Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Dirty Life, and why I don't measure up


I just recently finished reading The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball.  Kimball is a writer and farmer, and this is the story of her love affair with the farmer she marries and the farming lifestyle she adopts.  She leaves her rent-controled apartment in New York and her career getting paid to travel and write about it, and goes off to work grueling physical labor scratching out an uncertain living off the land.

I envy her so much.

And I also don't.

You see, it's been a dream for me and my family (first my family of origin and then my husband and I) to have "a bit of land" and to "farm a bit" or just "have animals and a big garden".

And a year and a half ago my husband and I fulfilled a big part of that dream and bought a lovely little place: four acres with a nice house and a mini-barn on it.  It's not too far out of town also, so we don't have to commute in for our jobs.

Because we both have full-time jobs.  That's how we can afford the land and the house in the first place.  But despite already being very busy with a full-time job and the full-time role of homeschooling mom, I also added on the expectation that I'd be at least a Weekend Homesteader.

Now each time someone asks me how the garden is going or something like that I feel a stab of guilt and inadequacy.  Never mind that at our last house I only expanded the garden one raised bed per year that we were there, and then had all that infrastructure to build off.  Never mind that we don't have the funds to buy any labor-saving tools or equipment, so it's really just me with a hoe and a shovel.  Never mind that I also added on a huge professional training project that further took away time I would have for homesteading.

I expect myself to just do it all.  Perfectly.  All the time, all the tasks, all the roles, without dropping any balls.

Kimball doesn't do that.  She does accomplish an amazing amount on the farm she works with her husband, but she is also incredibly honest about what doesn't get done.  Basically, nothing else gets done.  They had one focus, one job to do, and they got it done.

I can't give up my other jobs.  They came first, and I love them.  This land, this idea of growing your own, is my third (or fourth) instrument in this silly one-man-band that I'm marching around banging on.

I'm not going to be able to dive into farming or homesteading and still keep my other foot on the path of church-work or education-work.  So I guess I'll have to just be OK with what I can do around here, and stop letting it bother me that I can't do it all.


1 comment:

  1. I haven't read The Dirty Life yet, but I know it is a popular book at our library. I completely agree that no one can possibly do it all! I have passing daydreams about having a huge garden and preserving it all, but I have learned through experience that I am a lazy gardener and preserver. I have to have a specific focus because in the heat of summer, all my plans melt! This year, my fantastic veggie gardener of a brother has a partnership with us and we've worked out an exchange so that he's growing the bulk of the veggies for our two families. Such a relief to me, especially with my new responsibilities at work! Partly, I feel guilty because we do have a significant amount of land to grow on, but I know myself and I'm hoping this will work out well.