Monday, September 6, 2010

Why do we do what we do?

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.


  1. You are one wise woman, Elizabeth, and you bless my life with your posts. I have always longed to live on a farm, but it hasn't seemed to be my lot in life. Your decision to cut back is a good one. Maybe just a few steps at a time?
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful words!
    :) Carolyn

  2. Carolyn, Your comments are always so appreciated and feel much like a touchstone. Thank you.

    And BTW... I think most farmhouses long for a big happy brood to fill it's walls and I can just imagine you and yours in one.

  3. Just welcomed my 15th grandchild. I, like you, only have one child living at home. I think I missed my farming opportunity. I'm not as brave and strong as you seem to be. We are also thinking of "cutting back".

  4. Wow! 15. Congratulations. Your house must be an amazing place on the holidays Carolyn. It must be nice to still have 1 at home. After all the hustle and bustle for years 8 must have been it would be too quiet with none.

    I think everyone is cutting back these days. It can be a good thing once you get your mind around it.

    I don't know about being strong but I have learned to take support and strength from wonderful people like you that "listen" and let me know it's OK.

  5. Elizabeth, I am so glad I found your blog over at blotanical. I find this story so heartwarming and you a kindred spirit. Though I cannot keep animals right now, I so respect your words, as to why you do and concur wholeheartedly. So glad your daughter wants to keep her piggies. I do understand your fears and kudos to you for homeschooling as long as you could. ;>) Carol PS. I have such a hard time getting in and out of my Hunters... look like yours...? Do you have a trick?

  6. Elizabeth, I share all your emotions and questions. I have an acre urban homestead with 3 goats, 26 chickens, 5 honey bee hives and a large garden that has veges, herbs, fruit trees and grapevines. A ton of work. However, I have a reason most folks do't -- right now I'm homebound due to a visual disturbance. The work and purpose keeps me sane. That hasn't always been the case, tho, and I still had the questions and doubts. Another reason to persevere is that I believe our skills will be in great demand in the near future. Gas prices and unemployment, the average food traveling 1200 miles before it reaches the table ... what we do as an avocation will become a necessity. Blessings to you.


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