It was a warm summer day. The kind of day that is perfect for bonding in the woods. I was sitting on a log, taking a break from splitting wood, when my daughter said, “I don’t want to be a homesteader, Dad.”
A lot of parents would be upset to find out that their children don’t aspire to be like them, but not me. In fact, I hope my kids become the best versions of themselves that they can. I personally think it’s ridiculous to expect a kid to decide what they want to do for the rest of their lives.
I remember my teachers asking me what I wanted to do when I grew up and in the most contrarian fashion, I always gave them the same answer… I wanted to be happy.
I grew up in a house where my dad came home and complained about work every day. I asked why he went, and he quickly dismissed me. Today when I hear people complain about their jobs, I’m always surprised when they don’t do anything about it.
When I joined the military, the Army promised to make me all that I could be. Unfortunately, my dreams and ambitions of doing nothing weren’t accurately conveyed to my chain of command.
One time, I even tried to explain to my first sergeant that my goal was to do nothing. Therefore, I considered myself highly motivated when I was just lounging around.
Obviously, this didn’t settle well with my first sergeant, and I was given ample opportunities to rest, in between all the pushups and flutter kicks I could handle.
In the end, the Army’s ambitions for my career far exceeded my own personal ambitions, and I became all the better for it. I sometimes think I may be the reason the Army changed their recruiting slogan because I also became strong, Army strong.
When I looked back at my daughter, she seemed surprised by my laughter. Today, growing a garden, raising some livestock and canning makes you a homesteader. I know that I’m not self-sufficient, and seriously doubt if I’ve actually saved money in the process. However, I’ve learned how to germinate seeds, nurture tender plants, protect them, save their seeds and preserve them.
I’ve learned to raise a calf, to care for young vulnerable livestock as I imagine their mother would.
In 1978, when Paul Harvey addressed the FFA, he said, “and on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a caretaker,’ so God made a farmer.”
Imagine that for a minute, God’s perfect creation was a garden full of life. He didn’t build a pyramid, like the Egyptians, or a colosseum like the Romans… God created a garden. A place to roam and a place to call home. Since the eviction from the Garden of Eden, man has been trying to fill the void left by its absence.
There is something therapeutic about caring for plants and animals. It reminds me of holding my daughter when she was born. When I realized that I may not have been anything in this world, but I was everything in hers and she was in mine, I became a better person.
Nowadays they call it homesteading, but 100 years ago, it would have been called living.
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