October 14, 2009

Honest Scrap

Awhile back, Benita awarded me the Honest Scrap. I confess that I havn't had much time to think about it, until Sharon mentioned that she would have awarded it to me if Benita hadn't.

Many of you have already received this award, but in case not, here are the rules:
1. Choose a minimum of 7 blogs to give this award to that you feel to be brilliant in content and design.
2. Show the 7 winner’s links on your blog and leave them a comment informing them that they have been given the “Honest Scrap.”
3. List 10 honest things about yourself that people may not know.

So, what ten honest unknown things about myself should I share? The answer to that came when I found this old photo of myself....

A long time ago ...This is of my dad and me, taken in the mid-1970s. What's it all about? That's where my ten honest things that folks don't know about me comes in!

1 - I used to be a hippie.

2 - My dream for a simpler lifestyle was born in the early 1970's. Back then, "homesteading" referred to something American pioneers did when they settled the west, and "footprints" were something left by one's feet. Terms like "sustainable" and "self-sufficiency" weren't part of the vocabulary. Back then, it was "going back to the land." My desire was to "live off the land" and that's what I wanted to work toward.

3 - After one year of college and three different majors, I dropped out and met a group of like minded folk. We each went our own way for about a year to make and save some money. Then we headed out together to find land to buy.

4 - Eventually about eight of us or so, bought 140 wooded acres deep in the Ozark Mountains. The closest paved road was 13 miles away. Since the land had no access, everything had to be backpacked in. We had no electricity, no clocks, and no keys.

Crossing the Little BuffaloThis second photo of me shows the only access when the river was up (unless one didn't mind wading). I am crossing a swinging bridge with my backpack and guitar.

5 - We made two tipis for shelter. One was sewn completely by hand, the other with a foot-treadle sewing machine. We lived in these year-round for several years.

6 - We cleared about an acre(?) of land on the side of the mountain and terraced a large garden.

7 - All of our cooking and canning was done over a campfire. The photo of my dad and me above shows the summer kitchen. It's not an especially good photo, but if you look closely, you see my dad standing near a pile of rocks, tending a coffee pot. The rocks made up the base for a fire, our "stove". Behind us you can see rough tables and shelves. There is a water faucet and basin there, furnishing cold running water which was gravity fed from a spring higher up on the land. In cold weather, we cooked over the fire in the tipi.

8 - I lived there for two, going on three years. Toward the end it was off and on, and problems started to develop. While the group was looking for the land, we had a common vision, a common goal. Once we got the land however, we had different ideas about what to do with it. Most of the problems and strife were stirred up by the women and eventually I was asked to leave.

9 - In spite of the interpersonal problems, this was in some ways, one of the happiest periods of my life. However, life doesn't always take us down the path we choose. Even so, the simple, hardworking, close to creation lifestyle suited me and I have carried much of it with me in the life I've lived since then.

10 - I am fortunate now to have a life partner who believes and feels the same way I do. Readers may wonder why we waited until we had an empty next to finally get our own piece of land, as though making a late entry into this lifestyle. That had much to do with the financial choices we made along the way. When we decided to homeschool, it meant living on only one income, and not a large one at that. We were fortunate to be able to rent in a fairly rural area however, and our children were raised in a much simpler lifestyle than most and with many homesteading values: raising and preserving our own food, food storage, utilizing what we had or doing without, not going into debt, chopping wood for that woodstove because who in the world could afford electric baseboard heat.

It is interesting to me that thirty years after those photos were taken, so many people are still longing for the same thing we did then. Oh, we couch it in different terms, but there is just something within some of us that sees the futility of the direction the world seems to want to go.

Hopefully, the years have made DH and me more realistic about our goals and how to obtain them. Sometimes it's hard not to think that if we'd only been able to start on our own homestead years ago, how much farther along we'd be. Still, neither of us regrets the choices we've made along the way. Being older and hopefully wiser now, I understand that there is more to life than simple reaching the finish line. There is joy and value in running the race as well.

Let's see, I'd better get back on track. To whom shall I award the Honest Scrap? That's a tough one to decide! Here are a few of my many regular reads, in no particular order. I benefit from reading them all. I invite you to visit each of them and see for yourself.

