i made francis this sweater yesterday. we stopped at the local mennonite-run thrift store, where i scour the racks for Actual wool, Actual silk, leather, etc in an attempt to gather adequate winter weather clothing, and this time i was shopping for the pup. we got this $4 sweater that's 100% wool, and i removed the sleeves and made them into her sweater. i made a pattern out of cotton cloth first, so i can make future sweaters more easily.
franny has been running around, sleeping, rolling, and cuddling happily in her sweater since last night. hooray winter wardrobes!
favorite chicken has been sitting on eggs, and hatched her first chick!!! now we have to figure out how to help them get down from the nest boxes...
ta-daa! magic baby chicken ramp... it only took them a few days to learn how to use it, too! they are super cute. in the mean time, we came down every day at dusk, picked up mama chicken and each of her fluffy babies, and put them back up in the nest box.
more eggs to go! we'll see how many babies we get...
straw goes on the two layers of roofing tin on the shed before adding earth. jon and i also put on a sort of 'filter' just above the gutter, of hardware cloth wrapped around some pebbles to keep soil out of the rain barrels.
osage branches wired together help to terrace the soil on the roof just slightly, so it doesn't slide too much.
kittens and franny-dog all love napping on this fabulous orange car seat that i brought home from a barn deconstruction. also, muscovy duckling babies are getting bigger and are still super cute all the time. they make sweet twittery noises.
often and often when i meet new folks or am out 'in the world' elsewhere, i have people ask why i'm doing what i'm doing. why homestead, what does it Mean, why like that.
there are so many reasons. i want to try to touch on at least most of them, because i figure the more connection points the greater the chance someone will see an access point for themselves into something that will improve their life, bring them closer to their goals or dreams, or inspire them. and maybe some folks i know will understand me better, which would be cool too.
romantic childhood dream
as a kid, while other girls were describing what their family would be like and their wedding and how many kids, i pictured designing and building my own house. i pictured having a daughter, but no partner. i pictured fruit trees, some forest, some field. and i pictured myself working with animals (which, in the limited scope of our cultural rhetoric, translated into 'veterinarian'). i spent a lot of time as a kid fashioning forts in the woods, drawing out house plans, keeping different pets, and imagining how to do these things later on.
as i got older my mom encouraged me in reading young adult fantasy and fiction novels. madeleine l'engle books subconsciously pointed me in a great direction, among others. through these books i dreamed of a cozy home tucked a bit away from others, of living a heroic life, of sharing magical connection with the land and with animals and plants. through these stories i saw facing the world in this way - without modern technology, with spirit and courage - to be romantic, desirable, and inspiring. practically speaking, i'm not blind. i know the risks, the pitfalls, the challenges - and they still seem thrilling to me. bear in mind that i speak as an individual, who is young and healthy, with no dependents or external obligations.
tough constitution/favored challenge
i come at this lifestyle with a pretty hardy constitution. i grew up doing things i didn't want to do and having to deal. i grew up learning that i had to prove my physical strength to get Any kind of respect whatsoever. and so i can easily accomplish many things most women consider themselves incapable of. i expect difficulty and keep going. complaining is a luxury i have only recently started indulging. and in some ways my body is made for this - where others get 10 bug bites, i get 2 or 3. where others get nauseous in heat or sluggish in cold, i can maintain an acceptable middle ground in my core and keep on.
in contrast to these physical challenges, i find the social challenges of living with other people and living in Cities and maintaining a standard job to be Intensely more challenging than my current primitive lifestyle. i would Rather struggle like this than in air conditioning, in a building, in a car, in traffic, among strangers, disconnected from my nourishment. my brain prefers slow, direct, straightforward, simple situations. and while my lifestyle is in some ways complex, i can See my food, i can See and Grasp the entire life cycle of what goes into my shelter, my nourishment, my clothing. and that sets my soul and mind at ease. i need that.
lack of desire to make money
there is not any job that will make me decent amounts of money that i feel really passionate about. all the things i'm most excited about can be done Nearly without money, especially once established. especially once certain bases are covered. and it seems ludicrous to me, if that's the case, to put myself in a situation where i feel Stuck having to make money just to exist in a certain place (rent), just to eat (groceries), just to get around (gas) or have light and connection (utilities). these things, aside from land (unfortunately) do not Have to cost money.
sense of honor / view of world as sacred
i have a strong desire to be a responsible human. a responsible Creature. to me, that means being 'able' to 'respond' to as many aspects of my life as possible. and so i look at my actions in the world and their impact. the shelters i have lived in growing up have been made of materials that come from far away. that are covered in noxious chemicals. i have owned and driven cars, burned unnecessary fossil fuels. i have acquired and disposed of much of the typical (for Americans) material possessions... things made in factories, things made to be thrown away, things made by people being treated poorly elsewhere in the world. i have consumed years and years worth of food that was not treated well (plants and animals both), that was covered with poison or fed poison.
my 'religion' or spirituality or ethic is very simple at its core. i view the world as sacred. humans are sacred, other animals, plants, stones, the soil, the air, are sacred. even plastic and those things we have taken so far from their origin, are still sacred, but have lost so much of their original essence as to be nearly unrecognizable. so with that ethic/belief in mind, how do i live honorably in the world? how do i live that belief and feel acceptable to myself? i look at every aspect of my life and shift as much as i can, as i'm able. i do not want to support shitty governments, inhumane business models, the degradation of other bioregions. i do not want my actions to have a negative impact that i can't at least Monitor directly. i want to KNOW how i affect the world with my conscious choices as much as possible.
so i enter into relationships with the land, the trees, the animals, and we make decisions together. we may not always agree, but i deal directly with the results of our interaction. i am responsible for them - for over hunting or Under hunting, for supporting certain growth and curtailing other. we, the land and i, impact Each Other actively every day. and that determines my survival, my shelter, my food, the tone and flavor and energy of my life. it's really fucking important.
making things myself
i really enjoy making things myself. i enjoy using my own hands. i have grown to expect that i will face most challenges alone, and so am accustomed to manage on my own. i've learned to take great joy in making my own things, in fashioning what is needed in my world from what is available. this is intensely convenient given all the other points listed above - considering the world sacred, living in direct relationship with my surroundings, not wanting to involve money, being sustainable in my resource gathering, and enjoying the romanticism of a handmade life, i can cobble together the skills and supplies needed to care for myself in the most magical and beautiful and honorable and fucking epic way imaginable. why would i Not want to live like this?
in a logistical and practical sense, this is the smartest way for me to live given my abilities and proclivities. it is smart to respect the finite resources of our planet, and smart to get what we need as close to home as possible in an endlessly renewable fashion. so yeah, i'll figure out wood shake roofs and clay tile roofs and thatched roofs, and i'll grow my fences and make a house of sticks and mud. it can still be done beautifully, gracefully, intelligently. imports are not necessary. plastic is not necessary. i am willing to push my personal boundaries and be uncomfortable for a while to be able to more thoroughly say Fuck Plastic and Fuck processed, mass produced bullshit, i will go without it and figure out something better, something simpler, something local and handmade. i will do everything in my power Not to support things i don't want to see in the world, even if it means a good handful of tough years.
i think that nearly covers it. and of course this is more abstract stuff... hopefully you can fill in the gaps with the practical details i share in other posts. at some point, if you like, i can spell out the details for you. of shelter, food, clothing, medicine, all the varied kinds of nourishment we prefer to have around as humans and how i am meeting or working on meeting those needs sustainably and primitively.