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.