Why would you want to raise meat rabbits? Just go to the grocery store and buy chicken instead.
Is having a goat really worth all the time you put into it?
Having your own chickens has to be more expensive than just buying eggs.
Gardening is a lot of work. A can is cheaper, anyway.
Yeah, why the heck are we bothering with all of this stuff, anyway?
(Disclaimer: I am always slightly annoyed by defining what we are doing as “homesteading.” I think it’s a catch phrase and I don’t like labels. But it’s a lot easier than writing, “Why Bother with Growing a Garden, Raising Animals, and Actively Participating in Your Food Production?” Okay, I can stop squirming now.)
Truth is, it’s NOT easier to raise animals, grow a garden, milk a goat, keep a chicken coop, etc. We spend hours each week working on preparing, collecting, cleaning, preserving, and caring for each one of our multiple projects. My hubby slaves away at putting in the garden each spring, and I call canning my full-time job (quite literally) in the fall. And on top of it all, I still have to go to the grocery store on a regular basis, because I’m just not awesome enough to not need to go- yet.
No, it’s definitely not easier than just having a shopping trip.
Is it any cheaper? Some would say no- that organic feed, the price of materials for housing animals, and the cost of fertilizer for your garden are all prohibitive. If nothing else, certainly it’s not worth all the time you put into it.
But I firmly believe that you can do most of your homesteading activities for free or very cheap if you’re willing to wait long enough to find the materials to get started. I know we actually do save a boatload of money by doing it ourselves- and that’s the first of the main reasons we started.
We used to buy from a local low-cost food program that served up a lot of highly processed options for little money. I’m not bashing programs that feed low-income families- we truly needed it for a time- especially when we didn’t have the knowledge, time, or abilities to be taking more responsibility for our food production. But we eventually realized that if we wanted to afford more nutritious food, we had to do it ourselves.
So we started a “real food” journey about three years ago, working intentionally to put better food into our bodies for less money.
But it’s not just about saving money. The second reason we’re doing this is that there’s something deeply satisfying about knowing where your food comes from. To go outside quickly while your butter is melting in the skillet to gather some wild greens for your morning egg. To shake up homemade butter from the cream of the goat you milked yourself. To open a jar of tomatoes that your husband started from saved seeds, that he planted in the garden, that you watched and watered and picked pests off of all season, that you harvested with your son, that you took inside, washed, blanched, peeled, and packed into hot, sterilized jars, that you sealed in the canner and listened for the “pop” when it was done… and then you open it, smell it, and truly savor eating it.
The third reason is that this type of life is good for us. It builds character. It makes you have to work harder, even when you’d really just rather be a bum because you’re exhausted and NO, you don’t want to think about the pile of fresh strawberries in the fridge that need to be preserved NOW or they’ll go bad and your $40 of picking will go down the drain.
(This picture is what’s left after four or five hours of preserving the rest of the berries we picked.)
But not only does it make you work harder- it makes you grateful too. You are more thankful for every scrap of food on your plate because you worked hard for it. You really hate wasting food because you know what went into it.
It also makes you humble. You realize that you can’t control everything. Sometimes you lose a runt plant to a bad storm. Sometimes you are fighting with a stubborn goat who would rather join Riverdance than give up her milk. (Though I hear its not just our goat who doesn’t want to be milked.) Sometimes your tomatoes get blight and you can’t recover the end of your crop. A Farmish Kind of Life wrote in this post that “you can’t tame a farm. But a farm can tame you.” While I don’t own a full-functioning farm, I couldn’t agree more. Working the earth and caring for animals somehow has a way of putting you in your place.
I always think it’s interesting that in the creation story, God tells man to subdue the earth and care for it- and how it’s only after the fall that it becomes toil for him. Maybe tending the land is actually supposed to be good for us.
We’ve got a lot to learn, and we’re certainly not perfect. We aren’t model homesteaders/farmers/what-have-you. Most of the time we have no clue what we’re doing. But it’s fulfilling to participate in caring for the earth and your family. It’s a beautiful thing to see the turning of the seasons and the repetition of life cycles. It tempers you, and makes you thankful.
Is it hard? Yes. Is it good? Yes. Is it worth it? Yes. That’s why we bother.
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