The Homestead Tradition
It took me a long time to realize that the same passions that brought my family out west are the same passions that brew inside of me still. Many generations ago, my family came across the ocean to begin a new life filled with hard work and grit. They built barns, raised babies and fed animals. They planted flowers and gardens and worked hard to make their life their own. I heard stories from my 99 year old Granny Fox about walking next to a wagon with all she had to begin a new life in a dry desert. Today that town is still not big, but it exists. I read stories of my Great Great Grandpa Rhoades taking off to the gold rush in California and bringing back bags of gold. He built forts to protect his family, he built a community and a life.
As I work on my tiny 1 acre farm, well really petting zoo, I realize that the homestead traditions of my fathers have turned into the skills that I want to teach my kids.
Here are a few of the traditions they passed to me:
Plant a garden – There’s not much that is more satisfying than pulling your own veggies out of your own backyard and making dinner. I love knowing that what I feed my kids is good for them and healthy. I also love that they know where that food comes from.
Raise Chickens – My Great Grandpa Madsen had a farm in what is now the middle of the city. I loved to go play in the chicken coop and hear stories of how my grandma’s job was to gather the eggs. I was too little to ever see it in it’s glory, but I love the tales it stored inside. I have chickens in my backyard now with a cute little chicken coop to boot. My kids love that chicken tradition too. They love to pet them, hold them, gather their eggs, and sell the extras. When they ask for a toy, I get to ask,”did you bring your own money?”. Those eggs have given us food to eat and taught my kids the ability to make money. Is there anything cuter that a 7 year old strapping eggs to his bike to deliver them to the neighbor? The answer is no, it’s adorable. And even today that silly rooster woke me up…and I kinda loved it.
Plant Fruit Trees – Grandpa Madsen had apple trees in his backyard. I now have an apple tree in the corner of my yard. I loved to go pick an apple and sit under the tree to eat it. In the fall, my kids will grab an apple as they walk home from the bus stop and chomp away as they walk in the door. Crunchy traditions are the best. Healthy after school snack – check.
Bake – Learning to cook the food we grow has been one of my favorite traditions. I love to bake bread, make pasta and re-create grandmas famous oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. There is something amazing that happens when little people cook with the grown-ups. The homestead tradition of making pasta with fresh eggs can’t be beat.
Play Outside – Whether is was panning for gold, trapping for fur, or building tree houses, the best things in life come with fresh air. Even with all the hundreds of channels available on TV, the best thing to watch at the end of the day, is a fire. Living on a modern day homestead allows my kids plenty of things to do outside, away from screens, free and in the wild (or at least that’s what they think).
Now as I think about who I really am and what title I want to be known for, and corporate America has allowed me a lot of titles, the one I love the most is Modern Day Pioneer. Carrying on the homestead tradition of my fathers – even if it is on a smaller scale.by