Oh sure, we all know the perks of growing our own food, supplying our
own energy and being as self-sufficient as we can be, but what about the
benefits of homesteading that AREN'T touted from the cover of the latest
Back when I lived in Wisconsin, Thanksgiving dinner was
taken with my husband's family. They had a tradition that right after
dinner, everyone gathered around the TV and they all watched Pay-Per-View
As touching a scene as that was, with the little people all
hunkered down in front for the best view, I just wasn't into it. And, DARNIT!,
I had to leave early to go home and milk the goats. I know
they all felt sorry for me—dragged away from the beer, cigarette smoke,
and surround-sound wrestling and forced to endure the clear, cold, country
quiet, and the company of companionable livestock.
Somehow, I suffered through it. Year after year.
When something breaks or otherwise needs mending around the place,
city folk get into the SUV and head for the Home Depot for the proper
parts and the proper tools for the job. I have neither the SUV nor the money
for such extravagances as Parts and Tools. Luckily, I DO have an
endless supply of baling wire.
Homesteaders take multitasking to a level unheard of by most folks. We
can feed the livestock, milk the goats, gather eggs, get breakfast into
our families, have several loads of laundry washed and hung out to dry,
the family washed and dressed and the whole crowd ready to face the day
in less time than it takes for some of those Big Haired Women to do
their 'do. Of course, later in the day when your son needs a tissue and
you reach into your jacket pocket and present him with an egg, it may be
a sign that you need to slow down just a tad, but considering the
workload, still not too shabby.
There are a number of companies who provide home security. For a fee
of course. We have a flock of guinea hens who work for chickenfeed, and
when I asked the security fellas to supply me with some feathers for a
mask my son and I were making, they just looked at me funny. Of course,
the security guys don't roost up in the old oak and poop on my car, but
I still prefer the guinea hens.
Children in the country are free to run wild and act like complete
heathens without worrying about what the neighbors will think. Weather
permitting, clothing is optional. My older son spent hours playing such
games as "See How Many Long, Rusty Nails I Can Pound into the Picnic
Table?" and "Breaking Rocks with a Hammer", and the younger one likes to
sit on top of the car and holler in some alien language (perhaps
summoning the Mothership) when he's not digging holes or chasing the
cats with the weed whacker (just on the off chance that anyone in PETA
is reading this, he doesn't know how to fire up the weed whacker yet so
simmer down). My daughter played "Poke Myself in the Eye with a
Stick", but just the one time. All three suffered from acute ADD—Dang Demented—and I feel very sorry for kids who do all their running
at the direction of the Pee-Wee Soccer Coach.
Men with homesteading wives do not have to enter a jewelry store or
Victoria's Secret for holiday gift buying, but can head to the Tractor
Supply or local hardware store - places they want to go to anyhow, and
nothing screams "Romance" like a brand new, shiny, two-man saw.
And speaking of romance: forget the Dinner and a Movie nonsense. A
man who does the evening feeding after working all day at a boring job
to support his family, knows how to cook (and clean up after) a good
simple meal, and enjoys sitting next to me with a cup of coffee in the
porch swing to watch the baby goats gamboling in the yard beats the
stuffing out of whatever soft, yuppie male with a head full of "hair
product" that People magazine calls the Sexiest Man of the Year.
Call me strange, and a lot of people do.
That, my friends, is the biggest benefit of homesteading.
We are strange.
A little "teched".
There is nothing so liberating as being strange.
I don't have to wear the latest styles, or even know what they are.
I don't want a new car, or even a new truck. My old car gets me from
point A to point B with little fanfare and little gas consumption, and
even though BubbaTruck ('84 Silverado complete with gun rack) has moved
across the road to Pa and Nana's place, I still have use of him when I
I don't follow, nor do I care about the Desperate Housewives or
I'm too busy hauling feed, weeding the garden, hand washing laundry and
stacking firewood to join a health club.
I don't have the time to worry about keeping up with the Joneses. I
need to keep a step ahead of the weather, the grasshoppers, the weeds
and the coyotes. But hey, if the Joneses are good with a spade and a
shotgun, they are welcome to lend a hand.
So strange I am, and I embrace my
strangeness. Because from what I've seen, being normal is just