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Anyone a Radical Homemaker?

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Care to share your story of how you got there or are getting there?
post #2 of 33
What do you mean? What is a radical homemaker?
post #3 of 33
Thread Starter 
I'm referring to a book called Radical Homemaking by Shannon Hayes.

VERY interesting book.

The gist of it is that the conventional lifestyle is based on an extractive economy. We work for other people and make them money. We use our paychecks to consume. The act of working for other people requires more consumption: automobile, wardrobe, convenience foods, daycare, you name it.

Some people are working to get out of this system. Rather than making a lot of money they make a lot of what they need to live. They grow their own food. Build and/or repair their own homes (and those homes can be quite different than the typcial suburban huge mortgage situation as well). Make their own entertainment - instead of relying on Pixar, they read and play outside and so on. Make their own health care, with old fashioned remedies and plain old preventative medicine (working their bodies, being in the sun, growing vibrant food, enjoying their work). You get the idea.

Thus their households become units of production rather than consumption.

Thus they are more selfreliant, more plugged into community, less dependant on the stock market and insurance and all those stupid things we think we have to deal with.

They have more pride in their work. Me, I work on the computer making other people money. Yay. I have nothing to show for it. I am a good worker but I'm not doing anything that makes me go "wow, this is what I want to do." What do I want to do? Grow my own food. Help others. Build relationships. Feel confident in my skills. Feel like what I do MATTERS.

I want time to be with my family, which i have mostly acheived already.

I want a smaller footprint. Working on it.

I think I've kind of described most of it... if any of this interests you, check it out at your library. It's not a how-to book as far as I can see (I'm still reading it) but more about the philosophy, and also the meta-skills you need (like ability to teach yourself, ability to connect with your community, etc.).

For years I've been feeling this need to make some change, I've posted from time to time. I've thought about becoming Amish. Joining The Farm. I may sound crazy but I just am feeling like this isn't just a little whim of mine, but a real longing.

I feel mainly hampered by my disabilities (though I can and do garden, and believe I could raise and slaughter chickens though I haven't done it). I've learned to cook from scratch, starting to learn to sew though I don't think I have any real skill at the latter. The other main issue is our debt. DH and I have always been savers and debt-avoidant, yet we still managed to end up in the same old trap as everyone else. Trying to pay off (useless) student loans and then the mortgage.
post #4 of 33
Hm.

We try to be producers, but we also try to minimize our footprint by maximising our competitive advantages. So, I grow tomatoes in my windows and bake bread, but I don't sew clothes because I can buy used clothes or ethical clothes and pay money for someone else to do it and it's still going to have less of a footprint than me not making my own bread because I'm re-sewing my children's clothing.

I personally love exchange when it's not monopolized. I felt great buying organic wine and juice and olive oil on my vacation to the south. I could never produce that. My husband has to work for that cash.

Otherwise, I guess we do a lot of that stuff. We do most of it because we don't want stuff we don't really need. We dumpster-dive. But we also shop Ikea and we enjoy it.

I think a lot of people on MDC are into something similar to Radical Homemaking as you describe it. But to different degrees, depending on what they can provide for the community.
post #5 of 33
I like this a lot! I think we are moving in that direction - but we own a business - eco home goods so more sustainable, but still consumption. Consuming drives me crazy but I still do it. Try to do it used (pre-owned) whenever possible. To truly achieve what you are speaking of would be to let go of the biz...We raise chickens and are trying to get to a place of growing more of our own food and dream of being off-grid. We definitely heal ourselves through good food and herbs and rarely go to doctors. I am hoping our switch to homeschooling will get our daughter off that mainstream consumer track as well. I can't handle all the lavish kids birthday parties with pinatas stuffed with plastic toys from China that will be played with for five minutes and then tossed aside. Even worse the massive piles of plastic gifts - more than any one child ever needs, and the children watching them be opened demanding their parents run out and buy them the same thing. We don't have TV (channels) but I admit to an addiction to Netflix in the evenings. Though I notice and am aware we could be playing games and music instead.....I watch Little House on The Prairie with my daughter and wish life could be that simple again.....

