Ryder Family Farm- Southern Illinois | We DID it, we are farm bound. An unconventional beginning farmer story.
We to a big leap of faith, quit our jobs are moved to the the heart of the Shawnee National Forest to follow our dreams of self sufficiency and to make a go of living off the land… Can we help you feed your family?
Southern Illinois, farm, CSA, Goat Milk, Soap, Eggs, meat, local food
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We DID it, we are farm bound. An unconventional beginning farmer story.

We DID it, we are farm bound. An unconventional beginning farmer story.

We’ve been working hard to up our farming/ self sustaining situation. Even before we bought our house we were looking at farmhouses on some land. If you know anything about the area we live in, then you know that land isn’t cheap to own here. Most of the time you see really huge portions of land or really small ones for sale. Also, most farm land also happens to be unsustainably farmed and is often times GMO and pesticide laden.

Places we’ve looked at (and tried to buy) have been between $3000 – $5000 per acre and in most cases the houses that are on the land aren’t in great shape. We want the land (several acres) and do need a livable house right off the bat since we have three kids under the age of five. Throughout 2013 we’ve made offers on places and we’ve done lots of tours that amounted to much of nothing.

At the beginning of 2014 we resolved to put our feelers out for unconventional farm acquisition options, anywhere that they may be. We’ve been keeping an eye on farm opportunities nearby and we’ve also reached out to our connections all across the USA for info on farm opportunities. We wanted to be open to any and all chances that might suit us.

Amazingly, about a month after setting our resolution/ goal we found a unique little opportunity that we feel is right up our alley, one that gets us a livable, rent free house, lets us acquire land for our own farming dreams, allows us to learn key farming knowledge, has access to all the equipment we might need and offers us the chance to pursue our own farming projects at the same time. It was all thanks to an Illinois based organization called The Land Connection and their Farmland Classifieds.

So we’ve been saving money, trying to sell our house and working through all the logistics for the last few months. Quitting your real job to follow a dream pretty much means you need to eliminate any and all financial obligations first. Our financial obligations have been holding us back… This week we took the final plunge and Nathan gave notice to his work. In two weeks we will no longer be earning a wage at a job outside the home and the theory is that we really wont need one anyway. Homesteading, when done right, amounts to your work directly providing for your family, so we are leaping from the world of working for a wage to the world of simply providing for yourself with your work. It’s going to be an exciting adventure!

We are headed to Tanglefoot Ranch in southern Illinois (yep, in another state!). Tanglefoot Ranch is a 950 acre livestock, grain, and vegetable/fruit farm in Pope County, Illinois. They have 500 acres of row crops, a 300 peach tree orchard, 1 raspberry hi-tunnel, 1 tomato hi-tunnel, a sheep flock of 30 ewes, 6 fresh water shrimp ponds, and a 55 head beef cow herd situated in the Shawnee National Forrest, near Garden of the Gods.

We really like the farm and the people running it and we are very excited to bring some new ventures to the farm, mainly Farm to Fork dinners and poultry raising as well as a complete homesteading garden! If you think you’d like to come to Tanglefoot and see how the farm operates and enjoy farm dinner, enter your info here ——>

Now you know why we were comfortable getting ourselves 6 turkeys and 12 additional straight run chicks this spring. 

We are farm bound, finally!

In the next few weeks we’ll be prepping to move, once we get moved in we’ll be building a few chicken tractors, planting a big garden for the farm (and one for us), building a mobile kitchen, building a dining space, learning about shrimp keeping, etc. If all goes well we could have some events before the end of this season.

Here we are peeking and the very young shrimp in the “shrimp nursery” at Tanglefoot:

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The girls are stoked to move and to have their daddy home instead of off at work for 12 hours, five days a week. Everly is also excited to live in a forest type setting. Her dream (she reminds us regularly) is to live in a log cabin in the woods with a tire swing. “Mom, when I wish on a star… How long until my wish comes true?” She asks…

After a few years of work we’ll own some land and hopefully have enough money saved to start building a house of our own, possibly our dream farm house ;P

We’ve been down to Tanglefoot several times since fate connected us. Grayson loves to check out the trees!

We are so excited to take this next step towards self sufficiency as a family and to see what we can accomplish in cooperation with the owners of Tanglefoot Ranch. Of course, we’ll be blogging along the way so subscribe to this blog and be sure to get yourself on the Tanglefoot Ranch newsletter too!

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6 Comments
  • Kathy Craig
    Reply

    So happy for you all! Good luck in your new endeavor! Live your dreams!

    May 14, 2014 at 3:15 pm
  • Lisa Dykstra
    Reply

    So proud of you all and your leap of faith! It will be an amazing ride and Im sure you will never look back! Can’t wait to continue to follow your journey!!

    May 14, 2014 at 6:26 pm
  • Veronica Branthoover
    Reply

    What an amazing adventure you’re about to embark upon. I’m so excited for you and your family (and a little jealous )! Congratulations!

    May 21, 2014 at 9:06 pm
  • just a beautiful story and journey you are on!
    A friend at the news station (where Nathan was formerly) sent me this link – because I have been on a very similar journey the last year since my fiancé passed away 2 weeks before our wedding.
    Got rid of everything…. bought a small RV….. parked it in the Ozark mountains – and have never been happier living tiny and off grid.
    Currently growing my first garden ever…. and in the process of clearing 27 acres of land to begin organic farming. I cant wait to get chickens and goats 🙂
    24 years of the film and tv industry…….. its nice to not even own a tv now! 🙂
    Best of everything to you guys….
    I am very glad that our mutual friend sent me your blog link. Very happy for you!

    June 11, 2014 at 10:00 pm
  • A friend of mine sent me your blog info and Ive been reading all morning. I just wrote a little blog entry for the first time today…I was just playing around but am thinking it may be fun. Any advice? I love your stories and look forward to following now. I am a mother of 5 living in Southern Ca. We are about to put our house on the market and relocate to rural Southern Oregon. I don’t know much about homesteading but we are gonna give it a shot. In pursuit of a childhood dream of being a farmer, I hope to have chickens, grow our own food, milk goats…the whole nine. Thanks in advance for reading….and writing. Im inspired!

    June 24, 2014 at 8:10 pm

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