Today I am tired. The sky was just touched with the pearly hues of dawn when the goats began loudly demanding breakfast. Their strident cries seem to travel directly down my spine, spurring me to action in ways no alarm clock can equal. My body begins moving, sliding out of my soft warm bed and into chore clothes without any direction from my mind at all – the reflexes of a homesteader. It is days like this when I wonder what the heck I am doing all this for…
Homesteading brings many joys and lovely days. I watch eagerly for the first green shoots of spring, revel in the heavenly scent wafting from the scrambling vines of honeysuckle and wild clematis, thrill to the taste of the first sun ripened tomato, smile at the tiny ball of fluffy new-hatched chick, and marvel at how perfect a tiny baby goat can be. I smile and laugh a lot.
There are dark days too. Days when winter sits bleak and cold on the land, when the bugs eat the tender new leaves of the cabbage, when the birds take a bite out of every ruby ripe strawberry, when the rain doesn’t come and I scramble to keep everything alive, when a beloved goat sickens and dies despite everything I try. There are hard choices. A homestead must be productive. Bouncing boy goats cannot make milk and strutting roosters do not lay eggs, yet they must go somewhere for there is no room to keep merely pets. There are no days off and a vacation is often spent wondering if something dreadful is going to happen while I am gone.
In many ways, the hard days are more valuable than the easy times. While it may be a cliché that hard times build character, that doesn’t make it untrue. Misery forces me to really examine what I am doing and why. I am the first person to admit it would be so much easier to just give up and live a “normal” life complete with American Idol and McDonald’s. Cheese and milk are much easier to buy at the store.
When it comes right down to it, this is so much bigger than just me. In our lives filled with creature comforts and instant gratification, we’ve lost so many skills. How many of us truly know how to feed ourselves without trucks and factories? We think nothing of eating an apple in March from 2000 miles away. We are not concerned that there is no food grown 2 or even 20 miles away. I am doing this because I hope I am the spark. By sharing what I know, weaving a story of my joys and frustrations, testing the limits of what is possible, I will set a blaze that changes our reality forever.
In the meantime….my shoes are on and the goats are calling.