HOMESTEAD BOOTCAMP Teaching basic and advanced homesteading skills
Photos Courtesy of Hayley McMinn
Are homesteading skills just a faddish return to yesteryear, or are they essentials during uncertain economic times? Recently 60 participants from four states came to Blessed Creek Farm in remote northeastern Colorado to find the answer, and to learn so much more! A whopping 66 sessions, each 90 minutes long, covering 30 different topics, filled the two day intensive Homestead Bootcamp.
The McMinn family own and operate their dryland farm south of Fort Morgan, Colo. Once again they teamed with Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC) to host the third annual event. Beautiful September weather with sunny skies and gentle breezes created a picture perfect backdrop for the skills camp, though signs of eastern Colorado’s drought were obvious. Undeterred by dry pastures, dead lawn and wilted gardens, the McMinn family — parents and children alike — taught a variety of hands-on workshops from gardening to canning, and managing livestock to butchering.
Cary McMinn, a licensed architect and associate professor at a metro area college, led men through his Steward workshop to start the camp. He encouraged men to help their families homestead in the city or the country, through stewardship of the land and family resources, all the while discipling their families in Christian faith. He then launched into workshops on utilizing property, livestock management and four different sessions on design and construction with recycled materials.
Shari McMinn, is a full-time homemaker and 18 year veteran homeschool teacher of 10 children. She first led the women in her Helpmeet workshop, encouraging wives to become their husband’s best friend and helper in all things, and nurturer of the family amidst all the work of running an urban or rural homestead. A CSU Master Gardener volunteer, she also demonstrated on gardens and fruit orchards, food preservation, breadmaking made easy and making dairy products from raw milk.
Zane McMinn, who helps his dad run the farm operation and is a renaissance man jack-of-all trades, led beekeeping, butchering, fencing and making fermented drinks workshops. Destiny McMinn, a mere 14-years-old, taught about keeping a family milk cow, then demonstrated the making of homestead gifts.
A number of volunteers from northeast Colorado helped teach additional workshops. Bruce Bosley, Agronomy agent for Logan and Morgan CSU Extension offices, shared his knowledge of soil health, and good native plants versus noxious weeds. George and Martha Monsson of Fort Morgan, Colo., taught blacksmithing and fiber arts skills. Jesse and Stephanie Archuleta of New Raymer, led workshops on woodworking basics along with soap and salve making. Lexin and Kassi Brent of Akron, Colo., taught classes on land surveying and herbal health and beauty products.
The Wes and Nancy Cable family of Brush, Colo., graciously and efficiently served lunch both days to the hungry campers, which was a respite from the hard work of learning so many new skills.
Local suppliers donated and discounted supplies to the event, including Edward’s Flowerland, Miller’s Landscaping Materials and Feed, Mr. D’s Ace Hardware, and Murdoch’s, all of Fort Morgan, Colo. Participants also received a goodie bag with donated vendor catalogues and publications the McMinns have found useful through their 11 years of homesteading: Dadant Beekeeping Supply, Farmtek/Growers’ Supply, the Fence Post, High Mowing Organic Seeds, Meyer Hatchery, Mile Saver Shopper, Miller’s Nurseries, Natural Gardening, Premier Equipment and Fencing, and Seeds of Change.
Post-Camp surveys completed by the participants indicated they indeed learned that basic and advanced homesteading skills are essential tools for families to not only survive, but thrive now and in the future. They left with a better vision for building stronger family relationships and property development through homesteading.
The McMinns use humane and sustainable practices to raise high quality, lean meats including beef, lamb, pork, poultry (chickens, ducks, geese, guinea and turkeys), and rabbits for farm-to-consumer sales as a product of Blessed Creek Farm. In Colorado, consumers can purchase their portion of animal stock ‘live’ from a farmer directly, then have it custom slaughtered for their specific family size and cut preferences. ❖