Since we moved, my husband and I have decided to go to a lifestyle that is now often referred to as Homesteading. Our goal is to be as self-sufficient as possible, and to grow enought food to trade what we can’t grow for with others who can. We don’t think we can be 100%, but we’d like to make it to half. In our journey so far we’ve acquired chickens, we now buy from farmers instead of grocery stores (at least produce and meats) and we’re slowly trying to replace commercial products with home made ones. Just this week, we’ve put up (frozen) several dozen corn, and I’m currently working on a bushel of apples. We have plans for a garden next spring, and I have an Aquaculture project in the works. We’ve got chickens, some for laying some for eating, and we’ve discussed the more long term costs of raising cows, goats, and pigs.
In moving out here and making this choice I’ve noticed something. This is not uncommon right now. There is a trend of people growing edible yards, raising backyard chickens, and reducing purchases of pre-made, mass produced, foods. People of my generation and younger, who mostly haven’t grown up farming, now are dabbling in agriculture. It’s a beautiful thing. I think some of this may be a result of the disconnect that our parents felt. Most of them, unless they lived in really urban places, grew up with parents who grew up on farms, or grew their own foods, or had family who did. With the industrialization of the US that happened in the 50’s, most of that was lost. Grocery stores replaced community farm co-ops, and our parents only connections were weekend visits, stories, and the traditions that were passed down.
For me, that meant that I listened to the stories about chasing runaway horses, butchering chickens, and picking apples. I also had the advantage of a farm ethic that wouldn’t go away with my family. My Granny and Pappaw continued to grow food in the backyard, from oranges to lettuce, and everything in between. They continued to cook dinners and suppers at home everyday, choosing handmade over store bought, and they brought the traditions of Kentucky farm life right to Florida. They fixed anything that could be fixed, grew anything that would grow in any kind of container, and shared everything they knew with any one who wanted to know. While it made for a little but of cultural confusion on my part, since I grew up in a beach town, I think it has contributed to me being able to see the world as I do, that I am part of it, and not just in it.
For my husband, who grew up a little closer to farming than I did, he spent this same kind of time with his grandparents, also farmers. They taught him about cattle, driving tractors, and growing practices. This has affected him too, as he always dreamed of owning a farm and living the life.
Both of us came from families where hunting and fishing were encouraged, and what you caught was always edible.
I don’t know that other people our age in similar situations have grown up this way, but I see more and more, that many wish they had. I think, for those that didn’t, that homesteading is a bit of a rebellious act. It says that they don’t want to rely on big business, that our foods shouldn’t poison us, and that we should live in a way that promotes community and self-reliance. I find it interesting that my 14 year old daughter is really interested in this kind of lifestyle, and so are her friends. They don’t think it’s good to shop at wal-mart, they just see it as where else do you go? If my generation continues to teach their generation that homesteading, no matter where you are, is the better way, maybe the trends are reversing. Maybe Homesteading, once the normal, then the rare, is now cycling back. Just my random thoughts on this interesting subject.