You might recognize today’s guest from her successful years-long career in Christian music, but you may not know that Francesca Battistelli is part of the homesteading world as well. What began as a nudge to leave behind the busy pace of a traveling musician and spend more time at home with her children has turned into a full-blown homesteading, homeschooling, homemaking, home-loving life. Join us as Francesca shares her homesteading story: how it all got started, where they are now, and what they hope and dream for the future. Along the way, Francesca points out so many of the beautiful reasons that the homesteading lifestyle has captured so many of our hearts here in the HOA community.
In this episode, we cover:
- What led Francesca from a music career on the road to the slower pace of homestead life
- How kids participate in the homestead and what they gain from this lifestyle
- Family relationships and changes in community when embarking on a homesteading journey
- What homesteading endeavors Francesca has taken on in her first few years of homesteading
- Thinking through the long-term goal of your homestead
- What homeschooling looks like for Francesca and her six children
- How homesteading lends itself to a life of continual learning
- Noticing the everyday beauty around the homestead
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HOA podcast episode with Joel Salatin
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The Gifts of the Homestead Life Transcript
Amy Fewell Welcome to the Homesteaders of America Podcast, where we encourage simple living, hard work, natural healthcare, real food, and building an agrarian society. If you’re pioneering your way through modern noise and conveniences, and you’re an advocate for living a more sustainable and quiet life, this podcast is for you. Welcome to this week’s podcast. I’m your host, Amy Fewell, and I’m the founder of the Homesteaders of America organization and annual events. If you’re not familiar with us, we are a resource for homesteading education and online support. And we even host a couple of in-person events each year with our biggest annual event happening right outside the nation’s capital here in Virginia every October. Check us out online at HomesteadersofAmerica.com. Follow us on all of our social media platforms and subscribe to our newsletter so that you can be the first to know about all things HOA (that’s short for Homesteaders of America). Don’t forget that we have an online membership that gives you access to thousands—yes, literally thousands—of hours worth of information and videos. It also gets you discount codes, an HOA decal sticker when you sign up, and access to event tickets before anyone else. All right. Let’s dive into this week’s episode.
Amy Fewell Welcome back to this week’s episode of the Homesteaders of America podcast. This week I have special guest Francesca Battistelli with me, and I’m so excited to have you on. We’ve had quite a lot of different people from different backgrounds. And so one of the things that I’m excited about today is we have a little bit of a different conversation happening with Francesca. So welcome to the podcast, Francesca.
Francesca Battistelli Thank you so much. I’m so excited to be here and just honored that you would ask. So thanks for having me, Amy.
Amy Fewell Yeah, so Francesca and I actually connected last year at the HOA women’s event, and she kind of last minute was able to come to the event and sing some songs for us and share her story. And so you are not new at all to the homesteading community, especially for women. So why don’t you… For those who don’t know who you are, why don’t you tell us all about you and what you do?
Francesca Battistelli Absolutely. Well, my husband and I, Matt, we have six kids and we live outside of Nashville, Tennessee on a homestead. We’ve been here a little over two years and we homeschool. And we also… I make music. So I’m a singer songwriter. Been in Nashville about, oh, 15 years now—I can’t do math, maybe more—working on music. And so most of our life has consisted of touring and not being home, not being very rooted or grounded. And about seven years ago, we were having our third child, we really felt just a call to be home more, to sort of flip the script where the road became the anomaly and home became the norm as opposed to pretty much our entire marriage and parenting up until that point was the opposite. And so I guess we honestly were trying to think recently, like, when did this draw to living on land and homesteading, when did that start? And we couldn’t really pinpoint it, but I think it must have been around the same time that the Lord really started working in our hearts to desire what we now see the fruit of which is crazy to me sometimes. You know, you pray for things and then here they are. And you have to really just have that perspective sometimes and go, okay, this is something I prayed about and here it is. So, yeah, that’s sort of our life. I still make music. I’m working on an album right now, but it has been about three years since we’ve really been on the road to any large degree, and I don’t see it going back to what it ever used to be. But I do know that it does feel like maybe the Lord is stirring some of that back up, and so I’ll have to see how that all works now that we have a homestead. But I know he’ll work it out if he wants that to happen.
Amy Fewell Right. And it might even include your homesteading experience to inspire other homesteads, right?
