Homesteading offers connection with nature, the family, and with the broader community. (Biba Kayewich)

Surprised by Hope: Afternoon with Housewives

Start with the bright October sun and a blanket of blue skies. Add nearly 150 vendors and their merchandise, 50 speakers, and more than 5,000 participants, including several hundred children.

Throw in some dogs, some chickens and goats, enthusiastic volunteers, lots of smiles and laughter, the scent of popcorn, fresh coffee, and handmade soap, and you have a picture of the 2022 Homesteaders of America (HOA) convention at the Warren County Fairgrounds in Front Royal, Virginia.

Once you make your way through grassy parking areas crowded with hundreds of cars, vans, and vans, you enter a wide, flat expanse covered with vendor tents, paths teeming with veteran and hobbyist homes, and picnic table pavilions to take the load off your feet, eat, and talk to friends and strangers.

Those who have attended previous conferences – this year the fourth event falls – renew their friendships, and the newcomers find themselves drawn to talking with perfect strangers. The spacious building for conference speakers is filled with people looking for advice on topics from working dogs to living a non-toxic life, stocking practical food, composting or catching a swarm of honeybees. And right from the start, people you’ve never met in your life smile or shake your head, as if you were friends passing each other on the streets of a small town.

In the 52-page color guide to the conference, the Amy Faywell Foundation wrote: “Our goal here at HOA is to help you in every way, but also to make an impact on our country and beyond. To be a voice and a light where there was once no voice for this community and way of living.”

Believe me, there is now a voice for this community, and you can hear it loud and clear this afternoon.

Various activities are planned for the children, from learning how to milk a cow to raising rabbits. (Courtesy of Homesteaders of America)
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Little boy holding a chick. (Courtesy of Homesteaders of America)

Share and learn

To help those new to the concept of settlement, and to hone the knowledge and skills of the veterans, vendors play a major role. Some here sell their goods directly, while others, especially those that offer larger items such as electric fences or farm equipment, hand out brochures about their products or take orders for delivery. All these people clearly know their stuff.

At Bee Guy Supplies, for example, the lady who runs the stall, Mrs. Crowe, fills in on the reasons they sell special hives to carpenter bees, explaining that these bees don’t make honey but help open certain flowers for honeybees. Her husband, Brian Crowe, who owns this company operating in Londonderry, Ohio, became interested in beekeeping 14 years ago. He attended a lecture on bees at a garden club, became intrigued by the topic and friends with the speaker, and owned a farm for eight years that is now home to 40 hives. He and his family run a shop on the premises that sells honey and beekeeping supplies. Every third Thursday of the month, the Bee Guy hosts a seminar where bee scientists share information and teach others about beekeeping. Anyone is welcome to attend.

In addition, the family raises quails, chickens for meat, eggs and rabbits.

“Everyone is involved,” says Ms. Crowe. “And they want others to learn.”

This was true of every vendor I spoke to that day.

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Homebreeding skills are broad and far-reaching, from gardening to beekeeping. Follow Favorite

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Others participate in different ways.

Jeremy Croning is an associate editor for Homestead Living online magazine. “About 80 percent of our articles are ‘how-to’ pieces,” he says, and the rest are about the home lifestyle. “

It has reported a significant increase in visitors to the site in the past two years due to COVID-19, with many people particularly interested in healthy living and growing their own food. Although he, his wife Amanda (a professional weaver) and their three daughters, ages 9, 7, and 6, live in St. Paul, Minnesota, Jeremy does more than edit a magazine about housing. The family purchased an empty plot of land next to their property in town, where they set up a 20-by-20-foot vegetable garden. One day, they hope to add fruit trees and a chicken coop.

“The most attractive thing to most people is the connection to the natural world,” he told me. “For me, I think it’s important that we have a better understanding of caring for each other and the world we live in.”

Like Jeremy Kroening, other sellers promote magazines and websites, and sell books on all kinds of topics, including guides to major disasters.

social communication

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Settlement provides connection with nature, family, and the wider community. Follow Favorite

Most conference attendees come looking for technical wisdom and skills that they can carry home, but Angie and Steve Helton of Paintsville, Kentucky, were here for a different reason.

