Urban Homesteading

I know the world needs another asshole hipster who lives in the city and wants to go all hippie and, like, get some chickens, but it looks like I’ve caught the homesteading bug. I’ve been headed in this direction for a while now, but the other day I found a blog that really inspired me: Home Sweet Homestead. It’s about a family with two little kids from Los Angeles who sold all their stuff and drove a camper to Tennessee, where they bought some land and are setting up a homestead, which includes building a tiny cabin themselves. I read and clicked “Older entries” until I got to the beginning (it’s a new blog, so it’s not that long). Then I did it again. I’m in deep, serious love with everything about it.

My thoughts on homesteading and related subjects are wild and disorganized, as my thoughts are wont to be.

First, it’s is so refreshing to read a blog that isn’t plastered with ads and full of sponsored content, product placements, product reviews, giveaways, and any other forms of shilling. I’m so tired of shilling. I’m also tired of consumerism. I don’t need to see another list of things a blogger is obsessed with or yet another post showing off new purchases. This shit bores me and kind of makes me sad. I like reading about people who are doing more than instagramming their things or acquiring more things or trying to persuade you to acquire more things so they can profit.

Although the idea of homesteading greatly appeals to my hippie sensibilities, several things are true:

  • We’re not going to move. Ben and I are city people and we’re happy in Denver.
  • We’re not going to quit our jobs. They’re pretty cool and we like having the benefits employment provides.1
  • We’re not going to homeschool. I think being around lots of people from different backgrounds in a school situation is important.
  • We’re not going to get bees or chickens (at least not now). Seven animals + one 3-year-old = enough.
  • Ben is just not that into the idea of homesteading and frankly he’s probably tired of hearing me go on and on about it. I bet to him I sound like one of those Charlie Brown adult voices, with random homestead speak thrown in: Blah blah blah chickens blah blah composting toilet blah blah build cabin blah blah wood blah blah Guinea fowl.

What I’d like to do is incorporate more homestead-like activities into our life. When I say “homestead-like” I mean more than growing all your own food and trying to be self-sustaining (and less than, because growing all our own food and trying to be self-sustaining isn’t realistic for us right now). After reading Home Sweet Homestead, I want to — I don’t know — try to capture the essence of what they’re doing and put it into practice as much as I can while living in the city and having a job and doing the things I do.2

So what the hell does that mean? Trying to reduce our impact on the world. Living simply. Doing more DIY projects. Doing more hippie adventure stuff.3 Planning next year’s garden.4 Making more stuff — and focusing on making practical stuff instead of making things like necklaces I really don’t need.5 Not acquiring more stuff. Getting rid of some stuff. Reusing or repurposing some stuff. Going without some stuff. Wanting less. Using less. Being outdoors more. Reading more. Being quiet. Ummm, I know I’m getting really vague here, but do you know what I mean?

I know I talk about this sort of thing from time to time, but then I usually get off track. I think it can be hard to live a sort of homestead-like life when you’re — well, when you’re me and it’s easy to go back to your old behaviors that involve getting consumery and losing touch with what’s really in tune with your hippie sensibilities. Sometimes I get caught up in stuff that gets me off track, you know? Like, we’re at the point in our lives where friends are moving to big, fancy houses and you catch yourself thinking hey, is that what we should be doing. And it isn’t, for any number of reasons. Aside from finances, we’re a 3-person family. Our 950-square-foot house with a little yard is all the room we need. When I get annoyed by precariously stacked things falling on me in my closet, the problem isn’t the lack of space — it’s that I have too much stuff. Anyway, in my experience, more space leads to more stuff, and we don’t need more stuff. Plus it’s more expensive and time-consuming to maintain.

I think small changes can be harder than big changes because they’re not a huge exciting adventure. That’s cool, though. Let’s go on a little exciting adventure.

1. Now that I think about it, though, I could do my job anywhere as long as I have access to electricity, internet, and a computer. Editors are pretty self-contained creatures. Maybe I could arrange a work-from-homestead situation. Having a homestead office seems a little weird, but maybe it could work. One day.
2. Of course, the things I do include totally non-homesteady stuff like watching football on tv and running on a treadmill. I almost included “drinking beer” here, but now that I think about it, I believe there is room for beer drinking in homesteading — and in everything, of course.
3. We’re doing pretty well with avoiding GMOs and buying organic stuff when possible. Somebody may have purchased the wrong vegetable oil and cheese can be a pain in the ass — for example, I’m not a big fan of having to make a special trip to Whole Foods to get hormone-free mozzarella cheese. Overall, though, it’s not bad and we’re still making a lot of bread and ice cream.
4. I’m so annoyed by the fact that I’m better at planning a garden than I am at gardening. I don’t think I ever told you about this year’s garden after that time I wrote about my plans for it. One thing I learned is that I’m never starting seeds indoors again. Total waste of time, in my opinion. Planting seeds directly in the garden is easier (especially if you have cats — oh, the cats) and plants grow just as well. Oh also! We’re still composting and it’s super easy! Even Soren knows what goes in the garbage, what goes in the recycling bin, and what gets composted.
5. If you’re wondering about my “30 Days of Making Stuff” project, it went to shit after I made a bunch of stuff for Soren’s birthday party and we had the families in town. Don’t worry (not that you would!), I’ve made a few things since then that I’ll tell you about soon and I’m definitely going to finish the project (which I’m now defining as making 30 things in a somewhat reasonable number of days).