Celebrate the culture of agriculture & share skills (Growing! Cooking! Eating!)

Our boots, always at ready by the door.

The past couple of weeks I've found myself asking "why I am homesteading". Why am I caring for all these animals when it would be far easier and truthfully far less expensive to go to the grocery store and buy my dairy products, eggs and meat. And the same goes for having a large vegetable garden. What an immense amount of work without guaranteed results. Diseases and insects see to that. In all truthfulness, I can totally understand why today, for the first time in history, more people live in cities than in the country and why there are so few farmers left. Quite simply - it's a ton of work. And it's work most of us don't need to do in order to survive in this world of Walmart's and Sam's Clubs. So why am I doing this?

I've been asking myself that a lot here lately. I've finally got my little place in the country, acquired the animals (driving all the way from Virginia to Tennessee in one case for just the right animal ) and worked at the skills to care for them properly. I've done all the backbreaking work to start the gardens and make them productive. Yet, this past couple of weeks I've considered selling all the animals including the goats I so dearly love. The gardens have lost their appeal to me and have felt more like a burden than a blessing. And I've not even been able to bring myself to post on the blog I've so enjoy writing.

All of us that choose this life do it for different reasons. Some for survival, some for the ethical and humane treatment of the animal we use for food, some for the health benefits of knowing where our food comes from, some for the health of the planet and some for all of the above. For me and many others it is also about family. I do it for most of the above but much of my motivation is about family. And about the values it instills.

Right now family is just Malia, 10, and I. I've home schooled her for years and 2 weeks ago she started public school again. She missed kids and was getting bored here and starting to hate it all. I made the decision to let her go back against all my fears. Fears of malls becoming more important than the local Tractor Supply Store with it's aisle of farm books she had so loved. Fears of clothing becoming more important than the person wearing them. Fear of Steak-um's from the school cafeteria becoming more desirable than healthy foods. Fear that the other kids mothers who wore the latest fashions with matching nail polish with every hair in place and drove clean and shiny mini vans would seem more to her liking than me. After all my outfits never match, my hair is always in a ponytail with stray hair everywhere and our vehicle looks every bit the farm vehicle it is. The fears were many. And giving all my fears credence was the fact that she had declared even before her first school bus ride that she wasn't sure she wanted Basil, Rosemary & Thyme, her 3 beloved pigs, anymore and thought maybe I should look for a new home for them as well while I was selling the piglets.

So for 2 weeks while she was at school I did it all and wondered why. We are lucky; we don't need to do this for survival. It's a choice for us. So was I making the right choice? This lifestyle requires a huge amount of time each day and was this how I wanted to spend my time? After all, time is a currency even more precious than dollars and should always be spent wisely for once spent it's gone forever.

I finally came to a decision. I decided that yes, I wanted to do this regardless of her involvement. Maybe I would scale it down a notch or two. It is a lot for one person to do alone. Maybe her pigs would go but my beloved goats would stay. Perhaps the garden would be a tad smaller next year and maybe all our bread didn't need to be homemade after all. Maybe instead of the eco friendly push mower I would invest in a gas powered mower. There were many small changes that could be made rather than giving up the whole dream. It didn't need to be all or nothing.

So with that resolve and my couple of weeks of doubt and depression behind me, Malia and I headed to the local Tractor Supply Store yesterday, where she announced she had changed her mind and definetely did not want me to sell her pigs. I, with a smile in my heart, asked if she was sure. She was. It seems we both learned something these past weeks.


Views: 74

Comment by Christa Nelson on September 6, 2010 at 5:40pm
What a beautifully written and thoughtful post, Elizabeth!

I think you raise a very poignant question, and one that everyone here should ask themselves.

I've been thinking about that question lately also, not so much from discontent, but simply because I'm a thinkin' gal by nature. I've always been a very creative person, and I feel that homesteading is a creative endeavor. It's taking basic human needs such as food and cooking and turns this into a creative endeavor--envisioning, planning, constructing. It moves one from a passive consumer, and moves one towards the lessons, wisdom, and satisfaction that comes with a more intimate relationship with the earth and its bounty and being self-sufficient. All this, and not to mention that all the homemade and homegrown goodies are just dee-lish!

