Friday, April 5, 2013

Confessions of a Modern Homesteader

I just read Jill's post at The Prairie Homestead, where she talks honestly about all of her shortcomings as a homesteader. And it was inspirational... because it made me feel better about myself.

I hear a lot of "I don't know how you do it all" and even was recently called intimidating. Maybe it's because I use my blog generally to focus on positive things. But there is plenty of "dirty laundry" lurking on our homestead, too. I'm about as far from perfect as anyone can get, though sometimes I'd rather hide it. And to be honest, I look at other folks who live lives like ours, and I find them absolutely intimidating and wonder how they do it all. I spend most of my life feeling like a co-dependent failure instead of the self-sufficient homesteader I wish I was.

Here's why:

1. I keep the living room and kitchen of my house relatively clean, so that if company is coming I can have it presentable in about fifteen minutes. But if you come over, please, please don't look at the rest of the house. You might get lost under piles of dirty laundry or trip over scattered toys.

2. I also don't mop, unless the need becomes truly dire.. maybe once a month. Maybe not. So if you drop something on the floor, the ten second rule should not apply. 

2. I don't, in general, love animals. And I'm terrified of horses. I will admit that I've come to care deeply for our animals, but I'm not generally an animal person. I could do without anything that doesn't provide me with food. (The only exception is baby animals. If you don't love baby animals, something might be wrong with you.)

3. I love to garden, but sometimes I get overwhelmed. Like, I threw a temper tantrum and ended up crying angry tears in my garden last year as my husband looked on in bewilderment. It wasn't my fault, the weeds were taunting me and laughing at my pathetic attempts to keep them at bay.

4. I didn't clean out the chicken coop - not even once - all winter long. Finally got around to it this spring, at it was pretty gross. I also didn't shovel horse poo in the barn yard, but that's because it was frozen to the ground, so I have an excuse. (I've come to realize spring is the season for shoveling poo when you live in the mountains and have animals.)

5. I never water the house plants. They were my husband's before we married. I didn't come into this marriage with houseplants, because I'd never had any survive. "Have you watered the plants lately?" is heard with relative frequency around here, followed by my look of shame.

6. I don't iron (unless I'm sewing and need to press a seam.) If someone needs something ironed, my best advice for them is to take a hot shower and hang the wrinkled item in the bathroom with them. I also frequently wash whites last, and leave the load in the dryer so I don't have to fold them. I hate folding whites. If you need socks, go dig in the dryer.

7. My greatest parenting failure: I don't play with my kids. I just can't do it. I can throw a ball, push a swing, read a story with five different voices, I can create something out of nothing, let them help me cook and garden, go for walks or play board games... and I do all those things frequently. But I can not, for the life of me, sit down and make little animals talk and make Barbie dolls adventure around the play room. My imagination can do just about anything, but it shuts down when I look at a plastic replica of a thoroughbred.

8. We eat healthy all week long when we are at home and eating the food we've raised. And then, once a week, we eat McDonald's when we are in The Big City. I wish I had more willpower, but those fries really are the best fries in the world. I can't help it.

9. I take a nap at least three times a week. Right after lunch, when school is finished and I'd rather not be folding laundry, I call "quiet time" and make the girls read quietly in their rooms for half an hour while I catch a cat nap... that sometimes turns into an hour, if I was really exhausted. And I wish I could say I feel guilty for it, but I really don't.

10. I fix my hair exactly once a week, when I have to go to The Big City. Aside from that, it's lucky if I remember to brush through it before putting it in a pony tail. There are days - like yesterday, when my neighbor showed up unannounced - that I don't even get around to putting on a bra, brushing my teeth, and brushing my hair. To be fair, there is usually a reason... like a goat delivering twins unexpectedly... but that didn't happen until noon, so I'm not sure it really counts as an excuse.

11. I'm so terrified of wasps that in the summer, I only work outside before the sun comes up and as it's setting. Other than that, I stay in the house unless I absolutely have to go out. And once, when I found a wasp in the master bathroom, I shut the door and simply wouldn't use that bathroom until my husband came home to kill it.

12. I do manage to get dressed most days, but by "getting dressed" I mean grabbing a pair of jeans or overalls off the closet floor and putting them back on... for the third day in a row. My animals don't care what I look like, nor do my children, so I figure it doesn't matter much. My children can frequently be found in the barn wearing footie jammies and muck boots though... 

13. I know how to bake bread. I know how to make yogurt. But I'm also usually too busy to find the time. (Or just plain lazy.) I make both about once a month. Aside from that, I buy it at the store. I'm working hard to teach my daughters how to make these things so that I can delegate the responsibility, because I'd rather not do it myself good parents delegate.

So there's a little bit of my reality - the imperfections I don't tend to write about, mostly because I write this blog for posterity, I don't want my children to read them as adults and be reminded of all the ways I failed. But in case any of y'all think I "do it all", here's your proof that I don't.


Mama Kautz said...

You're supposed to clean the chicken coop in winter?
Great post! LOL At the no bra and 3rd day in jeans. Until we got animals it was sweats or pjs for me.

bammajan10 said...

Thank God! I was feeling kind of bad about not making gourmet healthy meals and not knitting my husband's socks. :-)
Seriously, we all do what we can. And you have a lot of things pulling you in a lot of directions. Someday your kids will say, "Gosh, wasn't it fun when Mom made us matching outfits?" They will never say, "Man, I had to find my own socks. Better call Dr. Phil."
You are making memories and that is so much more important than folding laundry.

Becky said...

THANK YOU! I can't play with my kids either!! But, we love to learn about nature together. You made me laugh - I am there with you! Love those goats!!

leavesheal said...

I don't do talking toys either.
It's OK to be the grown up on some issues ;-)
Playing is Hubby's job LOL! I send a kid to wash the stuffed animals when they've been out in that chicken coop that wasn't cleaned all winter :-P