1. Do whatever needed to be done that Papa could no longer do on his own.
I have never been one to ask for help, but I have stopped to realize that our pioneer ancestors did not do things entirely on their own. They traveled west in wagon trains for safety and to pool resources. After arriving at their destinations, they settled in communities. There, within the communities a neighbor that was in need that was helped by the other neighbors. Whether trading labor, bartering for supplies, creating threshing crews, attending barn raisings, or participating in quilting bees, the Pioneers worked together to make sure everyone was as successful as possible. Fields were plowed and planted, hay and grain was harvested, even firewood was cut by groups of people, not individuals.
I have electricity and have modern conveniences to help with the tasks needed to live our modern pioneering lifestyle. This is necessary for us, as I also work a full time job that requires me to be gone from home for a minimum of 48 hours a week. Without our modern equipment, there would not be time to actually do the things we want and need to do. There is a part of me that would love to life off grid and be totally independent of the electric companies, big box stores, etc. But that would be mean no off the farm job, and working it 24/7 like our ancestors did. We have bank loans, and other modern obligations that simply do not allow us to forget about society and disappear into the wilderness to live on our own, not to mention the fact that we are soft and spoiled and not as young as we used to be! I don't know many people that could suddenly go off grid, step back in time and forgo all that modern society offers. I do, however, know many people that want to grow their own food, process fruits and vegetables for winter storage, process their own meat, heat with wood, make their own soap, cook from scratch, etc. With our Facebook group, SW Missouri Homesteaders Buy, Barter, Sell or Trade, we have begun to develop a group of local people that have the same goals of living a self-supporting lifestyle that we do. This group has shared ideas, traded items, traded labor, taught each other knowledge and skills and been an unfailing support system.
One of the differences I have noticed in today's society is that people are not as in tune to what to what is going on around them. We all get so wrapped up in our own places, our own ideas, our own struggles, that we forget to look around us at others to see if there is anything that we could do to help them. Right or wrong, that is a fact of life for all of us in our current society. We can work to make that better, one step at a time, one instance at a time. Noticing that someone is struggling and offering up help is the root of community. When that does not happen, there is no shame in asking for help. There is also no shame is changing the way we are doing things, that might be less labor intensive that would either allow Papa to do it, or allow me to do it in his place. It is time for me to look around and see what we can do differently, what we can do to trade labor with friends and what we can barter or hire done.
First, examine your expectations. Are your expectations realistic? Are you working with a plan that has a firm foundation and that you are building on in steps? Are you gradually adding the parts you need to create the lifestyle you want to live? Or, are you expecting to jump in with both feet and do it all from the beginning with no problems, no struggles, no help and no failures? (Don't ask me about my initial plan...how do you think I understand the differences? ;-) ) Build a plan that adds a little at a time. Perhaps a garden is the first step, with learning to freeze and can your surplus is the first step. This can be done in many ways. You could even choose to can your own food by taking advantage of Farmer's Markets or bulk sales at the store, without any acreage or any dirt under your fingernails. Pick what is important to you, and build from that. Don't try to do it all at one time. If your expectations are unrealistic and impossible, you could quickly become overwhelmed and have set yourself up for failure.
Third, utilize your resources. Take advantage of family and friends that are willing to help by teaching, working, helping or sharing. Don't be afraid to ask for help when it is needed. Think about the pleasure you feel when someone asks you to teach them or help them with something. This feeling of pride and worthiness needs to be experienced by everyone, and when you acknowledge your need for help, you are allowing someone else to experience those feelings, as well as getting the help you need to accomplish the tasks at hand.
Finally, take notice of the family and friends that share your goals and plans. Be mindful of the things they are going through. Offer up a hand, show up to help with whatever is being done that day, pay attention and make sure that you are providing as much to the relationship as you are receiving from it. Nothing will end a relationship sooner, than one party feeling taken advantage of; one person constantly helping, advising, giving to another, but the other never reciprocating. Enjoy gifting as well as receiving.
I am working to make some changes in my attitude toward our life. I will be working on improving what we have and making sure that if we decide to expand to include raising a new animal, learning a process, or perfecting a new technique, we are ready for it. I will remember that we can't do it all, and we don't need to do it all. We need to focus on what is important to us. We have friends that are willing to help, and will need help in return. Most importantly I will work toward being realistic in what I expect and accept the fact that it is ok to not do it all.
Last year was a good lesson in many ways and I look forward to continuing our journey toward a simple, healthy life being a Modern Missouri Pioneer.