August 28, 2017

Ceaberry's Monday Musings: Background on Homesteading for Me

Happy Monday! I have been busy these last couple of weeks so my updates got a little sporadic. I am still working behind the scenes and on the homestead for some fun updates and useful information. This is my first year in homesteading and I have not gone completely gung-ho about it but I have done many things around the house and farm that will be making its way to you.

Life on a farm and living in an old farmhouse has it unique set of challenges. I am a stay at home mom with a side business that I have had for almost 8 years (coming up in October). There are a lot of stigmas to each descriptor of my life and it seems key to have so many descriptors that no one seems to know where exactly to place you. I am not a placeable object or a person that fits any kind of box, I love it that way but it isn't easy nor is it for everyone.

I watched a YouTube video of a the lovely personality Starry Hilder Off Grid Homestead. She discusses the fact that people get into homesteading and living off the grid, then they quit. The old adage is that you must do something for 30 days straight to make it a habit. Which is why I choose Lent to change things, you do something more, do something less, and help someone/thing out for 40 days. That is THREE habits that change all at once. Anyways, she was so deeply saddened that a certain couple chose to stop homesteading, but they both worked full-time and had 6 kids. Starry is normally very upbeat, wacky and cheerful. Even if you don't like homesteading, she will make you want to do at least some part of it, she shows the grittier parts of that lifestyle without bemoaning it.

Why I chose her video as an example is because it resonates with me on a different level. Haven't we all been afraid of something we tried and now loved? Wasn't there always times we wanted to throw in the towel (or did) only to look nostalgically back on that thing we loved, wishing in some small part we still did that, were still a part of that community? We can find so many excuses and reasons not to do something, and we all get overwhelmed at times. Homesteading is a task not be taken on lightly, nor is quitting homesteading either. You must be a certain type of person, we all have that potential to change into that type of person, but not everyone has them umph or gumption or want to do so.

Homesteading and "living off the grid" are two VERY different things, and very different lifestyles. One can homestead or live off the grid or both. I have a B.S. degree in Environmental Sociology and Zoology (don't try googling that as a degree, I had the opportunity to create my own degree major at West Virginia Wesleyan College), a B.A. in History, and a M.Sc (that's a UK Masters) in Human Osteoarchaeology. Yeah, you're think none of that has anything to do with homesteading or living off the grid, but it actually set me up to be the perfect person to have those ideals. Yes, I love to do my part for the environment, but I am not a fanatic and probably not as eco-friendly as I should be.

I will always be "on the grid," I do not want to live completely off the grid. I believe in environmentalism and consumerism (thus my none box type of personality, I blame it on being a Libra). You may not know my age, but I lived in a world without the internet, computers, and cell phones (my first one was in college and it was a pay-as-you-go). I didn't get my first Apple product (my computer I am typing this post with) until 2009. I didn't step into the world of Apps and such until 2011. Heck, I still had a tape player (walkman) until I was well into Highschool when finally my parents took pity on me and got me a CD player. People I saw the first DVDs, they were larger in the records!! So it is not all the electronics that keep me "plugged in." I am here for the community, the millions of people and the the think tanks of ideas for anything and EVERYTHING I want to learn about.

Now Homesteading, I decided that to change my life I needed to change my labeling of things. I live on a homestead. Instantly a sprawling farm and ranch style life comes to mind. That's all well and good but I live in rural West Virginia, that's not exactly the rosy picture my house paints (yet). My house is "rustic" and mostly neglected. In remedying the neglect I have made it turn more charming, and functional. To quote a recent Project Runway episode: I am Ballin' on a Budget.

Both topics take YEARS to accomplish. Please do not rush out and try to do all the things, it is hard to do. Changing to "homesteading" rather than "repairing neglect of a house steeped in so much family history is suffocating" made my mind more at ease and peaceful. I became determined, more crazed then determined, to get stuff done this year. After years of pregnancy and babyhood, and excuses as why I haven't done this or that, enough was enough. I started outside 30 minutes every day with the kids at the beginning of May. It was hot, it was humid, it sucked. The kids loved it. I slowly worked up to an hour before nap time, it was still hot and it still sucked but the enthusiasm of the kids and the nap that happened quickly there after was worth it.

Now I am outside about 4-9 hours at a time, if I am not there I am inside doing things that are homesteading indoors (like dehydrating vegetables or seed saving or fixing broken things around the house). On top of all of that I do my yarn business and I am a mom and housewife (means I do the chores and running of the house while taking care of my two children under 3). What does my husband do? He is a farm laborer on another farm and the only farm hand here on our family farm, plus he is a gatherer (he gathers wood, mushrooms, ginseng, extra wood, tools, and stuff I would end up throwing away later). We decided to put the kids bedtime (read that as off of us time) at 7-8 pm, to keep us from not having us or me or him time. Truly, a sanity saver.

Homesteading, take it on piece by piece. I started with cutting down overgrown areas of my yard, which I am still working on but they are cut down, by hand might I add. I am not an in shape person nor am I abnormally strong, if you think you can't do it, try. Again I started with 30 minutes (you can start with less) and I started in the hottest months of the year while watching two kids. I then went to my garden, I started small. A raised bed we have had for years, and a container garden. Not everything made it (are cabbages are hilariously small). After that was the chicken coop. Now that was really my first step to homesteading. Choosing animals to raise is a really important decision. We have joked around about goats but chickens was really our Step 1 to becoming a homestead. Step 2 is next year with my garden expansion and revitalizing the space that is the hill (also add an e instead of an i) of forsythia. So next year will be all about the garden. I added worms and composting in the side mix, things that are by products of having a garden and chickens. They are small and require minimal effort and time. Step 3 will be a revamp of the inside of the house into a processing homestead that my husband is really excited about, something about canning jars just gets him in a happy mood (especially when they are filled with deer meat and deer jerky).

So I am going to end this massive post with this little lesson I learned from Starry: Take it slow and build up to it or you might overload and have to quit when life gets in the way. We live in a world where discomfort is remedy easily and the grit that people once had is slowly vanishing, but it is still there. My start to homesteading has been rewarding but not too terribly fun. It is the hard work that makes me keep at it (and maybe the 10lbs I have lost and the gorgeous tan I now possess). Even if you start with an herb garden in a small planter in your house, that is homesteading. It is giving up convenience in any way to provide something for yourself.

This is who I do it for: The next generation.
Yeah her hair is normally like this in the morning.


I think she was showing Blueberry the grass.
She loves her Blueberry kitty.

We were at the WV state fair. She was having fun in the kid's garden.

This is the look I get before she does something mischievous. I get this look... a lot. 

Having so much fun!
Happy Homesteading!! Want to see my ideas? Follow me on Pinterest!

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