Episode 139 | Building a Debt-Free Homestead from Scratch | Katie Metka: Mother of 9, Photographer, Homesteader

If you dream of starting your own homestead but worry that you don’t have the skills or time or money, you’ve got to hear Katie’s story.  Six weeks after giving birth to her ninth daughter, Katie and her husband moved their family from their established homestead in Texas to a piece of raw land in Missouri to start over.  They are building everything themselves and doing it debt-free!  Katie shares how she and her family of 11 found joy in the simple pace of living in a small shanty without electricity or running water.  Whether you have a homesteading dream or are pursuing another goal, may Katie’s story remind you of all that is possible with patience, sacrifice, and hard work.

In this episode, we cover:

  • How Katie’s family of 11 is living in a one-room shanty
  • The sacrifices Katie and her family have made to build their homestead debt-free
  • Several creative ways they plan to make money from their farm
  • How Katie moved her family and farm animals from an 11-acre homestead in Texas to an 80-acre piece of land in Missouri
  • What to look for when searching for property to build a homestead from scratch
  • The surprising blessing of living in a shanty with no electricity and no running water with nine kids
  • What mistakes they have made along the way and what they might have done differently
  • Involving your kids on the homestead without using chore charts
  • How to enjoy the in-between stages while building your dreams
  • How to pursue a homestead dream even if you don’t have a lot of money or skills

About Katie

Katie Metka lives with her husband Oresti and their nine daughters in the Missouri ozarks, where they’re currently building and living in a small cabin on their new homestead. Katie is primarily a black and white photographer who captures their life on the homestead.

Resources Mentioned

Luli Metka’s Etsy Shop

Connect

Katie Metka | Instagram

Lisa Bass of Farmhouse on Boone | Blog | YouTube | Instagram | TikTok | Facebook | Pinterest

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Visit ToupsandCo.com to order today.Check out some of my current favorite products: activated charcoal face bar, seabuckthorn cleansing oil, frankincense face balm, liquid foundation

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Transcript

Lisa Bass Welcome back to the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. Today I’m having on a guest who moved their family across the country—well, not really across the country, but quite far—to start a homestead completely from scratch in the Missouri Ozarks. So you may know we live in Missouri, so this guest lives somewhat close to where I live. And I was just curious to hear more about her story. She and her husband and their nine daughters are taking raw land, building their house, the fencing, just this homestead completely from the ground up. I find that fascinating and also encouraging because they’re doing it entirely debt-free, which a lot of you have similar goals. And so I want to introduce you to Katie Metka. We’re going to discuss how they planned for this, how they were able to live through times of no water and no electric and endure all of that and actually sort of enjoy it. I do want to do a quick disclaimer and tell you that we did have some Internet issues. As you can imagine, with some of these homesteader guests that I have, they live in rural areas that don’t have access to the best Internet. That happens to me too. Sometimes it’s my Internet. So as you know, sometimes things can be a little shaky. In this interview, I believe about half of it will have video. And then to preserve the quality of the audio, half of it won’t. Either way, the discussion is worth listening to all the way through. Even if, at times, the video does go out, I hope that you’re still able to gain a lot from it. All right. Let’s dive in to the interview. 

Lisa Bass Awesome. I’m so excited to talk to you. Actually, my friend Stephanie introduced me to your account about a year ago and I’ve been following along and your beautiful photography and your family, and I thought it’d be really fun to have you on the podcast, especially because I believe we live somewhat close to each other. From what I can gather. 

Katie Metka Yes. 

Lisa Bass So you’re probably a little bit south of where I am. We can start by introducing you, your Instagram, whatever else. Like, tell us about your family and just briefly your story, which, of course, we’re going to dive deeper into as this goes on. 

Katie Metka Yes. Okay. Well, I’m Katie Metka. My Instagram is just @KatieMetka. And I am the mother of nine little girls. My husband and I moved recently to Missouri from Texas. We were homesteading in Texas. He was working full-time. But we’re just setting up a new homestead now in Missouri, and we’re loving it. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. So what drew you to the Missouri Ozarks? 

