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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Homesteading Is Romantic

I have been reading here and there that some homesteaders are not too thrilled about something. Rewarding those whose lives are already perfect. Sounds a little odd doesn't it? But in the world of homesteading, there is no such thing as perfection, and those that claim to have it are either liars or overly optimistic.

I will say that my life is perfect for me, but I will not sit here and tell you only the flowery romantic side of this life. It is misleading and irresponsible for me to do so. I started this blog a few years back. At that time I was one of a few that talked about this life, and the only one that told you the gruesome, heartaches involved. The banner of my blog use to say "this is a beginner's tale of mistakes." The main reason I started this blog was my frustrations over perfect homesteaders and their not so truthful books. They would tell you how they did something, but didn't forewarn you of the mistakes that they made and how they got around them. It got frustrating, and lonely feeling when you made stupid little mistakes and had to stumble through to figure out how to fix it. They never tell you the true death toll of a homestead, they never tell you that you will hurt, and that building a homestead out of nothing take years of struggles and disappointments. All we ever hear is a fully edited world, or a fully established homestead that needs only maintenance and not how they ever got to that point.

Most of us are poor. Homesteaders in general are poor in finances. We have to be super creative in what we have and what we are able to do. At times we bite of more than we can comfortably chew. We can be told baby steps over and over, but if they don't give you an example, an anecdote from their own mis-adventures to serve as a warning, we get overly excited and jump with both feet.

But then you have those that start homesteading with a good deal of money backing them. These are hobbyists more than homesteaders. Homesteaders build from the ground up, while hobbyists can afford to pay out to have things finished before they even step onto the soil. They can afford to have other's do the work that they should be doing to be called a homesteader. And some of the complaining I am reading are toward a select few of hobbyists. I have no qualm with them. I am happy to see that some people are able to by-pass the horror that is building from nothing.

I don't read those perfect blogs. I don't feel a connection with them. Besides homesteading, what do I truly have in common with their edited perfection? We can use my blog for example. I have more comments when I have messed up or have had a bad day, then I do on my lovely days. And why is that? Somewhere you and I have built a connection. When I talk about the evil, you can relate because something similar has already happened or you feel that it could happen to you.

For me I feel that you have to be honest with the people around you. You can not edit life to make it sound like you have no problems. You can not live life to the fullest if you never take a risk, or step out for an adventure. Then you might just stumble, and when you do there is a lesson to be learned, something that makes you more human, something to help you grow and become better. Sometimes these stumbles are bad, vicious if you will. And you cry and you want it all to stop. You feel like you need to throw the towel in and forget it all. And yet there is something there that pulls you to over come it. You put the bodies in the freezer and return to the bloody scene. You know what you did wrong, and the next time you will not make the same mistake. There might be a different one, but you accept that. This is part of homesteading and never allow anyone to fool you into thinking that you are less then they are because of the mistakes.

How can we be competent people if we live only perfect lives? Where is the adventure if you always play things safe. How can you prosper if you never live to the fullest and accept the consequences that occur?

Some of you do read some of the blogs I read so might have a clue to what all this is in reference to. Several blogs have brought this up, and so have a few emails I have seen. Book publisher be warned, many are not happy about your choices. But we know that many will be suckered into reading about things that are perfect. They will be fooled into thinking that homesteading is easy and happy. That when you are a homesteader, you will never cry or bleed, sweat or freeze. You will never get lost on your way to a chicken coop in a snow storm, or dust storm. That you will never be up to your knees in flood water, while lightening and thunder blind and deafen you as you try to save your goats from the rushing water. That you own dogs will never snap and kill half your livestock. That a cow will never kick you, or stick a horn in your side. That butchering your own, means watching a paid professional do it. That weeds, rabbits, raccoons, deer and domestic cats will never be a problem for your garden. That your life isn't a 24 hour test of your convictions. That you will never hold an animal in your arms, covered in blood or saliva, and cry as it dies. No, none of that ever happens.

Homesteading is romantic.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes it's a hard life, but I wouldn't trade it for anything else.

