“Returning” to the Homestead

By , April 8, 2011

I hope this isn’t becoming repetitive, but I’m almost overcome by a variety of feelings—mostly satisfaction— as we “return” to homestead life.

Last winter was hard in unexpected ways. The frequent bitter cold and high winds, with little or no snow curtailed our usual winter activities. Producing and promoting the new book, writing for this and another blog, and getting my publishing business off the ground kept my thoughts focused away from home much of the time. Even the security and convenience created by the big log that washed up on our beach broke the rhythm of homestead life. We had a lovely winter, but an element of disconnect pervaded it, which I found unsettling.

In recent weeks we’ve broken out of that behavior, and plunged back into our life. We’re waking up the compost piles, planting seeds, building raised beds, clearing stone. We’re bucking up windfalls, hauling, chopping, and stacking next winter’s firewood for drying. We’re cleaning and repairing tools in preparation for the hooters hooting in the forest, and the fish that will soon return to our waters. We are, once again, a “working homestead.” We have returned.

Wednesday, Michelle and I loaded 5 grain sacks of spent barley mash from the Haines Brewing Company, a “20 pound” propane tank, and a bag of wood stove pellets (which we use as cat litter) into the canoe and paddled it around the point. The mash bags probably weighed about 65 pounds each. I’d hauled one over the ridge the day before, so I was very grateful for the opportunity to paddle the rest of them home.

We had a fairly calm day, but the afternoon breeze kicked up from the south against the falling tide, making it a bit choppy. We headed into the wind to get out of the bay and around the point, but it pushed us along nicely from behind as we headed up the coast.

Landing on the rocks with a heavy load and falling tide is always tricky. We worked hard and feverishly to pack everything up the beach, then haul up the canoe to stow till the next calm, or the herring run, whichever comes first. Still, When we’d finished, the satisfaction of hard work done well, the fresh air, and the excitement of taking further steps toward a good garden, overwhelmed us.

We have “returned.”

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