stop during our stay. We also tried to play it safe with a pizza for dinner the second night. Success.
Overall this was a fantastic experience and I'm thankful it will be held again next year. I think I'll just go ahead and buy our tickets now, actually. It was good to get home though... back to my own place, my own bed. It felt wonderful pulling into our drive. OUR farm. OUR homestead. This IS what we want to do and we are going to accomplish it. Through good and bad days, hard and easy days, we will succeed... if at nothing else, trying. There's no failure in that.
Life is better on the farm!
It's our YouTube debut! Check out this video from Life in Farmland! We were privileged to meet this sweet family at the homesteading conference and he allowed us, along with fellow farmers and homesteaders, to share some of our conference favorites.