Sunday, June 5, 2011

Discussion for Made from Scratch - part 1

The Polyface Farm Chicks' book club are reading Made from Scratch this month and next (June & July).  Jenna Woginrich has promised to drop by at some point during the next two months and join the discussions.  Here is the first discussion question. Even if you haven't started reading the book yet, this one is a great start!


The word "homesteading" often conjures up an image of a bucolic mountain (or valley) home on several acres of arable land, surrounded by a self-sustaining water system, contented farm animals, and a supportive community of fellow farmers.  Yet today's would-be farmer is often a young urban dweller living in a rented home or apartment within a city.

In your opinion is homesteading all or nothing?

What picture comes to your mind when you think of homesteading?

What does your current home place look like now? How could you make it more like a "homestead"?


Anonymous said...

Everything about my current home is geared toward being self sustaining. We paid cash for a travel trailor and moved it onto our land to save to pay cash for a house. We have gotten chickens and a small container garden. By next year, by house will be up and finished (no mortgage) and I will have acquired 2-3 cows. It is a slow process, but it is working. And it is all debt free. I eat my eggs and my chickens. What I don't have, I get from local farmers. SO....homesteading for me is being able to sleep easily at night knowing that I owe no one, and I am taking care of my family's physical and emotional needs. Nothing feels so good as going to bed tired, waking rested, and doing it all again. :)

Anonymous said...

I like to think of homesteading on many levels. When there's time I make soap, paper, wool yarn, pasta, granola, pesto, cookies and cheese from scratch. When I have to choose between spending 3hrs to make pasta and sauce from scratch or spend 3hrs on a bike ride with the family I opt for a quick meal of store made pasta and time with the family. It's really a balancing act of trying to fit homesteading in where you can while not feeling terrible because you used a shortcut. My hats off to those that can do it full time though!

Sheri said...

I agree with you (2nd comment). You can't feel guilty if you let go and do a short cut on something. Also, I'm not so sure that homesteading has to be an all or nothing thing.

I think to be a successful farmer where all of your money comes directly from the farm, then yes, you would need to be in all the way.

But to be a homesteader, living as much as possible off the land and living as green as possible, doesn't have to be a 100%. Being conscientious and starting with the baby steps is key. If you let it stress you out too much trying to do it perfectly, you'll never start.

Keep it simple. Keep it real. And most of all start it slow.
Just my opinion of course. What do you think?

cchemm2002 said...

I'm new, new, new to these ideas as I just read "The Omnivore's Dilemma" last month, which has set me on a reading binge to learn all I can :) While I dream of the day when homesteading can be more "all", the reality of my life right now (military family, renting a house, only one year left here) means that I have to do what I can with what I've got at the moment. Homesteading definitely conjures up the bucolic scene in my mind, but I'm excited to read books like Jenna's that encourage their readers to just get started no matter the circumstances. For me right now, it's joining the CSA, growing some herbs in pots out back, buying eggs from the farmer down the road, finding a pastured beef/chicken source, and reading everything I can get my hands on. My next project is some backyard composting. Looking forward to the discussion!

misskp said...

I used to think "romantically" about homesteading....Little House on the Prairie. Now, I drive home from my full time job and tend my chickens, turkey and organic gardens and feel like THIS is is part of my life, but is not my whole life. I am lucky enough to live at a time when I can pick and choose which steps I will take to lessen my family's footprint and to live a healthier, more self-sustaining lifestyle. Each year I declare the "Year of the....." this year it was chickens. Next year, bees. I feel good about my choices to use less and produce more. Love Jenna's book...inspiring for me!

Jenna said...

I think homesteading is a state of mind put into action. It's not about being a purist, or above conventional food: it's about wanting some of that control back and the ability to look at a backyard and know what's for dinner!

ooglebloops said...

Homesteading is what you can make it. In my mind, I picture Laura Ingalls and Little House on the Prairie!!! But with our 47 acres, I am slowly trying to convince my husband to help me make it a bit more self sustaining. I am working on getting chickens - got Jenna's two books - one on raising chickens, and also The Dirty Life, The Bucolic Plague, and a number of other inspiring books!

*~* Christina *~* said...

Homesteading is absolutely not all or nothing. Although there is such a romantic ideal when one thinks of a homestead (Jenna did an excellent job describing this ideal) the fact is that most of the time fantasy does not translate to reality.

My husband and I live on two city lots in a town of 60,000 people. On our two city lots we have managed to keep chickens, rabbits, goats, fruit trees, a veggie garden, and we'll be adding a small bee hive next year. I can our garden surplus, I quilt, knit, and sew, and my husband can fix anything and hires out his talents to the neighbors. On top of running our "front yard farm" my husband is a full-time college student, and I work 50+ hours a week from home as a private preschool teacher/daycare provider and attend college part-time at night online. Oh, and I almost forgot, we also apprentice on Saturdays with a local cattle farmer so we can learn about the cattle industry.

My husband and I believe in doing it NOW, no matter what. If we wait until we have 150 acres, a rustic farmhouse, 1000 chickens, 200 head of cattle, a big John Deere tractor, and $50,000 saved in the bank then we'd be 75 years old before we could start farming.

I'm looking forward to reading the other comments. :) Have a great day everyone!

Anonymous said...

I do what I can when I can. It is the most important to me to know that I am able to make things from scratch, garden, dry foods, sew etc. The more things I can do from scratch the more control I can have over our environment.
But I cannot do all of the homesteading activities all of the time. At different stages of life, I have been more or less involved in homesteading activities. When I was younger we had chickens and goats and gardened intensively, but now that I'm officially a senior citizen (with joint and mobility issues) I am focusing more on planting fruit trees, sewing and quieter skills.
As life changes I try to adapt to it in the most productive way that I am able. Homesteading skills really have enriched my life.

Marci said...

Homesteading also changes over time. You learn shortcuts that are helpful that you would not have dared try in the early stages. Also, your children grow and can help more or get married and move away and maybe you can't do as much as you used to. It is an ever changing dynamic. If you put hard fast rules on what it is and how it is to be done, it is a prison, not the joy and freedom that it is supposed to be.

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