We moved here in 2002 to fulfill a dream of living in the country. When Deborah read Walden in college in 1983, she fell in love with Thoreau’s ideas of living deliberately and simply. When children began to fill our home in the suburbs of Chicago, Laura Ingalls Wilder books became a read-aloud favorite. In the early 1990s, we began to talk about moving to the country. We looked for property intermittently, but were never able to find more than a few acres, and it was usually cut out of a cornfield. We were also limited geographically because we had to be within an hour of the college where Mike teaches. In February 2002, we finally found what we were looking for — 32 acres, mostly wooded, with a 2-acre hay field. We moved our family into the double-wide mobile home on April 10, 2002, and immediately began filling the barn and pasture with animals.
Deborah is the face and heart of Antiquity Oaks. She’s the one who writes the blog, responds to animal and product sale requests, and generally oversees everything. If you have a question about anything, she’s the one to ask. In addition to having a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in communication, she used to be a certified childbirth educator and lactation consultant. She’s been a published writer in magazines, newspapers, and the Internet since 1988. She’s even taught college speech. Today she births baby animals, nurses sick ones, makes breeding plans, develops the garden plan, makes soap, makes cheese, decides which animals are bought and sold, develops new products, works directly with interns and apprentices, keeps track of farm production, and makes short and long-range plans for the farm.
Her first book, Homegrown and Handmade: A Practical Guide to More Self-Reliant Living was published in 2011 by New Society Publishers. Her second book, Ecothrifty: Cheaper, Greener Choices for a Happier, Healthier Life, was published in 2012, and her third book, Raising Goats Naturally: The Complete Guide to Milk, Meat, and More was published in 2013. She also teaches Raising Goats Sustainably, an online course for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Mike is a professor of electronics engineering technology at Joliet Junior College. Although he doesn’t know the difference between a pastern and a pasture, we don’t know what we would do without him. He builds all the buildings, puts up all the fencing, does a lot of the gardening, cuts hay with an old-fashioned scythe, chops firewood, and does whatever else needs to be done around here, including electrical and plumbing work. Since our youngest daughter left home in 2012, he has also learned to milk goats.
Mike has also become our fermentation expert. With his science background he seemed like a natural for learning to make cheese and wine, and we were right. He makes all of our wine and our aged cheeses, such as cheddar, gouda, and parmesan.
Margaret, our oldest daughter, now lives in Texas and works as an electrical engineer, but she designed this website and all of the Antiquity Oaks websites. She attended the University of Illinois and earned a degree in electrical engineering. When she was still living on the farm, she raised goats and sheep under the herd name Maly. She was the driving force behind showing our goats, which resulted in three permanent championships and many grand champion and reserve champion rosettes in AGS and ADGA shows. She was entirely responsible for milk testing the goats when she lived at home, which resulted in many of them receiving their one-day and 305-day milk stars. As you can imagine, we miss her!
Jonathan, our son, cared for the sheep, chickens, turkeys, and pigs on a daily basis until he graduated from the community college in 2013. He is not a big animal lover but enjoys food, so is our primary cook. In addition to making a great pasta primavera, he also makes jam and several kinds of cheese.
Katherine was responsible for the horses and goats, including feeding and milking on a daily basis when she was still at home. She started milking goats when she was 10 and spinning our Shetland sheep wool into yarn when she was 11 years old. Katherine is a self-proclaimed photography nut and is responsible for the majority of the photographs on the website. When attending the community college, she was the editor of the campus newspaper and then the editor-in-chief. She now attends the University of Illinois as a chemistry major and plans to head to graduate school in 2014.