Saturday, August 14, 2010

Radical Homemakers????

sourdough starter and jelly juice in front of our flour mill

Am I a Radical Homemaker? I'm really not too sure. Dh and I were farmers, I was a farmer's wife. This is just what we did. Moving into town didn't change who we were.

I have been reading Shannon Hayes' book Radical Homemakers and while I'm thinking that the historical part was interesting it just wasn't applicable to my female ancestors. There were no bored 50's housewives swanning about with their electrical appliances in my family tree. They were all farm wives too busy canning the heck out of anything that didn't move to feel bored, undervalued, and superfluous. They were empowered strong women with a true sense of their value and their place. It takes two to farm, there needs to be a division of labour simply because there is too much of the darn stuff to do on one's own. [Just ask my uncle's divorced friend who farms on his own and lives on Mac'n'Cheese]

My maternal grandmother, and both maternal great-grandmothers were married to farmers. Their families cleared the land my uncles now farm. We are on the second generation on one farm, the third on another, and the fourth on yet another. Best part is these farms are all side by side. I spent summers on my grandparent's farm walking over to my uncle's playing with my cousins, and wandering over to my grandfather's aunt's farm for that rare treat - koolaid!

Best memory ever? A whole bunch of aunts and cousins gathered around a big galvanized tub full of pea pods in the kitchen. We all were sitting there with enameled bowls in our laps shelling like crazy as grandpa bought in bucket after bucket of peas. Gabbing like mad, every once in a while someone would shout, "Ooops! I pea'ed on the floor!" and we would all burst out laughing. Grandma blanching the peas and shushing us all when the farm report came on the radio. Man did we ever have to be quiet then! The price of beef was the really important news.

Even though my mom and I lived in the city I knew from my summers with my grandparents, uncles and aunts that that was real living, not the working 40 hours at an office like my mom did. She had to as a single mom to make ends meet, but even she knew that wasn't where her life was. She hung laundry, gardened, baked whole wheat bread, canned, and was an inspiration. Radical Homemaker skills aren't new to me, I've seen them modeled my whole life! And while I am kicking myself for not asking my grandma more, "How did you used do THIS?" questions before she passed I'm thankful I still have my mom and aunt to pester :o) So, mom, I want to make sauerkraut......

ETA: Rhonda Jean over at Down--to--earth wrote about Radical Homemaking as 'Homemaking, the power career', well worth the read.

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