Francesca Battistelli Absolutely. Totally. I mean, you never know how… He uses everything. And that is what we’ve seen so far. So I’m excited to see what’s next.
Amy Fewell Yeah. And Francesca was so humble. She said, “I write, I make music,” but she’s actually a pretty accomplished musician. And so we’ll link that information below for you guys to check out if you’ve not heard her before. But okay, let’s talk about how you got started into homesteading, because obviously this wasn’t something you always did, and you go from a super busy musician on the road traveling all the time to suddenly you’re like, “You know what? There’s something different. I want to homestead.” How did that even happen? What is that first glimpse? Other than thinking, “I want to be home more,” what was that first glimpse into homesteading for you?
Francesca Battistelli Oh, that’s such a good question. I think… Yeah. I mean, I did not grow up this way. My husband did not grow up this way. We were very suburban, and until two years ago, our kids were as well. But I do think being on the road probably was a big part of stirring this for me anyway. But I have always… you know, grew up very much before organic was a term. My parents were… You know, I remember eating like carob chip cookies instead of chocolate chip cookies as a child. And boxes of soy milk. And some things, I’m sure my mom wished she could go back and redo, but I always kind of had just more of a desire to do things naturally. And my husband as well, even though he grew up very conventional, he’s like, “I just have always felt like…” I remember when we were first dating, talking about like, “I just think whatever’s closer to how God created it is probably what we should do.” And I was like, “I’m glad you feel that way, because I also do.” So, you know, we were getting our raw milk and doing our CSA drops and kind of all the things when we were living in town. And at some point… I really can’t pinpoint when, but it just hit me like we could this. I think because it felt so impossible when we were traveling 150 days a year, there was a moment in that season of sort of stepping back with our third child of like, I mean, if we were home, theoretically, we could raise chickens and we could… You know, whatever. It just sort of grew from there. And so this desire to… I think, the more children you have… I was just talking to someone about this, like the desire to just say, “Go outside, go play, go explore, go build, go do something” really grew in my heart. And I don’t know how we lived in a neighborhood before where I couldn’t do that as easily. There were cars and people, and now I’m like, “What’s a person? I don’t see them ever when I’m home.” It’s me and my kids, which I absolutely love. So it was a slow thing. It wasn’t like this moment in time or I read a book or whatever. I think the Lord just started really giving me that desire. And then at some point my husband as well. And I do think 2020 sort of sped a lot of that up. We started a little garden in our neighborhood house and really just felt the draw. But we didn’t know anything. And we still are learning so much. But I think there is something that once that’s in your heart, you can’t really go back. You can’t get rid of it. I mean, obviously you can wait on the Lord, but for us it was like a “wherever you need to take us, Lord, this is what we want to do.” So here we are.
Amy Fewell Yeah. My husband and I have that conversation all the time, like we’ll be driving through town and we’ll see suburban houses and yes, we’ve been there and done that and we’re like, “Oh my goodness, if we ever had to do that again, it would be torture. It would just be torture.” Right? Because you go from one thing to another and there’s just so much freedom in homesteading, especially on a larger property. Okay, so how many kids do you have now that you are a little bit older and more into homesteading?
Francesca Battistelli Yes, we have six children, so our oldest is almost 13 and our youngest is a year and a half. So we have four boys and two girls, and we homeschool, and most of them don’t ever know where their shoes are and it’s pretty great. Another perk of that life.
Amy Fewell That’s an awesome age gap.
Francesca Battistelli Yeah, it is. It’s really fun.
Amy Fewell So what does that look like for you with your kids? So obviously you were on your third child when you started homesteading, and so how has that affected your life as a family, especially with your kids?
