Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

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We're Not From Around Here

12/7/2009 3:48:06 PM

Tags: homesteading, Jenna Woginrich, sustainable farming, simple living

Field-not-from-hereWe're not from around here. I know you see us all the time, but trust me, we're from someplace else. We may have lived our whole lives right next door to you, but we left quite some time ago. We found another place and it suits us just fine.

It's not far or hard to get to. Chances are you pass it all the time when you're driving too fast to work or throwing another frozen dinner in the shopping cart. You can't get to us that way. We aren't there.

We're the ones in the next aisle buying yeast, flour, sugar and coffee. We buy provisions, not groceries. We learned that food tastes better when you grow it yourself. We started with just a few recipes then learned to chew at a trot, and now the idea of Lunchables and drive-through hamburgers makes us tilt our heads a little. We're not above them, not by a long shot, we just don't have those where we're from. Or maybe we did and forgot about them? I can't remember. It's easy to forget about such things when you hop the fence to go where we went. There just isn't a lot of shrink-wrapped circular ham there.

We're from another place. It's just like yours but the naps are better. We came for a bunch of different reasons but we sort of set up shop in the same community. It's not a physical location, of course. (It's much better than that.) It's a place in our actions, our decisions, our conversations, our hope. It's a place in our hobbies, our skills, our secret desire to know what a warm egg feels like in lanolin-wet palms. It doesn't matter where we came from or who we were before, this new place kind of took us all in and showed us how to calm the hell down. What? You're confused? Oh, well, you probably saw us there and just didn't realize it. Remember when we didn't pick up the phone (even after twenty rings) because we were in the garden? Or that time we gave up a weekend to make a chicken coop? Or last Saturday when we spent the whole day at that indoor farmer's market talking to the people at the wool booth we'd never met before, but felt like we knew while you kept telling us the movie was starting in thirty minutes. ... That's where we left to go. Sorry we missed the previews, we were talking to our neighbors.

You can spot us pretty easily. Our men aren't afraid of facial hair and our women have been known to grab goats by the horns. Our children go barefoot, so do we. We're the quieter ones, in the corner, feet propped up on a second-hand coffee table in a fourth-hand wool sweater. That's one of us, right over there. See him? The one with the guitar slung over his back, and the black dog following his bike? See him now? He's the one with the saddle bags on the back wheel overflowing with a half bushel of tomatoes. No, he's not a tomatoes fetishist, he's canning today. He'll be eating fresh organic marinara in January pulled off the larder shelf. He'll let the black dog lick his plate when he's done. Yes, I'm sure. He's from where I'm from. We know our own.

See, where we come from people aren't scared of dirt — not even mildly abashed by it. My people will spend an entire August morning with a potato patch. We'll also spend an entire October night in front of a bonfire with some home brew and guitars. My people know how to darn a sock and bake a loaf of bread. They know how to cast on and be cast away. Sure, we'll join you for dinner in a restaurant, but we'll probably opt for pasta. Where we come from food animals know what sunlight feels like and have felt grass under their hooves. We don't eat the animals from your place. We saw what they saw before they died.

We're not from around here, but you'll see us everywhere. We're walking down the streets of Montreal, Chicago, Seattle and L.A. We're waiting for a taxi on the Lower East Side. We're mucking out the chicken coop, chatting at the farm stand, jumping on the back of our horses and riding the L. We're everywhere and right next to you all the time, but we left that place and now we're gone. None of us are going back. We thought about it. It passed.

HOOOO! You should see this place. Man, it's so beautiful. I mean a Wednesday afternoon at 3:47 is fall-down-the-stairs stunning. We learned to see this. We watched the fireflies come out on the porch and missed the new CSI. Truthfully, we barely look at the television anymore. It's a side effect of the new place — there's just so much to do and we're scared if we let ourselves get distracted we'll miss the fireflies. We can only take so much tragedy, you see.

