Have you ever noticed kind of a gap?
Sometimes it feels like there’s a bit of a disconnect between me and my non-homesteading friends. Ever been there?
Thankfully, considering I’ve been chasing this homesteading dream for about 7 years now, most of my friends/family now understand that Jill is just weird. And they’re used to it.
No one even raises their eyebrows anymore when we bring home a new farm animal or start building a new structure/fence/tractor/whatever.
So it’s all good.
But then there are those other times when I happily run to town in my muck boots, hair adorned with bits of hay, and manure-smudged jeans, and I see someone who doesn’t know me very well… And I suspect they think I’m a bit of an alien. Or just a slob. Or maybe a little bit of both.
Sometimes I wish I could just send them a post like this before we get to know each other, so they have a better understanding of my crazy lifestyle. Because, ya know, us homesteader folk are kind of our own breed of weird.
10 Things Your Non-Homesteading Friends Just Don’t Understand
1. We’re rather proud of the dirt under our fingernails
The short, chipped, grimy nails adorning my battered, prematurely-wrinkled hands would be a laughingstock in some circles of women. But you know what?
I love my hands.
These hands can quickly squeeze gallons of milk from an udder, nurture growing vegetables, convince a stubborn heifer to load in the trailer, build fence, hold the reins of my favorite horse, and knead the best bread you’ve ever put in your mouth.
I’m so used to my plain, grubby fingernails, whenever I do try to paint them, the flashes of color startle me all day long because I’m not used to it. And then I end up nervously picking all the polish off… So yeah, it’s safe to say this girl is perfectly happy without a manicure.
2. We really, truly like having a lot of projects going at once.
“Oh honey… You’re so busy…” They say it with a look of pity in their eyes.
I’ve really started to dislike the term “busy”, because I think it carries a such a negative connotation, and people have drastically different definitions of what busy really is…
I prefer my schedule to be “pleasantly full,” and I keep it that way on purpose. I am not a victim of my homesteading schedule. (And if you’re wondering how I get (most) things done, here are my best homestead time management tips)
Those days where I milk the cow, then make bread, then write a blog post, then help hubby with a fencing project, then jump on a quick phone call, then experiment with a new DIY recipe, then do a bit of garden work, then linger outside at dusk while doing evening chores, then check email before rolling into bed?
Those are are my favorite days. I love every bit of them.
If I ever get to the point where I feel the need to stroll the mall to fill my hours, please put me out of my misery. 😉
3. Food you grow yourself really does taste better.
No doubt about it, a vegetable picked 30 steps from your front door will always, always have better flavor than a veggie that’s been shipped half-way around the country.
Once you have the experience of looking down at your plate and knowing where each and every component came from, you’ll be hooked. It’s the best seasoning there is.
4. We don’t do what we do to make anyone else feel inferior.
Comparison is rampant in our culture. Some people blame the prevalence of social media, but I think it’s a problem as old as time. Every once in a while, I get the vibe that someone suspects I’m attempting to be a Super Mom with all my homesteading efforts. Let me just say this: I am as far from Super Mom as a person can get.
Like anyone else, we homesteading-folk prioritize what is important to us. So while you might think we are Super Human as we milk our cow, grow our own salads (AND make the dressing…), and whip up batches of homemade mozzarella, know this is simply where we’ve chosen to spend our time.
Case in point? While I may have a few homesteading skills, I am horrifically awful at doing laundry, my children have boring birthday parties, and I don’t sew or knit. See? No Super Mom here.
We’re just doing what makes us happy, and we aren’t trying to make anyone who isn’t into our lifestyle feel poorly about themselves. We’ll still be your friend, and you don’t even have to can your own applesauce.
5. Getting the first egg from your first chicken is a thrill like no other.
Or when the first tomato appears on the plant. Or you put your first packages of home-raised meat into the freezer.
Growing your own food is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done, and the first time experiencing the fruits of your labor is magical. It makes all the tough times, hard work, and disappointments worth it.