Peggy said...

love your post today. I had been thinking something similar and glad you did a good job putting it in words. I am so tired of people making homesteading life a fairy tale. Would love for them to spend a day here. Worrying where money for bills is going to come from, how to fix the garden fence where the rabbits got in and ate some of my beans. When we are going to have time from farm and animal chores to repair things in the house. But I am blessed to have this life no matter how stressful it is.They just need to cut the fairy tale crap.

Kelle at The Never Done Farm said...

Amen sister homesteader! Homesteading is ONLY romantic in books and movies. Thus the reason why so many don't make a go of it, it isn't all roses and wine. Instead it's mud,manure and mayham, but you know we wouldn't trade it for the anything *wink* Do we have bad days, Yes! Do we get lost in an overwhelmed state, Yes. Do we loose animals and grieve, Yes. Is it hard, gut wrenching work, Yes. It's worth repeating, we wouldn't trade it for anything!
Bless you for your honesty,that is why we follow your blog,we can totally relate.

Meadowlark said...

It's GOTTA be more romantic than what I've been doing lately. :(

And besides, what's more romantic than hard work, and at the end of the day leaning on a shovel surveying what you've accomplished?

Sigh. I miss the ranch.
Great, great post my friend.

Donna. W said...

Let's see: I can't grow a round radish; the heifer I raised from a tiny calf is sterile; I can't turn the dog outside alone because she's liable to run away; and I have some druggie neighbors, one of whom is supposed to be in rehab but isn't. That's only the tip of the iceburg

Oh yeah, that's really romantic.

You speak the truth. I don't consider myself a homesteader, more of a hobbyist. I don't try to make money. At my age and with my bad knees, there's only so much I can do. But I sure do have fun.

HermitJim said...

One thing I have always heard and believe to be true is that the only people that never make mistakes, are the people that never DO anything.

Outstanding post as always, Phelan. Proud to be a constant reader!

Carolyn Evans-Dean said...

Excellent post, Phelan! I think that it is very misleading when people make homesteading sound easy. It is hard work wrapped in long hours with very little monetary reward... I can't wait until I'm a real homesteader!

Aimee said...

I must be a real homesteader - even though I don't entirely depend on the products of my little farm - based opn the number of mistakes I've made. The mistakes that cost my animals their lives are the hardest to take; the mistakes in pressure canning are actually kind of funny. Oh well it's all learning.

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

Well written P.

Irma said...

Even when I first started learning about modern homesteading, it never occurred to me for one second that it was an easy, romantic, or perfect life. (People think that???) It DID seem to me that it was a very fulfilling life choice, which is better than all those other things.

Kendra at New Life On A Homestead said...

Wow. What a powerful post! My husband and I have decided to begin homesteading (from scratch) just 6 months ago. We are, like you said, the poor ones. We are learning to do all that we can with what we have, and are seeing many blessings along the way. I'm glad that I have stumbled across your site. I, too, am blogging about my journey in a raw and honest way. I want others to learn from my mistakes, and I appreciate any advice that others have to offer me. Thanks for sharing your heart with us.

Anonymous said...

You know, here's the thing, everyone has to start somewhere, and they usually have to start from where they are. If you want to feel righteoush, that's fine, but seriously, let's give people a break. Would anyone of us fall in love if we really knew what heartbreak was? NO, we are first fed stories of true love and fairly tales. Would any of us have children if we didnt first fall in love with those big eyes and those chubby limbs?
hey, if people are willing to give a greener lifestyle a shot, then good for them, and if they are hiring someone to help them, that's great...its a local service, so they are helping the local economy. We cannot all be Thoreaux here, we will still need skilled artisans in the local economy. The newbies will learn the hard way, they will learn about life and death and they will either sink or swim. Yes, its nice to have the real story, and I thank you for your blog, but why demonize those who are willing to try?
Sounds like most religion to me..."oh, we're better than them, because...." fill in the blanks, folks, its all the same.
let's just give people a chance, ok? the fact that they are getting out of their comfort zone AT ALL is a huge first step, right?
a little love, patience and compassion would change the world, let's start on the blogosphere.

peace to you all.

Phelan said...

If the anonymous comment above is really about my post, then you have read the post incorrectly.