Francesca Battistelli Yeah, you know, I think that for us, the thing we’ve seen the most is modern parenting sort of… We have this idea of children as needing everything provided for them at all times. And of course, we provide a roof over their heads and a warm place to sleep and food and nourishment and all of those things. But we don’t give kids enough credit, I don’t personally think as a general whole. And so what living kind of on land and homesteading has taught me is that my kids are a lot more capable than I even realized. And it’s not like they’re doing everything while we’re sitting back eating ice cream. But we do involve them in everything. I mean, my oldest two can really handle all of the chores if we need them to. The little ones do so much in the garden and they can with the animals. It’s just cool to see their resilience, too, even when there is loss or death with an animal. I remember the first time it was devastating for everyone, but now it’s a little bit more of they understand. We’ve done meat birds. We’re doing another batch in probably a month. And we’re doing turkeys for the first time. And everyone’s excited because they get it a little more now. I remember the first time… My five-year-old still will ask me anytime we have chicken, he’s like, “Now, are these our chickens, Mom?” They no longer are, hence why we’re doing another batch. But he’s just like, it’s so cool to think this is something that we helped raise and we took care of. You know, they only had one bad day, as the saying goes. And I love watching their minds kind of even expand to make those connections. You know, it’s very kind of a Charlotte Mason idea, the science of relations. They’re seeing the food on my plate came from this animal that I helped feed every morning. It’s a neat thing to see and something that I didn’t have as a kid. And who knows what that does for them, but I think that it can’t be bad. So, yeah, for me, watching them grow in resilience and just their capabilities has been really cool.
Amy Fewell Yeah. So since it is a different life with you and your children and your family from what you were used to, how has that been? Has it been welcoming by friends? Have your friends changed? What does your family think? You know, we always have these homesteaders who are like, “Well, my family thinks I’m crazy and I lost all my friends and I have all these crazy new homestead friends.” What did that look like for you and your family?
Francesca Battistelli Yeah, well, thankfully, our families are both really, really awesome and supportive. My family lives pretty locally. I’m an only child, so it’s just my parents, and they live about 45 minutes away and they love coming over. And I think there’s a part of them that goes, “Man, you’re doing it right. This is what we would love to do if we could, if we were younger or could go back or whatever.” So that’s fun to just even share tips. I mean, my mom gardened growing up, and so I still feel like I learn a lot from her. And then my mother-in-law also is a great gardener. They live about 4 hours away and on a little bit of land. So honestly, they have about seven acres in north Georgia. When we were on the road so much and we would go home to my in-laws’ house. We call it the bed and breakfast. It’s just their home. But it was so always so peaceful. It still is. It’s everyone’s favorite place. There was just such a stark difference from being… You know, you can’t hear any cars, there’s no neighbors. It’s just this like peaceful setting. And then being on a bus with 12 other humans and constantly never being alone, always in the spotlight sort of thing. And so I think that’s probably where the seed of all this came from was just wanting a bit of a retreat, a place that was just our own. So yeah, they’re super supportive and love to come visit and we’re thankful for that. And I think for us, when we moved to this spot a few years ago, it was about an hour from where we had been in Nashville for the past decade. And so it was definitely starting over, but there was a bit of that that was welcomed. Not that… I mean, we have wonderful friends, but what I’m finding in small town living—which I wouldn’t even say that we’re living rurally, but we definitely are in a small town in Tennessee—is that everyone is local. I mean, Nashville may be a unique city, but for us, for our entire marriage, until then, we’d have friends who live 20 minutes over here and friends who live 30 minutes over here and friends who are close. But there wasn’t community in the sense of like we do life together. We go to church together. Our kids see each other multiple times a week and we’re picking up milk from… Whatever, like, we just do life with people here now. And it was such an answer to prayer and something we didn’t even know probably was even possible. And I know that not everyone says, “I’m going to homestead and immediately has this beautiful community,” but that is how the Lord did it for us. And I’m so very thankful and know that it’s a gift. You know, it’s rare, but I think most of our friends from our life before still don’t think we’re too crazy. Maybe some of them do. I don’t know.
Amy Fewell If they do, they haven’t said anything, right?
Francesca Battistelli Exactly.
Amy Fewell That’s amazing. So the culture is totally different. You’re right. And especially now, like, I know when I was first started homesteading, nobody was doing it. It was just not normal. And so now, just in the last few years, especially with the creation of things like HOA and different homesteading events, there’s a lot more community now than there used to be, which should be encouraging to all of you listening who might be thinking about taking this next step into homesteading or even if you’re already doing it and you are not surrounded by a community yet, you can always cultivate that community, which is one of the reasons we do this podcasts to show you like people come from all different walks of life and different beliefs and different abilities and you can still cultivate that community. And it starts by… You keep saying you had a herdshare. And so even things like that, getting into herdshares if you can’t raise your own milk cow, that is a way of starting community and getting more involved and learning who’s who in the community. Right?
