Monday, January 18, 2016

I'm Sort of the Weird Neighbor Your Mother Warned You About

I don't spend as much time running around the blogosphere as I used to, and I'm sad to say that I don't read anywhere near the number of blogs that I did a few years ago.

Instead, I use the time that I have to read snippets here and there or get specific recipes or suggestions because otherwise, I'd spend 23 hours online and never sleep.

There's just too much out there!

One word that catches my eye a lot while I cruise the interwebs is the word "homesteading".  This word sort of makes me vibrate and get a little  nervous.  Because I immediately picture long haired hippies living off the grid with chickens in their living room, burying all of their harvest down in their root cellars, while trying to make a heating system out of bricks and 55 gallon drums.

This is completely a combination of every homesteading/doomsday prepper show I've watched on TV and the exact reason I fear the word homesteading.

When I first started blogging, I found a lot of like minded souls who had gardens and did a lot of DIY stuff.  They sometimes tossed around the word homestead and I like the quaintness of it, or at least the control that it meant they were taking over what they were consuming and putting onto the earth.  This pushed me to continue my pursuit of being somewhat self-sufficient.  I started a second garden, started canning and drying as much as my gardens would let me and learned to always run to the internet when my DIY project went awry or couldn't get started.

Legendary greenhouse and clothesline.
I read their posts and enjoyed the lighthearted "life on the farm" attitudes of these women (mostly) who had real jobs and real lives but, like me, had small farming aspirations on the side.  6 chickens, a goat, a huge garden- all of this got me thinking a small farm might be good.

I already had the greenhouse.

And then I started seeing homesteading in a different light, probably thanks to the stupid shows on TV.  Even on the internet, homesteading seems to have a heavier feeling.  People are stocking up and acting like the apocalypse is coming tomorrow.  And it's made me bristle a little bit.  What I once took as a sort of fun side activity that has great benefits is actually the way of life for soeme people.  Or so it seems.

And it's made me realize a lot of things:

Love my electric breadmachine.
#1.  I like electricity.  I didn't grow up without it, we always had reliable service and many of the "homesteading" activities that I do actually require it.

I like heat.  I like AC.  I love hot water.  I enjoy my mobile devices when they are fully charged.  I don't want to live off the grid.

#2.  I still have a job.  And I have to.  Even if I had won powerball, I think I'd still have to work.  For a while at least.  Because I need that contact with the outside world.

Plus, if I didn't have anyone to shock at work with my "pioneer days" behavior, it wouldn't be anywhere near as fun, right?

#3.  Animals are great and their food and products are wonderful, but they are a lot of work.  And like a garden that is so easily destroyed by nature, animals can get sick and die and all of that time invested is gone.

Thawing ice inside my house.
We have winter here!
I'm a teacher, so I have summers off, and it sounds like a great idea to have a few sheep and a donkey when it's 60 degrees on a May morning.  But going out to deal with a barnful of animals when it's 19 degrees and dark in January at 5:20am, BEFORE I spend the day wrangling 6 classes of preteens and then repeating it all when I get home and everything has frozen solid and I can't open the door to the barn because it froze shut suddenly loses its appeal.

Again, why I need a job.  I can't live knowing that if my steer dies of illness, we won't have meat for the winter.  Or of I can't unfreeze the water, everyone's going to die of thirst.  Or that I might lose a finger to frostbite because the pig got out and wandered away and I didn't have my gloves when I went running in search of it.

So, let's be clear.  I will not use the word homesteading on my blog in the near future.

Here are some claims I am pretty confident that I can make and stick to:

I will continue to do what I do and pretend that I am a little bit like a pioneer woman.  I will not grow dreadlocks and stop washing with soap because someone said that's what nature intended.

I will still read the great DIY suggestions that I find.  I will try to convince k-ster that I need him to cut me some wood for projects and ask for help trying to figure out how to make something that will make life easier.  I will not suggest that we build a house out of logs all by ourselves from the back 40.

Mainly because we don't have a back 40.  And I don't like log homes.

I will continue to use vinegar as an all purpose cleaner and disinfectant.  I will not throw out all bleach and ammonia because I think that sometimes, we really need to use them.  Just never together!

Total crop failure. Thanks to wildlife.
I will keep my gardens and can and dry food and get excited when it's January and I'm still using my own canned tomatoes.  I will not tear up the front lawn and make it a garden.  Yet.

Canning on Aunt Mildred's porch!
I will probably expand my gardens over time until it feels like I can say that I have "crops".  I'd love to have an orchard and grow some fruit trees but keeping pests at bay naturally is very daunting to me.  I will not quit my job and become a farmer.

Unless I hit the jackpot and can live knowing that I have the cash to help me if the crops and animals fail me.

I might have a few chickens along the way, mainly for their eggs.  Those of you who know me are definitely picturing me slaughtering chickens and being all "what, anyone can do it, it's no big deal, that's what they are there for" but it's pretty unlikely.  If I HAD to do it, I would, but I am not in a real homesteading predicament where I HAVE to do anything.

I will continue to wash my clothes in an electric, new fangled washing machine with commercial soap that I didn't produce with witchcraft and spells in the back yard.  I will mostly dry those clothes on the line but I will not wear cardboard stiff jeans or hang my clothes in the rain, so I will continue to use my dryer when necessary.

I will continue to use modern medicine for myself and others if it seems like the most reasonable course to keep from dying.  I will not use herbs to cure everything.  I will continue to convince myself that I will get better tomorrow and refuse to see a doctor until I've had enough of that.  I will most likely not see a healer and even a visit to a homeopath is unlikely.

Restaurant nachos can be delicious!
Circus peanuts.
I will continue my pledge to eat a lot of clean and organic foods.  I will not 100% give up the occasional fast food binge or foray into a bag of circus peanuts.  It's 2016 and it's just so easy to fall off the healthy wagon.

As I write this, I hope my thoughts are resonating with a lot of you.  In my reading, I've discovered a lot of people who seem to be like me: enjoying making and growing things myself and knowing where they came from, while also using gasoline in my modern car to get to the store that sells the things I need in order to do it myself.

Knowing that it's possible to live off the land while writing about it on my electric powered laptop.

Sometimes, we've had enough greens!
Buying produce at the grocery because it's February in New England and if I eat one more green from my greenhouse or potato from my stash I might kill someone because I crave a piece of real, fresh fruit.

Do you try to DIY until it falls apart and you cave and buy BIY( buy it yourself)?

Do you pledge to eat off the land until the land produces nothing and you have to eat off someone else's land?

Do you swear you will eat well, know the source of your food and stick to a reduced desserts diet only to decide that chocolate covered anything sounds like a good idea some days?

Do you make your own vinegar cleaner and then decide you have to add a little ammonia too just in case the vinegar doesn't really disinfect?

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1 comment:

  1. Oh, how I enjoyed reading your post; it absolutely made my evening! I don't have a farmstead, but I do have a just-perfect-for-me vegetable garden that produces enough to occasionally share with family, friends and neighbors. I stink at growing beets, and the bugs always beat me to the kale. Oh well. My clothes are dried ninety percent on the line and ten percent in the dryer(just enough to soften them up). I agree - "homesteading" has become a bit romanticized. Could you imagine the woman down at the river washing her clothes decline an invitation to just dump them all in a metal box and simply fetch them forty-five minutes later, that she would have said, "no." ? I had a pet egg laying chicken many years ago; I'd take her in the car to the local convenience store and buy her Doritos. Does that count as homesteading? :)


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