Homesteading Requires Seven Virtues to be Successful.
I once bought a book called “Homesteading in the 21st Century”. The authors are our age but have been doing it since the 1970s. I gave the book to my daughter when she and her husband got an acre of land and chickens. However, I always remembered one page in that book and had her take a picture of it for me to share some with you. It is called the Seven Virtues of Homesteading. Once I read them, I realized that we had our own virtues. We changed the last four virtues to fit us better. You may identify with these or find some of your own.
Virtue 1. Resourcefulness
This is where the Source of the Problem becomes the Seed of the solution. We look for lumber, fencing, bricks and other useful items anywhere we can find them. We learn to join items, make items, We look on YouTube and magazines and Pinterest for ideas. We are always searching, observing, and learning so we can make the most of what we have.
Virtue 2. Fearlessness
Not so sure we are fearless yet. There are still plenty of things that scare us or at least cause anxiety. Snakes and us will never get along. Spiders are huge here is Missouri. If a person stands in one place too long, he will have a spider web built on him.
We do have a certain amount of fearlessness or we would never have started this in the first place. We are not afraid to be financially poor. We are not afraid of hard work, or long hours. We are not afraid to try new things. We are not afraid to jump in with both feet into raising an animal or trying a new crop to grow. We are not afraid to ask for help.
We were not afraid when we moved to a new state where we did not know anyone and bought 15 acres and starting living.
Virtue 3. Equanimity
This word means mentally and emotionally stable even under strain. Calmness or equilibrium.
On any given day a homesteader can go out and find an animal down or dead. Predators are real. Illness is real and sometimes our lack of knowledge can cause death. On days like this, it is important to keep perspective, lean on each other, remind yourself why your started this. What was your reason? Does that event prevent your reason from happening or just set it back a little.
Droughts will come. Rain will come in a deluge. All kinds of unexpected things happen. If we scream and cry and want to give up every time something happens, we will not have our homestead very long.
Learn to value the emotion it brings and be mentally well enough to continue on.
Virtue 4. High tolerance for frustration because of lack of money
We know we do not have enough time to get everything done on our long lists, but we feel we could get more done if we had more money. Perhaps you are one of the wise ones who planned everything out, saved all your money and now you get to live your dream with an endless supply of money to build your homestead. That is not us.
We raised a large family, did not save like we should have and are living on what we can make along the way. This is our biggest frustration because we are not able to have the money necessary to accomplish the projects that need to be done, when they need to be done.
Fencing, feed, animals, soil and soil amendments, and an endless list of so many other things. These items are at the mercy of the dollar bill.
Virtue 5. Make your own entertainment
In the 1970s we became John Denver fans. I mean really. Every album. Went to his concert. Sang every song and know every lyric. One of his songs goes like this.
Blow up the TV, throw away the paper
Move to the country, build us a home
Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches
Try and find Jesus on your own.
How close to those lyrics we have come is quite amazing, but we did find Jesus long ago in church.
We do not have time for TV or much entertainment. We love movies but there is seldom one worth driving to the next city to find. We laugh when the phone company calls up and makes us an offer on TV and we tell them, we don’t watch TV anymore. There is nothing they can say to combat that argument.
There is always a long list of things to do. Many of those things are mundane. Everyday 365 days a year, the animals need taken care of. They need care if it is a holiday or if we are on vacation. They need feed, shelter, water and companionship.
Every day we get up and do the same chores, but somehow to me they do not seem boring. Each day can be new with those unexpected opportunities to change the routine.
Vacations require an extra person to be around to care for animals and crops in our absence.
We do not feel like we are lacking entertainment. With our YouTube community, our physical community with church and our town we do not lack for entertainment. We have friends, are socially active, take trips for family needs, and feel as though there is a great balance in our lives. We are glad we blew up the TV and when we want to or find the time we can still watch an occasional movie in the privacy of our own home.
Virtue 6. Be In the Moment
We have found that we must always be aware of your surroundings. We need to be aware of what is going on, be in the moment. Animals are animals. They can turn on us. They can run or do something to get hurt or hurt us. They require our full attention.
Our garden requires our attention. We are mindful of caring for living things and a garden is a living thing. It requires water, weeding, and nourishment.
When we are using equipment, we are mindful of what we are doing. Wearing protective equipment for your eyes and ears is a requirement. Having our mind on what we are doing and consciously being there keep us safe.
Virtue 7. Contemplate and Enjoy
On our homestead we have a standing rule. When one of us calls the other to come see something in nature, we drop what we are doing if we can and run to see it. Nature is fleeting. A sunset or sunrise does not last. Watching it happen fills the soul with gratitude and joy.
Taking time to sit on the porch and listen and ponder is an essential part of emotional wellness. Taking time for a walk or eating a bowl of fresh berries and cream cause the mind to relax. Contemplation of life, chores, accomplishments and goals become clearer when we take time for the more relaxed side of life.