Saturday, 27 January 2018

Homestead Life with Hannah Laumer ....

I spent my late teens living on a smallholding in rural Shropshire. We had chickens, sheep and dogs, an orchard and huge vegetable plot all set in acres of land for exploring. Having lived in large towns up until this point I loved this new lifestyle. After university I moved to Bristol. A vibrant city home to Banksy, BBC offices, 2 universities, and birth place to trip hop bands Portishead, Massive attack it is a great city to be young in as there is always something to do….

However since having my son I have found city life quite claustrophobic and have been dreaming of the small holding, homestead life again. I would absolutely love to give my son the opportunity to experience open land, apples, fresh eggs and mud!! Obviously you can get all of these in the city but it’s not quite the same…..

So this has led me on my Instagram obsession of finding beautiful inspiring Homestead mama’s, so for the time being I can live vicariously through them. One such homesteader is Hannah aka @whispering_land. Her beautiful pictures are unpretentious as they are warm, earthy and so homely. I just want to jump into every picture and have been inspired to buy a number of cookbooks that I have seen on her feed. So I was thrilled when Hannah let me find out a little more, and even more excited when I read her answers….. what a lovely soul she is.Their beautiful home is such a visual feast of earthy tones and wholesome loveliness!

1) Can you tell us a bit about yourself and background?

I grew up on the country side on the edges of a small town surrounded by mountains, rivers and woodland. Some of my fondest childhood memories are connected to nature. When I finished my degree as a kindergarten teacher I left my family's home to move in with my boyfriend in Vienna, the capital of Austria. I worked there for 6 years as a kindergarten teacher, but soon started to commute back home on weekends. I really enjoyed living there though, it is a great city for young people. Full of art exhibitions, lovely markets, concerts, literature festivals, cafés,... I loved it! 

2) When did you opt for the homestead life and what was it that attracted you to this lifestyle?
In 2011 I quit my job and travelled to the UK to work on organic farms (I did the exchange via an organisation called WWOOF) which was one of the best experiences in my life! Living off the land you nurture and connect with on a daily basis was such a profound experience and shaped my way of living in so many ways! Back in Vienna we dreamt of that simple lifestyle and I read every homesteading book and blog I could find! Dreaming of growing our own vegetables in a lush green garden with a happy flock of chickens running around, buzzing bees from our own hives and children happily playing in the nearby woods - that was our dream! When we found out that I was pregnant with our son we started looking for land to settle down and start our own little smallholding. We moved to the countryside when our baby boy was 6 months old and started our little homesteading adventure! 
Whispering Land
3) You make soaps, candles, honeys and salves, what inspires you

I was always fascinated by the old ways of handcrafting and really love to experiment with our homegrown herbs, the wax from our bees and everything I can find in nature. It is really important to me to use pure, all natural ingredients and it is quite difficult to find pure cosmetics or candles without any chemicals added nowadays. So I started to make my own and discovered how satisfying it is to use homemade soap for showering. A big plus: It's good for the environment too, making your own care products safes plastic and using all natural ingredients doesn't pollute water or land! Next I am eager to learn how to spin since we have two very woolly sheep. I can't wait to plant dye some skeins of their wool and knit a shawl with it!

Kitchen: Stunning ceramics
4) Your home is clearly Waldorf /Steiner inspired, what led you down this pathway?

I really like the approach that during the first years of life children learn best by being immersed in an environment they can learn from through unselfconscious imitation of practical activities. This way of learning is perfect for homesteading families and from the participation of children all can benefit! I also like the holistic and nature inspired approach with soft colours, natural and wooden toys, pentalyric songs, daily rhythms and rhymes. 
Lilac's in the kitchen
5) How has having children changed you and your home?
When we moved into our house we already had our boy so we didn't have to adapt it for a baby because the house literally grew with him. But for me it was a big change because I could focus on one child's needs instead of more than 20 as I was used to from my work as a kindergarten teacher. I know how blessed I am to spend the time with my wee ones, watching them grow and evolve every single day, I will forever treasure these days and having children definitely brought much more consciousness into my life and taught me how to embrace each moment! 
6) You have a stunning home and so many beautiful items of pottery, where do you find most of your pieces?

Browsing our local charity shop or nearby handcrafting markets is a favourite thing of mine! This is where I find most of our pottery, few items are made by me or my grandmother who taught me how to throw earthy cups and bowls on a pottery wheel when I was a child. She also inherited me her wheel and I love to potter during the warm summer months on our porch, overlooking our garden.
Sometimes I also buy some pottery online, there are some great potters in Europa for example:

Living room
7) What would be your wishlist item for your home?

My love for house plants is ever expanding and I am looking for a big FicusBenjamina right now. It's actually a really great plant as it's very effective in purifying your home from formaldehyde, xylene and toluene! 
8) What advice would you give for anyone interested in homesteading?

