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Spend your "free time" working around your place.

Your letter caught me on a hectic day after teaching my first grade, but that afternoon, as I picked apples for the root cellar, I reflected on what homesteading means to me. To me it's a way of life that means I attempt to provide a large amount of my family's basic needs from our land.

That was our goal when we bought our place during the fall of 1978, and that was when we first subscribed to COUNTRYSIDE.

Since 1978 so much has changed yet remained the same. My wife and I wanted to build our own place from the time we met in 1972 and it took us s years t get through college, get a job teaching and move to Alexander, Maine. Over the past 14 years we've been building our house, and just put the flush in last month. We started small and added on as we saved money. We also built a barn, woodshed and workshop. I tell others that one of my vices is building structures. As we built our place we cleared the land and used the wood to keep us warm in the winter. We only have wood heat.

There are many joys in my life; my wife and two daughters, my job, our place, good friends, music and our garden. It is in the garden where we spend much of our summer. We grow all our own vegetables and after all these years I know exactly how much to plant in our 1/3 acre of gardens. Besides our vegetables, we grow most of our own fruit and dry beans.

To anyone starting out I recommend a Troybilt tiller and a swan hoe. Our tiller is great and just completed its 13th year without one major problem. So get these two tools and start small. Always build up your soil as it's what puts the food on the table.

Personally, I feel to succeed at homesteading one must be willing to spend most of their so-called free time working around their place. Our place is my hobby and recreation. So to succeed one must be willing to do a fair amount of physical labor, and enjoy the out-of-doors.

Also a reliable income and a secure, trusting relationship are indispensable along with a sense of humor and patience.

I really wouldn't do anything differently in my life because I feel blessed and fortunate so far. The one word of caution here though is about animals. We have chickens for eggs, rabbits for their wool, sheep for wool and two horses for my daughters. Animals tie you to the homestead, and that's why it's a way of life that most people don't fully understand or want.

My greatest satisfaction is security. The security of a place that's paid for in full. The security of growing so much of our food and having the root cellar full, the freezer full and the shelves containing jars of our produce. The security that my daughters can explore and walk around the area safely. The security of a strong marriage. Our place gives more than it takes.

The biggest lesson I've learned from homesteading is the truth in the adage "slow and steady wins the race". If one does a little of something every day, the job will get done. For instance, I split 10 pieces of firewood a day and put three wheelbarrow loads away each day, and the five cords we bum gets done. I've reached a point where a real routine has established itself year in and year out so I know what's next. Be patient, because you'll never get everything accomplished quickly.

As for the future, I hope to keep teaching and homesteading here as long as possible. I can't imagine doing anything else, especially in the current economic climate.

But the future of our society worries me. I see more and more of my first graders coming from broken homes, using vulgarity and aggression to solve problems. I see more and more parents stressed out from being overworked at lower paying jobs, struggling to keep above water. I see a world whose environment is being polluted and its resources being exploited. And I see a world where I wonder if my daughters will be able to attain what I have so far.

Luckier than most

But whenever these feelings get too strong, I know I'm luckier than most because all I have to do is look around at what we've created out of woods over these past years. It's then I know what a wonderful little Eden we've created here in our niche of Mother Earth, and how fortunate we are to have our place "beyond the sidewalks".
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Title Annotation:Lessons Learned, Changes Accepted, in the Last 10 Years of Homesteading
Author:Carter, Ted
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Previous Article:"We will die here, fighting to complete our dreams." (Lessons Learned, Changes Accepted, in the Last 10 Years of Homesteading)
Next Article:Smaller breeds of farm animals aren't necessarily better for homesteads.

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