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December 05, 2016
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A modern homestead in Welcome Lake

Master gardener Sue Klikus has a green thumb when it comes to both her kitchen garden and her flower gardens. The Klikus’s grow much of their own food and preserve as much as they can for winter eating.
Photos by Susan Klikus

Because they raise such healthy animals, Todd and Sue are sure that they are eating the most delicious and nutritious food possible. One of their primary focuses has been raising heritage breed poultry and livestock, whose genetic preservation is threatened. Together they have bred and raised Old Spot and Tamworth hogs and hatched out and tended to a variety of heritage chickens, including Buckeyes, Ameraucanas and Australorps. They raise and tend Bourbon Red turkeys and Muscovy ducks and allow a flock of Guinea hens free range over the property to control ticks.

It is important to note that homesteading is an endeavor that should not be taken lightly. “It’s a 24-hour, 365 day job,” says Todd. “Someone always has to be home to take care of the animals every night. We face so many predators that we can’t afford to leave their coops open throughout the night.”

Like any farm operation, the success or failure of the homestead depends on the dedication of the farmer to a lifestyle. The notion that a homestead is “just” a hobby farm or has less of an impact than scaled-up farms is misguided. It’s also potentially disastrous to animals on a homestead if the level of commitment involved is not appreciated.

Even as more people strive to develop self-reliance and a connection with their food source, Sue points out how essential it is to forge a community network to learn from, barter with and offer each other knowledge, feedback and experience. Thankfully, we live in an area rich with farming knowledge and with groups committed to creating a stronger, more prosperous community. As the “sustainable agriculture” movement grows throughout the Upper Delaware region, it is the Klikus’s hope that more families will be inspired to take more control over their homes and lives and to produce as much food as possible at home.

As I left the sap house, I took a slight detour through the sugar bush. The sun had just begun to break through the clouds and the snow was disappearing in patches throughout the woods. I peeked into one of the sap buckets and waited until a bead of liquid formed at the end of the tap. With a finger, I tasted the mildly sweet water and, in the distance, heard a rooster crow. This is the life.