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q & a with Ward House- official dig the dirt contributor

by FigTree

Annette of Ward House is an amazing woman who took her teen-aged daughters out of a fast paced lifestyle and is trying her best at "homesteading". Here she tells us why and how this all came to be! Inspiring to say the least.


To read Annette's article on DILLY BEANS click here.  To see Annette's blog WARD HOUSE click here.  Thank you Annette for sharing your recipe and answering all of our nosy questions!


Tell us about what you're up to on the gardening front.

On the gardening front, we are getting ready to begin tilling and (hopefully) adding some old manure to the mix.  Our current garden is about 500' x 100' of mud, surrounded by a pallet fence.  This fence took a beating this past winter with all the heavy snow and ice so; sinking additional posts is on the list.  Last year we had such a battle of the shield bugs that I am going to try something new this year - set out some decoy plants and use boards to squish the foolish bugs.  Muhaha!

Could you explain to us what "homesteading" is and how you got into it? 

Well, the technical definition of a homestead is "any dwelling with its land and buildings where a family makes its home".  For us this includes learning the forgotten skills that are needed to thrive in a not so prosperous economy; gardening, seed saving, canning, pest control, cooking & heating with wood, sewing, crochet/knit, soap making, etc.  How we 'got into it' is difficult to answer.  I grew up during the cold war bruhaha between the US and the Soviet Union.  My dad was retired special forces and he wanted to make sure I knew how to survive should something happen.  Becoming resourceful and mindful of what we had and how we used it then became a means of saving money - drying clothes outside or on inside racks instead of using the dryer, repurposing clothing, crocheting dishclothes, becoming more energy efficient/savvy, etc.  Now it is an exciting challenge to see just how independent we can become using as little as possible.

When did you start gardening? 

I grew up with parents who always had a huge garden and canned extensively.  Both grandmothers and my mom had green thumbs; I like to think some of that has rubbed off on me.  Gardening did not kick in full swing until May of 2008 when we moved to our current .5 acres of heaven.

What is your latest project you're working on?

That would be finishing the chicken coop so we can move some hens in by Spring, which for us will be about mother's day.  A few days ago we bought a tractor which we will pick up two weeks from now.  That is most exciting. 

What do you hope that this lifestyle will bring to you and your family? 

Already this lifestyle has brought us closer to our teens - they want to spend time with us hanging out on the front porch, listening to music, talking, laughing, eating, etc.  They now understand how money works and the importance of bartering and keeping one's word.  I hope, that as we continue, the girls will also learn more in the canning/bug squishing part of gardening.  LOL  They are comical to watch when it comes to bugs.  I am so videotaping this year!


homesteading, sustainable living, official contributor


I am amazed! I often have thought about how dependent I am on our modern culture for everything! Especially last summer in the severe drought we experienced - I was so grateful we had a grocery store because the garden just withered in the heat! Good luck with the canning. I have only done jam but would love to have a garden bounty to put up. Thus far, we eat it as fast as the small garden can produce it! I look forward to reading more about all the experiences you guys have homesteading!
gardengirl commented on 03/25/10
Yea, the drought has been a challenge for us in past years. I have one water barrel hooked up to the downspout and a second one ready to go. Last year we had the opposite problem - too much rain. Feast or famine, eh?
Ward House replied: on 03/25/10
Yes, feast or famine - those pioneer folks were made of tough stuff. I look forward to following your story!
gardengirl replied: on 03/25/10
this is awesome-- wish that my parents had taught me more about stuff like this when I was a kid. would have been helpful!
nematode commented on 03/16/10
I am thankful that my parents were so into gardening and preparing for the unknown. It sounded so strange then - makes so much sense now that I am older.
Ward House replied: on 03/25/10
we are worlds apart, but I am so impressed with what you are doing. It sounds like an exciting adventure! I never thought I would get excited about something like getting a tractor, but since I have been getting into gardening I now understand...
butterfly commented on 03/16/10
=) Thank you butterfly. Never thought I'd get so excited over a tractor; however, just love our 'little' belarus (pron Bell-a-ruse). It has been a back saver.
Ward House replied: on 03/25/10
Well Annette you sound like an amazing mom. I cannot believe that you do all of that with your teenagers- it is really inspiring to hear how it all began for you. Thank you for sharing and I love your dilly bean recipe!
earthworm commented on 03/16/10
LOL Thank you for the encouraging words. There are definate times when I wonder what in the world I am doing. =) Enjoy the beans - if you make 'em, let me know what you think!
Ward House replied: on 03/25/10