It had been a fantastically productive Sunday. Forty birds graduated from our pasture into the deep freezer, and the two in the oven smelled delicious.

But, on Monday, my friend scrunches her nose at the thought of processing all those chickens. “Why do you do it?”

“Because we can.”

It’s my throw-away answer, the easy one that doesn’t take much time. The longer answer is complicated.

From the outside looking in, many of our friends don’t understand why.

 

They don’t understand why we’ve committed to learning to feed ourselves.

It’s harder than the weekly trip to the grocery store. Why bother?

 

“Is it cheaper?” Not really.

But it provides an abiding value that doesn’t come any other way. We shepherd our animals and give them the best life we are able until their end comes–whether it’s a natural end or an end of our doing, and our children are there with us every step of the way. We acknowledge that in order to live, something must sacrifice.

 

Participating in the pasture-to-table process brings a level of awareness that doesn’t come any other way. It inspires gratitude where there was none before, turns entitlement on its head, and it imparts an understanding that all things have cost, even if we do not see it.

When we are working toward a family goal, we have a sense of teamwork and togetherness.

When we do our part well, we reap the fruits of our labor. Satisfaction, appreciation, and pride bloom in the hearts and minds of our children.

Joel Salatin writes in his website that he is ‘in the redemption business: healing the land, healing the food, healing the economy, and healing the culture.'”

I meet a fascinating cross-section of people in the homesteading movement. Sixties hippies, anarchists, minarchists, libertarians (big L and small), liberals, homebody conservatives, lovers of whole food, homeschoolers of all stripes… Each one unique to the extreme. We come together to learn about husbanding the land and the creatures on it. There are many of us but we don’t often live close together, but we’re out there.

At the beginning of all things, God put Adam in a garden, and He declared it good. He brought the animals to the man, to care for, to tend, to name. And then God formed a woman and the two lived in the garden, caring for God’s creation. That’s what paradise once was.

 

Some days, for our family, that looks a lot like chickens.

 

 

 

 

Bokerah Brumley is a speculative fiction writer making stuff up on a trampoline in West Texas. When she’s not playing with the quirky characters in her head, she’s addicted to Twitter pitch events, writing contests, and social media in general. She lives on ten permaculture acres with five home-educated children and one husband. In her imaginary spare time, she also serves as the blue-haired President of the Cisco Writers Club. In 2016, she was awarded first place in the FenCon Short Story Contest, third place in the Southern Writers Magazine Short Story Contest, fifth place in the Children’s/Young Adult category for the 85th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition, and selected as a 2016 Pitch Slam! finalist. More recently, she accepted novel contracts with Clean Reads Press and Liberty Island Media. She also moonlights as an acquisitions editor for The Crossover Alliance.