Amy Fewell Hey, guys. Thanks for joining us for this week’s episode. We’re going to take a quick break and bring you a word from one of our amazing sponsors. McMurray Hatchery officially started in 1917. Murray McMurray had always been interested in poultry as a young man and particularly enjoyed showing birds at the local and state fairs. Nowadays, the hatchery is still completely through mail order, but they offer way more than ever before. From meat chicks and layer hens to waterfowl, ducklings, goslings, turkeys, game birds, juvenile birds, they even have hatching eggs and a whole lot of chicken equipment. Make sure you check out our Homesteader of America sponsor McMurray Hatchery at McMurrayHatchery.com and get your orders in today. And don’t forget to stop by their booth at the 2023 HOA event.
Amy Fewell Let’s talk a little bit about what you do have. So what do you grow on your homestead and kind of give us just a glimpse into what that looks like for you?
Francesca Battistelli Yeah, absolutely. So we are still very, I feel like, in elementary school on the homestead, but growing every day. So we have a gigantic garden that is just the slightest bit overwhelming to me. But I love it. It’s my happy place. I’m still learning how to steward well all of the abundance that it provides. And I know that’s going to be a lifelong skill to cultivate. So we have a garden, we have obviously hens, we have chickens from that perspective, but then we also have done meat chickens, meat birds. We’re doing turkeys this year. We have Muscovy ducks mostly for pest control. They eat a bunch of ticks and I love them for that and they’re hilarious. We have bees, so we have harvested now two rounds of honey in two years. It’s a slow game. We do it very holistically, but it’s super cool. It might be my favorite thing that we do. And then, of course, a million barn cats and a couple of dogs. But we are… Literally, as we speak, there is a crew working on fencing in kind of our largest main pasture so that we can move on to some bigger livestock. We’ll probably start with some beef cattle and then obviously the dairy cow is the dream. And I have a friend about an hour and a half away… Actually Amber, Wild Style Family, Amber Miller, I met her at your event and we realized we live close. She’s amazing. And she and her husband have so much knowledge. Anyway, she has texted me… I mean, in the last few months, well, it was a few months ago now, but she’d be like, “Hey, we had another heifer born. Are you ready for your Jersey cow?” And I’m like, “Stop torturing me!”
Amy Fewell She’s an enabler.
Francesca Battistelli She is an enabler. But I’m excited because one day I will be picking up a beautiful little baby cow from her.
Amy Fewell Oh, that’s awesome. Yeah, Amber is super fun about that. We’re going to have to get her on the podcast one day to talk about that.
Francesca Battistelli Yes, she’s awesome.
Amy Fewell Well, that’s exciting. I mean, you’re jumping headfirst into homesteading. You’re raising your own meat chickens. That’s big enough as it is just raising meat birds in general. And you’re going to take on more larger livestock, which cows are like giant puppies, and it’s amazing.
Francesca Battistelli I’m excited.
Amy Fewell And so that is super exciting. So what are your goals for your homestead? Is it to be sustainable? Is it to offer food to your community? What’s your long-term goal with homesteading?
Francesca Battistelli Great question. Really the seed of it at the beginning was just to be a little bit more self-sufficient, though I think anyone in the homestead world will tell you that it’s more about being community sufficient. None of us can do it all. But the more we do it, the more I find so much joy when I’ve got an abundance of something, whether it’s eggs or tomatoes or kale or something, to be able to offer it to friends and people at church. And so I can see how that would grow into a desire to do even more with that. But really, I want my kids to… I want it to be demystified to them because growing up, I had a great relationship with food and trying to eat healthfully and cook from scratch and all of that. My mom is an amazing cook and taught me so much, but this idea of raising your own food felt very foreign and impossible and for people that are way smarter than me. And so being able to show my kids that for most of history people did this themselves. It’s really only in the last few hundred years that we have lost a lot of these skills. And so kind of recovering some of those arts and giving them a foundation to go, hey, if you want to go and build a home and raise a family, it doesn’t have to be well I have to get a 9 to 5 desk job and I have to… To be able to give them just sort of a broader picture of what life could look like. And for us, I think that discipling your kids into what is the good life? What is it that we want to cultivate in them as something worth living for? Something worth giving your time to? To the glory of God. And so for us, that’s just a big part of it is offering them kind of more options than we had. So we’ll see how it all pans out. But so far, I already see the Lord answering those prayers.