Katie Metka Well, we were in Texas at our homestead for about seven years, I think. And we were just, I don’t know, ready for a change. Ready for cooler temperatures, more seasons. We really wanted to be debt-free. We really wanted my husband home. He was working full-time, even though we were— I mean, we had a very small homestead. We had about 11 acres there. We were looking for less taxes, cheaper land, more land than what we had. So those are kind of the main things. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. Well, one of the the things that drew me to your story was one piece you mentioned— the debt-freedom and that you are doing a lot of this work yourself. So you all built a little what you call, I believe, a shanty? 

Katie Metka Yes. 

Lisa Bass Did your husband actually build that himself? 

Katie Metka Yes. Yes. This is actually his third time to build a house. So in Texas, we built a cabin first, moved into that so we could be there and he could build the big— we called it the big house. Yeah. So we lived in that for about a year and a half. He built the big house totally by himself. And then when we moved here, we decided to do the same thing. So he built— this time, he had help though, with the girls. Because when we moved to Texas, we only had five little girls. The oldest was six, so they weren’t really a lot of help. 

Lisa Bass No. 

Katie Metka So this time we had a lot of help, so it went pretty fast. We put it up in about a month. 

Lisa Bass Oh, wow. 

Katie Metka And, you know, just the main structure that we could just move in, put our beds in and start living there and keep building. 

Lisa Bass Okay. So is he currently in the process then of building a big house here? 

Katie Metka That was our original plan and we probably will still go with that, but with the prices of everything right now— we really want to do everything debt-free. So with the prices of material, we’re kind of putting that on hold a little bit. It’s a one room shanty. It’s kind of divided in the middle a little bit. So we have the stove and the table and our bed up front and then the girls are in the back. And then we built on a lean-to—we call it—on the side which has the laundry room, the kitchen sink and fridge, and a bathroom. So our plan now—we’ll see—is to add on a bedroom on the other side and for me an Oresti and another little room for like books and things. 

Lisa Bass Yeah, it was funny as I was— we were having lunch and I was telling my husband about this podcast interview. As I was describing you, I was thinking of another friend that I have who has nine kids, and they live in a tiny house too. And so I was like, oh, I’m basically describing the Krekes because their situation is so similar. So yeah, I think we could probably have a whole episode on living in a tiny house with nine children. 

Katie Metka Yeah. 

Lisa Bass How does that work? And my friend Julie, she’s explained this to me, and I feel like she just must be more patient or have better behaved children or something along the lines of that. 

Katie Metka Oh, it could get a little crazy, especially over the winter when we were all inside all day because it was too cold and snowy to be out. But, I don’t know, it works well. And we’ve done it before with less kids. But it’s different this time that I have some older ones that are calm and help out a lot with the little ones. And now that the weather’s so great, the kids can be outside and we’re all outside most of the day. So it doesn’t feel so bad over the warmer months, you know? But yeah, we just have to stay really organized and on top. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. And you might have like they do— I’ve actually been to their home, and they have like— it’s this very small, just like yours, a kitchen, a living area, a bathroom, and then the back is bunks. So it’s just like all these bunks going up. Is that how yours is? 

Katie Metka No, but we want to do that. Yeah, we really want to put in bunks. Right now, we have three double beds and then a crib. And the baby’s often with us, so we just have them doubled up. One bed has three little ones. But yeah, it works. But yeah, we were thinking to do bunks, so we have more floor space. 

Lisa Bass That makes sense. I mean, really, when you’re talking about this, I’m thinking, you know, even though we have a large house for everybody to go sleep in their own—not their own rooms; not that at all—but to go at least separate out into a few different rooms at night, all day long, we’re either outside or we’re in the same couple of rooms. So I’m like, really we don’t actually— like nobody goes off to their room for the day to hang out. We’re all like in the kitchen, in—pretty much just the kitchen is where we always are. And so I guess, in a sense, maybe it wouldn’t be much different than that. 

Katie Metka Mhm. That’s one thing that we think about when designing the next house, and that’s what we did in our Texas home, too, was design the kitchen to be kind of the focus point. It was huge and the dining room was next to it and it was huge because that’s where we spent most of our time. And the girls all shared a room; there were seven of them at that time. They all shared a bedroom. They never went there except to sleep. So it’s like a dorm room. And we were always together in the kitchen. So, yeah, I like designing a house around the kitchen. 

Lisa Bass Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, really, yeah, bedrooms are just for sleeping. In the colder months, I will say we do end up spending a little bit more time in the house, but we have basically—in the last couple of years—if it’s over 30 degrees, we’re pretty much outside most of the day just because it can be very chaotic. But then also it’s just good for kids to spend a lot of time outside. So we’re doing a lot of that as well.

