While some of us live self reliant lifestyles daily, many of us are still planning for the day when we can quit our corporate day jobs for a simpler, more self-sufficient life.
Rarely do we get such a nice mix of the practical with the personal in today’s Prepper Book Festival entry.
Blending the right mindset with practical experiences as an aspiring homesteader, Susan tells a wonderful story of the complexities, joys, and hard realities of homestead living. Susan is here today to answer some questions about her latest piece. Without further delay, I introduce Life on a Mountain Farm: Discovering medicinal herbs, Going organic, Learning to love myself.
What I loved about Susan’s book is that it’s a story of true transformation. As many of us know, the corporate world is miles about from homesteading in the Blue Ridge Mountains. While many of us day-dream of getting back to basics, it’s rare that we have story to follow.
Above all, Susan tells her tale in a completely down to earth way. She figured it out as she went and isn’t some “survival guru” telling us exactly how to do things. By speaking straight from experience, the allegory becomes credible.
With that introduction, I am thrilled to share an all-new interview with Susan. Enjoy the interview then be sure to check in below to learn about the giveaway. As usual, there are 3 free copies to be given away!
Prepper Book Festival: Life on a Mountain Farm + Giveaway
Tell me about your book. What is it about?
Life on a Mountain Farm is about my leaving the corporate world in Japan and moving to a thirty-six acre country property in North Carolina.
I was excited about creating a self-sufficient homestead, and took on all kinds of new projects, starting a flock of chickens, growing organic vegetables, learning how to use the medicinal herbs growing on the land, putting in raised beds, driving a large farm tractor, and the list goes on. But although I’d always loved nature, managing all this was much different from roasting marshmallows at Girl Scout Camp. I loved my new country life, but it wasn’t long before I became overwhelmed and discouraged. As is usually the case, my biggest challenges had the most to offer in the way of helping me become more than I used to be, stronger and more confident, with a greater sense of self-worth. So this book is about enjoying my beautiful farm, learning how to do new things, and benefitting from some much-needed life lessons.
Many of my readers tell me they most enjoy how the descriptions of nature and the fun parts of farm life make them feel they are experiencing what it’s like to be on the farm. They also love the part when I finally tell off one of the exasperating farm workers. As for me, I like the stories, like when I was surrounded by a herd of cows and was terrified that they were about to kill me, before I finally realized they were as docile as my little cat.
What type of research did you have to do while writing your book?
Aside from the technical aspects of publishing, all my research happened beforehand, as I was trying to figure out how to manage country property. I picked up all kinds of books on homesteading topics like raising chickens, organic gardening methods, preserving and storing food, etc. I found classes on medicinal herbs and signed up for the N.C. Master Gardeners program. I talked to people at local farmers markets and got to know my wonderful neighbors. They clued me in on how to do things like getting the tractor repaired or where to get baby chicks. I’d moved to the area not knowing a soul, so this also helped me feel connected.
How long did it take to write?
I spent about a year writing the first version, then sent some chapters to a publisher. After six months of waiting to hear back, I called them and heard, “Oh, didn’t someone write you about that? We’re not interested.” The binder went into my lower desk drawer and sat there for about eight years. Convinced I had no business calling myself a writer, I carried on with the farm and herb activities, and also worked part-time as a child and family counselor. Two years ago I came across the binder and started reading. The stories were entertaining, but I was shocked at how awkward and cumbersome much of the writing was. I signed up for more writing classes and spent another year editing. After five or ten complete passes through the book, I figured it was now or never!
Every book, fiction and non-fiction, includes a message. What message do you hope my readers will take with them after reading your book?
In my book I share how I learned to be more honest with myself about my shortcomings and address head-on the challenges I faced in learning about country living. This involved a certain degree of forgiveness, seeing beyond the “mistakes,” and coming from a place of love rather than judgment. I hope readers get the message that we all deserve this approach as we do our best to get through the day. I hope they also see that noticing the small, beautiful things in nature is very worth their while!
Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?
Well, my life so far has been a lot like my book, Life on a Mountain Farm, in that I’ve had a lot of exciting adventures mixed in with some major, unexpected challenges, oops, I mean “opportunities for growth,” as they say. But I love variety, and am grateful for so many fun experiences. The tone was set at age four, when I was in the Peanut Gallery on the Howdy Doody show. Even better was dancing on American Bandstand and meeting Dick Clark and Frankie Avalon at thirteen. But what’s most significant, of course, has been learning and developing skills I’ve used to do meaningful work in the world, especially all kinds of teaching, from adorable preschoolers to emotionally disturbed middle-schoolers, to Japanese managers at P&G who were terribly nervous about speaking English. More recently, I’ve loved developing classes and giving lectures about medicinal herbs.
I would say I’m also defined by the things I love: camping, hiking & being in nature, singing, dancing, playing instruments, being a mom, world travel, speaking foreign languages, studying metaphysics and meditation, being intuitive, being resourceful, being creative, cooking, animals, long talks with friends, long walks on the beach…(ha ha – yes, I’m single.)
As an author in the survival, prepping, self-sufficiency or homesteading niche, what are you personally preparing for?
