One for the Ladies: Suburban Housewife Fail

The following is a rebellion against the modern structure of suburbia. It was originally written in 2012 as a long rant, and is first published here with editing. This article relies heavily on stereotypes, because I lived those stereotypes for so many years. Oh, and the above woman is not me, but isn’t she adorably retro?

Doing housework all day can be a drudgery, but many housecleaners I know really enjoy what they do because they get the variety of different homes every day and can see the value they bring. Dusting the same tables day after day and ironing tablecloths is a shame and total waste of time. However, the idea that being a wife and mother is the problem is a false leap in logic.

Being a wife and mother can be incredibly satisfying, but the current suburban housewife model is very artificial and suffers because the law of “form follows function” has not been observed. An artificial illusion is created whereby the husband (often with a wife’s encouragement) wants the largest home they can possibly afford with a 30-year mortgage. Then the husband proceeds to work longer and longer hours due to the pressure of that mortgage and the wife effectively becomes the ‘maid of the manor’ because constant maintenance is required to keep up appearances that the family is rich. All the other neighbors are doing the same thing, so husband and wife assume this is correct and ‘go with it’ while having several children who also treat mom as a maid and dad as a taxi driver and ATM.

We have become a nation of maids and maintenance men in order to keep up this artificial facade.

Perhaps 50-100 years ago we had a more logical set-up:

The mother, as a “Family Manager” trained each new ‘associate’ how to do small tasks in line with their physical and mental abilities, enabling them to become more and more satisfied with their contributions to the family. The wife, also organized the household not as a show piece to impress strangers, but as a mini-farm where organic food is raised for improved health and to save money. Today the financial value of a stay-at-home mother who just performs the ‘façade’ function is well documented as very financially beneficial due to the cost of child care, but the emotional cost is draining. However, the Mini-Farm Model is a win-win-win situation on the financial health, “job satisfaction” (mental health), and physical health benefit front. If a wife chooses to involve her husband it can strengthen the marriage and give the couple common goals and points of interest, but she was/is free to take the lead and direct that area of the family. If the children are taught new skills and responsibilities along the way, then it may become clear to a new generation why our great-great-grandmothers loved their jobs as ‘house wives’. The deeper we look, the more we will realize the term never applied to that generation in the first place.

If you read “Farmer Boy” from the Little House on the Prairie series you will see the role a mother played in the financial well-being of the family along with all the other things she did. One of my favorite quotes from the book is Laura Ingalls’ husband speaking about his mother making so much money from her superior butter, “I was so proud of her”. Really warms the heart. There is something to be said for tangible work and concrete results that a family can actually hold in their hands.

Like many of our Great-Great-Grandmother’s, Almanzo’s mother was quite capable in all the areas. She did interesting and useful things like weaving the family tweed even though she dropped a few of her past activities: “Mother didn’t card her own wool any more, since there was a machine that did it on shares. But she dyed it. Alice and Eliza Jane were gathering roots and barks in the woods, and Royal was building huge bonfires in the yard. They boiled the roots and the bark in big caldrons over the fires, and they dipped the long skeins of wool thread that Mother had spun, and lifted them” ― Laura Ingalls Wilder, Farmer Boy

In 2011 I was a ‘façade housewife’ that felt like a bored Chihuahua…trembling with fear that I might mess up some insignificant detail while maintaining a uncomfortable illusion. Our great grandmothers where like powerful Alaskan Malamutes that knew their worth, had goals and loved the freedom of ‘getting after it’. I hope to someday achieve that level of intense confidence.

Today (2012) I’m working through the process of turning over the most repetitive housework tasks to my growing children. The tasks that bore me are a challenge for them and the few dollars that they earn help the kids learn to save money, give and spend on things of value. Every onion and asparagus I plant between the roses is my little statement that the façade is crumbling. My husband may not concede to a dairy goat in the three-car garage, but the garden will expand and the children will learn more useful skills and will train their taste buds to distinguish between a garden tomato and grocery store one. In just the first year of gardening, I caught the kids eating the cherry tomatoes off the vine just an hour before I could harvest them for salads. Oh well….wasn’t that the point in the first place?

Any human deprived of work that actually contributes will become dissatisfied, so go ahead and deride the modern housewife façade. Don’t assume that being a drone at someone else’s company will fill all your needs. We are incredibly complex. Maybe it’s time for we ladies to take control of our lovely homes and turn them into Fine Little Farms.

One last quote from that great book Farmer Boy:

“A farmer depends on himself, and the land and the weather. If you’re a farmer, you raise what you eat, you raise what you wear, and you keep warm with wood out of your own timber. You work hard, but you work as you please, and no man can tell you to go or come. You’ll be free and independent, son, on a farm.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder, quote from Farmer Boy

Originally written 9/17/2012. Edited 2021.

