Homeschooling…Homesteading…Can you do both?
Since I blog on other sites, sometimes I like to share what I’ve written somewhere else. This particular article on homesteading and homeschooling is a good introduction into our current lives!
Our current projects
Our family has bitten off a homesteading project. It’s a whole-family deal, and definitely a life-changing process for us! We find that it goes right along with out homeschooling journey!
We are doing our best to move towards sustainable preparedness, which simply means that we are going in the direction of being completely off-grid, while having a sustainable way to provide what we need. Sustainable means something that regenerates itself, like the sun, wind, or something that you can harness from nature. In other words, you aren’t dependent on buying things that keep your way of life going.
Desiring and striving
Let me just say, we are not there yet! We are desiring, striving, and taking steps to get there, though. So far, we are technically off grid, in that we aren’t on the power grid, but since we still have to buy gas to run our generators and propane to cook with, we are not sustainable yet. But, we only moved into our property a few months ago, we are in the middle of building our cabin, and are living in our RV while we do that, so we are making steps. Even just me typing this has been a great reminder to me of how far we’ve already come in our journey!
How Homesteading fits with Homeschooling
We obviously homeschool, and this year had been the most difficult in terms of “normal” school days and “typical” courses of study, but it has also been the most rich with real-life learning and mentoring experiences, so it has been such a blessing!
I thought someone may be curious to take a peek into our world, in case they wonder if they could survive such an experience. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look in the form of a Jeff Foxworthy-style laundry list. So, in the spirit of “You Might be a Redneck,” here’s my version.
You Might be a Homesteading Homeschooler (or the Teacher of one) if…
- You say, “Go take a bath,” and it involves a pan, the propane stove, and a water scoop.
- You look around for your children and discover they are outside with a pick-axe and shovel, making a drainage ditch.
- You have a black tank…and it connects into your septic tank…and that makes you very happy.
- You know you’d better keep the lever IN on the black tank, or certain disaster could occur. At least a smelly mess!
- You’ve “learned” the lesson of the full black tank three times, and wish someone else would learn it too!
Are you with me so far? Here’s more…
- Your teenage son puts in a hard day’s work before he sits down to do math. Or…maybe he’s been doing math all day, and sits down to the math book after all that real life math…
- Your same teenage son has more credit hours for electives in apprenticeship/carpentry classes in one semester than many get in their whole high school time.
- The terms “grey water,” “blackwater,” “overload,” “battery life,” “generator,” and “power surge” have suddenly made frequent appearances in your vocabulary.
- Your boys have more power tools than the average homeowner, and they know how to use them.
How about these skills?
- Your kids actually know how to collect rainwater, store it, and treat it — and they do it for fun!
- You have a water pump for filling tanks. Your kids know how to use those too, and you’re secretly glad, since you don’t have a clue! “Great job, boys!” 😉
Tiny living space, minor inconveniences
- You hardly even notice anymore when the generator gets cranked up.
- You’ve ever made an emergency run for propane or gasoline.
- You have a tiny stove, but are thrilled to have one!
- You have a tiny fridge, and are very happy for that too!
- You have a cooler outside for tiny fridge overflow.
- You wash dishes in cold water, unless you heat it yourself. But, you know it won’t be forever….right?!?!? RIGHT???
- You truck your laundry into town, and people are amazed at how much mud you bring along.
- The sound of the hammer and the power tools are like cheery music in the background. It may be just a simple cabin going up, but it will be HOME!
- You design a kitchen and think it’s small, until you look around and notice that your current kitchen/dining room/living room and bathroom combined are smaller than the new “small” kitchen — and you get happy thinking of all that space! 😃
- You have a Berkey water filter.
- You used to enjoy camping, but the thought of roughing it feels kind of like everyday life on this homestead, so you’ll be happy with the quasi-camping that you’re currently doing.
- Piano practice is on a portable keyboard, and it’s kind of a joke!
- Your kids can back up better than you can because they’ve practiced by helping Daddy in all sorts of scenarios.
- Your husband calls for one of the boys when he’s in a jam, and they know what to do, whether it’s drive the skid steer up the hill, get a truck unstuck, or something scary that you know you’d probably flub up. Somehow they just know. They’re homestead boys.
- You worry at night about what a strange life your kids are leading, if they’re learning anything at all, and what they will do in the future. Then you remember that life skills are rarely taught, and even more infrequently caught, and you go to sleep knowing that they will use these skills forever.
- You feel frustrated about having no space for books and things, and God whispers in your ear, “It’s only for a season.” (Thank you, Lord! It’s so hard to see the future!)
- A dehumidifier has joined your family, and stays running all the time, but you still have to wipe water off windows and closets several times a day, or Mr. Mold pays a visit.
- You wonder why everything takes so long, and remember that filling water tanks, dealing with frozen tanks and hoses, heating water, and cleaning up after all that has become part of your life, and that you chose this adventure because it will eventually lead to freedom.
Not quite as rough as the mission field…or is it?
- You have five people, three cats, and two dogs in a “tiny house” space (~250 sq. feet), and so far everyone is on somewhat peaceful turns, although there have been moments.
- People think you’re roughing it, and you do too! Then you recall times in the mission field, scrubbing clothes by hand in the Amazon River, and you know you’re inconvenienced, not living it rough. And, you thank God that you can do laundry in a modern way, even if it does require that inconvenience.
- Despite your “inconveniences” you still have 24-hr internet, lights, phone service, and video, as long as you have gas and pay your phone bill. (Just saying that we don’t have it so rough, we just don’t happen to have grid power.)
- You do more school in the car than you’ve ever done before (think audio books), but believe that once this project wraps up, home will again be the principle place for school, and that it will all be worth it! But, sometimes you try to remember the days when you “just did school.”
- You are amazed when church people tell your boys that they “really ought to come volunteer at ________,” and your kids tell them politely that we really don’t have time right now, and they reply, “Well, you could just make time if you wanted to!” You just shake your head and think, “You have no idea…”
So…could you be a homesteading homeschooling family?
There you have it–a picture of our life right now at Ridge Haven. It’s quite an adventure, somewhat of a trial, it’s messy, and it’s never predictable! Hang on for the ride!