Homesteading Will Make You Question: How We Live

How_We_Live

 

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.

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Homesteading Will Make You Question: Relationships

Relationships

This is Part Four of a five part series about how ‘Homesteading Will Make You Question’ the systems and practices in place in the United States. Click the links if you missed Part One, Part Two, or Part Three!

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?” Examples would be, “Why do people treat each other like they are disposable?” or “How can you possibly allow your child to speak to you and others so rudely?” My viewpoint has shifted only slightly on this topic. There is no question that I see the world around me with at least some of the filters off now. It has permeated every facet of my life and I find myself questioning how and what we eat, how we work, how we play, how we treat each other, and how we live overall. This article will focus on How we treat each other: Relationships.

How we treat each other. I grew up on an island in a small coastal town in Alaska. If nothing else, you have at least seen most people’s faces at one point or another living here. People still smile at each other when they pass by in the store or on the street, even if they don’t know the person. I have seen traffic stop on both sides of the street to help a lady whose bag of groceries spilled on the yellow line and they got out to help her pick it all up. People still help little old ladies across the street. There are random acts of kindness all over the place here that I really took for granted until I got older and traveled around some.n As an adult, things have really changed.

Examples

I was in Walmart the other day and could hear this child absolutely screaming their head off from the back end of the store as I walked in. People around me stopped and looked in the general direction of the noise with surprised looks on their faces. I went about my shopping and eventually got close enough to see what was happening. A boy of about 7 or 8 years old was absolutely going off on his mother because she couldn’t buy what he wanted. Of course, he kept finding things he wanted, being told no and throwing a fresh, louder hissy fit. I literally stopped in the middle of the aisle and watched as this child threw himself on the floor, kicking and screaming. The mother sighed a long suffering sigh and walked away. When the kid saw Mom wasn’t paying attention, he got up and screamed at her retreating figure about how he hated her and was going to turn her in for abusing him.

Then, he began to take items off the shelf and throw them at her. I was dumbfounded, in shock, and frozen to the floor. Mom had turned the corner and the kid turned and looked at me with a travel coffee cup in his hands and raised his arm as if to throw it at me. I said to him, “I am not your mother but don’t you dare throw that at me. She may just walk away but I will not.” At this point, the mother comes back around and had the audacity to say to me “Don’t you discipline my child! He is very sensitive!” I replied back, “Well lady, someone has to discipline him because you sure as hell aren’t and the rest of us are having to listen to him scream his head off. When he is grown up, the rest of us will have to deal with him in society and you won’t be around to protect him from people who won’t put up with his crap!” (Yes, I really did say that. Verbatim). I turned around from her shocked face and walked away. About 20 seconds later, I heard an employee ask her to either get her child under control or leave the store. I was fuming and could not believe what I had witnessed. I was embarrassed for her, too.

I had some rather…unpleasant neighbors until recently and could not believe the way this married couple treated each other. Whenever they argued, the first thing you could heard being hollered was something about a divorce. The man would sling insults about her being a whore, worthless, etc. She would fire back about him not ‘being a man.’ Before they were evicted, I asked the younger woman if she ever tried to just work it out together instead of placing blame all the time. Her response was nothing but excuses about how awful he was to her.

Finally, when I was pumping gas about two months ago, I watched as a lady treated the person manning the station with a complete lack of respect in any form. Not even as one human to another. Her card wouldn’t work and she of course blamed it all on him (as if he could do anything about it) and when he explained through her screeching that she would have to contact her bank, she proceeded to insult his work abilities, and opined that he deserved a minimum wage job since he was so obviously an uneducated loser.

Having worked at a bank for several years, in the electronic banking department no less, I kind of lost it. I told her that if she was smart enough to understand how banking worked, she would know that the gas station attendant didn’t have any control over what happened on her card. I suggested that instead of treating a person like crap who had no control over any aspect of her life or circumstances, maybe she should get her own house in order before trashing someone else’s. Of course, she then started in on me which was fine because at least she wasn’t bullying the gas station guy. I got her to stop her tirade when she paused for breath and I asked her, “Are you done yet?”

How many times have you wanted to say something, and didn’t? 

All of these stories bring me to the point of this article: How we treat each other. In our world of disposable everything, people have seemed to have fallen under that category, too. When did we start being so awful to each other? When did it become acceptable for kids to speak to their parents that way, let alone perfect strangers? I look largely to media for part of it but when you really break it down, it is the individual people who will make the difference. It is NOT acceptable to let your child be out of control in public. I think a lot of the reason that it seems ‘normal’ is because of America’s continuing attitude of “not my business, not my problem.”

