Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
For this homesteader maybe its location like the 6 previous topics about living in Ft. Garland, Colorado. Or living on a mountain and seeing deer and elk on a regular basis? Or seeing the occasional mountain lion or bear? Or maybe it is the joy we receive from our dogs or having a lifestyle reminiscent of the past but still embracing the present. Just being together and enjoying the quiet and country living.
Have you noticed people walking around everywhere now with a cell phone attached to their ear? All talking to someone and that person they are talking to may be miles away or even in a different state or country. When I look at the technology that went into the development of the cell phone I marvel at how we ever lived without this technology. So many people take modern conveniences for granted but for someone like myself I am amazed at how technology has evolved and how it has changed our lives.
Take for example the simple iron that most of us use to iron our clothes with. When I was young the iron I used to take the wrinkles out of my school clothes was a flat iron, plug in type, that had three settings on it- hot, medium and warm. They did not make steam irons then and we used a RC Cola bottle with water and a sprinkler head to sprinkle water on our clothes to do what steam irons do so easily today. When I first saw a steam iron in use I was fascinated and admired how much better that was from our RC Cola Bottle with water and its sprinkler head. Now I’m just like everyone else and take steam irons for granted.
Or what about that cell phone that just about everyone has now days. When I was a child we didn’t even have a telephone because not many other people had a phone so we didn’t have anyone to call. When more people bought them we did too. We had a party line that probably had 6-8 families on it. You knew the call was for you by listening to the number of rings the phone made when someone called. Two long rings, a short ring, and another long and we would answer. Our number was Ivanhoe 55512, and most telephones then had a two letter prefix and 5 numbers. You could tell other people on the party line were listening to your call but there was nothing you could do about it so why bother. Phones had a rotary dial on them and not the modern technology available today. So when you take that cell phone for granted be advised it has not always been like it is now. What a major technological improvement the cell phone is.
Or take the modern motor vehicle. Now days cars are built better and are better designed than when I was young. We used to think we were doing well to get 80,000 miles out of a car back then. Now we expect 200,000 or more miles from our car. Our present car will tell me when I forget and leave the turn signal on, if a door is not closed properly, my seat belt is not fastened, the outside temperature, and what direction I‘m going plus many other things. My first car had roll down windows with a crank, you indicated you were going to turn by sticking your arm out the window, which also told you the outside temperature. The headlight dimmer switch was on the floor next to the clutch and you used it by pushing on it with your foot. Windshield washers were not on cars yet and seat belts were neither required nor installed on cars. You changed the oil yourself and did most of your own maintenance. Now I can’t even find the oil filter and when I look under the hood I wish I had a mechanical engineers degree because what I see doesn‘t resemble any engine I know about. No question that today vehicles are better made and more efficient than when I was young.
Or what about my first camera which was a box camera by Kodak. You loaded a roll of film in it, took your photos and then took the exposed roll to a drug store to have it developed. Sometimes they turned out - sometimes they did not. If you had a picture turn out well you had to take the negative to have more prints developed if you wanted to share. All this took several days to have done. Now my camera adjusts itself, and if the picture is not right you delete it and take another. It automatically adjusts for the light and conditions and even takes short videos. It has features I haven’t even discovered yet. Everything is in color while my first camera only took photos in black and white. If you want a print you plug it into your copier printer and run off as many as you want to share. The photo taken above was with our trail camera and when I was young you would never get close enough to get a photo like that; even if you did chances are it would be blurry or out of focus. Now I set up the trail camera and it does the rest. Cameras have come a long way and are far easier to use.
So what puts the happy in happy homesteader? It is having a recollection of what life was like when I was young and what it is like now. How the things that folks take for granted now have evolved to more efficient and easier to use equipment and how much easier it is now from when I was young. Without people like myself to draw a comparison between then and now, many of the modern conveniences wouldn’t be anything but just something to take for granted. Times do change and mostly for the better. Life is much better now with all the technology and convenience improvements. That is what makes me a happy homesteader and my life is a whole lot easier because of change. The good old days are now.
For more on what makes Bruce and Carol McElmurray happy go to:http://www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com