Deborah Niemann is a homesteader, writer, and self-sufficiency expert. In 2002, she relocated her family from the suburbs of Chicago to a 32 acre parcel on a creek "in the middle of nowhere". Together, they built their own home and began growing the majority of their own food. Sheep, pigs, cattle, goats, chickens, and turkeys supply meat, eggs and dairy products, while an organic garden and orchard provides fruit and vegetables. A highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader, Deborah presents extensively on topics including soapmaking, breadbaking, cheesemaking, composting and homeschooling.
One of the first questions anyone asks when they hear about my lifestyle is, "Did you grow up like this?" Whether they are asking about our homesteading lifestyle or my diet, the answer is a resounding, "No!" I grew up in Refugio, Texas, a small town on the Gulf Coast, and I couldn't wait to move to the big city. I spent many weekends in Houston, and after graduating from high school, I attended college at Eastern Connecticut State University. I ate out more than I ate at home, and when I did eat at home, the food often came from a box or can. I was close to my teen years before I ate a raw vegetable, and that was iceberg lettuce drowned in salad dressing.
When I became pregnant with my first child, I honestly believed that a cheeseburger and fries was a good, healthy meal. I had my meat, dairy, bread, and vegetables. Yes, I thought that a piece of lettuce, a couple pickle slices, and french fries counted as vegetables. I was proud of myself for eliminating caffeine from my two-liter daily soda consumption. After my baby was born, I started reading about nutrition and thought that maybe my poor diet had contributed to my constant illness as a child. Hoping to save my own children from the same sad fate, I started eliminating artificial ingredients from our diet and began baking bread. Over the years, we became more conscious about our dietary choices, and by 2002, it seemed like moving to the country to grow our own food was the next logical step.
I always say that if we can do this, anyone can, and I'm not joking. Our livestock experience consisted of caring for two cats and a poodle when we moved out here, but from reading books, finding mentors, trying, and making mistakes, we've learned to do everything we do today. If you'd like to know more about our homestead, visit our website, Antiquity Oaks.