Unconventional Wellness Radio

Episode #43: Jill Winger of The Prairie Homestead

This is too much fun! Today, we have Jill Winger of The Prairie Homestead on a 2-part conversation!

On today's episode, we get into the life that lead Jill and her family to have a 9-year (and running) blog into their lives on the homestead!

We also talk about her journey toward living a more natural and healthy life, discussing the 5 Pillars of Unconventional Wellness.

As we talk about in the Episode, you can check out Jill's new book, The Prairie Homestead Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Heritage Cooking in Any Kitchen! Get your copy: HERE!

Enjoy our conversation!

Here are the shownotes for today's episode:

Frank: (00:00)
Welcome to unconventional wellness radio. I'm Frank and I'm your host. I'm a physician assistant trying to bring you the five pillars of unconventional wellness and on today's episode we bring on a special guest who's not just a special guest, but also a great friend of my wife's and I. Her name is Jill winger and she started a blog that has grown to over 750,000 people every single month called the Prairie homestead. And we're gonna talk real and talk transparently about her journey and how she has changed her course of wellness and how she has living out those five pillars of unconventional wellness in our home itself. We'll talk about that. We'll talk about her book and we're also going to talk about heritage cooking, which is something that she has launched recently. So stay tuned. This is episode number 43 of unconventional on this radio and I will talk to you guys very, very soon. Hey everyone, and welcome to unconventional wellness radio, powerful and inspiring podcast sets of revolutionize and disrupt healthcare. It's time to put you in the driver's seat. That'd be the force of change necessary for the lifestyle you've always wanted. 

Frank: (01:07)
Hey guys, how are you? This is Frank and this is unconventional wellness radio and I'm just going to flat out jump right into it because I didn't want to keep you any longer and build up any more suspense. Uh, but I have a friend of mine on this podcast episode for today. Uh, you probably know who she is because if you have even considered dabbling in any type of homesteading or heritage cooking, uh, will definitely trust me. We will make sure that you're experts on what heritage cooking is even all about. Uh, but I have Jill winger, uh, from the Prairie homestead on my podcast today and I'm extraordinarily excited to be able to actually speak with her about everything that she's got going on in her life. And, uh, we are going to get transparent and, uh, probably a little raw and real. And we're going to dive into what makes Jill winger, uh, just such a wonderful light and such a wonderful inspiration to a lot of people who know her not only through her podcast but also through her website. 

Frank: (02:14)
Uh, the Prairie homestead. She's a friend of ours that we met mutually, uh, a couple of years ago. Uh, and we have just fallen in love with both her and her husband, Christian, who have this really wonderful a homestead out in Wyoming and that they now are raising so many different types of animals. And we'll talk about all of those and we'll talk about all the wonderful things that she's doing on the homestead. But I am so grateful, Jill, for you being on the podcast today. I am just so excited about what the next, who knows how many minutes entail. Yes, me too. Thank you so much for the invite. I've been looking forward to this. Absolutely. So, uh, just to let you guys know, if you don't know who Jill is, first of all, you just need to Google her and find out who she is and go check out her website, the Prairie homestead.com. 

Frank: (03:00)
But she is a, uh, an online, she has a, an online space which is dedicated to helping people who feel disenchanted by modern life and wants to return to their roots without forgot foregoing modern conveniences. And so she is developed this really wonderful hybrid system of being able to say like, you can be traditional, but it's completely understandable and fine for you to be able to use some of these advances that we have in our modern, uh, capabilities for practical and authentic style of teaching. And storytelling has won over the hearts of over get this guys, 750,000 people. Yes, I said that right? Three quarters of 1 million homesteaders across social media who are looking to her for advice and reassurance and creating from scratch meals, tending chickens, and even growing their first cart. And so thank you so much again, Joe, for joining us today. 

Jill: (03:53)
You bet. It's going to be fun. 

Frank: (03:55)
Now you just correct me if our mom, but didn't you just get done or are you not getting ready to go to a pretty large homesteading conference? That is actually on my side of the United States. 

Jill: (04:05)
Yeah, we just got back, well just got back a couple of weeks ago to the from home centers of America. And if anyone listening to this podcast is, I'm sure you probably are interested in home settings. I know Frank, you and Jackie do some home setting as well, but um, any audience members check it out. If it's every single year, it's in October, it's in Virginia and it's fantastic. It's just workshops and presentations and a lot of, you know, YouTube, homesteaders and homestead influencers are there and it was a fantastic time 

Frank: (04:36)
and I'll be, I'll be the one to go ahead and um, you know, name drop and stuff like that. But Jill absolutely was one of the highlights, and I correct me if I'm wrong, but one of the keynotes as well during that entire conferences in that, correct? 

