There’s a popular saying in the homesteading movement: it all starts with chickens.
“Chickens are the first thing,” confirms Brandi Farnsworth. “We had them even when we lived in town.”
Brandi and her husband, Sean, own about 40 acres near Salina and are just down the road from Kevin and Rachel Pritchett, owners of Hidden Heights Farms and their partners in the Okie Homesteading Expo.
Both couples have ample followers on their YouTube channels, where they showcase the antics of fluffy animals and offer instruction on such topics as how to butcher a quail and how to trim goat hooves.
Brandi says her husband developed an interest in self-reliance while serving in the U.S. Marines.
“He wanted to raise children who would be able to take care of themselves,” she says. The couple has three daughters. “He’s a great girl-dad, and he wants them to be prepared in life.”
Homesteading these days differs from the traditional definition, where people obtained free land from the government and were required to make improvements. But it’s not a lifestyle that requires strict self-sufficiency.
“Modern homesteading is a good term to use,” Brandi says.
Rachel continues: “People have this idea that you have to make all your own clothes or whatever. We don’t live off the land 100%. You don’t have to do everything. There are all kinds of ways to be a homesteader.”
Finding a Niche
Family members each tend to contribute by doing what they love.
Rachel, for example, enjoys being out on their 20 acres with the goats, free-range chickens, pigs, bees, turkeys and geese.
“Kevin was more passionate about learning to can,” she says. “He loves the gardening and the food preservation. He loves cooking. So, we are a good balance.”
Two years ago, the Farnsworths made the switch from outside employment to full-time homesteading. Kevin still works off the farm; Rachel is now a stay-at-home parent to their son and daughter.
Rachel says their Hidden Heights Farm YouTube channels are the biggest revenue source from their acreage. The Farnsworths also earn money from YouTube, typically creating three videos a week for their channel, Keeping It Dutch, a reference to Sean’s nickname in the Marines.
“The audience gets really attached to our kids and our animals,” Brandi says. “A lot of people who can’t have this lifestyle kind of live vicariously through us. Others are inspired to get land themselves. It’s really heartwarming, the letters we receive.”
Homesteaders tend to lean toward specialty breeds.
The Farnsworths are crazy about Kune Kune pigs. Dorper sheep are next on their acquisition list.
The Pritchetts raise Spanish and Kiko goats, which are protected from predators by their Anatolian Shepherds.
Timber covers about half the Farnsworth property. They bought a sawmill and use wood for heat and building projects.
“We have a goal of getting more self-reliant every day,” Brandi says.
Rachel continues: “We do this because we love the lifestyle, and we want to raise our kids in this lifestyle. We want them to learn things that their ancestors did years ago.”