A Fair Warning
If you have Barnheart and it can't be helped you can expect a lot of changes. Choosing to make homesteading a part of your life when it previously wasn't is one hell of a nap shake. Most of us either were raised in (or currently reside in) homes without a grocery store in the backyard. I didn't grow up keeping bees, milking goats, collecting eggs and butchering hogs. Making that my new normal was a 10 on the Richter Scale. Over the next few weeks I'll be writing about the changes I experienced personally, but I'm willing to bet my kailyard that many of you have experienced them as well.
To summarize the essays ahead: farming and rural life changes you. It doesn't just change your clothes, car, and address, it changes everything. It changes how you talk and the words you use—entirely new language and terminology is thrown about as nonchalantly as yesterday's jeans. It changes how you see time and make appointments—2PM on a Tuesday afternoon is free for a nap but you can't travel home for Christmas because a barn roof might collapse or the wood stove needs to be stoked. Clothing becomes a tool—good boots matter more to your healthcare plan than dental insurance. And most of all it changes how other people see you. Leaving what is considered a conventional life for the other side nervous can be seen as reckless, stupid, or insane.
You lose people. Not all people and not the folks who love you, but to those folks who get anxious about stepping in mud at work - acquaintances - you lose them. You lose them because you go from being this person with a lifestyle they understand and relate to into this other being. You turn from something civilized and comfortable into something wild. What seems like a natural progression towards a dream and a lifestyle you envy is viewed by some as downright crazy. Seemingly overnight you become an unfamiliar creature, pacing the edges of security and conformity. It makes them nervous. Your behavior becomes erratic but your focus turns pin-point sharp. You start to change how you eat. You start talking at dinner parties about butchering pet chickens someday. You stop buying trendy clothes, bars, eating out and being "normal" and find yourself spending weekends at workshops and internships pulling weeds and getting tanner than your coworkers. People get worried about you. They ask you questions but your speech is too confusion now. All you know is you are unable to be content until you are out there. You crave sweat, bonfires, blood, sunlight, sore muscles, and fireflies. You claw to spend time outdoors among animals, other animals, a thought that is slowly starting to keep you up at night...
You're a werewolf, darling. And that is a wondeful monster to be!
Not literally, of course. But to people who knew you before goats milk found its way into your lunchpail feel that way. You don't see it because it is happening to you and you like it. You got a taste of something free, powerful, and raw. No wonder you make those people nervous! And now here you are trying to find your pack among all these sheep. It's hard to see the others wolves through all that wool but we're out there. I promise we are.
And I hope you don't take that metaphor the wrong way. I do not mean you are a mindless horror avatar. I mean that you change. You really do. And you change into something powerful and home in nature so I went with my favorite fictional character. I do realize not everyone likes being compared to such beasts so insert happy creature here.
Anyway - change! That is what this series of posts about how farming has changed me will go. Letters to you, my fellow agricultural lycanthropes. Folks who are expecting the change to take them over and spin their lives on their heads, and it will. I'm going to start by talking about a fitting subject for this introduction: meat. I'm an ex-vegetarian and vegan who went nearly a decade without eating meat for animal rights/spiritual/and ecological reasons and now I butcher my own backyard livestock.
To get started I'd like you to ask me questions about that change. What do you want to know? What are you struggling with, excited about, or stressed out about when it comes to turning animals into food? Does that sentence make you cringe? Why? All respectful comments welcomed and will make the essay better and perhaps start an important conversation. So please, ask.