I have a lot of hobbies. I play piano, sing, paint, make jewelry and masks, brew fruit wines and articulate skeletons. Homesteading, however, is my lifestyle. I didn't understand when I was living in large cities, going to college, and shopping at Whole Foods that these would all be elements leading me to a lifestyle, not a lifestyle in and of themselves.
Then I started making my own food. I mean really MAKING my own food. I wasn't just purchasing ingredients anymore, I was planting seeds and hatching eggs and watching my future happen right before my eyes. My daily routines changed entirely, to revolve around seasonal cycles, feedings, plantings, trimmings and weedings. Slowly, I began to take root myself, to be more and more tied to the farm that was quickly becoming the center of my existence. Less and less time could be spared to socialize at the local watering hole or visit friends and family because once you start homesteading and growing your future, the cycle just snowballs. Chickens lead to ducks lead to turkeys lead to rabbits, a pig and goats... and all the work that goes into their upkeep. Twenty tomato plants turn into 600, and seed catalogs practically DEMAND you try at least ten new things a season. Gardens have a way of growing, in terms of both production, and square footage.
There are other cycles too... canning, drying or otherwise preserving harvests, crop rotations, farmers markets, tourism... the list can be overwhelming. When starting out especially, and up until you get your systems down and *hopefully* somewhat automated, each system (garden, chickens, pigs, pastures, greenhouses, aquaponics, etc.) takes much more time and presents a much higher learning curve than later on in the game. This makes homesteading a 24/7 deal. Don't fret, and enjoy the process. As you get more comfortable with the schedule, you'll figure out ways to integrate your social needs with the needs of the ecosystem you're creating, and the lifestyle you love. This could be canning or planting parties (I love throwing these, and people from all walks of life get to meet each other and make unlikely friends), bonfires, dinners or horseback rides, on your own farm or on others. Remember, farms are bustling places, full of excitement. Let people enjoy it with you. Social problem solved.
Vacations for homesteaders are completely different than for everyone else. They're spent at home, in the quiet moments with a cup of coffee, watching your goats chew their cud, or admiring your blooming orchard trees. They're spent planting seeds with friends and family, chopping vegetables and telling stories, building community and memories. Life's a garden... dig it. :)
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