Homespun Fiber
Woolly Bits - Everything Textile
Camp Runamuck
A Handmade Life
Dot's Fibre To Fabric
Cottage Homestead
Flow of Love

Honest Scrap photos and text copyright October 2009 


Renee Nefe said...

well that totally suprised me! I knew you homeschooled the kids, but I didn't know the hippy part. I know a lot of hippies, some still are. I don't know how authentic they are though. ;o)

Susan B. said...

I enjoyed reading your ten things! I think there was something about that time and yearning for freedom and simplicity.
What happened to the land?
Thanks for sharing!

Julie said...

Welcome to the hippie club, if there's a club. We could only dream of your lifestyle but I think we have tried to have a lot of the same values. The planting gardens, bottling our veggies and fruits. I didn't home school but that's because I didn't think I had the schooling to do so!

Katrien said...

What a great story! And a surprise for me at the end, I fairly jumped up. It's my first prize. But after your story, mine might be rather boring! I'll do my best.

Benita said...

I have to admit, that is one of the most interesting things I have ever read. Thank you very much for sharing this with us. But, you know, I am not surprised you used to be a hippie - part of that life is still with you today.

Leigh said...

Renee, for me it was just a phase and you probably wouldn't guess it by looking at me now. I know that sometimes folks hang on to parts of their past, as though to keep on living them, but I'm not very sentimental about that sort of thing. I do treasure the experience though.

Susan, I have no idea what happened. I think things pretty much broke up after the squabbling, but after they asked me to leave I didn't keep in touch with any of them. I took a look at the place once on Google Earth, but it still looks just as undeveloped as ever.

Julie, unfortunately a lot of folks feel that way about homeschooling. I think a lot of it has to do with our current societal idea that the "experts" know best. Of course, the educational experts don't like homeschooling because they think it threatens their jobs!

Katrien, you deserve it!

Benita, thank you! Your comment really made me ponder. I'm sure someone has done a doctoral dissertation on the subject, but it would be interesting to research how different people would define "hippy" and what it means to them.

bspinner said...

Thanks so much for sharing your interesting life.

Living off the land is very hard but also very rewarding. I admire you and your husband for your values and passing them on to your children.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Thank you for sharing this. Somehow your story does not surprise me.......(grin!) In 6th grade I was fascinated by books written by a woman who lived off the land in very cold New England, and that was my dream. I especially loved her stories about the snow! But for me the reality is I am very satisfied with working in my yard, designing it, planting it, changing it, weeding it.... It is now a small yard, but it is large enough for me to work and small enough for me to manage.

Leigh said...

Barb, it was rewarding, even though we never reached the ultimate goal of self-sufficiency. One of the things I learned though, that it requires a completely different mindset than most folks have. Consumerism is out and contentment with little is in.

Peg, you're right about gardening. It truly does satisfy a deep need within. I think that's why I just had to get one in the ground this year, no matter how well it did.

Marie said...

Leigh, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and was excited to see about the homeschooling, I was home schooled as was my husband. I was also shocked and happy to see my name on the Honest Scrap award and have posted it on my Blog, thank you Leigh, I humbly accept.

Flower said...

Your "Honest Scrap" story is very interesting to me. There is something about being in nature and living simply that attracts so many of us. You really did it! And, now you're doing it in another way. Thanks for sharing that part of your life! It is apart of your past and it gave you an education few of us ever get!

Leigh said...

Marie, you're welcome!

Flower, thank you. It definitely was an education. I carried a lot of that knowledge with me and apply it often. Even though the experience had a difficult ending, I am thankful for it nonetheless.

Dorothy said...

Hi Leigh, I was going to say thank you for the award before, but confess I wandered off to look around the other blogs and did't get back to leave a comment. I enjoyed the story of your hippy days.

It has left me thinking about America as land of opportunity, what you were doing then, and what you are doing now, are out of reach of most of us in the UK because the price of land is so high.

I looked into prices last year and it's around £8-10,000 per acre for good land around here. Land plus a property to live in is only for the rich (I'd expect a property the size of yours to be advertised for sale at least £700,000). We are very fortunate to have half an acre, there are few homes in our town with this much land.

Janet said...

Really interesting tale - makes me ponder. Thanks for sharing. How did I miss reading this earlier??

Janet, not an ex-hippie

p.s. have you read Drop City by T.C. Doyle?

Leigh said...

Gee Janet, it's not like you aren't getting ready to move back stateside after living all those years overseas. I think it's great that you keep up so well with your own blog, considering all the packing, travel, and unpacking you've had to do!

No, I've not read that. Not sure I'm interested in revisiting all that!