Brass Egg™ participates in affiliate marketing programs, and may receive compensation when you click and purchase from links to retailers. Brass Egg™ of Russell Holdings Group, LLC 2021. All content ©2021 Russell Illinois Holdings, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Escaping To The Country When Your Family Doesn’t Want To Go

I grew up in the Ozarks backwoods of Missouri where my idea of a great afternoon was walking in the woods for hours. My husband is an Iowa boy, but not a hayseed…he lived in a subdivision outside of Des Moines and spent his summers at the pool or throwing around a ball on nicely mowed lawns. During one of our lively ‘discussions’ my husband said:

“I KNOW YOU WANT THE KIDS OUT THERE SQUEEZING MILK, PICKING EGGS AND HOEING HAY, BUT….” 

My Hubby, August 30th, 2020

Yeah, not a farm boy. So funny I had to right it down the moment he said it though.

We came into marriage with nearly exact concepts of what success as a young professional looked like. Our vision of family life while the children were toddlers was nearly identical too. We began to see a divergence of vision when the kids got into the catching frogs and bringing walking sticks home stage. By the time that stage gave way to talk of retirement it was clear we were in an all-out power struggle.

Are we the only couple like this?

Unfortunately, discovering this other side of myself took my husband by surprise and it was been a long slog to try to drag my family to the farming life. Do you want to farm or homestead and your spouse or teenagers want nothing to do with it?  Do you feel like you are losing an up-hill battle? 

In this article we will explore how to:

  • Crystalize what you really want
  • Get a handle on what the resistance is caused by
  • Put a plan of action together
  • Avoid some common pitfalls
  • Figure out your best course of action 
  • Pre-plan your course corrections
  • Free One-To-One Virtual Coaching – Available For a limited time.

Do you dream of the country life but your family wants nothing to do with it?   I can help you avoid the mistakes I have made in the last decade and hopefully save you 5-10 years of false starts.

People Change

After a childhood of dreaming about how exciting it would be to live in the busy city world I saw on television, it took only a few short years to realize that the country was were I belonged.  I decided to start a family instead of pursuing a career and for the first decade of marriage my husband (and family in tow) were transferred to 4 different states plus England.  After such an exciting adventure, I found I craved the security and privacy of country living to an irresistible degree.  This isn’t really what my husband expected based on my past…it wasn’t what he signed up for…. and it wasn’t a life he understood.  This last decade of my mistakes can be your gain.  Let me save you 5-10 years.   As much as I want this lifestyle for myself, I’m happy to help everyone else get there.  There is something special, natural and logical about it.  A million new small farms every year would change this world in a short amount of time.  Let me help you get there!  Let’s both reach our dreams.

Step #1 – Crystalize what you really want

This step is truly the most important, and we will work through how to test the ideas in your head to insure that is where you really want to be in the end. Spoiler alert: I discovered that what I really wanted wasn’t what I was arguing with my husband about. I was able to get what I really wanted cheaper and faster than if I would have gotten what I was pushing for.

One-to-One Zoom Meetings

Using Zoom, we can meet virtually and begin a coaching process. We will walk through my experience and see what you are experiencing too.  This is a case where the process is important in order to make pivoting easier when challenges come (and they always come).

Step #2 – Get a handle on What is Causing the Resistance

Knowing what is concerning your spouse is especially important.  Your kid’s concerns are also important because of your love for them, but your spouse must feel respected and honored in your decision. Letting them weigh in and be heard will make a world of difference down the road in how they ‘feel’ about the plan.

Before we make a case to our spouses, we must attempt to understand why they don’t want a small farm.  Let’s discuss how to get them to talk and how to also address the things they don’t mention that we suspect.

One hint my husband gave me after 9 years of this tug-of-war: “I am an Amorphous Solid”. Ok, I married an engineer, so I spend a lot of time looking up the things he says to me, but here is what he means. An amorphous solid is like corn starch paste which flows slowly like kid’s Elmer’s School Glue, but if you put sudden pressure on it it stiffens and resists for no apparent reason. Had I approached the plan of a small farm in a more fluid way with no sharp, sudden demand for action there wouldn’t have been a sharp, sudden resistance to change. Even when I softened and changed my approach, heels had already dug in and battle lines drawn. Are you married to an “Amorphous Solid” or maybe one or two of your children are? Gentle flow is easier on family life and emotional resilience.

Step #3 – Put a plan of action together

Time to take lots of notes!   I’ll go over what my plan of action looks like today, and even pull out some old plans.  Then we can talk about our best intentions and how to set them up timing wise and season wise to get the best possible results.  Moving forward is our objective, and the skill sets you come to your small farm with and your family situation are going to be the biggest elements of this step.

Step #4 – Avoid some common pitfalls

Let’s laugh at me!  I probably have gone about this completely backwards, and caused this nine-year delay in reaching my dream.   Let’s have a good laugh and see if you can cut your time down. 