Katie Metka Yeah. 

Lisa Bass So I assume that you’re first building the shanty so that you can spend more time designing house plans and also to save money and build with cash— 

Katie Metka Yes. 

Lisa Bass So can you share more about the reasons you are approaching your homestead this way? And you know why you’re first building the shanty and then the house or what your story is with this debt-freedom and your conviction behind all of that and how you’ve approached it? 

Katie Metka Well, we were just wanting to simplify things. You know, having a mortgage means a lot more stress every month. My husband was working for himself in Texas. He does construction, mostly remodels. And so just always having to make sure we had jobs lined up and money coming in— and not that we don’t need that now, but it just eases the stress a little bit to be able to do it debt-free and to just be patient and wait for when the time is right to add on to the homestead. So we just wanted to eliminate that stress in our life. 

Lisa Bass Maybe you said this already, but what is your husband’s job? Or is he able to work on the homestead? 

Katie Metka Yeah. So in Texas, he was working for himself, like doing remodels— in construction—doing remodels, doing some new construction, residential. And so when the market in Texas—I don’t know if you’re familiar with it: it just boomed and went nuts—we were able to sell the house for way more than what our mortgage was, so we’ve been able to just use that to get started here. 

Lisa Bass Oh, okay. Okay. Gotcha. Yeah. In construction. That makes a lot of sense. 

Katie Metka So his work is full-time on the farm now.

Lisa Bass Do you plan to produce things from your farm in order to continue to be able to make money off of your homestead? 

Katie Metka Yes, that is our hope that we will be able to survive just from being all together on the farm working. So we’ve been putting in flowers and getting pigs and cows, and my husband planted a vineyard. So these things will take a few years to really get going, but we’re hoping for the future. 

Lisa Bass Oh, that is really neat. So are you planning on doing farmers markets or shipping to people on the Internet or maybe a combination of all of it? 

Katie Metka Yeah, we’re really open to anything. We’ll probably start with farmers markets, but we’re really open to whatever comes our way and we’re able to do. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. So relatively off topic, but have you heard of the homestead conference that’s down in the Ozarks? I believe there’s one coming up in August and then next August as well. 

Katie Metka Oh, no, I haven’t heard of that. 

Lisa Bass Okay. I need to look up the actual details of it. Somebody emailed me about it the other day. It has a pretty cool lineup of people that are speaking at it. So I don’t know, it might be near where you live actually. So how did you guys prepare for moving and starting a homestead? All of that just sounds very overwhelming. You move basically across the country, start a new homestead. What were some of the steps that you took in order to get ready for something like that, especially with nine kids in tow? 

Katie Metka Yes, it was actually very overwhelming. I loved where we were and it took a while for us to decide to actually do it. But we went for it. And I had just had my ninth, and we put the house on the market when she was about six weeks old. So we had such a short amount of time. We sold the house and then we couldn’t really buy the next property until we closed because we wanted to pay cash for it. So we had about a month there. We had to find the property because we couldn’t even look for property because everything even up here in Missouri was flying off the market as soon as it came on. So anything that we saw would be gone. So we had to wait for closing and then we had a month lease back and then we had to be gone. And we really didn’t want to take all our stuff and move it around a couple of times. So we had a month where we had to find the property. So we came up here. We actually didn’t find anything the first time we came up. My husband came up the next couple of days after we got home, found the property where we’re at, and we bought it. And then we had to move like in three weeks. So it was really fast. Everything happened really fast. And somehow we made it through all that. I don’t know. It was wild just driving up here with all the kids and stuff. 

Lisa Bass Oh, man. Yes. Selling and buying is always quite the process. But then were you actually moving a farm? So I know that you had a homestead before, but did you take any of the animals with you or did you just sell everything before you left? 

Katie Metka We gave a few animals to friends and then we kept our cow. Daisy is really like our pet, so we definitely wanted to keep her. So she stayed with friends in Texas until we could get established and bring her up. And then we had three milk goats that stayed at another friend’s house and we went— so we went down and picked up the cow and the goats a couple of months after we had gotten up here and got settled. So we have those original animals up here and then everything else we’ve acquired up here. 

