When I was setting up this blog, I made the tag line “food, farm animals, and feminists.” In part, the alliteration made me giggle…but there was a deeper reason as well. I think that much of the online resources about homesteading culture and diy food production have a common theme, or at least a common expectation: if you’re interested in growing your own critters for food, you’re probably pretty conservative.
(Pro tip: under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you google ‘feminist chicken image’ in hopes of finding something good for your post. You get some REALLY horrifying results.)
In fact, this seems to be one of the dividing lines between ‘urban homesteading’ – young, probably white hipsters getting a couple of chickens and a tomato plant or two, and ‘homesteading’ – moving out to the country to a more sustainable life. We’re pretty definitely NOT urban homesteading, in our tiny not-even-a-town (Wikipedia defines our community as a ‘Census Designated Place’, too small to even be a village), with big plans to buy our own land and expand both the vegetable and animal parts of our world…but when you scan blogs with the topic ‘homesteading’, I often feel like a fish out of water.
Here’s the thing: I’m an over-educated dyke with tattoos, big opinions, and too many animals. And in a lot of ways, my ideas about what I can do, and whether it’s worth doing, come from an activist background, and my formative years in lesbian community- with women who have built their own houses, made their own careers, started their own cultural institutions, worked hard and joyfully to build lives outside the ridged gender boxes we’ve been given. I joked last year, as we were digging up 2 20 foot fruit trees by hand for transplanting (what, they were free!) that the problem with my particular community is that it leads you to believe two women with shovels can do ANYTHING.
Unlike most of the homestead bloggers online, I’m not a libertarian, or a prepper (even if Amazon recently started recommending dried food and ammo to me – I’m pretty sure it was the home-butchering supplies I ordered). I’m not planning for when ‘the shit hits the fan’ or SHTF’ – (an actual thing, you should google it. Fascinating). We don’t homeschool, and my posts are not peppered with frequent references to the glory of (insert your favorite deity here). I DEFINITELY wouldn’t fit anyone’s ‘modest dress’ standards, and I’m really not looking for anyone to lead, or explain a return to appropriate gender roles in order to ‘save the American family’. I’ve got way more in common with the lesbian land movement of the 70s than I do with folks stockpiling guns for when our government breaks down.
However, I love this life we’re building. Having grown up on the edge of a small town in a really rural part of the country, from hunting and fishing folks who raised their own rabbits for food, it feels like a return to me, one that makes me happy every single day. Over the last two years, we’ve been really working to build community here, and that gets better every day, as we share events and skills and labor and commiseration with others.
But I want that here online as well. I read a LOT of homesteading blogs: there’s often no better source for figuring our how to, for instance, slaughter your own pig, or find a new clever way to up your potato yield. But there has to be more rural progressive folks who love animals AND think the gender pay gap is bullshit, more queers and weirdos, more folks trying to move outside consumer culture and build their own lives. And yes, I’ve read and agree with some of the critiques of DIY culture generally and urban homesteading more specifically, but I find it hard to argue against anyone learning how to care for themselves and the world around them, whatever their motive.
So I wrote this post. In fervent hope that the next person who googles ‘feminism and homesteading’ gets just a bit more back than one book, a bunch of academic articles, and some posts explaining why ‘the feminists’ have ruined the country and only a return to traditional gender roles are going to fix that. There’s a couple of overtly progressive homesteading blogs, but they’re few and far between.
Let’s change that.
Until next time,