The one thing I’ve learned about homesteading is that it’s hard, frustrating, prone to failure, and in all ways challenging – until it’s not.
Once all the kinks are ironed out, once the necessary infrastructure is in place and time-tested to fix any problems (fences, anyone?), once the deer are kept out of the garden, once we've made every mistake in the book and then applied what we learned, etc. etc. etc. – then things get easier … and more productive.
I once noted that when things start producing on a homestead, they really start producing. Last summer we didn’t get a nice bowlful of strawberries, we got 160 lbs of them.
We routinely get 1000 lbs of beef back from the butchers.
Our refrigerator is often overflowing with ten dozen eggs and (when I’m milking) gallons and gallons of milk. Corn, garlic, blueberries, onions, potatoes, raspberries, tomatoes, even wheat can be embarrassingly abundant.
I think this encompasses much of what we’ve tried to achieve on our homestead, especially when raising our girls: an understanding of the chain of events, from beginning to end, for many things. Birth and death, planting and harvesting, shortages and abundance.
We also wanted them to see the work that goes into all these things.
Last week on my WND column, a reader made the following comment: “Some time ago, I came to the realization that, living on a farm, a shortage is that there being no more to be had. A shortage in a city is that you do not have the money to buy more. This artificial view of reality is what makes the progressive possible. Progressives have a view of reality that starts somewhere in the middle and they do not believe in the existence of the beginning of that chain. Things come from nowhere, take no work to produce, and exist in quantities where there would be enough for everybody if wealth was evenly distributed.”
I found this to be a fascinating, and accurate, analysis. When things are viewed from the middle and the beginning of the chain isn’t visible, then it’s too easy to reach an entirely wrong conclusion. It’s the old “snapshot” problem: If you see a snapshot of something, it’s easy to assume it represents an unfixed and eternal reality. But the viewer never sees what went into the snapshot. They never see the work and sacrifices. They only conclude it’s “unfair” when someone has something they want.
As an example: Over the years I’ve written dozens and dozens of articles on starting a home craft business. I’ve fended off endless misconceptions about the amount of work and effort that goes into a successful endeavor. A persistent problem is people who want instant success in their business efforts. They see the “snapshot” of a successful home business, and conclude that starting a home craft business is a breeze. Eh, how hard can it be?
What they fail to see is all the background that went into that snapshot. They never saw the years of toil and struggle, the times when we had no income, the customers who ditched paying us, the tools that broke down, the long long long long hours, the sawdust caked with sweat to our skin, the shows where we sold virtually nothing, and all the other tribulations that go into building a business.
Yes, many people see the “snapshot” – but don’t want to put in the work necessary to make that snapshot a reality.
(Incidentally, this is why I have absolutely no envy of rich entrepreneurs. I know what went into achieving their wealth. They’ve earned it.)
It’s the same thing with a homestead. Visitors might see the “snapshot” of our barn, garden, herd of cows, and flock of chickens – and assume it’s always been this way.
They assume we’ve never experienced failures or setbacks. They assume the garden always produced. They assume the livestock always behaved and stayed within their fences. They assume it was all done without any blood, sweat, and tears. (“Blood, sweat, and tears” is a cliché, but a very truthful one. We’ve excreted all three, many times.)
But all this work on our homestead is to avoid what another reader commented about the snapshot generation: that “Life and Reality are mere abstractions: food comes from Wal-Mart, money from some Sugar Daddy/the State, and Good and Truth are mere social constructs.”
We never wanted to live an abstract life. Our girls grew up knowing food does not come from Wal-Mart, money does not come from a sugar daddy or from the state; and good and truth are not mere social constructs.
There’s an old saying: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” But luck, as everyone knows, implies someone didn’t do anything to achieve whatever they got. In other words, luck implies a present situation had nothing to do with past sacrifices.
With the exception of exceptional situations such as winning the lottery, most “lucky” people aren’t lucky. They’re stubborn, they’re determined, they’re (sometimes) desperate, but they’re seldom lucky. They’ve made stupid mistakes and embarrassing decisions, learned from those errors, then applied what they learned to future endeavors which then succeeded. This is what’s known as the Formula for Success.
I guess you might say this is why we homestead. We like seeing every link of that chain, from beginning to end.