And hey, this place we went to — it's yours too. To be perfectly honest we're getting a little tired waiting for you to show up. Yeah, what you heard is true. The work is hard and the hours long, but I promise it's the best quiche you'll ever taste and the coffee is wicked good. When you're ready we'll show you how to hop the fence like we did. It starts with a mason jar or a day-old chick in your palm and the roadmap kind of unfolds from there. Somewhere past the cloth diapers and the raw milk we're hanging out, yes there, over past the used trucks and beat tractors. See the bikes and carts along the barn? Keep going and you'll find us.

We know when you start coming to our place you'll get it. You won't want to go either. And hey, we'll wait, because we've got another saddle in the barn. We planted an extra row of beans. We put aside a few spare jars of tomato sauce and let the hens know there's more breakfasts on the way. We'll make room. There's always a place for you at the table.

(And just between you and me, if you want to get on the black dog's good side, let him lick your plate.)



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Post a comment below.

 

Paskah_2
3/31/2010 11:18:37 AM
I came, and live in US since 10 years ago, I learn how hard to get fresh dinner on the table, not only that I have to take medication so can enjoy my dinner. Now I learn how to grow my own vegetable. specially after I got my Mother Earth magazine. Thank you.

Susan_74
3/28/2010 3:42:39 PM
Wow. That was beautiful. I am just starting to go to this place. I have discovered the joy of heirloom seed catalogues (which I read even after I have finished ordering seeds), companion planting, and the amazing taste of freshly canned peaches. There is a long way to go, and my birthday wish list now includes a composter and ice cream maker. And yes, is there a dating site for those on this journey? Seriously. Is there? Country Romance? Back-to-the-basics dating? Homesteaders Together? I have a feeling we are all over the map in other areas--Western religions, eastern religions, or no religion, left-leaning, right-leaning, right smack dab in the middle, monetarily comfortable or struggling. Our commonality, as it always is, is in the beauty of the stars, the moon, the the warmth of life in your hand.

Stella_10
3/19/2010 12:07:43 PM
What a peaceful read. I held a day old chick 5 years ago.*wink*

Dana Galloway_2
2/11/2010 10:37:46 AM
Jenna, we must know each other, we are neighbors I just know it. You have managed to describe my families life. I set out 20 yrs ago to get to that "Place". A dream come true. Thank you Mother.

z_4
12/26/2009 5:42:22 PM
Now if only there were a dating site for women like this ! What would it be called ? Today's woman is more interested in having a man's corporate career than being a real woman ! They can't bake, sew or do anything, it seems. After years of college, and corporate careers, I've learned my lesson, Those women can have it ! I'm ready to move into the country and live off of the land ! Z -

Appalachian
12/19/2009 10:58:13 PM
Jenna, that's really a nice column. You put into words a "place" I've never been able to articulate to anyone else. Joyce, keep going and you'll know! Appalachian

Diana_25
12/19/2009 12:57:51 AM
Thank you so much for writing and publishing this! This is the place I strive to be and I am taking baby steps to get there. Every year I set new goals for myself, and I am proud to say this past year I learned how to sew a button, knit a sock and bake a loaf of bread. For 2010? Sew my own set of pajamas, plant a 3'x 3' garden, and if we're lucky build a small cabin with our own hands so we can become mortgage free. I'm so proud of each of you that are on this journey. It's nice to know I'm not alone.

Christine_23
12/18/2009 1:57:14 PM
I love it! Beautifully said.

Joyce_22
12/17/2009 4:12:23 PM
This is very cool! It describes the place I've been trying to find. Can you tell me, am I headed in the right direction? Some days it's hard to tell.

Seafish_2
12/16/2009 2:03:53 PM
Congratulations Jenna, on Mother Earth using this post. It’s a beautifully written piece that conveys a mindset that so many of Jenna’s fans share. If you’re new to her writing and story, do yourself a favor and check out her blog.










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