Now, I am not saying you should put your nose into other people’s business as a general rule but when it comes to basic respect for another human being, something has been seriously lost on the way. I keep asking myself, “Why!? When did it happen?” When did we stop teaching kids how to be respectful, have good manners, and treat others with some basic civility? When did it become acceptable for an adult to treat another adult with such utter contempt? More importantly, what can we do about it?

The only answers I can come up with consists of the social acceptance of such behavior by not doing anything and the fear this country has at offending anyone. You can’t turn a corner without having to worry about offending a certain gender, religious belief, or be told you are a bad person for not tolerating other people’s behaviors. Even if they are being total jerks and need to be told that is not acceptable. We have become so afraid to be labeled as a judgmental and prejudice person that we simply say nothing. We do nothing. Shame on the people for their behavior and the parents who let their kids run wild with no discipline or supervision and shame on us for not saying something.

Personally, I don’t care if your child has some special need, they can still be taught what is acceptable behavior when in public. That comment will likely warrant some attacks from people who will say things like I am a bad person and judgmental and prejudice but I really do.not.care. You gotta do the best with what you have. If you don’t try at all, you are enabling and allowing that person/child to do, say, think, and act however they want. By doing nothing, you are almost encouraging it. I had a lady once tell me I was a horrible person for thinking like that and when I asked her how she was showing me the same tolerance and freedom of opinion that she was preaching at me for lacking, she could not answer. When the shoe is put on their foot, when you point out that they are being a hypocrite for not affording the same freedoms; suddenly they don’t have much to say.

I know this is a long one and it really has no ending. The point I am trying to make is that when you homestead, you rely so much more on each other to get projects accomplished and goals met. You tend to get even closer to each other because of that reliance. Closer bonds tend to form as you realize that you have each other’s backs and best interests in mind. Even your neighbors who you might barter with ends up being closer to you than most family members are in modern society.

People are so disconnected with their roots, family trees, and those around them that they tend to get rather stingy and harbor an “all about me” attitude. They don’t have the time or desire to stick their neck out to help their fellow man. For those of you who have made it this far, I implore you to be the change. Really do some crazy random act of kindness. Sow some seeds of goodwill with a stranger. It doesn’t cost money, it costs time. Opportunities are there every.single.day if you just open your eyes, look up from the phone or computer, and see how a little of your time can make a huge difference in someone else’s life. Ever had someone swoop in and help you unexpectedly? Do you remember how grateful, relieved, and happy you felt for it? You have the ability to give the same gift. What you may not expect are the emotional gifts you get in return.

I welcome thoughts and opinions below. This is a touchy subject and I encourage healthy debates. Any flaming comments with no logical base (aka hate mongering) will be removed.

Click here for Part Five!

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Around the Homestead: Going Hunting for the First Time

Going_Hunting_for_the_First_Time

Growing up in Alaska, I am used to seeing deer hanging in people’s garages or in the trees by their house, or even on a stand they built specifically for that purpose. I have seen them skinned and butchered and it is no big deal in the sense that it is a normal thing. Well, other than the incredible meal I know will be coming! Going hunting is an experience I have yet to go through and while I am excited about filling my freezer, the process of getting ready for the trip itself has really changed my way of thinking. Not only in terms of gear, but of what we are doing when we go hunting and the mental side of taking the life of an animal so that my family can eat has my mind going a million miles a second. Let me explain.

Mr. Dreamer and I are avid ‘car campers’ and go several times a year. We absolutely love it and have our systems of setting up and breaking down camp to a science. Living in a rainforest, we always tie up a large tarp up over the top and then tie additional tarps down the sides of the larger one for walls. It ensures that we will not wake up in a puddle and helps to buffer against the wind that always seems to be blowing in a coastal town. We generally camp in Summer and early Fall but since we are going to be tent camping on the hunting trip, there are so many more things to consider and plan for on keeping warm and dry since we normally don’t go in November. That is when the big storms start to roll in and the forecast already says freezing rain! Wool blankets, hardier sleeping bags, a larger tent for a longer trip, more firewood than usual…the list goes on! Cold weather camping alone will be a new experience but when you add in the hunting side of things, you add a whole new level of newbie for me.

