Come enjoy 45 minutes with Rory Feek as he encourages us all to look deeper at finding those connections with the faith, family and friends in our lives.
Welcome to episode #373 of the Pioneering Today Podcast. You're in for a treat in this podcast as I'm sitting down with Rory Feek, being inspired by what inspires him for 45 minutes!
For any links mentioned in this podcast or where you can find Rory, keep reading to the end of this post.
About Rory Feek
Most people in the homesteading world know who Rory Feek is. With the creation of the Homestead Festival, homesteaders across the country flocked to Hardison Mill to learn from countless homesteaders on various topics.
But before Rory was known for his homestead, he was known as Joey+Rory, a country music duo that recorded dozens of popular country songs.
Rory's One-Year Challenge
If you were fortunate enough to be among the thousands who went to the Homestead Festival last year, you know just how special these events can be. Connecting with homesteaders, making friends, learning new skills, and, most importantly, being inspired by like-minded people is incredible.
It's for this reason that Rory has actually taken on a one-year challenge along with his daughter Indiana where they're completely unplugged for an entire year.
Over the past few years, Rory and his team have been busy creating and launching events like the Homestead Festival, doing monthly concerts at the concert hall on his farm, and even launching a TV network called the “Homestead Channel.”
But through all this, Rory saw a need to unplug and connect to things in a deeper, more meaningful way. So he's taken the past five months off from all social media and anything online. He even has a flip phone and no longer sends text messages.
His desire is to prioritize family life and connect on a deeper level with his faith, his family, his friends, his farm, and the people in his life.
When Rory told me what he was doing, there was part of me that wondered what my life would be like if I took a break from anything “online.” In fact, Rory shared that it's amazing how often when people see Rory with his flip phone they make comments like, “Awe, that's the dream right there!” But the difference is simply that Rory has done it, and we haven't.
Finding Deeper Connection
For myself, I can't help but think about how many amazing people the internet has allowed me to connect with. People I would have never met otherwise, or that I wouldn't be able to keep in touch with (as easily).
Rory says that taking time away from the Internet enables us to have more time to connect to our actual neighbors. To be present with those who are right in front of us, instead of constantly being pulled by the “people” in our pockets.
Speaking for myself, if I'm completely honest and transparent about how often I sit scrolling mindlessly on my phone, there really is more time in the day to focus on other people, projects, family, friends, faith, and deeper connections for each of these.
How the Homestead Festival Started
The Bib & Buckle Fest was something that Rory and his wife used to do on their homestead. But they stopped in 2013, and Rory's wife passed away in 2016.
A few years ago, Rory was thinking about how they needed to have a festival again on their homestead, and last year was the very first Homestead Festival, where there were dozens of speakers, concerts, and hands-on learning experiences for homesteaders across the country.
Rory remembers a time when he and Joey started having big music success and they found themselves in Vegas surrounded by their music heroes. They were about to have their names called for some nomination or another, and when Rory looked at his wife, she said, “What does all this even mean? What does it even matter?”
That thought has stuck with Rory, and he's implemented this when planning his Homestead Festival. He wants people to leave feeling motivated, inspired and filled with a purpose.
The Homestead Network
Next, Rory has been working with a team on creating a Homestead Network. Ironically, Rory moved away from being online just at the same time as this app and network were launching. But he knows it will reach people where they are, even if it's not something he utilizes.
He knows the internet isn't going away, and he wanted to create something that was a little more unique. Something with a conscience, not just something to take your money.
In fact, Rory chuckled as he shared their ad breaks which say, “Thanks for watching the Homestead Network, now don't be afraid to turn this off and spend some time with your family.”
This network is filled with content that's inspirational and something that might encourage you to do something inspiring with your own life as well.
What's Next for Rory
On a regular basis, Rory has been doing monthly concerts on his farm. But in January, he was inspired to change things up a bit and do more speaking events. A time where he can share encouragement, almost like a TedTalk, only Rory calls them a “homestead talk.”
He wants to share his love of story telling and thinks this will be the perfect opportunity.
You can check out Rory's website for more information on what's coming up at the Homestead Hall.
Where to Find Rory Feek
You can find Rory Feek almost anywhere (although you may not be able to get in touch with him directly unless you go to his farm, or somehow come across his phone number! 😉
- Rory's Website
- The Homestead Festival
- The Homestead Network
- Homestead Music Hall
I'm so excited to announce that Rory Feek will also be coming to The Modern Homestead Conference. This is the first homestead conference held here on the West Coast and it's this June 30-July 1st in North Idaho. So if you'd like to come see Rory in person, be sure to check out the Modern Homestead Conference and grab your tickets while they're at their early bird prices.
