Confession: I am interested in at least 5,302 projects that I don’t know anything about. And I am impatient with my inability to be and do everything I want to.
Last November God blessed us with an incredible property—a big gray house, a couple of creeks, and ten acres of land, part wooded and part cleared. This we have dreamed about for years, and finally, beyond our expectations, it came.
Last night we had supper with friends, who dreamed with us about some possibilities for our new property, especially regarding maple syrup production.
My mind goes wild.
For so long now I have been dreaming. What could we not produce on this fertile land? We already have blueberry bushes. An apple tree. Walnut and chestnut and hickory trees. Wild berry bushes. Those came with the territory, and we have nothing to do but prune and wait.
Over Easter we planted more trees, first on my list of priorities after moving in. We have plenty of mature trees around, but wanted a mix of fruit and flowering trees besides. We planted peach. Apricot. Pie cherry. And grape vines.
We’re working on a garden plot, and dreaming of so much more.
I want to plant a perennial herb garden, with starts from my aunt.
Could we raise goats, for milk? Imagine that! I could learn to make butter, and cheese, and yogurt.
Could we raise our own wheat?
Could we tap our abundant maple trees, for syrup and maple sugar? (Or sell the syrup for a nice profit?)
We have an abundance of wild game—deer trails through our yard, wild turkeys. I hope for a full freezer come fall.
How about chickens? How about a pig? What if we tried raising bees for our own honey?
We have all the space we need, and each of these ideas fills me with scarcely-containable excitement. I want to learn to do things I’ve never done before, and I want to write about them. But I have discovered two things.
- I am not a patient person. I want to do it all, now. I move straight from “Let’s plant a garden” to “Let’s try for a self-sufficient homestead.”
- Pioneering could consume me. I would happily pour my life into making this plot fruitful, but where would that leave my other responsibilities? I feel the frustration already: when the weather turned warm, I moved outside and lost all interest in keeping my house clean.
Nowadays we live between two worlds, I say. We are neither gentlemen and women, with land and income and a bevy of servants; nor peasants, free of education and social obligations. We are a mix of both—“landed aristocracy providing our own labor,” said Andrew.
Add to that the industrial revolution, which removed fathers from the home for large portions of each day (sans sons), and you no longer wonder why so many conservative women are frustrated, caught between old-fashioned values and a modern lifestyle.
We believe in thriftiness—homemade dresses, canned goods, fresh bread. We believe in beauty—pretty clothes and hair, attractive homes, well-dressed children. We believe in ministry—supporting our local missions, being good pastors’ wives, serving others. We believe in education—training our children, studying the Bible, growing our set of abilities and skills. We believe in productivity—adding something to the world by the work of our hands. We believe in community—attending events, hosting parties, staying connected with friends. We believe in health—balanced meals, exercise, personal care.
We can be beautiful gentlewomen with active social lives, or we can be beautiful homemakers, doing our own laundry and cleaning, raising vegetables. I could lose myself in one or the other.
But it is so hard to be both.
Where is the philosophy that meshes the two worlds in peaceful balance?
I am waffling between taking up homesteading or feminism. What do you think?