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Modern Homesteading – Reality Check

by Victoria Gazeley

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Time for me to come clean.

I love the rural life, really I do, but there are some days when the comfort of a city condo would be a welcome distraction.  And honestly?  A relief.

Like the days when it’s sub-zero and I forgot to pick up winter work gloves to do the outside chores (for the 7th day in a row) and my fingers freeze.

Or those mornings the chickens are screaming way down the hill for the umpteenth time and I have to get up from my work again (you know, the gig that pays the bills) to make sure they’re not being carried off by a coyote or a hawk. 

Or the chicken house roof is leaking and now it’s reeking to high heaven because the deep bedding is wet, meaning I need to spend another hour cleaning it out.

Or a tree has crashed onto the driveway, rendering us trapped.

Or the mouse has once again gnawed on my $5 a pound organic avocados, turning them to compost, then found the time (the dear heart) to chew the pants off a $75 Waldorf doll I bought as a gift for a little one in our circle of friends.

Or the cold rain is running down my neck as I’m getting the firewood for the night because the rain gutter guy hasn’t shown up to install the new gutters on the shed.

Or, and here’s the best one – the kindling somehow got wet (see missing gutters above) and the fire I’m trying to light to stave off hypothermia in the house simply WILL NOT LIGHT!!

All this while I’m trying to run a technology business with high profile international clients who need stuff done.  You know, like ‘NOW’.  Via satellite internet, for which there is rarely a speed called ‘fast’ (at least with the service I’m currently using – the only one available here) and it disappears whenever it snows, or is foggy, or a leaf grows in the wrong place…

I can even imagine what it would be like if we had more animals…

Frustrating?  Absolutely.  Maddening?  Sometimes.  Enough to really make me reconsider my dream?  Not on your life.

I have to admit, when I decided to go down this modern homesteading road, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  Sure I’d read a lot of books and met with a lot of experts, but honestly, it’s like having children.  Nothing anyone says ahead of time can prepare you for the ways in which your life is about to change.  Even all that super negative stuff from your bitter 40-something friend who has children but really probably shouldn’t – zilch effect.  And then you sit there, shell-shocked, wondering why no one told you what it was really like.

Except they did – but you weren’t listening.  You had a dream, and gol’ darnit, you were going to do it, regardless of what your friends and family thought.

So you packed yourself up from your city life and moved to the sticks.

Then spent the next three years battling a mouse (or a squirrel) for dominion over your digs.  Sure, you could have had it ‘taken care of’, like some have suggested, but where’s the adventure in that? Plus I want to live here as non-impacting as possible, which means co-existing with wildlife to some degree.

And then you wake up one morning, rain pattering on the roof of the loft, fire crackling in the woodstove, and winter wrens chirping and flitting outside the window – and you just know you are home.  The satellite internet is working like lightning (for once), and the chickens have offered up breakfast in the form of the most delicious organic range eggs you’ve ever tasted.  Almost sweet, if you can imagine such a thing. 

And you are reminded that life is, indeed, good.  Very good. And that most of the frustrations result from choices we have made.

So, as we play out our third year of living in our little piece of paradise, I’ve come to understand that even with all the interruptions and frustrations, I’m really happy.  For all the quirks of rural living (and there are many), we really do have an incredible, amazing, brilliant life here. 

So, when the internet connection craps out again because it’s foggy or something, I’ll take a deep breath, slather on some Stress Away, and settle into another day of living my dream.

If you live in the country and are already doing this homesteading thing, do you have any wisdom to share with those contemplating the move?  Please share in the comments below

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jantoo1 November 17, 2011 at 10:53 am

I FEEL ya.. And yet, I can NOT imagine ever living in the big city (Dallas) again, or a small city either.. The good moments make it ALL worth it.. 

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Victoria Gazeley November 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm

They sure do. Glad to hear someone else who feels the same… :)

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Lisa November 17, 2011 at 11:47 am

I live in the city and have as many, albeit different, issues everyday. It doesn’t matter where you live, you still have the same AMOUNT of frustrations, they are just different ones. What matters is the quality of life and the enjoyment you get out of it. If you need a room mate to chase the chickens while you are working, you let me know – I would leave everything I have , well, EXCEPT my cat, for a chance at that life.

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Victoria Gazeley November 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm

You’re so right – it’s all in the perspective, isn’t it? And really, in the grand scheme of things, all of my frustrations are generally self created!! How’s that for a smack upside my own head? If I ever get to that point again, I’ll keep you in mind – and you can bring your cat… it might help with the mice!! ;) Thanks so much for stopping by. Great to meet you!

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Jessica November 17, 2011 at 12:02 pm

You are inspirational. Our family just relocated to the side of a mountain about 10 miles from civilization of any sort and 40 miles from the nearest town- so reading your wisdom and thoughts helps me realize it is worth it for the dream to be sustainable and self sufficient. And- I have help! You are incredible.

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Lcc1776 November 17, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Thanks so much for this honest article! I’m not a full homesteader yet – I’m a sort of homesteader who wants to be a full homesteader. Then I have moments where just working full time, coming home, feeding the bunnies and letting them out to play, feeding the kitties and giving them some love, feeding my boyfriend and giving him some love and cleaning up after all the above make me say I must be crazy to want to also get chickens and a bigger property. Yet the dream still lingers on.  

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Victoria Gazeley November 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm

It sure does… funny, isn’t it, how it sticks, even though you KNOW how much work it will be… :) But it’s so worth it. My plan is to keep going, but there are days it just seems like craziness! Thanks so much for stopping by…

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arthur miller November 17, 2011 at 6:54 pm

For the mouse, get a CAT, use your hair dryer on the kindling. I can not think of anyother thing that might help, Sorry!

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Victoria Gazeley November 20, 2011 at 8:45 am

If only cats didn’t also eat songbirds… ;) As for the kindling, I need to remember to bring some in the day before so it dries by the fire. Sometimes I forget – not good! Thanks so much for stopping by…

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