Good afternoon. It’s February and the past few months have been a blur. I’m not sure if it’s my perception as I approach middle-age or just the everyday reality of having 4 teenagers (well, one ALMOST teen and 3 full blown teens), but time really does fly by. I get a little nostalgic sometimes… ok, quite a bit I guess. Technology makes it easier. Daily I have Google and Facebook reminding me of things that happened on this day, the past few years, so I can easily see how much my kids have grown in such a short period of time. Even the picture over to the left is from almost a year ago now, while we went on a much-needed vacation.
Vacation? What is that you ask? How do you get away from the Homestead and go on “vacation”? Who is going to feed the woodstove to keep the house warm and keep the pipes from freezing? Who is going to feed the animals? Who will carry water and chip out the ice to get fresh water? Who can I trust to take care of the rabbits, to run off neighbor hood dogs, to run the lines for tapping maple trees? Who is going to split the firewood, mend the fence or milk the cows or goats? Who can take a vacation? …and that’s a good question.
I understand that this article may not get read at all, because it’s been a long time since I’ve actively participated in my own website here, but some of you that DO READ it, you may have some feeling that I’ve “sold out” or you may be disappointed that I’ve given up. Although we have made what I call a “Homesteading Realignment”, we are still serious about Homesteading.
You may have been a reader of my blog years ago “The Hill at Oso Lago” (I’ve got it all archived and may post it and link it here sometime) that chronicled our move from Ohio to Northwest Pennsylvania. We came over here to plant a rural church, to joyously expand our homesteading and self-sufficient horizons and to be part of the local community. You’ve seen a lot of our activities and homesteading projects. You know that we had several writers here on www.themodernhomestead.com and also had a linked forum. Many of you may know me through the years from Homesteading Today (for over 15 years now) and some of you may even have been to homesteading events that I’ve sponsored at my farm when we lived in Ohio. You know this homesteading stuff pulses through my veins, so although we haven’t given up homesteading, we have taken some time to do a realignment.
Our realignment really is driven by a few things in our life. One thing is limited time. I work a full-time job, I’m a full-time church planting pastor and I’m a full time husband and father. The reality is there are only so many minutes in a day and so many things that you can do in your life. We all have the same amount of time every day to accomplish what God has set us on this earth to accomplish. As I reviewed where I was spending some of those minutes, I saw that my children had some different needs coming up in their life. I’ll talk about some of those things in upcoming posts, but college is among those needs as well as some bedroom walls. If you know about our previous homestead, then you know that our house was slightly under 1000 square foot and that there were six of us living it. The kids rooms were open lofts on either side of the kitchen/dining area. We had one bathroom. Now, this is definitely going to be one of those “first-world” problems that you read about… but 4 teens and 1 bathroom just got to be a point of tension. We DON’T live on the side of mountain with little contact with other people. We have places of employ, schools, sports, church, counseling, and an everyday worldly reality that we live in. There are some societal expectations of cleanliness, not smelling and appearance. So that was an area that we wanted to realign on. We wanted a second bathroom. We actually UPSIZED.
Another area of realignment was wood heat. We have heated with wood exclusively for over 12 years. I grew up heating with wood. I’ve cut, carried and stacked a lot of wood in my lifetime. Definitely more than most keyboard homesteading purists. I don’t hate it. I actually do enjoy the warmth of a wood burning stove. The new homestead, in fact has two fireplaces, but here’s a guilty secret… we haven’t used them yet. We have natural gas and a forced air furnace. Although I don’t like paying the gas bill, I DO enjoy the ability to go away for a day or two and not be concerned about whether my pipes are going to freeze up and break. I like cleaner air in my house and far cleaner floors, and I love how much less dust there is. Like most things, there are trade-offs. I have plans to install an air-tight fireplace insert to supplement the gas and as a back up heating source, but right now, we’re just taking a thankful little break from chopping, stacking and carrying wood.
Now before you go all indignant on me and tell me why I need to be living in a 120 sq. ft. “tiny home” and that I’m “not a real homesteader”, let’s make an agreement about the definition of homesteading. Ok, here’s the first (and most important) statement… you don’t get to define the term. Remember this is THE MODERN HOMESTEAD. I’m not seeking to roll everything back to 1862 (ps, if you don’t know the significance of that year, definitely don’t lecture me about homesteading purity). Homesteading has different goals and commitments for different people. I’m not married to a definition of what “TRUE HOMESTEADING” is. I cheat around the edges of the definition and flirt with a lot of different things. What I mean is this… my happiness in life is not based on how pure of homesteading enthusiast I am. My happiness is founded on Jesus and revealed in relationships and fulfilled through obedience to God. He allows me to things I enjoy, but if it becomes number one to me, it becomes an idol. I reserve unchanging commitment to God and my wife.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a TON of new projects lined up here at the new homestead. You’re going to love them. They will help you become more sustainable, more efficient, more deliberate and more free I believe. I’ll have a post about upcoming plans and you’ll get a chance to see videos also. I’ve got a lot to say and do and I’m hoping I can be helpful. I’m sure you’ll disagree with me and we may have some good discussions on things. I’m no professional… more on that later, but I like to learn. I’m inviting you on our realignment effort and journey to learn with us.
I’ll talk more about the realignment in the future, I’m sure, but for now… Happy Homesteading and Go Bless You.