Well, hello there! My name is Lee Traister, a.k.a Lady Lee, I help homesteaders like you simplify their homesteading journey while still producing a ton of food!
If you are drawn to this “simple” lifestyle… If you desire to learn how to grow your own food, raise farm animals, make soap and cheese…
If you want to learn how to do those things in a simple, non-overwhelming way that still allows you to “have a life” (a.k.a not be completely consumed by the homestead), you are in the right place.
Take it from a single mother of four who is a business owner and also likes camping, traveling, restaurants, and spending time playing cards with her kids… Homesteading doesn’t have to consume you. It actually can be pretty simple!
I was born in Israel and raised in a small agricultural community called a kibbutz, where everything was grown, made and shared. I still believe in the power of a community!
These days my community is in Central NC, where I grow as much food as I can and share both what I grow and information on how I grow it.
My name isn’t really Lee… My real, Israeli name is Liron, but it’s hard to say in English so everyone calls me Lee.
I was born in a small city in northern Israel, but honestly don’t remember much of my childhood before the second grade…
At the age of 6, I announced to my parents that I was not going back to public school.
I could not stand being closed in a building even back then. My parents had to look for an alternative and found a small private school in a kibbutz that was accepting “outside” kids (kids whose parents didn’t live in the commune).
A kibbutz is a small agricultural commune where everything is shared…
After a few tests, my brother and I were accepted to this private school and this is where my sweet childhood began…
Riding bikes between classes, having PE lessons in the community pool in the middle of a school day, riding horses, having food fights in the communal dining room, taking naps on huge hay bales, hiding in the communal laundry room between dirty clothes, and raising guinea pigs in the petting zoo are just a few of the memories I have (no memories of math equations whatsoever, LOL).
I grew up surrounded by crop fields and farm animals. And most of my time was spent in the barn with the horses. This lifestyle was just right for me.
I stayed in the kibbutz all through high school and at the age of eighteen joined the Israeli Defense Forces, which is mandatory in Israel. I was a fitness instructor in the navy for almost two years.
After my release from the Navy, I held a few jobs around the country, mostly involving horses since I was riding for many years by that time, but finally found myself back in my good old kibbutz.
That was when I met my ex-husband. He was going to school and renting an apartment right next to mine.
We got married a year after we started dating. There were no bells or whistles, only us, our close family, and the Rabbi in a small trailer which was used as the Rabbi’s office.
A couple of months later we decided it was time to check out this America that everyone was talking about. It was also time for me to advance in my riding career (if you asked me back then I would have told you that I was on my way to the Olympics. I lived and breathed horses!) and the US was the place to do that.
My ex-husband flew to California at the end of 2004 so he could start working (we had no money whatsoever) and I joined him two months later with one suitcase and $300 in my pocket.
We chose California because we had friends there. It was a soft landing, however, I could not find a good place to ride.
I had a friend that was riding horses just outside of Boston so we ended up moving to the Boston suburbs so I could ride.
That was when I found my trainer. She was an Olympic bronze medalist (dressage) and she took me under her wing right away.
When winter gets too cold in the North, horse people move to Florida and so we moved too. I spent months riding in a very high end stable in Florida before I made the decision to take a break.
I was tired of doing all the hard work for all the rich people! Yes, I loved the horses, they are in my blood and forever will be, but I wanted my own farm and my own horses.
I also decided that the sacrifice that I’d need to make in order to get to the Olympics wasn’t worth it for me.
We decided to change things up a little bit and purchased an eighteen-wheeler truck. We wanted to see the U.S… Really see this amazing country. We wanted to drive the back roads and meet all the people in all the small towns.
Towns that a tourist will never find.
So for two years, we traveled 47 states and the east coast of Canada (we were team drivers for FedEx Custom Critical) and it was truly an amazing experience!
When it was time to start a family, we settled down in NC.
My Ex-husband took a job as a locksmith and we had to get a house in the city so he could respond quickly to emergency calls.
We welcomed Maya in July 2010, Elinor in April of 2012, and Benny in September 2013.
Everything was supposedly good… Except, I once again found myself lost in the city. This was never my place and I had to escape before I suffocated or died of human overload!
In 2013 I found 20 acres of neglected farm land about an hour from were we lived that we could actually afford. We bought it but it wasn’t until 2016 that we moved out to the country.
I found a house right across from the land that was offered for sale for $34,000. We bought it and moved out of the city and I could breathe again!
You can read the story of the house and the land here.
We welcomed Mika in August 2016 just a couple of months after the move.
