LIBERTY, Maine — Kirsten Lie-Nielson grew up with parents who were back-to-the-landers, a movement urging simplicity, sustainability, and self-sufficiency. So homesteading is in her blood. She decided that writing about her experience on her 93 acre farm in Liberty might be helpful to others.
“I really have enjoyed writing my entire life. I was actually homeschooled as a kid, and my mom put a lot of importance on writing. It started when we got the geese again and I was looking for information on raising geese and there really wasn’t very much out there…so I thought I could write down what my experience has been.”
And she did – writing The Modern Homesteader’s Guide to Keeping Geese – her first book, a handbook on raising geese. The geese were soon joined by chickens, and goats, and pigs. And by her second book, So You Want To Be A Modern Homesteader. She wanted to write about the joys and challenges of this lifestyle. “Giving a realistic look at the things you will have to think of and hopefully helping people then have thought of those things before they end up in a situation where they’re not happy homesteading. You don’t want that, because you want people to keep going.”
What back-to-the-landers in past decades did not have was access to social media. Kirsten documents her day-to-day life to folks around the world. She posts about life on the farm to nearly 22,000 followers. “I have a lot of followers who are from the city, and from the big city, like New York City and they’re always saying “wow it looks so romantic” – and that definitely the audience that it’s kind of targeting…is people who do romanticize this giving you a realistic taste so that if you’re going to do it, you are prepared. If it’s not for you, you realize that before you invest in a property or something like that. If something is happening in the moment doing something on social media can be more instantaneous, maybe answer the exact question a little more precisely.”
The care and feeding of the animals bookends each day, with everybody getting fed and let out, and then later, put in. In between the morning and evening routines, they have a long ‘to-do’ list of projects around the farm. They’re currently working on landscaping around the house and barn – with help from the pig and the goats.
“The reason we got goats is sort of to keep these stone walls cleared of brush – goats will eat poison ivy and other things that other animals won’t. Geese will fend off a lot of small predators …The pigs we added this Spring and the idea is that they will clear an area that was recently logged and help us turn that in to fields.
Kirsten says, “Homesteading is such an interesting term – even without the term ‘modern’ in front of it. You don’t need to be 100% self-sufficient, but if you’re trying to live self-sufficiently as much as you can in your life – I think that checks the box for me. I do believe there isn’t a right or wrong way to do it. It’s what works for you... I think anyone can be a homesteader, to take it on at this scale it does take a lot of sort of vision and belief in the fact that you know that ten years from now it might look like something and sort of driving towards that. It takes a lot of sort of faith that way.
You can learn more about Kirsten by following her on Instagram at @hostilevalleyliving, or visiting her website at https://www.hostilevalleyliving.com/ . Her books, The Modern Homesteader’s Guide to Keeping Geese and So You Want To Be A Modern Homesteader? are available through local bookstores, her website and at Amazon.com. If you have questions about homesteading, or concerns about continuing in the current situation -- feel free to reach out to Kirsten via her Instagram account @hostilevalleyliving where she is happy to respond and answer your questions.