Coming Spring 2014
Blessed Creek Farm
Ft. Morgan, CO
CHEC and the McMinn family of BLESSED CREEK FARM will once again team together to provide another exciting opportunity to learn the basic, and more advanced skills of sustainable living to survive the times. BLESSED CREEK FARM is a 240 acre dryland farm 35 miles northeast of Byers, CO and 26 miles south of Fort Morgan, CO.
The two day camp will showcase a variety of workshops with hands-on learning experiences for both urban and rural homesteading. The cost for parents and their children to attend both days is $99.00/family. Singles aged 19 and up are encouraged to attend for $50.00/person.
Children 13 years and up can attend w/ their registered parent(s). Families are encouraged to divide up to learn as much as possible both days. No children under 13 are allowed, except nursing babies whom we will gladly accommodate. Please understand that children 13-18 are only allowed to attend with their registered parent(s), not other ‘supervising’ parents.
1. Will the material covered be the same both days?
No. We had many requests for advanced skills from previous attendees, or those already knowledgeable about the basics. In order to encourage people to attend both days to gain the most information, Basic Skills will be offered Friday, and Advanced Skills will be offered both Friday and Saturday. There are many Advanced Skills to be taught, so you can attend different sections each day to learn the most.
2. What are the objectives of the 2 day workshop?
We hope that families new to homesteading will catch the vision for a simple, frugal way of life that prepares parents and children for more difficult economic times, but also shows them the joy in producing and preserving their own food. For those who already have the vision, we hope to share a variety of skills that will help them accomplish their plan for sustainable living.
3. Is the Homestead Bootcamp only for ‘country’ folks?
No. Urban Homesteading is a concept that is vital to the 95% of the population that live in or near the city. Backyard Homesteading is essential for surviving difficult financial times, and a great way to live the ‘home school lifestyle’. Nearly everything we will be teaching can be utilized by city slickers, though we will include how to locate the right rural property for those who want to live on a farmstead. For apartment dwellers and those who don’t have access to a large plot of land, there are many things you can still do to live frugally and be prepared for the future. We want to help families bloom where God has planted them, whether in a city apartment, or a little house on the prairie.
4. What topics will be covered?
Basic Skills will include: composting, fencing, food preservation and storage, homestead management, kitchen gardens, orchards, small livestock management, and tree planting.
Advanced Skills will include: alternative construction and energy, beekeeping, blacksmithing, butchering, candle making, flowers crafting, milking and dairy products, large livestock management, root cellaring, sourdough bread making, soaps, vermiculture, and wool products.
We will also include discussions of family dynamics such as Dad as Family Shepherd, Mom as Helpmeet, and children as students and helpers. Topics such as utilizing your property – whether large or small – to its fullest potential, budgeting, scheduling of the work, home-based businesses, and individual family goals will also be covered.
5. Can our whole family attend?
Children age 13 and up can attend with their registered, attending parent. In fact, we hope that responsible children will attend sessions on their own to expand the knowledge the family takes home. Because of the amount of material to be taught, the physical work involved, and the safety issues on a farm (machinery and snakes, etc.), it would not be appropriate to have younger children in attendance that need supervision, as that would detract from the teaching and learning. Nursing babies are of course welcome, and we will also accommodate pregnant women and those less able to perform physical work.
6. I am single; will I benefit from attending?
Yes. Singles aged 19 and up may attend for half price. We think it is crucial you catch the vision for your future family, or to survive the times as a single person. You have the freedom of time that a family person does not. This is the time to start your Homestead journey!
7. What should we bring, and what will we actually be doing?
We will start at 8:30am sharp each day, and work until 5:30pm, breaking for lunch and relaxation from approx. noon-1pm. Please wear clothes that can get dirty and are appropriate for the day’s weather. Rain jackets and sun hats, as well as work gloves and hand tools such as shovels and rakes are helpful (please write your name on your tools!) Still cameras are welcome, but not video cameras, please. Don’t forget your sunscreen! We ask attendees to wear work boots, or sturdy walking shoes (sneakers are fine, no sandals or flip flops) that can also handle shoveling and walking in pasture and paddocks. *We ask every family to bring a case of water bottles, a package of toilet paper, and folding chairs (lawn or metal) to share with the group.*
Starting with the welcome session, we will help attendees set goals, learn new practices in a hands-on way, and communicate as a household, so they can plan how to carry out their Homestead vision as a family. Each household will receive a syllabus containing helpful material to implement their goals. We will also have prayer and fellowship time to encourage each other.
8. Who teaches the workshops?
Cary and Shari McMinn worked their farm and hosted the Homestead Bootcamp with their entire family. Sadly, Cary went to be with the Lord suddenly on June 2, 2013. He died in his sleep of natural causes.
Shari continues to run the farm with her grown son Zane and her younger children. Shari and Zane decided to continue hosting Homestead events and will be presenting the core workshops. Additional presenters will include homeschool parents and/or adult volunteers with homesteading skills. These presenters are people that the McMinn family knows personally and has worked with for a number of years.
9. If we come for both days and travel a distance, where can we stay overnight?
Fort Morgan has several good hotels, but we also will allow families to spend the night on our farm in their RV or tent. We will be hosting a potluck BBQ Friday evening that is free to those registered for both days, as we want to encourage families to come for the entire Bootcamp. Please bring a side dish to share, and we’ll supply the pit roasted meats and paper goods/utensils. There will also be a fun time around the campfire, with stories and songs. There will be outhouse facilities, but not RV sanitation, water, or electrical hook-up. Breakfast will be on your own. Please allow the McMinn family time for chores and family responsibilities between 5:30pm and 8:30am. *You may arrive as early as 7am on Friday to get your camp set-up.*
10. What will it cost?
The registration fee for parents and their children ages 13 and up is $99 for both days. Singles attend for $50. We try to keep it affordable, charging only enough to cover expenses. This cost includes the teaching offered both days, a camp site, lunch each day, the syllabus, and a vendor goodie bag.
