photo by Sheri Dixon

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Westward Ho! a.k.a. Romancing the (Grave)stone

I'm a proud member of a Homesteading Forum. The term "homesteading" loosely encompasses people in many different phases and incarnations- Those who are learning, or want to learn, how to become rural, those who are rural and dabble in agricultural pursuits, and those who make farming a livelihood.

To all of us, subsistence farming is a preferred way of life. Our main common thread is that we are devoted to being able to feed and shelter our families with as little dependence on outside sources as possible.

Knowing how to grow things, either plants or animals, and then turn them into food for the table both eaten fresh and preserved for later use, is paramount.

Having our homes set up to run well and comfortably even if the electric goes out gives us security and peace of mind.

Unlike alot of Homesteading Forums, though, ours is pretty laid back as far as membership requirements.

While a large number of forums are those who are mainly Survivalists aspiring to be hermits , or Fundamental Christians looking to escape from the evils of the secular world, or GlennBeckian Conservatives who are sure the whole shebang is headed for Hell in a Handbasket, we're pretty much a group of ol' hippie-types- Peace, Love, RockNRoll, pass the granola please.

As such, our group includes members of all the other types of homesteaders, and for the most part, we all try to see each others' points of view, get along pretty well and the name-calling and compost-slinging is kept to a minimum.

One of the only things that puts a hitch in my giddyup is when someone says

"I was born 100 years too late. I'd much rather have been a pioneer".


While I live in a 100+ year old house that's filled with antiques (other than us longhaired ol' geezers) and we own, use and love all manner of "old fashioned" things, I for one am pretty grateful I'm living now, in the futuristic 21st century.

If I had been born 100 years ago, I most likely would've died from one of the many bouts of toncilitis I had as a child. If I had survived to adulthood-

-the father of my older two children would've died at 35 from the heart failure he suffered

-my daughter would've died of the appendicitis she had at age 6

-my older son would've died from the severe colic he had as a newborn

-I would've had very little chance of traveling from Wisconsin to Texas where I met my current husband, who probably would've had very little chance of traveling from a different part of Wisconsin to Texas

-our son probably would've died from one of the many ear infections he had as a little critter. At the very least he'd be stone cold deaf from them.

-my husband would be dead of the cancer he was diagnosed with 8 years ago. Actually, he probably would've died of the heart attack he had right after we met (no, I did NOT cause it...)

-many people we love, and some we are proud to call "family" would've been completely unknown to us since we met them via the interwebs.

People who lived 100 years ago had a rough slog of it- never-ending work, little or no pay, precious bits of leisure time- a true hard-scrabble existence that makes my worst day look like a literal walk in the park.

Men could expect to live to about 45, if they were lucky.
Women could look forward to giving birth to many children but raising just a few, if they were lucky. Dying in childbirth was a very common way to exit this life.
Children- I don't even want to go there.

I'm grateful I live in a time where I have the CHOICE to live a "simple" life- although doing and cooking and living from scratch doesn't look simple to alot of people.

If I'm sick I can microwave dinner from the freezer, if it's raining I can toss laundry into the dryer instead of hanging it, and if I'm too tired to build a fire I can crank up the thermostat.

The point is, I CAN care for my family, and keep them safe thanks to a wondrous combination of old traditional ways and newfangled inventions.

Why on earth would I wish the drudgery and danger of a pioneer existence on people I love?

So while I'm happy and eager to LEARN pioneer ways, I'm pretty sure that if I could hop into a time machine and meet up with a real pioneer woman, showed her the way we live now and then told her "But I'd really prefer to live in YOUR time", she'd smack me upside the head, steal my time machine and leave me in 100 year old dust.

Because the pioneers may have been alot of things, but stupid they weren't.

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