Things I don’t normally worry about packing: Multiple sized knives and sharpener, a processing table, extra rope to hang deer, guns, ammo, bleach for cleaning surfaces, freezer paper, vacuum sealer (ours is made to take in the field to process your meat right there! LOVE IT!) and bags, not to mention the heavier clothing and rain gear. The safety aspect of a hunting trip versus a regular camping trip is off the chart! We will also be carrying our hiking packs with us that will have emergency food and survival supplies including some pretty hefty first aid kits that are packed to handle possible gunshot wounds, cuts, and broken bones. Of course the usual stuff for minor injuries such as burns, small cuts, etc. are covered as well. I am extremely grateful to our friends who are going with us on this journey. One is a seasoned and avid hunter who goes to the island we will be on to do his own hunting and his girlfriend who is studying to be a nurse and already works in healthcare. Win-win! Overall, the gear will be covered and handled due to my penchant for making lists upon lists. The part that has me a little…concerned is my mentality. It is no small thing to take a life. Even the fish we get every year is not something to take for granted but to me, it isn’t the same as going hunting for deer (or any other meat animal).

I have respect for the animal and will honor it by using as much of it as I can. I will share it and be thankful for it in my freezer. But to stare down the barrel of a gun and consciously take that life is something else. I worry I will bawl like a baby (unlikely but possible), or lose my lunch when I gut my first deer. Even though I am more connected to my sources of food and where it comes from than many people, I myself have not butchered anything more than a fish. Deer are ‘pretty’ and ‘majestic’ but, dagnabbit, they are also delicious! Of course, it could go the other way and I get buck fever and feel like the queen of the mountain and am completely hooked. I would like to think that it is a combination of both. I think it is normal for people to be at least a little repulsed at seeing the insides of an animal, let alone being the one to do it. The girly side of me shudders just typing it but the ‘tough’ Alaskan side of me says, “SUCK IT UP! You need to learn this stuff and being a wussy is not an option!” It is a survival skill that is crucial, in my opinion, and I am lucky to live in a place where I even can go hunting. Our deer here are so darn good that I didn’t know until I was an adult that people soaked their deer in buttermilk or saltwater to get the ‘gamey’ taste off it. I don’t remember anyone doing that here. They just pulled a package out of the freezer to thaw and cooked it up! There is something about it here that tastes more like a beef to me. Sure, there is a slight tang difference but a lot like beef.

I’m really excited, but nervous. I hope we get our limit (4 each) but I worry about having freezer space, or enough bags and freezer paper, or running out of bleach. The idea of having super fresh venison sizzling in the skillet with onions and garlic sounds absolutely amazing and will smell so good but then I worry about the bears. Finding the balance can be hard when you try something new, especially something like harvesting meat but you will never get anywhere or grow as a person if you let the nerves and fear of the unknown hold you back.

I promise I will post about the trip with lots of pictures…hopefully one with Yours Truly with her first buck! C’mon 8 pointer! 😉

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Why You Should Start Next Year’s Garden Plan NOW

Next_Year's_Garden_Plan

Even though you may still be harvesting the end of the growing season’s bounty, or have moved on to your Fall/Winter gardening, planning for next year’s growing season NOW will give you many advantages and increase your odds of success! Each year you have a garden, you are learning new things constantly because Mother Nature tends to surprise us by throwing a few curve balls with weird weather, bugs and pests you weren’t expecting, and maybe some odd wildlife depending on where you live. Here, we deal with black bears, deer, and the local pack of dogs. 😉

There are many things to consider and implement toward making next year’s garden better than this years was:

  • New plants you would like to grow and how they fit into your current set up
  • Crop rotation
  • Space considerations
  • Time available to tend to the garden
  • Additional time for research
  • Improvements you need to work on

Save money this year on next year’s garden plan!  

With the season coming to a full close, there are sales going on all over the place and it is time to get your garden plan ON! Hit Walmart, Target, Home Depot and other big box stores to scoop up deals on gardening tools and supplies at deep discount prices. Better yet, hit the internet sales, too! If you are willing to put in the time, you can buy supplies for pennies on the dollar and get everything you need (or close to it) without breaking the bank. For those larger purchases on items, utilizing a layaway system can help you meet your goals if you have a hard time setting money aside and then not spending it. 😉

You can also get together with other gardeners in your area and see about doing a “garden” swap meet where everyone brings the items they aren’t using or don’t want and trade/barter for some stuff you do want. You could even take it one step further and make it a “no money” event; trade and barter only. You might be surprised at the response you get!

Get to know your gardening neighbors and network!

Chances are good that there are others who garden in your community. Note those who grow flowers or vegetables and strike up a conversation! Check your local paper or community’s website for a gardening group or farmer’s market. These people are a wealth of knowledge and I have yet to meet anyone who isn’t more than willing to help answer any questions you may have about different plants and growing in your climate. Maybe you can work together to get a larger variety of fresh fruits and vegetables by trading your excess. If you have a bumper crop of carrots, perhaps someone will be willing to trade for their excess of tomatoes. You get the idea!

