Over the last 15 years or so Sean and I have discussed changing our lifestyle from city-dwelling to country life. I always imagined what life would be like: quiet, relaxed, many evenings in front of the fire with snow falling outside, fresh milk and eggs, baking homemade bread in my favorite apron. What I wasn’t imagining was the work involved in running a homestead with animals, trees, and plants, vehicles that required maintenance, repair, or replacement, well issues, snow plowing, chopping and stocking up wood for the winter (In my dream it was magically there), butchering animals, and giving a pedicure to a severed chicken foot. In my homesteading dream I was never covered in blood, placenta, and mud holding two tiny goats dashing across the pasture to the barn to get them in a birthing stall. I certainly never imagined myself using a dry compost toilet positioned in an “outhouse” in 2015 to go number 2 because our water was out (I’m thankful we have one though).
Now, don’t get me wrong, I had read about other people’s experiences, I watched videos on the basics of canning, animal care, etc. but, like everything else we set out to do in life, I was not fully prepared for the realities of homesteading. We are not people who step slowly into things, when we decide to do it we jump in with both feet. That has led to a year of immense learning and growing. Our education came from necessity – in the fire.
I’ve never taken care of farm animals, we usually had a dog and sometimes a cat but never goats, pigs, sheep, chickens, ducks, rabbits, or turkeys, but I’m learning. The children really do the day-to-day care of the farm animals while Sean and I are the overseers. If there are any problems they bring them to us, which leads us straight into a book or onto the internet to learn something new. There’s nothing like researching sheep care as you drive home with your first flock of sheep! Knowing how to learn and research has been my most useful skill in this endeavor, I’m grateful for it and the parents who taught it to me (no, it was not public school that equipped me)! So with that in mind, what is one of the things I recommend doing to prepare yourself and your family for a simpler homestead life? Decrease TV, movies/videos, and video games until you and your children don’t need them.
I know this can be a very difficult thing for some people. But, if you remind yourself that those forms of entertainment represent a lifestyle inconsistent with your choices and create discontentment in yourselves and your children I think it will make it a little less painful. When we use those as our back up filler we are not encouraging our kids to learn a new skill, keep up with their chores, or further their knowledge in a subject via books and hands-on learning. Freeing up those hours will create a gap that can suddenly be filled with hours of education for both you and your children. Use those hours to teach them how to learn, how to look things up that they don’t know and then to use or share that knowledge as soon as they can!
Homesteading is more than just a physical change, it’s emotional, mental, and spiritual. It matures us as we embrace it; it increases our practical life skills; knowledge of the Creator abounds as we are daily surrounded in His handiwork. Help your children embrace this lifestyle before you make the big move through building their skills and knowledge base and decreasing their dependence on the world’s offerings, it will be better for both them and you. Until next time, happy homesteading!