Monday, 4 August 2014

The lonely homesteader

I promised to tell the truth about homesteading in this blog, the good, the ugly and all the bits in between. Well there comes a point in every independent homesteaders journey, when you realise you are for all intent and purposes, on your own.

I have always hoped that when my home among the gumtrees was completed, that it would be filled with the people that I love. A bustling hive of warmth and activity, with friends and family visiting from afar or neighbours dropping by. The actualisation of this project is so far away in my future that I had never really questioned it further. 

But apparently this is not an original fantasy for modern homesteaders, and it's not always one that gets fulfilled. 
After one of many late night conversations with my good friend and fellow homesteader Costa, we discovered that we had more than a love of draft horses and bee hives in common, we where both incredibly lonely. 
Costa had been particularly unlucky, having started his homesteading dream with his long term partner. Who decided months ago, for several reasons that she just couldn't continue with the project anymore and left him holding the feed bag. I had experienced something similar a few years previous, when my homesteading dream was still in the conceptual stages. 

We discussed break ups the way people normally do, with sympathy and hope, and I made the comment that Costa still had plenty of friends who loved him. 
That's when he dropped the bomb, not a single one of his friends had made the journey out to his property to visit him. When he questioned them on it, they had responded that moving away from the city had just made it all to hard, that it was too much effort to drive the hour and a half outside of the city to visit him.

Suddenly alarm bells started ringing in my head, majority of my friends live in the city. Even Meep who had made this sea change with me, has recently moved to Melbourne for a fabulous job opportunity. I realised that while these friends supported my choices, many of them didn't exactly understand the life I've chosen to live. I spent a week rethinking my decisions, for the first time since I started this journey I really questioned if I was capable of doing all this on my own. 

Are we the modern day pioneers? Awakening a way of life, long forgotten. Or are we crazy? Idealistic fools, trying to live a wilder life in a world that has moved past us. 
Can friends and even family that don't chose the same life, ever really understand? 
I thought for a while that I hadn't committed myself to anything yet. If I wanted to I could still turn around, go home to the city, get my old office job back and fall back into my old life. But I couldn't unlearn all the things that homesteading has taught me. I could never give up the passion I feel when my hands are buried in the earth digging out new potatoes, or planting new seedlings. I didn't want to give up the freedom I feel when my property produces the food on my table. 

I want to feel the exhilaration of watching a new born animal come into the world. And I want to be strong enough to be there when my crops fail or my animals sicken. Like so many before me, who held their world together with bailing twine and a prayer and never asked for more. I want live a life that is filled with practical skills, with beauty and misery and everything else that comes with it. 

 Photo Credit; Kym Hepbourn

I don't want a life of 'stuff' that is made in China, pumped and churned and packaged for me. I want to know that if and when I have a family of my own that they are going to grow up healthy and happy, breathing fresh air and eating real food.
Maybe that makes me crazy, maybe I'm an idealistic fool and the world is moving past me, but I think that's going to be okay with me.