So, how did we get here? That’s always an interesting question to ask yourself. Perhaps if we spend a moment talking about where here is. I live with my wife, daughter, son and one on the way in Tempe, Arizona. If Tempe doesn’t ring any bells for you, consider it to be a suburb of Phoenix, you know, that place where it’s ungodly hot in the summer. But this isn’t necessarily where we want to be. Instead our heads are full of images of a pastoral landscape with sheep and cows, vegetable plots, and picturesque barns in the background. I don’t believe it’s the sort of thing that most people in the Phoenix area long for, particularly because places like that tend to get cold and have snow.
What we want is a farm, a homestead. And I use the term homestead specifically. To homestead is to be self-sufficient. To be self-reliant. To be able to live from what is around you (as much as feasible). You can homestead anywhere, but for us it’s that picture of a farm somewhere.
Homesteading is nothing new, in fact it’s part of our heritage. From the day that man stopped wandering as a hunter gatherer we have formed some type of homestead, either individually or as a group. So we are taking the steps today, and learning what we can, to be able to own and use that farm in the future. I know that somewhere my high school english teacher is laughing hysterically. I know why he’s laughing. This has become, in my mind, some sort of latter day Walden.
Well, on second thought that’s a little too melodramatic for me. While I am a fan of literature, throwing aspersions like that around seems a little over the top. But there is something to be said for what he did, even if he cheated by going to Emerson’s house when he wanted a good hot meal. We simply don’t do for ourselves any more. In the United States 2% of the poulation is responsible for nearly 100% of the food production. We hire plumbers, mechanics, landscapers, cooks, cleaners and a multitude of others to do for us so that we may remain ignorant in “leisure.” We buy things insatiably, not because we need them, but because we want them. Or, for even a greater part of our population, we do without those things we can really use because we’re too busy trying to survive.
Perhaps I could call this the greatest D.I.Y. project of all: building a better life.