Why I Do It

Three cheers for all the urban homesteading bloggers more dedicated to the lifestyle than I. I’m so very grateful for their posts about their challenges: the bugs, the rats, the lice on the goats, the chickens with infected feet. I might sigh over fresh eggs or get starry eyed over fresh goat milk, but then I find pictures like this one and I’m suddenly a lot less romantic about backyard livestock. I just don’t think I’m cut out for the go-to veterinary stuff that goes with having lots of animals. Heck, I can’t even clean out the trap full of sludge at the bottom of the dishwasher without loosing my cookies. Excavating a staph infection from a chicken foot is seriously beyond me.

Actually, I don’t think I’m up for many new urban homesteading challenges right now. I’ve mused in the past about soapmaking and candle making but the motivation to go beyond musing isn’t there. I’m pretty happy sending our compostables off to the city’s composting program. In fact, it might be time to think about putting the backyard compost bin on Craigslist for someone more hardcore than I.

I didn’t start down the urban homesteading road primarily out of fear, despite being pretty well convinced that the current Average American Lifestyle is likely on its way out, whether due to climate change, peak oil or general carelessness. While I’m sure my various skills would be useful in The End Of The World As We Know It (aka TEOTWAWKI, an acronym that’s rather disturbingly popular in some circles), that wasn’t my motivation for gardening, canning, composting, dehydrating, line-drying, cheesemaking, sewing, solar cooking, freezing, rain barreling, edible landscaping or any of the rest of it. Sure, there’s the lighter impact, the local food angle, the Apocalypse Survival Benefit, but those are all secondary. I do these things because I like to do them.

I suppose it’s strange to like hanging around several large pots of boiling water during the hottest part of the year, but I think it’s fun. I think the process of converting milk into cheese is fascinating. I find sewing relaxing. I like the smell of line-dried laundry (not to mention that there’s usually less to iron when I don’t use the tumble dryer). Being able to bake a loaf of bread in the backyard or muffins on a beach without building a fire is just neat.

Maybe someday we’ll invest in solar panels for hot water or home electricity. One of the reasons will likely be to shrink our environmental impact, and another reason will probably be about saving money over time. But it’ll also be just because having water hot enough to wash dishes solely by infusing it with focused sunlight is cool. If I ever stop musing and start soap-making, it will be in large part because the equation “fat + lye = something you’d want in the shower with you” is slightly mind-blowing.

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