Mainly being comfortable and well-fed if and when the electricity goes out, whether for one day or longer. I make an effort to keep a good supply of stored food & water, first aid, and extra of all the things we use every day. I’ve had the prepping mindset since before Y2K, which led to my getting into homesteading, and I’ve collected plenty of non-electric items over the years. Growing up in Iowa we all cooked from scratch and learned sewing in school. I was in the Girl Scouts for ten years and especially loved camping and canoeing, so I think being somewhat self-sufficient is just the normal way.
We live on the eastern edge of the Appalachian Mountains, and this area is one of the safest in the country, weather-wise. And living near a small town we have good neighbors and very little crime. I know there are many other types of calamities that could suddenly spring up, and I used to worry about most of them. But I realized that was ruining my life, so now I try to follow this advice: Be prepared, but DO NOT let fear in the door! When you’re in fear you can easily lose all perspective and common sense.
What would be your first prep-step if you were just getting started?
Before I bought my first can of tomato soup, I’d get informed and get organized. I’d subscribe to Backdoor Survival, and start researching past articles, particularly Twelve Months of Prepping. I’d consider what emergencies my family might be facing based on where we lived, and make some lists of what we would need to get through one day, then one week.
Before starting to buy any supplies, I’d consider the broad range of things needed for the short term, and get started on those. After I had several weeks of the essentials, I’d start buying for longer periods of time. Is all this more than one step?
Do you have plans for another book?
Oh yes! I’m in the middle of compiling all the information from the Medicinal Herb classes I’ve taught over the years, along with the latest research, which I’m planning to have published later this year. The part I’m really excited about is the increased focus on natural tools for rejuvenating the physical body. Some degree of rejuvenation does happen just from adopting a more natural lifestyle and learning to use medicinal herbs, but I’ve discovered a comprehensive approach that is even more effective.
Is there anything else you would like to share with my readers?
One of the things I love about Backdoor Survival is your slogan, “Prepping with Optimism!” I hope everyone keeps this in mind, especially in these current times when life can feel uncertain. There are also many encouraging things happening as people come together to work on positive causes more than ever before. At the personal level, I think optimism also means taking good care of yourself and your family, focusing on the positive things around you, living in the present moment, and sending Love out to the world.
Susan has generously agreed to give away 3 copies in this latest Prepper Book Festival.
A special word about the giveaway question/comment: Please read the question and respond accordingly, even it the answer is “I don’t know”. This week’s question is:
“What are the first skills you would try to master as a novice homesteader?”
a Rafflecopter giveaway
The deadline is 6:00 PM MST Friday with the winners notified by email and announced on the Rafflecopter in the article. Please note that the winners must claim their book within 48 hours or an alternate will be selected.Note: Due to customs requirements, this giveaway is only open to individuals with a mailing address in the United States.
The Final Word
For more information about the books in this latest book festival, visit Prepper Book Festival 14: Books to Learn, Prepare, and Be Ready for Anything.
If you enjoyed this article, consider subscribing to email updates. When you do, you will receive a free, downloadable copy of our e-Book, The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide. Also check the Facebook page regularly for links to free or almost free eBooks that we personally review just for you. You can also vote for Backdoor Survival daily at Top Prepper Websites! [related-posts] ~~~~~~
If you enjoyed this article, consider subscribing to email updates. When you do, you will receive a free, downloadable copy of our e-Book, The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide. Also check the Facebook page regularly for links to free or almost free eBooks that we personally review just for you.
You can also vote for Backdoor Survival daily at Top Prepper Websites!
Note: Currently being offered at $3.99 for the Kindle version (or FREE on KindleUnlimited)
The book covers a wide range of homesteading and prepping topics, but includes:
1. Discovering medicinal herbs
2. Raising backyard chickens
3. Gardening basics
4. Prepping mindset
6. Working with farm hands and hired help
7. Managing a country homestead
8 . Organic farming
If you are looking for a nice blend: part personal narrative and part instructional homesteading “parables”, this a great read.
Bargain Bin: For your convenience, here is a complete list of all of the books in the Backdoor Survival Prepper Book Festival #14.
Off Grid and Free: My Path to the Wilderness
Watch Your Back: How to Avoid the Most Dangerous Moments in Daily Life
The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, Revised and Expanded
Survive in Style: The Prepper’s Guide to Living Comfortably through Disasters
Centerfire Rifles: A Buyer’s and Shooter’s Guide: Special AR-15 Section Included
The Prepper’s Canning Guide: Affordably Stockpile a Lifesaving Supply of Nutritious, Delicious, Shelf-Stable Foods
Life on a Mountain Farm
SmartMom’s Guide to Essential Oils: Natural Solutions for a Healthy Family, Toxin-Free Home, and Happier You
If you enjoyed this article, consider subscribing to email updates. When you do, you will receive a free, downloadable copy of the e-Book, The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide. Also check out our Facebook page regularly for links to free or almost free eBooks that I personally reviewed just for you.
You can also vote for Backdoor Survival daily at Top Prepper Websites!