Gardening

Last week I shared some thoughts from the first session of the “You Can Do It” Homesteading Conference I hosted in mid-February: “Why Homestead?”

The title of the second session was “Think Differently.” One would imagine in a room full of new and seasoned homesteaders, thinking differently would be a given. To some degree it is. Even in this gathering, whether we admit it or not, we all must contend with our own biases, our own desire for ease and comfort. This can cloud our thinking when we prepare for difficult times.

The basics

Apparently, when there is a threat of a snowstorm, the four basic needs are: milk and bread and milk and bread. Let’s not forget, the basic needs in a pandemic: toilet paper, paper towels, more paper towels and toilet paper. Why do people do this? It’s an effort to hold on to “normal,” protecting comfort rather than provisioning survival. Let’s consider four basics and address our own inherent normalcy biases.

Food

We all know this is a basic need, but what did you think of when you read the word “food”? According to Buddy the Elf, “We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.” Most non-elves would think of processed food, restaurant food and prepared food.

The lunatic homesteader would say whole, healthy, fresh, ancestral, seasonal, local food. And until that is in process and in the larder, hundreds of pounds of rice and dried beans is a great assurance to have tucked away in food-grade plastic bins or Mylar bags. Canned meats, canned vegetables, coffee beans (they store longer than ground coffee), salt and other food staples are all vital for provisioning a long-term, grid-down scenario.

I would also have in the food category another staple: water. If you’re looking at a possible rural homesteading sight, access to water (a well, a spring or even a pond or lake) is essential. Rain barrels and stock tanks are good, and let’s not forget methods to clean and filter the water.

Clothing

In the old TV show “Green Acres,” the opening credits shows the title character, Oliver Wendell Douglas, happily riding his tractor while wearing a suit. No. I have clothing that I wear just for my outdoor chores, from old, torn jeans to my Carhartt jacket, from coveralls for cold winter days to good, leather gloves. I also have butchering clothes (a canvas apron, a knife scabbard, old clothes), as these will definitely get stained and dirty.

Shelter

In case you are not aware, there is a movement of people, a migration that I am calling “metro-flight” (people leaving metropolitan areas and moving to rural homesteads). Many are attempting to match their previous gated-community lifestyle with a palatial house on 15 acres of landscaped beauty. Please don’t bring that nonsense to my rural community.

A shelter is exactly that: a shelter. Heat in the winter is necessary, but air conditioning in the summer is not. Basic. Simple. Easy to manage.

Please hear me on this: a “homestead” is not just a cabin on 12 acres in rural Indiana. A “homestead” can be a tri-level home in a suburban neighborhood with a backyard filled with beautiful raised beds, with a lovely composting system tucked away next to the pine trees and a wee henhouse and chicken run for the egg-laying hens.

“Homestead” is not a place. It is a mindset to bloom where you’re planted, to grow food and redeem the soil and to bless neighbors with wonderful gatherings eating delicious food. It is not what you have; it is what you know how to do and your willingness to do it.

Transportation

My Daddy set as the basic standard of transportation: “It gets you there and brings you back.” As much as I want to believe Jesus wants me to have a truck or a four-wheeler, it is not a necessity.

The point is, we have a “normalcy bias.” It fulfills our desires and meets our “comforts” more than our “needs.” In our modern church experience, one would imagine Jesus said, “Take up your comforts, and follow me.” Nope. “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?’” (Matthew 16:24-26 ESV).

I pray our desire for comforts never interferes with our desire for Christ.

To God be the glory!