I have a neighbor who seems in awe of what I do. I had sent over some fresh homemade jam and bread one time as a thank you gift and she couldn't believe I had made those things myself. Another time she stopped by the day I was making those homemade pop tarts and said, "Are you kidding me? You make pop tarts too?" This was really embarrassing. I tried to explain that it was the first time making them and I was just trying it out. When we had a 4th of July BBQ with them I mentioned something about the pickles I made last year and she gave me this look and laughed. "Oh my gosh, you made your own pickles? Is there anything you don't do?" She seems to compare herself to me which I think is rather silly.
I am not doing anything that special. Well, okay, maybe in today's world of buy-everything-pre-made-for-you it is a bit "special". It's something anyone can do if they decide they want to. For me, I took on this personal quest to make things from scratch, to discover new things to make homemade and to depend less on food science and more on my own two hands. This is how I homestead.
I've been thinking a lot about what a "homestead" really means. What I have discovered is that Homesteading is completely personal and is what brings you joy - but ultimately, it's about doing for yourself at a level you can handle. It's exactly what you make of it.
The biggest thing I've learned on this journey of the homemade is that I am never going to make everything we use all by myself. I am learning what I feel comfortable making, what is practical time and energy-wise, and what I would really just rather buy. Right now I'm happy buying milk, the majority of our clothes, Cheerios and sharp cheddar cheese. I do want to bake my own bread, make my own toothpaste and cleaners, have my own chickens for eggs, and sew my own quilts. And even when I try making something new from scratch, I'm not obligated to always make it from scratch. My journey is about learning new skills, seeing what I'm capable of, and how much I can grow in my talents and abilities. Much of the time, I set my mind on something and don't think about whether I can do it or not. I just do it. (That's how I started quilting.) I feel so blessed to have this determination - something I don't always use, but should.
My husband and I have talked about our future senior years and what we want them to be like. Without hesitation we both say we'd like to be like his grandparents. They live on a farm in the northern-most reaches of Montana near the Canadian border and with the Glacier National Park mountains on their horizon. When we visit the farm we work. His grandparents always have some project or other going on. Grandma is always trying new things and making interesting stuff. Grandpa is usually found in the barn tinkering with machines or working on his retro tractors. Their farm doesn't have animals. Sometimes it has a garden. They host hives of bees from California and get honey in return (which trickles its way down to us occasionally.) :-) They are the epitome of reusing and recycling. (Their "honeymoon suite" in the barn boasts 2 reclaimed hospital gurney beds. haha!) Best of all, they're just busy and happy. We love going to the farm.
My husband and I would love to have a place like that someday where our children and grandchildren could come to learn new skills and to work together as a family. But most of all I would love to be that example of industry and to display the joy that work brings. I'm not there yet, but I'm getting there. One project and homemade recipe at a time.
How do you homestead?