I was a bored, pregnant newlywed 40 miles from civilization with not enough money to drive to activities in town.
That’s how it all started.
Not the most epic beginning to this story, I know…
Basically, the garden and kitchen projects gave me a way to pass the time without feeling like a total loser.
I started a blog in the middle of it all. I didn’t know a soul at the time who cared to hear me ramble on about birthing goats or growing green beans, so my bumbling online presence quickly became a welcome outlet for my unorthodox creative pursuits.
But 10 years, 3 kids, and a whole lot of life later, I’m still here, doing pretty much the same things. The cooking. The chicken-ing. The milking. The blogging.
My fascination with this lifestyle has obviously outlasted any sort of “shiny object syndrome” or trend chasing… And over the years, I’ve asked myself… Why? Why AM I still doing this?
Because honestly? (Brace yourself: I’m about to say something horribly scandalous:)
I like canning. I enjoy gardening. I think it’s fun to have chickens pecking in the yard. But those things alone aren’t enough to get me out of bed in the morning, or make me stick with something for 10 years, for that matter.
I use to think I liked homesteading because it was simply about mimicking the old ways. It was “fun”. It gave me a little thrill to make soap from beef fat and hand-rolled pie crusts. It gave us food that was healthier than the junk from the store.
But I’ve since realized my obsession with this modern homesteading movement has deeper roots. However, took some ruminating for me to figure that out.
I’ve talked with a bunch folks over the last few months about the often mysterious process of finding your purpose, aka discovering the thing that lights you up. Some people are born intrinsically knowing such things, but that doesn’t seem to be the norm. Rather, it’s something most folks must work to uncover. It’s a jigsaw puzzle of self-reflection, journaling, and brutal honesty with yourself.
At least, that’s how it was for me.
And as I dug, and pondered, and journaled, and ruminated, it became glaringly obvious to me that it’s a mistake to categorize homesteading and its accompanying skills as simply a cute, old-fashioned hobby. There’s far more to it than that. I’m going to even go as far to say that it’s crucial to our modern existence.
Sound dramatic? Allow me explain.
Technology is awesome. And in the interest of full disclosure, I want you to know that I rely on my iPhone, my DSLR camera, and my MacBook Pro to get a whole lot of stuff done. I’m not ashamed of that. Christian and I have no desire to ever really go “off-grid” and I’m thankful for many of the modern advances we get to enjoy. (Running water and I are BFFs.)
As the Industrial Age took over and technology became our new obsession, we as a society have successfully eliminated everything that once helped us to feel grounded, connected, and whole. The things that have brought humanity balance and equilibrium for millennia have been substituted for cheap, shallow alternatives.
We consume fast food and microwave dinners instead of homegrown, homemade sustenance. We socialize via social media relationships instead of true community. We sit under artificial lighting for days and weeks at a time with little opportunity to get outside and soak in nature. We substitute screen time for face-to-face connection. And we rely on automated everything instead of relishing in the process of creation.
We’re living in a shallow, fake, shell of a world.
The concept of ease is tantalizing, so we didn’t realize what was happening at first. Heck, I’m not even sure we realize it now. But this new reality isn’t going away any time soon. This is an enormous issue with many facets, and I am in no way claiming to have all the answers. But I am convinced this shift in our elemental human existence is playing a massive role in why so many folks are disillusioned. Disconnected. Depressed. Anxious. Purposeless. BORED. (Yes, it’s entirely possible to be bored while having a jam-packed modern calendar.)
We’ve forgotten how to live with intention and create; we forced to merely react and consume while we watch the people on Netflix and YouTube live the lives we truly want. It’s soul-crushing.
I find it fascinating that there is such a fascination with all things “farm” these days. But I’ve noticed most folks stop after they install a few planks of shiplap and watch a couple Little House on the Prairie reruns.
It’s time to go deeper my friends.
Why ARE We So Drawn to the “Farm Life”?
It’s because we know deep in our consciousness that cooking a meal from scratch, growing a tomato plant, or creating something with our hands isn’t an out-of-touch concept to be stuffed in the box of nostalgia and the “good ol’ days”.
These actions are the very fiber of our human existence and have been for millennia. And they still have full potential to provide humans with deep, rich, satisfaction, yes, even in a day and age of having everything accessible at the push of a button.
Yet, as we’ve become so very sophisticated, we’ve left them in the dust in the name of progress and efficiency.
But we NEED them. Now more than ever.
And I have proof…
- A study done at the University of Bristol showed that a common soil bacteria may actually have antidepressant effects
- A Stanford study found evidence that time spent in nature may lower risk of depression and improve overall mental health
- According to Psychology Today, “Research has shown that hand activity from knitting to woodworking to growing vegetables or chopping them are useful for decreasing stress, relieving anxiety, and modifying depression.”
- According to a study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, children who eat supper with their parents at least five days per week are less likely to struggle with drugs and alcohol and report feeling closer with their parents than children who eat with their parents less frequently.
- Playing outside (especially unstructured play) has been shown to decrease ADHD symptoms in children.
Y’all. Do you see what I’m saying?
This is a exceedingly complex issue, and I’m not naive enough to think homesteading is the only answer. But it’s sure as heck one of the best solutions I can think of at the moment.
You don’t have to get a milk cow.
You don’t have to move to the middle-of-nowhere Wyoming.
You don’t have to become the champion pumpkin pie baker at your local county fair.
BUT you need some of these old-fashioned practices in your modern life.
Even if you live in New York City or Los Angeles or Florida or wherever.
No matter where you live, it’s about experiencing the deep satisfaction that comes from creating something tangible with your own two hands…
Nurturing a pot of basil in the window and then gently tearing the leaves to add to your homemade spaghetti sauce as you breathe in the aroma wafting through your kitchen…
Kneading yeast dough with the heels of your hands simply for the sheer joy of it and because you know your family will love homemade French bread for supper. Even though you can easily go to the store and buy a loaf…
I don’t know exactly what this will look like for you, but find something you can create. Something you can grow. Something you can craft or build with your hands.
Because these are things every human needs, whether they are a homesteader or not.
These are the things that bring satisfaction. Balance. Peace. A sense of accomplishment. Joy. Connection. Confidence. Stability.
And that, my friends, is why I get out of bed with a jolt each morning. Chickens are fun, canning peaches is great, but it’s MORE than that. I’m on a mission to bring these skills back into our modern consciousness because we NEED them. We must have them. They cannot be forgotten. Because if they are, we forget a vital part of ourselves in the process.
Are you with me?
We CAN shift things. We can be adults who know how to do stuff. Make stuff. Cook stuff. Grow stuff. And who are more centered and peaceful because of it. We can raise children who know where their food comes from; children who are more balanced because they have time to run and play and be rough and tumble outside.
Homesteading is so much more than the sum of its parts. And that’s why I’ll be here in my little corner of the Internet crowing about it until the cows come home.
This is only the beginning, and I’ll be sharing more deeply on this topic in the future, but in the mean time, I know SO many of you feel the same way I do when it comes to the importance of old-fashioned pursuits. If this post resonated with you, I would love to have you join me in helping to create this change by using the hashtag #oldfashionedonpurpose when you post about your latest homesteading-related skills or projects on Facebook and Instagram. I’ll be watching for your post– let’s create this shift together. <3