REISTERSTOWN – “Welcome to Homestead Story,” says Peter Daub, over triumphant background music that could also be employed to indicate Superman has survived death. “We’re Peter and Kristen.”
“Join us as we share a new – but old – kind of family life,” Kristen Daub adds, and the couple is off, sharing the joys, laughs and frustrations of homesteading on their 40-minute podcast, “Homestead Story: Chickens, Cows, Kids and Catholics,” available at homesteadstory.com or soundcloud.com/peter-daub.
In a recent episode, they talked about harvesting the mushrooms that Peter had mixed into a woodchip-floored “forest garden,” also containing young fruit and nut trees, kale, rhubarb, squash and more.
Kristen insisted that Peter take the first bite, even though the mushrooms were clearly distinguishable from any wild – and potentially poisonous – specimens that can also grow in woodchips.
“It’s still a little weird,” Peter remarked in the podcast. “You put that first bite in your mouth and you’re like, ‘Here’s to not dying.’ ”
Peter, 36, and Kristen, 33, grew up on the same street in Catonsville, and, like many others, went to college, went to work, got married and moved to the suburbs. Peter is a software engineer; Kristen served as a youth minister at St. Louis Parish in Clarksville.
The couple had four boys in quick succession: Justin, 7; John Paul, 5; Nicholas, 3, and Nathan, 2.
The family enjoyed the comforts of a home, yard and steady income, but something wasn’t quite right.
“When we were starting to be a little more honest about our life, we saw that we were the end consumers of hundreds and thousands of things,” Peter explained to the Review, echoing Pope Francis, both in his encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si’,” and on his remarks on consumerism and the “throw-away culture.”
“When we started to look at some of these (products) and where they were coming from, … we saw a lot of negative things,” Peter continued.
At the same time, the couple was making the adjustment from young adults to heads of a young family.
“We were going out all the time, and then we started having kids,” Peter said. “It became so hard to just do things.”
As Peter and Kristen considered the homesteading idea more seriously, another advantage became apparent.
“Instead of going out all the time, we could just be together in the home all the time,” Peter said.
The couple, now parishioners of Sacred Heart in Glyndon, purchased their 10-acre farm about two years ago. Whenever he’s not at his day job, Peter milks three gallons – 9,000 calories worth – from the cow, Carmela, in the mornings, and joins Kristen and the boys in the family’s labor of love.
“My son (Justin) told me today that one of his favorite things is just to harvest food, which is good, because we have a lot of food to harvest,” Peter said.
Kristen homeschools the boys, who have been known to take their books to the trees.
“Our kids have never seen a screen or (smart) phone,” she said. “They’re always climbing trees or building forts – using their imaginations.”
The Daubs even recently hosted a field day for Catonsville-area Catholic homeschoolers at their farm.
“There were 60 or 70 kids running around here,” Peter said.
The Daubs see their podcast as participation in the same educational co-op – other podcasts, YouTube channels, instructional blogs, etc. – that continue to serve them in their endeavor.
“We didn’t grow up around this at all,” Kristen acknowledged. “Little by little, we’re producing more of our own food. “
“We don’t want to isolate ourselves,” she added. “We want to be a help to people … to show we can live differently from how the culture wants us to live.”
At the center of it all is faith.
“We always say we feel like God created man to be in a garden,” Kristen. “We experience prayer in the garden, and we see God’s work day to day.”