Sometimes I feel like it takes awhile for me to realize the simplest things.
It totally freaked me out earlier this year when I became aware of a thought starting to form in my mind. It whispered to me at first and I shook it off, told it to go away. Not only would it not go away, but it started hollering at me until I couldn’t ignore it anymore.
What it was saying, was that I didn’t want a farm after all. That I didn’t want to be “the farmer” anymore. Like not even a little tiny bit.
I totally lost my crap.
It was spring when this happened and I was a hot freaking mess over it. I decided to keep the thought to myself, because you know, we’ve spent the last five years trying to make my dreams of having an organic farm come true. What would happen if I was wrong from the beginning? Would my wife totally freak out and leave me here with the farm, finally fed up with how often I change my mind about things? What the hell would I do with a farm that I didn’t want? So, I kept my mouth shut and just figured I was tired, overstressed, and really just needed a break. I’ve been dealing with so many issues with my physical health this year (this is a whole other story for another time), I figured I was just freaking out and that this whole feeling would go away when i started to feel well and like myself again. Months went by. My physical health continued to be a lot to handle and manage. And that thought, it never went away, it just got louder and more impossible to ignore. I didn’t want a farm… I didn’t want to be the farmer.
It was quite confusing, because I still loved our land and growing food, it just didn’t feel quite right somehow. Something just felt like it had shifted. It felt like I’d learned too much, too fast. About what farming really is and what that really means, about ecosystems, about regenerative agriculture, about permaculture, about our land and what it was capable of. Also, five years into owning our land, I’d learned so much about myself and what I really truly want. Learned so much about my wife and what she truly wants. I’d become aware of what we both want our lives to look like. It felt a little like that moment I think everyone has in college when you learn so much, that you learn how much you don’t know…. that you learn how far there is to go to get where you want to get to. And suddenly, I’d just realized that my big dream of owning a farm, of being a farmer…. just plain ol’ didn’t feel ANYTHING like I thought that it would. It just didn’t feel good or right to me anymore. I wanted to spend more time writing, making art, foraging, cooking, and doing all the other things I love to do around here. I no longer wanted my whole life to revolve around farming, because lets face it, in my personal opinion – if you have a farm, your whole life can pretty easily become consumed by it.
The definition of farming is “the business of growing crops and raising livestock to sell” and realizing that that didn’t feel good to me all of a sudden was ripping my heart apart. I mean, don’t get me wrong I think so highly of folks that choose to farm organically, it’s awesome work to be doing in the world–it’s just not for me. Finally, in early August, I broke down and told my wife what I was feeling. I couldn’t hold it in anymore. All teary eyed over it, I told her I didn’t know what to do. That I loved this land so much, but maybe we should just sell the farm and start over again somewhere. By the grace of all things holy, she didn’t get scared off or freak out. She just smiled and said it was okay, since that was never what she really wanted either. That what she wanted was a permaculture homestead. One where she could be as self sufficient as she could be. One where she could do all the many different things that hold her interest. Sure, she wanted to grow food, but she also wanted to grow supplies to make her art, grow firewood, grow skills, grow herself. I remember my mouth falling open. I remember wanting to holler “Duh” and wanting to slap myself.
It’s so funny how simple things are sometimes. It shouldn’t surprise me that when you are totally overwhelmed or don’t feel well physically, it can be difficult to grab onto those simple things that don’t feel quite right and give them a voice. The word homestead settled down into my heart and grew all warm and fuzzy there. That was exactly it for me too, I wanted a homestead way more than I wanted a farm. I wanted to live at a home, and not live at work. I wanted to be a homesteader, which to me personally, feels like a totally different thing than being a farmer. The definition of homesteading is “life as a settler on a homestead” and homestead is “a family’s house. adjoining land and outbuildings”. I love how nice and loose that is, how easy it is to tweak to our own interpretation. To me homesteading also means providing as many of your needs as you can yourself from your own land, from vegetables to meat to eggs to firewood to furs to income from your land to flowers to art supplies to keep you entertained to some serious life skills. It’s not just a business of selling farm grown foods, it’s a whole life system. It’s a whole lifestyle. To me it feels like it’s the entire ecosystem instead of just one piece of one.
The word homestead, it felt good. It felt right. It majorly helped me calm down about the whole thing. And, whew, it fit in. For us both, for our land. And we wouldn’t have to sell the 9.74 acres I love so much after all. A permaculture homestead. A permaculture homesteader. That’s what this land wants to be. That is who I want to be. It may sound like a silly little detail to other folks that I needed to make this distinction – but it was an important shift in thought for me. And I’m not scared to share that I made this shift in my mindset and in what I want my life to look like. That my dream from the beginning just simply evolved and got refined with time. I’m fine with just owning it. I think it is totally okay to grow and change. It might even happen again one day and I hope if it does, I’ll be even more fine with it then because of owning it right now.
Growing into a homesteader and owning a homestead, for me, is the system I’ve needed to design to try to get well. To lose the weight and keep it off. To detox my body off of some seriously bad eating/life/exercise habits and grow some better ones. To continue to try to manage my mental health. This homestead, it’s my gym, my grocer, and my therapist. It is one major thing that is getting me through as I continue to try to repair all the big and bad things that feel wrong with my body, as I continue to try to manage the physical pain I’m in a lot of the time. It helps me get through all the doctor’s appointments and tests I’ve had to endure this year. Seeing this land continue to heal is like magic to me. It is what keeps me tethered to the hope and faith that I will heal here too.
I don’t know if anyone has noticed that I’ve not been posting, sharing or blogging anywhere near as much this year as I had in the past – but I haven’t been. It’s because I majorly needed some “me” time. To figure out what I really wanted and who I really want to be. To write and take photographs for myself and no one else. To process through the biggest and most important five years of my adult life. To keep to myself and enjoy the amazing experiences I have here with myself, my wife and our close friends instead of sharing them with everyone. It was not the plan, it’s just how it shook out to be… that I just needed to take some time to deal with working on my body, some time to keep trying to figure out how to continue to heal. I’m so grateful that I took that time, that I made the space to do that….that I’m still doing it right now. It helped me realize something so simple, that I just wanted to come homestead. It helped me to let go of what was and is allowing me to embrace what is coming instead.
Anyway, I had been thinking about writing about this for the last month or so, mostly because I did want to share this thought. That change happens, that dreams grow and evolve into new dreams. And that sometimes, for me, the simplest change in a word or mindset, can make such huge shifts in how you feel or in where you are heading. I think it is a really good thing.
We didn’t know what the heck we were doing in the beginning, when we bought our land. We didn’t really know who we were or what we really wanted. I’m so glad that it only took us five years to figure it out. To sync up and find a path that works for us both. And that we cultivated the soil together to grow a homestead life. It just fits me, just like my very favorite pink work gloves do. I’ve come homestead, and I’m so grateful for it – there is nowhere else that I’d rather be.
Please bear with me while I make this mental shift to being a woman who homesteads, while I continue to figure out who I am! I need a new handle/nickname, I need to shift my words, I need to keep growing. I’m sure I’ll still say things about farming sometimes. I still write for women who farm. And, what we plan to do here on our homestead is still ultimately the same. Provide as much of our needs as we can for ourselves, try to inspire other folks who want to do the same, have women with big dreams of their own visit our homestead for a tour, retreat, or an immersion, sell our overflow produce and wild foods, and make art and crafts. Just hang tight while I start to shift my words and thoughts about y’all!