So, to all the non-homesteaders out there, please bear with us while we gush about our eggs and tomatoes. We’ll stop… eventually. Maybe.
6. We know it’s easier and faster to buy _____ at the store. But we still want to make it ourselves.
If there is one thing to know modern homesteaders, it’s that we hardly ever choose the “easy” route.
- Buying milk is infinitely easier (and cheaper) than keeping a milk cow.
- Buying French bread to go with your spaghetti dinner is way easier than making bread from scratch.
- Buying neatly wrapped meat at the butcher counter is far less messy than raising or butchering meat yourself.
This homesteading-gig is empowering. And fulfilling. And an adventure. But easy? Definitely not.
But for some reason, that doesn’t bother us. We’re just weird like that.
7. We’re not trying to reenact Little House on the Prairie
I’ve received some criticism because some of my recipes or tutorials use purchased ingredients. (For example: my homemade crockpot soap recipe uses store-bought lye instead of lye made from wood ashes.)
You’re missing the point.
The way I see it, modern homesteading is all about mixing the best of the old with the best of the new.
To be perfectly honest? I don’t want to take a bath in a small tub while someone pours hot water over my head. I rather like my shower, thankyouverymuch.
I also very much appreciate my dishwasher and washing machine. Can I live without those things? Yup. Do I think it’s wise to be prepared in case there is ever an event that takes down the grid? Sure!
But in the meantime, I’m thankful to have electricity in my homesteading efforts.
The old-fashioned homesteading lifestyle is one we heavily romanticize. And while there are definitely romantic parts to it, I’m careful to recognize that our homesteading ancestors lived the way they did out of necessity, and simple survival consumed a huge part of their day.
And yes, if Ma Ingalls could have had a washing machine, I’m willing to bet she would have loved it.
8. We actually like living a bazillion miles away from town.
I always giggle when I read the headlines of the listings in the local real estate magazines…
“Only 10 minutes from downtown!”
“Only 5 minutes away from Wal-Mart!”
Um, if you’re trying to convince me to buy a house, that’s not the way to do it.
Quick Side Note: if you *do* live in town, know that it’s still very possible to still homestead. You absolutely can live 5 minutes from Wal-Mart and still have a blossoming garden or even chickens. I’m a firm believer in that!
But for those of us who do live far from the grocery store, know that we prefer it that way, so you don’t have to feel sorry for us.
I sure can’t order in pizza, or swing by the store when I’m missing an ingredient for a recipe, but I’m cool with that. The peace and quiet and wide open spaces make it worth it. (And as a result, I’ve learned how to make darn good pizza from scratch.)
I know living this far out isn’t for everyone, and some people really, truly want to be within walking distance of the grocery, but my 40 mile drive doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
9. Scooping poop is better than therapy.
Or any type of manual labor, actually. (I can mow the lawn really fast when I’m mad.)
When I’m feeling stressed or angry, I stomp down to the barn, grab my pitchfork, and get to work. The negative feelings melt away with each scoop I toss into the wheelbarrow.
Side-Note: When you’re a homesteader, poop isn’t gross– it’s beautiful. Poop turns into compost which magically nurtures the soil and your plants. Embrace the poop.
10. If we don’t answer our phone, we’re not ignoring you on purpose.
Especially during the summer.
Sometimes we get so absorbed in the latest project, our social life goes out the window. Not always, but sometimes… At least for me.
I’m pretty horrible about meeting friends in town for lunch or play dates… It’s not that I don’t want to see them, it’s just that my brain is usually preoccupied with my latest homesteading mission.
For the non-homesteaders reading this, if you want to see more of your homesteading friends, may I suggest offering to help them put up tomatoes? Or pick apples? Or butcher chickens? They’ll love the extra set of hands and companionship, and it’s rewarding to accomplish stuff as you catch up.
So… can you relate at all? Leave a comment?