Whether you're just planning to get a chicken or you've been living on a farm since you were a child, there are always going to be folks asking what you're up to.
If you've just decided to take the plunge into homesteading, allow me to offer some advice. You may be planning a move to the country, grow a little garden, milk a cow, or maybe just get a couple of hens for your backyard. Chances are many people will think you are weird, crazy, or have gone off the deep end.
At some point, you're going to have to tell your friends, family, and other random people who drop by why your house smells like a pig, or why you have chickens in your backyard.
I thought I'd offer up some suggestions as to how you may want to respond when people asks you, "Why?" Why you would want to move to the middle of nowhere? Why would you grow your own food when you could just buy it at the grocery? Why would you raise a cow when you can buy meat in pretty little plastic packages? When exactly did you fall on your head? Are you mad?
The first rule is to be careful what you do say, because the person you are talking with may hear something else entirely.
When you say: "We moved to the country so that our children could have a better childhood."
They may hear: "Your kid's childhood sucks."
When you say: "We've decided to grow organic fruit and vegetables."
They may hear: "You're eating pesticides and chemicals."
When you say: "We want to raise healthy meat that is free from antibiotics, hormones or medications."
They may hear: "You're on drugs."
When you say: "It's not for everyone, homesteading definitely has a lot of challenges."
They may hear: "You'd never make it."
When you say: "We milk a cow so we can have raw milk."
They may hear: "You're gonna die."
Of course, we don't think there's anything wrong with a childhood in a neighborhood, buying food at the grocery, and we know if we can do it – anyone can! At the same time, we want to make sure we don't offend anyone outside of the trenches.
Many may find it interesting and amusing to hear all about your move toward a more self-sufficient life. Family and friends will most likely be asking what you're up to.
What really caught us off guard were all the inquiries from random people whom we didn't know. They, by far, asked the most amazing questions.
One sunny afternoon there was a particularly memorable inquiry. We were in the cow field stretching fence last spring when an older guy stopped by and walked over to my husband and me. He introduced himself, shook our hands and said:
Guy: "Are you the crazy people who got that Jersey cow?"
Husband: "Yes sir."
Guy: "Why'd you get a Jersey cow?"
Husband: "To milk."
Guy: "You milk that cow?"
Guy: "What do you do with the milk?"
Husband: "Drink it."
Guy: "Do pasteurize it yourself?"
Husband: "Nope. We drink it straight from the tap."
I loved that he came by to meet us. I loved his questions. I love country people.
Here are some suggested responses to give if you don't want to offend anyone while discussing your move to the country:
Do a quick subject change. When they ask you why you moved to the country, tell them about all the fresh air and ask them how their family is doing.
Confusion may work. When they ask if that's a milk cow in your yard, ask their opinion on the pasteurization and homogenization process.
Offer surprising information. When they ask you if your children have anyone to play with, tell them your children have been properly socialized by cows, chickens and pigs.
Use Distraction. When they ask you why you would want to milk a cow every day, just tell them the cow is great and ask them what their favorite flavor of milk is: strawberry, chocolate, or raw.
Many Talk. Few Do. Congratulations, if you are one of the few doing this wild, crazy homesteading thing. It is a beautiful way to live. Others may never understand why we do it, why we live this way, but we do.