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Meet a Reader | Gretchen from Oregon

Hello, everyone! Today we’re meeting an Oregonian who does an impressive amount of homesteading.

Here’s Gretchen:

1. Tell us a little about yourself!

My husband and I live in the Willamette Valley in Oregon with our three kids, ages 4-6.

three children sitting on a bench.

My cute kids when they were little

I used to be a Spanish teacher until I stopped working to stay home with my kids. My husband is a middle school language arts teacher.


We live on a small homestead property where we raise chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, sheep, and dairy goats.

white goats.

Our two goats I’m planning to milk next year

We also have a big garden, fruit trees, a medicinal herb garden and grow some cut flowers. We also have three cats!


We spend most of our time seeing friends and family, participating in our church activities or working on our property. I do a lot of our cooking from scratch which takes a lot of my time!

As well as other “from scratch” things like my current main hobby of teaching myself how to spin yarn from our sheeps’ wool.

baby rabbit.

One of our baby rabbits

Another big part of our lives is adoption.

Our very good cat, Warby

All three of our kids were adopted and one has an intellectual disability so we also spend a lot of time learning about trauma and adoption issues as well as supporting our kids with their different needs.

2. How long have you been reading The Frugal Girl?I

‘ve been reading The Frugal Girl for 4+ years now, definitely pre-pandemic but I’m not sure how much before. I think that I heard about Kristen’s blog through Katy, the Non-Consumer Advocate.

I don’t know how I heard about Katy’s blog first!

3. How did you become interesting in saving money?

I think I first got interested in money by … not having any! I can remember quite a few years in college and grad school when my part-time jobs juuuuust barely covered my expenses (and sometimes not even that!) so I just needed to spend money carefully and save if I could.

My son with one of our baby goats

I remember for many years looking at any recipe that asked for more than one kind of cheese and rejecting it right away. There was no way I could afford that! Even now, it seems quite indulgent to me 🙂

Once I started working and did have more money (although, as a teacher, especially at a private Christian school, never all that much!), I have always wanted to save money for the future.

flower garden.

Part of my flower garden this year

I hate the idea of being haunted by money-woes when my husband and I are retired. I want us to have options and the freedom to pursue our interests and joys during that stage of life, so we need to save now!

Additionally, it’s really important to us to have money to give to our kids so we save for that reason too.

4. What’s your “why” behind wanting to save money?

I have a lot of different “why”s for saving money:
(1) to steward our possessions well because of our religious beliefs
(2) so we’re insulated from the impacts of a crisis like losing a job, major illness, big home repairs, economic downturn, etc if/when they happen,
(3) to have what we need for the future
(4) to model good money management for our kids, especially saving, budgeting and generosity,
(5) to save money so that we’re never living beyond our means (so stressful!!) but can use our money to enjoy life now and meet our family’s needs while still being responsible for the future

5. What’s your biggest frugal win?

Over time, our homestead will be a frugal “win”, although it certainly isn’t at the beginning!

Although we had to invest in machines like a plucker and scalder for butchering chickens, as well as the animals and their shelters, eventually our home-raised meat will be basically free.

baby duck

A duck I hatched out of an egg I incubated

Ditto for our garden produce, our fruit, our canned goods, and so on.

basket of garden produce.

I haven’t done the math to pencil out when we’ll break even but I have a goal to track costs and “income” in 2024 to see where we stand right now.

Certainly, we’ll never be able to beat Walmart prices but our quality isn’t Walmart level either so that makes sense!


I use a grain mill to grind grain for our sourdough bread. The grain mill was an investment but if you compare the cost of homemade sourdough bread to store bought loaves of equivalent quality, it’s a huge savings. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’ve broken even already on that one!

Another, very important frugal win, my very frugal husband who’s a natural saver and set us up for success by buying his first house (a foreclosed property) at 28.

7. What’s your biggest splurge?

We splurge on travel, celebrations and presents for our kids. I can’t resist buying them high-quality, special presents for their birthdays and adoption day celebrations.

My husband and I always go out for expensive meals for our anniversaries as well. We enjoy the time together so much, it’s a very worthwhile splurge for us!

8. What are you not remotely tempted to splurge on?

I”m not at all, zero percent, truly never tempted by cars. Both of our main vehicles are 10+ years old.

Our farm truck is thirty years old! I dread the day we need to buy a new vehicle.

9. If $1000 was dropped into your lap today, what would you do with it? 

If $1000 was dropped in my lap today, I’d save some, tithe some, and use the rest to start a savings fund for a future family vacation.

My kids are dead set on going to Disneyland someday, which, my goodness, is an expensive proposition.

10. What’s the hardest /easiest part about being frugal?

For me, to be honest, the hardest part about being frugal is resisting the fun and pleasure of shopping and buying things.

I wish I were a natural saver like my husband, but I’m not. It takes a lot of self-control for me to limit my “fun” spending.


Happily, I’ve gotten better at that restraint over the years so I don’t do much impulsive or wasteful shopping these days.

I think the easiest part is things that are habitual so I no longer need to use will-power to resist the temptation. For example, we’re very accustomed to buying anything we can second-hand at thrift stores, Craigslist, or Facebook Marketplace. We’ve saved so much money over the years shopping that way.

At this point, I don’t even think about seeking out new items, buying second-hand is just second nature.


Gretchen, thanks so much for participating! I am super impressed by your gardening skills, and wow, your cut flowers are gorgeous. 

I hear you on the second-hand thing; that’s my first thought most of the time too. And with enough patience, I usually can find what I want from my Buy Nothing group or Facebook Marketplace. 

Your children are adorable, the baby chicks are so fuzzy, the baby rabbit’s feet are precious…you have lots of cuteness around you! 

I have a grain grinder too; mine’s the Whisper Mill. Which one do you have? 

Readers, the floor is yours! 

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Tuesday 9th of January 2024

We held firm on *not* going to Disney (this was 30 years ago and it has not gotten any cheaper). We took inexpensive vacations once a year. When the kids graduated from college, none of us had any debt.


Tuesday 9th of January 2024

Wow, your life looks really sweet, looking in from the outside. I know everyone has woes and difficulties, but my goodness, those beautiful children, gorgeous property, adorable animals...what's not to love? So pretty. And I agree with your priorities. Those are some kiddos who've gone from unlucky to lucky, to become part of your family on your gorgeous homestead. Thank you for sharing with us! It brightened a dark day.


Tuesday 9th of January 2024

@Jem, Thanks for your kind comment. As you indicate, every life has its challenges. I didn't share about it much in my "Meet the Reader" section but raising kids who have experienced trauma is deeply challenging and demanding. I know God brought them to us and is using us in their lives but it's definitely stretched us to our limits at time. Nonetheless, we're so grateful for them and feel so lucky to live on our small property. I'm really glad that so many readers enjoyed seeing a little slice of our life :)


Tuesday 9th of January 2024

It’s s pleasure to meet you. You are an inspiration on many levels!

Elaine N

Tuesday 9th of January 2024

What a beautiful homestead and life you have Gretchen! The sweet children and lovely flowers are wonderful to see as, like other readers, I am waiting here on the east coast for heavy rains to morph into a storm. I love reading about the varied lives Frugal Girl readers have!

Anita Isaac

Tuesday 9th of January 2024

great post. love the pictures. you have such a good head on your shoulders. thanks for sharing. your family is beautiful. i know you will enjoy disneyland when you get there.

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