Facing the Homesteading Rewards

| 9/18/2014 11:13:00 AM

Homestead Garden Harvest BountyIt's like a slow-coming tsunami that's now crashing in over my kitchen, as if the Earth trembled under the garden and lifted beans, cucumbers, cabbages and squash to flood the counters. Between now and say, late October, hundreds of empty jars will be brought out from storage and filled with pickles, sauerkraut, apple sauce and salsa, and tucked away for winter. From then on we'll bring those jars from our root cellar back up onto the counters and feast on the stored garden bounty long into next summer.

It's a task, to bring the harvest from our gardens in and put it up in ways that will preserve it. Pretty much every day for the next couple of months I'll spend part of the day filling our cellar back up, one way or another, whether it's chopping cabbage for kraut, picking apples, sorting storing pears, drying herbs, packing carrots or canning tomatoes. I know what it takes, but I also know what I get. Last year Dennis and I went through several months in the depth of winter and spent less than $50 on food. Still, we had unlimited access to better, fresher and more food than ever before in our lives.

Questions About a Self-Sufficient Lifestyle

One of the most frequent questions we get on this self-sufficient lifestyle is if it's not a lot of work. Often it comes as a comment “This must be so much work.” Many have admitted to me that they once canned and stored put food away for the winter but found it to be too much work, so they stopped and now rely on stores for their grocery needs.

When I first came to Maine, Dennis and I also depended on the store for our food and the lumber yard for most of our building materials. Throughout the summer and fall we ate from our garden but the rest of the year we stopped at the grocery store about once a week and usually bought one head of cabbage, one bag of carrots, a rutabega, potatoes and a weekly splurge, like celery or a squash. The rest of our diet was rice, beans and oats that we bought in bulk through a buying club. On Sundays we usually went to visit Dennis' family and treated ourselves with a to-go coffee from the gas station.

This was our way, a strategy, to get to where we are now. By turning every dime we could afford not to have a paying job and instead stay at home and work to achieve the Hostel and our viable homestead. By also staying away from debt and instead having the patience and prevalence to go through years of scraping by, we eventually we came ahead, and now we still can work at home and have all the rewards that money could, or couldn't buy.

Big Rewards

sauerkrautAnd me, I no longer talk about how much work it is – I'd like to talk about the rewards, that far outweighs the labor. Faced with the task of harvesting food, milling lumber, cutting firewood or any other chore we do, we do it with our gaze set on the outcome. For each passing year we're working out systems that allow tasks to be executed with as little work as possible, for example how to process food in a time efficient manner, prevent weeds before they start to grow, how to plant the garden in the spring and put it to bed in the fall. That too is a thresh hold we've climbed, Dennis and I. With patience and prevalence we've overcome some of the homesteading hurdles and can now take on the year to year tasks knowing that we can get it done in a quick and satisfying way.

9/29/2014 3:12:39 PM

This was beautifully written and fittingly describes the sentiments of so many of us homesteaders, I'm sure. Thanks for this lovely piece!

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters

click me