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Anorexia Survivor and Mom of 7 Shares Homestead Lifestyle and Tips That Keep Her Family Healthy


An anorexia survivor and mom of seven has found peace and rhythm since her family adopted homesteading as a lifestyle. Through the ups and downs of building a home, weathering the seasons, learning to appreciate food from farm to table, and homeschooling, she has found a simple life that has worked, and now she shares her best tips to inspire others.

Staci Drovdahl, 35, relocated from southwest Washington to rural northern Wisconsin in 2017 with her husband, Collin, 37, and their four daughters and three sons, ranging in age from 14 to 3.

Stay-at-home mom Staci homeschools her children, has various business ventures that she runs from home, and primarily creates social media content about homesteading. Meanwhile, Collin is an office employee at a local electrical company.

On “The From Scratch Farmhouse,” which is on several acres of land, the family grows vegetables, fruits, and medicinal herbs. They raise a milk cow, egg-laying chickens, and other animals.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
Staci Drovdahl with her family. (Courtesy of Staci Drovdahl)

‘Raw and Real’

“Our kiddos were pretty small when we moved and began this journey,” Staci told The Epoch Times. “They are very self-sufficient. Most of them know how to cook and bake; the littles are learning. They know how to build things. They know how to grow, process, and preserve food.”

The older four kids are able to milk the cow all by themselves. The couple’s 10-year-old child even lets them know when their milk cow, Jan, is in heat.

“Birth, death, and reproduction are just parts of life to them,” Staci said. “I feel so blessed to be able to raise them on a homestead where they are not removed from these raw and real aspects of life.”

For the Drovdahls, growing food began as a way to “ditch the grocery store” and simplify life.  The results eventually benefitted the family in many ways. As the crops that they harvested together thrived, they spent quality time in the kitchen preparing fresh, home-cooked meals and preserving food.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Staci Drovdahl)

With her insights, the mom of seven began sharing her tips for healthy living on Instagram.

“My list includes manure exposure, animal exposure, raw milk, real food, digging in the dirt, herbs and natural immune boosters, herbal teas, fresh air, and exercise,” she said. “People are usually very shocked to hear that things like manure and raw milk could be healthy … personally, I don’t need studies to convince me. I’ve seen how this way of life has impacted our health.”

Since adopting this approach, Staci no longer defaults to doctors’ prescriptions to get her kids through the winter, however, there was once a time in her life when she was reliant upon the medical profession, and is now grateful to have learned things differently.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Staci Drovdahl)
Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Staci Drovdahl)

The Catalyst

Staci and Collin both grew up on a few acres of land in Washington and met as youngsters on the school bus. Neither has ever lived in the city, but Staci laments that their lives were not very “country,” either.

“We didn’t grow up around people who grew their own food or raised any animals that we actually ate,” she said. “Animals to me equaled dirty, smelly chores and I wasn’t interested. My mom still won’t eat a farm fresh egg or anything green … our fruit and veggies selection was limited to canned green beans or fruit cocktail, and preservative-filled sweets and cereals filled the cupboards.”

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Staci Drovdahl)

Meanwhile, Collin’s mother served TV dinners most nights. However, Staci admits that both their mothers were doing the best they could with their given time.

“The only thing I can think of was eating vine-ripened tomatoes at my grandparents’ house where they grew them out front in pots,” Staci said. “They were amazing!”

Staci was a promising student and dreamed of moving to New York City to pursue ballet or medical school. However, after being hospitalized for anorexia nervosa when she was 15, she eventually gave up her ballet dream.

“Much of my life up until that point had been devoted to ballet and I struggled with not having an ideal body. I wasn’t overweight, I just had more curves than I would have liked,” Staci said. “I also had undergone a lot of childhood trauma and craved control in my life.”

During this time her eating disorder gave her a sense of control.

Staci’s mom took her to see a doctor, who referred her to Kartini Clinic in Portland, Oregon. Through various therapies and counseling, Staci recovered but claims the impetus was hers.

“I had to decide to get better,” she said. “I had a boyfriend at the time–my husband now–and a bright future ahead. I knew I didn’t want to die. I gave up my eating disorder, and eventually ballet as well.”

She also decided not to apply to the medical schools that she had been dreaming of for years and married Collin on May 5, 2007, bought a home with five acres in Yacolt, Washington, and embraced her new calling: wife, homemaker, and mother.

“That move would be the catalyst to a million more changes of heart,” Staci said. The next catalyst to choose a homesteading life was a welcome gift from a new neighbor in Yacolt that changed her outlook on home-cooked food.

“She brought a jar of home-canned applesauce,” Staci said. “After overcoming my fear of eating it, and Googling, ‘Can you get botulism from home-canned applesauce?’ I took a bite that would forever change my life: real, homemade food! I had zero idea up until that point that food could actually taste better when processed and cooked at home. This lit a fire in me.”

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Staci Drovdahl)

‘We Were Home’

Staci then planted her first garden and learned to can food through books, blogs, and YouTube. While pregnant, she researched natural birth and natural baby care, attempting to try everything natural. Collin learned to hunt, and the couple butchered their first deer. They bought milk goats and backyard chickens for eggs.

