‘You guys are crazy’ they said. ‘What makes you think you can do this?’ they asked. ‘This will never work’ they thought….
Since we started this project (visibly) 3 months ago – when we took the leap from “research mode” to “go time”, people’s attitudes towards what we set out to achieve have spanned the entire spectrum. At one end, we had some doubters, many critics and a lot of skeptics and on the other hand we had excitement, encouragement and awe with people asking for daily updates.
There are lots of biases and prejudices surrounding homesteading – we understand that not everyone is the same, and not everyone’s situation is the same, but I’d like to correct a few of the assumptions and misconceptions that people jump to when they hear about our want to leave it all behind and set up a homestead.
You’re going to move to a trappers hut in the forest with an outhouse? You’re crazy!
We are not moving to a trappers hut in the forest and we’re not planning on living a “subsistence” lifestyle where we hunt and live off the land and entirely disconnecting ourselves from civilization. Though the thought of this is fascinating, and totally something I’d do as “a vacation”, there is a level of effort (i.e. will power) required to maintain this on a long term basis that I’m not sure either one of us would really consider “sustainable.” While this may be the ultimate sustainability in an economic and ecological sense, I’m not sure I’d consider it sustainable for either of us in an emotional sense. Neither of us is averse to hunting to occasionally have wild meat on the table to supplement the usual beef, pork and chicken, but we feel no compulsion to provide for the total of our carnivorous appetite by such means.
This type of thing is more akin to the kind of home we have in mind than the trappers hut you might have imagined when we said the word “homestead”.
If other people can build this, and they do every day, there’s no reason why we can’t build this too… all it takes is the right land, the right tools, a bunch of research and some elbow grease… and my own invincibility [or at least ignorance of the fact I’m not invincible].
Yes it is going to be very hard work. It’s funny though, when you love what you are doing and you are genuinely interested in the work, it never feels like work. As my Mother, Grandfather and probably every ancestor before them [and countless entrepreneurs] have said – nothing worth doing is easy; it all requires work and there is, of course, always a risk of failure. For metropolitan folks, a job is no different. Adapting to city life means convenience and allows you to concentrate on just one thing that you’re probably awesome at [your job] but in all reality, that life is not immune to failure either – what if you needed to provide for yourself? With so much riding on so few providers, there is a greater risk that if something does go wrong [and it doesn’t take much], the volume of people dependent upon those providers will leave you with few resources and little to no ability to provide for your needs.
But it’s so much work and you two are the laziest people we know!
It has been, and it pains me to admit it, fairly accurately pointed out that we’re both lazy people. Truth be told, we’re only really lazy in situations where one or both of us perceive that the work is pointless – which as far as I evaluate is in the region of 80% of city life, running from pillar to post, completing tasks that we’ve been conditioned to complete to fulfill other people’s objectives, most of which make little to no discernible difference in our own lives – except for the income we’re provided in return. The work we’ve set about doing with the homestead is different. It makes a real difference, to us, and almost as importantly, to those around us. It is the most nourishing and fulfilling work either of us have ever really done. It plays into our curiosity and desire to learn as the biggest project we have ever undertaken and it may never come to an end and we are good with that. It’s like a giant ongoing science experiment. It also plays into the desire to figure out if we’re good enough to do this… and so far, we’re meeting the challenge.
I don’t know how you’re going to do it, I could never live without X?
We are not planning on giving up the creature comforts that we’ve become accustomed to. We’re not planning on giving up our stove, refrigerator, freezer, washer or dishwasher. We’re still going to have running water and electricity and probably gas. We’re still going to require gasoline [petrol] for our generator and machinery (chain saws, snowmobiles, quads, trucks etc.)
We’re not planning on insulating our roof with moss, heating a one room hut by wood fire with a cauldron of broth hanging over it and keeping the wolves at bay with burning torches while wearing animal skin clothes. We’re still going to have toothpaste, underarm deodorant, shampoo and conditioner. We are still going to have top notch outdoor gear, a nice home for entertaining and my tuxedo will still be on hand for fancy occasions. This is not the stone age. Homesteading doesn’t have to mean giving up modern life exactly. Consider it a departure from consumerism and a move towards a more natural and sustainable life which leads on to the next question…
So what are we planning on doing with this life?
We are planning on living a more sustainable life: Nurture, grow, consume and preserve our own food and provide for our own utilities that supplement, reduce or remove our dependence on mainstream and municipally provided services. With ever increasing monthly costs and service fees (a.k.a. utilities, grocery bills, etc.) we are tied to an ever increasing demand for money. The ever present and ever increasing need for money keeps us on the treadmill of the rat race that despite the constant distraction and brainwashing that “bigger, better and more stuff = success”, gradually erodes your will to live. It also puts our lives in the hands of companies that really only want one thing – our money. They don’t have our best interests at heart and they certainly don’t care about us. In the event of an emergency, trusting others to provide for your needs without having a backup plan is short sighted at best. Having municipal services is super convenient, but it’s expensive and if push comes to shove, have they really got your back? To them you are just a number.
Of course, we understand that we can’t replace money. There will still be things we need to pay for that are impractical for us to produce ourselves – there’s only so much time in a day and not everything is interesting or fun to produce yourself… and property taxes will still need to be paid – I don’t suppose they can be paid for in chickens and eggs. As such there will be some need for the homestead to be profitable, or one (or both) of us will need to maintain enough income in the very least to support some kind of outside life. Everyone needs a break from life occasionally – even if just for a few hours, and this all costs money. We have been formulating a plan for this, but it’s not formed well enough to talk about just yet. Watch this space🙂
Wow! That’s my dream, but I can’t do it because X…
It saddens me to find so many people so afraid of failure that they use excuses not to try things they would dearly love to try. Perhaps I’m not perceptive enough to see that these are really just conversation fillers, perhaps people don’t want to do them at all, they just don’t want to knock down our ideas; or perhaps they genuinely believe they can’t and just use excuses for why they don’t, I really have no idea.
If we, by all accounts the laziest two people any of our friends and family know can do this, then this will be a walk in the park for you. Stop not living your dream. If we can do it, anyone can do it.
“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”
– We Bought A Zoo