Women At Work: Caroline Bélanger

Women At Work: Caroline Bélanger


What does a day in your work life look like?
If there's one thing that's absolutely certain, it's that all days spent on the homestead are alike and all different at the same time! I try to divide my tasks into four sections: children, kitchen, garden/farm, household.

Each day, I try to set myself just one main goal for each section. This way, I rarely feel that I haven't done enough in my day. In spring and summer, I love to start my day outdoors. There's no shortage of tasks, and I have to try to structure myself so that I don't get lost for the whole day! It could be planting seeds, preparing beds, weeding, feeding animals, doing maintenance, harvesting flowers... There are always so many possibilities!
In the autumn and winter, my time is more devoted to kitchen chores and raising the kids (we've been a homeschooling family for 13 years now). I spend a lot of time with my daughters. We go on field trips, spend time with friends, do the more "formal" school tasks. Food preservation is also a huge part of my day. All the work we do in the gardens and with the animals always ends up in the kitchen! Whether it's cooking, dehydrating, canning or freezing meats of all kinds, herbs, vegetables, fruit...there's always plenty to do! The food we produce and consume every day is of the utmost importance to me.

We also spend a lot of time in the forest in winter, cutting all our firewood and future building materials.

What made you start doing the amazing things that you do?
Having children has really been the driving force behind our homesteading/self-sufficiency project. I wanted to offer them the very best (in my humble opinion and according to my own values, of course) in terms of quality of life: spending our days together, in the fresh air, playing outside in the countryside, in connection with animals and nature, with as little contact as possible with products that are toxic to our health, offering each other healthy, quality food, and so on.

Raising our animals and growing all this abundance of various products, to have enough to feed my family all year round, has really become a top priority in my life.
Did you complete any training? If not, how did you learn your trade/skill?
I've really taught myself in just about every area of my life. I'm very self-taught. I love learning from books, and now with the array of resources we can find on the Internet, it's easy to find everything! All it takes is time, and you have to invest it wisely to avoid getting lost!

I took a few days' intensive training in organic market gardening to perfect my knowledge of the field and optimize the work I do in my gardens. I've also taken small courses in making baked goods, cheeses and soaps. I sincerely love learning...but not on a school bench!
What did you want to be when you were growing up, or a little kid?
When I was younger, I considered a "big career" , but always knowing full well that I deeply wanted to have children. I went from architect, lawyer, policewoman to ambulance driver... to finally end up where I am today: a mother with a wealth of knowledge and diversified skills. Children have always been one of my dearest wishes. I've had the privilege of bringing four beautiful daughters into the world. This is truly the greatest gift life has given me.
What do you want people to know about being a woman in your field?
I think our society is still reticent about the lifestyle I've chosen, as a woman and as a mother. But I believe it can be as rewarding as any other profession. You simply have to believe in yourself, your abilities and your values. Concentrate and stay focused on what you want to do every day, to create a better world. Being a stay-at-home mom, choosing to educate your children yourself, growing your own food and working the land is really very satisfying. There's not a day that goes by that I don't feel deep gratitude for the choices I've made in my life, and if I can do it, I'm sure all women who aspire to it can too.
What are you doing when you’re not working hard?
I love taking time out with my family to relax on our woodland. Nature does me a world of good! We have a nice meal by the campfire, go for a walk and read. It's a great time every time. I really love spending time in my greenhouse and gardens. Very often I just don't feel like I'm working. It's a wonderful hobby that keeps me in symbiosis with the elements of nature. It's a kind of meditation for me.
How do you encourage other women to start doing what you do?
I encourage all women who aspire to a lifestyle similar to mine to take the time to discuss it with their life partner. It's essential to have your partner's support and to be able to accomplish all this as a team. I sincerely believe that anyone can do it, but that it takes a lot of intention, hard work and effort.
Finding other women who share these same values is also really important. Whether it's a virtual community or a personal circle, seeking understanding or help and being able to share a little of what we go through on a daily basis is very important if we don't want to feel too isolated.
Do you have any special projects or cool things you want people to check out?
I share my daily life on Instagram and Facebook. I try to help as many people who aspire to a lifestyle similar to mine as I can, by sharing the trials and errors that my family and I have made (and are making) over the past 17 years, whether it's regarding our self-sufficiency project, homeschooling, ecological gardening, family life, etc.
I also have a space on the Patreon platform where I share free content as well as exclusives for subscribing members. It's a very special space where I take the time to upload new material every week, whether it's more in-depth articles, personal shares, recipes or videos. I'm also the co-host of the "Comm'à Maison" podcast with a good friend of mine. We discuss our daily lives as moms, women, farmers... We also host monthly evenings where our members can get together to get inspired and share our various experiences in the wonderful world of homemaking/homesteading/homeschooling.
What does workwear designed for women mean to you? What does it mean to you, how does it affect your life and why is it important, philosophically?
I've always appreciated work clothes, but for a long time I had to buy them in the men's sections of stores. Ample and comfortable, giving me room to move around without feeling constricted. Workwear designed for women not only meets my initial needs (loose, comfortable, etc.) but also gives me a pretty, more feminine silhouette, and I love it! The best of both worlds! Workwear must also be designed to last over time, which is what I find in Dovetail.


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