After my Homegrown.org interview, I started snooping around all the other interviews to read their stories. A few really stood out to me as kindred spirits, including Desiree at Re-Grow Roots and Michelle at Dust and Wanderlust so I made contact. Luckily, nowadays making friends online has lost the scary vibe of AOL chat-rooms full of middle-aged mouth-breathers pretending to be teenage girls. Michelle responded and we’ve been chatting away ever since! She comes from a long line of strong, homesteading women – her great-grandmother, Elinore Pruitt Stewart, wrote a fascinating and hilarious book, published in the early 1900’s, called Letters of a Woman Homesteader (I’m currently reading it on my Kindle). Michelle is also an author, working on TWO books, as well as a busy mom/pioneer woman in her own right.
Below is a recent blog post (with photos) from Dust and Wanderlust, explaining why Michelle chose to return to her roots:
Why I Choose Simple: My Ode to Homesteading
I remember the time in my life when I had “good jeans” that didn’t have a speck of dirt on them and never had a knee in the mud. In fact, I remember owning not ONE pair of jeans that even saw dirt. I remember having almost all stiletto heels, with one or two pair of boots peeking out from the back of the closet. They were only chosen when fashion demanded it, never out of necessity. My yard was grass. My nails were clean without dirt embedded underneath. I looked forward to my weekends because they meant nights out, dressed up and shiny and somewhere nice.
Oh how times have changed. Luckily.
I came into the house today to peel a load of potatoes and check on my dinner before sitting with the family. But first, I had to scrape some mud off of my boots and scrub out my dirty nails from planting the lettuce out in the new garden, one out of four new gardens. In addition to gardens, we have nine new chicks and a brand spanking new coop, which is a new experience for us.
Tomorrow, I will start my day early. Packing lunch and sending the kids to school, then up to check on the chicks and water and feed them. Walk the dogs. Feed the cats. Work a full day at a sales job, luckily from home, so that at lunch I can make some soft cheese and a loaf of fresh and crusty bread. Water the potatoes and the blueberries, and check on the new seedlings.
Long gone are good jeans and a grassy lawn bare of garden flowers and veggies. Stiletto heels are almost completely gone, replaced by cowboy boots, harness boots and rubber flowery muck boots. My nights out are now more rare and more special, but I most cherish time spent on my growing homestead and learning new life skills. I am proud of my ability to make a quick cake from scratch or to share fresh preserves from my pantry with friends. I cannot begin to express my love of shiny mason jars filled with bright beans from my garden or berries picked while still warm from hanging on the vine in the sun.
After work, I will serve that homemade cheese and bread to my parents when they visit, along with a chilled glass of blueberry wine. Then I will prop up my muddy boots and stained jeans and smile. This is when I’m reminded of why I decided to commit myself to homesteading and a return to a simple and quiet life. When I get strange looks because of my passionate stand against Monsanto, when people giggle over frequently dirty behind or think that my old-fashioned skills are archaic, I try to make them understand. I try to get them to see through my eyes the beauty in a flower sparkling with rain or the delight in the smell of warm tomatoes and freshly baked bread. Then I remember that they too will find their bliss and their life path.
In the meantime, this is my blissful homesteading path. Muddy boots and all.
I can totally relate! While I think I still have a way to go to become a real-deal homesteader, I am definitely not the dressed-up NYC party girl that I used to be. I may still freak out when I see a spider, and get a little lazy sometimes when it comes to gardening, but I don’t mind muddy boots and have cultivated an appreciation for the small things in life.
On another note, In honor of her great-grandmother, Michelle proposed writing to each other via letter – that’s right, handwritten correspondence, pioneer woman style – and I jumped at the chance! I can’t remember the last time I took out a pen, sat down and wrote a well-thought out letter. I think it will be a good exercise for me. Many things in my life are happening at such a whirlwind pace, it will be nice to slow down and focus on developing a genuine relationship with another human being (not via facebook or email!). I’m much more interested in working on quality over quantity in my relationships right now. Which to me, is another aspect to homesteading – appreciating the good things that are in your life and cultivating those that make you truly happy. Now off to try my hand at bread-making….