Jill: (04:49)
They, I guess so. Yes, I will. They said I was a keynote, I'm like, I have to speak twice, which was so much fun. And yeah, it was a great time of connection. 

Frank: (04:58)
And so, uh, if you guys are actually also interested, Jill does in fact have a cookbook out. Uh, it is the Prairie homestead cookbook and it has simple recipes for heritage cooking in any kitchen. And I promise guys, we will talk about heritage cooking, uh, because I really, uh, this is near and dear to both mine and my wife's heart as well. And we just love seeing that Jill has stepped into her own to teach people how to really get back into the kitchen and create the simplest of communities, which is family. And we really need to be able to understand that, um, you know, it's all about just not only nourishing the body with great food, but we really nourished each other's souls as well when we actually were all hanging out in the kitchen as a family together. And so we will absolutely dive into that. So Joe, keep me honest about that. Let's not forget about making sure that we covered that. Okay. 

Jill: (05:49)
Yes, for sure. You got it. 

Frank: (05:51)
So I wanted to kinda like give everybody, like, you know, an to find out who you are in, where did you come from. And so, um, you know, I mean, I know, but for the purpose of this podcast, I really want the listeners done now, uh, you know, where did the, how did the transformation happen? What were the large steps that happen, say from childhood and beyond that have gotten you to this point now where you're at. So can you tell me a little bit about like your childhood, how did you grow up and, and really that sort of thing. And we'll just kinda like let this conversation evolve from there. 

Jill: (06:27)
Yeah, absolutely. So a lot of people are interested to know that I was not raised on a farm or a ranch or even in a rural area. Uh, I was raised in a neighborhood, in your typical kind of nineties neighborhood with the split-level manufactured homes. Um, and very much just a typical childhood. Um, my parents weren't particularly, um, you know, they weren't farm motivated. My dad liked cowboy culture, but we didn't live cowboy culture and they were cool living there. Um, the problem was that I was a weirdo, so I've been kind of a freak of nature since day one. And from a very young age, I was very unhappy with my living situation, which I still don't fully know where that desire came from, but I was literally born with it. So when all of my peers and neighborhood friends were just cools, cucumbers live in the neighborhood doing the thing, I felt like a piece of me was missing. 

Jill: (07:35)
And I was obsessed with figuring out how to get to the country. And I did everything from trying to talk my parents into buying a different house. I would look at real estate catalogs when I was just little. Um, horses were a really big part of my passion. So I would beg for horse and try to find any excuse in the world to be around horses. And so there was this tension in me very early on, um, of wanting something different. Right. And even to the point, as I got older into high school, I finally did get a horse. And so I was able to dabble in this world of a little bit of agriculture, a little bit of a quest Rian, uh, activities, even though we were still living in the same location where we were just boarding the horse, but that was in the world sort of that I wanted to be in. But I had this element of feeling like I wasn't one of them officially or I was a little bit of a fake because I was living in town, I grew up in town for all intents and purposes was a city kid. So it left this big a desire in me that I was trying to figure out how to fulfill. 

Frank: (08:48)
I totally understand that and we get that as well because like, it's the same thing. Like, you know, first of guys, if you can hear me, I don't sound like I'm from the country, right? Like I sound like I'm seriously from like South central, New Jersey. All right. And so, um, I get it and I understand that like you just had this like streak inside of you and it's, uh, it's just something that you've now literally ran with, right? Like how long have horses and that's spirit of agriculture has, how long has it been in you now, since then? Like how does, how has the teenage years and everything like that for you? 

Jill: (09:23)
Yeah, so I was thankfully able to be in four H and I found some four H leaders who took me under their wing and help develop those, those pieces of me that wanted out so badly. Um, and that was a relief. So I, I got a little bit of that world. And then when the big catalysts came when I was 18, you know, everyone's like, what are you going to do with your life? Are you going to go to college? What are you going to do? And forever, I just couldn't figure out what I wanted to do because everything that was in front of me just looked so boring. Like you'd be like, Oh, well get this degree. You go. And we went to, like, my mom took me to the college like career day and I'm like, try this or this. And I'm like, no, I don't want to do any of it. 

Jill: (10:03)
Um, and so finally, kind of at the last minute, I found an equine school, it was a little community college that taught, uh, equine science and it was in Wyoming. So I decided that was like the first thing that made me light up. So I decided I was going to go to this college and get a degree in equine studies and that's what brought me to Wyoming. And that started that path of being able to be a little bit [inaudible] but more in this agricultural world. Um, I'm still learning and I still was a city kid and I still embarrassed myself a lot, but I felt like I had a little bit more of an identity with them. 