Lisa Bass Okay. Yeah. Because I feel like that would just add another element of hard to a move is to then also move a farm of any kind. All that would go into that. So yeah, I think yeah maybe downsizing before you come and then acquiring a lot here is probably the better way to go about that. 

Katie Metka Yes, that probably is the better way. We were just so attached to these particular animals. 

Lisa Bass Oh, yeah. No, there would be a few that you’d have to move. Like if you have a really good dairy cow, you just don’t want to risk trying to find another one. That’s something that you have to figure out a way to take with you. I totally understand. 

Katie Metka Yeah. 

Lisa Bass What were you guys looking for in your homestead property? I know a lot of people who listen to this podcast, they’re thinking about starting a homestead. They like the idea of it being debt-free with cash. What were some of the criteria that you were looking for in a property? 

Katie Metka Well, for us personally, because my husband can build anything, we wanted raw land because that was the cheapest way to go, and we knew we could make it whatever we wanted, and we didn’t need a house. So not everyone has that capability to do that, so I would probably— if you can’t build things, I would probably get a house on it, maybe something rundown that you could fix up. But we were just looking for raw land. We didn’t have electricity, we didn’t have water. You know, we were open to anything. But it was a plus that this property had about 15 acres open. So that was a really big plus. Some of the properties we saw was all wooded and we were really hoping we could find something with some pasture. So the rest of it is wooded. It’s about 80 acres and the rest of it’s wooded, but we have that 15 that’s open. And we were hoping for water. We didn’t get a live creek. We have a wet weather creek, but the property has two ponds on it. So that’s going to come in handy once we get fencing done for the animals to just drink out of that. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. So some pasture land, some kind of water. I don’t know about you— we’re really looking for a site that would be somewhat private. I mean, pretty much if you’re going to be getting 80 acres, you’re going to find something with privacy somewhere on it, likely. So that probably really only applies to people who are getting a smaller homestead like us. Because, where you live, is it quite rural? 

Katie Metka Yes, it’s very rural. Yeah. I imagine that most of the properties around us are 80 acres and above. So yeah, we set the house pretty far back which does not seem to be the normal thing to do around here. I see a lot of houses close to the road, and I’m guessing that that might be because of the winters. We ran into a lot of trouble trying to get down the driveway in the winter with the mud or the ice. But I like being far from the road, even though it’s a little country road. I just like being set back because the kids are outside all the time, so that was important to us. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. I never really thought about that as being a Missouri thing, but I do know that, as we’ve looked for properties over the years, it’s very difficult to find something that set back from the road. Is it not like that in Texas? Are you able to find properties that are set back quite a bit more? 

Katie Metka Well, you know, where we were in Texas, there weren’t a lot of big, big properties. It was mostly smaller, but in our neighborhood you couldn’t see any houses from the road mostly because it was so wooded. It seemed like all the houses were kind of set back. 

Lisa Bass Okay, interesting. So have there been any unexpected aspects of the move? Building a shanty? For starting a farm completely from scratch? Anything that was harder than you expected or anything that was maybe even better or more rewarding than you expected? 

Katie Metka You know, we didn’t expect the electricity and the water to take so long. We kind of were under the impression it would be pretty quick. But once we got up here, those companies were just kind of having a lot of work, I think, from all the people moving in. So it got pushed back pretty far, which I thought I would have a problem with. The electricity we got end of December. And I actually miss it. I mean, I love having electricity, but it was such a sweet, simple time lighting the lamps every night, lighting the candles, trying to do everything that you had to do in the daylight. We went to bed super early, got up as soon as we saw light up. It was just a sweet, simple time. And I really enjoyed that part of it. The water, I was a little more ready to get that. That was nice. We got that sometime in the spring, I guess after the thaw of the spring. And that’s been lovely having running water in the house. 

Lisa Bass Oh, wow. So you lived a little while then without electricity or water? 

Katie Metka Yes. 

Lisa Bass That is quite crazy. 

Katie Metka Yeah. It was a little adventurous, but that’s been very delightful. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. So how did you do things? Like, how did you do laundry? Whenever we ran out of power for three days, we had such an issue with our— well, gosh, everything. Everything just was— I didn’t realize how hard that would be when you’re not set up for it, but maybe you guys came in set up to at least endure that for an extended period of time. 

