Archive for December, 2012

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

May the New Year bring you closer to your dreams and farther from your troubles.

May you find peace in simplicity and joy in the smallest of accomplishments.


From all of us at,

Suburban Homesteading (dot) com

Escaping Reality or Walking Headlong into It?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

I love my little homestead on the edge of town. It is a stormy weekend here on the Central Coast; grey clouds cover the sky and rain falls light and soft. The Sycamore tree outside my window is the color of New England, red and gold and brown. Leaves fall, swirling around with each puff of wind before landing on the wet ground, insulating bulbs planted this fall.

As I write, there is a blazing fire in front of me, crackling and popping with wood laid in back in September. A stockpot bubbles on the stove, full of vegetables and herbs and chicken raised and killed on our farm this past spring. Soft instrumental music floats through the house, the sounds of winter found on Pandora. It is quiet and peaceful and reflective. It is home, an oasis, a refuge from a chaotic world just outside me.

My friends and acquaintances say I don’t live in the real world, that what I have created is unnatural, a fantasy, a fake world not based on reality. They think I am hiding from life, from drama, from real problems and real situations. But, is it—hiding? Or, is it looking life square in the face and consciously deciding to have something different? A different kind of life; a better life; one based solely on realism.

The daily life of a farm is the most real place you can be. There is living and dying on a farm; crops to be planted so they grow to their most bountiful, animals to be bred so offspring is born during the right season, meat animals to be raised to get a family through the winter. Animals to care for no matter what the weather is, what other pleasures may be sought, what schedules must be kept. Oh, sure you can always run to the store to buy a pre-made meal, but is that the real world? Or, is that the fake and shallow world created by corporations and consumerism?

Is it more real to spend the day walking a mall full of pushing crowds and glaring lights and blaring sounds? Or, is a real life found in the natural flow of a farm? Is reality found in dashing out on a cold winter’s day frantic to get an extra discount on something you already have or don’t really need? Or, is reality found in a home that can care for its family no matter what difficulties may come?

How much more real can you be growing your own food, trading or bartering with others, helping friends in need and being part of a community that understands what real life is, appreciating the hardships and pleasures it can afford, while reveling in the natural beauty of it all.

I suppose we all have a different view on what is real and what reality is. It is shaped by our values, our upbringing, our life experiences. It ebbs and flows as we age and live and grow; deciding what we want for ourselves and from ourselves.

Farming is MY reality. I look out over my little farm and see a decade worth of work and striving and accomplishment. My farm is what solidifies me, quiets my soul, makes me happy, and makes me—REAL.

Do you find the homesteading life an escape from life? Or, a strong walk into reality? I’d love to know.


There is Beauty in the Dying

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My weekend of butchering chickens came to an unusual end. Sandy and I normally butcher together, but an unexpected family event and another rainy weekend threw a wrench in our plans. So, I had to fall back on Plan B, which was to drive my Cornish Rock crosses to the city to be butchered. This would be the first time in six years that I was not going to process my own birds. But, I didn’t want to wait. The birds were already pushing 7-pounds and I didn’t want to wait any longer. So, with plans changed and appointments made I loaded up 15 birds and 4 ice chests into my truck and started the 35-minute drive south.

I had never been to this place before and it was a strange conglomeration of feeding pens for goats and sheep, and cages for laying hens and meat birds all in an unsuspecting industrial park in the middle of the city. Clearly they were making due with what they had available.

I pleasant older man of Russian decent with a thick accent met me in the driveway. He directed me to the small building on one side of the feedlot pens. I backed my truck as he directed and opened the back end. He asked how many I had and I told him. Two younger men came out and began unloading my truck. We walked into the building; a cinderblock structure set up with killing cones, scolder and plucker in one room and a stainless steel processing table with water faucets in the other. This was a place for high volume butchering, not the slow meandering butchering that Sandy and I did, which contained more chattering than processing. This was a serious place for serious processing. Read the rest of the story »