Large Homesteading Families : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

DH and I are about to make the move to our first homestead with our 13 month old, and we've got another one on the way. We plan to have four to six kids, and were wondering how all of you who are homesteading and raising a big family manage. I'm interested in what you do to save time and money, and make sure everyones gets all their needs met. Besides the obvious - cloth diapers, making time for each kid individually, letting the house go a little, what do you all suggest?

Thanks so much,


-- Sharon (, April 04, 2001


Take it one child at a time .You will learn more as you go .The thought of 4-6 children may sound nice now , but in 10 years who knows.Have a large garden , raise your own meat ,shop in bulk , yard sales , church sales , and stock up on grocery store sales.I have 4 children , and its not that big of a deal .

-- Patty {NY State} (, April 04, 2001.

I have 6 children, after the 3rd...what's a few more? ;-) You learn as you go. I buy things in bulk, have a nice large garden (well, I will this year, we moved). I also have days out with each child individually. This does good things for the children's moods. :-) If I can't go into town, then I take one out "to keep me company" or help while I work outside. They are free to work with me, or stand and talk. It is nice. Mine range from 8-14. They are all very close in age and I love that. Good luck!


-- Cindy in Ok (, April 04, 2001.

It would be nice if you adopted the majority of your children..There are lots of children who need a home, and the world doesn't need more bodies to sustain. Moderation in all things. Enjoy your life.

-- Deborah (, April 04, 2001.

I, of course, disagree. I have six children of my own, and would have had more if I had been able. They are the biggest blessings of my life.

-- mary, texas (, April 04, 2001.

Hi Sharon! I have 5 kids and we go through cycles :) There is saving time... and then there is saving money. Cloth diapers save you money, but not time. I had a friend that gave me a "recipe" for diaper wipes once, (basicly 1 tsp of alcohol, 2 tsp of baby bath, and 1 c water ~ fold paper towels in three parts and cut to make two wipes each, or whatever will fill one of those wipe containers, pour water mix over them) I didn't use the alcohol because I figured it would sting, but there it is.(and use soft papertowels) And you need to PLAN :) I try to limit the trips to town, because I always manage to pick up extras. Have a large garden, freeze leftovers,don't buy lots of processed snacks, figure out a zillion ways to eat eggs and get some chickens. :) I'm sure there is more... on saving time, I make food enough for two meals and freeze it (quick meal next time) our kids are big enough for chores, but you may have to do yours during nap time? Of course since you have one on the way..NAP while you can!! and Congratulations! ~~~ Brenda

-- Brenda (, April 05, 2001.

Adoption is a wonderfull option for some .But it is also not that easy and very costly .It's a couples choice if they want to adopt or have natural children and how many.

-- Patty {NY State} (, April 05, 2001.

While your kids are tiny babies I would go ahead and start exploring homeschooling options. Around here the larger families seem to do the best at homeschooling! One doctor's wife has 12 living children (and has lost about 6) and they have the best educated, most polite homeschooled kids you've ever seen!

We homeschooled our last two (one part of the time and the other nearly all his schooling) and I wish now I'd homeschooled all four for their entire educations! I highly recommend it! And YOU CAN teach your own children even if you only have a high school education!

-- Suzy in Bama (, April 05, 2001.

I must have missed the part where I asked for a referendum on how many children I should have and how I should have them. For the record (and not that it is anyone's d***ed business) we do plan to adopt. But that wasn't my question, and I find it unbelievably offensive, presumptious and judgemental for someone to presume to tell me what my reproductive plans should be. Pretty much everyone here is working to walk lightly on the earth, and unless you've never left a mark at all, you should keep that condescending crap to yourself.

-- Sharon (, April 05, 2001.

I'm one of those wackos who doesn't want kids. I hear the average family has something like 2.8 children, I'll donate my share of the pie to Sharon! :-)

-- Sherri C (, April 05, 2001.

Hi Sharon,

Do you know how to make your own baby food? I imagine that would save allot if you could make it out of garden produce and fruit. I used to make allot of things from scratch, my son is long grown up, but I even made mayonaise and catup when he was little. And he grew up learning to eat regular food, not the stuff that comes in the boxes. He knew that eating out was a very, very rare thing and he never nagged me about it.

And I shopped, still do, at garage sales, goodwill and places for clothes. They only new ones I would buy were for church, or shoes, or something like that. My son figured out he could get 10 pairs of like new Levi's at a yard sale or 1 pair at the store. Didn't take him long to catch on.