Melissa: Hey pioneers, welcome to episode number 373. Today's episode is a special one because we are going to be talking with actually a very good friend of mine, Mr. Rory Feek about something that he probably is not known as well for as being a Grammy award-winning artist, as part of the duo, Joey + Rory, and that is an experiment that he is doing, well, this year, but he started to undertake it last summer. And I found it fascinating when he shared with me what he was doing and asked him, I said, "Will you please come on the podcast? I find this very intriguing and I would love to talk with you about it further." So he is coming on to share that with us and this was such a wonderful conversation, I know it is going to bless you as much as it blessed me.
And remember, we talk about a lot of things and we will have those links for you at the blog post that accompanies this episode and that you can find at melissaknorris.com/373. That's just the number 373, well, because this is episode number 373. You probably have that memorized and could say it with me now because I say that every episode, it's part of this show. So thank you so much for joining me today, and we are going to get to this episode. But before we get fully into it, our sponsor for today's podcast episode is Azure Standard. Azure Standard has become a staple here on our homestead for so many different reasons, from the kitchen to cleaning supplies and to our livestock. Now for those of you who have been following me on Instagram, I am going to try to get through this without tearing up.
I will do a full podcast episode on this coming up shortly, but we lost our dear Clover, who was our milk cow, last week. But that being said, we used Azure Standard for our organic alfalfa pellets that I would help supplement her feed with, especially when she was in milk. So we don't really grain our animals very much, very minimally, for some specific reasons, which I'll get into, but our animals are primarily grass fed, grass finished, et cetera, even though my dairy cow, we were not ever planning on butchering her. But when she was in milk, we wanted to make sure that she was getting extra nutrients, and so I would supplement at milking time and would give her these alfalfa pellets, which are certified organic and that means non GMO because alfalfa unfortunately, I guess depending on how you look at it, I look at it as unfortunate because we try to stay away from genetically modified products, so organic alfalfa pellets mean that they are not genetically modified.
And I love them, and you can feed alfalfa pellets, of course, to any animal that can eat alfalfa. They are a great way, especially if you don't have a ton of space, to store alfalfa hay, et cetera, but to get them some of those nutrients. So that is one of the items that we always have on hand here on the homestead for our animals. Now we will get to this episode. You have been waiting patiently and my friends, it is worth the wait. Well Rory, welcome to the Pioneering Today Podcast.
Rory: Well thank you for having me. I'm glad to be here.
Melissa: Yeah, I'm really excited to talk about this with you because I have to be honest, when I first heard that you were doing this, I feel a very much of a push poll. Part of me is very intrigued by it and part of me wonders what it would be like to do what you're doing. But then there's this other part of me ... And so we'll just kind of get into that. I want to hear how it's going, what you're doing and I think there's a lot of really interesting things to talk about. So for our listeners, so Rory, you are doing basically kind of an experiment, for a year. And remind me, how far into this experiment are you right now at our time of recording?
Rory: Well I'm glad you brought up what it is that I'm doing because I'm actually like you, I'm doing so many things at one time, I wasn't really sure which thing you're talking about. If it's our homestead festival, launching our own TV network, Homestead Channel, if it's the concert change we're going to do, there's all kinds of things happening. But yes, I am five months into taking a year off disconnecting from the web, from the internet. So that started August 1st and we are talking, what is it, the 4th of January today, something like that. So my little girl helps me count all the time because we also added an additional thing on top of it, that we weren't going to watch any movies, even though technically I could have got a VCR and watched movies, we're not going to consume anything like that. So she knows there's another five or six months or something like that before, whatever, however long it is, till we can watch another movie. So she's keeping better count of it than I am.
But yes, that's what we're doing, is we're taking a year off of the web, it's something I've been thinking about doing for a long time. I've been on a flip phone for three years, I've been without texting for, I don't know, a year and a half or two years. And then this summer I just decided to take a whole year off with no connection on the web or internet, with the hope that I would be able to connect at a deeper level with other things, with my family, with my friends, with our farm, our community, with faith, all those kind of things. And so it's been quite a journey, it's been fun, super fun. Now it's a new year already.
Melissa: Yeah. Here we are. And okay, I didn't know actually about the movie part of it, so bless Indi's heart, that is something I think my own kids would have a little bit of a challenge with, so I love that she's doing the countdown with you. So for context with that, I find this really intriguing because like you, you're saying all of the things that you are involved with and have going on. And a good portion, from my perspective, I should say, and understanding is you do use the internet for your business, for your livelihood, in a lot of senses and how to get word of mouth out and let people know about things.