Amy Fewell Yeah, for sure. Now, going into kids and disciplining and teaching them, you’re a pretty big advocate for homeschooling. So are you homeschooling this year? And maybe talk a little bit about how that works for you guys and what kind of curriculum you choose to fit your lifestyle?
Francesca Battistelli Absolutely. So, yes, we do homeschool. I was homeschooled most of my growing up. Went to school for a couple of years in middle school, which I still go, “Why, Mom, middle school did you send me to school?”
Amy Fewell That was was the worst.
Francesca Battistelli But I have long been a proponent of homeschooling. When we were first having kids and on the road, we found a really sweet little Montessori school really close to our house. And so our first two went there. My oldest was… Well, it was 2020 when we pulled them home. And it was one of those things where I felt like the desire had been there for years to do that, to bring them home. But we were scared. We were like, but what if… we’re so used to this idea of our kids are in school this time, blah, blah, blah. And so 2020 really felt like… I remember saying when COVID was just beginning… Can you even say that word anymore out loud? Whatever. I was telling my husbandI feel like all this is happening just so we will homeschool. Now of course it’s hilarious to say that and I was joking. But the truth is, it gave us a catalyst to go, okay, we have to try it for the rest of the year. And it was so life-giving and I was like, why haven’t we done this all along? But needless to say, that first year was really just a season, which I talked to so many moms who had been homeschooling for years and years, zillions of kids. And most of them said to me, “Take this year to just build relationship with your kids in a new way.” Because when you’re apart most of the day, every day, you know, five days a week, it’s different than when you’re home all together. And we had five at the time, so now we have six. And it’s just been such a beautiful gift. So we really… This year, kind of going back to what we did that first year, doing just a very Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling, which is a whole philosophy, but I’m sure you’re familiar with it, but basically just laying a feast before your kids of all that is good, true, and beautiful in the world. And so it’s a lot of just old books and great stories and beautiful poetry and taking the textbooks mostly out and mostly just reading great living books. So even my seventh grader, technically, he’s doing four different types of science this year, but it’s just four beautiful books about… One’s about biology, one’s about astronomy. And to him, he’s just reading these wonderful stories, but he’s learning so much. And so it’s been a really sweet, sweet season this year, kind of coming back to how I always envisioned it. We did a co-op for a couple of years that was great and brought us really wonderful people and we enjoyed a lot. But the Lord definitely led us in this direction and I’ve already seen the fruit of it, so it’s been good. But I think any way that you can be in charge of your kids’ education is a great thing. So whatever that looks like.
Amy Fewell Yeah. And as you know and our listeners know too, homesteading is about so much more than just livestock and growing your food. It is homeschooling and homemaking and so many other aspects. It’s always about bringing it all home. And so I love that you homeschool. I love that you’re homesteading. That always goes hand in hand, it seems, for a lot of homesteaders. And that way of education also seems to be the way a lot of us homeschool as well is just kind of unlearning the way a certain system teaches us to learn. Right? And teaching the way that our kids are able to learn. They all learn differently. And going back to what you said earlier, you said you didn’t think you were smart enough to homestead. And that’s with everything. I think that our society teaches us that with everything, with homesteading, with church, with new skills we want to learn. You’re not smart enough to know that. Somebody really has to teach you that the right way. And so you’re just creating a new generation of kids that are going to be hard core, right? They’re going to know how to grow their own food. They’re going to be able to think for themselves. They’re going to say, “I am smart enough.” And that’s kind of the goal for the family unit of homesteading, right?
