I absolutely adore those living history reality TV programs. You know, the ones where you throw a bunch of modern day history buffs into the life of one of our ancestors and you watch them struggle to stay alive and not kill each other because you know they cast the most obnoxious of personality types for dramatic effect.
I could do without the crazies, but the historical aspect of how people lived day-to-day absolutely fascinates me. I want to know how people lived without running water, electricity, cars, grocery stores, cheap oil, and modern technology. So I recently watched Frontier House for the third time. It is the story of the pioneers who settled the frontier out in Montana, having to survive five years before they could call the land their own.
It is not unlike our own journey having moved off-grid, onto two acres, and trying to move towards a sustainable, more self-sufficient lifestyle. But I won’t kid myself and say that I understand what they went through or how hard it was. And I don’t necessarily believe the pioneers were the ideal agrarian example.
What I do know is that we can learn from them.
The biggest problem I am seeing in our survivability here on the homestead is our thinking. We are attempting to come out of an industrialized way of living that gives you everything you could ever want, when you really only need a few things.
In short, the pioneers lived more simply than most people today are willing to live and that is why they survived with no grocery store, no cheap oil, no cars, no electricity, and no running water.
So we are trying to reap the benefits of a pioneer-like life while dipping our toes into the industrialized world in order to make it happen.
And it causes me a great deal of angst.
There is something inside of me that feels a real urgency to cut all ties and run. To live on this land, to raise our children, to only go to town for the most basic of supplies (salt and coffee, anyone?), to just live with what we have, and to just make it work. But I realize that’s not going to happen, seeing as how we lack two things:
- Physical and Mental Infrastructure. The ability to live every day life and produce food for one’s family take both knowledge and a general system for doing so. We are in the process of learning about and building these things.
- Capital. Setting up that infrastructure can take years if done systematically, project-by-project, as money is available. Unless, of course, you have all of that money ahead of time, in which case you buy fencing and chickens and goats and seeds and fruit trees and building materials and (literally) tons of compost and mulching material to make your desolate land viable for growing actual food.
So we can either move slowly ahead, project-by-project and build our infrastructure while we work for money to buy materials, machinery, and those in-between comforts; or we could cut tail and run and go with what we have.
Considering our gardens have failed for the most part, our chickens no longer live on our property, we can’t get goats or a pig until we have some fencing up, water is always an issue, and we have three children to feed; I think we’re going to have to keep up the toe-dipping.
Plus, only one in three pioneer families actually made it out West when they started with nothing. I think we can all do the math on that one.
But this urgency just won’t leave me alone. I know we still have to buy food and supplies and materials to actually build infrastructure, but it’s like dipping your toes into shark-infested water. Eventually you either realize it’s infested and never go back, or you dive in head first and never come back up.
What do you think, am I crazy?