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.