A word with many different definitions: homestead. Simply put, to us it means a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It means growing, raising, and producing as much as we can for our own needs.
But why? Oh why would someone want to live like this?
We’ve asked ourselves this question on more than one occasion… like when we’re lugging buckets of water through two feet of snow and thirty below zero weather. Or after an unexpected animal death, or the time Karl got over a dozen honey bee stings. And this year when all 50 of our heirloom tomato plants (that I started from seed and nurtured into adulthood) died without producing hardly a single tomato- these moments will kill your spirit real fast.
The hard times make you wonder why you’re doing any of this in the first place. I can get tomatoes and eggs at the local gas station. For a lot less time, money and heartbreak.
We spend hours upon hours weeding the garden, the herb bed, the flowers, the horseradish patch, the berries- over and over again all spring and summer. There are always big projects to tackle, and something is always waiting to be built, repaired, or cleaned. There’s fencing to install, orchard to mow, poop to scoop, and produce to put up. The list of to-do’s is loooong.
Why Bother Homesteading?
Well… because we love it. It satisfies a deep desire to live close to land and be connected with what sustains us. It’s a calling and a fundamental part of who we are. And we love knowing that we could provide for ourselves if we had to. Not a lot of people can say that. And come on, we get to keep chickens!
Pulling a gigantic purple carrot from the ground makes all the weeding worth it. Putting away jar after jar of honey, alive with the essence of our own backyard makes spending hours in a sweltering bee suit worth it. Homemade bacon, chicken soup, and roast duck from the homestead don’t taste anything like store-bought (that’s a good thing) and they’re a hundred times more nutritious.
And the eggs, oh the eggs! I love that I get to thank the hens every day and tell them what lovely eggs they’ve laid. When we put the chickens away at night and Karl collects the eggs, I won’t leave until he tells the girls they did a good job today. Of course, then he lays it on reeeeal thick. I think they like it.
“Well these are the finest eggs I’ve ever seen!”
“I see it’s quality over quantity today, girls.” (a classic back-handed compliment)
“Wow! You girls have really out-done yourselves today!”
Having a closet full of canned goods (goods canned with love, that is) makes me giddy. I sometimes open the door just to stare at my pretty jars filled with honey-pears, heirloom tomatoes and kraut. I love being able to walk out the door and pick big armfuls of fresh kale, fresh herbs, and fresh raspberries. It floors me that some people will never have such pleasure.
It definitely takes a lot of time and energy to be a “homesteader.” It isn’t always easy… in fact sometimes it’s really hard, but the highs always seem to outweigh the lows. This lifestyle challenges us to be patient, resilient, and innovative. The daily rewards are immeasurable- and and we couldn’t imagine life any other way. What about you- what do you love and hate about homesteading?
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