Thursday, December 1, 2011

Is Homesteading Just a Hobby?

From the home-preserved bean of Green Bean.

It has been a busy fall.  A race against winter to get the garlic in, lay down the sheet mulch and plant the last of the cover crop.

Not everyone I know, though, feels so under-the-gun these last few months.  You mean you can host a play date?  You went to a yoga class or to work while the kids were are school?  You didn't need to run home to paint the chicken coop roof before the rain came?

Those of us who homestead - a sizable step beyond gardening to growing food, keeping some livestock and/or preserving the harvest for the winter - take our tasks quite seriously.  All spring, summer and autumn long, I keep a list on the desk and tic off the jobs as I go.  Put Coddling Moth Worm Traps on Apple Trees Before Bud Break.  Check.  Plant Pollinator Garden by March 15.  Check, check, check.  All the way to Process Green Tomatoes.  Check.  And figure out if it is too late to put in the potatoes.  Check.  

For nine months of the year, I'm trying to out-strip mother nature's clock.  As much as I enjoy doing all of this, I am motivated by something more than simple joy.  Planting, harvesting, and processing is an effort to feed my family food fit, well, for my family.  Food that is locally grown without a significant carbon foot print.  Food free from chemicals, preservatives and stuff that I can neither pronounce nor spell.  Inexpensive organic food.  Of course, the truth is, I could manage most of those things without homesteading.

Certainly, some people homestead because they have to financially. My family is lucky enough to be able to afford to buy food and to have access to a year round farmers market.  Sure, that would still leave the processing but last year, my CSA offered preserves from a local company as well as pastured eggs.  I could do that again and go on a walk with a friend instead of clean out the chicken coop.  

Perhaps, then, homesteading is just a hobby.  Many folks I know consider what I do as a hobby.  It is lumped in with scrapbooking, marathons and knitting.  Oh, wait!  The last is also a homesteader's skill.

But you get my drift.

Of course the doomer in me - yes, she does exist - thinks it wouldn't be a bad thing to know how to produce my own food if and when harder times come.  In the face of economic collapse or as the climate changes.  As food prices climb ever higher and as food becomes less and less food.

Maybe homesteading is not just a hobby after all.  Honestly, I don't know.  I only know that I can't stop doing it.

** I'm linking to the Homestead Barn Hop for this post.

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Erica/Northwest Edible Life said...

We looked at this issue, too, from a financial perspective. Something to consider when you are doing the hobby v. something more calculus.

dixiebelle said...

Oh, absolutely... but though it is a hobby that is all-consuming at times, it is one that can feed you & provide for your family! If we are going to 'neglect' our kids, or drag them along because of a 'hobby', I can't think of a better one for us to be involved in... and them.

Urban homesteading is more than just preparedness, it is about education, entertainment, satisfaction, contentment, increasing our skills and knowledge, family time, being good role models, community building, improved health, and of course, we feel it is a good way to lower the impact our lifestyle has on the planet too. How many hobbies can claim that!

becki said...

We would like to homestead as well... thanks for the post!

Stephanie G. said...

Ha ha! Doomer! My parents call my husband and I doomers. I'm right there with ya though. What's the harm in learning to be sustainable? It may very well turn from hobby to necessity in the blink of an eye!

farmer_liz said...

Interesting post, I live in a small country town where there's no way I could buy organic vegetables, meat or eggs, so the only way I can eat them is if I grow them myself. I think that makes it more than a hobby right? Not that I grow everything, we still buy chemical vegetables from the supermarket when there's not enough coming from the garden, but its a start. I think what might be a hobby now could be a necessity in the future, and then all those people who have wasted time doing other things will be struggling to learn what we already know.

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

Sounds like way more than a hobby to me. Sounds pretty all-consuming in fact, like a part-time job. Even if there is another way to get similar products, I always think it is valuable to know how to do it yourself!

Green Bean said...

@Erica - Love your guys' take on it. I'm sharing on my FB page.

@Dixiebelle - "If we are going to 'neglect' our kids, or drag them along because of a 'hobby', I can't think of a better one for us to be involved in... and them." Hear, hear!

@Becki- Thank you for dropping by.

@Stephanie - I agree. I hope it never becomes necessity but I wouldn't want to bet on it.

@ farmer_liz: I had to laugh when I read "chemical vegetables." That is what I call them too. I also love your parting sentence. So agree with you.

@Betsy - It certainly does feel like a part time job some days. :)


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