The 80/20 rule is probably actually the 95/5 rule when it comes to avoiding terrible mistakes in how you approach achieving a small farm dream.  I’m going to be honest with you, let’s save you some time, because we aren’t getting any younger!

Step #5 – Figure out your best course of action

Let’s take all this and put it together to get you milking cows or growing corn or bringing in eggs in record time.

Come to this step with a start on your over-all plan.  We will work it out using tools that big companies and factories have perfected; not to reduce your joy in the journey, but to reduce your frustration when things don’t go according to plan.

Step #6 – Pre-plan your course corrections

Things are going to happen!  Let’s plan for it!

Sign up for free One-to-One Coaching via Zoom today! Fill out the request for Consultation Form in the left hand column of the homepage (on desktop)!

Brass Egg™ participates in affiliate marketing programs, and may receive compensation when you click and purchase from links to retailers. Brass Egg™ of Russell Holdings Group, LLC 2021. All content ©2021 Russell Illinois Holdings, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

About The Mission

Brass Egg was created to help bridge the gap between the soul-feeding and very practical aspects of ‘working the land’ and the very comfortable and fashionable modern life we all live today.

Brass Egg’s Mission is to inspire the building of charming little farms across the world as we invest our free time in hobbies that get us outside in the sun and fresh air using our creativity to prepare our homes and family for the abundance that comes with a hobby farm. Brass Egg endeavors to lead the way with inspiration that makes hobby farming attractive, easy and healthy.

While trying to convince my family that we should move out of the subdivision and onto a farm it became obvious to me that they weren’t little kids anymore. Little kids get so excited about the idea of having baby chicks around and maybe some sheep and my youngest wanted his own pig because in Minecraft you can ride a pig like a horse. They were so excited then. Now they are teenagers and they are concerned about the size of the bedrooms in a farmhouse and if their cellphones will work out there. Their image of farm life equals hardship, lack and constant work.

They aren’t alone. That is a consistent perception. When I was a kid our pipes froze in the winter, most of my clothes were homemade and there was constant work. I hated our garden and steered clear of any boy who planned to be a farmer.

Decades later I view my childhood differently.

Growing up my life was filled with Abundance. We had 5-gallon jugs full of our own honey stored in the attic. We had a forest of firewood that kept our family warm and deer that kept our meals interesting. My high school experiment with dairy goats kept our fridge full of whole milk and cream. Before I was born the freezers were full of our own grass fed beef and forest raised pork.

Growing up we were Prepared for most anything. My parents ran a K9 training school and kennel that dad started as a police officer, so there were always a few well-trained security dogs at the house. The photo above is me with a trained Police Dog who was very dangerous…dangerous for anyone who might try to hurt a retired officer’s little girl. Since it’s best to burn wood that has cured for a year, we always had enough wood on hand for two normal winters (even if half of it would be a little more difficult to burn). Huge gardens mean huge harvests, and canning and freezing that harvest meant we went into winter with over-flowing pantries. Both my parents grew up as the Great Depression ended, and they internalized the lessons of thrift, self-sufficiency and hard work.

With all that going for us, why didn’t I view my childhood as being Prepared For Abundance? My dad had a vision for life after retirement that he modeled after the old Western Bonanza, complete with horses and an actual wall-to-wall library. However, the Inflation Crisis of the 1970’s and my dad’s failing health put us in survival mode instead of thriving and innovating.

Today I fully grasp what my dad’s vision was, and thanks to the Internet I’m not limited to the stacks of old Mother Earth News magazines on the bottom shelf of our library. Vintage ‘back to the land’ books by Sunset may be where my first dreams were formed, but I am taking it forward. For the sake of my family I want to bridge what they think ‘back to the land’ means to the charmed and beautiful life I want to build for them.

I want to bridge it for you too. Join me in building a beautiful life for yourself where we garden or keep bees or raise goats not because we fear the future….but because we enjoy preparing to live in abundance. Join me as we do very practical things with the style and joy of a hobbyist. I am willing to help anyone who is new to this journey or anyone who is on this journey and getting a little weary. Virtual consulting is offered at no charge, just fill out the form on the left-hand column of the homepage with enough information that I can distinguish a real person from robo-spam. Time is precious, so I’m happy to help you shave a few years, months or just weeks off your journey back to the land.

There is extra work you have to put in to make ‘Homesteading’ or Hobby Farming fit into a modern lifestyle. Keeping neighbors happy, extra farm chores, keeping up with housework when you really want to be outside digging in the dirt…. Let’s talk about it. I’ll show you around as I try inspire my kids, hubby and neighbors to try something old.

Brass Egg™ participates in affiliate marketing programs, and may receive compensation when you click and purchase from links to retailers. Brass Egg™ of Russell Holdings Group, LLC 2021. All content ©2021 Russell Illinois Holdings, LLC. All Rights Reserved.