Some friends and I were Facebook chatting about the lure of the Homestead.
Self-sufficiency. Pride. Good For The Children.
But then, there’s indoor plumping. Electricity that you don’t have to generate, or understand. Skors bars.
My daughter and I had this conversation as well–how hard it is to live the life that seems appealing when it’s contrary to the mainstream, or makes you stand out. You have to have either strength of character or a certain kind of obliviousness to buck the system.
It came up because she’s met someone she calls a “real hippie.” She says she always thought I was a hippie, but this woman walks the walk, apparently. I’m not quite sure what that means, but it probably has to do with really not tolerating the two Macs (Mac ‘n’ Cheese, and McDonalds) for the children, walking or biking everywhere, and wearing ugly shoes (I think I have the ugly shoes thing going, but I’m a late comer to the don’t-tolerate the junk food).
When I was in college, during one of my brief non-Bill (my husband of more than 30 years) periods, I dated one of those real hippies. Even at the time, I realized that I was making a choice between a truly alternative life and one that would be a little more mainstream.
I’m something of a chameleon, in that I tend to adapt to the prevailing opinions around me. Something to do with low self-esteem, probably, or a dislike of conflict. If I’d stayed with M I’d have been a hippie and a homesteader. With Bill, urban to the core, not so much, although I’ve dragged him a little bit over to that way of thinking. Still, the lure of the homestead, of the self-sufficient, know-how-to-do-stuff, back-to-your-roots lifestyle is extremely appealing. It sounds so simple, so real.
In reality, living off the land or making your living from the land (not at all the same thing) sounds hard. I know this from reading Emily’s trials with the sheep, and Sage’s awful trials with the drought. Of course, city life is hard as well; however comfortable one is in an urban environment, one does constantly watch over one’s shoulder for danger. There’s a lot of noise and trash and people you cannot get a way from.
The big reason that people move out of the mainstream is for the children, but you’re making trade offs there as well. Country kids can Do Stuff. Hammer a nail, milk a cow, wire a lamp. My kids? they can Handle Themselves. When you grow up looking over your shoulder you develop a kind of thick skin that I’ve never seen in more gently raised kids. But I really wish they could Do Stuff. I need someone to build me a new compost bin for my tiny urban homestead (ish).
Conclusion? Life is hard. Choices get made. The homesteader wonders if my grass is greener because I’m putting chemicals on it; I wonder if her grass is greener because of sheep droppings. Neither of us really, in our deepest hearts, wants to walk on whatever it is that is making the grass greener over there.