Monday, April 11, 2011

Homesteading


I think the baby's birthday party was a success! I love hanging out with friends. When we lived in Philadelphia, I was constantly complaining that I never got to see my friends. Now, they are all close and we get together a couple of times a month. I am SO grateful to have them! I even have two married friends in our bunch ... so I don't have to feel like the odd one out.

At one point during the party, we ladies got to talking about gardening. I mentioned that I was planning to start a big garden, and another girl chimed in that she wanted to do that someday, and also keep bees! Another said that she had a garden, but someday wanted chickens! As for myself, I would like nothing more than to have a source of dairy -- a couple of goats, perhaps, or even a cow. Not sure if I could handle having a cow.

Of course this is all in "someday land." So no need to be too realistic about my cow-owning dreams. It's not like I will be able to keep a cow in my 1/4 acre backyard. Just someday ...

Anyway, we agreed that if ever all this happens, we can trade our produce with each other and have everything we need. Honey from Didi, eggs from Jane, cheese from me, and all of our vegetables. This sounds like my dream world!

I always dreamed of living a bit off the land, growing and raising my food, but I thought it was unrealistic, unless I wanted to run off and join the Amish (which I sometimes wanted to do!) because "no one actually does that." True, very few people live entirely off-grid, with no electricity or running water. But many people actually do grow much of what they eat. Even my own great-grandfather did, when I was little. He lived on about one acre in the suburbs and grew fruit, berries, vegetables, and wheat. He also kept bees. For his meat, he hunted and fished. Grocery stores were to get ice cream at; that was pretty much it for him!

Homesteading is ideal for a stay at home mom. Mom can stay home with the kids AND support the family by growing, raising, and creating what the family needs. Sure, she's not making an "income," which means money. She's bypassing the money system altogether, so that the family can live on less. I have heard that the book Radical Homemakers deals with this idea. This series of posts is an excellent discussion of the book.

For the first time in my life, I have the chance to arrange my life the way I wish. I am not asking for a life without work. But I want to spend large quantities of time outdoors; I want to be physically fit; I want to eat well; I want to spend time with my child(ren); I want to live life at a relaxed pace. I can do all that at home. I doubt I'll ever be the soccer mom type, driving kids around all day. Instead I want to build a structure of gardening, cooking, and creating that they can learn from right at home. (Not that we'll never go anywhere! Just not every day.)

I hope I'm not dreaming too much and acting too little ... a fault of mine. I don't want to be the Artilleryman in War of the Worlds, planning out a whole underground society and then digging about ten feet before knocking off. Instead I'll start slow and add things as I am able. This year, tomatoes, green beans, and peas. Next year, many more vegetables. The year after, perhaps some fruit added. Eventually, we may try keeping animals, though we might have to wait for our next home for that.

It's not just a question of being fed up with the Wal-Mart, disposable economy that we have. It's not just disbelief in the economical model of constant consuming in order to keep everything going. It's not just a desire to reduce waste and help the planet. It's not just a desire for independence from a world that doesn't abide by my choices for the pure, the clean, the natural. Of course it is all of these things. But most of all, it's a matter of what I want. I far prefer to work all day making something that is exactly what I want and lasts, rather than to work all day at a job and spend the money on something cheap that's only an approximation of what I want. And I don't want to spend all my time making enough money to pay all my replacements: the daycare, the grocery store, the restaurant, the dry cleaner. I can be all that myself, and enjoy it.

I hope it works out.

4 comments:

Sally Thomas said...

Have you read The Backyard Homestead by Carleen Madigan? A lot (like animal husbandry) depends on your local zoning ordinances, but you'd be amazed at what you can apparently do with a quarter-acre.

Dreamingaloudnet said...

Thanks for the link - and good luck with your dreams -there is a saying I apply to starting out on big dreams: "Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey!" Sounds like you're doing just that - go well, and keep us posted! I find it a deeply satisfying way of life.

CatholicMommy said...

Best wishes on a successful vegetable harvest! I have toyed with the idea of chickens... we have the room, but I don't know if I have the patience. We'll see how it works out.

Sheila said...

Sally, I have got to find this book! Sounds fascinating!

Dreamingaloud, I really loved that series of posts. They were really inspiring and I walked away just wanting to get started!

CatholicMommy, I hope you do get chickens ... so that you can tell me how it is. Reading books about it is so intimidating! But I've heard people say it's not really that hard. I sure would love fresh eggs, but ... it's just a big step and I don't know if I'll ever be brave enough to make the jump from plants to animals!

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