Perhaps I am not typical, but I feel like every homesteader dreams of a life in which their family enjoys and is enthusiastic about their passion for this lifestyle. I have visions of doing chores together every day, inspired conversations about new projects, and an understanding shoulder to cry on when things go very wrong. Alas; it is not to be, neither in the past or the future.
Like so many others, I am on my second family. My first husband cared nothing for homesteading and my daughter just wasn’t into the animals all that much. I could get them to help with a fair amount of work. My daughter learned to milk the cow and take care of everything in case she would need those skills someday, but it certainly wasn’t a passion. She is more interested in self-reliance now, but we are 1300 miles apart so can only share via the phone or letters. A midlife crisis shattered my world five years ago and gave me a wonderful new family, complete with a teenage stepdaughter.
My husband, Tony, and his daughter, Maddy, came from a very different background than my Wyoming ranch history. They are from St. Louis, where pretty much everything is available when you want it, so this is a whole new lifestyle for them. They didn’t grow up with daily chores or the strong conditioning I had to care for our animals as if our life depended on them (as ranchers it did). I understand this and realize that it isn’t appropriate for me to expect them to have the same dedication and enjoyment of this very labor intensive lifestyle.
Tony is an amazing builder and is great about building anything I can ask for. We go about building in very different ways, so we have had to learn to work together with a certain amount of patience. I have a hard time explaining exactly what I want, but I’ve learned to draw pictures and he often improves on my design. I count my blessings when I look at the goat shed, chicken house, rabbit shed, and fences.
Maddy loves animals, but like a typical teenager, doesn’t love the work that comes with them. She can do chores if need be, but it’s generally more work to get her to do the chores than to do them myself. I had hoped having a horse would inspire her to learn to care for animals (that’s how my parents got me to take care of the cows), but it isn’t to be. Since I cannot force her to like what I like, all I can do is make sure she has the skills to homestead if she decides or needs to later.
So…although I don’t have the enthusiastic partners I could wish for, I think my family has adapted very well to this new life. I could gripe and nag for more, but that certainly would make for the willing help I’d like. It is sometimes tempting to resent it when I am out doing chores and they are sitting down watching television. But when that little voice starts to grumble in my head, I sternly remind myself that this is MY choice and I would still be doing it if I were alone.
I just wouldn’t have such nice equipment…..