For example, the Longhorn cattle we
raise do not get sick, you do not have to
pull calves, they are indigenous to this
area—so they can eat leaves, cactus, and
other local plants—and they do very,
very well. But that choice is a trade-off in
that there is lower productivity of meat
and milk. The more meat production and
industrial productivity an animal has, the
more those animals will get sick and the
more veterinarian care they will need.
MGM: Are your garden vegetable
choices made on much the same basis?
MB: Yes, they are. We’ve tried to educate
ourselves on which nut, fruit trees, and
vegetables do well here. We have left the
idyllic concept of every garden containing green beans and tomatoes. After
about two years, we learned that southern crops do well here: collards, black-eyed peas, and okra. We have done away
with some things that we might have
liked to have, and this is part of our own
adaptation to where we live now.
MGM: How do you get water on your
MB: Water is the most important homesteading consideration because it’s the
most important survival consideration.
We get our water, almost 100 percent,
from water catchment. We catch water
in tanks, cisterns, above-ground water
tanks, and from most every surface. We
purify our drinking and cooking water
with a filter and store it for our purposes.
We average about 26 inches of rain a year,
so we catch a significant amount each
year and we have a couple of small ponds
we use to water animals and gardens. We
have two above-ground 2,500-gallon
poly tanks and one 3,000-gallon underground cistern.
MGM: Are there any bad reasons for
MB: Maybe not bad reasons, but certain-
ly bad motivations and ideas. Sometimes
people have very idealistic views of what
homesteading is. They have this picture
in their minds of a “Little House on the
Prairie” existence, a picture-postcard life.
They aren’t happy where they are, they
feel an angst where they are, and because
of that they may irrationally decide to
start homesteading. People may show
you beautiful pictures of a meal they
made from food they grew, but what you
don’t see is the blood and guts and sweat
that it took to get that meal on the table.
Also, fear is a bad motivation for home-
steading. It’s a good idea to know what is
wrong with the world, but operating out
of fear of what might happen in the world
is a wrong motivation for homesteading.
Sylvia Britton is a horticul-
turalist, author, old-fashioned
skills teacher, preparation
professional, and radio host.
When she’s not interviewing
self-sufficiency experts, you’ll find her in
her garden or in the kitchen whipping up
something delicious. You can visit her online
at her blog , www.christianhomekeeper.org.
*Plain communities are Christian groups
characterized by separation from the
world, simple living and plain dress. No-table groups include the Amish and some
branches of Mennonites.