In June 2018, exactly two years after we moved to the country, I separated from my husband.
Looking back I can see that this relationship was a vehicle provided to me by the universe (call it God if you want) so I could get to where I am and so I can grow into the person I’ve become.
But it was never a healthy relationship and it was time to stop trying to fix it and move on.
So now it’s me and the kids. Here in the country with all the animals and gardens (I kept the farm, YAY!).
Obviously, it’s overwhelming sometimes but I wouldn’t do this any other way. My heart is full, I am so grateful for the people around me (I could not have done this without my amazing neighbors!), and I feel stronger than ever before.
Many people ask me if I would like to move back to Israel. The answer is yes. It’s something that I pray about every day.
This farm is mine and it will forever be, but I believe that just like in the old days, kids should take care of their parents when they get older.
This value is imprinted in me so deep. We should take care of the elderly, period. I would love to be there for my parents. I think that it is my duty and it’s important to me above all else. And of course, I would love for my kids to be able to enjoy their amazing, large family.
However, the courts and my ex-husband don’t seem to share the same values.
Since my ex-husband doesn’t want to move to Israel, I am not able to move our kids there.
So for now, until God decides otherwise, we are here. But we visit often and keep Israel as close to us as possible.
I travel often and share my Israel trips on my Instagram and Facebook pages and I’m amazed at how many people love and appreciate that little country!
There are still many dreams that are in the works! I still want a couple of horses, I still want a working vegetable farm and many other things. One thing at the time and lots of patience… We are moving in the right direction.
The best part for me is that I can share all this agricultural goodness with you here on the blog.
I hope that you’ll find the tutorials helpful and I hope that you’ll stick around at least until the day that I am able to work a field of vegetables with a team of gorgeous draft horses! 😉
113 thoughts on “About Lady Lee”
Kia ora Lee. I was looking for videos on how to freeze spinach and I have just listened to your video about your patties. When I looked them up on you tube I found your blog and have just read about your life. Thank you for sharing your story and connecting with others. I live in Hawkes Bay in New Zealand. I moved north here nearly a year ago to live with my new partner after living in Dunedin for over 30 years. I am a single mother, one daughter, she is now 18. I was teaching Art at the same school for 22 years. Now I live on a sheep and cattle farm. We have a huge garden and lots of fruit trees. I want to preserve and freeze what I can. I am now following you on Instagram and look forward to learning more from you. The garlic planting video was especially inspiring. Thanks again for sharing your techniques.
So great to have you here! A sheep and cattle farm in New Zealand! I want to come visit!!
Would you be willing to rent me a room in return for my free labor? And by that I mean I’ll pay rent and provide free labor.
I’m recently divorced, living in chicago (the urban environment has chipped away at my soul so I could relate to your feelings…though I wish I had the insight to recognize its damage when I was younger:), I love animals and always dreamed of a small farm. My son is off at college now and I’m ready to move on to the next chapter but don’t have the gumption you do to try something like that on my own. My dad fought in the war of independence in Israel so I have a special interest in others who love the country too. I realize this may seem like a strange ask but thought I’d try. I’m a civil engineer by education (though it’s been awhile since I worked in that field) and owner of a marketing/graphic design business for over 20 years, which I could continue or try something else. Let me know your thoughts. Feels very odd to post as a comment but couldn’t email you privately…..
I wish I could! I live in 1000 square feet with four kids so a lot of land but not much room in the house.
This was lovely to read. I was wondering if it would be ok if I used your image of the basket weaving in a seminar I’m doing on mental health, trauma and substance use?
Totally ok. I’d appreciate it if you credit the image back to me so if someone wants to find out more they know where to go. Thanks!
Hello, MS Lee,
Thanks for the stokes purple potato growing information. I would like to grow stokes potato in my garden in Maryland. Is there any way I would be able to buy the slips from you or if you know who is selling the stokes purple sweet potato slips? Please let me know.
I don’t have slips at the moment but I might in late spring. Around the end of April.
I have enjoyed your website and your story. I am using your persimmon recipe to can jam today… can’t wait. I live in rural NC with wild persimmon trees.
I know your travels in life has been rough but the life lessons you have learned has made u a strong woman, mother, daughter, partner.
If you can’t move back home, then maybe your parents could come here one day. You have beautiful children. I pray all the best for your family. Take care and God bless you.
I love that you love agriculture and raising your children in the country. I know personally that growing vegetables, as we do in our small garden, brings a lot of satisfaction but also a lot of work with preserving the food, etc. I hope you realize your dream of returning to your native country Of Israel and taking care of your parents. Meanwhile, thank you for sharing all of your recipes and your story! It is fascinating.