Katie Metka Not really. But we just quickly adapted to it. So we were initially catching rainwater just falling off the roof. So we had a ton of buckets, a couple of trash cans out in front. Nothing fancy. Definitely not fancy. So we were just collecting rainwater. So we would haul water into the house to wash the dishes. We have a cook stove. So we got the cook stove before the winter, so we felt like we were living like kings and that was just fantastic to be able to warm the house and bake and warm up water. So that’s how we would do dishes and bathe. And we have a Berkey, so we would just collect the rainwater, fill up the Berkey, and drink that water. 

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Lisa Bass So your husband— when you got there, he whipped up the shanty in like a month. 

Katie Metka Yes. 

Lisa Bass And so in that time, were you camping? And this was before winter, I’m assuming.

Katie Metka Yes, so all the month of September, we were floating around at Airbnbs. 

Lisa Bass Okay. Gotcha. 

Katie Metka Yeah. So we just decided to do it that way. 

Lisa Bass Well it’s so inspiring because what I’m hearing is that to achieve building this homestead completely from scratch, like you guys are doing, all debt-free, it required along the way, some serious sacrifice. And especially— I think some of us are— like we have way less children than you thinking, “Wow, if you could live under those circumstances for any time, even if it was just like a month or not a month—a week—with nine kids, then there’s probably a lot that I could sacrifice to achieve maybe a similar goal.” But yeah, I never imagined what it would be like to live that long without power and water in today’s world. 

Katie Metka Yeah, this is just super important to us. And we just looked at it like this is never probably going to happen again. So like treasure each moment because, like I tell people all the time, you can turn off your lights and light some candles and put a little lamp out and light that and pretend that you don’t have electricity, but it’s not the same, and you just can’t get that feeling back when you actually have to live that way. So we just treasured every moment of that and just enjoyed it so much. It was just so peaceful and sweet and I loved it. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. And you’re talking about the months whenever it was dark around 5:00, 5:30 at night. So it actually required you to live very slowly. We can talk about slow and simple living all we want, but there is no way we’re living that slow and that simple. And it’s interesting to hear it not as something you recall with horror, but it was a sweet time. This was a time that we actually enjoyed. 

Katie Metka Yes. 

Lisa Bass Do you have any top tips? And this was not on her outline, and so I’m just totally throwing this at you. But yeah, if somebody is thinking they want to start a homestead from scratch, I think first, people think they need to have like a million dollars to do that. They need to live in a certain area. What would be some of your top things that maybe you’ve learned over the last 10-15 years that would be something to know? 

Katie Metka Yeah. Well, I know a lot of things what not to do because we’ve probably made all the mistakes. 

Lisa Bass That helps though. Yeah. 

Katie Metka And even though we know what not to do, we seem to keep doing those things. So fencing is the biggest. Fencing is kind of like the thorn in my side. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. That’s why I brought it up. 

Katie Metka If you can have really secure fencing done before you get the animals, that would be ideal. It seems like things are always going to go wrong, though. Like animals are just rascals sometimes and will just break through whatever fencing you put up. So we thought we were doing pretty good. We got a lot of fencing done. We have sheep and we have cows and we have goats and we have pigs. So we had kind of temporary fencing put up for all of those. And then once the winter was over, we planned to move them out to the pasture, so we’re in the process of that, moving them kind of rotational grazing through the pasture. And so that’s been a huge learning curve for us. And if we had perimeter fencing already in place, that would have kind of eased our mind about animals getting out. So perimeter fencing, if you can do that, that would be fantastic to do that first. 

Lisa Bass Yeah, yeah. Fencing is something that people warned me about whenever we first found this property. And we only have seven acres, so it’s a lot smaller scale. We don’t have really any plans to make an income from the property, just provide us with our needs for certain things. But people would tell me, “Don’t rush to do the fencing. Don’t rush to put in your garden. You need to observe the light. You need to observe like where you— the path you take,” and all these certain things. And I still feel like there were a few things that we still made mistakes on as far as like where we put certain gates. So when you buy a dairy cow, for example, you don’t really quite know exactly what you’re doing and like when you’ll be separating the cow from the calf at night, like where they need to go in this barn, you know, just all of that. It’s in some ways kind of hard to figure out before you have the animal. But yeah. Any more tips? Even if they’re “what not to do” tips?

