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For our family, homesteading is not where we are but who we are, and homesteading is a means to an economic end, not a means to beat "the system."

We keep very exact financial records which are worthless out of context. We have been transferred nine times in 23 years which has caused us to live in towns, rent then buy, or just rent. We have had a lot of land and little land, yet each was the ideal place because we lived our values, morals and according to our standards.

Creativity and teamwork

We have been unemployed, under-employed, and employed. We had to be creative and we had to work as a unit to accomplish goals.

We have spent the last seven years on five and a half acres, 10 miles from the nearest town. We raise goats, ducks, chickens, calves, etc. We always have a garden, and even in apartments we sought pick-your-own places and wholesale fresh markets.

Our children learned a way of life, a faith in God, and how to live and manage whatever the circumstances and at whatever location they found themselves. When living in town we had rabbits which were air conditioned with a drip system and lights from a small wind charger we made together. We built greenhouses in climates that needed greenhouses, solar hot water heaters and pre-heaters. We have lived without air conditioning and used wood heat even in town.

Our kids were part of the financial planning, benefited from savings and were taught how to live without credit.

Yet, we did not run a democracy... we were the parents and accepted that responsibility. We set an amount for electricity costs and water usage and the savings went for extras like going fishing, swimming (when in town) and even special treats like candy. The kids were small but they called a burning light a "burning candy bar."

Television was very, very limited and only just recently did we get a color tv. We imposed the same restrictions on ourselves as we required of the children. We did not fill our minds with garbage either.

We lived where firecrackers were put in the hands of children to burn the countryside down. Our kids got a choice... tires and tubes for their bikes which would last or firecrackers. Only once did one choose firecrackers and he had a good time under our supervision. The good time was short lived and soon the need for bike tires loomed big on his mind. He has been a leader in planning ever since.

Shoes were a big problem for us. The costs were high and they wore out or were outgrown faster than we could replace them. The solution was to set a reward for saving their shoes 'till they outgrew them. Each child got three dollars for every pair of shoes outgrown in decent shape. Shoes, socks and underwear we bought new, everything else was used. The kids were encouraged to conserve, make wise choices and plan ahead... change before chores and not drag their feet, etc., while on their bikes.

I have had mothers call and ask where we got our kids' clothes because they are so well dressed and their kids want the same things. I got a chance to share and get to know people without pushing my life on them. Some tried new things... some were rude or disgusting. So what.

These and hundreds of other economic situations arose daily. It did not matter where we were but who we were and what we were.

Our kids have no cavities but had regular dental care. Their father (47) and I (42) have dentures, so good teeth were not inherited. Our diet, planning and my being a mother at home had an economic impact that cannot be measured by mere money and location alone. The kids learned how to care for their spirit, soul and body which is an economic decision that will pay dividends for generations to come.

We have had antibiotics given on three occasions in 23 years to all the kids combined. They are strong and healthy. We fed our children good food, good thoughts and a good sound foundation of who they are in Christ. We taught them values, morals and boundaries. We make no apology for setting standards. We have all thrived from hard work, planning, and playing together. We have all grown in respect for each other and love for one another.

We have seen our kids ignore emotions and do what needed to be done because our lifestyle taught them self-discipline. One child told me that he learned what love really was when I was so sick I could hardly function but cooked supper anyway because I loved them and wanted them to eat well. He said, "It was not what you felt but what you did because if you did what you felt like then we would have not had a hot supper or clean dishes and clothes... you said you loved us by doing what you did not feel like doing." Kids are pretty smart.

Keep the goals in sight

I read this in Countryside in every issue: Homesteading is not a place on earth, it is a place in the hearts and minds of people that will prosper no matter what the location or circumstances. The only time any of us really fails is when we lose sight of our goals and settle for less than our best efforts. Quitting is not failure - it is death.

The standards we set a homesteaders - to be family-focused, good stewards of all resources (people, places, animals and material things) - causes economics to take on a whole new context not measured in dollars and cents. We as homesteaders strive for a balance, weighing the pros and cons, and the tradeoffs as well as the economic impact.

We always told our sons if they couldn't make it where they were, with what they had, then moving on to greener pastures would not solve their problems. That does not mean moving on is bad or wrong... but before one moves plan ahead and know why you are moving and know what you expect to get out of the move.

We often got transferred and had to move... but we were not running away from ourselves. That is why location did not really matter.

My mother can't cook and can't clean. She is a retired executive. She bought every gadget stores had to offer and tried her best to re-educate our kids. Some funny and some sad things happened. We saw our kids' talents blend and their abilities come to full fruit. One child saw a chance to be like all the other kids and went way off in goof-off land. He lived for the moment and it took three years for him to come full circle. Now he has chosen the values he was raised with as his own and they have been tested and proven to his satisfaction.

The economic returns of having each child and many of their friends and relatives be influenced to accept responsibility, pay their dues and take good care of themselves and others, cannot be measured by world standards.

Does homesteading pay? You bet it does. It is fun and entertaining... just watch my husband try to milk a goat!
COPYRIGHT 1995 Countryside Publications Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:homesteading
Author:Karber, Sue
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Jan 1, 1995
Previous Article:Homesteading in Russia: they've had their crash ... and they're surviving.
Next Article:Missouri.

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