In our minds, life looks like an endless forward progression, where each major milestone is followed by another.
In reality, life sometimes looks like cutting every leaf off of the aloe plant you’ve grown from 3” high to 15” in hopes that it will survive the cold damage it unexpectedly received when your car broke down on your 300-mile move. It feels like five steps backward. And no steps forward. That’s where I’ve been these past months – I’ve seemingly made so many right turns that I’ve ended up right where I began. But in these moments it’s hard to remember that there is one way we can constantly move forward, no matter what happens: through learning.
My husband and I have recently moved back to Ohio from Tennessee.
A series of completely unavoidable [unfortunate] events dwindled away our down payment savings, so now we are facing the next year in an apartment in the city. I have never lived in a city before, and I have to say that after 2 weeks in our new place that I’m not sure it has sunk in. We moved from a small house in the country, around 900 sq ft, to a small apartment on one of Columbus, Ohio’s busiest roads, with around 400 sq ft. I used to have a garden, a yard, and two porches. Now I have the view of a tree outside of the window and the sounds of my neighbors coming and going.
After the initial shock wore off, I realized that this could still be a step forward if I treated my time here correctly.
I’m not even close to being the only city-bound homesteader, and I’m kidding myself if I think I’ve learned all I need to be more self-sufficient from inside of the home. As I said before, the one way I can continue to move forward no matter what is through learning. So I created some learning objectives for myself this year that should prove incredibly challenging and rigorous, thus [hopefully] keeping my mind and hands occupied until it’s our time to get a piece of land.
I have separated my goals into two categories: Hobbies and Homestead Learning.
The way I have defined my hobby goals is anything that requires time spent just “doing” and results in a product. The way I have defined my homestead learning goals is anything that will require as much research as “doing” and which may result in several differing outcomes. I will be reporting on my goals each month, letting you know what difficulties I run into, how you can create anything I make, and hopefully some success stories.
Here are the Hobbies goals:
January and February – learn to knit and complete one knitted project
March and April – begin keeping sourdough starter (again) and bake once weekly
May and June – learn to create macrame knots and complete one project
July and August – collect soap making supplies and make one batch of soap
September and October – collect herbs and fabrics and experiment with natural dyeing
November and December – create several useful sewn items for gifts and home use
And here are the Homestead Learning goals:
February – dehydrating (apples, bananas, meat, yogurt)
March – indoor edible gardening (address lighting issues, test our hydroponics)
April – fermentation (pickling, kombucha, water kefir, yogurt)
May – home / bath / beauty products
June – go paper free
July – go plastic free
August – growing and using micro greens
September – making condiments
October – making cheese
November – counter-top vermicompost
December – dairy and nut butters
I’ve learned a huge lesson about being truly sustainable and having a homesteading mindset.
Making the best of every situation is difficult. We can’t all pretend that reaching sustainability happens outside of our contemporary times – people everywhere are stuck in their lives and are simply looking for a way to be a little more impervious to the ups and downs that life throws our way. That’s what sustainability and homesteading are about. As much as I can’t wait to get goats and chickens and just my own freaking home, I need to learn the lessons I have before me first. What are those lessons for you? How can you make small changes this year to become more sustainable? More healthy? More of a homesteader?