And so how is that working or has it impacted at all, or you just had things set in place where other people would be able to upload things, like when you had the tickets for the festival going on sale and different things like that? So how is that? Because I also work from our homestead, but within an internet capacity. So I'm very intrigued how you kind of made that work and if you set any special parameters around that.
Rory: The parameters, for me, and of course, there's no rules, these are all just made up things, that they're my rules. But my rules are I'm not on the internet, I'm not googling anything, I'm not watching, I'm not listening, I'm not consuming, there's no email. I'm here at my farmhouse and I literally climbed up on the porch and cut the internet connection. Now our farm's a hundred acres and we have a one-room schoolhouse across the parking lot, we have a concert hall, a big concert hall, we have a milk house, we have other homes, my other family members, all kinds of stuff here. And so they're all wired as can be, doing what they do all the time. And so we have lots of different people who do different things here, so they all could continue doing all the things they do.
So I'm already, even though we have a very strong digital or web presence, it's not really me and it hasn't been me for a long time. So what this happened to be is just make it really clear that none of it is me. So it really empowered everyone around me because when I came back, we were in Montana for a month, the month of July, and when I came home, actually before I left, because again, when you make that choice, you don't have any GPS to get home from Montana, it starts to impact every single thing that you do. And so I let them all know and of course, they're like, "Well, how's this going to happen?" Because we had a lot of things in the works and it just means you guys are going to do great and I'm going to be as helpful as I can be with what I do.
And so there's lots of things I can do and I'm super creative. I can write, it's not a technology fast, it's really a fast from fast, is what it is more than anything else, from everything fast and deeply connected. And so I have a laptop I can write on, I can do that kind of stuff, but I don't have any connection to anything. So it's a place where I can write and create. I have a camera and I can still make things and create things, I just can't download anything I want, I can't look at anything, meaning if I want to use a song, I can't go get a song, I can't do anything. I can use what I have and what I make myself, but they can do anything they want.
And so actually, rather than being a problem, like everybody was concerned it would be, it's turned into being, wow, we are way more efficient and everybody's doing a way better job and our business is, all the business things we do are doing better than they probably ever have. And I think rather than in spite of the fact that I'm not on the internet, it's because of it, because I'm better and they're more empowered and things like that. So it's been great.
Melissa: Yeah. I do find it very intriguing because like I said, I was really thinking about it because when you first told me you were doing this and which we could talk on the phone because that's not the internet, and so that's how you and I have been able to stay into communication. And there was part of me, when you said it, I was like, I don't want to use the word jealous because that's not really the correct feeling that I had, but part of me was like, "What would that be like? What would it be if I wasn't on?" And I do handle my social media, I am still the person that's on there, answering people's questions and comments and stuff. So very much I am involved. But it made me think, I'm like, "What would that be like? How would my life be different?" Just thinking about it. And then on the flip side, because when I was at the Homestead Festival, your guys' first festival that you had last June, there was an Amish panel, which was very fascinating and I was so glad that you did that.
And they were talking about their way of life and how obviously they are not using the internet and talking about that. And what was interesting is because there's a part of my heart that very much is drawn to that and I think a lot of homesteaders who are listening, are going to feel that too. But I was standing next to a very dear friend of mine who is Anne Briggs, Anne of all trades, and then I was looking at you on stage because you were leading that. And I thought if I didn't have the internet, I would have, well possibly it would've just been a different avenue, but I would not have met Anne. I don't know if I would've met you. That is how I've actually met people and then been able to create deeper actual true friendships and that type of thing.
So I felt like this still, I'm still conflicted, part of me really liked the idea of it, and then the other part is just not sure. And obviously it's for every person, like you said, it's something you decided to do for you, but I have kind of had that push pull fascination with it, I have to say.
Rory: Yeah, well everyone I know does. And it's been that way because I was an early adopter, I say this quite often, I was a very early adopter on, at least creatively, I was a songwriter for a long time. And then, gosh, 2006 or seven, somewhere along the line, maybe it was earlier than that, I don't know when it was, a friend of mine bought an iBook and I played a show that made enough money to be able to buy this and my wife let me buy it. And it just changed everything. I mean, it just changed everything for me. And all of a sudden I was like, "Oh my gosh, the possibilities are endless." I'm an illustrator, I'm a writer, I'm a video editor, I'm a studio producer, it's like you could do anything, where before it took a village of all sorts of folks.
