It’s nearly a year since we departed on our mammoth journey across the United States and an incredible year it has been.
Now I’m going to be honest… there were a lot of things about America that we really did not like: the religious extremism which is accepted as the norm; the wacky politics resulting in mind boggling social division; the racism; the consumerism and appalling culture of waste. All these things made us thoroughly glad to be British as we welcome being stereotyped at that.
That said, America is a truly conscious expanding experience and we loved so much of the vast, diverse, welcoming and beautiful country. And we had experiences there which we so deeply appreciated and loved that we are now incorporating them into our own lives. And I’m not just talking about the American fridge I bought complete with ice dispenser for the copious amounts of ice tea I now drink, or the American coffee maker I set on timer for after the school run, or the ball jars that we had shipped over and use now for anything and everything, although all those things definitely enhance my day to day life, God Bless America!
While we were travelling we volunteered with two families in particular who were living in a way which inspired me. The Scott-Pelman family in Washington and the Sabo family in Montana welcomed us onto their farms and introduced us to the American way of homesteading. Homesteading is a much bigger thing in America than it is here – we would call it smallholding or living self sufficiently. To do it properly here is considered a pretty unusual lifestyle, almost stepping out of society and into the world of “hippies and dreamers”. It’s an all or nothing… you’re either living the extreme lifestyle or you fit in and get a nine to five job and shop at one of the major supermarkets. There isn’t much of an in-between, although we attempted an in-between with our small scale farm that demanded such long hours marketing and selling our produce that there was little time left to enjoy it.
But in America self-sufficiency is a respected and normal lifestyle… homesteading is what the country was built on and many families living modern lifestyles are only one generation removed from their homesteading grandparents. They also do it in a much more effective way, canning their products for storage in larders and not batting an eyelid at milking a cow every morning. Okay, so part of their love of self sufficiency is due to their major paranoia about an apocalypse which, stemming from the cold war, is continuously fuelled by the aforementioned religious extremism as well as the government’s scaremongering billboards across the nation reminding citizens that “Winging it is not an emergency plan… what will you do in a disaster?” Remember folks… have a shit load of tinned food, hand guns and matches cos that will really help you when Yellowstone blows… honest!
Anyway, I’m a huge fan of apocalyptic literature so I’m all up for having a plan and making sure I can survive without supermarkets, electricity and running water… even if I do think it’s an utterly futile exercise, so what if it’s fun? I love imagining a born again virgin world with hardly any humans left. I think about which vehicles would be best to stock up and how to store the fuel and tires to ensure they run until I’ve figured out horses or dogs or something, I’d suspend the tires obviously……. I’ve rather gone off on a tangent here… back to the point.
I’m buying a cow. I’m going to milk her and yes we’ll drink it raw. I can already make seriously good yoghurt thanks to Cory’s instruction at Swinging Bridge Farm and I’ll figure out cheese, cream and butter before long thanks to Ashley we met at the Sabo Ranch and her great blog. We’ll be hosting wwoof volunteers again soon which will allow for our ongoing mini adventures and my rather demanding dedication to the HG Community. We’ve also got new chickens arriving tomorrow and some piglets at the weekend.
We’re not doing it in a commercial way as we did before, we don’t need to with our low cost home, both earning, childcare costs now reducing and self sufficient for much of our food… this is for us, it’s where we started and are now returning to. We’re homesteading, providing our children with quality home grown nourishment and an understanding of where it all comes from. Plus they’ll gain useful skills like milking a cow and shearing a sheep and shooting a gun (actually Alfie can already do two of those things) so that should the apocalypse happen in their lifetime they’ll be just fine.