Lewiston, ID

Couple grows own food, raises 10 kids: "No money to buy groceries"

Amy Christie

Carolyn and Josh Thomas decided to leave their city life and move 1,000 miles away to Idaho, so they could offer their kids a healthy life and provide for them without getting stressed out by bills.

Previously they were dedicated to their jobs, climbing the corporate ladder, and getting promotions, but after their first child was born, the couple realized they needed a different lifestyle.

What are the details?

"It made us start paying attention and decide we needed to be in the driver's seat of our life, and we needed to be making active decisions," Carolyn shared how becoming parents made them change their priorities.

As their family grew, Josh and Carolyn decided to buy land to grow their food. And that's what made them aware of the wonderful experience of providing healthy food for the whole family. It wasn't easy to learn it all, though.

"We started learning the skills of cooking from scratch, making bread at home, dehydrating, canning, and different types of preserving. We wanted to give our kids the gift of health and robust, healthy bodies and the skills to produce and grow our food. At that point, it started to be too expensive to buy the amount of food we needed at the quality we wanted," the mom explained.

To be able to feed all their family, the parents initially bought a 20-acre property where they also raised their cattle.

They finally decided on a homestead with a 40-acre plot in northern Idaho, close to Lewiston.

"The reality is, if you go to many acres, you won't have the skills to use them properly. You'll probably get overwhelmed by the experience,' Carolyn added.

It wasn't easy to start, particularly since local jobs were scarce and they needed money to sustain their family. They soon realized that the sustenance they needed was right there, under their feet.

"We still wanted to eat high-quality, nutrient-dense, and organic food; there was just no money to buy groceries. And so we started growing a huge amount of produce, all our meat, dairy, and fruit, for preserving it. It was an important moment for us; we learned how to do this on a scale that could take care of our family, feed ourselves, and be self-sufficient if we had to," Carolyn recalled.

The couple created a large garden where they grow beets, carrots, garlic, onion, potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, raspberries, and grapes.

Close to the house, they made a "cottage garden" near the kitchen, where Carolyn grows lettuce, cherry tomatoes, herbs for seasoning, and flowers.

They also have a "forest garden" with plenty of fruit trees and wild edibles.

Their new way of life hasn't been just about sustenance, though. The parents feel that this change made their kids stronger and more confident.

"It allows each family member to know they're valued and a valuable part of our family. We all have 'morning chores' and 'evening chores.' Everybody knows what they need to do to get all the basics done," the mom explained.

Some of their kids feed the animals, others milk the cows, add firewood for the winter, do chores around the house, or rotate the livestock.

"We find that when they're very young, the kids want to help and be involved; they ask to be involved. When we start giving them chores, they want to do it since everyone around them is doing it too," Carolyn said.

Even though this life may seem unusual for people living in the city, the couple's kids are not checking their phones 24/7. They're all early risers, and their parents need to remind them to be in bed until 6 a.m.

The mother homeschools all her kids as they leave behind the daily city life's struggles, uncertainties, and stress.

Carolyn has become passionate about traditional cooking and uses a recipe book from the 1700s. She does understand that not everyone can have a 40-acre farm, but she feels it's up to each of us to become a little more self-sufficient.

"Learn how to cook from scratch, make better buying decisions, and buy food in bulk and store it, even if storing it means putting it under a bed or even in a closet somewhere. Many people think living a self-sufficient lifestyle is something they should do in case of a big event. Historically, it's the wise thing to do, like in the Ant and the Grasshopper parable. Work in work season, put your food up, and have what you need for off-seasons," she concluded about the way of life that brought balance and happiness to her family.





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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX

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