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.
How have books changed your life?