Growing up on the Homestead

My husband grew up in close proximity with Amish communities. He was exposed to good food and understanding where food actually comes from. He did not personally work a farm the way that we do now as a family. I grew up with a family dog and store-bought food. We did grow our own vegetables and dabble in herbal medicine, but that was it.

The choice to switch to a homesteading lifestyle was based on our children. We wanted them to eat well, learn empathy, and work hard. When my children talk about their home life in school, the common reactions I hear from other adults range from “That’s amazing” to “That sounds like… a lot.”

It is a lot. And it is nonstop. My daughter failed one of her first small social studies assessments because she argued that people do make their own food today, not “long ago.” The teacher told her that people do not make their own food, they buy it at the store. My daughter was pretty adamant that the teacher was completely wrong. We both had to explain that the general population buys eggs, chicken, and other dairy products from the grocery store. Not everyone makes it or trades with other farms. Despite the fascination or harsh judgements made by other people, our children are growing into–we hope–healthy and enlightened individuals.

Talking about homesteading life often sounds less desirable than it truly is. There are bad days. There are horrendous days. There are scary days. There are breakdown and cry all day while you’re still working days. But most days are good, happy, and fulfilling.

I am going to showcase a compilation of what homesteading life looks like on the best of days because I feel those don’t get talked about enough.

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Homesteading is dandelion wishes.

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Homesteading is finding the occasional fairy egg.

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Homesteading is when new animals stop by your property just to say hi (not our cat).

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Homesteading is hugging a 6 hour old goat.

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Homesteading is homemade remedies and bad handwriting.

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Homesteading is fresh and rejuvenating.

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Homesteading is full of 4 in the morning surprises.

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Homesteading is about more than one family sharing space.

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Homesteading is good food.

I didn’t grow up on a homestead, but we’re very thankful for the opportunity for our children to live this way. They help every way they can. There is a lot of hard work, but there is plenty for them to thoroughly enjoy as well.

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Tea with Dragonflies

When we first moved out here three years ago, the land was completely overrun with trees and weeds whose heights could easily lead one to believe they too were trees. An unkempt pond in the front created a small swampy environment. Amphiumas inhabited the land where it was most moist. Three years of vacancy did not help the land flourish. It was very easy to just want to tear everything out. And, in some sad ways, that’s mostly what was done. Although most involved with the task were very excited about the end result, I had a very heavy heart whenever I witnessed a fleeing snake or a random fish pop up in the yard, trapped, as we destroyed its watery home. In the process of destruction to build new, I had personally rescued three fish and two Jerky McJerkface Creepy Snake Fish amphiumas. My husband and I worked together to move a huge softshell turtle. Later that year, we Taz–our Weimaraner–brought us a baby softshell turtle. He did not harm the baby, but probably rescued it from the huskies. That warmed all of our hearts.

As we cleared practically everything we clearly got a good look at two trees. One right out front of the house and the other near the front of our property. I had fallen in love with the tree by the house, and my husband was fond of the one near the front of the property. We’re unsure of what the trees actually are, but they were too gorgeous to get rid of.

The tree right outside the house provides plenty of shade. In seeking a moment to myself one afternoon, I decided to finish off a cup of hot tea I had steeped. I know it’s summer, but I do love my hot drinks. I held my knees to my chest as I leaned against the tree. A dragonfly landed on my bare foot. I continued my tea.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

Another one, green, landed to my left. Then another to my right. One bumped into my right ear. Another landed on a twig above me to enjoy a snack. I closed my eyes and listened to them. They don’t buzz like bees, though there were a few working in the shade as well. They didn’t mind my presence so I continued to share their space. Listening to them fly and land nearby was tranquil.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

I allowed myself a moment to feel young again; a little girl with butterfly wings, pretending these gentle beasts came to visit me from a faery realm. Smiling at them as they ate in close proximity of me. Blue, green, and yellow.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman

I finished off my tea and returned to work. Later in the evening I visited my friends again with the camera. I couldn’t resist documenting–to an extent–our interaction. I took advantage of how undisturbed they were by my presence and thoroughly enjoyed our little photo shoot. At the end of the day, with the amount of work I got done, I was most proud of enjoying tea and socializing with the local neighbors in our tree.

Take time for yourself; even if it’s not everyday.

Take time to acknowledge and enjoy the peace around you presently; even if you had to cause destruction to get there.

And despite past destructions and chaos, never stop growing and helping the growth around you.

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Photographed by Amanda Harman