By Chelsea Rose Moore

Have you ever been curious about how to make your own natural mouthwash? Have you ever needed a non-toxic way to get rid of ants or a natural bug spray for your baby’s delicate skin? If you’ve ever dreamed of living the crunchy life, Kathleen Henderson is sharing her tips on how to do it simply.

Henderson’s blog Yankee Homestead is filled with practical tips to help you makeover your family’s health, eat real food, and DIY your way to natural living. She and her husband, Greg, own a 20-acre farm in Lucketts, where they homestead, make food from scratch, and homeschool their three boys.

She grew up in Lancaster, PA and met her husband in Texas, and together they’ve been putting down deep roots in Loudoun County. Her journey toward non-toxic living was born from a need to become healthy again. As a young person, she viewed cooking as a means for survival, rather than something that provided nutritional benefits. Her younger self had never considered the quality of the food she was eating or how it could affect the health of her body.

Between the birth of her first two children, she began experiencing a series of health problems. After multiple miscarriages, she was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease. Medications were not helping her. Desperate to feel normal, she decided to try a dietary overhaul and started by eliminating gluten, which produced a noticeable improvement.

“When you remove things like gluten and sugar and emphasize eating real food and nutritious food, it equals lots of from-scratch cooking,” she said, “It was a process to go from processed foods to high-quality meats and fresh produce.” Initially, the process felt overwhelming, but Henderson soon learned that many gluten-free alternatives contained processed or unhealthy ingredients. Armed with library books about gluten-free eating, she began making meals from scratch and purged the kitchen of anything containing gluten, in order to remove the “convenience” of grabbing something unhealthy as a snack.

“Changing my diet made such an improvement so quickly,” she said. “It was obvious that that was going to be a major piece for us. I became really vigilant about what we were putting into our bodies. That’s when we started really examining: What am I contributing to the air of my home through cleaning products? What are all these things I am putting on our skin, like deodorant, lotion, and makeup?” One thing led to another. What began with the removal of gluten transformed into drastic lifestyle changes. Together, the couple found they had more energy and felt increasingly healthier.

Today, they make their own elderberry syrup, bone broth, paleo breads, and grain-free crackers. During the harvest months, they can everything from homemade pizza sauce to peach jam, and from tomato soup to applesauce. They eat high-quality meats from their farm and harvest fruits and vegetables grown in their garden. A dehydrator preserves their homegrown foods.

Kathleen enjoying her garden. Page 4, bottom: Kathleen with husband Greg and sons Malachi, Creed, and Haddon.

As the young mother found recipes her family loved, she wanted to keep them all in one place and share them easily with friends. Thus, a blog was born. Started primarily for sharing recipes, Yankee Homestead has grown into a resource for healthy living, non-toxic products, wellness tips, and
homeschool resources.

Did you know you could make a DIY carpet freshener from baking soda and essential oils? Her blog can help you find answers on making simple changes to detoxify your family’s life. Her blog has helped many people find answers on overhauling their diets and detoxifying their personal care products. Comments on her blog range from echoes of gratitude to exclamations of, “So inspirational and yet real and down to earth!”

After first detoxing their diet, the Hendersons began detoxing their personal care products, too. Henderson began using doTERRA essential oils and found she could “detoxify healthcare” products simply by using oils that kept them feeling great. “It was something that was safe for my kids, without the side effects of products we had been using before,” she said.

Armed with stories of her newfound success with oils, the young blogger began sharing with others. Today, she teaches regular online and in-person classes. “[Healthy living has] become a part of who we are,” she said, “It’s been an awakening. As we were pursuing our own health, we discovered a whole new way of life that feels like it was inside us all along, waiting for its time. Now that we know, we can’t not do it. It’s a philosophy. It’s not a hobby that we’ve chosen. It’s not a stage that we’re going through. It’s more of a homecoming.”

She has found homeschooling her boys ties in beautifully with their lifestyle. It has even allowed her children to become “co-homesteaders.” Her two older boys have established farm “enterprises” with spreadsheets that map out their income and expenses.

Twelve-year-old Malachi Henderson sells duck eggs. “Eggs can be an inflammatory food for many people, but often people who have trouble tolerating chicken eggs, do just fine with duck eggs,” said Kathleen, “They are often more nutritious than chicken eggs and are great for baking.”

Malachi also loves making kombucha each week for his family and makes extra to sell to farm customers. For those interested in brewing kombucha at home, he and Kathleen lead kombucha-making classes on the farm. He is also starting meat-rabbit enterprise that will be available for purchase soon.

Eight-year-old Creed Henderson chose specialty chickens that lay beautiful blue and green eggs to sell to farm customers. From caring for the birds to using the money from egg sales to pay for the feed, the boys are in charge of the entire enterprise.

The Hendersons sell chicken, pork, and beef. Each year, after first experimenting with it on a small scale for their family, they add something new to the farm. This year, they are planting more fruit trees and berries.
“Our philosophy has shifted somewhat as we’ve examined the implications of growing and eating local foods and stewarding the land and agricultural resources we’ve been given,” Kathleen said.

Kathleen’s Mouthwash
with Essential Oils

Ingredients
2 cups filtered water
1 tsp unrefined sea salt
Essential Oils:
2-3 drops peppermint oil
2-3 drops cinnamon oil
2-3 drops clove oil
2-3 drops spearmint oil
2-3 drops melaleuca (tea tree) oil
Also consider:
2-3 drops On Guard protective blend (eucalyptus, rosemary, wild orange, cinnamon & clove)
2-3 drops myrrh oil

Instructions
Heat the water.
Add salt to the hot water and stir to dissolve.
Allow water to cool.
Add essential oils.
Store in a glass bottle.
Rinse for about 30 seconds, twice per day.
Find many more recipes like this by visiting yankeehomestead.com. To join Kathleen’s farm newsletter, learn about classes, or see what is currently available for purchase, email her at kathleen@yankeehomestead.com. Follow her updates on Facebook @YankeeHomestead.

This article first appeared in the March 2019 issue of Middleburg Life.