Making the Most With What We Have: Sarah’s Story

by Merissa on April 3, 2015

in Making the Most

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Making the Most With What We Have

Welcome to our brand new series here on Little House Living, "Making the Most With What We Have"! This series will showcase individuals and families all over the US (and even outside the US!) that are making the most of what they have. We know that you can be a modern homesteader without 160 acres of land and a mule so this series will share the stories of these families so we can get a peek into their lives and learn from each other.

Where Do You Live?

We just built our dream home on 13 acres of land in the Black Hills of South Dakota. We moved out of town in order to pursue our goals of living a more grounded country life. Our move to the country gave us the ability to raise our own laying hens as well as plant a large garden. My husband hasn't said yes to goats yet, but I keep trying to convince him of their value. We built our garden in a fertile valley, and we are expanding it to 5000+ square feet for the 2015 gardening season.

What Are Your Dreams and Goals for Your Homesteading Journey?

In 2012 I lost my health completely. I have had many health problems throughout my life, but this was definitely rock bottom for me. We learned that my liver was not detoxifying properly, and I was encouraged to limit my chemical exposure as much as possible. Because of this I slowly learned the skills of making my own non-toxic household cleaning products, personal care products, and cooking from scratch. We switched to a mostly organic diet, and I found myself wishing we could grow more of our own food.

Since we moved to the country, we have made a lot of progress towards accomplishing our goals. I am always trying to learn ways to extend our growing season and get more out of my garden. I would love to have a root cellar and be able to harvest enough produce from my summer garden to sustain my family through the long South Dakota winters. I would like to learn more about herbal remedies and grow my own healing garden.

I would love to learn the art of cheese making and have my own dairy animals on our property. We would also like to learn how raise animals for meat, because we have not yet found a way to afford organic meat.

How Are You Making the Most With What You Have?

I love to get creative around the homestead. If we run out of an item, or have a problem that needs a solution, I would much rather re-purpose something than purchase new. Take seed starting as an example: I ran out of pots, so I re-purposed plastic cups. I ran out of popsicle sticks, so I decided to cut up a yogurt cup. I got sick of the dirt all over the floor, so I laid down an old tablecloth I had sitting around and did my potting on that. I recently shared 10 of my favorite seed starting hacks!

What Are Some Things You Have Learned So Far?

I have learned that anybody can live the homesteading lifestyle, no matter where they live. The key to success is simply wanting to change, and working to learn the skills necessary for that change.

I had never had a successful garden on any scale before we moved out to the country. I thought I didn't have what it takes to care for plants. But growing healthy food to sustain your family and regain your health is not just gardening. It is a mission, it is who I want to be. That motivates me to keep working towards my goals with a tenacity I never thought I was capable of.

Simplicity is a difficult thing to achieve in our busy world. It takes patience and persistence, and there is always sacrifice. But the benefits are life-changing. I have especially seen this in my two young daughters. They have embraced country living and they are starting to understand the value of working together towards our family goals.

Share Your Favorite Recipe!


My very favorite family recipe is Sweet & Spicy Chili. We have long winters around here, and I can whip up this chili in a jiffy.

Share With Us One Unique Tip That Has Helped You

Homesteading is a lot more fun when you share the work with friends. I almost never have a canning day without inviting friends and family over to help. Whoever shares in the work also shares in the bounty. This is a great way to get people interested in the homesteading lifestyle, especially our friends who live in town and don't have the ability to grow food on the scale that we do.

Your Favorite Useful Homesteading Item

I love the PVC pipe hoop houses my husband built for my garden!

Anything Else to Share?


Merissa was one of the people who inspired me to try my hand at homesteading. I have been following her blog for years, and she made me feel like I was capable of doing what she was doing. I am frugal to a fault, and because of her work on this blog, I was able to take small steps towards my homesteading goals. I learned how to can and preserve my food even before I learned to grow my own food. I remember reading the article about Merissa's chickens and it made me think that maybe someday I would like to get chickens. Life is a fun adventure, and it never takes us where we thought it would. I am the most unlikely homesteader, but I am also the happiest homesteader!

Thanks Merissa for being a nudge in the right direction all those years ago. You were one of the first bloggers I ever faithfully followed, and now I have truly lost my mind and started my own blog about all things Healthy, Heart, Home, & Habits! I love sharing my own journey towards living a more grounded lifestyle, working to surround myself with people who are as passionate about healthy living as I am.


Want to be a part of the Making the Most With What We Have Series? You can read about it and fill out the interview questions here.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jennifer TW April 3, 2015 at 9:52 am

I love this idea and look forward to reading more homesteading adventures.


2 Dawn April 3, 2015 at 12:41 pm

Thanks for a great article. It’s nice to hear about all the things Sarah is doing to improve her health and quality of life. I hope to live the country life someday on a much smaller scale, but with my own garden and chickens (and goats, too!). Good luck to you, Sarah, and thank you, Melissa, for your blog and for bringing us stories like this.


3 Hipockets April 4, 2015 at 4:02 am

Good for you Sarah’ I love the Black Hills,THey keep calling me back there for over 70 yrs. I’d move there if I was’nt so old’ I’ve lived the pioneer life,and it “ain’t easy”. If I was younger’ I’d do it now again if I was able.Keep your dream alive and don’t give up until your health won’t let you’ At least you’ll have a lot of happiness and self worth in the process’ Good luck’


4 Sarah Koontz {Grounded & Surrounded} April 6, 2015 at 4:22 pm

Thank you for your kind and encouraging words! The Black Hills are a truly special place!


5 Sarah Koontz {Grounded & Surrounded} April 6, 2015 at 4:23 pm

Thank you Dawn! I am working on those goats too….I think I have a better chance of convincing hubby to buy me a cow! He says, at least I like cow milk 😉


6 Pamela April 3, 2015 at 11:40 pm

I live on 3/4 Acre we have rabbits 4 goats for milk and a ram. I raise goats for milk if you want goat meat buy boars you can get 250 lbs of meat a butcher charges a flat fee cow or pig is a fee plus so much on hanging weight.Just getting into sheep. We bought a whether got 70 lbs cost us $55 for processing to feed for one year $50. You can raise rabbits they breed every 31 days they can have 6-16 babies but I don’t breed mine but 2x a year. Soon we will have ducks &chickens .Also put in a garden


7 Sarah Koontz {Grounded & Surrounded} April 6, 2015 at 4:27 pm

That’s great Pamela. We are trying to get a handle on the massive garden and increase our flock of chickens before we dive into raising animals for meat. It is fascinating though, best of luck!


8 Sandy April 4, 2015 at 8:14 am

I love this idea. Love that Sarah’s whole family gets to benefit from the changes she needed to make. I always get a kick out of it when people call this “simple ” living. Seems like an oxymoron. It’s any but simple but worth the work. Has Sarah’s health I,proved greatly since making these changes?


9 Sarah Koontz {Grounded & Surrounded} April 6, 2015 at 4:24 pm

My health is much better Sandy. I agree with you, simple is far from easy! I share a lot about how my new lifestyle has impacted my health on my blog (Grounded & Surrounded). I encourage you to stop by when you have the time.


10 Jean Florian March 30, 2016 at 9:45 pm

My husband (Alvin L Florian) is from Hill City.
We were back there in September 2015 for a high school reunion.
Sure has grown!
I just started reading your blog, sure is interesting.

Thank you so much I will keep in touch


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