Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Washer Women

First, an apology for such a delay in posting.  Two birthdays, the flu, food poisoning, and family visits in the last 8 days or so have pretty much written off this week.  I'll try to stay more on top of things from here on out!

Between reading the blogs I am currently following and finding a plethora of fantastic ideas on Pinterest, I have been rendered speechless by the strength and determination of some modern-day homesteaders who are leading their families on a quest for self-sufficiency that in my wildest imaginings I wouldn't have conceived.  They are true pioneers in the most basic sense of the term and demonstrate just how much can be done with strong forearms and a will of steel.  On days when I feel like I accomplished a lot because both my children are dressed and I have a fresh loaf of bread on the counter, I need only take a look at some of these women who have already started their gardens, fed their seven children, milked the cow, made butter, and hand-washed the clothes of the afore-mentioned seven children.

I have always wanted to live as sustainable a lifestyle as possible, and accomplish as much at home as I possibly can.  However, it didn't really occur to me to buy a washboard and start doing our clothes by hand, finishing them off through a wringer before hanging them to dry and starting over.  I find it amazing that the women who are currently doing this get anything else done at all!  Now you can find the necessary implements in a local antique store (or your grandmother's attic), or perhaps you can purchase one of the more modern versions online (Mean Green Washing Machine).

After ruminating on this particular homesteading skill for some time, I came to a rather guilty revelation: I don't want to.  I don't want to wash my clothes by hand.  I just don't.

Now, it isn't like I haven't done it before:

Costa Rica, 2006
However, between working (because I am still, at this point, going to be required to work outside the home), cooking, gardening, cleaning, loving and playing, I feel that my time will be stretched enough as it is and I don't really want to add hand-washed laundry to the pile of things that must be done.

Also, my darling husband doesn't exactly share my dream of a self-sufficient, alpaca-raising, egg-collecting, pumpkin-growing, tree-tapping utopia.  He cares about natural living and leaving the Earth in a better state than it was left to us.  He wants our children to grow to be respectful, capable, socially and environmentally aware members of society.  He is (somewhat) happy for me to have my own hens, and very supportive of my community garden plans.  But he also likes Sunday afternoon football on a large, highly defined television.  He enjoys our iPad.  And he is a big help around the house, but I feel that his willingness to help with laundry might wane if he couldn't use our HE appliances.

These are all blessings and luxuries that we are very fortunate to have.  Some of them I will take (appliances), some I could leave (television, iPad).  But when creating a family life, which is what our homestead will be, I need to take into consideration all of the members of the family and what we, as a collective unit, desire.

And what we desire is a home that meets our needs, and some of our wants, in a modern way; this home will hopefully meet these needs and wants in as carbon neutral a way as possible as we move forward.

I'm going to start a series outlining our hopes and path as we establish our homestead.  Any feedback from you regarding how you blend modern living with a sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle would be very welcome!


  1. I.do not blame you one bit for not whipping out the washboard and barrel. I think your other goals in sustainable living will balance things out.

  2. Ha! Had you told us you were going to start washing by hand I might have had to re-consider our friendship! (teasing of course, mostly)

    I think you are spot on, you have to make decisions and say "I will do this, but I can't do that" and in the end, know you are doing the best you can.


I love to get comments and questions, and particularly suggestions!