One of the most refreshing parts of living in the Pacific North West is the common desire to live better in every aspect of life. Examples of this aspiration include daily active outings, cutting out processed foods from one’s diet, and leaving less of a carbon footprint on this planet. While not every resident of the PNW follows this mindset, some do so with a passion.
An old concept of living off the land is becoming a popular way of life in the U.S., specifically on the West Coast. Homesteading is defined as the “life as a settler on a homestead”. Intrigued by this concept, I followed a young, homesteading family around during their daily routines. When asked what their definition of homesteading was, they responded with something beautiful. “Homesteading, to us, is going back to a lifestyle that lives off the land, [so we can live] sustainably from what we provide for ourselves. Growing our own food, raising animals for meat and dairy, and being more self-sufficient. In today's world of industrial farming, waste, and lack of community, our family loves the opportunity to know where our food comes from, to connect with the land, respect life, build a strong family unit, and be self-sufficient.”
Paige Juarez, along with her husband and toddler, live with Paige’s mother and siblings on a ten acre plot of land. Paige was raised in this lifestyle, and can always remember having animals like milk goats, chickens, and donkeys. When Paige left for school, she moved to a city, and while she enjoyed her experiences there, she admits that she never felt at home. “I realized that what really mattered in life was family and being happy with my inner-self. For me, that was getting back to my roots and having a real relationship with my food and the people I love”. Now, Paige and her family have increased their self-sufficiency with pastures, animals, and soon, crops.
Now, Paige’s family has two cows (one for milk and one for meat), two goats, 23 chickens and one rooster, three dogs and four cats. They hope to add a pair of breeding pigs and a pair of breeding rabbits to their homestead this year. Their plans for produce this year includes squash, kale, tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, strawberries, and culinary herbs, to name a few. They also have four apple trees, one walnut tree and one hazelnut tree. Once the food is ready to be harvested, they either use it fresh, can it, or freeze it. Because living sustainably is so important to Paige, she and her family try to make as much food from their land a possible. They make all their own dairy, including butter, yogurt, kefir, some cheeses, cream and milk.
With ten acres of pastures, fields, and barns, Paige and her family have plenty of space to build their dream homestead. With a creek running through their land, Paige’s daughter, Addie, has a fun place to explore and discover. They also dream of one day getting a pony to teach their daughter how to ride. Although homesteading can be a lot of work and upkeep, Paige insists it is well worth it. She finds is rewarding to be able to share the food, animals, and land with friends and family. She enjoys hosting playdates with other moms and kids. But the most rewarding part of homesteading is making meals from the ingredients they can gather right in their backyard.
I am constantly on the look out for create or unique families for lifestyle sessions. When Paige asked me about doing photos for Addie's second birthday on their property, I ran with the idea. Homesteading was still a fairly new concept to me, and to be able to document it as a lifestyle session was a dream come true.
Thank you for sharing your journey with me Paige and family :)