Francesca Battistelli Absolutely. I mean, it’s this idea of productive households, which I didn’t come up with that term. I can’t remember where I heard it, but it’s such a… Again, it was so the norm for so many years because you had to have a productive household. It wasn’t this the dad went to work and the kids blazed around after school all day. Everyone participated and if one person wasn’t doing their job… I mean, the women for centuries held the family together with the way all that we do in homemaking is so valuable and so important. And we’ve been able to outsource so much of it that we don’t recognize the skills that it really takes. And so that’s something that I’m trying to recover for my children and myself. Learn alongside them. So much that I don’t know that I wish that I knew. But that’s the other cool thing about education is it doesn’t end when you’re 18. It’s a life of learning. And if my husband has taught me anything… Well, two things. Three things. He is super honest, super generous. I’ve grown so much in those areas because of him. But the other thing that I can just like put across his forehead, this is what Matt is known for, is he is so… Nothing is too hard for him in the sense that if… Okay the other day, our keyboard… We have this not expensive, but just a electric keyboard that my kids practice piano on. My child who will not be named spilled an entire cup of milk on the keyboard and I would be like, well, throw it away. It’s broken. And instead my husband takes the entire thing apart, looks up some YouTube videos, figures it out and puts it back together. And I’m staring at it right now. It works. And I just I’m not that personality. I’m like, I don’t know how to do it. I guess hire someone. And so he is… I’ve seen our children all be like him because it’s just modeled in our home day after day. If something’s broken, well, you just figure it out. Or if you need to build a fence or whatever, you just figure it out. You can learn how to do anything. And that I think that skill alone of just I can figure this out is so… It’s rare. And I’m thankful for that. So I think that goes hand-in-hand with homesteading and homeschooling and just being someone who is never afraid to start over and learn something new. So that’s a really good skill. I’m still learning.
Amy Fewell My husband’s the exact same way and I’m just like you, like, “Okay, it’s just easier for to not fool with it.” And he’s very much the same way. And he’ll say this… A lot of times he’ll get jobs from people and he’ll say something like how hard it is and it’s something he’s never done before. And I’ll say, “Well, do you even know how to do it?” He’s like, “Nope, but I’m going to still do it.” I’m like, “Oh, that to have that faith. You have so much faith that you can learn how to do this and just do it.”
Francesca Battistelli Totally. I love that, though. I mean, it is. It’s demystifying when you go, “People have been doing this for all of history,” or “People do this every day and they’re not all PhD educated. Like they figure it out. I think I can figure it out, too.” You’re right. You’re right. It’s just having the patience and the wherewithal to go, “I’m going to sit down and be bad at something for a while until I learn how to do it,” or “I’m not going to understand these terms, but if I sit with it long enough…” I mean, I had to make a spreadsheet the other day and you would have thought someone asked me to do something like go to the moon. I was like, “Well, what do all these words mean?” But I spent a couple hours with it and now I feel like I am good at spreadsheets. Like, who needs a spreadsheet? I can make you one. But it was a really… It was one of those moments for me of, okay, I didn’t know what any… I didn’t know what merge cells meant and now I do because I just clicked it and now I see what it did. And so it’s a silly example, but I think being someone who can just look at something they don’t know how to do and not be afraid of it is… Man, I’m glad my kids got that from him.
Amy Fewell Yeah, and homesteading lends very well to that. I got this question a couple podcasts back was “How do you even…” Well, it was even on my podcast, actually, I was being interviewed for another podcast. She said, “How did you get started? Like what even prompted you to think, ‘Oh, I can do this and I can actually get good at this’?” And I told the interviewer, I’m like, “You know what? The first three years of your garden are going to be awful. You’re going to think I’m horrible at this. I can’t grow anything. But when you realize that you can pay attention and become aware and start learning from those failures and then choosing a different option the next time, that’s when we start growing and learning.” And so I love that about homesteading because we are always learning. You’re always a student of homesteading because your environment is always changing. Your cow is always doing something crazy that you’re not a cow, so you don’t know, right? You know, your chicken is laying down making you think it’s dead, so you have a heart attack. There’s always something that you can learn and grow. And so it really is an incredible way of living. And it’s awesome that you chose this way to live from coming out of a culture that’s very fast paced. I mean, we talk about leaving the 9 to 5. You really left the 9 to 5 and like a 24 hour, really, more than 9 to 5 and had small babies even that you were traveling with. So that’s pretty incredible. It’s an incredible story that someone like you can leave that and still do what you love. Like you’re working on another album and you have new things coming, but now you’re thinking in your mind, I’m going to adapt now and it’s going to be different, but it’s still going to be cool and going to be fun and you can do it. So that’s pretty encouraging to others who might be wanting to make this decision to homestead too.
