Get Real is a 6 week series collaborated by a handful of bloggers, inspired by Tonya (Plain and Joyful Living) and Adrie (Fields & Fire), to open up the wide abyss of realness. The realness that lies behind the pretty pictures and face value of each and every one of us. The realness that we all struggle with at times. Get Real is a little peek behind the scenes; talking about what different areas *really* look like in our life, while juggling our families, work, and personal needs. We would love to have you share in the comments. This week’s topic:
Homesteading and Gardening
I remember quite clearly the very moment I set my foot on the homesteading path. I was 21. It was the summer of 2000. In a teeny backyard on the outskirts of the city of Coatesville, I planted my very first garden. It was a small garden, and I don’t even remember the reason for planting it. I was pregnant with my oldest and honestly, I think I picked up some vegetable plants at Home Depot as an impulse buy. Well, whatever the reason, that garden grew and grew. I remember picking the very first ripe cucumber and eating it. I was blown away at the taste. So THAT was what a cucumber tasted like?! I was dumbfounded that something that was grown right at home could have such a superb taste over what appeared to be the very same thing sold in the grocery store. There’s no comparison. And so it began…my pull toward growing my own food; for learning to keep it close to home; learning to bake, create, and make things myself; to homestead…to strive for my own little piece of self sufficiency.
The past twelve years have brought me along many different avenues in homesteading. Quite honestly, it’s been nothing short of a bundle of heart ache and head ache at times. I think that is important to remember (and I try to continually remind myself)…that at the core of homesteading lies the base value of doing what you can with what you have. And that thought can be applied across the board…to money, space, time, energy, etc. In the past I have found myself feeling limited by what I did or didn’t have. If you do not have very good soil, build raised garden beds; if you don’t have lots of space, grow some things in pots; if you can’t grow anything, join and volunteer at a local CSA; if you can’t afford gas to drive back and forth, find a farm to camp out at for a summer and grow some food. Find someone nearby to barter for fresh goat milk to make cheese. There is always a way.
Homesteading is not easy. Homesteading is A LOT of work. On paper, homesteading might not even make much sense at all. However, my journey has taught me that some of the best things in life can (and never will) look “right” on paper…but instead they make sense in my heart. Pretty much anything with the word HOME in it fits the bill for me, and HOMEsteading is no exception. Home is where everything comes together. Home is filled with birth and death and the cycle of life. Home is real. Home is togetherness. Home is where my soul gets nourished. Home is the word cross stitched right smack in the middle of a heart on my mother’s wall. Home is where the heart is. It is true.
If you take the price of an egg, even organic free range eggs at the grocery store and try to break down the cost of purchasing the chicks and the organic feed, building a chicken coop…I’m pretty sure it comes just about even (if you’re lucky), and that’s not even taking into consideration the price of labor and everyday maintenance. However, for me the biggest reason it makes sense is because I know where and how my food came to be. I know the exact date on which it arrived, how and how long it has been stored, and how it was treated…with love and kindness. This is a hard concept to swallow at first. However, even if it comes penny to penny in the price of it all, even if it all doesn’t even out, it is still worth it to me. I consider it a big important lesson for the future of myself, my children, future generations, and our planet. To be able to feed ourselves.
Homesteading is like knitting, once you get started you just want to keep going. Once your eyes open to the endless possibilities of creating the life that you want for yourself and see just how much you can do and learn…there’s no turning back. I have huge dreams for homesteading. I want to buy a piece of land and build our own house. By buy land I mean, purchase something we can afford for cash, which means it most likely won’t be 50 acres. By build our own house, I don’t mean something huge, I mean something that we can do ourselves with the money we have piece by piece. I don’t want a bunch of bills. That way of life makes no sense to me. In a lot of ways, it works out to sacrifice the things you think you need to have the life you really want.
Homesteading is a path toward self sustainability. Homesteading is not easy, there are a lot of hit or miss situations, there are a lot of let downs and a lot of waiting, envisioning, and planning involved. I am happy to be walking this path. It is not easy, but it definitely feeds my soul.