Katie Metka Well, we made the mistake of getting the chickens before the coop was built. So now I’ve got 100 chicks sitting on my front porch waiting for the coop. So even though we knew coop should probably come first, we just ran out of time. So that’s what my husband is actually working on today, is he’s starting the coop so those little chicks can go in there and off the porch. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. Okay. So making sure you have the enclosures and the structures for the animals before you get them, which I’m sure a lot of people are like, “Well, of course!” There’s people who are planners and there’s people like you and me. I’m always buying the animal before the proper setup is happening. So yeah, I’m definitely like that too. 

Katie Metka Yeah. And then I guess, with the planting, I really have been doing a lot of reading and wanting to invest in long-term—especially with the flowers—long-term things for the future. Don’t wait because like something like peonies take—I’ve read—three years to really start getting blooms from them. So don’t put things like that off because you’re just going to set yourself back. Or like with the grapes, we wanted to do that right away and get started with things like that. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. And fruit trees. People told me that too. They said, “Wait on certain things, but fruit trees, for example, don’t wait on.”

Katie Metka Yes. That’s the other thing we have. 

Lisa Bass But even with that, we were really overthinking where to put them because even though we needed to get them in the ground and get them in the ground quickly, we still needed to think about, “Okay, where would an orchard be?” Okay. Because right now they’re tiny little trees, but is this going to shade our garden? We have quite a bit of wooded area in our seven acres, and so we needed to be strategic about that as well. 

Katie Metka Yes. That’s something we learned from the last homestead. We only got one peach tree, and it was beautiful, and it was giving us so many peaches. And we kept thinking to ourselves, “Why didn’t we put in more? We should have done that when we were moving.” And so that was like the number one thing we wanted to do right away the first fall that we got here, was we got a bunch of fruit trees. 

Lisa Bass Yeah, we got on that pretty quickly, too. One thing I wish I would have done was to put in more roses because I’ve put in some roses each year, and as they bloom, I think, “Why did I not buy five bare roots? Why did I only have two?” 

Katie Metka Yes. I’m so excited about the roses. We’ve just started getting blooms from ours and I’m so excited. I’ve never grown roses before, so it’s been fun. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. Same. This year was the first year I put in some David Austin roses, and I don’t know why it took me so long because these little tiny bare roots, they took off, and they already have blooms. 

Katie Metka It’s amazing. 

Lisa Bass Yeah, so should have bought more. Especially on those things that take forever to really become overgrown in the way that I would prefer them to be. 

Katie Metka Yes. 

Lisa Bass So what are your plans for the homestead? You mentioned that you want to earn an income from the homestead. What are some of your main avenues that you’re going to get into? Are you doing like pastured pigs or beef? 

Katie Metka Yeah. So we got Idaho pastured pigs and we’re picking up two breeders end of this month, I think. And so probably by next year, we’ll have piglets to either sell live or sell meat. So that’s one avenue. Flowers— we have lots and lots of sunflowers and zinnias and cosmos and different things planted. And so whenever those are ready, we’ll be hopefully taking flowers to farmers markets and doing that. The girls are all excited, and they help me with that. So that’s one avenue. The milk cows— we just got three milk cows and we have Daisy, so we have four. So that’s one. That’s more long-term to have them calve, raise up heifers, sell them as family milk cows. So that’s one idea that we have. The grapes— that’ll be in several years, but that’s another idea. So we’re always just kind of thinking and coming up with ideas as we go. We didn’t have any kind of big plan before we started, so this is all winging it. 

Lisa Bass Well, I guess that’s good to know too, though, is to know that there are certain things to think about, but there’s certain times to just dive in and learn along the way. And I think some people have a little bit of a struggle with wanting to know exactly before they get into it. There’s a balance there for sure. But you know, there’s definitely room for figuring it out as you go and as new information becomes available. 

Katie Metka Yes. 

Lisa Bass I’m with you on that one. How do your girls pitch in around the farm? We have one dairy cow, a garden, and chickens, and there’s so much farm work everyday. Just last week, my husband and oldest four, they went on a float trip, which is something we do here in Missouri. If you’ve found that out yet, welcome to Missouri. 

Katie Metka I haven’t.

Lisa Bass Okay. So yeah, you probably live close to— let me think of a river that you would live close to. Actually I’m not exactly sure anymore. 

Katie Metka We have the Jack Fork, I think it’s called? 

Lisa Bass Oh, yeah. Okay, Jack— that’s a good one. 

