Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Its a deliberate choice we make to do things...the "hard" way.  Is the hard way better? 

There must be something better about it, because we keep doing it that way, in the face of an easier path.  We've reasoned that in some cases its better for us.  Eating whole foods that are more laborious to prepare rather than processed foods with their strange ingredient lists and excessive packaging.  In many cases it saves us dollars.  Processing firewood to heat our home and hot water rather than picking up the phone for an oil delivery.  And in some cases, it meets those criteria and...it just feels right.  Making our own cheese, or growing our own vegetables and meat.  All of these things seem pretty accessible and frankly, aren't that difficult.  Despite the extra effort that is involved, we continue to feel compelled.  We find enough value and satisfaction in it that we want to go out there and do it...and we're not alone.

You feel compelled to do it even when it is 95 degrees out, or the mosquitos have started a blood bank, or its sleeting and 20 degrees and the animals need water.  And those are the days that try your choice.  When half of the bucket spills down the back of your boot as you negotiate an icy patch.  When you're drenched in sweat and you still have hundreds of feet of picking left or when you get home from a long day at work and you realize that you didn't meal plan well and any well made dinner is at least an hour or more away and you decide to feed your family eggs with cheese and cut up carrots--again.  Is it still better?  Usually my answer is yes.  But I'm no homestead hero.  I fantasize about heated water buckets and, on a stagnant summer day, I love to sit in front of a big fan.

I know for sure that my husband's farmer-grandparents thought ding dongs and spaghettios were two of life's great inventions.  After baking and cooking your whole life over a wood cookstove, all 4 seasons, for your family and a farm crew, a can of "lunch" on an electric stove and a pre-made cake looked pretty darn good.  Interesting, isn't it.  People that wouldn't consider putting pasturized milk past their lips, mowing down a ho-ho with their raw moo juice.  Ah, progress!

Somehow it seems, all of us that do this, this homesteading stuff, we all draw our own lines.  We're, for the most part, doing it by choice.  The ho-ho's and boyardee are all there for us to take advantage of.  But we find value and satisfaction in another turn.  Despite its challenges, we ultimately decide that the more difficult road gets us to a destination that we consider better, or at least, one that we prefer.  And in each little effort to make one or another part of our lives a little more simple, more basic, we notice that we truly appreciate and are grateful for the access to modern conveniences that we have.  And we use them, mindful of their usefulness.  We love chainsaws and toilet paper.  Stuff like that. 

Which brings me to the greatest recent homestead FREE acquistion that had us hopping with excitement.  With much of our small wheat crop still in shocks in the barn, we were tediously and slowly processing little bits indoors in the evening.  It was beyond ridiculous considering the amount remaining to be done.  ENTER our new-to-us thresher.  
We had seen this nifty little chipper-turned-thresher on the interwebs but never figured that we would acutally find one---and certainly not for a reasonable price, like free. 
The great news is that without any modifications, it works pretty good!  We are still in the initial stagesbut....having done this job "the hard way" , we are definitely appreciating a little help from mother necessity.  And so, feeling a little like my husband's grandparents, we indulge, and plug in the mechanical thresher.  Now let me say that threshing and winnowing wheat at dusk in 20 degree weather while kneeling on frozen ground is a far cry, with regard to ease, from grabbing a bag of flour from the shelf at the store (and I might have mentioned that once or twice as I lost all feeling in my fingers)...but the wheels of "progress" were a-churning.  Ah, progress!

Wheat Berries!!!(and a little chaff)



  1. Congratulations on your new thresher! I'm sure you'll enjoy it. :)

    This is a very interesting post. You know, I was just thinking about this sort of idea earlier today. We aren't on our homestead yet--likely will be a couple more years, but we're working towards it. Right now we are living firmly within the city, with all the conveniences one could ask for a stone's throw away. And I was thinking, it probably makes us look crazy that we want to throw away all those conveniences to go live a life of hard labor and relative isolation. In fact, sometimes even *I* think we must be crazy to choose such a difficult path.

    Yet we do want that life...like you, we feel that the benefits are worth it. And I don't think it's a small thing at all that you now appreciate those modern conveniences all the more. Having less, I am convinced, makes a person enjoy life more in general. Living with too much ease and convenience makes a person take those things for granted. I personally would rather take the harder path and not be spoiled. But then I always like to go against the grain. :)

    Well, this comment is getting long--I just wanted to let you know I enjoyed reading your words today. :)

  2. Thank you both for sharing your thoughts!

    My husband and I are beginning the trek towards eventually homesteading and some degree of self-sufficiency and I definitely see what you're talking about. While mentally I'm intimidated by the sheer volume of information to learn and "hardships" that will be involved, we're excited about the possibility and future for our family that homesteading will allow. Hopefully one day soon we'll be excited about our own thresher.

    Best wishes!

  3. I loved this post and share your love for the simpler although more time consuming ways.

  4. What a great post. Sometimes I do think Oh why have I made it so hard for myself, but then we will take a bite of a simple meal, that far out weighs anything a super market could produce, and just think...yep, thats why we do it this way. It's not easier, but I think it's definitely worth it.
    Lovely thresher :-)


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