I guess if I had little kids now, I would make a chain link play yard within eyesight of the garden and barn, and make sure they had a big sandbox, lots of plastic animals, dump trucks and shovels, and let them play outside in the sun while I played in the garden and such. I would make forts with them, make a few mud pies, and play with them and help them to learn to entertain themselves and play like kids. My son could play outside all day long and not get bored. As he got older, he was free to play as soon as his chores were done. I always made sure he had lots of time to just play and be himself.

How great you are moving soon! Please keep us posted on your homestead and things.

-- Cindy in Ky (, April 05, 2001.

jeez Sharon, all Deborah said was "it would be nice if you adopted" she didn't tell you you had to! The venemous reply she got certainly seems unwarranted.

-- debra in ks (, April 05, 2001.

As soon as the children are old enough start giving them chores. It teaches responsibility and gives mom and dad a helping hand(great time saver). Shopping in bulk is great because you don't have to run to the store all the time. Maybe consider a milk goat or cow. Running out of milk was the main reason I had to go to the store all the time. It takes time to milk, but no more than running to the store. And it sure does save money. Congratulations on your upcoming blessing!

-- Lena(NC) (, April 05, 2001.

I'll second that, Lena. The goats are fun, but what really makes the time spent on them worthwhile is not having to go to the grocery store every five days to stock up on milk! :-) In my case, I found not only that going to the store uses a big block of time, but also the more often I go, the more money I spend all told, since there is a certain amount of unneccessary stuff bought each trip.

-- mary, texas (, April 05, 2001.

I have 6 kids - ages 10 mo. - 14 yrs. Never thought I'd have a big family but I found that it lends itself to homesteading! Raising as much of your own food as possible saves lots of $$$ and you eat wonderfully! Homeschooling allows for the kids to be involved in the workings of the homestead - learning and helping with the work load as they get old enough. Shop at resales and garage are hard on clothes and they don't really care if they wear the latest fashions (especially if they aren't exposed to the peer pressure of a school situation). Shop in bulk for the things you can't supply yourself. Saves $$$ and gas for trips out. Above all enjoy your kids, don't let the pressures of life - even the homestead life get in the way of that. Have fun working and playing together!

-- Amy (, April 06, 2001.

Sorry Debra, I have to add this. Sharon had every right to be perturbed at Deborah's advice to adopt. She posted the question to "those of you who are homesteading and managing a large family". Based on her response, I don't think Deborah would fall into that camp. Nothing against adoption, but it seemed like an attempt to promote the anti-reproduction philosophy some on this forum seem to have. If I'm wrong on this forgive me.....

-- Amy (, April 06, 2001.

To clarify...I'm not against reproduction, just against the numbers. Yes, I believe in walking lightly on this earth. I had two children and stopped there. If I were at that point now..I wouldn't have any. I've developed a different point of view after research I've done about the state of the world's population, pollution and potable water shortages. I'm not slamming you for wanting a large family... As some others suggested, learning to make your own baby food is a big plus, as is learning to sew if you don't already, shopping at the thrift stores (Salvation Army, Goodwill, etc) helps with keeping clothing costs down. Learning to crochet so that you can make clothing and blankets, etc. helps. You'll also need a support system of either other family or neighbors you can count on to help when you need it. First aid courses will also come in handy. The basics of homesteading...canning and making as much as you can all help. When they are a little older...and you want to start schooling at home..set aside a specific time for it and a place. Could be the kitchen table. Short sessions to start. Reading to them is a great one too. Time management is difficult as you have more way to keep each one feeling special is for you to identify something each one really likes to do...and encourage it individually. That's the biggest thing, and the hardest thing to do, remember they are individuals. My mom came from a family of 14, so I am familiar with large families. Enjoy your life.

-- Deborah (, April 07, 2001.

Deborah , please don't let your children hear you say "if I had it to do over again I wouldn't have any children".I am sure you don't but some may { I know I feel that way some days }.Some children don't always grow to where we would like them to be , some take a long long time to get there .For the families who choose to adopt or even to foster care thats great ,you are truely blessed .I for one could not go threw it and take the chance of loosing a baby or child back to the system .

Sharon , I wish you many fertile years to come .Take it one day and child at a time and you will be fine.I have 4 and my body could not handle any more .So I am blessed with the ones I have .

-- Patty {NY State} (, April 07, 2001.