Katie Metka Okay. 

Lisa Bass You need to go get you a canoe. Yeah, well, anyways, my husband and oldest four went on one of those, which is like a summer tradition here. And I stayed home with the youngest three and the dairy cow and the chickens. And I’m like, man, this is like a good three hours of work all on its own strategically placed around kids’ naps and things. So yeah. How do you get your kids involved so it’s not such a huge amount with— because you’ve a bigger farm than me. A much bigger farm. 

Katie Metka Yeah. You know, it’s just a lot of hands make lighter work. So everyone’s just pitching in in any way that we can. And we don’t really have a set like “you do this”, “you do that” or, you know, like set jobs. But we’re kind of just flying by the seat of our pants. So whatever comes up that day, we kind of divide the work up, whether it’s watering animals, hosing off the pigs, weeding, watering the gardens, helping with food. And everyone has different strengths. As the girls have gotten older, I’ve seen where they thrive. And so if possible, I try to give them areas that they thrive in, whether it’s animal care or cooking or whatever it is. So we just make it work, and we all share the load, and we’re exhausted at the end of the day. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. It’s good work though. I’m like you. I am not chore chart mom. I just cannot. I’ve never been able to stick to something like that where— everything’s just so flexible and fluid and seasonal and I never can get it to where we’re just in this set system and routine. And so I’m kind of like, “Yeah, whatever’s going on today, I need you to help with this particular thing like right now.” But to have it set out— our days just aren’t that typical, I guess, to be able to really set it out beforehand on a whiteboard. 

Katie Metka Yeah. The same with us. Yeah. Every day is different and it depends on which animals got out of their fence. These girls need to go help my husband with the fencing and stuff like that. I have a couple of girls that are really good at milking—way better than me—so I help when I can, and they handle the milking mostly. 

Lisa Bass Okay, so what ages are these girls? Cause I’m kind of thinking I might need to get my kids on the milking, but we haven’t given it over to them yet. 

Katie Metka Yeah. Okay. So my oldest is Luli. She’s 14. She’s the artist. And then I have a 12-year-old twins next. And then I have an 11-year-old, a 9-year-old, a 7-year-old, a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a 1-year-old. 

Lisa Bass Okay. Yeah. It’s kind of like my crew with the twins thrown in there. 

Katie Metka Yes. 

Lisa Bass So are your 12-year-olds the ones who are hand milking then? 

Katie Metka Yes. So they are the milkers. They were milking the goats and they easily transitioned. So this is their first time milking cows and they just beautifully transitioned to milking cows. So they’re doing really well with that. My husband also helps with the milking and I go in there sometimes and help. I’m still learning. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. It’s very similar to milking a goat. I was actually surprised because we milked goats for a year and then we went straight to the cow and it’s like the exact same thing. Except for they don’t jump like the goats do. 

Katie Metka Yeah. 

Lisa Bass So are you enjoying or do you ever struggle to enjoy the in-between stages? So your homestead— you’re at this point right now where you have electricity, you have water, you have a little place to live. So that’s all good. But you also have a really big vision for the future and it’s going to be a long time until you get there. So do you struggle with or are you able to embrace each stage of the journey? Especially because you left a homestead that was done and now—or at least done as you know, you had lived there while, it was matured—and now you’re starting from scratch. How are you able to be okay with the journey of it? 

Katie Metka Yeah. You know, I think I struggled a little bit with it in the beginning because there was just nothing. And I loved my garden in Texas and I loved our house and the backyard. We had a pizza oven and everything was just so like flowing and set up. And my husband is really a visionary, so he can paint a picture for me and help me see it and be excited about what we’re going to do and what it’s going to look like. And so that really helps. He’s really good at getting me to see the future and things like that. So yeah, ever since the very beginning, it’s so exciting for each new thing that’s happening. So once it’s all set up, I mean, there’s always going to be things that you’re going to add. But the journey is the most exciting part of it, I think. It’s kind of like anticipating a big vacation. Once it’s done, it’s done. But the anticipation of it is the exciting part. 

