Life Down On The Farm

A Homesteaders Memories of Youth

One of the first jobs I can remember being allocated on the farm, was to tend my mother’s garden vegetable patch. This was a small area of ground near the kitchen door of the house, and consisted of 4 raised beds that housed a whole selection of vegetables.

Of course to me at that time (I was only about 9 years old) it was really a chore having to go out and water the cabbages or lettuce, maybe bring in some fresh vegetables for that evenings dinner.
I would have fun of course chasing the chickens that had crept in to the garden patch, screeching and yelling as they flapped about trying to get away from my swinging pail.

flapping chickens

Ah, happy innocent days!
I was only much later to appreciate the value of these times. Experiences that may have been unappreciated, maybe even loathed at the time, have now come back to pay dividends as I now seek to bring up my own kids to appreciate nature and the ‘good life’ as I now regard it.

Will they think the same of me as I did of my parents at their age? Most probably! But I tell myself that they will appreciate digging up those vegetables and look back at my small garden ideas, with something resembling affection when they are old enough to appreciate it.

Maybe wishful thinking I know, but nevertheless, if my parents thought it was a valuable lesson to learn back then, then how much more so now?
People of my generation are at last getting fed-up with store bought, chemically enhanced food, and are turning back to the old skills of providing food via their own efforts; but we have a problem. A lot of these skills have to be re-learned, as we have in effect lost touch with the land and what it takes to get the best out of it.

growing leeks

Whether it is Rearing Chickens or Rabbits, or indeed any other typical Homesteading Animals; or whether it is how to get the best out of the vegetable patch, and maybe grow the best tomatoes in the neighborhood, there is a lot of learning to be done!

The good news is that there is plenty of information now available at our fingertips, in every aspect of self-sustainability whether it be for sustainable energy systems or how to preserve the fruits of our labour by curing meat or storing vegetables in a root cellar

Thank goodness for the internet – that and my parents early teachings on all aspects of Homesteading as well as frugal spending!
I learned a new and disturbing phrase earlier this week ‘Planned Obsolescence.’ It was on a TV show exposing the fact that right from the time of the first electric light bulb, the gadgets (for lack of a better word) that we buy are actually designed to fail after a pre-designated time!

Nothing in fact these days is ‘built to last’ It’s a simple matter of economics apparently. If that electric light bulb or new refrigerator lasted to long then we would most likely not buy another one!
Hmmm, That just does not sit right with me, as I have always been brought up to think that building things to last is the proper way to do things. Down on the farm we often have to build things to a budget that may well be less than we would like it to be, but it is nevertheless built to as high a standard as we can manage.

The ‘throw away’ view of consumerism has no place in a Homesteaders mind-set, indeed when you are trying to cut your costs by ‘growing your own’ or raising livestock etc, then the whole idea is to squeeze every bit of value that you can out of every effort you put in.

Raising chickens for instance means building a good shed, which in turn will lead to healthy happy chickens that will produce eggs and eventually meat. They will also help with the compost pile as chicken poop is rich in nitrogen. This rich compost will in turn help you produce super healthy vegetables, the scraps of which can be fed back to the chickens – I’m sure you get the idea!

Good hobby-farm management is all about making the most of everything you have at your disposal, and building things (whether material or ideas) that will last as long as possible for the minimal of effort.
Ok, I’ve inadvertently gone off on a rant! However I feel all the better for it. Please don’t be put off, and check out my other blog posts on my experiences around the farmyard.

Homesteading Adventures and Serious Hard Work