The best thing you can do is to do some voluntary work on a nearby farm or go abroad and work on a farm via the organisation WWOOF. You learn the basic tools for growing your own produce, looking after livestock and you find out if country living suits you. Another great opportunity is CSA farming! 

If you don't have the opportunity to buy your own land you could look around in your area if there are some co-housing options or you could start your own! Some of our friends did that and it is an easy & cheap way to start homesteading!

9) What are your intentions for 2018?

We would like to expand our vegetable garden and build an outdoor wood fired cob oven for making bread and pizza! My big goal is to sell some of our veggies and preserves on the farmer's market in town, so there is a busy year ahead! And, I just got a spinning wheel for my birthday so I am really excited to learn the skill of spinning! 

Venus of Willendorf SoapsThis year I am gifting some unconventional soaps for Christmas 💫 Venus of Willendorf soaps, made in my witchy soap kitchen down in our basement.
3 different colours, 3 different scents. The green one is with herbs to support the female hormone system such as sheperd's purse, yarrow, lady's mantle & essential oils of sage & lemon verbena. The brown one is inspired by ayurvedic medicine, with essential oils of orange, cloves and frankinsence, the colour comes from 2 tbsp cinnamon. The yellow one is coloured with turmeric and essential oils of clementine & bergamot. My way of saying NO to body shaming and capitalism: gifting these perfectly curvy goddesses, which symbolize fertility and feminity, to friends for nourishing their body! 

10) On a recent post you mentioned you may start selling your stunning Venus of Willendorf soaps, is a little shop on its way? (please feel free not to answer if you don’t want to)
I would love to sell some of my goods, but I still have to figure out how it works when you aren't a licensed soap maker. 

11) There seems to be a shift for many towards homesteading and reconnecting with a more traditional way of life, would you agree?

Yes! And it is absolutely great that our society, especially the younger generation, recognizes that we cannot continue to excessively exploit our beautiful planet! It also seem like there is a huge shift in the perspectives and values, quality gets more and more important than quantity! The people are willing to spend more on organic, pasteurized eggs and prefer shopping at farmer's markets where they get to know the people behind the product! 
With all the food scandals (concerning eggs, milk,..) it is no wonder that more people wish to know the sources of their food or even grow it on their own!

12) From your pictures I can tell that you are a keen cook, what are some of your favourite cookbooks / resources?

Oh yes, we love to cook and bring all the different flavours of the world into our home! I have several cook books ranging from traditional ayurvedic cuisine to books by contemporary French & British chefs!
A few of my favourites are:
New CompleteVegetarian by Rose Elliot (I actually bought this one in Bristol ;)
Vegetarian by Alice Hart
At Home In The Wholefood Kitchen by Amy Chaplin
Krautkopf by Susan Probst and Yannick Schon
My New Roots by Sarah Britton
Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Kaizen
A Modern Way To Cook by Anna Jones
Leaf to Root by Esther Kern
La Cucina Verde by Carlos Bernasconi
The Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte

I am reading a really lovely book called 'Full Moon Feast' by Jessica Prenticeright at the time. It's full of seasonal and easy recipes but it's not a cookbook in the classic way. It's about the western civilisation's hunger for connection with food and each other! A very good read!

A massive thank you to Hannah for taking time out to answer my questions. What a beautiful interviewee she has been. All Images are from Hannah's Instagram page Whispering_Land 
I have also included the image below and the text as I believe it to be an extreamly wonderful and valid point about stay at home mothers and feminism and has been put so beautifully  xx

Since the industrial revolution, our culture has inculcated into our men that the smartest and noblest among them will behave in school, study their lessons diligently, demonstrate a strong work ethic, and become an ideal employee someday, earning a decent salary to provide for their families. Since the 1960s, seeking equality and professional opportunities for self-fulfillment, women have followed the same prescribed path. So deeply embedded is this ethos that it is difficult to imagine a life in which one eschews the quest for validation of our self worth from teachers, principals and employers, and instead seeks prosperity in a satisfying and creative home life.' from 'Radical Homemaking' by Shannon Hayes. I've been reading & analysing several books concerning the topic homemaking, homesteading and being a stay-at-home mum, including Betty Friedan's 'Feminine Mystique', 'The spiritual tasks of the Homemaker' and hundreds of blog entries. I came to the following conclusion: If anyone undervalues the domestic realm precisely because of its historical association with femininity, then that certain someone is the misogynist himself! Unfortunately this is addressed to some people I know who call themselves a feminist but think of homemaking as an unprogressive step back in the women's rights movement. For me homemaking, may it be radical or on a small scale, is an act of resistance and avoiding the mainstream brands and industry by making your own, buying second hand or trading with friends, you help many women in oppressive situations all around the world. Be the change! 💪💪💪


Mama Pajama said...

Thank you sooooooo much, my thoughts and intentions exactly. Peace be with you.

Unknown said...

Oh those soaps! How can I be her friend?!

Rebecca said...

I SO enjoyed this post - the "basic-ness" of it speaks to me/invites me to experience it...