Homesteading on YouTube / `Little us from Monroe' (2024)

Suzanne Nolan Wisler|The Monroe News

A Monroe couple’s popular YouTube channel has been selected for the United States of YouTube.

Todd and Rachelare representing Michigan with “That 1870s Homestead,” the homesteading-themed channel they’ve run for four years.

“That 1870s Homestead” wasone of just five channels chosen from Michigan. The other channels focus on rubber band looms, photo/video editing, art and another on homesteading.

This is the second year for the United State of YouTube. The initiative celebrates “the successful, creative entrepreneurs who are having a direct impact on their local communities,” according to YouTube.

“We are pretty excited. Little us from Monroe,” Rachel said.

For privacy, Todd and Rachel do not publicly share their last name or the specific location of their home.

“That 1870's Homestead” on YouTube showcases Todd and Rachel’s efforts at self-sufficiency and homesteading. Their videos cover topics like growing food, home and barn repair, canning and preserving food, meat butchering, alternative energy sources, beekeeping, maple-sugaring and their recently born first grandchild. The videos have been viewed 11 million times.

“That 1870's Homestead” has 111,000 YouTube subscribers from all over the world. Nearly 24,000 also follow the couple on Instagram, and they have 6,000 fans on Facebook.

“(Viewers are in) Canada, Australia, France, a lot from the Philippines, every state is represented. It’s neat to be able to see how we can all learn and grow from each other,” Rachel said.

Todd and Rachel became interested in homesteading in 2015 while living in Rockwood with their five children. As they contemplated empty-nesthood, the couple wanted a new hobby they could enjoy together. They also sought freedom from the commercial food industry.

“We saw how badly over-processed (food was) and wanted to get back to eating whole food. Organic is expensive (at the store). We asked, how do we remove the cost of eating well? Grow it yourself. It’s very cheap to eat organic when you grow it yourself,” Rachel said.

While still living in Rockwood, Todd and Rachel planted a small garden.

“We were researching and learning. We started a little urban garden. We had a very small backyard and small garden and no animals for food or eggs,” Rachel said. “We were well into our middle-age when we decided to do this.”

In March, 2017, the couple jumped into full-time homesteadingandmoved to Monroe, to a property and a farmhouse that dates back to 1876.

“It was built as an original homestead in Monroe County. That was what attracted us to it. We want to turn it back into what it originally was, growfood and live off the land,” Todd said.

The property sits on seven acres and has a 40-foot by 40-foot garden.

“It produces more than enough food for the year and plenty to give away,” Rachel said. “We grow our own vegetables, raise our own meat, chickens, pork, eggs and turkey.”

In their early days of homesteading, Todd and Rachelposted photos of their farm activities on Instagram and Facebook. Those posts quickly gained a following.

“We got a lot of comments, like ‘can you tell us more?,'" Todd said. “We came up with videos on YouTube. We can spend a lot of time with people.”

On Jan. 2, 2018, Todd and Rachel posted their first YouTube video.

Today, they have more than 700. Gardening episodes remain the biggest draw.

“People love our gardening content. We not only show how to grow and raise food, but how to preserve it and cook with it. That bring that whole farm-to-table view,” Rachel said.

Viewers also enjoy videos from the couple’s off-grid cabin in the Manistee Forest.

“We take viewers there and show them how great Michigan is. We show then the great outdoors, hiking, kayaking and fishing,” Rachel said.

Homesteading has allowed Todd and Rachel to skip many trips to the grocery store. These days, they only go about once a month.

"I can’t grow (things like) flour, coffee, sugar. I just get food staples,” Rachelsaid.

It was the lure of home-grown food that drew many to the channel during COVID and the resulting supply chain issues.

“We had a massive increase during 2020. We went from 40,000 viewers to 100,000,” Rachel said.

“People went to the grocery stores and what they went there to buy was not there. They realize they don’t want to be depending on grocery stores. We got a whole new segment of people wanting to learn,” Todd said.

But, heis quick to point out, it’s not about the numbers.

“Early on, you learn you can’t get caught up in the details of the metrics of your channel. You just keep producing quality content that people want to watch. The rest happens,” hesaid.

Rachel and Todd, who both work full-time jobs, film their own segments, which can take an hour or two for each video. Editing down to a 10- to 20-minute clipcan easily take another two to four hours.

“We want nice, good, engaging content that tells a story,” Todd said.

In the busy summer months, the couple might produce a new video each day.

“During summer growing season,when a lot is going on, it’s like working two full-time jobs,” Rachel said. “We always keep in mind, it’s just this season in life. Fall is right around the corner.”

Todd and Rachel also enjoy watching other YouTube videos, instead of TV.

“That’s our form of entertainment. We’ve followed some (channels) a long time. You get invested in their lives,” Todd said.

Todd enjoysvideosabout producing videos. He got much of histechnology knowledgefrom YouTube.

“We are always getting better with our storytelling. The same with content. We want to keep it fresh and keep it engaging from year to year. That will be our challenge,” Rachel said. “Good, wholesome content is hard to find these days."

Todd and Rachel have recently begun mentoring others interested in homesteading. They encourage everyone to give it a try.

“It’s never too late to start a new and exhilarating journey,” Rachel said. “I wish we had started when our kids were young. Grow some good food in your backyard.”

On the Net:



Instagram: that_1870s_homestead

Homesteading on YouTube / `Little us from Monroe' (2024)


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