Learning to Discover Homesteading Family Values

homesteading familyAt any given time, we have something going on. It's just the homesteading family way. Three days a week it's swim practice. Twice a week the girls have after-school art club and glee club. Tuesday nights I teach night classes. The dump run is usually on Saturdays, though when it's really cold out I try and postpone it. 

Wendie has strict office hours from 8 to 4, and is either working from home or out meeting with clients. Sammy works three days a week at the bowling alley and is locked in to the Red Sox schedule once season starts. 

Homestead chores begin and end each day, with feeding the chickens to lugging in loads of firewood to washing dishes and folding laundry. Homestead projects projects somehow find the time to get done, and we always seem to need another visit to the grocery store for one thing or another. 

It can be overwhelming when you look at the big picture, but taken one element at a time, it's not bad at all. Sure there's stress. We're a homesteading family and that means a little more on our plates to accomplish, but we understand that this life is what makes us happy. Even when we aren't so happy.

Homesteading Family Values

homesteading family
If anyone told me when I got out of the Navy 20 years ago that I would be a college professor living on a homestead with the love of my life and four kids, I think I would have freaked out a little. There's a lot in that statement and trying to imagine the steps to take to get here would have just shut me down. I mean come on, that's a lot of work to cram into 20 years. College, family, planning, learning and still trying to figure out who I am? Jeesh.

I'm going to ask Wendie about her thoughts on this if I can schedule a time to squeeze it into a conversation.

The point is, we all have a thousand and one things going on at any given time. That mantra of 'keep calm and keep at it' works. It does. As long as we live in the moment and are mindful of where we are in space and time, life happens. If we're doing what we love, it happens in a good way. If we're not so keen on what we happen to be doing, it still happens though not in such a rosy manner.

Wendie and I have discovered that bringing in new ideas and fresh concepts into our homesteading family life is important. In fact, I don't think we could exist the way we do without finding new ways to live life and make a difference. In the here and now, we're working on reducing our plastic consumption. Our practices aren't going to change the world by themselves, but we can do our part. 

homesteading familyFor example, when I go to the grocery store, I won't use those ready-at-hand rolled bags for our veggies. We use recycled and reusable shopping bags now. I mean, when we get home the fruit and vegetables go straight into the counter baskets, so why use plastic in the first place? When I buy a Coke, I look for the tall-boy cans instead of a bottle. And you know what I discovered? They're cheaper by volume. I'm saving actual money by helping to save the environment. How's that for homesteading values? Practicing what we preach. Yeah.

Homestead Chores

homestead chores
Ok, so our approach to instill homesteading family values starts with helping the kids instill a work ethic. With practicing genuine empathy. With grasping the concepts of action and reaction, with cause and effect. We aren't a family that sets rules to be followed simply because mom and dad say they should be followed. There are reasons for the way we do things, and this is the overall lesson we want to instill. Wendie and I believe that understanding how the world works will encourage the best qualities in our children. To do this, we use chores as the tool.

If Carolyn gets grumpy at having to bring in a load of wood, we want her to understand that she is contributing to her family's comfort. If Elizabeth gets frustrated at having to put on her boots and parka to go feed the chickens at six at night just before the snow storm hits, we want her to understand how chickens metabolize feed to stay warm.

homestead chores
Sammy. Oh, that poor guy. We want him to learn to do for himself what he can, so all the other homesteading family lessons seem to fall on him. He's only a kid for a little while longer now, and there's so much left to learn. Whether it's helping me build beehives in the wood shop to learning to do laundry with his mother. I'm still trying to get him onboard with smart grocery shopping, so a few trips are coming down the pike soon. 

I think going above and beyond the little homestead chores into tasks that are a bit more hefty will pay off big when he's ready to go be his own man. I sometimes feel a little guilty asking because Wendie and I believe he doesn't want to say no to me as his step-father. That means he goes along with any hair-brained idea I have even if he has no desire to do so. I suppose the next lesson for Sam is learning how to say 'no.' There's value in that, too.

Homestead Income

homestead income
As a homesteading family, our focus is doing everything we can for ourselves. We hate having to spend money for something that we can't produce. It just seems a waste, though we get as much value out fit. Things like satellite tv for the kids, internet so we can make a living and propane to fire the oven and heat the bedroom downstairs. Our homestead income is more than sufficient for us, but watching it disburse is a little twinge-worthy at times.

The biggest thing we did in coming into our own as a homesteading family was to place value on what we create and nurture. Whether it is the chicken run, or projects from the wood shop business or even improvements around the house. We bought our property outright so any homestead income we make doesn't find it's way to a mortgage company. I mean, come on. A third of the money we spent on the mortgage on our urban homestead all those years was just for interest. Seriously? That much money as a fee for borrowing? No more and never again. Using credit is the surest way for a homesteading family to fail.

Our Homesteading Family

homesteading familySo, we have our issues. We don't always get along the way we should, and sometimes that means getting grumpy or testy and needing to find our own space for a time. There's nothing wrong with that. We rely on our values to keep things moving along, to keep us learning how to better love and respect each other. The great moments keep coming while the not so great ones come and go. We're a homesteading family and proud of it. 

Wendie and I are still a few years away from full retirement, and the kids won't all be on their own for another 10 years or so. We have time to improve ourselves and our community. Homesteading has taught us self-sufficiency not only in what we grow and raise, but in effecting how our children engage with the world. I think that's a pretty good thing.

We love sharing our lives with you all, and would truly enjoy hearing your perspectives. What is your homesteading family like? Is there grumbling and mumbling about doing homestead chores or is everything peachy keen, hunky-dory? Is your homestead income sufficient for your needs anyhow to you make ends meet? Let us know by joining the conversation below.