This is Part Five of a five part series about how Homesteading Will Make You Question the systems and practices in place in the United States. Previous posts in order: How We Eat, How We Work, How We Play, and How We Treat Each Other.
Changing your lifestyle brings with it many unforeseen challenges, adjustments, and sacrifices. In our efforts to produce as much of our own food as we can, get completely out of debt, and get systems in place to be more self-sustainable; I find myself questioning why we do certain things in our modern society. A question that keeps repeating over and over in my head is, “Why?” The ultimate question would be “Why do we live the way we do?” The majority of the population live in large cities and work in small cubicles, all wearing the same type of clothes and essentially being good little robots. At least, that is how we rural folk tend to view large city folk.
Likely, they view us back with a smirk and consider themselves better or at least better off because they aren’t ‘forced’ to gather their own food since they can afford to buy it at the grocery store and they do not have to ‘get dirty’ and grow their own carrots. They would rather pay someone else to do it for them. Perhaps that is the biggest issue here: we as a race have gotten lazy. And fat. And unhealthy. At least, in the United States, those statements are very true and I don’t need some statistical report to tell me I am right or wrong. Anyone with eyes can see it.
We just came back from a hunting trip to an island that honestly is my utopia. It is my sanctuary and my soul yearns to live there. It is called Prince of Wales island and is slightly larger than the state of Delaware. The population of the island, according to the last census, was around 6,000 people. I would say it is more than that as Alaskans are famous for dodging the census people. We are a quirky bunch by nature and tend to be more private than others. We just want to live the way we want to live and be left alone to do it. The older I get, the more I lean toward this lifestyle. For me and my family, we are dedicated to living a subsistence and self-sufficiency life. It is not glamorous, it is not rich or fancy. It is a lot of hard work but through that comes more freedoms that people in large cities will never even think about, let alone experience.
The majority of humans in the USA shudder at the thought of going out your door in the morning, feeding chickens, weeding your food garden, and then spending your afternoon canning up batches of jams and jellies. They would rather go to some job in a cube to earn a paycheck to then buy the jam or jelly with. Don’t get me wrong, I love tossing dirty clothes into the washing machine and don’t really look forward to hand washing and line drying but I DO look forward to having smaller (or non existent) electrical bills and the skills to make my own laundry soap. Yes, I know we will need actual monetary income to be able to get certain things like fuel or supplies we cannot produce on our own but that is where the homestead work comes full circle. We raise chickens and sell the extra eggs to either buy more feed (making is self sustainable) or using those funds to buy the washing suds to make more laundry soap. It will be a struggle, a challenge, and I am up for it. I embrace it.
To change how we live, we need to change our minds.
Sometimes, I feel like I have stepped outside of the rose colored bubble that most people live in and watch them as they go about their lives, oblivious that there is something better out there. Something more meaningful. It was not until I started making changes in our lives to produce and create what we need on our own. To be so trusting in how other people or companies handle your food or other products has been instilled in us almost from birth and our first disposable diapers. When a new child is born, that child is already in debt as are the parents but now even more so. It is sad to me when I consider that there are people out there who have never, ever been in a forest. A real, non-planned or plotted forest. I watched a show one time where inner city kids were taken to a “forest park” that to someone like me was not a forest. It was planted to look like one and animals brought in to populate the ‘wilderness’ they had created. While I poo poo’d the artificial forest, what blew me away was the reaction these kids had. They were convinced that bugs and little squirrels were going to attack them. Come right after them and ‘get them’ that I had to laugh in a shocked way. These kids were used to and comfortable with gun shots ringing out at all hours of the night, whores and drug addicts plying their trades in broad daylight but heaven forbid a squirrel comes halfway down a tree and squeak at them. When did this become OK?
I know I am lucky to have been born and raised where I was. Not only am I am American citizen, I am Alaskan (sometimes there really is a difference!). But when did we become so passive? When I was a kid, our country was more PROUD, filled with more DOERS and less ENTITLEMENT minded people. When was it made socially acceptable for our government to decide what food we can and cannot eat? When did it become OK for people to treat each other with such disregard that we literally walk by when someone is being beaten in public? Why are people completely accepting of being so deeply in debt that they will never, ever get out of it? When did we stop thinking for ourselves?
I wish so badly that I could have a large spread of land where I can help people reconnect with not only the planet and their place in it but with their own selves, too. I wish I could bring disabled vets up and offer them a safe, comfy place to be where they are needed and useful regardless of their abilities or lack thereof. Can’t walk? No biggie, you can help me shuck peas or test the soil PH in the garden and water. I wish I could bring a group of those inner city kids up here, take their phones away from them and then watch as they go through the different stages of acclimation to a more simple and connected life. I imagine I would be the devil woman at first for taking away their precious phones but I bet you after a month or so, those kids will be different and in some of the best possible ways.
They will have seen how a seed turns into lettuce and not just read about or it watch a video on YouTube. They experience the rush of catching a fish and then cooking it for dinner. They are filled with pride and a real, tangible sense of accomplishment that they were able to go out, catch and land the fish and then feed themselves and those around them. They didn’t need a grocery store, they only needed their own skills. That is incredibly powerful and I strongly believe that if only we could instill those feelings into our youth again, perhaps our country would rise to the glory it once had. To change how we live, we need to change our minds.
I could go on and on about this and more but I think I have made my point: I am stuck between the world I grew up in where having debt is ok, having pesticides in our food is normal, and everything is disposable and the new lifestyle that is more akin to my grandparents’ lifestyle: You work hard from dawn to dusk, produce the large majority of your needs on your own, help your neighbor, be reliable and self-reliant. Be part of the cycle of your food, not just some blind consumer shoveling “food product” in your mouth who then wonders why they have diabetes at age 30, even if they are not ‘fat.’ For me and my family, we choose to take charge of our own lives and the direction it is going.
My greatest wish is to help people wake up and pull them out of the rat race they go through like a trained zombie on a treadmill would. I hope I never stop questioning how we live, work, play, treat each other, and live overall because once people stop questioning things around them, growth is stalled. The ‘go getters’ begin to decide what is right and good and just for the zombie populace. They tell the zombies that they are happy and it is accepted because that is how the zombies are trained. “Big Brother said, so it must be true.” I choose not to be a zombie. I choose to provide for myself and it is not easy. In fact, the cards are stacked against us for getting property any time soon to build a homestead on that will support itself. The big difference is I will not give up. I will not become lazy and be turned into a zombie (again). There is still the American spirit here and there, the get up and do it yourself, make it happen attitude that we used to hold in such high regard. It all starts with something small: simply saying “I am not a zombie, I can DO THIS!” is a wonderful first step.