So anyway, and of course, we bought the first iPhones, we bought first iPads. I mean, I've been very good at ... I'm really good with technology and I know how to use it really well. But I am also a very early dropper. And what's happened is over time I've just realized these tools that at first are completely enamoring and helpful, I start to realize, as we all do, that there's heavy prices we pay for all this. Of course there's amazing things that come with them, but they all, just like everything in life, they have a cost, and these are very unusual new costs. They cost all of our attention, they cost family time, they cost so many different things that we've never really had to experience before. And so as time's gone on, I've been fairly good, especially the last number of years. My wife and I, in 2014, when our baby was about to be born, we decided to take a year off of the music industry.
So right in the height of our music industry, we said, "Let's take a year off and not do anything. Let's stop growing our career right in the peak." We had our own television show, all this stuff was going really, really well. Let's don't any of that and let's hold out hope that an incredible story is going to unfold, in spite of the fact that we are not going to be pursuing one any longer. And without us realizing it, that act created, it wasn't the act, but it was almost like God knew that we needed that. And so an incredible story way beyond the story that we were telling or part of before, started unfolding. And so we had taken that year off and we just went back to flip phones together and simplified during that time. So I've seen the power of it.
And so a number of years later, I don't even know when, but maybe say three and a half years ago or something, I just bought a flip phone and unplugged my iPhone and that was it. But what's funny, coming back to what you originally said, is I'm surrounded by people. That's the first thing they see when they see my iPhone or they see me get a call, they will always say, men in particular, "Oh man, that's the dream right there. Oh man, I'd love that." And I'm like, "The difference between me and you is I'm going to do it." I'm just not someone, I don't want to look back and think about what would happen if I did and I know it's good for me. So it's a little bit of early dropping, I went to a flip phone and then I removed texting.
But the goal is not, like you said, how would I have met you? How would we have met Anne? How would we have met, I mean, Joel Salatin, his team sent me an email and invited me to come there. And so there are wonderful things, so the problem isn't, for me, the idea that it's good or bad and we should have it or not have it. It's just an experience for me to go, "Remember when we didn't have it, what was it like? And could I be more in control of it? Could I pick and choose what I want of it?" And so this is the reason for it. It isn't a matter going, "I'm going to decide to go back in time." It's more like, I'm going to decide that I decide and this is helping me be able to do that.
And I don't know what's going to happen at the end of this year, which is later this summer, I don't know what I'll do, but there's certain things I'm pretty sure I'm never going to go back to. But it isn't that I think the internet is terrible. I think it can be terrible and I long for greater things than being able to be connected. I want something more than being able to be connected to people all over the world at any moment. I want to be connected to my neighbors right here and now, I want to be able to do that. And quite often the things, these tools that are incredible, completely destroy the other things that we used to take for granted and we had. So I'm just in the process of rediscovering those.
Melissa: Yeah, well I just love how intentional your thought process and the way that you think about it and become aware and the way that you decide to test it. Because myself included, I think a lot of us would be like, "Oh well, maybe just" ... I realize that there are some issues that it's causing. I don't feel like I have enough time to do stuff, but if I actually track how long I'm just sitting on my phone scrolling and this is my hand being raised here in complete transparency, speaking for myself, there is more time available to me, it's how I'm choosing to use that time. And so I think that's really, really good to be just personally aware and responsible with that. But I also find it very fascinating that you're like, "Okay, well I'm going to remove this for a whole year," not a week, not a month. You're going to really dive into it and experience it.
So I think it's a good conversation because I think it's something that we all, I know we're all aware of on one level. All of us know we're probably spending too much time on screens in one way or another, especially with our children because like you said, with Indi and just wanting to watch a movie, it's like, I know when I was growing up, we didn't even have cable TV, we didn't really have television. So it was play with the neighbor kids or read a book or just go out and imagination play, go out on the woods and I'd bend a vine maple over and pretend it was a horse. Because if you got on the end of this vine maple and bounced, you could get some extra air, and I'd pretend I was galloping. And I look at a lot of kids today and even my kids live out in the country and on a farm and stuff, but even they don't do nearly as much of that.