Francesca Battistelli Yeah. That’s awesome.
Amy Fewell Okay, a couple more questions and then I’ll let you get off here. So what is your ultimate favorite thing about this lifestyle so far? It can be something as simple as you love chickens, or it can be your whole philosophy on life has changed. What is really your favorite thing that when people say, “Why do you homestead?”, this is why you do it, this is your favorite thing about it that might encourage someone else to do it.
Francesca Battistelli Oh man.
Amy Fewell Loaded question, right?
Francesca Battistelli No, it’s so good. I mean, couple of things come to mind. I think for me, anytime I can serve my family food in any form that we grew here, it’s like a magic trick. Everyone’s like, “These are our potatoes? Wow!” I’m sure that will wear off at some point. We’re a few years in and they’re still enchanted by that idea. And I am too, honestly. It feels… It’s so much abundance. I mean, when you really look at a watermelon and there’s hundreds of seeds in this watermelon that could create hundreds of plants with hundreds of watermelons… It’s just like beyond what God has given us. It’s a really cool way to even just kind of understand principles about the Lord, for me. Gardening especially. And I still am in that… My garden is still like, “meh”, but it’s like even without me not knowing so many things, it’s still producing food and that is a gift. It’s a humbling grace from the Lord. But the other thing that comes to mind is we actually heard Joel Salton speak last summer at something here in town, and he was talking about—which I’m sure this is in one of his books—but he was talking about there is free entertainment on the homestead at all times. Like you never need to go anywhere. I mean, I just think of the fall and the spider webs that seem to only be this time of year. Like we’re coming up on them. And you walk out to do chores in the morning and they’re covered in dew and the sunlight’s peeking through. And, you know, we have a hill, a pretty steep hill, one of those hills that you look at and you go, “I’ll be fine. It’s not as bad as I remember.” And then you’re halfway up and you’re like, “Oh gosh, what have I done?” But it’s amazing. And it levels out and there’s a few acres up there and we have dreams one day to build a little cabin. But for now we call it Sunset Hill, and we’ll walk up there and almost die, and then look at the beautiful sunset. Or I think about just watching the chickens be ridiculous or watching the barn kitties catch… I think they caught a squirrel earlier today. Like watching them hunt… There is so much to see if you just open your eyes and look around you. There’s so much to hear. There’s so much to smell. There is so much beauty all around us. And we live such fast paced lives. And I know because I have lived such a fast paced life for so much of my life, constantly trying to get to the next thing and wishing the the time away or the season away, or if it was just cold, or if it was just whatever. There’s been so much more of an appreciation for… It is really hot right now and I am ready for fall. But I know that fall is coming, and fall has its own pros and cons. And then I know that after that, winter’s coming and winter used to make me go, “Oh,” because I’m from Florida. Now, my husband and I both are like, “It’s such a restful time.” There’s so little to do. He doesn’t have to mow and be a landscaper pretty much for his every… three days a week. And there’s more time reading books, and the days are shorter, and we’re building fires in the fireplace. And there’s just… there is so much to the rhythmic, the seasons of life that in our modern, post-modern, whatever we are life, we can just kind of live this homogenized, flat, everything’s the same all the time way. And I think culture is even set up that way that why would you do things differently now than you will three months from now? And I think being on the homestead… This is a very long answer. But I think you are just more connected to the way that people lived for thousands of years and the way that I believe that God created us to live, which was marveling at and being connected to and more reliant upon the earth in the way that he created us all to be sort of connected to that. So that’s my favorite thing. I don’t know that I even knew that when we started this life. I just knew that I felt drawn to it. And it’s become such a gift to just be able to notice the little things as such gifts from the Lord.
Amy Fewell Yeah, I often reference the podcast episode I did a couple of months back with Joel Salatin, and we actually talked extensively about that, how when you’re in the country, when you’re in a rural area, when you’re gardening, you’re so much more connected. There’s so much more silence. There’s time to think, there’s time to read, there’s time to just process life. And it really is a gift that so many don’t get to experience. You can think more clearly. You can connect with God so much easier and more intentionally because we spend hours in the garden and what else are you going to do other than talk to somebody. And so, yeah, that’s been one of my favorite things. Even with livestock… We talked about this during our sheep episode is how connected we can get with our livestock and especially sheep because we had sheep. Just seeing that connection in the Bible of sheep and the Shepherd, and it’s pretty incredible. So I think that’s one of my favorite things too.
