A New Property Means Taking on Homesteading Projects

Upstate New York homesteader Grace Brockway finds immeasurable happiness in taking on homesteading projects at her newly-established property.


| April/May 2002



191-144-03

Building their own structures, such as this chicken run, at each of their homesteads has taught the Brockways a lot about homestead construction.


BILL BROCKWAY/ELLENBURG DEPOT, NEW YORK

Learn from an experienced homesteader about finding joy in starting up new homesteading projects. 

The first time I found an egg in the henhouse, I almost crowed. You'd think I had laid that first egg myself. I just never realized how much pleasure one could get from something as simple as raising chickens. I guess people could say, "Simple joys for simple minds." But people say a lot of things. In my homesteading adventure I've learned simplicity is the seed of joy, and finding your own lifestyle is the root of peace.

My husband and I have been homesteading for about 10 years in various locations. We seem to be compelled by circumstances to move every two years or so. This has given me ample opportunity to perfect my carpentry skills: Just as I finish building rabbit hutches, chicken coops and woodsheds, I have to start again at a new location. I've also established my share of vegetable and perennial flower gardens. At times, I feel like the Johnny Appleseed of Echinacea. Because of my parents' health, Bill and I recently sold our homestead and are starting afresh near them in the very northernest of northern New York. I don't worry, though. We have establishing a homestead and homesteading projects down pat.

That's not to say that homesteading is easy, but things worth doing rarely are. The work can indeed be never-ending, but so can "modern" work. I spent years caught in the monotony of office work and am certain I prefer the repetition of homestead chores to the drudgery I experienced "at work." There, I brought home a paycheck. Here, the rewards are so much greater: feeling a wonderful sense of accomplishment, bringing my own food to my own table, being my own boss and setting my own priorities and work schedule.

Besides, never-ending projects aren't a burden; they're a joy. One thing I've noticed to be true about homesteading is one never seems to run out of projects to do. I often find myself concentrating on one project and finding a small piece of my mind wandering into the What if area. "What if," it asks, "I changed this?" "This" usually has nothing to do with the project at hand, or at least nothing on the surface. My free-floating mind points out that if I did change "this" then the project I'm actually working on would work better. Even before I decide to change "this," my What if is already moving on. "What if," it asks, "we did this, too?" Before I know it, I've got a whole new crop of projects waiting for me. Luckily, I've found I'm happiest when faced with lots of projects. Every time I build something, I learn a new trick or skill, often from getting stuck and going to my husband for help.

The pleasure of working on projects with my husband was another unexpected homesteading pleasure, probably the greatest one of all. We both tend to be solitary folk wrapped in our own worlds most of the time. Homestead chores bring us out of those worlds to be together for a while. When we can cook food, make candles, start seeds, mend the chicken fence, plant the garden or put it to bed, we come together to share insights and laughter while sharing the labor. Bill is especially enchanted with the process of pressure canning. We perform a smoothly flowing dance as we pass the jars back and forth between the hot water, filling table and canner. We spend many happy autumn hours making and canning spaghetti sauce, applesauce, green beans, peaches, pears and whatever else we can grow or find in large quantities locally.





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