How To Put The Happy In Happy Homesteader

Reader Contribution by Bruce Mcelmurray
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For those readers who follow my blogs you will note that they are under the blog heading “Happy Homesteader.”  I have written blogs on downsizing, pack rats, pest control, firewood and installing a new wood stove and  other topics.  These have been to provide insight into our life style and our homestead.  But you will notice that the full blog category is “Happy Homesteader.” So what makes us ‘happy’  living by ourselves in the mountains of Southern Colorado? 

What really makes us happy is depicted in the attached photo.  Each other!  To have a wife that loves you enough to help you achieve your dream of living like we do and giving up the amenities of city life.  To put your dream first and learning to be a mountain woman.   Of having dogs who are an integral  part of your every day happiness.  Doing volunteer work for the GSD Rescue of Central Colorado and having four rescue dogs that love you and  in return you love.  That is what makes this homesteader happy. A family and the love that surrounds all of us.

I interview applicants for suitability to adopt a German Shepherd   Dog that has been rescued.  My past criminal and civil investigative experience makes this a perfect fit and something I can do without leaving home.  Staying busy is vital to happiness and it is fulfilling for me too.  These rescue dogs have been abandon,  abused, neglected, and probably had things done to them beyond my imagination.  Our recent addition of Echo into our home has reminded me of truly just who is really rescued when you bring one of these dogs into your home as a cherished family member.

The pure and simple truth of the matter is that none of our four rescue dogs were  rescued but they rescued us. It is therefore a matter of perspective and which side of the kennel you may happen to be on.   We were – or thought we were – doing just fine before they each entered our life.  But the truth is we humans have a pretty myopic view of life sometimes.  We get caught up in busy things that don’t really matter much in the larger picture, and we don’t take time for other things that really do matter.  When a rescue (slightly used) dog comes into your life because someone else thought they were cute as a puppy but lacked the foresight to see they would soon grow to 80-100 lbs of exuberant energy and subsequently  giving them up so as not to deal with that stage of development. Rather than dealing with them and enjoying that stage of life they gave them to a shelter or just turned them loose to an uncertain fate.  They therefore lost that aspect of what a  dog can teach you in the basic principals of living life itself.  Each of our dogs wants nothing more than to please us.  They will go to extreme lengths to do just that.  They try hard and give all they have to just please us. In return we feed, shelter and love them and get more unconditional  love in return than we could ever imagine.

In our case we don’t look at their social graces or lack of attributes that may come with them.  We look at what they do right and not what they do wrong.  Our visitors repeatedly comment on how well behaved they are.  To us that is no revelation because we rejoice at their accomplishments and patiently and lovingly work on those areas where they still need work and when they get those right we celebrate and  praise them.  Our dogs provoke thoughts in me like what would the world be like if we could leave our miserable experiences behind like they do and dedicate our lives to pleasing others.  I can barely imagine a world like that  but I sure would like to live there.  Wouldn’t it be a wonderful to live in a world where we all tried to please each other?  So really when we consider all that a dog has experienced in life and then come into our lives to teach us some simple basic principals of how to live together, who was really rescued here?   To me it is a matter of perspective.

Do our dogs have their disagreements?  Yes, they do on occasion and they work them out, forget the matter and move on and do not hold a grudge.   They go right back to the family status and happiness.  So what makes this homesteader happy.  It is having a family where I am surrounded by love whether it be two legged or four legged type. It is having a family that I learn from each and every day, from my wife and our adopted family members. Our dogs don’t care about the color of our skin, our political persuasion, or religious persuasion or our sexual preference:  They love us for who we are.  Why can’t we!  Why can’t we do likewise?  That is the world I want to live in, being loved for who I am; not what I am. For me that puts the happy in Happy Homesteader.

I won’t blog about our happiness often or our dogs, however, the other half of the heading does happen to be happy.  If you want to follow our dogs you may do so by checking out our personal blog site at  I try to post updates on our four legged family members there as opposed to posting them on Mother Earth News where I attempt to post more practical and less personal topics on our lifestyle.  But, you will note the heading does say “Happy Homesteader” and that is what makes our particular homestead happy! What makes your homestead happy?

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