Frank: (10:41)
Okay. And so like that's, so through the four H experience and being able to kind of like start really working in equestrian concepts, what types of things did you do? Cause I'm assuming based on what you've been telling me, that I guess you started working with horses first. Is that correct? 

Jill: (10:59)
He did, yes. 

Frank: (10:59)
Okay. And then what, so how did you kind of like really start working with horses? Was it about that same time when you were about 18 years of age? 

Jill: (11:08)
Yeah, so I had gotten a horse when I was 14. Um, but we boarded it elsewhere, couldn't keep it at my house cause we lived in and so, and he was an old, old horse and he had a big old sway back and he was not a super fancy by any means. But I wrote him and wrote him and wrote them and got to be where I could handle myself around a horse. And then, um, when I got to college, that gave me some more opportunity to be around knowledgeable people and to learn. And then from college I was able to go work and get some internships with different horse trainers and different ranches. And that's where I started to actually have some skills developed. So it was less like I was less of a liability for the people who are helping me and more of an asset. And so that kind of gave me some props in the horse industry and I was able to build on that from there. 

Frank: (11:55)
Oh, gotcha. Okay. All right. Very good. And so talk to me then about like what happened, like, you know, after your teenage years, how did you continue to sort of develop this love and develop this desire to move into agriculture? The way you, the way you have 

Jill: (12:09)
[inaudible]. So, you know, when I was younger, like I mentioned, I always wanted this rural life. I would even go to the point of like I would push a wheelbarrow around our yard just pretending I was cleaning a barn out cause I was just wanted it so badly. And so I had my horses and I had actually met Christian, my husband by then and we were newlyweds and we were shopping for our first home. Um, and we knew that we needed land or we wanted lands because we wanted to live in the country. That was like non-negotiable. No matter how much it costs or how inconvenient it might have been, we knew it had to be a rural property for our first home. And at that point I just thought I wanted that cause I had horses. I'm like, I just need horse property. And so we started shopping and we found this little rundown property 40 miles from town, 67 acres. 

Jill: (13:01)
It was a disaster. You know, the house was very much neglected and the fences were falling down and everything was a mess, but it was within our price range. So we started taking the steps to purchase this home. And it was this weird, I still can't fully describe, um, this transformation or this inspiration that came upon me. I mean, it was like literally something supernatural because I went into this thinking horse property and I came out, you know, weeks later, like with this vision of homesteading. And it started with, I'm like, how can I make this property we're buying, um, pay for itself? Or how can I make it profitable? And maybe not even just financially profitable, but how can I make it productive? Maybe that's the better word, productive. And it was like that thought, that inspiration open. Literally the doors were thrown open for this idea of homesteading even though I didn't know it was called home setting back then. I just started to look at books about composting and goats and gardening and I was like, this whole new world was in front of me for the first time. 

Frank: (14:04)
That, okay, so that is, so then what type of an influence then did Christian probably have on you as this sort of like just you guys came together and it was like the perfect storm in terms of, you know, he had RA kind of maybe come from that sort of a background and then met you and you guys wanted to make this happen together. 

Jill: (14:23)
Well, interestingly enough, he was also raised in town. He was, and he had also from a young age, maybe not quite as young as me. Um, I think in his interest started develop in high school, junior high. Uh, he wanted to be a part of agriculture. So even on that, our very first date we were talking about things we liked and goals we had and both of us said we wanted some 0.2 on a ranch or to own a lot of acreage and to own cattle. So we both had a mirrored childhood experience even though we were very far apart. We're 1200 miles apart growing up. Um, we both wanted that. So, you know, we were two city kids who had this new property, but thankfully I had enough experience. I had been a vet tech, I had been working on these ranches, so I knew enough about cattle and horses to kind of give us a leg up. And he had been working construction, so he knew how to build things, you know, how to build fence. Um, so we did have a little bit of skillset as we came into this home study world. 

