This is one I’ve been thinking about writing for awhile–because it is exactly what I am around here. And I didn’t always see the value in it until the last year…. but I sure do now.
I’m the one that cooks. That cleans. That does the laundry and dishes. I’m the one that gets up twice a night to keep the wood stove in the house stacked up and I keep the cooking fires going. I keep the outdoor kitchen and areas around the house as tidy as they can be on a farm. I fill the water jugs and split/stack the firewood up inside the house. Spring to fall, I tend the kitchen gardens and do all our food preservation. These days in winter, I slowly work on chipping away at the decorating bits of this foreclosure to farm house remodel we live in. I’m awake and doing these these housewifey things before anyone else has even thought of stirring in the mornings. Consequently, I am also usually dosing off before anyone else in the evenings…. but it is rare that folks wake up around here to not find coffee, tea and breakfast ready to be stumbled to. And I just love that.
I also work a couple jobs off the farm… so the real question is–why didn’t I always see the value in my role here, even when I love it so? Why did I think I had to also learn to be a builder or a person that was into primitive living skills in order to truly fit in on this homestead? Why was I not finding value in filling bellies and mason jars? I have no idea.
Last week I was dealing with some things and had to step away from the homestead bit more than usual. I came home one day to find a very pale and even hungrier Forager. After a few probing questions it became clear that nothing besides coffee had been consumed in the time I was gone. I quickly cooked her a big ol’ breakfast in the middle of the afternoon. She laughed and said, “Jeez, what a mess I would be if you weren’t here! I’d just be laying in the road under a new terrace mumbling about having not drank any water for days…. and starving to death. Hmm, I just realized you keep the fire going inside too. Dang, I’d also freeze. I really need you here, you know.” Having been fed and watered at this point, she skipped back off to her terraces–looking a few shades closer to normal than she had when I arrived. I swanny, that woman’s work ethic sure is something else.
I sat down, hard, on the porch couch. Something that had been dawning on me for the better part of a year hit me with full force–the value in what I do here. The value in what all the homestead housewives I know do.
We are the ones that keep eighteen plates spinning on sticks on our homesteads. We’re feeding and care taking our families. We are raising amazing little humans…. or ridiculously adorable little dogs in sweaters. We’re making sure everyone has clean socks, puts warm clothes on, drinks enough water, takes their vitamins and eats their vegetables, and has a made-up bed to crawl in when the day is done. Most all the ones I know are also working jobs to buy those socks and vitamins our families need. We’re always learning, growing, getting more efficient at our housewife work and being as adaptable as we can be. That means now I know, if I have to go off again–I best leave pre-fab mason jar meals about that don’t require heating… in order to not return home to find a famished forager.
I can’t count how many visitors that have come through and asked, “So what do you do around here?” (They don’t have to ask the Forager, she’s usually standing out there swinging a sledgehammer, so her answer is obvious.) I always used to fumble over an answer and focus on the fact that I work jobs off the farm and she works here. I’d just leave the housewifey bits out and try to show them in action–by the quality of the cooking and coffee being ready when they awoke on the farm–and would hope they would notice what I do here. A few weeks back a friend that visited us turned to me while I was making dinner and said, “Man, you’re such a housewife!” It’s so true, so for the first time – I took it as a totally awesome compliment and just said, thanks – I really do love to cook.
It is a hard and very often thankless job that no one else wants to take on–and man, I see the value in it now, in such huge ways. I see my homestead housewife friends and how crucial they are to their homestead and family’s progress. I see it in myself. We are the lighters of the fires, fillers of the freezers, changers of the sheets, and doers of the farm laundry–what a bold and brave bunch we are. (Bold and brave might seem like strong language for a housewife… but if you had seen “farm laundry” before – you wouldn’t think so) So to my homestead housewife brethren, know this. There is so much value in what you do. And the only one that really needs to see that…. is you.
There’s that coffee and breakfast bit I mentioned–it fuels this farmer, forager, and their friends quite nicely! (Well, except no more coffee for me – I finally got off it last fall and am safely a tea girl this days)
Nothing says you love your people like a good chili, stew or soup that you tended all day!
+ finally, my favorite new simple recipe from 2015 – butternut squash fries cooked in coconut oil. omg they are so dang good.