The world is a mess. The climate is beyond repair and all we can do now is wait for disaster after disaster to destroy us. All of our institutions are so completely fragile that the next big event might mean the end of our entire way of life.
If you really believed that, would you be spending your time reading this website on how to homestead?
The Practical Optimist
OK, you might be worried. And yes, there are things to worry about. But if you are interested in becoming a homesteader, then you must be an inherently optimistic person.
You are probably also a practical person. You know that big changes are coming in your lifetime. And you’d rather have a bit of control over the outcome.
Being willing to believe that potentially difficult changes are coming and taking practical steps to improve your chances by homesteading are completely compatible beliefs. However, thinking the world is ending and nothing can be done about it, then trying to homestead anyways is pretty much the definition of crazy.
This point is important because I don’t want you to waste your time on something you don’t believe in. If you really believe the worst, if that intro paragraph rings absolutely true, then please stockpile, focus on your survival skills, and get your shelter in order.
But if you really are a homesteader at heart, own the fact that you are also an optimist. It will make this process a whole lot easier because optimism is actually a necessary skill in homesteading.
Think about it.
Early homesteaders literally set out to live in places that were absolutely inhospitable to human life. They were starting new lives on tracts of land that were wild, desolate, isolated, unpredictable, and unquestionably dangerous. Many homesteaders had few skills to speak of and even fewer possessions.
The Glass Is More Than Half Full
It is really important to get your head around this idea of optimism being necessary because successful homesteading requires that you see possibilities other people don’t see.
As the old saying goes, the pessimist sees the glass as half-empty, the optimist as half-full, and the realist sees half a glass of water. Personally, as an optimist, I see a whole lot more than a half-full glass of water.
I see a glass that can be used to sprout seeds on my counter, water plants, cover outdoor seedlings like a cloche in bad weather, a storage vessel, a rain collection device, a measuring cup, and so much more.
Homesteading requires you to see an abundance of resources where other people see problems or perfunctory things.
Even though I know, with certainty, that any true homesteader is an optimistic person by nature, not all of us have been practicing this skill regularly. In fact, we might be a bit wishy-washy on the optimism front.
We might have gotten into the habit of letting other people diminish our creativity or convince us to be conventional. We may have just gotten lazy and started seeing resources as only having narrow utility.
Optimism is still in you. It’s still a fundamental part of the person you are. It’s just a bit rusty. So, before you start making plans about all the stuff you want or need, do me this favor.
Take some time to practice homesteading optimism.
Look around at the things you already own or have free access to. Then, start to see the myriad of ways you can use those resources to advance your homesteading dreams.
Don’t look online to try to find all the ways other people have used a mason jar for example. It’s important that you come up with your own ideas so you can awaken this sleeping skill.
Instead, hold that glass of possibility in your hand and try to imagine all the ways you might use it on your homestead. Then write all those ideas down.
There is another side to this idea of homesteading optimism. As I said before, there are real reasons to worry about the future. Particularly on the resource front. This is a finite planet and it is in peril in some ways.
Making ecologically sound choices in our homesteading practices is one way we can avoid being contributors to our global problems. So many of the skills we modern homesteaders aspire to evolved out of the necessities of the times they lived in.
Basket weaving began because containers were needed and pliable young willow swatches were abundant. Earthen shelters were built in the desert because wood was scarce and dry earth was abundant. Log cabins were standard in forested areas because wood was plentiful.
Rather than starting with a long list of specific wants for your homestead, how about starting with recognition of the resources that are abundant in your area and on your property?
Sometimes the things that are “abundant” seem repugnant at first blush. For example, to the grass grower, fields of dandelions and clover are like a curse on the land. To an optimistic homesteader looking at the available resources and making a plan for how to use them – those lawn weeds become wine, tea, coffee substitutes, salads, chicken forage, and honey bee food.
A neglected cow pasture reclaimed by brush and kudzu might look like a mess to a cattle farming. To a homesteader though, that is a perfect place to put some goats out to pasture.
Look around your area with a homesteader’s optimism. Note what’s abundant (and sometimes irritating) and imagine how that excess can be put to good use on your homestead.
Start to make lists of all the ready resources you already have. In fact, use your weather observation notebook for this too. Go front to back on weather notes and back to front on resource notes until you meet in the middle with a full-notebook.
You may have already figured this out, but resource recognition has a lot in common with natural observation. You are starting to look closely at things that have been ignored and overlooked to develop your homesteading skills.
Tomorrow, continue your simple homesteading journey with Garden Dreams and Compost Calculations.