Husband and wife have always been drawn to the dwelling, in part because they grew up on farms. As Steve says, they also became interested because of “food quality and independence.” Their three children, two daughters and a son, who are all nurses, are out of school and working, and the couple began making plans to buy their own farm.

Then, as in the case of many people, COVID-19 hit those plans and put them off track. Steve contracted the virus, and although he felt few traces of it, he subsequently developed pneumonia. He ended up in the hospital from September 2021 to March 2022, spending most of that time breathing through a tracheostomy tube. At first he wasn’t expecting to live, he made it and feels and seems to be in good health today, but their dreams of housing have been put on hold for the time being.

I wondered if that was the case, what brought them to Front Royal?

“We came to experience the community,” Angie said. They’ve attended other conferences—they describe this one as the largest yet, with more vendor booths and people—and have driven from Kentucky to connect with friends they made earlier.

“Everyone here has a common bond,” Steve said.

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A group of friends at the conference. (Courtesy of Homesteaders of America)
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Adults also enjoyed the many hands-on demonstrations. (Courtesy of Homesteaders of America)

Take personal responsibility

During my visit, I was fortunate enough to attend part of a lecture given by Wyoming-based Jill Winger, founder of The Prairie Homestead, a website with over a million visits per month. She told her audience that we live in a time and place where many people are looking for the easy way and that “our culture is biased against effort…it equates too badly with the bad.” She said that the responsibilities that come with settlements are an antidote to this situation.

Explaining that “embracing responsibility gives life meaning,” Wenger also reminded her listeners that homeowners “take actions that make a big difference” and that they have “a larger field of influence than they imagine.” Others see what we’re doing and want to join us, she said.

In an article included in the programme, Winger also addresses our culture’s idea of ​​”easy.” She writes: “When you are a homemaker, homemaker, or business owner, the responsibility stops with you. As the temptation to shirk responsibility may seem, it’s not the answer. It’s not for me, nor for you.” She finished her short essay, “So the next time you find yourself saying the words, ‘I wish someone would do something about…’ my friend, keep in mind that someone might just be you.”

Code self-reliant, which can do is as good a summary of the homestay philosophy as it probably is.

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Speakers at the National Home Growers Conference of America held October 7-8, 2022, in Front Royal, Virginia, Jill Winger of The Prairie Homestead, pictured center (with long blonde hair), spoke on the topic: “More than Mason Jars.” : How Homes Can Bring Our Culture Back.” (Courtesy of Homesteaders of America)

Come back…but come back to me

Unlike all of these people, I have no desire to raise chickens or grow large gardens or milk cows, although I strongly endorse Winger’s remarks about responsibility. My wife and I have homeschooled our kids, and for most of my life I’ve been running small businesses – keep those businesses small.

But while I’m not interested in becoming a house boss, I’ll be back at next year’s convention in a heartbeat. Here’s why.

As I walked around this village of vendors’ tents, I saw many women wearing pendants crossed on their throats. Two girls in elementary school in headscarves were jumping into an ice cream stand. Black boys and white boys were playing touch football in a nearby field. Old and young mingled together, and I saw several men and women sitting in a shelter who were clearly strangers to each other but on their way to becoming friends.

And the only mention of politics I heard all afternoon came from a young seller of chicken supplies, beards and ponytails. I missed the first part of his conversation with a customer, but when I passed, he pointed to a shirt for sale on the tent wall and said, “That’s my political philosophy.” The T-shirt reads: “Free Range”.

The entire time I walked those fairs, I felt impatient. Here were men, women and children from all places and from all walks of life learning, sharing and making a blast. The bitter divisions we read about every day on the internet were nowhere to be found in this crowd. They were united by common interest and reason, and the desire to make things grow and prosper.

Here, I thought as I walked to my car, Is America what it’s supposed to be.

Here is America as it can be.

#Surprised #Hope #Afternoon #Housewives

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