And of course, we are in control and we can make those choices like you've done, but I think oftentimes we just kind of get in what's sort of normal or our normal flow and we don't take the time to reflect and then make a decision to change that, to actually take the steps. So I'm going to be doing some reflecting myself, I've been really thinking about it, knowing that this interview was coming up and evaluating the way that I've been using these types of tools as well. So I think it's a good conversation just to get people thinking and make us aware. But one of the things I also wanted to talk about, because when I first came, gosh, I think this was two years ago now, when I first came to your guys' farm, my husband and the kids and I, and I really loved, even then you were very much focused on bringing more things into your community and to your sister and their husbands, your family was on the farm and you guys have the restaurant and that was one of your main goals then, and it still is.
So that actually, when we came back home, that is when we started implementing a lot of that too. So it's that ripple effect. But I'd love for you to speak to that because again, sometimes it's like people are like, "Yes, I'd love to do more in my community or have a tighter in-person community," like you said neighbor, et cetera. But sometimes we have to be the people that start making those changes or implementing that. It doesn't always just come to us. And I think you've done a really good job at cultivating that, so I'd love for you to just share how you went about that and how that's been.
Rory: Well, thank you. I'm, like you, I'm just blindly making the best right choices that I can, moment by moment. And sometimes they add up to extraordinary outcomes that even I, especially I just sit on my porch and go, "Holy smokes, I never saw that coming." And most of my life these days is that. And what's really been fun for me is my wife ... well I mean, I was a successful songwriter and did really well and we've done a lot, we've won Grammy Awards and I've written New York Times bestsellers.
But what's interesting about those things is they leave you, almost everyone, they will leave you going, "But is that all there is, this is it, the pinnacle, this is it?" It turns out that most of the time the things that we think will be meaningful for us are not meaningful. And so that empty place is where we start to look a little bit deeper. And so over time, just this idea of place and what can happen in your place, wherever that happens to be, getting down to this call and what you're doing and pioneering today on the new frontier is not the same thing as homesteading 150 years ago. It's all of these things combined, and I'm super passionate about it. So yes, it is growing a garden and raising animals and making our own homemade meals and all the things that we do, but it's also navigating community in today's world where community doesn't mean ... it's just a word that's thrown ...
It doesn't actually mean anything, especially online, community doesn't mean anything anymore. And family, it's like pioneering today is like, "Well what do I do with all the other family members who don't care anything about this? What happens after this generation? What happens with my children or my children's children?" All of these things, so it's everything. And so what happens for me is one thing leads to another, to another, to another. And I'm trying to look at the wholeness of it all and just step into it in lots of ways. And it's funny how one thing leads to another. So this is kind of the idea of the internet, a couple of years ago, a year and a half ago, I was thinking about community and I was realizing that I have really, well we had a beautiful Suburban that it had, whatever it is, a screen where Indi could watch a Disney movie while I'm driving down the road and heated leather seats and it's about as nice as it can be.
And then I had a really nice F350 truck and I could go anywhere I want, and we could go anywhere, we could go anywhere, anytime, as fast as we can in the most comfort. And I started thinking, I don't think this is good for me. I don't want to be able to go anywhere. I only want to go be able to go a little bit. I don't want to go outside my community. I want it to be harder than this. I want to have to think about it. It's not the idea of community, I actually want to be part of it. And so taking a cue from the Amish who, the reason that they have buggies or they have horses and buggies is not so much that they're against automobiles, as it is they're protecting their communities. A horse and buggy will only let them go 20 miles or whatever the distance is, and so it keeps their community together.
The second they get in a car, I can be in Cincinnati and have lunch tomorrow or this afternoon. I can see the world and have anything, that's the problem with the internet. So anyway, I sold my Suburban, and then I sold my truck and all I had left is my 1954 Oldsmobile, which was just my now and then Sunday driver car. But when it became my everyday car on purpose and now I have to, when someone says, "Would you like to go to Cool Springs and have dinner with us?" I think, I don't know if I would, I'm not sure. Or do I really need to go to the store? I start to tether myself to community on purpose and life starts to get richer. So that's been a year or so.
And that's the same kind of thing that in our culture today, it makes no sense whatsoever. But if you really start to think about it, we sometimes need some limitations in order to truly, truly experience things. And so I've been having them all over the place this summer when I came home and I was like, "Okay, so there's no GPS." Well that's been an interesting journey just going back to Rand McNally, it's been super fun and hard at times, but mostly fun because then used start to use your brain, which we forgot. We don't even know how to think about where we are or where we're going or whatever, most of the time. But then when I got home, I started, it just snowballed, next thing you know it's like, I want to make a cup of coffee, because I have a well and the well ruins my coffee pot.
