“We become the stories we listen to.”

Mathew Kelly wrote that in The Rhythm of Life and I’ve been mulling it over. It’s a profound realization that has reshaped the way I perceive not only myself but also the world around me. You see, everything in life is wrapped in a context, and that context is, in essence, a story.
The stories we tell ourselves and the narratives others tell us have an incredible power to shape our beliefs, our actions, and even our destiny.

In the realm of homesteading and chemical-free farming, there’s a plethora of stories floating around as competing interests strive to control “the narrative”, and I’m sure some of these sound familiar:

“Organic is what you do before you go out of business.”
“You can’t make a living farming.”
“You have to have land (amounts vary depending on what the person doesn’t have) to farm.”
“You have to be wealthy to have a farm like that.”
“I can’t because my husband/wife won’t support me.”
“You can’t raise pigs on pasture. No fences will hold them.”
“Chickens raised outside can get bird flu from wild birds, so don’t take the chance.”
“Farmers should be poor.” (This one is a belief that underlies “You can’t charge ‘that much’ for your products.”)
“I could never butcher an animal.”
“Organ meats are gross. I couldn’t eat that!”

The list goes on and social media is full of them all.

Stories. Meaning given to facts. Sometimes, I can’t wonder if my husband and I attended entirely different events when he recounts his version of certain events. Different perspectives on a given set of events. It’s fascinating how we all take a set of facts and fill in the blanks to give those facts meaning, value, and to fit them into recognizable patterns. This is simply a human tendency.

family, homesteading, processing, butcheringLast week was a perfect example.

It was a typical Friday, we were faced with the arduous task of butchering about 170 chickens, just as we do every week. The day started at 8:00 am with chores, plus we had to gather a number of our own chickens to be processed. Actual chicken processing didn’t kick off until around 10:00 am. Frustration simmered beneath the surface as the clock ticked towards 6:30 pm. One voice in my head grumbled, “Why couldn’t everyone move things along more efficiently?” Another, calmer voice countered, “Calm down. Yelling won’t help. Lead by example.”
Throughout the day, these inner voices waged a silent battle, expressing frustration and offering counsel by turns. And then, as the sun dipped lower on the horizon, it was 6:30 pm, and the daunting task of cleanup still loomed. Hot water was essential to remove the stubborn chicken fat that clung to everything, but the hot water source remained in the old shop, a cumbersome reminder of a task deferred all summer long.

In that moment, I had two distinct narratives to choose from. The first one cast Mark as the neglectful and selfish husband: “Mark just doesn’t prioritize what’s important to me. He focuses on his projects while mine get pushed aside. He doesn’t need hot water for his cleanup, so he ignores the needs of the rest of us.”

The second narrative painted a brighter picture: “So much progress was made this summer! I’m grateful that the other projects are nearing completion, giving Mark the time and space to finish this water project. We’re almost there!”

It struck me that life on our homestead was a collection of stories, and we all had our own inner dialogues, with competing voices that narrated different tales. “We become the stories we listen to.” While I couldn’t claim to always choose the path of the “appreciative wife” over the “angry wife,” I realized that I had a choice. I could listen to and nurture the story that led to a harmonious and productive homestead. Or I could choose the other story.

In the end, my life was shaped by the stories I embraced. I resolved to listen more often and more attentively to the narrative that served our shared goals. Our homestead wasn’t just a place of labor; it was where we crafted the stories of our lives, one day at a time.

Join the Conversation and Craft Your Dream Story!

hog harvest, mangalitsa pigs, homesteadingWe’re eager to hear your unique stories and perspectives! As we gear up for two exciting classes (Homestead Hog Harvest and Charcuterie and Pork Preservation) in November and December, we invite you to become a part of our community.

These classes offer not only the opportunity to acquire valuable skills but also the chance to engage in conversations that unfold around the cutting table, the dinner table, and by the campfire. It’s in these moments that you immerse yourself in a different narrative, a realm of possibilities that might not be frequently heard but are just as real. These interactions can be transformative, reshaping the way you view your own capabilities.

Imagine a possibility where you discover the art of processing your own pigs, crafting your bacon and sausage, and creating exquisite prosciutto and pepperoni. It’s all possible when you’re surrounded by a can-do, “anything is possible” atmosphere.

So, come join us and be part of this supportive community. Gain the skills and the camaraderie to bring your dream story to life! This is your opportunity to turn your homesteading aspirations into reality.