This summer we made a go of starting a few raised garden beds on our property and we loved it. The excitement of watching your seedlings grow into food producing plants is amazingly inspiring. Each day we watered our plants and watched them grow and blossom. Then the bees came and began their work of pollination. Fluttering from flower to flower like preprogrammed drones on fluffy cloud pedestals. Chipmunks suddenly were taking notice of our suburban gardens and yellow finches our sunflowers. What we started as a halfbaked project became a part of our family. Like pets we took to caring for our plants daily. We found ourselves in the yard all of the time either working the garden or observing the wonderous nature adventure it brought. It was just a garden at first but in our hearts we were building a homestead.
A homestead… just a word we had heard a thousand times in the course of our blog reading and video consumption. Everything we had seen thus far was a multi-acre property with livestock and high yield gardens or smaller urban installations with seemingly more land than we have and still with many high yield gardens. Where were the folks like us? The middle class family clamouring for a chance to be self sufficent and off the grid and living in a smaller house while at the same time increasing the size of our lot? Where were they? And then I realized they were writing every blog post I was reading and producing videos. They were just like us and they were doing it, but they did not wake up one day and pop open a can of instant homestead. They worked their way to where they were and often out from the daily “rat race”. I realized that I needed to stop the instant-on mentality of acheiving this dream and let it organically take shape.
It is taking shape. Somehow I forgot the experiments of living by candle light and washing our clothes with non-toxic cleaners. Eating plant based, frugal diets and living without air conditioning or reducing our electricity in a variety of ways. These efforts become the norm and the goals become lost. But these efforts are not the norm for our culture. So we seek to join a subculture of folks who want to get back to pioneer-style living and high effort lifestyles. This is the life we are choosing.
Our homestead is the very property we bought 11 years ago and are now starting to really appreciate and work. It took about five years of constant conversations and me all but begging my wife to ride this adventure train with me. This year we had three garden beds. Next year we hope to have more and possibly add some chickens to the mix. Perhaps I’ll start fishing again and well freeze our catch. There are many ways in which we can live out our homestead dreams. And they have already begun.