A community of gardeners tends to have greater success and by getting involved in the slower growing season, you will have the time to really learn and implement new methods or help someone else start their journey! Perhaps your involvement in your community and talking with people is the one thing a person close to you needed to ‘dig in’ and realize that they can grow some of their own vegetables/fruits/herbs/spices, too! You do NOT need a huge area to grow at least some of your own food. Say there is a person you know who lives in an apartment and only gets good light in one window. Now say that same person loves peppermint tea. Get a peppermint start for them and show them how easy it really can be! So what if they aren’t getting enough to sustain their tea drinking habits. It isn’t the how much that matters. It is showing people that they really can rely on themselves and produce their needs and wants for themselves. Powerful stuff…just from a packet of seeds!

Even if you have really small spaces to work with!

You can still plan a garden! Utilizing vertical greenhouses and shelves can turn a window into a food producing machine! How nice would be it be to walk over to your window and pick oregano, parsley, basil, and chives fresh from your herb garden to put directly into your tomato sauce? How much money would you save a year on your favorite spices by growing them yourself? I have grown basil in my kitchen window a couple of time now in one of those rectangle plastic pots. I used it fresh as it was growing (which helps it grow even more!) and when it took over the container it was growing in, I harvested it and dried the leaves up in my dehydrator before crushing them down a bit and stocking it away in the old basil container I got from the store about….3 years ago now.

Right now I have oregano growing because we have enough basil. Sage is extremely expensive here so, I started growing my own of that too! I cannot wait until we get our own home and land because I am going to plant a large garden dedicated to herbs and spices. It will serve to save us money on spices and provide natural remedies for common ailments as well. I have daydreams of making pesto from ingredients so fresh that the water hasn’t stopped moving inside the leaves! Until then, I will use all of the space I have available to lessen my reliance on the system, learn more about growing my own, and saving money on a far superior product than I could buy in the store. Win-Win!

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Homesteading Will Make You Question: Recreation

How_We_Play

This is Part Three of a five part series about how ‘Homesteading Will Make You Question’ the systems and practices in place in the United States. If you missed the first two, see below for links to them!

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?” Examples would be, “Why don’t people realize that sitting in the same room, but glued to your phone isn’t really spending time with someone?” or “How come no one teaches sportsmanship anymore?” My viewpoint has shifted dramatically. There is no question that I see the world around me with at least some of the filters off now. Things that I used to take as a norm without second thought now makes me pause and not just when it comes to recreation. It has permeated every facet of my life and I find myself questioning how and what we eat, how we work, how we play, and how we treat each other, and how we live overall. This article will focus on How We Play.

How We Play. Recreation and ‘play’ is defined differently for everyone. Some people consider working out really hard a recreational activity. Others prefer to sit on their duffs and play video games. No matter what your definition is, the fundamental idea is one of relaxation, laughter, pleasure, and just overall fun. Recreation is meant as a way to unwind, let the responsibilities go and live in the moment. There are two shifts I find myself experiencing as we delve deeper and deeper into a homesteading mindset: How technology has fundamentally changed how we play and how ‘playing’ when on a homestead is often disguised as something closely resembling work.

Homesteading has fundamentally changed how we play. Things that held entertainment value for us before seems really boring now.

When I was growing up, it was board games and imagination for the most part. Atari and the first Nintendo came out and my younger brother was hooked but we still played board and card games, went outside and climbed trees and generally got dirty from being kids.  We knew what it was to ride around in the back of a truck and ride bikes without helmets. In today’s world, safety has fettered our play so much that some of the fun has been taken out of the activity. It reminds me of the kid in “A Christmas Story” who is sent outside with so many layers of clothing on, he can’t move. We have so many rules and accoutrements that go along with making sure little Susie doesn’t get so much as a scrape that she grows up being fearful of being outside. Add in the fact that she likely had a smart phone by the time she was 8 years old and you end up raising a generation of people who are more emotionally attached to their phones than to other people, going outside to play is ‘weird’ or ‘unsafe and dirty,’ and the idea of sitting around and playing Uno is considered uncool, odd, or just plain boring.