So where's my bottled water? I don't have any bottled water. And I went to get some and I was like, why am I buying bottled water? I just have this [inaudible 00:27:29]. So then I was like, "All right, no more bottled water." And then I was cleaning, we'd been gone for a month and I said, "All right, got to get Indi ready for a bath." And while we have some big clawfoot bathtub with the shower curtain and it was all dirty and I took it down, I couldn't wash it and clean it, the vinyl curtain. So I took it outside, it couldn't come clean. I said, "Oh man, I can't order a new one online." And then I just said, "Okay, let's take baths for a year. What if I slow that down? What if I make it harder and better?"
And so for me as a grown man in a five-foot bathtub at 6:20 in the morning, it's funny, it's super funny and slow and all that sort of stuff, but one by one by one, just these dumb little things that make life a little bit richer, it slows things down, slows our food down, slows our entertainment down. Now we have to entertain ourselves and Indi knows there's no movie going on, there's no songs except for our CD player, I mean, our record player, and we only have what, 15 albums and we wear them out. And so she picks up her books and Indi has Down syndrome and a lot of little ones like Indi, she's eight and they might not ever read.
But in the last five months, she's gone from being a reader to, she's in third grade and she's reading at a fourth grade level and she is obsessed with it. The second she gets home, she's got a book in her lap and she wants to read it and then she wants to read something else. And I think it's partly because she doesn't have something to entertain her. And so I'm seeing good things and all that, so it's super fun. Sorry I'm talking so much.
Melissa: No, no, I love it. And Indi, man, she's a girl after my own heart, as I grew up, a love of books, reading. When you said she was eight, I'm like, I knew when I was eight years old, I still remember it, I discovered because I would read books because we didn't have television. And where I fell in our family tree, all of my older seven half siblings were moved out of the house, and then my younger brothers weren't born until I was 11 and 16, so I was kind of an only child. And we lived quite rurally, there was a couple of neighborhood kids. And so I would read, that was my pastime for the most part. And I remember at Indi's age, realizing that people wrote those books and that that could be a career, you could write books for a living.
And I knew from the time I was eight years old, that's what I wanted to be because I just love books and stories and the way it transport ... Now I like waxing poetically about books. But anyways, I love hearing that she's discovered that and is growing in that. I think that's wonderful. And it's really funny too because as you were talking, we recently, I've gotten to meet a couple of people in our community and it's because, like you said, I couldn't access something and it was hard. So my milk cow is down right now and actually as Rory and I are recording this, the vet's going to be here in a couple of hours. She's very pregnant and has not been able to get up. And for the past couple of weeks she keeps going down and then she would get up for a while.
And anyhow, I won't go into that whole long saga. But the moral of this is she first went down a week ago and it was on Christmas Day evening, so of course there's no vet supply store is open and the nearest vets or dairy supply, big animal supply store to me, to be able to get anything without ordering it online, I need to go pick it up now, is well over an hour away from us because we live so far out. But of course, they're not open, it's Christmas Day and most places would be closed that Monday because Christmas was on a Sunday this year. And so I needed to find a hip clamp that goes on a cow's hips and allows you to then attach it to a tractor and slowly raise them up, if they can't get up by themselves. And I'm like, "What am I going to do?"
I'm talking to the vet on the phone, but they don't have any. And I'm like, "I don't know what I'm going to do. This is something I can't just go and grab," like you were saying. And so I did still use the internet though, I put out on Facebook and I just said, "Local friends, does anybody have a cow hip clamp? My cow is down, I'm kind of in desperate need. If anybody has one or you know of anybody, can you please let me know? Here's my phone number." And lo and behold, I met a gal, because someone's like, "Yes," who lives just in a town over from us, which is pretty close. And so I actually went to her place and we've started to become friends, she's a certified raw dairy. And so it was actually this really great thing because I'm now connected to someone very much in my community, that I don't know if I would've met if I hadn't of had to reach out to the community.
Rory: That's great.
Melissa: I really like what you're saying and thinking about that and if it's not just our first reaction to jump to the internet, like you're saying, or to jump to the easy thing and go get it, if we do reach out to other people, what happens through that.
Rory: Mm-hmm. Well that's a great story.
Melissa: Yeah. Well we've been talking about the Amish and some of these different things and the Homestead Festival and so I would just love for you to share with people some of the things that are going on and the different opportunities to connect that you guys are doing. And I know the Homestead Festival-
Rory: That we're doing here?
Melissa: Yeah. That you're doing there at Hardison Mills.
