It wasn’t long after we moved to Antiquity Oaks that people started asking us to teach them things — how to make soap or cheese, how to raise chickens, and so on. The first few years we spent quite a bit of time teaching and helping people one-on-one for no cost, but as we became busier, and as the requests became more numerous, we realized it would be more efficient to start teaching classes on the subjects most often requested. The homesteading classes scheduled below are group classes, but we do offer private classes on request. Every class listed is the result of someone asking us to teach them, so if you’re interested in learning something not listed, don’t hesitate to ask!
In addition to homesteading classes on the farm in Illinois, Deborah speaks at a variety of national events from coast to coast. Click here to see her schedule. She also teaches online through her Thrifty Homesteader Academy.
Reservations are required for all classes because they often fill up early. The fee is refundable up to two weeks prior to the class.
If you would just like to visit the farm, our first Open Farm Day for 2018 will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 5. The event is free and open to the public.
March 25, 2017 (Saturday)
9 am to 12:00 noon — Goats 101
1 pm to 4 pm — Goat Breeding and Birthing
March 26, 2017 (Sunday)
9:30 am to 12 noon — Cheesemaking Basics
1 pm to 3 pm — Soapmaking 101
April 1, 2017 (Saturday)
9 a.m. to 12 noon — Chickens 101
June 3, 2017 (Saturday)
9 a.m. to 12 noon — Goats 101
1 p.m. to 4 p.m. — Goat Breeding and Birthing
We’ll talk about the difference between cow, goat, and sheep milk, as well as the history of dairy in this country. Deborah and Mike will demonstrate how to make mozzarella and queso blanco, and we’ll talk about how to make a variety of other fermented dairy products, such as chevre, yogurt, and buttermilk. You will also learn what equipment is needed to make soft and hard cheese. A handout with recipes, a list of books, and sources for purchasing equipment will be provided.
Sunday, March 26, 2017, 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Fee: $38 per person. Class is limited to eight people.
If you have taken Cheesemaking Basics or have made a few cheeses at home already, this is the class for you. Deborah and Mike will be making camembert and colby. The skills learned in this class can be used to make other mold-ripened cheeses, such as brie or St. Maure, or washed curd cheeses, such as gouda. We’ll take you through the process from ripening the milk to pressing, draining, and waxing. We’ll also talk about the aging process and what to do if you don’t have a cheese cave in your basement.
Fee: $79 per person. Class is limited to eight people.
We will be walking around the homestead, so you can see chickens in their habitat up close and personal. You’ll get to see all of our different poultry housing options from brooders to an old-fashioned stationary coop, three different chicken tractors, and our hen-mobile. We’ll talk about the pros and cons of each housing option, so you can figure out which one will work best for you. You will even be able to move the different tractors so you can see how easy or difficult it is for you to do. You’ll also learn how to handle chickens and other poultry. The focus will be on wellness, because when chickens are raised in a natural environment with a healthy diet, they don’t get sick. We’ve had chickens — usually about 50 all the time — since 2002, and I can count on one hand the number whose lives did not end as someone’s dinner (either ours or a coyote’s).
Saturday, April 1, 2017, 9 a.m. to noon
Fee: $38 per person. Class limited to 12 people.
Compost happens, right? Well, yes, but depending upon how you do it, you can have compost in a few weeks or a year. You can also use worms to create a much richer compost right in your kitchen, which makes it perfect for apartment dwellers. Discover inexpensive options for creating compost bins and a worm bin. Learn about hot and cold composting, as well as vermicomposting, and turn your kitchen scraps and junk mail into black gold for your garden or houseplants. If you bring a large plastic container (at least 2 feet wide), we can turn it into a vermicompost bin during the class. Ask for details when you register.
Fee: $38 per person, one child free with parent.
Get your hands dirty in this class learning to skirt fleeces, wash, and card wool and llama fiber. We’ll discuss the process that takes fiber from the animal to a finished garment, whether you want to do it yourself or have a professional do part of it for you. You’ll also learn the basics of spinning using a drop spindle or a wheel, and then you’ll discover whether weaving, knitting, or crocheting would work best for whatever you want to make.
Fee: $38 per person
Learn the basics of keeping goats, whether as pets, for milk, or for meat. Most of this class will be held in the barn and pasture, as we discuss what goats need for housing, fencing, and nutrition. Requirements for copper and selenium, and symptoms of deficiency will be included. We’ll also talk about basic health care, including parasites, FAMACHA, deworming, and dewormer resistance. You’ll see first-hand how to administer medicine to goats and how to trim their hooves. Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes and long, well-worn pants or jeans, and dress warmly if the forecast calls for cold weather because we will be outside a lot. Be forewarned that our goats are very friendly and may jump on you like a dog, and their feet are not always clean. This class is free for one person per family who is purchasing or has purchased a goat from Antiquity Oaks.
Saturday, June 3, 2017, 9 a.m. to noon
Fee: $38 per person, one child free with parent
If you want milk, you have to breed your goats to freshen yearly. In this class, we’ll talk about how to detect heat, pen breeding vs. hand breeding, nutritional requirements during pregnancy, signs of labor, and the birth process. A couple of goats are due around the date of this class, so you should get some hands-on experience in checking tail ligaments, assessing udders in relation to kidding time, and seeing how the belly changes when a doe is close to kidding. You will see newborn kids and learn to determine if a kid is polled. We’ll talk about bottle-feeding vs. dam-raising kids and how to do each one. Castration, disbudding, and tattooing will also be covered. Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes and long, well-worn pants or jeans. Be forewarned that our goats are very friendly and may jump on you like a dog, and their feet are not always clean. This class is free for one person per family who is purchasing or has purchased a goat from Antiquity Oaks.
PRE-REQUISITE — You must either take Goats 101 or have read Raising Goats Naturally before taking this class.
Saturday, June 3, 2017, 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Fee: $38 per person, one child free with each parent
So, you think you’d like to live in the country, grow your own vegetables, milk goats or cows, and raise chickens? We’ll talk about the decisions that you personally need to make, but generally we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a homesteading lifestyle. We can talk about the practicalities of choosing land, building a house, choosing livestock to fit your lifestyle, and learning new skills, such as gardening and animal husbandry. We’ll walk around the farm as we discuss the basic care of different animals that live on Antiquity Oaks and how each one fits into a sustainable homestead.
Scheduled throughout the year at a mutually agreeable time; 2-3 hours.
Fee: $95 per person or couple. This is a private consultation.
Whether you have maple trees or are just curious about how the process works, you can join us as we make syrup from the sap of the trees in our maple grove. We do things the old-fasioned way with buckets hanging on taps, and we use the open kettle method of making syrup because we feel it creates a more flavorful syrup than the modern method that uses an evaporator. Wear waterproof boots because maple syrup season tends to be mud season, and we will be spending some time outside with the trees. Dress warmly!
Fee: $32 per person. Class is limited to ten people. We don’t usually schedule this class until February when we have a better idea of when the sap will be running because it’s entirely dependent upon the weather.
You’ll learn the history of soapmaking, how modern soapmaking is different, and how to create your own soap recipes. Watch every step of cold-process soapmaking from start to finish using goat milk. Learn to make your own soap recipes using whatever oils you prefer. Each participant will receive handouts, including a list of references for future use, and two bars of soap in your choice of scent (or unscented).
Sunday, March 26, 2017, 1:00 to 3:30 p.m.
Fee: $45 per person. Class is limited to eight people.