I look forward to your next blog posting.
Comment by Elizabeth Wilson on September 6, 2010 at 6:26pm
Very well said. I wish I had been moved to ask the question before but truthfully I thought I had the answer. I guess sometimes our reasons change without us even knowing it and suddenly a situation arises that makes us reassess our goals and priorities. I'm just very grateful mine didn't really stray far from my original ones.
Comment by Cornelia on September 7, 2010 at 4:14pm
Thank you so much for your honesty in sharing this. I think it raises an interesting issue: the way you live your life is NOT for everyone. For every modern homesteader who has gone "whole hog" into this way of life, there are dozens of folks who are intrigued by it, yet not interested in making the "whole hog" commitment that you have.
I'm interested in figuring out how we can make HOMEGROWN more inviting to those people who want to take inspiration from here and apply it to their lives...changing even a little bit of how they eat, consume, produce in bite-sized ways...I've had people tell me that it's intimidating to be around all of you incredibly accomplished and energetic people - how can we help? Not to "convert" them to becoming farmers or homesteaders, but to start adopting simple, practical changes...we know they'll love it!
Any suggestions and thoughts are welcome!
Comment by Christa Nelson on September 7, 2010 at 9:33pm
To give some feedback on your questions Cornelia, I'll borrow from my experience in nonprofit program design and communications. One of the guiding lights to help me keep things relevant and growing in a program within an agency is the "golden rule".........When in doubt, refer back to the mission statement.

Y'all have a whole page spelling out the mission and why Farm Aid created this site, and there I sense lots of clues to your questions there. What are you trying to accomplish by providing this site? What are the themes of the site? Then the question is how to achieve that.

Personally, I feel there is a lot of commonality to the issues addressed on your philosophy page, like the questions asking "What's in your fridge?" or "Did you cook a kickass meal with the stuff from the farmer's market?" These questions seem accessible and relevant to persons from all backgrounds that may visit this site. How could you get more persons to participate on this level of commonality? Perhaps a place to start is just tossing out those kinds of questions every so often as a discussion topic? Perhaps you could do thematic show and tell albums where folks can all post related topical pix and view others? Perhaps your web design and coding staff could come up with some kind of apps and features for the site that would make it easy for folks to chime in as well as learn from others? I also think a simple "like" button would encourage people to provide a basic level of feedback on content without having to write out a comment.

And from what I've seen since I've been here Cornelia, you do a great job in tossing out dialogue and comment starters, and making people feel welcome.

Also, I feel that this conversation would probably be best posted on it's own, not only to possibly generate more dialogue on the topic, but also so the spirit of Elizabeth's blog post doesn't get co-opted by this conversation.
Comment by Elizabeth Wilson on September 7, 2010 at 10:48pm
Cornelia, Firstly , I too think you do a wonderful job here.

Secondly I think going "whole hog" isn't always wise and isn't something that should be admired necessarily. So many times newbies and old timers alike underestimate what it will take and especially when it comes to animals it's foolish. I have been guilty of this more times than I care to admit. Slow and easy is a better route for sure. :-) It's just too easy to overwhelm yourself.

Thirdly, this is a comprehensive sight with tons for everyone interested in any aspect of this type of lifestyle. I do think it's somewhat hard to get the lay of the land initially even with your orientation. I say that as someone still trying to figure the site out. There is so much it can be overwhelming. One thought is to add another page to the menu along the top addressed to new people...just starting out, newbies or something to that effect with a page devoted to exactly what your saying...how to start by doing things in a bite sized fashion. And how that can be prudent. Lots of tips on how to take a taste and not to leave because they aren't ready to make a meal of it. Even encouraging enjoying the lifestyle vicariously if they aren't ready for more than a look so they stay long enough to try a bit of this and that. Isn't the saying....hang around the barber shop long enough and you will get a haircut? Or perhaps add it some where else easily found on a first visit if that isn't a good place.

Anyway, maybe this isn't what you wanted or meant or are looking for but maybe some of it will take your mind where it was you wanted to go if nothing else.
Comment by Cornelia on September 8, 2010 at 2:56pm
You ladies are the best - thank you for your feedback. Stay tuned for more on this topic (in a separate discussion - so sorry for hijacking your blog, Elizabeth!)
Comment by Paul Lueders on September 24, 2010 at 5:45pm


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