Confident. Such a loaded word in almost any context; being over-confident is just as bad as lacking confidence. What does the word confident represent to us as homesteaders and our repair skills? Capability, useful knowledge, experience, wisdom, and a little bit of creativity. Confidence can mean the difference in something getting done or not. It can make a difference in the quality of the project results and whether or not it will have to be redone. It can also mean that we are still game to continue this journey. When it gets hard because confidence is very closely related to morale.
Sometimes it’s the most unglamorous things that are incredibly satisfying about the life we’ve chosen. Today I’m spending the day patching pockets and rips in a jacket that I’ve had for 10 years. The jacket was already in disrepair when I was gifted it as a hand-me-down in the fall of 2011 when I first moved to the area. It’s not an expensive jacket, maybe worth $40 brand new, so why not just buy a new one?
I don’t have to. I have the spare material, the time, and the repair skills to bring the jacket back into a working condition. It doesn’t have to be pretty. It just has to function. I’ve gotten a lot better at hand sewing over time and it doesn’t look atrocious. Every patch I put on the jacket just adds to the story and when I put it on again I feel proud. This patchwork jacket reminds me of where I was when I first got here and how much has changed since then. How much I have changed.
Sure, it’s just a jacket and I could easily and readily buy a replacement. But it’s really not about the jacket, it’s about me. It’s the fact I have finally invested time in myself. That I have chosen to do things that make me happy, regardless of what others think. It involves the pride I have when I know that a rip in clothes or a missing button doesn’t mean I have to discard a favorite piece of clothing. It’s the satisfaction I get when people tell me my jacket looks cool. Sometimes even when they say they could never be capable of such repair skills.
Special Kinds of Skills
The longer we homestead the more we fall in love with it. Every day we work on the homestead, it evolves, and we evolve with it. Everything we do on the land and for the homestead helps us realize our personal power and builds our confidence.
I can grow our food and some of our medicine, use raw materials from the land to make things, and repurpose material I’ve rescued from the waste stream. She does laundry by hand, handles the animals way better than I can, and sews on her treadle-powered Singer sewing machine that is a family heirloom. We cook, bake, dehydrate, and ferment our harvests. The pair of us celebrate the seasons and dance in the rain. We cook over the fire or in the solar oven and gaze at the stars while trying to learn celestial navigation. In the meantime, we can rejoice in the fact that we don’t have to fix things, but we can.