If there’s one question I’ve always dreaded it’s, “So, what do you do?”
When the kids were younger it was easy; “I’m a Mum, a Home Maker, a (shudder) Housewife”.
Then I dabbled in writing for a bit and grandly called myself an author but I always felt a bit of a fraud (three kid’s books is hardly Enid Blyton or J K Rowling). A place on the local Music School committee catapulted me into the role of Director as these things have a habit of doing, but it always felt like I was role playing, and then temporary reprieve arrived in the shape of Farm Girl (phew) but now I’m back to the big question, again.
“So, what do you do?”
But I’ve finally sorted it, and myself, out; I’m a Homesteader.
Usually people say “Oh!” or “Wow!” and then the conversation rambles off down another avenue (Did you watch The Crown/Tiger King/Jacinda on whatever-she’s-been-on-lately, something Covid related, or (as a last resort) what about this crazy weather – which it has indeed been – two days nudging 40 degrees C, one of torrential downpour; I could go on…) but at a recent in-town appointment I was brought up short by the response: “So, what’s that?”
Totally taken by surprise, I rambled about growing our own food, lessening our environmental footprint, and general self sufficiency, thus leaving myself wide open for the whole The Good Life (Good Neighbours in the USA) reference Do-You-Make-Peapod-Wine ho! ho! ho! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I loved that show, it’s probably partially responsible for my belief that goats can live in a suburban backyard, and, if we’re talking roles here, I’m over the moon to be cast as Felicity Kendal, but it did leave me feeling like a bit of a silly joke. So, after much mental stop-rewind-replay I’ve come up with something which may or may not make me feel a little more valid.
Our style of Homesteading is like that of a small scale Farmer except we don’t make any money; it’s not a business.
I spend my days tending and harvesting fruit, vegetables, and animals for our table and freezer but have no desire to set up a stand at the end of the driveway. I get a huge buzz out of tucking the seedlings grown from seeds I saved from the best of the previous harvest into little holes lined with a handful of Homestead compost and a chunk of our own sheep’s wool, in one of our ramshackle vegetables patches that will never feature in any gardening magazine. Being meat eaters, I take pride in tending our own sheep, goats, chickens, and pigs; It resonates with my history and where I come from. When the birds hit the fruit trees, I know it’s time to get out the preserving jars; in September I ring the Shearer, in December the Hay Guy. I keep the home, attend the needs of the Homestead fleet, feed everyone, fight an ongoing battle with keeping the algae out of the pool, and attempt to instill manners in one over-enthusiastic bundle of lovin’ Labrador.
All this makes me incredibly happy (most days) and I’m lucky my family sees the value in what I do even if I don’t bring in a pay cheque.
Yep, I’m a Homesteader.