Homestead Expo in Belton, TX


We attended our first ever Sustainable Living Fair sponsored by Mother Earth News. Mother Earth News has held these fairs before but this is the first one to come to Texas. What took them so long?

It was jammed packed with speakers and events on topics from beekeeping to preserving food. Although it was a two-day event it hardly scratched the surface. I could’ve gone all week on one topic alone.

There were some well-known speakers like master organic gardener, Eliot Coleman, Howard Garrett (the dirt doctor), and the amazing Joel Salatin.

There were over 150 workshops and lectures over two days so it was impossible for us to catch them all. Greg and I ended up splitting up so we could go to as many presentations as possible.

It was standing room only for every workshop I attehognded. Unlike writer conferences, this expo spanned three humongous buildings plus the outdoors. We got a workout sprinting from one end to the other.

I had several favorite speakers, but I was really impressed with butcher, Meredith Leigh. She was a tiny little thing with the physical prowess of a linebacker. She demonstrated cutting up a whole hog while making it look easy. I’ve butchered whole hogs in the past, but I learned a lot about where best to put my knife so I didn’t work so hard at it. I think I’m going to get her book, The Ethical Meat Handbook.

Another lively speaker was Marjory Wildcraft. She was a hoot and a half. Her time on stage went by in a blink of an eye. That’s when you know you have a great speaker. I was only able to attend one of her lectures about growing food efficiently. I liked how she put things in perspective by showing hard numbers about the calories we need to take in and what kind of livestock and crops to grow to achieve that magic number.

tiny house
Tiny house, 500 sq ft

The exhibits were equally awesome. We got to talk to a lot of experts on beekeeping, chickens, and even wind turbines. One of the coolest things I saw was a 500 square foot house. From the outside it was barely more than a cabin. Heck, my master bathroom has more square footage. But what this guy did to the inside was nothing short of amazing.

The bedroom was in the loft. There was a full bathroom, kitchen, and a sitting area with office–all in 500 square feet. It didn’t even feel the slightest bit cramped. I don’t know if the picture does it justice, but  anyone who says you can’t live in a tiny house, never saw this one. It was a marvel of efficiency and clean design. And the best part? The entire house was powered by a solar panel and two car batteries.

The one thing I regret not photographing was the exhibit for Claborn Farms. They had the most beautiful chickens I had ever seen. We plan to buy some of their fertile eggs and hatch some chicks. They claim the size and health of their flocks is due to years of selective breeding and not to feed or supplements. If that’s true, I’d be willing to spend the extra money for some of these birds. We’ve reached a point in our homesteading efforts that we’d like to take our livestock lines to the next level. Quality over quantity.

Here are a few more pictures from our whirlwind trip.


We had a great time. I hope Mother Earth News holds this expo again. There were so many more lectures I wanted to attend.

Have you ever met a longhorn? Would you attend a homestead fair if you got the chance?



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  1. Before I forget, the email thingy worked great since I got this notice you had posted in my email 🙂

    Sounded like a fun event! I think I would enjoy going just to see what was featured there. I would be definitely curious about that 500 square foot house. I know I could live in it, not sure where hubby would put all his musical equipment though:)


    • Betty: Thanks for letting me know about the email. I’m not sure about that native WordPress subscriber though. Lots of people I never knew are subscribing. That will be great as long as they’re not spammers.

      re: tiny house
      It’s great for those who live minimally. The rest of us, not so much. 🙂

  2. Oh, I so wish I could go to one of those fairs! The ads taunt me.

    Marjory Wildcraft is a hoot, though. I first encountered her last year when I stumbled across the Home Grown Food Summit (which is happening again next month) and she’s just so… vivacious. And her sense of humor cracks me up.

    When I take the ‘back roads’ to my grandparent’s house, instead of hopping on the highway, we pass a small ranch that has longhorn cattle (and a couple pieces of property that raise emus and goats, as well), but the long horns are always awesome. I can’t imagine how heavy they must be to lug around on your head all the time!

  3. Angela Brown

    I have to admit, I would feel very ignorant, overly excited by all of it, and would need to go with someone like you with some focus to keep me from being overwhelmed by all of it.

  4. JackieBCentralTexas

    Maria as of now both your email links to get new posts have worked as got both versions this morning.

    Karl and my Dad butchered a wild hog years back, neither one found the process easy for sure. I watched Karl do it on the tailgate of our pickup using a hand saw and my small electric knife, thought he was going to throw the hog away before he finished as it was not cooperative to the process at all. (Even dead it had it’s own mind.)

    The homesteading event sounds both worthwhile and informative, so glad you and Greg got to attend and learn some new things to use on your own behalf.

    • Jackie: I’ll tell you our secret for cutting up a hog. Greg uses an electric reciprocating saw to cut down the back and quarters. After they were in manageable pieces we could cut the pieces into freezable packages.

      The first hog we did Greg did the cutting by hand, which was hard work. The saw saved us an extra hour at least.

    • Barbara: The longhorns were so gentle. I imagine they could do a lot of damage if they had a mind to do so.

      We have a neighbor who has 30 of them. I’m just glad they never wandered into our pasture. It was bad enough when another neighbor’s two Jerseys came waltzing through. They were enormous–way bigger than I imagined once I got right up to them.

  5. Butchering is definitely an art. I learned a lot from my dad the chef on how to properly cut up poultry, but I don’t think I’d dare try a whole hog. Tiny houses are fascinating, but not really practical when you live in hurricane country. Then again, if you have one on a trailer, you could evacuate and take your home with you.

    I lived in Texas for a few years and travelled around the state quite a bit so I’ve seen quite a few longhorns. Never got too close, though.

    • Jenny: Mother Earth News has been in publication since the early 70s. They modernized the magazine during the late 80s becoming slicker and more urban. I stopped taking the magazine by then because I felt they spoke more to yuppies than people who really wanted to be stewards of the land.

      But business is business and they’ve managed to incorporate themselves into everything. I was glad the expo was more about traditional country living and not geared to the city dweller. It was a huge success. The only thing I’d change if they did it again is to get a bigger venue. Despite taking up three huge buildings it still wasn’t enough for all the crowds.

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