What They Don't Tell You On Cabin Porn

There's is a movement that's been building up for a few years, of folks of all stripes and especially the young ones, wanting to live a little closer to the land. To move to the country. To grow food and raise livestock. To make their own. To chop wood and carry water. 

All of which is wonderful. We all need to get closer to where food comes from, figure out how to make the things we need, be more in touch with the seasons and plants and animals and the weather, and frankly, each other as well. 

I've also found it rather wonderful to follow online the mutual efforts of other folks with similar ambitions as ours. Whether it be backyard chickens and beans on the porch, or a full of small farm, there's a lot an aspiring homesteader can learn from others, both in real life and online. If you check my "reads" section, you'll find some awesome homesteads on the internets.

However, for a while now, I've been a little puzzled by some of the more superficial effects of "moving to the country"-as a movement and a trend. While most people actually homesteading and farming and living in the sticks would probably agree that magazines, blogs, or even their own instagram feeds don't necessarily present the entire picture, it seems like there's a little bit of a disconnect between people's farm dreams, and the actual farm realities

Moving to the country doesn't exactly solve all of your problems, doesn't necessarily make you a better person, or even help you #liveauthentic. 

Part of it might be that I never particularly aspired to move to the country. I wanted to move to here, this island. The fact that it was the country was sort of secondary to me.  That said, should I for some reason have to ever leave this Island, I don't think that I could go back to the city. There are so many more things I love about the country, than I ever did about the city. Not having had the "I'm going to move to a little cabin and grow food for myself."-phase though, I sometimes get a little exasperated by all the starry-eyed dreams of picture perfect homesteads, the new folks that show up here every summer explaining that all they want is "a little homestead", against all reality, research and good sense. 

Creating pinterest-boards of gardens and looking at pictures of cute cabins, or videos of bearded men in plaid chopping wood, does not prepare you for what it's actually like to garden, live in a cabin, or chop wood. Living in the country is not just about frolicking in the woods and walking in the meadows, or harvesting perfect produce, taking selfies with goats and sitting in a rocking chair in your tiny cabin playing the banjo.  

It's also getting up in the morning when it's 15℉ out and emptying the ashes from the stove into a bucket and taking it to the outhouse, before you can go chop wood and start a fire and go brake away the ice from the animal water. It's having all your plant starts get eaten by slugs and voles and cutworms and then having half your plants eaten by rabbits, or deer. It's endless hours of weeding. And it's endless hours of wondering what you did wrong and not quite knowing what you did right. It's starting from scratch a lot. It's spending a month's rent money on firewood. It's worrying about your house catching on fire and then having that happen to people you love and know. It's chasing animals around the yard and pasture and the woods. It's having to empty the outhouse. It's putting aside your other plans for the day to play veterinarian. It's about wondering if you'll have to euthanize an animal because you're not, in fact a veterinarian. It's having to get used to death, destruction and general mayhem.

Often, it's having to do all of these things while holding down a "real" job. Weeding after a full day of work. Canning on your weekends. Getting up extra early before work to tend to your animals. It's also making gardens and having to leave them behind. Sometimes, if you're lucky, it's building your home from the ground up, and often it's choosing small, not because tiny houses are cute, but because that's all you can afford and you need somewhere to live, right now.

This is not to say don't dream, don't aspire, don't be inspired. Dreaming is good, it's great, we should all do more of it, in my humble opinion. But unless you're independently wealthy, no dream can be achieved without a lot of hard work, failures and messiness. Living simpler, is really not that simple, ultimately. In my experience, you're just trading complications for different ones. 

Don't get me wrong. I love my life here. I'd recommend it to anyone, in a heartbeat, but it's not always pretty. It's often frustrating, sometimes difficult and frequently downright comical.

What made me think of this today was hawks. Not the majestic, soaring over the mountains, bringing us messages from the spirit-realm hawks, but the kind I chase away from the chicken coop with a broom. Well, actually, those are one and the same, which is exactly at the crux of my point here. 

So, if you're harboring those dreams of country roads and getting up early to light fires and feed the animals, make sure to read the thoughts of good folks like Jesse and Hannah, or Julie. They'll make you dream bigger, not smaller, while actually living authentically.