Keith & Cheryl Zacek – Family Farm in North-Central Illinois.

The "Greenhouse"
April 7, 2014Basics of Transplant Production – Setting Up Your Greenhouse The third session of the Putting Small Acres to Work brought us to this talk by
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April 1, 2014Cottage Food Operation During the second session at the Putting Small Acres to Work workshop series, I went to the one about the IL Cottage
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March 28, 2014This is part 2 of a 5 part series. In the second breakout session of Putting Small Acres to Work, Keith and I split up. 
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The "Greenhouse"
March 24, 2014On March 23, Keith and I attended 4 workshops designed to help people with few acres make their farms more profitable.  It was called Putting
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Dandelion's doe kid, Black-Eyed Susan
March 5, 2014TWINS!! Dandelion’s due date is tomorrow, so I was checking on her today after the Farm Crawl meeting we had at Deborah’s.  I didn’t want
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We are a very small – tiny, even – family farm in north-central Illinois. We moved to our 90-year-old farmhouse from the Chicago suburbs in 1998 with 4 children and a dream to raise some chickens for eggs, goats for milk, rabbits for meat and have a big garden for some fresh produce. Since then we’ve had 4 more children and gone through many changes as we try to fix up the old house and cram as much self-sufficiency into our acre-and-a-half as possible while homeschooling and trying to teach the children a solid work ethic (and trying to develop one ourselves. Maybe that only really applies to me…)

We’ve started big in almost every area, only to get overwhelmed and cut back or quit different things now and then, and then start over a year or two later. One year I even begged to sell this place and move into town. Having been raised in the suburbs in a small house on a small lot, I never had a lot of work to do – and rarely was it hard physical labor. The constant need to take care of the animals twice a day year round, weed the garden all spring and summer, preserve what the garden produced, in addition to homeschooling and housework and childbearing and rearing was exhausting and I just wanted my easy life back. But, underneath all that I knew we’d come here for a reason that I just couldn’t ignore. So I didn’t plant a garden the next year and I sold the goats and kept only a dozen chickens. And a year or so later we started up again – slowly. And after 13 years I’ve finally realized that this is the lifestyle I really love and can’t imagine living any other way – even though I get tired sometimes. In fact, our new dream is to be able to purchase enough land that we can grow most of the food for our animals, as well as ourselves.
So this site is the story of our ongoing journey through homesteading and homeschooling and all that that entails, as well as a place for us to sell some of the fruits of our labor as it’s available.