When we think of homesteading, our thoughts often turn to chickens, pigs and huge gardens full of vegetables. But there is one main ingredient that is always overlooked. The most productive and important things on the homestead are the people. Your homestead is always limited by how much work you and your family is willing and able to do. Homesteading can be a test of a marriage, or your relationship with your children. Long days of hard work can end in yelling and screaming, or with the whole family enjoying each others company on the back porch. Learning to say thank you and listen to others ideas is just as important as learning to butcher a chicken. The homestead is always a work in progress, and so are we. We have been blessed with two boys, Gary and Lucas.
The boys grew with the homestead. When they were little, they would pick beans or help weed. There is nothing like being in the garden with kids, you just can’t get upset when plants get trampled. When they were a little older, they could feed chickens, stack firewood, or hand you tools. Life is good when you have someone to hold the other end of the board you are nailing. Once the boys became teenagers, they could do everything a man could do. Gary is particularly good at fixing things. He is an excellent planner. He also has a great ability to be calm in tough situations, and has a tireless work ethic.
Lucas on the other hand is an excellent hunter and fisherman. He provides a lot of food for the family, and he can pick up most anything. Luke also always reminds us to have some fun. His guitar playing is often heard on the back porch after the sun goes down on warm summer nights as well as chilly spring and fall evenings.
Our homestead would never be as productive as it is without these two young men, and we hope that the homestead has taught them skills and lessons that they can apply later in life. They both know that dirty hands make a happy heart. The core of the homestead is my wife, Tracy.
Not only does she turn what we grow and harvest into delicious meals, she also makes sure everyone is where they belong and on time. If you look through the blogs on our site you will see some of her beautiful culinary creations. She is our constant cheerleader, when things are getting tough she is the positive voice that we all need to hear. It’s sometimes hard to believe that a “Jersey Girl” can cook venison so well. Her cooking and preserving ability has grown over the years, and I think she appreciates the harvest more than we do. If she was not on board, our homestead dream could never happen. The long nights of blanching and canning can put strain on our marriage, but if we have learned one thing it is that wine helps. It turns canning or sausage making into date night. Then there is myself.
I have all the big ideas. I am the one who takes the plunges. When I get an idea in my head I cannot rest until I see it through. What I lack in planning I try to make up for in hard work. I love to split wood by hand and am fascinated with the old ways of doing things. I am happiest when I work until dark and then sit on the porch with a cold beer, completely drained, and dirty. Together we are much greater than the sum of our parts. We can accomplish almost any goal. As you can see on the homestead, the people are the most important tool. Each one has his or her strengths and purposes. We could never have our homestead without each other. Doing work together brings us closer and it forces us to interact with each other to work towards a common goal. I also believe that after working with me, my boys could work for anyone.
We are often so caught up with the things on the homestead that we forget about why we do it in the first place, for our family. Just like your garden, you must nurture the people on your homestead, because they are more important than any tool or animal.