Sunday, January 29, 2012

Homesteading Ladies

That blog title sound like an oxymoron doesn't it?  I have to admit, it sure does to me.  The past couple of days I have been thinking about something on this topic.  Rather, I have been obsessing over ti because it is a topic that bothers me......a lot!

Think about all of the tasks that you do when living off-grid or modern homesteading.  Gathering firewood, doing all the tasks and chores without the luxury of modern technology.  There is so much more physical work involved each day.  As I have mentioned often, even the simplest of chores can become an event. Let me give you an example of the process it takes for me to wash laundry.

A tote of fire wood is filled and sets near the wood stove in the kitchen.  I stock the stove and have to maintain the fire in it to heat a waterbath canner filled with water to a rolling boil.  While the water is heating, I get the laundry gathered and the washtubs set up near the clothesline.  The laundry is sorted according to how soiled it is.  Lightest soiled is washed first so that I don't have to change out the water as often.  Once the water is heated, it is dumped into the washtubs.  I then finish filling the tubs with cold water.  The waterbath canner is refilled and set back on the stove to heat.  I still maintain the wood in the stove throughout the process.  What water is not needed to do laundry will be used for dishes or other cleaning.  I begin washing the laundry, using the scrub board as needed.  Laundry is wrung out by hand and placed in the wash tub of rinse water.  After I get a load in the rinse tub, I rinse the clothing one piece at a time and run it through the hand-crank wringer.  I place the rinsed laundry into a clothes basket until I have a batch to carry to the clothesline for hanging up.  After it is all washed, rinsed, and hung to dry, the wash tubs are rinsed out and set to dry.  Towards late afternoon, the laundry is taken from the clothesline, folded or hung onto hangers and put away.  If at any time during this process the wash water gets too dirty, I have to stop and clean out the wash tub before refilling it again.  That is only 1 task that I do.

More firewood is brought in before evening to make sure we have enough for the night.  Each day without rain is a day for firewood gathering.  We have downed trees on the property and in our woods that need cleaning up from last year's ice storm.  The fallen tree limbs are dry and ready to use.  We only need to cut it and bring it in.  We keep 2 wooden shipping crates on the porch filled with firewood. These give us a 4-5 day supply of wood.  Keeping it on the porch allows us to have dry firewood should we get rain. 

Amid all of the physical work of a rural lifestyle, I come back to the blog topic, homesteading ladies.  Let's face it.  The work that we do each day is much more physical than the work we did before choosing the rural life.  The days of having your fingernails looking stylish are long gone.  It is hard to have long and pretty nails when you are tossing firewood into crates or using a washboard.  Often, our clothing choices are made according to functionality and comfort more than appearance.  So, here is the question.  How do you do the work of a farmhand each day and still manage to feel feminine?  One woman told me it is a choice.  You can focus on your feminine side or you can live a rural lifestyle.  She believes that you cannot have both.  I disagree with that.  There has to be a way to be feminine without being too "girlie" to do your daily tasks.  I do see a problem however with becoming so focused on doing the work that you don't take time to even notice your own feminine nature. 

So, what are your ideas?  How do you find the balance between being feminine and doing very physical messy work?

1 comment:

Jan said...

I think that being 'feminine whilst you work' is not only a problem with a rural lifestyle.Its easy to become so occupied by our occupations/lives that we forget that we are ladies/feminine first! lol...