Frank: (15:24)
Wow. And it's amazing that, you know, Jill's Joseph Christian's story, um, is it's so inspiring to know that like, because of her in trepidation, like just being completely transparent and when you go to her website and you go look at her blog and you see the transformation over the last five plus years, uh, that the blog has definitely been around is that it's like, it's so incredible guys that like everybody can do this. It really just begins with that first step. You know, it requires just what Joe has been describing. It's requires that love and that desire of animals and wanting to have a lifestyle that is moving away from the, the like there is such an urbanization going on as I guess what I'm trying to say is like people are moving more towards cities that it's really interesting to see individuals now taking that step and they're a lot more scene in like social media space and online space that they're actually taking that step away from the city there. It's these people that are going against the stream, if you will. And so, um, it's just so inspiring Joe, that you have just like, you know, allowed us to peer into your life and to see, you know, both the pitfalls as well as the triumphs, you know. So tell me about like how I'm gonna I'm gonna put you on the, on the um, I'm gonna put you right here on the spot. I want you to tell me what is one of your worst homesteading fails ever? 

Jill: (16:55)
Oh man, that's an easy one. Actually. I've had lots but the one that always comes to mind first is when I poisoned my garden. So I had been doing this mulch method. I thought I was so smart and it was actually working for several years. I would deep mulch the garden with a whole bunch of hay and everyone told me that hay was going to make my garden a take field with the seeds, but it actually didn't. It was a very deep layer. It worked like magic had all these worms and the soil was super happy and everything was going well until one year. I unknowingly had used some hay that had been sprayed with an herbicide. So that next spring I'm like, nothing is growing like it should, what is going on? And my tomatoes, they were the telltale signs, they will, their leaves were this weird like stick twisted. And it wasn't like they were drying, it wasn't like they had bugs. They were just this bizarre like mangled mess. So I started doing some research and I realized what I had done. Um, it's a pretty potent herbicide. It's very common to be used in hay productions. And so I had to figure out how to navigate that little mess. So that was definitely one of my biggest fails thus far. 

Frank: (18:12)
Yeah. But it like, it won't, it won't, it's one of those things that it's like the lessons that are learned, right? Or the ones that you never forget and you tried to help individuals understand those wonderful things as well. Right. So it's really nice to have these communities that we can share these sorts of things. And so to say that like myself and Jackie have not had any homesteading fails, then we would be not telling you the truth whatsoever. Um, we definitely have had our fair share of them. Um, and so let's dive and thank you by the way, for sharing all of that. I mean like there was even things that I thought that, you know, just being your friend that I knew about you guys and I really appreciate that, that introspect and to be able to understand where you guys are coming from. So city folks turn farmer. 

Jill: (18:57)
Yes. And I, I really want people to know, cause I mean, something I struggled with for a long time was feeling like I didn't belong in the agricultural world. Cause it can be a little clicky sometimes. And I sometimes I hesitate to say that, but it's true. And especially people who were born into it who have a family legacy of a farm or a ranch, you know, that's fantastic. But not all of us had that. And sometimes when we don't have that, it almost feels sometimes impossible to be a part of that world. But that's what I love about homesteading is we can create that and be a part of it legitimately. And it's magical. So if you are a city person and you're listening, you can be a part of that world and you have a place. 

Frank: (19:36)
And I in remember YouTube is your friend. I mean it was ridiculous that I still remember one of the funniest things to check in. I first did when we were like, Hey, let's just get goats and start a homestead. And the way like move to Western North Carolina and started this thing too was I remember holding my iPhone wa like of, of, of a YouTube video. Um, somebody milking ago. That way Jackie can figure out how to milk a cow. We literally had a, we had a girl in milk, which means that they are capable of being milked. And so I'm sitting there holding it as she's trying to figure out what are the hand motions to actually milk the Scouts. So trust me guys, be empowered with like stories that Jill is explaining because anybody, if they have the mindset and they have the desire, you 

Frank: (20:19)
really can't do it. So you definitely can. Um, so thank you so much for sharing all of that gel. That's, that's awesome. Hey, so I'm going to go ahead and cut it right there. Uh, we are definitely going to bring you part two coming next week on our conversation with Jill winger of the Prairie homestead of the Jew have enjoyed what you have heard so far. There are some tips and some tricks that I want you to write down so you can absolutely apply things as soon as possible because it's really important about all these choices that we can make. But you know what's more important than the choices of the actions that we take. And so we will bring you the second part of our conversation with Jill winger of the Prairie homestead. And if you are interested in picking up a copy of her book, I have put inside of the show notes for this podcast episode, a link that will get you a copy of her book. And it's just chockfull of recipes and beautiful photos and, and appears more into the life of Jill and allows you to really understand what traditional cooking is all about. And so until then, we will catch you next week on part two of this conversation with Joel. And I hope that you guys have a fabulous week and we will talk to you very, very soon on unconventional wellness radio. Take care now.


Brought to you by Frank Ritz of Unconventional Wellness Radio