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Friday, June 13, 2008!

opps, sorry for that sharp note, I am not known for my singing abilities.

Laura H left me a comment yesterday about how she thinks the neighbors might think she is a little crazy. I got a giggle out of that one. No, I wasn't laughing at her, I was laughing with her, even if she isn't laughing now. When I first started this venture, I discovered that the neighbors liked to talk about us. First it was because of the biker status we have. People here were scared of us or more likely the misconceptions of the biker lifestyle. One of my neighbors confessed a few years later that when we moved in, and saw all those bikes in our driveway, she panicked and called her brother. Her brother informed her that having bikers in the neighborhood was a good thing, because their neighborhoods have low crime rates. ( this is because of that biker lifestyle misconception, and people tend to be frightened by them). This neighbor and I became good friends, until her husband died at 45 of lung cancer and her large property became too much for her to handle alone.

Shortly after we moved in, our neighbors to the east abruptly moved out, then the good neighbor to our west was gone. We had 2 abandon homes on either side of us. It was a little worrisome come high summer when prairie fire can rage out of control and here we had properties on either side not being maintained. In a strange way we felt like we had some how caused these people to leave. 3 years went by and we got a new neighbor to our east. He turned out to be a great guy and a good friend, but he still would look at us like we were slightly off. And it had been years since I had purple hair! Then the good neighbor returned, and we slowly got to know him. He thinks along the same lines we do.

We began homesteading while the properties were still empty. Our garden flourished and I was forced into learning how to can. Although hot, was actually simple. Next came the chickens, and that had us sticking out like a sore thumb. We were the only ones to have something besides horses here. The good neighbor had chickens before he mysteriously vanished, they disappeared as well. We were alone here with the chicken having. We gathered eggs and soon I was butchering my own. Then came the ducks and the turkey. We did this out in the open, where any of the neighbors could see. One of the families down the road no longer allows their child to play here.

We brought home the goats. This isn't a strange one for the neighbors. Many people have them as they keep the grass down around the lagoons. But bringing donkey home got a lot of attention. He made so much noise, that we had everyone talking about what it could be. Suddenly there was a flurry of activity here after my husband was laid off. We discovered people were watching and talking as we put up the fencing, got the tractor going and began a garden that people could actually see. Cars have slowed down and even have stopped to look at the huge greens that are popping up in my garden.

Along the way we have known that people gossip, that people whisper about us. A door to door sales man confirmed this a few years back, by telling me that the neighbors had told him all about us. Are we really that odd? Apparently so, at least back then. Our good neighbor got into the bee act with us, he too wants a cow as does our neighbor to the east. The neighbor across the road is gardening and setting up a huge chicken coop and wants me to teach her what I know. A neighbor down the way came over and took a tour of our 'stead. She was one of them that would look at me oddly whenever I talked about homesteading, but now she has a goat, and looking at chickens and a cow. She wants an orchard and is working on preserving her garden.

The normal world does indeed look at us like we are crazy, until they see that it actually works and we don't spend as much money as they do and get better quality things for all our work.

Yes, yes indeed I have been having many many bad days, that is the reason I brought it up yesterday. It wasn't just one funk day, it has been weeks of more then just heartache. I go through many funky days without tattling on myself, but once and awhile you have to voice your concerns to get it out, even if everyone finds you crazy for saying it. This lifestyle can really get to you. And it isn't always easy to suck it up and deal. There is support out there so you don't feel so lonely, but sometimes it takes years of neighbors talking about you and looking at you funny before that support arrives.

Thank you for your comments yesterday. I am grateful that you all care. And those that wish for me to suck it up, well I do more times then not, but for my blog to be true, to be able to talk about what it is like to live on a homestead I need to mention the good, the bad and the horrible.

Homesteaders are a crazy bunch, but what is happening in the world is what we have been training for (even if we never thought of it in those terms). I have turned the news off ( you need to go talk to my mother about what I was raised around, her and her weirdo college friends to understand this obsession, Marxism anyone? oh, I still love ya mom)

oh, and. . .
She isn't missing. She's at the farm right now. ~Ed Gein ~giggle~


abbagirl74 said...

I have met you and I don't think you are crazy at all. In fact, I admire you.

Tom said...

