Why We Homestead
Why do we do this thing called homesteading? It's more work than I ever thought possible. It's easier, in ways, too. As I write this in the early morning of a week day, I can see piles of pie pumpkins sunning themselves on the window seat. There are herbs drying up above. Fermented tea sits in large glass jugs on the kitchen counter, wrapped in flour sack towels, and tomatoes are stacked in crates ready to be preserved for winter stock.
Out the window are numerous kittens sleeping or looking for a tasty rodent breakfast. The chickens meander through the landscape hunting for bugs and grubs. Some wander off towards the fields that grew our food for the many summer months; beans, peas, radishes, kale, chard, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, greens, beets, broccoli, and more. It sustained us during the summer months, at its peak of freshness and flavor, and will continue to nourish our bodies in the colder months.
Flowers bloom and grow amongst the vegetables, promising beauty for our table and those of our friends as well. They provide food for the tiniest of the Earth's creatures; the bees and birds are often found between the petals in search of the sweet nectar and seeds inside. The soil is dark and rich with compost we made, compost we've brought in from neighboring farmers. Their livestock creates a blanket of nutrition for the organisms that live amongst the humus. It helps our plants to grow, and our soil to replenish its nutrients.
Beyond the farmed field are apple trees. Their branches hang with the heavy loaded promise of autumn on the way. We pick the bright and shiny fruits with care; they will feed our bodies for the next several months if we store them correctly. So much care has gone into each tree, from pruning in spring, to thinning in summer, to picking in fall, and clean up before a hard winter. There is much to be done to prepare all nourishing plants for a deep slumber. There are plans a plenty for growth and expansion, among our acres and ourselves. Imagination is the key.
Within our home things are speeding up for the inevitable slow down. We preserve the food in many ways, from freezing and canning to drying and fermenting. There is a crockpot of soup bubbling in the kitchen, the ingredients from which were grown on our farm or within only a few miles from other neighboring farmers. We believe in supporting the local economy, or rather, creating our own home economy.
Why do we do it?
It is for many reasons. The first being, always, food. Our journey into this lifestyle change all began with food. We learned that what we were eating was not whole and therefore not nourishing to our bodies. We learned that nourishing food is born from nourished soil. You can create a metaphor there if you wish. This is not to say that we are highbrows with our food, or rather of others' choices for their food, but I will be a snob when it comes to me. Because I think it matters, and I feel better for what I feed my body now: food that we produce in our own soil and on our own land.
The second is that we are tired of putting our energy, time, and money into an economy that only supports us when we are failing. At home we create food rather than buy it from a box. We fill ourselves well with fruits and vegetables and pastured meats and homemade cheeses. We spend our days outdoors laboring in the fields rather than on a piece of machinery at a gym. We feel the sun on our skin and heal illness before it begins with herbs or plants rather than visit a pharmacy. We create our own home economy, and it drives us to be better. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. Our homestead does not have all of the answers, and we mess up in many ways. We are not purists.
The final reason is that we feel better. We make better choices here. Each morning that I wake up on the homestead I am glad for the sunrise and the work ahead. Rather I obsess over the work of the day. I am excited to see my results and learn of what comes next. I love being a farmer, being a homesteader, and a caregiver to nature's growth. There are so many things in life, even on this piece of land, that I cannot control. It is an unpredictable and fascinating world here. The days are filled endlessly with good food, beautiful views, and interesting tasks to be taken care of. It is beautiful.