Francesca Battistelli Love that.
Amy Fewell Okay, last question. What is your favorite thing—even though I know you say you’re not great at gardening—but what is your favorite thing to grow for your family?
Amy Fewell Oh, man. I think I’m going to have to say… We are doing a bunch of berries. And this was the first year that they were really exploding. And my five-year-old kind of took over the job of being… Especially raspberries, the raspberry picker. And there is a season there where it’s like we had a big influx and then—and I’m sure there’s great explanations for this y’all can tell me later—and then it was like, oh, raspberries are over. And then all of a sudden they’ve been back and we’re like, it’s like the gift that keeps on giving. And so he’ll come back. I remember one day walking in and seeing a colander full of raspberries on the counter with water dripping out. I was like, “I don’t remember buying raspberries and washing them. Where did these come from?” And my five-year-old was like, “Oh, mom, I picked them. They’re from the garden.” And I was like… Because there were just so many. It was like an abundance. And that was a pretty special moment for me. So I think all the berries. And our fruit trees are still not quite… We still probably got a year because we haven’t been here that long. But I can see that being my favorite thing in a couple of years. But really, all of it. It does feel like… It feels magical. And I mean, that word, whatever. But you know what I mean. It feels like supernatural when you walk out in the garden and you’re like, I was just here 14 hours ago. It’s early morning, and there’s twice as many chamomile buds to be picked to dry for tea. I swear, I picked them all yesterday. How are there more? But every time… Or you pull a carrot out of the ground and you’re like, how did this tiny little seed turn into this food that I’m going to eat tonight? It’s pretty special, and I wish everyone would do it to some degree. Like just something. Plant something. I promise it’ll make your life better.
Amy Fewell Yeah. And even if you just mess it up, unless you just completely never water it, like, ever, something will grow. And that’s the cool part about it. Like, you can be the worst at growing stuff, but something will still grow. Take Francesca. She’s got tons of berries.
Francesca Battistelli Somehow. Take me for example. You don’t have to know much.
Amy Fewell All right, well, Francesca, thank you for joining us. Is there anything else that’s just burning inside of you that you want to share with our audience before we get off here?
Francesca Battistelli Oh, man. I just want to encourage you guys. I know probably a lot of you listening are probably homesteaders of some sort… Just keep doing what you’re doing. It’s such a… I feel like we’re sort of that first generation of recovering so much and probably there’s some of you whose parents did it. But what we are doing on any scale is building… It’s generation building, and it is giving such a gift to our kids and our grandkids. And that whole idea of planting a tree which fruit you’ll never get to eat or whatever, like pecans. I want to plant pecans and I’m like, okay, we got 20 years. But my grandchildren, you know, my children. And so there is so much truth to that and so much beauty in the idea of doing things for the long haul and looking generations down the line. And who knows if the Lord tarries, but being able to build something, it matters. Every little thing that you do matters. And so keep doing what you’re doing. It’s awesome.
Amy Fewell That’s incredible. Thank you for sharing that. That’s so true to think… I mean, just listening to you say that I was like, oh, yeah, pecans. Because we have one actually in the back of our property, and we just bought this property a year ago, and they built this property in the seventies. And so to think they really didn’t get that many years out of that tree and they still planted it. So that’s pretty incredible to see that visually, too, for us. Awesome. All right, guys. Well, thank you for joining me for this week’s episode of the Homesteaders of America podcast. All the information about Francesca and what they’re doing, awesome things, links to her website will be in the show notes. If you want to read a transcript of the podcast, which I don’t know why you would, but if you would, that’s on our website too. Until next time, happy homesteading.
Amy Fewell Hey, thanks for taking the time to listen to this week’s Homesteaders of America episode. We really enjoyed having you here. We welcome questions and you can find the transcript and all the show notes below or on our Homesteaders of America blog post that we have up for this podcast episode. Don’t forget to join us online with a membership or just to read blog posts and find out more information about our events at HomesteadersofAmerica.com. We also have a YouTube channel and follow us on all of our social media accounts to find out more about homesteading during this time in American history. All right, have a great day and happy homesteading.