Rory: Well, yeah. So we started, my wife and I used to have festivals, music festivals years ago, called the Bibb and Buckle Fest. We did it for, I don't know, five or six or seven years, and then we stopped in 2013. And they were just kind of an afternoon or evening of music, but they were fun. We'd have a couple thousand people here in our yard. And we stopped in 2013 and then she passed away in 2016. And I've thought about it for a long time, and then this past year we finally just realized, oh no, we definitely need to do a festival but not just music. We need to have a festival that has a lot more purpose than that. And so we created the Homestead Festival and our first one was last June 3rd and 4th. And we've hosted some festivals for Homesteaders of America and some other folks in the years before that, but this was our first big festival.
And it was amazing because the idea for us is you have the opportunity not just to come learn how to grow your own food, but how to grow a life filled with meaning and purpose. And that actually is what my passion is, well part of it is, I'm like you and everybody else, trying to really understand what makes life more meaningful and purposeful. And that's been a long, long journey for me. And through the years when my wife and I started having some really big music success and things would happen and we'd be in Las Vegas at an award show and we're surrounded 10,000 people and we're down in the front four rows with all of our heroes and they're about to call our names for nominations or whatever. And my wife would be just mostly enjoying it.
And I would just be looking around going, "What does any of this even mean? What does it even matter?" And as you get older, you start to really, really look deeper at things and whether they really add meaning to your life or they don't. And so this opportunity to create a festival that spends two days bringing in teachers who can help you learn, or if you've never even thought about learning, just maybe discover things, that was super fun for me and I'm super passionate about it. And then in the evening, we had music. So we had a bunch of different people and we took a long shot and somehow managed to get Kevin Costner and his band to come here on the last night, and it was amazing. So this year, it's again this coming June 2nd and 3rd and it's going to be a little bigger. We have a hundred acres here, so we had about 4,000 people a day. I think we'll probably have six or 7,000. I think that's the max we could have here.
So anyway, lots of folks are coming, we've got lots of speakers lined up and then more we're adding and musicians and stuff. So that's happening and that's going to be exciting. We also, for the last year, more than a year now, we've been working on a thing called the Homestead Channel. And that's basically an over the top online television network, it's an app. So you could get it on your phones, you could all your digital devices, your computer, your smart TVs, pretty much anywhere, Apple TV, Android, whatever. But the idea, which is kind of funny because I'm moving off of it all at the same time that this is happening, but it's in some ways it feels like a conflict and I guess it is, but in other ways it's not really because the internet's not going to go away and the way people experience stories and TV and video and YouTube and all that sort of stuff, that's more than likely not going to go away for a long, long, long time.
And so one of the things we wanted to do was just try and create something that could just be a little more unique, where it actually has a conscience, that the goal isn't to just try and extract all of your time and all of your money or whatever, all of your attention. On our channel, if you watch it, our breaks say things like this, "Thanks for watching Homestead Channel, now don't be afraid to turn this off and spend some time with your family."
The idea is maybe it could provide goodness, something that could be helpful in some way, not even necessarily instructional, maybe inspirational, that maybe could make your life feel a little bit richer. And even though it's mostly a channel filled around the stories around one family, one extended family at one homestead, it's really not about our family. It's like everything else, by watching our family and the things that we're doing, it's like watching a movie. When we're watching a movie, we all sort of internalize it ourselves, it's why it resonates with us. And so that's kind of where that channel came from and that's been going for about a month and a half. And it's been fun. I mean, I can't get it, but I can see that it's going and everybody seems excited about it. I won't be able to really watch it until next August, but I'm glad to be part of helping create things that can be on it.
So those things are happening. I'm taking a year off, well that's a whole other thing. Now January, we're just into January and I've decided, well I'm going to knock on some wood because it hasn't happened yet, so we'll see, but I've decided to take a year off of no concerts here at the farm. I'm going to do something totally different at the farm. And normally, we have a concert hall here and I do concerts one Saturday night a month. And this year I've just decided, okay, no concerts. And the reason is I really want to do something more important than that. And they've been wonderful and we've sold out most of the concerts, it's been great. But I really, more than I want to sing, I really want to speak and I want to be an encouragement. So this year, if all goes as I hope it does, we'll actually announce at some point, or our team will, they'll share something, it'll be an evening where all I do is speak and share, sort of like a TED talk, but more like a homestead talk.
But I'm not really talking about homesteading, it's really, what I'm passionate about is story, and so I would spend the evening sharing and talking about the power of story in our lives. And so it's something I've been passionate about for a long time and I kind of work in a little bit in my songs and my concerts anyway. So it's where I kind of want to go is help people to understand the power of story in their lives. So that's a big change for me to stop singing that way and to use the hall in a different way. Of course, I haven't done it yet, but that's coming, so come see us.
