Monday, February 27, 2012

The Truth about Homesteading....

Psst. I have a secret to tell you.

Whether you’re tending an apartment porch garden or farming acres of land, the truth is, homesteading is messy.

Maybe it’s because homesteading is all about cultivating life and life is well, messy. You don’t often see the messiness in pictures. It’s so easy to see a photo on Pinterest or a blog and assume your home/farm could never look like that. Magazines, online photos and books paint a portrait of the perfectly decorated and clean house, but not the reality of the mess. They often just show you the end result and not the weeks, months or years of work leading up to that picture perfect moment.

I’m not saying it’s being constantly neglectful or sloppy. Anyone who gardens, cans, raises livestock, etc. will tell you that being routinely neglectful or sloppy is not an option on the homestead. That story never ends well. But sometimes we can only do the best we can do (it’s true even if it’s not grammatically correct).  

I say all this to encourage you that while keeping chickens often means smells, stains, and adventures you may not be prepared for, keep going. And while canning is a bigger venture than we often first imagine and baking homemade bread seems crazy when you can buy a loaf at the store, just try it out. We’d all like to say we’re perfectly self-sufficient and everything runs accordingly, but life does not always go as planned. Crops fail, chickens get sick, backs hurt, dog hair gets everywhere, goat droppings stick to shoes, bread doesn’t rise, and life happens. Don’t give up!

I often look around and wonder how I am going to do any of the homesteading projects I have planned while working and eventually taking care of a family. When I mention this to my mom, she laughs and says it will get done. She says that women since the dawn of time have somehow figured it out and that I will too.

People may tell you it’s silly or that you don’t have the time. But generations of men and women before us worked in factories, on ranches and farms, and yet still found time to take care of the homestead; sometimes with a half dozen kids in tow. And yes, most homes now do have two full-timers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a small garden or keep a couple chickens. Start small and do what you can. Don’t overburden yourself with too many projects; take it one project (or part of a project) at a time.

And above all remember that homesteading is messy. But it’s the kind of mess that’s worth it. When you take a bite of a homegrown tomato or when you harvest your first fresh egg you’ll feel it. When your homemade vanilla extract is done steeping and you finish knitting your first potholder, you’ll know it.   

So don’t be too hard on yourself and just enjoy the mess. 

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