I am not ...
I repeat ...
I am not ...
a "Suzy Homemaker."
I have never pickled anything.
Heck, I've never jarred anything.
One time I learned to make yogurt.
But then I forgot.
I am a city girl in my heart.
I haven't been dirty a lot in my life.
I'm a tomboy.
But not a farmer's wife.
And definitely not a farmer.
And yet, slowly, V-E-R-Y slowly, I am coming to embrace the idea of homesteading. I'm not even sure what that word means exactly. And I'm not sure it accurately describes what we are doing here, but it is the closest I can get.
Homesteading is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale. Pursued in different ways around the world—and in different historical eras—homesteading is generally differentiated from rural village or commune living by isolation (either socially or physically) of the homestead.
One word can lead you to define another word. So let's discuss self-sufficiency for a moment. Shall we? This is the idea of not requiring anything for survival that you cannot provide for yourself. Here's another handy-dandy wikipedia definition.
Self-sufficiency (also called self-containment) is the state of not requiring any aid, support, or interaction for survival; it is a type of personal or collective autonomy. Self-sufficiency is a type of sustainable living in which nothing is consumed other than what is produced by the self-sufficient individuals. Examples of attempts at self-sufficiency in North America include simple living, homesteading, off-the-grid, survivalism, DIY ethic and the back-to-the-land movement.
We are not self-sufficient on our farm. Nor do I think we ever will be. But we'd like to be mostly self-sufficient, and I would love to find people who are doing what we are doing to trade or purchase from if we aren't doing it.
For example: dairy. I have no desire to do any milking. And I don't think I ever will. But if I could find another farm where they were doing it, I'd buy from them before I bought from the grocery store if it was possible.
An example are the blueberries pictured above. We did not grow them. But there is another farm down the road from us (okay about 45 minutes from us) that is doing organic blueberries. So I ordered eight gallons from them.
I had no idea how many blueberries eight gallons was until I met him in the parking lot of Yoder's and we exchanged blueberries for cash. Suddenly I had a whole lot of blueberries. I spent the next few days working to freeze those berries to use for smoothies and other fun snacks. I'm so excited to have all of these in our freezer and to have supported another farm in doing so.
It is interesting how an idea doesn't come to you. This idea wasn't one that while lying in bed, I decided: I want to homestead. I want to be self-sufficient. I have never embraced those words or thought that they fit me.
(In truth, I am pretty sure my husband brain-washed me. I am pretty sure he planted tiny, minuscule seeds for the last two decades to get me to this point.)
I'm kidding. Sort of.
Either way, here I am.
John has spent all day to day smoking one of our pigs. The pork is AMAZING and we are so proud to have raised this meat from the very beginning.
Instead, slowly, things just started happening that lead me into this life I never saw coming. Over the last two years, I have totally come to understand and be able to care for the animals on our farm. In the last few weeks, our intern, Jacob, has been teaching me how to do the fencing that moves our sheep and pigs every 3-5 days by myself. My goal is that when he leaves in October, I will be able to handle the animal moving without John needing to be present. I'm very proud of this and feel that it is one of the last pieces of the animal puzzle I needed to tackle.
Our garden is now taking over (with nearly complete thanks going to Jacob.) As Jacob harvests and brings food in, I am watching Jacob and John put this food to use. They are making pickles for example. I still don't understand how all this food works or how to best save and utilize it, but I'm getting it. And it's exciting.
Here are a couple videos of our two main gardens:
I still don't know exactly why God brought me to this life. And today, as I took FOUR showers and changed my clothes five times due to mud and rain, I couldn't help but wonder how in the world my life changed so drastically in such a short period of time.
We have bitten off a lot. But we are really learning and paring things down. And as we do, I'm feeling this life fit me more and more. The idea of being able to raise food the way we want to raise it and to raise our children among green grass is so appealing to me.
It isn't perfect.
But it's our life.
And I not only like it ...
I love it.