Melissa: That is very exciting. So we will have links in the blog post that accompanies this episode, as well as the show notes for whatever app you guys are consuming this on and listening to the podcast on, to the Homestead Festival, to grab tickets to that and Rory's website so you can check out all of the fun things as they come out, and the Homestead channel. And what's really exciting too is because you're obviously in Columbia, Tennessee and I'm out here on the West Coast and so Rory is also going to be coming and doing a concert and/or storytelling, it may end up to be more storytelling, at the Modern Homesteading Conference here on the West Coast in Idaho in June. So I feel like kind of no matter where you live in the US, you'll have an option there for our East Coast or West Coast people.
And I'm so glad that you are coming and I didn't know that you were changing from the concert to the story, but I'm not surprised a bit because it's funny when I get to tell people that I had gone to Rory Feek's farm and stuff, the first time, it's funny because people are like, "Oh, they know you from your music." But getting to hear you talk at your different festivals and do the singing and the different things you've had there, you really are a storyteller at heart. And when I think of you or someone described now, that's actually what I say, is I'm like, you're a storyteller who also sings. But I feel like storytelling is your true passion.
And you usually make me cry when I hear your stories, I have to be honest. But that's because they're powerful and because you do connect on that emotional level and that what makes a good story, is when you feel that connection, like you said, and internalize it. So I think that's going to be a fun and exciting move to watch unfold. So thank you so much for coming on today, Rory. I always-
Rory: I'm excited to come to your event. I can't wait to come out there and spend time and just to ... I appreciate you saying that about storytelling. It's been an interesting journey for me because as blessed as I've been to have success telling stories, whether it's in books or a blog or TV or film or songs, my favorite story is the one that I'm part of writing with my life, is the story that's unfolding. And that's really exciting to me. And I can't wait to come out, I've got to spend time with you. You came and spent a whole day early with us last, I guess it would've been last June, you came and just kind of gave your time and encouragement and ideas and help for our garden and all kinds of things, which was super fun. So you've been here at our place, but I've never got to come out and spend time. Of course, we won't be at your homestead specifically, but I'll get to come out to your area and spend some time there. So I'm excited you've invited me and I can't wait to be out there.
Melissa: Yeah, same, I'm very much looking forward to it. And it's funny because when I got to be there, I got to meet your daughter, Hopie, and I'd met Indi before, but I hadn't got to meet Hopie. And we now will text and message back and forth and I have to laugh because now I have stories to tell. And that's really it, it's those connection moments that when you have those stories. But Hopie, whenever I hear Strawberry Wine on the radio, I always have to send Hopie a message because her and I had a very big song moment out in the garden planting okra and we're serenading one another, which was so fun.
Rory: That's great.
Melissa: Yeah, I can't wait to see the rest of the chapters that unfold in your story. So thank you for sharing them with us, Rory.
Rory: Thank you. And I appreciate everything you're doing. You're doing great work and encouraging a lot of people including me, so keep going.
Melissa: Thank you. I would love to hear what you think of this episode and the subject of going without the internet for a year, what you think about that. So we'd love to see that in a review or send me a message, put it in a comment on this blog post, and would love to continue that conversation. We are going to move into our verse of the week, and I think that you will very much appreciate this verse, with the topic of today's episode. So we are sharing from 1 Thessalonians 4:11, and this is the amplified translation, ""And to make it your ambition to live quietly and peacefully and to mind your own affairs and work with your hands just as we directed you."
I can't think of a more fitting verse for homesteaders, quite honestly, as minding our own business, working with our hands and an ambition to lead a quiet life. That is definitely a verse that my husband and I have actually been studying, not that it requires a lot of study, I don't think that's actually quite the right word I meant, but memorizing and just really meditating on that scripture and bringing it up to mind, to both one another as an encouragement, and so I thought it may serve the same purpose for you.
And I know we talked about it in the episode, but we would love to see you. I know both Rory and myself, as well as all of the other presenters at the Modern Homesteading Conference this summer in Idaho. The price of the tickets will be going up soon, but at the time of this being published, they are still on early bird. So highly encourage you head over to modernhomesteading.com, so that you can grab those tickets, which include Rory's concert. It's included in the ticket price, it is not a separate thing that you have to pay additional for, all included within your ticket price there, for both days of the conference and a concert by Rory on Friday night, at modernhomesteading.com. Well, my friends, until next week, blessings and Mason jars for now.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.