Where I got the homesteading urge

If you’re a follower of mine on Pinterest, you may have noticed my new Urban Homestead pinboard, which I am pinning to at the rate of 10 pins a day.  I have also read nearly every book on urban homesteading that our library has, and I’ve been requesting that they buy more and more of them.  I’m currently reading Barnyard in Your Backyard (goat kidding diagrams FTW)!  I wrote a list here of the produce I would like to grow someday.  As Hubs goes to postdoc interviews and we contemplate our next location, the significant part (approximately 98%) of me that is a super-planner has been looking up the livestock ordinances in the places we might live.

Hubs, my family, and friends have given me varying levels of teasing about this homesteading urge, but I think I’ve traced the source of it.  Cue this piece from The Atlantic about new evidence that good books can change who we are.  Immediately, I thought of the Little House books.  I probably read the entire series more than 10 times growing up, and then I read the Little House on Rocky Ridge books (about Laura’s daughter, Rose).  I was so obsessed that my mom found a pioneer day camp for me to go to (or maybe even persuaded the church that hosted it to start it).  We visited the Little House in the Big Woods (in WI) and I played pioneer endlessly (both with me as pioneer and with my dollhouse family who had their own covered wagon, handcrafted by my grandpa).  My mom got really good at sewing sun bonnets, and family members who lived close to Amish country were in charge of buying “real” pioneer gear at Amish general stores for Christmas and birthdays.

But how did the Little House books really change me?  Why do I identify so much with a homesteading lifestyle now?  While I believe in the call to sustainability that we’re all increasingly being asked to follow, even more than that, these five years of grad school have helped me realize the part of me that yearns to do work to produce a tangible output.  Maybe that output is food from a garden, milk from a goat, a clean baby, a craft for a friend, the patient grinning at the children’s hospital upon meeting Tonks, a delicious supper, writing that I’m proud of, or time enjoyed with people I love.  I am ready for the time when these things are how I measure my life, just as Laura measured hers in her family’s little house.

Dollhouse covered wagon | Inviting Joy

Bunnies go west!

Pioneer Camp | Inviting Joy

Pioneer camp: more fun that it looks? I’m the one in yellow with the REAL TIN CUP tied around my waist for, you know, drinking out of streams and things.

How have books changed your life?

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We have a good thing here.

Earlier this year I watched Iron Jawed Angels, which is a movie about Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and other women suffragists whose actions eventually forced the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, allowing women to vote.  The movie is awesome, but what’s even better is that all of it is real.  WOMEN can vote.  I did this morning.  Even though it’s my third presidential election, I still get chills and sometimes a little bit choked up when I think about how awesome it is to be able to be a part of running the country.  Plus, here I get to go to school, choose a job, and advocate for things I believe in without fear of repercussions.

This election season has been long and somewhat overwhelming, but I mostly just feel thankful that everyone seems to care so much about what happens to our country.  I love that so many people watch the debates and tweet about them.  I love all the encouragement on Facebook to just go vote, no matter who you’re voting for.  I love that, even after all the devastation from Superstorm Sandy*, officials are still doing their best to make sure people can cast their votes today.  I know there are a lot of things that aren’t perfect here, but I believe in the U.S. and in our system and in our willingness to continue to grow as a country.  I hope that you’ve voted or plan to vote, if you’re eligible, and no matter what happens with the outcome of the election, I am really proud to live here with my fellow Americans.

*If you’re looking for a way to help, one of my dearest friends has organized a school supply drive for her hometown’s school, which goes from kindergarten through eighth grade. Their school was under three feet of water from the storm and is going to be closed for at least 5 weeks. The kids lost everything, including school supplies, books, and the library.  My friend and two of her classmates (class of ’96!) have established an Amazon Wish list full of items suggested to them by the superintendent of the school. They are trying to gather school supplies by next Monday, November 12, which is when the kids will be bused to three other schools (in neighboring towns). The supplies are being shipped to the local high school (addressed to the Monmouth Beach Elementary PTO president), which now has a trailer to handle all incoming donations.  If you would like to donate, the wish list can be found here.