So yes i am a somewhat radical homemaker but have a long way to go to be completely there. I think this thread is great to inspire us to move further towards the place you speak of....
post #6 of 33
I want to read this book sooo badly. None of my libraries have it so I guess I'm going to order a used copy from Amazon :/ Anyway, I cook mostly everything from scratch and I used to know how to sew and want to get back into it. All in all, I just want us to be completely self-reliant. We're saving and have plans to buy some land. I want enough to have chickens, a cow or two, some goats, and def a garden. I just crave simplicity. All of this excess garbage just adds stress and baggage to life. I also hate the American dream of consumerism and materialism. I do not aspire to that, nor do I want my daughter to aspire to that. I also feel that the economy and wealth of the country is one day going to crash..hard..and it will be self-reliant ppl like us who will survive and be responsible for rebuilding.
post #7 of 33
subbing

The thoughts expressed in your post and her book sound like what I've been saying for years-- right down to our homeschooling-- we learn and record what we've learned (among other steps) to essentially create our own textbooks of what each child knows-- less consuming, more creating.

(In an eerie twist, I have nearly the same amount of student loan debt as you, Laohaire; and also view it as largely useless)

Help me w ideas to pay off debt in a more Radical Homemaking way bc I have been looking at the WAHM opportunities for computer work from home, and have even narrowed a list. If I can commit 3 hours a day (I already teach FT and homeschool, lead 4H, tutor, care for sheep, dogs, cats and rabbits, garden and sew regularly, whew!) I think I can actually make more in 3 hrs/ day than I do teaching! and if I stay commited enough, I could pay that SL off in a year or two! BUT this is NOT moving in the direction of RH... or is it? Without that debt, I could be far more self reliant, and not NEED that paycheck as I do now. What do you all think? I've also made a short list of our current skills and abilities-- maybe there is something we can produce and sell to meet the needs of others, locally? (confession time: I am still very drawn to the idea of the automatic paycheck-- if I put in x hours to a WAHM computer place, I get Y amount of money-- no risk, kwim?)

Don't get me wrong, I feel what I do is something I love that matters-- I teach at a childrens home (we run a private accredited school for the children placed here) plus, they really try to help all staff and children to be fulfilled-- I mean, they let me rent a sheep pasture, so I can keep my flock and also introduce the kids to this lifestyle... and we are really like a little village unto ourselves in many ways.
post #8 of 33
Quote:
Consuming drives me crazy but I still do it.
You consume even if you produce it yourself. You may not be producing the most efficient way, either--especially for things that would otherwise give you economy of scale (baking, for example, has a far higher eco-footprint at home, because smaller ovens lose way more heat per loaf, and way, way higher if you burn wood or coal rather than natural gas or even petroleum...). Gardening--intensive organic agriculture is way more efficient and requires fewer acres of forest than less intensive agriculture.

Consumerism and materialism are worth avoiding but I don't think that we should assume that complete self-sufficiency is the way to the smallest environmental impact.

Plus, self-sufficiency--true self-sufficiency--takes a lot of time, and that's time away from the kids, generally, unless they're working with you, but that further extends your day unless they are older or you are really somehow managing to get serious labor from them at a very young age.
Quote:
BUT this is NOT moving in the direction of RH... or is it? Without that debt, I could be far more self reliant, and not NEED that paycheck as I do now. What do you all think? I've also made a short list of our current skills and abilities-- maybe there is something we can produce and sell to meet the needs of others, locally? (confession time: I am still very drawn to the idea of the automatic paycheck-- if I put in x hours to a WAHM computer place, I get Y amount of money-- no risk, kwim?)
I don't think you have to be extremist to be radical. It's not all or nothing. You are contributing to a community, you are sharing a skill, you are fulfilling a need. If "Radical Homemaking" thinks that's bad because somehow, you are sharing and exchanging skills with people beyond your immediate family, then count me out.

Quote:
maybe there is something we can produce and sell to meet the needs of others, locally
How does teaching not do that?!?

Again, monopolization is not something I support, but trade and exchange between people. Honest trade benefits both parties.