I'm glad to hear we are not the only ones that get that "look" from the neighbors. Our family has been working at being self sufficient for only a couple years now, we have a LONG way to go. I've been asked "why would you want to do that" so many times that I rarely talk about it anymore.
Anyway, I've been lurking around here for a couple months. I really enjoy your writing. Me and my wife have added many "projects" to our list based on stuff you guys have done.
It's funny how some days the "simple life" don't seem so simple. Keep up the great work

Cheap Like Me said...

Geesh ... it is disheartening to hear that people think you're weird when you live on acres. We live on a city block.

I took a deep breath and went ahead and hung out my laundry on the day of my daughter's birthday party (only sunny day that week! Had to do it!) -- one parent came into the back yard and exclaimed, "That reminds me of the old days!" (I think meaning when he was a child growing up poorer.)

The little girl next door told the other party guests, "They do practically everything from scratch!"

The concrete contractors don't get why we might want to eliminate some (HUGE) driveway to make more garden. And when my husband smacked some of the existing concrete with his sledgehammer, he heard our other neighbor scream "Oh my GOD!" (So he put off the work till she went to work.)

Not sure how they will react to the chickens and bees we're pondering ...

But if we all start doing it, it won't be so weird. My hero is the neighbor a couple blocks away who just planted tomatoes in half his front yard. (We have pumpkins and cantaloupes in ours this year.)

Keep being nuts! ;)

Maggie said...

Normal people are just Crazy waiting to bust out. Keep em on their toes:)

Chad said...

Wow,that was more than just a "good post". That post was comforting, reaffirming and more than a little vindicating. My wife and I have seen the same looks, heard the same whispers and answered the "Why?" question over and over again. Has it really been that long since people saw a few hens in the yard or a cow out back? When did simple animal husbandry and gardening stop being normal? Perhaps its the New Englander in me but I just don't understand why more folks wouldn't want some independence from grocery stores and mega marts. Like you said, this kind of life does take a while to reeducate the neighbors. Isn't it great though when you see that spark and they say something like "Oh, my those eggs stood up in the frying pan and tasted so fresh!".

Anonymous said...

It seems "odd" to me that people think you are odd. I live in the mountains of TN. Our county is known for farming, so it's just normal for us. What is a little "odd" about people here -- to outsiders -- is that everyone waves at everyone they meet on the roadways. Maybe you guys should consider moving here where everyone is like you!!

This is just a little piece of paradise.

Aunt D.

Phelan said...

abba, oh you know I am going to miss you!

Tom, Thank you, and welcome. I see you are in Kansas. I do hope I have given you enough warning on those projects that you were able to complete them with little error.

Cheap Like me, you got me giggling. Just wait until your child start spouting off anti-Walmart or why someone should make their own bread to complete strangers! The looks you get remind me of those bitter beer face commercials. You stay just as nuts!

Maggie, ha! I'm normal! I'm normal!

Chad, I wondered the same thing. My grandmother had hens in her yard, my mother didn't until she was older. I have my own theories on why this is. It runs along the lines of parents wanting their children to have it better then they did, and forgetting that some of the things they had were good. (it's longer and more complicated, but that would be the gist of it)

Aunt D. We are surrounded by Wheat fields. One would think that homesteading wouldn't seem so odd. But we live in a horse community. People that bought large acerage to only run their horse and get out of the city. They didn't think about anything else until we arrived. I have been through TN, gorgous country, but I am hopelessly in love with Kansas. The wheat fields, the Flint hills and the tornadoes. It's a cozy place for us. Funny my husband and I were having one of those what-if moments and talking about what we would do if we came into a lot of money. Neither one of us mentioned leaving Kansas, we wanted more acrage in the flint hills.

Stephanie said...

Where we live the neighbors can't see us and it is common to have a garden and a few animals, but they still talk. Seems everyone on the ridge knows us. We are the city people (not really, but that is what they think) that moved back in the woods.

Wendy said...

I'm hoping that what you're seeing, with your neighbors now jumping into homesteading finds its way up here, too. We have a quarter acre, and so everything we do is completely visible, from hanging out the laundry to butchering the rabbits in the backyard. Everyone can see everything.

But you know what? I gave up caring a long time ago, and if we've really been preparing for what's happening now, all of the sideways looks will totally be worth it ;).

lisa said...

I think that time spent trying to "fit in" is wasted-and depressing! I remember being teased in grade school for being chubby, but I never wanted to be "like" the other kids...I just wanted them to let me be me! Seems like too many people these days think they know what everybody else "should" be doing, and they come right out and tell you-as if they are the boss of everyone or something! I think people need a lot more humility and MYOB training! You rock on girl! :)

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