Monday, January 14, 2013

No imposters and no guilt

If it’s raining, you’ll probably find me (James) inside working on my non-homesteading chores. On sunny days, you may find me inside, but I’ll probably be griping about not being outside. This suggests another of those questions Karen and I have answered.

What’s the hardest part about living this way?

James: Feeling like an imposter. Many have told us they envy our lifestyle. Sometimes it doesn’t feel so different, such as when we drive our gas-eater to a big box store because it’s easy and convenient to buy things at one place, even though our tax dollars subsidize that retailer by paying “entitlements” to many of its poorly paid employees who can’t afford the necessities of life, such as health care. My self-employment allows me to live anywhere; does that count toward self-sufficiency?

Okay, in a way that’s probably avoiding the question. One of the hardest parts for me is living too far from the kind of musical events I most enjoy. We’re lucky to live where music is everywhere. Go to a party and folks are likely to pull out their instruments and begin to play. Classical concerts, opera, plays, and musicals take more effort. We don’t live that far from a vibrant town (Lexington, Virginia), but after a day’s work it can be tough finding our way there. Sometimes I wish I could walk just a few blocks to find a seat in a concert hall.

Karen: I don't know what James will think of my answer to this question because I don't think he feels this way. I'd have to say the hardest part of living this lifestyle is giving up some creature comforts. I'm no different than anyone else when it comes to wanting a little luxury. Don't get me wrong, not having to work an office job 9 to 5 is a luxury to me. What I mean is sometimes I think it would be nice to turn a furnace up to 70-some degrees so we could walk around the house naked if we wanted to and not feel guilty about it. I also feel guilty about using the dryer instead of hanging clothes on the line but that guilt must not be bad enough because I still use the dryer more than the clothesline. When I dream of building a barn in our field with a large kitchen attached for cheese making or entertaining I have to ask myself, why do I think I need more than I already have. I think I have a bigger case of the "I wants" than James.

So I guess my answer is Guilt. Feeling guilty for not always being as "green" as I should be.

James continues: Today, after taking our son’s car to Lexington and running back in a light rain, I plopped myself down to work on 1400 pages of new mortgage regulations. The only other thing I did all day, besides eat, was look at “Café Music” by Paul Schoenfield. In March, I’ll be going to “music camp” (as Karen calls it) to study this piece with a trio (me on piano, with a violinist and cellist). That’s about the time kidding season begins, so I’m hopeful Pessa will drop her babies before I go and the others will wait until I get back. Not much is more fun than watching goats being born and bouncing a few hours later.

Does this sound like homesteading to you? Look, it’s a system, centered on a piece of land. Everything has to go together – the people, animals, plants, soil, air, water. We’ve got to try to keep everything happy, perhaps especially the people.

I used to get frustrated at certain environmentalists who criticized other environmentalists for driving a car instead of walking or biking. We’re never going to agree on everything. We shouldn’t pick on someone else for doing things differently, especially when we’re striving in the same direction. It’s okay to patronize farmers’ markets and local food groceries instead of hoeing. We need each other. There are no imposters here.

1 comment:

  1. I really liked this post, probably because I feel the same as Karen. We produce much of our own food, (goat milk, cheese, veggies, eggs, mushrooms and the occasional chicken dinner)but I also feel somewhat imposter-ish. I like my comforts...we have a furnace, flat screen TV and satellite internet. I think these things are what really allow me to enjoy this life out here in the boonies so much. I feel like we are doing what we can to have a more sustainable life that meshes with this stage of our life. We tend to live our lives with the seasons.