I guess I fail to see how making the nuclear family unit the be-all and end-all of human society is going to help. There's still the same number of people on the planet and if we don't use economies of scale and specialized competitive advantage to some degree, we are going to lose a lot of efficiency which will result in a greater eco-footprint.
post #9 of 33
One thing bothers me about the book, but it's my own issue, and it's the way many of these folks sort of "dropped out" altogether, suddenly veering in a single direction, one which requires squatting or using others' means for part of their day-to-day living. I think it's good to be honest with ourselves about what we're still consuming, even if it's not our cash paying for it. I don't think health care or food programs are bad--on the contrary. But using them is still being a consumer, it's just accepting someone else's payment.

Sharon Astyk's Depletion and Abundance resonates more with me for a number of reasons, but maybe because she looks at this sort of productive lifestyle as good for the whole community as we move into a post-petroleum world. She advocates self-sufficiency AND community interdependence, building strong local bonds. She recommends making changes now, not necessarily because a few people can undo the damage, but in order to figure out how to be OK later. And she recognizes it's a process to get there, not necessarily an event.

I live on a small farm on the edge of a small metro. Our family raises almost all our own vegetables and meat. We buy our other meat "on the hoof" from neighbors close by, and do our own slaughtering. We raise a lot of vegetables, and have planted fruits. We have chickens for eggs and goats for milk. We're rehabbing an abused farm, so it will take time, but we are working on establishing hay production so we don't have to buy it in the future. We're taking as much lawn out of lawn duty as we can, and instead growing stuff or grazing sheep on it. We have a couple hives of bees both for pollination and honey.

We've got plans (hopes?) to fix the chimney on our old farm house and install a wood stove. I'd like to get a hand pump for the well, too, but that's further out. I dream about a small wind turbine and/or solar panels on a shed roof, but those are pipe dreams at the current cost.

Inside the home, we try to minimize our consumption of resources, but this tough. I bake the bread and cook the meals, we hardly watch TV and we're looking at getting rid of a lot of the things we don't need or use and "downgrading" our lifestyle further to help reduce or footprint. We drive old used cars (and I mean old and used) but they are small cars that get great mileage and we do our own maintenance and repairs. We make a lot of our own fun.

Still, a lot of it takes cash money. Dh and I bought the property without any savings, really, and we are busting hump to pay off as much mortgage as we can now. We both work, he's FT and I'm PT, and all the "extra" is invested into our home--repairs, equipment, trees, livestock, etc. Our combined income is pretty good. If we still lived in town, we'd have our little house paid off and could probably afford to travel a good bit. But we love the farming aspect, so here we are.

People are not used to paying full price for agricultural products in a system where conventional ag is heavily subsidized. We figured that a fair price for one chicken raised on our farm, one that would be fair and "life-serving," to use Aykens' term, is about $14. A lamb would be much more than the typical going rate of $100 or so. Industrial production of meat, milk, eggs and vegetables drives prices for authentic food down, because on the surface, they appear the same. (Same goes for artisan-crafted clothing/equipment/etc.) So until a change takes place, our work continues to be undervalued.

So, for the time being, we're both subsidizing our "radical" life with conventional(ish) jobs and making small steps toward the kind of self-sufficiency/interdependence that strengthens community bonds. It is, honestly, an exhausting amount of work about 9 months out of the year in our climate. The other 3, we're holed up and it's cold and snowy.

And like EdnaMarie, I value the things I can bring in through trade with others. I paid for a few bales of hay this week with some honey. I give a friend eggs and milk from time to time; she has sewn me clothes. Another sometimes watches my children, and I give her eggs and produce. I give gifts of food--applesauce, pickles, honey, fresh eggs. If I can get good olives/oil/spices, I will--with money.

Also, my dh's family lives on another continent. If we are ever to see them, we have to invest large amounts of money in travel. So we do. In purely financial terms, this has added up to about $50,000 over the years we have been married. A huge chunk of our mortgage. But parents don't live forever.

There's a lot to the picture, and everyone's picture is different. Which is why interdependence is as important as self-sufficiency.
post #10 of 33
Thread Starter 
I think selling eco-products does fit into Radical Homemaking. None of the RHers in the book are completely self-sufficient. In fact, I would think that is not at all the goal of RH anyway. Humans are social beings, we need each other to survive. We can be incredibly self-sufficient but our ancestors did barn-raisings and quilting bees and all because we need each other. For little things - run to a neighbor to borrow a cup of flour. For medium things - hey, any idea what might be wrong with this tractor? For big things - bring food when someone is born or when someone dies, hold hands in times of joy and grief.

