Why homestead?

Isn’t it a LOT of work?

When I go into my garden with a spade, and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what I should have been doing with my own hands.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

How do you find the time?!

We get asked this a lot. The truth is, we very often don’t have the time!

Homesteading is a choice, a choice we make every single day. Just like a relationship, it takes work. So your reasons for making that choice, day in and day out, should be ones you can live with and ones that inspire you.

We homestead because we were raised by parents who gave us the space to explore, to fail, and to believe we can accomplish things if we set our minds to them. The ability to homestead is a privilege we have, and we are fully aware many others don’t have that luxury of choice. At times it can be extra expense, be it monetary or just our own investment of hours. More than anything, we homestead because we find value in doing things by hand, we enjoy connecting to the earth, and we are thrilled when we see our kids recognize they can accomplish hard things.

So often these days, we feel less connected despite the abundance of tools that attempt to connect us. We are rushing around for work, school, sports, activities, doctors visits, and the laundry list of errands that keep our houses running and food on the table. While these conveniences are a blessing at times, we felt so disconnected from the process. We started to question how things were made, what ingredients were used, were those health claims really as life-changing as they claim?

With the benefit of ingrained knowledge from family who were farmers and makers, we had a bit of practical knowledge and a connection to our roots. We had grown up around weavers, sewers, chefs, tailors, avid gardeners, home cooks, amateur mechanics, bakers, and various others with similar practical skills that seem to have been handed off into the realm of experts. These were skills we witnessed being used by ordinary people during their ordinary daily lives. In our youths, we had done our best to avoid these skills and join the “modern” era full of technology and claimed a healthy disdain for the old fashioned skills of the past.

It took having our own child, to finally understand what our extended families had been trying to tell us from the beginning. There is certainly a lot of hard work in doing things by hand, of that there is no doubt. However, things done by hand are done with love and with the joy of seeing your labor gradually coalesce into something of worth. An item that will not fall apart after a few uses, food that will nourish our bellies without additives, and the simple gift of community that doing these tasks together brings.

As we transitioned into this new way of living, we have had to modify our expectations quite a bit! We often have to grit our teeth and deal with the fruits of our labor, good and bad. There is disappointment, frustration, and impatience almost every single day. Yet, when we occasionally debate the course we have taken, we constantly return to the same conclusion. While this life can be difficult, it’s certainly NOT convenient, we firmly believe that we and our family will be healthier for it…body and mind.

More than anything, this is a life of learning. We have a vast variety of interests and are often pulled in a million directions. Having more than 10 minutes to focus on any one task is a rarity (especially with four young kids!). Our children have had to adapt and learn to be independent, but in that growth they have soared. To see them take pride in their abilities and their accomplishments is a gift in itself. As parents, we have to let go of a LOT, we can’t control or fix everything and that’s absolutely OK. As people, we constantly have to manage our own expectations and desires against the good of the family. All of this, while we’re still precariously balanced in the modern world, where work, school, and so much more still follows a more typical model.

Child in garden
Homestead in summer

Our weekends are our solace, our time when we can steep ourselves in our homestead and hopefully drag a few friends and family in with us. We love nothing more than to share what we’re learning and empower others to take on something different or new.

There is so much joy in teaching, showing someone (or even yourself) that they can accomplish more than ever expected. There is peace in the knowing that there is more than one path to “success” and so many meandering ways to get there.