Thanks for the kind words and thanks for visiting!
I love your story. You are a strong woman!
Thanks! And thanks for stopping by!
What a wonderful story of the life you have led so far. You sound like a great & Honest person that I have a feeling we would have been great friends if we have met in person. I too was born in Israel, lived in a kibbutz, and had a similar life story minus the farm :). I hear you, and feel your pain about going back to Israel to care for your parents, however, my children are here so that is where I choose to stay. Best wishes to you and your family, and May God bless you all with all that is good in this world. Amen! Revital
Thank you! Where in the US do you live?
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My father farmed in IA with horses, we loved them. I am 83 and just learning about poblana = knew how to eat them but not cook with them. Thank you.
I wish to one day find an old farmer to tech me how to farm with horses. There aren’t many of them left!
I have a relative that works with draft horses and could possibly show you what you need. He lives near Jefferson City, Mo.
I wish I was closer! Maybe I can get out there one day!
I pray that you and your x come to terms and that you both feel the aliyah..go home ..children of the most high..bless you , in the name of the most high…
I am touched by your story. Your kids are beautiful. and you still have the glow of your youth! Someone, I am sure, a lot of men, would love to share this all with you. I do not know much, and have not read everything you post, but I wish for you and your kids the best. This will come with a lot of trust. The deciding factor will be with the one you place your trust in. Do the children keep in touch with their Dad?
Thank you, Perry. Yes, we have 50/50 custody so they see him all the time. It’s sooooo much better for everyone this way. I’ve honestly never been as happy as I am now. Lots to do, lots of dreams in the works and I definitely hope that I’ll find my partner one day but no rush and no compromises for me anymore! It’s gonna have to be the right now 🙂
Thanks for stopping by!
Hi I landed here on your blog because I search for a beet fermented recipe and your recipe came up which I’m going to make and then you spoke so highly of the spinach vegetable patties I link to that here I am just read your story amazing story. I’ll be following you I’ve had a crazy journey myself although I was born and raised in New York City but I live in Philadelphia right now to a lot of shopping at the farmers markets support my farmers and their efforts. Definitely a subscriber and will be sticking around for those giraffe horses and your vegetable garden recipes best
Yay! Welcome. So happy to have you here.
I enjoyed reading your story
I admire your strength. Sorry that you can not be back in your homeland, but maybe one day it will happen
I love to visit Israel
cooking and eating has been my passion especially israeli food
my husband and daughter in law are born and raised in Israel
It is part of my life now and my kids.
we are looking forward to visiting soon again when covid allows
Stay the coarse You are doing great
The kids are learning and experiencing so much of life Its wonderful how you are raising them
I will continue to read and watch your blog
Keep it up its AWESOME
Thank you! You’d love it over there. It’s a very special country.
Thanks for your kind words and thanks for stopping by!
Dear Liron–What a wonderful story! Very impressive. I grew up on a farm in Ohio and miss the farming lifestyle in many ways. My wife (of 40 years) is Jewish and I am in the process of converting. We have been to Israel and we are big fans of Israel. I hope all continues to go well for you.
Tom Shelley, Ithaca NY
Thank you! Great to have you here. I’m about to go to Israel for a month, will share some stuff on social media if you want to follow. Thanks for stopping by!
I live in Burlington NC. Are you close to me? But I’m moving in the next two weeks to a more country location in Pleasant. Garden outside of GSO.
I’m about an hour from you. Around Roxboro, NC.
My Aunt has a big fig tree behind her garage on Old Surl Road, Rougemont, NC. She’s in failing health now, but I can get you in touch with one of my cousins, who could help you get figs for your preserves.
That would be amazing! My email is email@example.com
Love your story!!! I worked on a kibbutz (Gaatone (not spelled right)in 1980…..what an experience! I fell in love with the earth and gardening there!
Fast question….I fermented tomatoes but didn’t burp them daily? Basically did the rest…..just found your article…..but am I safe if I didn’t open the lids for 14 days? I just followed the same directions but didn’t burp…….I followed what my neighbor of 90 years told me to do but he didn’t mention burping…..thanks for your help! AnaMaria
As long as the food smells good and there is no colorful mold on the brine (white mold looking thingy is fine!), I think that you are safe.
I grew up in the same county as Gaaton! Just in a different kibbutz but we all went to school together. Basically grew up together. I was born in 82 so you’ve been there before I was even born. A kibbutz will definitely make you fall in love with the earth! Good to have you here. Thanks for stopping by!