Some people are extremely self-sufficient, but it's not realistic to say that we'll all raise ALL of our food, including grain and fibers for clothing. It's not realistic for all of us to make our own shoes. We have to watch ourselves from throwing the baby out with the bathwater. We should avail ourselves of other's specialties - via money or barter. Consumerism is the mindless act of buying things without care for how it was made, who it was made by, how useful it is and what will happen to it when we're done with it. Note that "consumption" is a word of destruction - one use of the word describes an illness that wastes the body. Consumption is waste.

We can use things without wasting them.

I think you'd be most interested to hear that my husband repairs electronics. Hardly an Amish profession or anything. Yet I believe that fits into the RH model. He is working for himself. He is doing his bit to improve his community (saving gadgets from being trashed). He is making a real thing, too. I don't make real things, I'm a consultant. The only thing I can say at the end of the day is "well, I did a good job making somebody else some money."

None of the RHers in the book live without any money at all, though some do get by with less than others. None of them make a whole lot, though - I think she said around $15k-40k a year. But she also points out that even with a low amount of money, they do not live in poverty. I would say every single one of them eats the very highest quality food. They also have beautiful homes, even if those homes are not quite standard. Maybe part of a barn converted, for example. But they have time to build creative homes because they aren't working 100 hours a week for somebody else, so they can scavenge and build stained glass windows or make mosiacs over the stove. You see? And thus they are beautiful homes to be proud of.

Some things my family already does:

- DH, as I mentioned, works for himself repairing electronics. He does this on his own time and the only way the clock matters to him is when he needs to get to the post office before it closes to mail something.

- We prioritize good food. We belong to an organic CSA (the difference in the quality is such that I just can't go back... this is not snobbery... the CSA's food is vibrant with life but the stuff in the grocery store is lifeless). We eat little meat but it's all local, pastured, etc. I garden though I have a serious sun limitation in my yard, but I'm still working on it. When we can afford it we buy raw milk.

- I hang the wash on the line. Just started doing that this year and I can't believe how much I enjoy this chore. It gets me outside, I am conscious of the weather. My 4 year old has come to tell me it's raining, and we'll rush out and get the wash in, and I think about my ancestors and how many times they would have done the exact same thing. I also save $30 a month.

- I cook from scratch - well, you have to with a CSA. I bake, too, which is a darn shame for my waistline. 3 years ago I couldn't cook anything but pasta.

- We are working to eliminate disposables. No paper towels in the house (funny story, last night we went to this event at the library where they were teaching kids to be eco-conscious, and the lady held up a paper towel roll and asked what's this? my daughter answered toilet paper!! they probably had no idea that she didn't know because she'd never seen one in our house). Speaking of toilet paper, we have that, but we mostly use family cloth. Moon rags. I make my own laundry soap, there is a bit of packaging involved (boxes of borax, etc.) but it's a lot less.

- We're homeschooling. We make our own education. DH and I homeschool ourselves, too. We're always learning something.

- We do not live by a schedule. Even my job is fairly flexible. DD has a few things like swim class, but we're very relaxed and flexible and take each day at a time. We're never in a rush.

- We're a one car family and use it so little we get the low mileage credit on our insurance.

Some things I'm thinking about doing:

- I'm seriously considering composting humanure. Hahaha. I think I'd feel pretty good about that.

- Thinking about learning the old remedies and tonics and such (for tummy ache, headache, etc.).

- Have been trying to arrange with a farmer to join a chicken processing. Hasn't worked out yet though.

- Thinking about trading health insurance premiums for cash. Have another thread on that. Oy! It's RH because it's about "making your own health care." The big thing for me is that the insurance does not buy the health care I want anyway. So I want the independence of it. Obviously the usual fear is making me hesitate.

