Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Chores will set you free

Chores will set you free

There is a poster that has been greeting me every time I pop down to the basement to put food away in the root cellar; or on my way up from seeding plants. It is at the top of the stairs, and proclaims in joyful dramatic woodcut ink:

The Government will not set you Free. Chores will set you Free.

I think that this statement, equating chores with freedom, captures the homesteading lifestyle at its most crucial point; it is the heart of it.

I have been here for three weeks, and I can feel a fusing of usually separate elements of my life into a single action—Chores. But it would be too simple to call it just “chores.” It is a fusing of working, learning, and socializing into a single action. On Monday, at the meeting when weekly schedules take shape, people will practically fight over certain chores; “Who wants to feed the chickens?” “I’ll take the whole week.” “Awww, I want a day or two!” Moreover, the major work week, comprised of 4-5 hour blocks, morning and afternoon, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, is so variable, new, and enjoyable that each block becomes a little experience in itself; Four hours, bite sized, mental, physical and social excursions:

Walking through the snow, the sound of clipping as we prune trees, sculpting the future paths of each branch.

Transforming the greenhouse from disorder to organization, moving from sunny indoor warmth to the hint of cold outside, all while conversation lightly flows.

Preparing breakfast, taking orders, meeting and greeting visitors as the community pours in for Farm Feast Breakfast (95 visitors strong!)

And on Monday, as the meeting lilts on and on, my schedule goes from a blank page to a full page; and free-time events, traveling into town, seeing such and such presentation, band practice, are pressed right up against my chores, feeding pigs, cleaning stalls, construction. In fact, it is harder and harder to tell which is chore and which is free-time.

You will never have so much free time as when you are constantly busy. Chores will set you free.

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