Wednesday, January 30, 2019

And how's homesteading working out for ya? Adventures with snakes

I got bitten by a Cape cobra IN THE CAR last week. Even our car is a healthy ecosystem for wildlife. This is the food chain: old apple cores and banana peels ---- cockroaches and mice-- CAPE COBRA. Right? Right. I'm not feeling great, but then I'm alive so that's quite a good thing given the alternative. Ok, it hasn't been positively identified as a Cape Cobra because WE STILL DON'T KNOW WHERE IT IS (come for a visit, guys!), but it's a fairly large venomous snake with fangs that causes vomiting and shaking so unless it's someone's exotic pet, it was a cobra.
Not a cobra: tortoise is back, and has a girlfriend. Ok we've never seen them together but hopefully they sense the presence of the other and will be cosmically drawn together for the sake of my seeing baby tortoises on our property. Because nature is all about me. 
This, together with other family health issues that aren't mine to talk about, means we're still having a relatively tough time of it, despite our circumstances being rather lovely in many ways.

So I wanted to reflect a little on perspectives on homesteading: getting sick, experiencing unpredictable difficult events, living "healthy," all that stuff. Spoiler alert: I am still sold on homesteading, because I'm stubborn like that.

Here's the thing: I don't think homesteading protects you from the possibility of illness or weird catastrophic events, in the same way that being Christian doesn't protect you from sucky things happening to you. Yet connecting with God during sucky things seems to matter at some deep level-- in helping us avoid jadedness and cynicism and closedness. Not that connecting with God is the same as homesteading. Anyway.

Maybe homesteaders are a little less prone to allergies or IBS or cancer or whatever, or maybe we aren't. Either way, the reality is that bad stuff, including illness, happens. If you haven't already noticed, I don't like the narrative that reaches for homesteading (or worse, "clean eating") as a utopian solution to all our problems. I often watch videos about people turning to homesteading because of health issues, and as much as I like those videos, I don't think that sets up beginners' expectations appropriately. Homesteading is hard and messy. Yet I think, if you can, growing stuff-- especially as hipsters/millennials/people with day jobs-- having your energy directed towards growing things-- even when you can't always avoid illness or hard times-- is a step in the right direction.

I think it is more than a step in the right direction for you as an individual or family, it's a step for communities. Chances are, your family avoiding getting sick from glyphosate because you're growing your own happy organic food probably won't outweigh the discomfort you're likely to experience from mosquitoes that time you forgot about the liquid fertilizer, or the diarrhaea you got from questionable hygiene practices in your garden, or the time a COBRA BIT YOU IN THE CAR. Yet I feel, collectively, those kinds of discomfort are qualitatively better than the ones that derive from the world where we buy everything from Amazon-- and the illness derived from a rushed, unhealthy system that we buy into.  At least for me, though I still do a lot of rushing.

A couple of days ago, when I didn't have any energy to do something fun with the kids (cobra bite), we watched a documentary of the 2004 Tsunami. It was totally inappropriate for kids at some level (cobra bite), but in another way it was not as emotionally difficult to see because the event was so clearly beyond the power of humans. If I showed them something as graphic about war, it would feel deeply different (though there will be a time for that, probably). It's not exactly analogous to homesteading, perhaps, but sometimes I think that when bad things happen while homesteading, it's hard, but it's not the same kind of hardness. It's not the hardness that comes as a product of an exploitative system.

Now, you might say the logic of this is off if you apply it to the cobra situation, given that there wouldn't have been a cobra in the car in the first place if we weren't homesteading. You're right of course- but I reckon if you're not doing this you're doing something else- driving a long way to work where you might have an accident, etc. etc. You may even rightly argue that we may be able to avoid a lot of risk simply by staying in the U.S., and I think that's true. Yet I don't think homesteading, or staying or leaving, should be about avoiding risk or suffering. Those are a given. I think it should be about building something meaningful-- and perhaps even finding ways to meaningfully give up some of the power that comes of whiteness, savings and education-- within the constraints of our knowledge and resources.

The thing I've found growing things is that slowly, we speak from a place of deeper knowledge. Not that growing things is the same everywhere, or that our circumstances are at all similar to yours. But anyway, here's to building together, wherever we are in the world!

The artist at work.

Silvermine (with spongebob??)

Noah is a finalist for a dog food ad to help raise money for our local dog rescue, where he trains puppies. 

Random picture of bread to impress you.

Noah jumps off rock into ocean...
3 ipads, 3 children, and a guinea pig.
Hana on a rock.

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