11. When should I register my family?
Registration is currently open on the CHEC website. Due to the number of inquiries regarding the Bootcamp during the past year, it is recommended you register as soon as possible. Registration will be capped at 80 attendees so that the hands-on workshops can be limited to approximately 10 persons each. Last year the cap was quickly reached, and this year seems to be following suit based on pre-registration interest.
12. Is the Bootcamp exclusively for Christian homeschool families?
No, it is an inclusive event for anyone interested in and respectful of CHEC’s Christian worldview and homeschool lifestyle teaching. Like all CHEC events, the Homestead Bootcamp is a ministry outreach to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Those attending should understand that all teaching will be from a conservative Christian worldview, including a 7 day Creation week, and homeschooling will be strongly emphasized as a family lifestyle. Attendees are asked to dress modestly, and abide by the 10 Commandments during the Bootcamp.
13. Why is the Bootcamp at BLESSED CREEK FARM? Who are the McMinns?
BLESSED CREEK FARM is a 240 acre dryland property on the high plains of eastern Colorado surrounded by wheat farms and cattle ranches. The farmland is divided into rotational grazing pastures, with a 24 acre cropland section for non-irrigated forage hay. Paddocks surrounding the farmstead allow for livestock to be moved into protected areas at night and during inclement weather. Small herds of heritage breed animals include Highland cattle, Jacob sheep, and Tamworth pigs. The McMinns raise approximately 150 head of free range poultry each year for eggs and holiday market sales of ducks, geese, guineas, and turkeys. Two purebred A2 Jersey milk cows are rotated on 6 month milking cycles, and two purebred Oberhasli goats are milked for cheese production—all for the family’s use.
The farm is centrally located in northeastern Colorado 30 minutes from Byers or Fort Morgan; 1.0 hour from Limon; 1.5 hours from Denver, Greeley, and Sterling; 2.5 hours from Fort Collins, and Colorado Springs; 3.5 hours from Cheyenne, WY; Goodland, KS; Kimball, NE; and Pueblo or Glenwood Springs , CO.
Cary and Shari McMinn and their five children left the heart of Denver 12 years ago in order to find a more homeschool friendly lifestyle and increase their family size through adoption. They purchased their remote farm in the northeast corner of Adams County, CO and began to set up a sustainable existence. Since their relocation, the McMinns have added five more children to their family through adoption. They have found their lifestyle to be good for their whole family in many ways, but especially because they have to rely on the Lord and work together to accomplish their everyday existence. They accept no government subsidies for farming, and produce approximately half of their own food. The McMinns believe they can help other home school families learn a lifestyle that reduces debt and allows parents to spend more time with their children, discipling them and preparing them for their future adulthood. Going far beyond mere survival to actually thriving!
Having home schooled for 19 years and been involved with CHEC for more than 11, the McMinns have successfully graduated several of their older children from high school home school into higher education and the business world. Their five youngest children are labeled ‘special needs’, and so they understand the gamut of learning challenges in a large family home school.
Cary McMinn was called home to heaven on June 2, 2013. He left a Christian legacy of love and service to his family that will endure for generations to come. Cary was a licensed Architect, had a consulting business, and taught college level courses for more than 25 years. He grew up on a pecan and alfalfa farm in New Mexico, where he learned his farming skills by helping his dad raise horses and other livestock. He earned his Bachelor of Science-Architecture with an Industrial Design minor, from Arizona State University, and an MBA-Finance from Argosy University. Cary retired in September 2012 from his part-time college teaching as an Associate Professor in the Digital Technical Graphics, Industrial Design, and Kitchen/Bath Design departments at the Art Institute of Colorado.
Shari earned her Associate of Arts-Interior Design from Colorado Institute of Art, and enjoyed a 21 year career as a Commercial Interior Designer of golf clubhouses, hotels, and restaurants before she ‘came home’ to teach her children and become helpmeet to Cary as a farmwife. She was raised in the city by parents who taught her to love gardening and has learned about farming through research, practice, and Cary’s tutelage. She is a former CSU Master Gardener volunteer.
Zane McMinn, graduated high school from his family’s homeschool, attended college for one semester then returned home to help with the family economy. He had been mentored the past five years by his dad, Cary, learning farming and construction at his father’s side. A skilled craftsman, he has helped design, engineer, and build a number of facilities on the farm. Since the passing of his father, Zane has taken over the farming operation, managing the livestock and natural resources of the property. He also superintends the construction and maintenance of the home and farm facilities. He is a gifted teacher with an easy demeanor and is knowledgeable about nearly every aspect of homesteading.
Cary and Shari managed home businesses throughout the duration of their marriage and helped some of their adult children start businesses. Together, they both loved to teach, shared their life, and followed the Lord in whatever capacity He called them to work and serve. Shari now continues with her children in the family economy journey she started with Cary.
After 12 years of hard work with their children building their sustainable farm, and working within their local community teaching and helping others in agricultural pursuits, Cary and Shari were both named ‘2011 Colorado 4-H Leader of the Year’; and BLESSED CREEK FARM was awarded the title ‘Small Acreage 2011 Conservationist of the Year’ by their local conservation district.
Additionally, Cary and Shari McMinn have, for several years, been the support group leaders for the MORGAN COUNTY HOMESCHOOL NETWORK. They also founded FAMILIES BY GRACE, a Christian-based support group for Adoptive, Foster, and Kinship families that meets monthly in Fort Morgan. The McMinn family belongs to, and attends Reformation Orthodox Presbyterian Church, which meets in Castle Rock, CO.