Mother Earth News Blogs > Nature and Environment

Nature and Environment

News about the health and beauty of the natural world that sustains us.

Why Homestead

As I stepped into our shed this morning to gather tools for the day, I noticed the latest configuration.  In searching for something the day before, Ryan had shuffled the stacks of totes and tools.  Where previously had sat a wooden bowl of bolts and a few seashells atop our stuffed-to-bursting toolbox, stood a new arrangement.  It caught my eye: two cast iron pans, in need of a sandblasting, topped by Ryan’s bright orange hard hat. cast iron pans and chainsaw helmut 

Mundane, and symptomatic of nothing more than a slightly disheveled storage shed with a few too many items in a tad too small space.  And yet, something about it stuck with me.  The worn helmet, with knicks and sawdust evidence of its use, balanced on the thick and heavy cast iron, extras that were set aside until need called them back into the kitchen.  Both are held atop the old, grey toolbox by the corner boards of the shed, pine slabs unceremoniously nailed to the hand-peeled pole frame of fir and spruce.  

Glancing twice as I gather my garden fork and pruning loppers, I try to identify what this accidental corner stack evokes.  Strength, sweat, labor; the smell of a hot chain on wood, sawdust.  Comfort, satiation, the heat of a cookstove; fire, fresh produce, a meal out of dirt and care.  Man and machine; woman and sustenance.  

Yes, that, and something more: vigor, gumption, care, effort.   

Somehow, I found all that in one glance.  Somehow, it seems to sum up what we’re doing out here.  Wood and food, and the creation of a home out of the hills in which we live.  It’s piecemeal and chaotic - as our shed so easily suggests - but also beautiful and powerful.  Our little clearing is filling with flowers and edibles, gradually turning from woods to a working homestead.  We saw and split our wood, though fresh trees seem to out-pace us.  Rocks, endless as they may be, are moved while compost enriches the gardens; fruit trees are encouraged and weeds pulled.  And at the end of each day, we set down our tools and sit about the tiny table to share a meal.  Our hands are calloused and the dirt never quite comes off, but a smile comes easily to our eyes and our hearts.    Echinacea and asparagus

Garden work is my specialty!  Weeding, planting, mulching and pruning services available, plus edible landscapes and garden designs.  Contact Beth via for your annual, perennial, herbal, or ornamental garden needs (see Business Directory listing under ‘Garden Design & Services’).