Monday, August 2, 2010

New Homesteading Theory

I read a post about women who homestead - specifically, who are building coops for their first chickens - when I was first back from camping and have been thinking about it a lot since then. Aside from the horrible title - the "femivore" sounds like an alien that only eats women - I'm really interested in the story, and it has really got me thinking.

Let me start by saying I'm always suspicious of trendy trends... but this is not the first time I have been doing my own thing only to find that everyone else is doing the same thing too.

Let me also say that I suspect this is not a trend that comes upon a well-educated feminist out of the blue. I'd venture from my own history and from reading blog posts about cool 70s hippie parents who tried out a lot of this stuff back in the day - and grandparents going even farther back (and the "depression ethics" that are emerging now - reuse it, wear it out, do without) - that a lot of the "homestead" movement has its roots in those homemade 70s and also values the slow-food slow living movement that's been building in the last few decades. I know in my case it is both an opportunity to explore what you can do when you are rooted in a big old house after decades of moving around between small apartments and disparate cities; and a reaction to the exponential growth in marketing/consumerism I feel pressing in on me and especially on my kids. Consuming is always about making choices - what I'm trying to find is a balance between choosing what I care to consume, and not throwing away everything as soon as the next shiny new thing presents itself. And after a dual-income city-living period where we pretty much ate out whenever we wanted and bought whatever we wanted, having kids and downsizing one income has forced adjustments to our mental process around consuming.

I suppose I'm also reacting to the kind of busy-ness that you feel when you work in a modern career multi-tasking for 50+ hour workweeks. When my kids were born, I really wanted a break. And I needed a break. And I was doing all this multi-tasking at home suddenly, just to get the laundry done and the dishes done and the meals on the table and the toys picked up, I didn't want a management job on top of that to worry about, and I really didn't want a job that just paid for daycare - when I really wanted to be with my kids. Last week in Pennsylvania Dutch county, how I longed for a simple plain house on a simple plain farm with no tv, no computer - knowing, of course, it takes a simple plain family of 8-10 kids and a whole community around you to keep it going. And I did come home and give the washing machine a gentle pat, because I could not live with just a mangle, no matter how simple it seems.

I remember a post from a while back about whether or not it is "honest" to present your life on your blog as if there are no bad days - well, at least no bad days that you document. She never posted about her kids eating fast food, for example - which made the poster wonder if she is just greenwashing her life on her blog - presenting it the way she would like it to be. I responded that I don't want to see posts about bad days - online, in homesteading and crafting blogs, in my friends and their farms, I'm looking for possibilities. I like thinking about life the way I would like it to be - and inching closer and closer. Which doesn't mean I don't also enjoy an evening on the porch with a glass of wine and fireflies, or listening to my son chatter on and on about giants, or any of the other million present moments that fill up our days. Or even a lunch at a fast food place with a playground on a million-degree day where my daughter unexpectedly decides that today is the day she does the slide (I'm looking at you, Chik-fil-A).

So those are my thoughts on finding myself labeled. I agree, but isn't it more complicated - and I'd like to check out that book - from the library :)

Here's the full link:

What do you think? Are you a femivore?

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