We are tied to the grid and have all the modern conveniences (fridge, stove, washer, dryer, microwave, VCR/DVD, tv, landline phone, cell phone, and yes, computer and Internet). We don't drive new vehicles, don't have a dishwasher. When the icemaker went out, we did not replace it--instead I freeze ice in trays. The microwave is on the blink and when it goes out I am going to see how I make it without one before we decide to replace it. We try to live simply in today's high tech world, which isn't always easy.
Every homestead family is different, and each calls for unique choices. If some families choose to live off-grid, make their living off their homesteads, homeschool their children and choose to live without all the latest technology, should I as a fellow homesteader decide they have nothing of value to offer since they aren't "up-to-date with the times?" Should they judge me the same way since in their opinion I may not be living their idea of the "simple life"?
We are debt free and have a garden; we have chickens, goats, and horses; we cut and heat with wood, shop at thrift stores, yard sales and auctions; I cook and bake from scratch, and we try to simplify our life by deciding when enough is enough. On the other hand, we enjoy camping and have a camper, boat, motorcycle, and a pool. We have a tractor with several implements, riding and push-type lawn mowers, a tiller and a wood splitter. My husband has a shop full of power tools, a welder and generator. I don't grow all our food or make all our clothes; I shop the local grocery and discount store. This may not fit some COUNTRYSIDE readers' idea of living the simple life, but it works for us.
As homesteaders we use many different "tools" each and every day. I view the Internet as a tool. It can be a valuable tool or it can be a dangerous tool if not used properly. The same can be said of a gun. It is a valuable tool to the homesteader, but can be a dangerous tool in the hands of a criminal. What about the credit card? For me it is a tool (remember I said we are debt free). There are many other examples of tools that homesteaders choose to use. Some use tillers for their gardens, others use only hand tools. Some homesteaders who own dairy animals opt for electric milkers, others milk by hand. Still others choose electricity, while some choose to be off-grid. Is one way right and the other wrong? Whose opinion of a "homesteader" are we going to use to measure ourselves and each other by? COUNTRYSIDE'S Philosophy of the simple life in the front of each issue is for each homesteader to take all that is available and pick and choose those things that make each of us unique.
The reason the Internet is a valuable tool to me is because I can access it anytime that is convenient for me. It saves me time when I need information. Just a few of the examples where I have recently used the Internet: I can Google a recipe to can garden produce so much faster than trying to find it in a cookbook or recipe file, I did this for squash relish last week. I recently needed worming information for my goats, and again used the Internet. There is so much information at my fingertips when I need it. Who can claim to know someone who will fix every problem or answer questions that might arise in the course of homesteading? I don't do a lot of shopping on-line but recently needed a top hat, found one much cheaper than I could have locally, and best of all I didn't have to drive all over looking, and it was delivered right to my door. I also find wonderful homesteading books at www.half.com. I don't have to be limited to my local library or bookstore. As with any other tool, it can be valuable if used properly.
I think if we homesteaders who choose to use technology are more sensitive to our fellow homesteaders who choose not to, would include an address or phone number for contacts, then a lot of the problem would be solved. In my opinion the very problem of being frustrated by no phone number or address is why I am sold on the Internet--it alleviates a lot of my frustration since I have access to the information I want when I want it and I don't have to rely on someone else. After all isn't self-reliance one of the major characteristics of a homesteader?
Hammonds, Ronya. "It's just one of many tools." Countryside & Small Stock Journal Sept.-Oct. 2006: 92+. General OneFile. Web. 10 Nov. 2009.
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