Thursday, November 15, 2012

Passing On a Passion for Homesteading

There are several reasons Mom wanted me to join her on Homestead Revival. One of her goals in writing this blog has been to pass down to me and my sisters all the information she has worked hard to acquire. She has definitely amassed an incredible amount of information, how to guides, and ideas in one place, easily referenced, if needed. 

The thing is... almost all of my mom’s projects have involved our entire family, bringing us closer together and gaining that hands on experience, so not only do we have a reference guide, but also real life lessons in beekeeping, sewing, and canning, just to name a few. Having grown up in this environment, I hope I've learned enough to start giving back myself. 

This leads to a specific reason for bringing me on board... I have a unique perspective as a college student, contemplating changes in my life and what the future holds for many of my generation. Unfortunately, many young adults are so caught up with the latest trends and fads that they are out of touch with the things that have worked for centuries. 

My goal is to reach those in my peer group and encourage a homesteading lifestyle. 

So this begs a question: 

What changed homesteading from mom’s passion to my lifestyle?

I believe in living in a way that is natural and compliments the surrounding environment, but I haven’t always cared. While conscious of the world around me, until I was about eighteen I didn’t see the point because in my mind, my lifestyle didn’t directly affect it. This changed when I started thinking seriously about stewardship. 

A steward is someone who is appointed for a time to manage another person’s property. Matthew 25:20-2 describes this relationship of the steward and the Master. 

“The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

I have been given much more than a few bags of gold to invest. I am responsible for my body, mind, actions, thoughts, the people under my direction, and the use of the skills I have been given. 

By caring for my physical well-being, I am conscious of the food that goes into my body. In stewarding my mind, I am aware of the thoughts and ideas that I harbor. In mastering forgotten skills, I try to learn them and share them with others, so they can do the same. Stewardship is a huge responsibility that helps me focus on those things that matter most.

Americans tend to think of everything in a very linear way. Life is all about going forward and never looking back. Because of this worldview, responsibility, integrity, and prudence are devalued while success at all costs is encouraged. People sacrifice health, happiness, family, friends, relationships, and valuable time striving after things that their peers deem successful. For being such a driven society, that is one vicious circle. 

In anthropology there is a second, more traditional, way to view time: cyclically. Everything is part of a cycle which will come back in time. This was originally observed in days, seasons, the moon’s phases, and the movement of the heavens. What was even more incredible was that those cycles moved in conjunction like the cogs of a clock. 

For example, in nature these cycles can be seen in food production... the ground feeds the seed which grows into food, animals and humans eat the plants, and the seeds are spread and fertilized through excretion. Our task is to steward this cycle so it benefits all of creation (or as much of it as humanly possible).

Unfortunately, our modern systems tend to disrupt these cycles. An example would be with genetically modified seeds whose plants compost into nutrient depleted soil while killing beneficial insects that consume the plant's pollen and nectar. Yes, this cycle has been corrupted. And as stewards of the land this should be unacceptable. Homesteading is a small way to start renewing the land and redeem the cycle to bring forth a better quality food product for my family and me to eat while giving back to the cycle that produced it. 

(Note: In the Bible, we see examples of both linear time and cyclical time. Both are part of God's divine order as are the cycles we see in life.)

William Shakespeare wrote, “And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything”. 

I learn more thinking about mountains, weeds, and starry skies than I do in most of my college courses. I love wondering into unknown areas, smelling trees and fresh dirt, and jumping into lakes. Here is where I experience each part of nature as it exhibits the attributes, presence, and providence of God. And as a result homesteading enables me to stay connected to creation and my Creator.

People like my mom, Barbara Kingsolver, and Joel Salatin all express the need to simplify and renew our food culture. This is certainly helped along by the aforementioned, but it also includes a philosophy to reduce our human desire to constantly make things more complicated than necessary just because we think we can build a better mouse trap (so to speak).

Simplicity is a companion to humility. If humility is having a correct view of yourself, then simplicity is having a correct view of the world around you. This view can be obstructed by things that detract from the cycles of living and obscured by unwarranted complications. For example... genetically modifying seeds, raising cattle in CAFO situation (concentrated animal feeding operation), and our insatiable desire for everything electronic certainly isn't simple! Nor does it feel humble in any way.  

I appreciate how the modern homesteading movement compliments the idea of simplicity. Centered around what is best for the family, homesteading honors and supports the institutions God set up in creating both marriage and family.
 It respects the cycles that God has ordained in nature. And it draws beautiful inspiration from creation. 


Besides Homestead Revival, I also write on my personal blog, To Live, Not Exist. The idea behind it was to consciously choose to do things that would grow, develop, and multiply the gifts I have and to encourage others to do the same. Many of the people my age are just coasting through life, unsure of themselves and what they are supposed to be because they haven’t taken the time to think about how they should invest their time. 

For a long time, I've wanted to deliberately live with purpose, so I went over seas, worked at several different jobs, and started to educated myself. All of these things grew me in various ways, but it was like an adrenaline rush, suddenly there and then gone. Homesteading, and the life principles that go with it, instill a constant and steady growth which bring me peace, consistency, and joy. Whether it is 
learning to make my own deodorant, butchering chickens, or watching the sunrise while I work in a tomato patch, I carry on this legacy of wholeness and community, living close to the land.

It seems Mom's lifestyle has become my passion.

How blessed is the man who does not stand in the path of sinners
Or sit in the seat of scoffers,
But his delight is in the law of the Lord
And on that law he will meditate day and night.

He is like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yield its fruit in its season
His leaf does not wither.
And whatever he does he prospers.

~ Psalm 1:1-3


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