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Thursday, June 4, 2009

In The Beginning

During the early 70s, Greg and I were fascinated with going 'back-to-the-land'. My guess is it's because we're hands-on kind of people. We're not content to eat jam and bread. We want to know what goes into making jam and bread.

Unfortunately, both of us were hard-core big city kids with not a clue as to what we were getting into. It seemed silly to imagine us trying to grow a tomato, let alone enough food to feed us.

Nonetheless, we devoured Mother Earth News from cover to cover, back when it was a real teaching tool and not the glorified "country gentleman" magazine it is today. (If you ever consider this lifestyle I highly recommend the early issues from the 70s to the 80s.)

We started slowly; tilling our first grassy yard and growing the best vegetables I had ever tasted. We were hooked!

Every year we expanded the garden, trying different varieties, experimenting with new procedures. Most importantly, we were learning about our climate and soil.

Back then our paychecks didn't go very far, but our dream had always been to buy a few acres and be able to feed ourselves for an entire year.

We reached that dream in year 10, when we bought a friend's acreage. They too, had the dream, but not the motivation. We were younger, hungrier...dumber, which in hindsight helped a lot.

True story: Our first acreage was so dense with trees, I got LOST on my own property. It was getting dark and I must have been going in circles because I could never find the property fence. Talk about embarrassing, but that shows you how green I was. I knew nothing about living in the country.

By the early 80s we were hitting our stride and added livestock to our little piece of heaven. It was small stuff at first: chickens, ducks and rabbits. Then we tackled bigger animals like pigs, rheas and emus. I never could talk Greg into letting me raise a calf--but we are planning for goats next year.

We were living the dream. But silly me--I was getting bored counting chickens and canning vegetables. I wanted a real job, where my hands didn't get dirty and I wore heels instead of rubber boots.

I learned the hard way: Careful what you ask for.

In the mid 90s, I was offered a phenomenal job as an advertising artist. I was already employed as an artist elsewhere, but this was different. This was for serious money and great benefits. I had to take it. In doing so, the homestead fell by the wayside.

Still, we never lost faith that we would go back to it someday. Someday came this year, and it's been an eye opener on what we'd forgotten and what came back to us.

The climate is different and so is the soil, so there's a learning curve involved. We're older too. You wouldn't think 15 years would make that much difference, but it does in a BIG way. It's easier to get injured and it takes longer to heal. We've learned greater patience and how to work around obstacles and uncooperative muscles.

There is one more thing that's different than our original dream. Because of our age, we can no longer call it homesteading in its purest sense. I have no intention of cooking on a wood stove or doing laundry by hand. It just ain't gonna happen.

But I will grow my crops, raise my animals and try to live as green as I can for as long as I can. Besides, according to the local news, apparently it is chic to grow your own vegetables. Many people in Dallas (of all places) are raising chickens! I never would've believed it if I hadn't seen that story.

This blog is still about writing, but it will also be about our homesteading journey. If you have any interest in growing stuff, I hope you'll visit regularly.

There is nothing more wonderful than being able to do for yourself. I hope you'll like the stories that will come out of it.

Trust me, if our past is any indication, there will be some doosies.

Copyright © 2009 Maria Zannini --


Shelley Munro said...

Good for you, Maria. Both hubby and I grew up on farms, although we live in the town these days. My father is still a farmer. My sister feeds calves and lambs etc.
We do have a vege garden though. I'd love chickens but I don't think the neighbors would like that much. I'm all about free range chickens. :)

Maria Zannini said...

I've always appreciated and respected farmers. The average person just doesn't realize what it takes to get that vegetable on the table.

Thanks for popping in, Shelley!