Hey friends! Time for my Saturday morning ramble session again. I’m feeling the need again to emphasize the amazing amount of work it takes to homestead. By homestead, I mean working to become as self-sufficient as possible. Cutting your own wood to heat your home, growing and preserving your own food, working to use less energy and do things like hang dry your own clothes – it all takes a boat load of work. Since homesteading is often one of those lifestyles that people glorify, I want to help bring some of those misconceptions down to earth before people run out and join the homesteading lifestyle without understanding what they’re in for.
Homesteading, especially from about April through October, is an amazing amount of work. We’ve been going, going, going for many, many hours a day for several months now, since winter left us (finally. 🙂 ). We’re too busy. I rarely get time to read/comment on other blogs, and I really have to work hard to carve out time to post here and at my other blog. Owning for and caring for a house in general is a lot of work, but add a ginormous yard on top of it and then working to be self-sufficient and you’ve got yourself some serious busy. For instance, every day we spend a good hour or two tending the garden. I haven’t touched it in three days or so, however, because I’m so sick of looking at it that the thought of weeding/tending makes me want to puke. I’m in desperate need of a change of scenery regarding growing and preserving our own food, so, on Thursday we:
CANNED our own raspberry jam!!! First time. Well, kind of the first time. I tried to make dandelion jelly last year and it was an utter fail. I didn’t handle the powdered pectin right so it didn’t gel up and the dandelion jam was more like a thick dandelion lemonade.
Suffice to say I was a little nervous about trying again, but the two freezer bags of fruit, picked from our own back yard, were calling to me, so I tried it again. Thankfully, this time it worked!!! I will post a complete post on the canning of our jam this week. And for those of you wondering what on earth dandelion jelly is, you can find out here. I will hopefully be attempting to make some next spring again, because it is absolutely delicious!
This is where “The Good” is really good. As Rich from Frugality Magazine pointed out on a comment the other day: “There is nothing better than sitting down to eat dinner in the middle of winter and realizing how much of your meal is home grown and cost you next to nothing.” The foods that we grow here on the farm truly do taste amazing, and there is tremendous gratification in knowing that you did it yourself and that you’re not 100% dependent on the local grocery stores in order to eat.
There’s also something amazingly gratifying about hanging your clothes on the line instead of using the dryer. Or maybe it’s just me. The smell of line dried clothes in the fresh country air is simply addicting, similar to the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven.
The quiet out here is also addicting. The sounds of nature: birds singing, frogs chirping, horses neighing, it’s peaceful. Amazingly peaceful.
The Bad-Good Split
We’ve got a good chunk of wood chopped and stored for this winter’s heating, but we could do with some more. After the full day we spent recently on chopping, splitting and stacking wood, I’m not looking forward to another day of this, but I still have traumatizing visions of last winter’s polar vortex hell, and that trumps my unwillingness to spend a day cutting down trees again. We WILL have a warm house this winter, for cheap. 🙂
The point is that for every ounce of hard work that you put in on a homestead, there is a glorious pay off of some sort, but the gist of the payoff amounts to the fact that there is something gratifying about getting back to basics. About depending more on yourself than on others. It’s comforting to know that if some type of natural or other disaster comes in which the grocery store shelves are cleared out that we do have the know-how to grow and preserve our own food. And that if the electricity goes out or the propane runs out that we do have other options for keeping our home warm on a cold winter’s night.
How self-sufficient is your household? Are you at the mercy of the local stores and the power company, or do you have other options if the grocery store/power company suddenly became off limits to you for some reason?