By Kim Buddington
The homestead farm. Having a little plot to raise some chickens, plant a veggie garden, and maybe even have a milk cow or handful of goats to provide fresh food for the family is a vision that many folks have. For Jackie Korzeniowski of Wilbraham, Massachusetts, the homesteading life is her daily reality.
On the 1.25 acre property where the family lives in the lovely community just to the east of Springfield, is Old Boston Hollow, their small farm. With multiple projects going on at once, there is always something exciting happening around the Korzeniowski homestead. The love for animals has always been in Jackie’s blood. As a college student, she worked with horses and initially planned for a career in the equine world. But plans changed for her as time went on. “I went to college to work with horses, but as I got older decided to have a family instead of horses,” she explained.
As her family grew, so has her desire to provide as much homegrown food for them as possible. Not only that, but she also wanted her children to grow up experiencing the real-life lessons that farming offers.
“I feel that it is important for them to know where their food comes from and how to raise an animal humanely and to be thankful for the sacrifice it makes for us,” Jackie said.
It sure is a good thing she has family members to pitch in, for even running a small-scale farm is hard work! A diverse selection of creatures call Old Boston Hollow home, including rabbits, chickens, quail, dairy goats, an alpaca, and honey bees. In addition to livestock, they are also avid gardeners, growing plants and vegetables for home use, as well as for sale locally at the town farmer’s market.
Jackie is also a passionate and talented fiber artist. The alpaca provides fiber, and many of the rabbits on the farm are wool producing breeds, like angoras. She spins up all that homegrown fiber into luxurious yarns and then knits them into beautiful masterpieces. In addition to making delicious dairy products from goat milk, she also makes homemade soap and offers that for sale at the farmers market too.
The market is her primary way of promoting her homestead products. Jackie has been really ramping up the plant production lately. It is a practical enterprise for her to expand, as the family loves to garden. A small greenhouse was added, especially for growing seedlings that are sold to customers for transplanting directly into their gardens.
She has been transforming more and more of her yard into garden space this spring, as well as delving into the production of micro-greens. She has high hopes for the micro-greens project and anticipates that they will be well received by her local patrons.
While there are many benefits to living a homesteading lifestyle, it’s not always a walk in the park. The most challenging thing about what Jackie does is the amount of time and effort required. With livestock ever needing tending, family vacation time can also be hard to come by. It can be physically exhausting getting everything done, but she still wouldn’t trade it.
Good things don’t come cheap or easy. But the strong family bonds, appreciation for honest work, and reverence for nature, all reinforced by working the land together- is priceless.
“I love how productive our home is,” Jackie said. “I love the purpose it gives my children. I love the way it looks when I look outside. It makes me happy.”
That right there- is the dream and joy of homesteading.