It is not about anyone being better than any one else which I stated. It is about not being truthful to yourself, nor holding yourself accountable to your readers. This is about a lot of preventable livestock death because people don't really know. If people want to be homesteaders than they will be homesteaders with or without the fairy tales. The fairy tales are nice, but I am not here to be nice.

I give a lot of people a break. I let people be whomever they want to be. If they choose to write an edited life on a blog, then they can. This wasn't even really about those people It was more to the homesteaders that feel betrayed and treated like their mistakes make them worthless.

I was not being righteous.

April Bourgois said...

Amen, Phelan!

We're still working on the chicken thing and I can't tell you how many books I've wanted to burn, they were so vague! My favorite example is the one from Storey Publishing that says you should prevent pecking and the like and then gives you exactly no information on how to go about it. (Of course, they also call 400 hens a "small flock...")

You are so completely right on about those so-called homesteading books! It's so much better just to ask the old mountain people up here. I learned more about the usefulness of my trees in 10 minutes today than a whole shelf of books could ever do!

I'm also just getting started and learning it all takes 10 times longer than expected. But at least I have you to show me it CAN be done by a city raised kid!

Anonymous said...

"But then you have those that start homesteading with a good deal of money backing them. These are hobbyists more than homesteaders. Homesteaders build from the ground up, while hobbyists can afford to pay out to have things finished before they even step onto the soil. They can afford to have other's do the work that they should be doing to be called a homesteader."

that sounds a bit righteous to me.

Phelan said...

Sure it does sound righteous, then you read the rest of the paragraph and it states, "I have no qualm with them. I am happy to see that some people are able to by-pass the horror that is building from nothing."If someone feels the need to find righteousness in anyone's words, it is pretty simple to do so. You have misread what I said, I have no problems with anyone that has money to do everything up front. I have talked about the money issue in the past. I stand by what I said. It might not have been the smoothest wording, but it is a complete thought and complete paragraph.

I am sorry you feel insulted, that was not my intention. Once again, this was written for those that felt that they were worthless because others make them feel that way because of mistakes.

I was not angry when I wrote it, I wasn't motivated by self interest, I was responding and attempting to help those that felt bad about their lives. And by the others comments they understood where I was coming from and what this post was really about.

We all make mistakes when it comes to wording our posts. We all make mistakes in reading those posts. We always tick some one off no matter what we say, or how we try to explain it.

All I can say is that it was never my intention to insult or upset you or come across as holy than thou.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough.

I'm not offended, so much as concerned. I just didnt want to see the online "conversation" devolve into who is a "real" whatever, that's all. I don't think it is productive. Yes the books do leave a lot to be desired for hte most part, but I just didnt want to see generalizations made. Like I said, everyone has to start somewhere and if a corporate executive realizes one day that the life he's been living isnt authentic and wants to make a radical change, and one that will ultimately help the planet, and his local community. I say more power to him,and we can't expect him to pretend he's poor if he isnt. If he can hire a local guy that may have kids to feed, that's great! I'd like to see that man embraced in the "community" and not feel alienated, that's all. I mean, once he buys those books and realizes there is alot he needs to know, I'd hate for him to feel alienated by the online community just because he isnt a "real homesteader". That he doenst fit in because he's different? you know what i mean? I'd just like to focus on what we have in common, and our intent. It wasnt my point to attack you, but rather to have you see that you are better than making a generalized comment like that and insighting others to say, "hey that's right, they aren't like us because they don't have same struggles." yes, they don't, but they have other demons they may be dealing with. Let's just remember to meet people where they are. You never know what other struggles they may have. If they make the jump, they are now "between worlds" let's meet them with open arms. That was my point.

Like I said, I enjoy your blog, I thank you for what you do.

Unknown said...

I have to get help to do things around here due to health conditions, but the money isn't there ~ I have to save up to get things done & I'm still paying off the lads who did the last little bit of fencing (still not finished).

I think the good things outweigh the bad for the most part.

What's really annoyed me this day is that the farmer who wants to shoot my dogs for supposedly chasing his cattle has cut up & removed 250m of fencing I'd set out to prevent the dogs getting into the field where he puts his cattle!

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