While their homesteading journey had begun, it was still a bumpy road.

Staci said: “There were times we would eat takeout for weeks. We still had many toxic products in our life … I’d get fired up on making all of our own food one week, and then the next say, ‘Forget it, it’s too hard!’ This slow progress continued for several years and six babies.”

When Collin suddenly lost his job in 2017, the couple reassessed their massive Washington mortgage and piles of belongings. They realized that it was time to commit themselves to simplicity. They took a family road trip east to visit loved ones across the country, ending their trip in Wisconsin, a state Collin wanted to explore after attending a wedding.

“As soon as we arrived we knew we were home,” Staci said. “Our move across the country happened just a few weeks later.”

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Staci Drovdahl)

Staci and Collin knew no one in their chosen town. But they quickly found a church community and knew that Wisconsin had the space, slower pace, and “four true seasons” they so desperately wanted. They rented a home that they wanted to buy, however when they decided they no longer wanted the home the owners returned six months later.  Staci and her husband then found a plot on which to start a homestead from scratch.

‘Blood, Sweat, and Tears’

They bought and remodeled a single-wide trailer ahead of winter, and Staci battled with electrical and water companies to get the family set up in the nick of time. They lived in the trailer for two years before their permanent home build began.

Staci said: “For over a year, Collin spent every weekend and evening, often until midnight or later, working on the house. I think most people think I’m joking or crazy when I say this, but before building our home, the largest thing my husband had ever built was a chicken coop!”

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Staci Drovdahl)
Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Staci Drovdahl)

The couple enlisted the help of knowledgeable friends and did the hard work themselves. Through her experience, Staci now advises anyone without these resources to hire a mentor.

There was “literal blood, sweat, and tears … times we just wanted to give up,” she said, recalling, “the hardest time was during the first winter of building … I remember going out and seeing a bunch of snow had blown in through the windows. I shoveled what felt like endless amounts of snow, and cried.”

Even today, there is work to be done at the Drovdahl family homestead. But the lessons learned far outweigh all their struggles.

In their first year, Staci and Collin trialed a pumpkin patch and corn maze and were so excited when the seeds sprouted. In their second year, everything changed for their children, who had attended public school until the global pandemic.

However Staci saw lockdown as a “nudge to try out homeschooling,” and slowly honed a schedule that worked: waking up at 7 a.m. for morning chores and milking the cow, breakfast, individual study from 8:30 a.m. until midday, then lunch, and afternoons devoted to different activities.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Staci Drovdahl)

“Mondays we all chip in to deep clean the house,” she said. “Tuesdays and Thursdays we do group subjects, and Wednesdays are ‘fun days’ for baking, hiking, or skiing. Fridays we attend a homeschool co-op group. Saturdays are either project days or family fun days. Sunday is our Sabbath day, when we attend church and visit friends.”

Closer to God

Through the family’s experience, Staci has had various learnings. She swears by three key ingredients: organization, teamwork, and accepting imperfection.

“We know that we can ‘do it all,’ but not all at the same time,” she said. “I am a recovering perfectionist who used to get very overwhelmed when my plans didn’t work out … I’ve learned, though, that ‘done’ is better than ‘perfect.’”

Weather, money, and time are the family’s biggest remaining struggles. However, whenever they feel overwhelmed, they shift their focus back to simplification. As Christians, they approach all new decisions with two questions: “How will this affect our faith in Christ?” and, “Will this bring us closer to God?”

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Staci Drovdahl)

Staci said: “I don’t think you have to live in the country or raise your own food to be a Christian. But for me, the decisions we have made to simplify our life and connect with our food are ways of life that strengthen our faith and help us keep our priorities straight.

“We also love that we get to teach our children real-life skills that will be way more valuable in life than memorized facts. We don’t care what careers our children choose, and want them to instead look forward to building healthy Christian families where jobs are just another way to serve your family and God. Janitor, doctor, or stay-at-home mom, it doesn’t matter; the world needs them all.”

Staci knows how overwhelming it can feel to venture into homesteading. She advises her followers to start in the kitchen by working out what the family eats, then making a meal plan. She advocates 30 dinner ideas, seven breakfast ideas, seven lunch ideas, and 15 snack ideas for every season.

Epoch Times Photo
Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Staci Drovdahl)

She also advises anyone interested in adopting the homestead life to work on growing the vegetables you want at home, supporting local farmers, or starting a weekend tradition of driving into the countryside for farm fresh groceries if you live in the city.

Staci already runs a course and subscription box aimed at helping moms care for their family’s health naturally, and is launching courses in 2023 to further help people live their homesteading dream. She also posts updates on Instagram.

Share your stories with us at emg.inspired@epochtimes.com, and continue to get your daily dose of inspiration by signing up for the Inspired newsletter at TheEpochTimes.com/newsletter

Louise Chambers

Louise Chambers is a writer, born and raised in London, England. She covers inspiring news and human interest stories.





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