Lisa Bass Yeah, that’s like the actual fun part of it all. I mean, I see what you’re saying. There’s always these little small victories and little progress points along the way and those really do help to keep you going. I think that’s, too— like when I’m thinking back on the last three years—because we’ve been here for three years—and now if I had to go back to the point where this certain room wasn’t renovated or we didn’t have this certain fencing, I would be so devastated. But at the time it was just okay because we were making progress. And so yeah, I wouldn’t want to go back, but at the same time, I’m able to see progress along the way that really helps to keep you keep motivated. But there’s a certain level of just being grateful for it. Like you were talking about not having electricity and enjoying these quiet evenings with no lights and obviously no TV or anything else. 

Katie Metka Right. Reading around the candle and just sitting together. We would sing in the evening, and it was just beautiful. 

Lisa Bass Yeah. You had to make some kind of decision to just be grateful for it, because that would be very difficult for a lot of us to live through that. So you’re actually taking it and then enjoying it too, which is, I’m sure, just a heart decision to do. 

Katie Metka Yes. Yeah, just purposely doing that. 

Lisa Bass So what encouragement would you give to a family who wants a similar lifestyle but feels like they don’t have the skills or the money to achieve it? 

Katie Metka Gosh. I mean, well, I just don’t have any experience with having a husband that doesn’t have the skills. So I imagine that would be really hard to— you know, but I see people do that all the time, learn as they go and look at books, look at YouTube. My husband didn’t know anything about fixing cars and he’s able to do little things by just looking at YouTube and figuring out that. I think if you have a heart for learning and you really want to make it happen, you’ll make it happen, and nothing will stand in your way. If you just set your heart on it and are determined, I think people can learn anything. We didn’t know anything about sheep or beef cattle or things, and we’re just diving in and just learning as we go. Fencing— like we’ve just switched over to electric fencing. My husband didn’t have any background in figuring that out. So there are just ways to learn about these kind of things. 

Lisa Bass Yeah, definitely. I mean, your husband came in with construction experience, which is helpful if you’re going to buy raw land with no house on it. But a lot of these things, I mean, from what I’m hearing you say, you maybe didn’t necessarily—you or your husband—grow up on a farm like this to where you just came in knowing how to raise sheep, how to milk a cow, how to process meat.

Katie Metka Right. Yeah. We were not farmers at all. I was raised in the suburbs and he was raised in Albania. His grandparents lived in the country. So he would spend a lot of time out in the country, but he was a kid at the time.

Lisa Bass Yeah. You don’t notice a lot of those details when you’re a kid. 

Katie Metka Yeah, he was used to no electricity, no running water in the house. So I think his experience of that growing up in that country helped us because he knew how to do things and made it simpler for us to figure out how to manage life. 

Lisa Bass Right. Yeah. Well, tell us about how we can support you, where to follow you along on Instagram. I know that your daughter has some art. And so tell us about where to find you and follow along. 

Katie Metka Well, I’m just on Instagram. Just my name @KatieMetka. We’re about to change it and add a farm name, but I’m sure I’ll keep my name on there. But we’ve kind of started the process of having a farm name now. We’re going to call it Laberia Farm. Laberia is the region of where my husband is from in Albania. And so we kind of wanted to pull that culture in to what we’re doing here. So it’s going to be Laberia Farm. And my daughter— right now, I just host her artwork on my page. Eventually I’ll probably have her own Instagram page, but right now she has an Etsy shop called LuliMetka, and she does paintings of homestead scenes from her childhood. So she’s always been painting. She’s always been drawing, and I always saw something special in it. But I didn’t know if it was just like mom proudness or what. So a couple of years ago we gave her some gouache paint for Christmas and she started painting these beautiful homestead scenes of our life. And I thought, “Gosh, I think other people would enjoy these, too.” And so we just stepped out in faith and threw them out there on Etsy and on Instagram, and people have really enjoyed them. And I think a lot of people see bits of their own life in what she is drawing— mothers and daughters and families together. And so she’s a really special little girl. 

Lisa Bass Yeah, that’s awesome. Well, thank you so very much for taking the time to sit where you have decent Internet and share your story with us. We really appreciate it.

Katie Metka Thank you so much for having me. 

Lisa Bass All right. Well, thank you so much for listening to this episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. I encourage you to go check out Katie and her daughter’s art. Her beautiful black and white photography that you will find on her Instagram page is worth checking out all on its own. Even if she didn’t have a wealth of knowledge to share with you and an inspirational story on homesteading, the photography itself is just stunning. All right, as always, thank you so much for listening and I will see you in the next episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. 

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