When you homestead, all of these trappings begin to go by the wayside bit by bit. I turn my computer on less than I used to. I certainly don’t play the online games I was really addicted to before. Truth be told, I got a little bored with them and wanted to gain levels in “real life” instead of in a virtual world of pixels and bytes that do nothing other than make your arse get larger, health get poorer, and losing touch with the people around you. While you may be super high level with the best gear on World of Warcraft, your daughter or son has grown up with a mostly absent parent or worse, the kids are right there with you learning the same bad habits and not experiencing life! I think that is the largest thing I see with how we play today: a great majority of the games and other activities we do for recreation takes us away from experiencing life. People find more fulfillment in what they see on a digital screen than they do from actually putting the phone down and talking with their neighbor. How many of you out there with kids really “know” you kids? Do you know what they think or their viewpoints on the world around them? Or are you content to leave them be to their screens and chats so long as they stay out of trouble and get good grades? I am not judging, pointing fingers, or calling for everyone to give up their toys. I am merely voicing some of the questions that roll around in my head in the hopes that others may be asking these questions too.

The more we delve into being self sufficient and work toward a homestead-type of life, the more my definitions of ‘work’ and ‘play’ change. I was discussing this topic with Mr. Dreamer last night and we both chuckled about how much we have changed. I painted a picture for him:

ME: “We decide to take the day off and go out and have some fun. It is a warmer late spring day. We have things well in hand with the garden, animals, etc. So, what would we do?”

HUSBAND: “We could go camping in a new place we haven’t been or something. Or go for a hike or visit friends or something?”

ME: “True! But what would we do if we went camping?”

HUSBAND: “Well, maybe we could look for a new place we haven’t been fishing before, or scout out a place for good firewood. If we went for a hike, we could forage for some early berries and greens along the way.”

At this point I began laughing. The duality of it all was just wonderfully ironic to me. Our idea of ‘relaxing’ was to go camping and fish or go hiking and forage for some berries and greens. Really? This is recreation to us now? Used to be a time when sitting down and playing video games or watching movies back to back for 12 hours was our idea of “fun and relaxing.” While there are days that sounds fantastic, my mind instantly kicks over to “how could you accomplish something while doing those fun relaxing things?” I just don’t know if it is in us anymore to simply sit and do “nothing.” Sure, I could enjoy a nice morning listening to the birds and drinking my cup of coffee but you can bet I would be doing more than just that. Likely there would be a notepad with a list of some kind that I was working on. My sitting there doing ‘nothing’ is defined much differently than other people’s definition. And I am OK with that. I am OK with being less reliant on outside stimulation for my entertainment than a great majority of people are today. Yes, I enjoy my surfing on the computer but even that has changed. I no longer look at the latest awesome PC game, I look for the best deals on things like mylar bags and rolled oats. The computer has turned into more of a research and blogging tool than something used primarily for recreation.

Homesteading makes you take a step back in many ways. I daresay it really helps you to slow down. When was the last time you slowed down enough to actually enjoy something? A meal? A good book? And how about a good ol’ game of Monopoly? Suddenly, you may find yourself realizing that it has been 6 months since you went out to the movies and are completely OK with that. The $50 it may cost you for two people to go see a movie including all the extras could be better used to buy 4 bags of chicken feed. That chicken feed may last 2 months for you and during that time, you are getting eggs and healthy, fat chickens that will sustain you. That $50 went much further along spending it that way instead of one evening. Now, I am not saying it is bad to go see the movies, or blow a little money on some recreation! I just want to point out that it all happens slowly, over time. Your priorities change along with your point of view. You may begin to realize, like we did, that an afternoon running around in the woods trying to identify edibles with some friends is more rewarding, exciting, and fun than beating Grand Theft Auto  on your XBOX.  At least, it did for me. This last weekend, I wasn’t feeling so hot so I decided to try and play some Sims3. I have been playing the Sims since it first came out a couple decades ago and it was a vice for a long time. After about an hour, I ended up turning it off! I was bored, falling asleep bored and when I realized it, I laughed. I got more excited about the idea of going into the kitchen and making some vegetable stock from scraps or crocheting a nice hat than I did about playing a game that once used to take up almost all my free time. It is like the world has flip flopped on me! Work is play and play is work. Video games and television are boring compared to laughing with my husband over a smear of dirt on my nose from working in the garden. There isn’t as much inner reward in the things I used to do as I receive from giving a friend a jar of homemade applesauce (that was FUN to make!). Maybe I am just getting old. Maybe I ask too many questions. Then again maybe…just maybe….I am not alone in this line of thinking. 😉

Click here for Part Four!

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If you missed the first two articles in this five part series, links are below!

Homesteading Will Make You Question: Food

Homesteading Will Make You Question: Work

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