Once again the point is missed. I love my sons, they are 17 and 19 now. My point wasn't that I resented having THEM or was disappointed in how they'd "turned out". The point is that our global situation NOW, TWENTY YEARS LATER than when I decided to have children has changed so drastically that if I were to face that decision NOW....I'd not do it. Nothing to do with the children I have, but has everything to do with current and expected global population, pollution and potable water shortages. Enjoy you life.

-- Deborah (, April 07, 2001.

You MISSED the point no matter the reason for your feelings it would really hurt them to hear mom say this .Not that you do .Everyone has there own feelings and options and I respect yours .There are lots of things I would do different .I am not into all the fighting and argueing .This is a very personal issue for each couple to decide for themselfes .Cherish your chidren and enjoy your life.~Patty

-- Patty {NY State} (, April 07, 2001.

Hi, Sharon, I am the homesteading, homeschooling, Christian mom of 5. Their ages range from 14 yrs to 23 months. We haven't set a # to our large family. We will accept the blessings God gives us. We shop at thrift stores, plant garden, and raise chickens. You have gotten some good advice here. Enjoy your children. Maylene

-- Maylene (, April 07, 2001.

I am interested in producing MORE CHILDREN. All interested parties please call Seed for Today's Need, at (123)456-7890

-- Lil Dabl Doya (, April 07, 2001.

Oh, one other thing...make really BIG batches of cookies when you have more then 3. It seemed the cookie ratio changed more then the clothing one did when the sixth child was born. It was like all the children suddenly discovered the wonders of a fresh baked cookie or something..I made them all the time....but I sure made bigger batches after that last one!! I didn't put a number on how many I would have, I just knew I love children and wanted a whole house full!! God chose for me. I would still be having them if I could. :-) My children are all very close in age too, that is nice.


-- Cindy in Ok (, April 07, 2001.

Sharon, Congratulations on your decision to homestead and raise a large family. We are homeschooling and newly homesteading on a temporary location until we find "the right place". I agree with the other responses you've already received. Yard sales and thrift shops are great if you don't sew (I don't) and grow as much food as you can. Prepare what food you can from scratch in larger quantities and freeze extras for later use. A deep freeze is important, as is adequate pantry space so that you can buy in bulk. Get your big chores done while the little ones are sleeping, and when they're older, teach them to join in and help. Barter with neighbors for items/foods that you need but don't have/grow if possible. A great book which will help with money saving tips is the Tightwad Gazette. Try to get the combined one- it's 3 books in one and about 900 pages. I don't know what we'd do without it. Enjoy your new baby and homestead! Kristin

-- Kristin, now in LA (, April 09, 2001.

I have 5 kids, 3 months to 9 years. I have chickens for eggs, goats for milk, (& now making soap) & also raising rabbits & pigs to eat. I put out a huge garden & freeze & can what I am able. I shop Goodwill & yard sales. I am always asked how I can handle that many kids, it does get easier I think. I am the middle kid out of 11. :-) Good luck to you!

-- Wendy (, April 09, 2001.

Thanks so much for all the helpful information. It is useful to know what everyone else is doing. Deborah, I appreciate the clarification, but I want to make clear that I asked for advice about how to manage, not for discussion of whether/how I should have children. I think that your research, while broadly correct, may also not tell the whole story. For example, my homestead is located in a rural, underpopulated portion of the country filled with abandoned farms. We will have no electricity, and eventually solar power, and for local transport, rely upon bicycles and horses, as we've done in the past. Rainwater and an abundant well (along with a huge amount of local rainfall) makes water not an especially powerful issue), and we intend to produce our own food (already do for the 3 of us), so we are speaking of children whose claims upon world resources will be limited. Population is more complicated than your account lets on - you can not, for example, reduce the population of congested areas by not having babies in rural ones. Not to mention that you should look at the ways in which the world population is currently levelling off - with the introduction of education and Western values, reproductive rates in 3rd world countries are comparatively reduced. There is some suggestion that population growth will level off entirely in the next century. Malthus is probably not right, partly because he postulated that we were all an unthinking collection of urges, and that reproduction would continue geometrically, regardless of information or consequences. Believe it or not, demography is my profession!

Finally, whether you agree with me or not, generally speaking, reproduction is a private thing, I apologize for blowing up at you, but I think that intrusion into private areas is a bit on the rude side, no matter how well intentioned you are.


-- Sharon (, April 10, 2001.

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