I am not a homesteader, I live in a house with a 1/4 acre plot (most of which is fairly useless for growing food for various reasons). I don't have livestock. My kid has a houseful of all the typical Barbies and stuff everyone gives her. (I'm a grinch, I hardly ever buy her any toys. But she doesn't need it). My kid eats crap, I'm sorry to say - cereal, frozen pizza, pasta. She does not like my homemade pizzas, etc. It's not lack of modelling. I'm pulled between the concern about malnutrition versus giving her a complex for really cracking down on eating good food. I rue the day we ever gave her this crap in the first place. (We did it because she was 13 months old and not eating anything, and we got desperate). My house is a mess right now. I don't exercise. I'm 30 pounds overweight. I'm on anti-anxiety meds right now. (And, actually, just lost about 3 pounds on the meds it looks like - it killed my appetite. Hopefully won't kill my metabolism, such as it is). I owe a good amount on student loans (as advertised in my sig) and then I owe another bigger chunk on my mortgage, and I have a measly $6k saved up for retirement (yay! I can retire for 3 months before I die!).

The point of my latter paragraph is just that I'm not someone who has hit utopia like you think of when you read about some people's lives (on MDC too). You know, kids who have 3 toys and they are all homemade from wood, and they are always running around outside, and everybody eats healthy homemade food, and have their own chickens. And, I don't know, plough with horses and spin their own wool, lol. But I think we can all do stuff from where we are. One skill at a time, one effort at a time.
post #11 of 33
We're getting there. Minimize our consumption, make it, grow it, fix it ourselves or do without most of the time. The problem I find is making things ends up using a lot of materials and is a gamble whether it works out well enough, since producing a diversity of things we need means learning and practicing new skills all the time instead of specializing and becoming an expert.
post #12 of 33
I really want to get the Radical Homemaker book. I feel like I don't quite fit in with this, though... It is my goal to have a green house, preferably off-grid/solar, big organic garden, I'm interested in bees and chickens, we use natural medicine, reduce/reuse/recycle as much as possible, buy second hand, my sister and I like to dumpster dive even, I cook from scratch and we eat healthy, and learn to be as self sufficient as possible. We're very creative and into a wide variety of types of art/crafts and encouraging our son to be the same. But on the other hand, we're a very "techy" family. Boyfriend and I are both into DJing/making music, computers/gaming, and I've FINALLY figured out my schooling/what I want to do situation and I'm about to start a computer science program (as always, with the ultimate goal of being self employed). Even with these things, we try to reuse/repair ourselves...like repairing computer issues or a game console ourselves instead of shipping it back to the manufacturer and paying $$$$ to have them fix it. But somehow I have the feeling that's not what the author meant. But those things make me feel like we don't fit with a "radical homemaking" crowd.
post #13 of 33
Thread Starter 
I think doing it yourself definitely fits into RF.

My husband is a techie and if I ever mention living off the grid he tightens up and says "as long as I can get full computer use" lol. I think I'd always be a grid-tied girl anyway.

I don't think radical homemaking requires rejection of technology at all - just returning to being a producer rather than a consumer. So my tech-repairing hubby fits the bill. He's not going to Best Buy and buying a computer, he's scavenging parts. Sure, he has to buy some bits new - and of course he can't make the silicone stuff from scratch or anything. But he's still a producer even if he has to buy the "raw" materials (like digitizers or capacitors or whatever).

Me, I've already decided that when I stop working on this job, this computer is going into the closet. I use it way too much, I want to spend the time doing other stuff. In the closet, not given away though - after I live without it for a while I could probably adjust to using it like an encyclopedia and that's it.
post #14 of 33
^^^ I'm like your DH, I love building computers and making a game of doing it at the best price possible. Thanks, you have reassured me. Not that I feel like I have to fit any particular mold, but I've felt a tinge "rejected" from lifestyles like this because of the above.

I sometimes do get the vibe of simple/radical living rejecting technology...which I'm sure is true for some but not for others (like most things). I guess I'm unsure of the general feelings because it isn't a topic that I see addressed much in books like this.
post #15 of 33
TY so much for your posts, 1jooj and laohaire-- I think your perception of the ways this works are similar to mine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
You consume even if you produce it yourself. You may not be producing the most efficient way, either
This is a good point-- it is similar to what I struggle with. Not every "modern shortcut" takes you further from your ideal, nor does every "ancient traditional way" bring you nearer. I love simplicity tho-- even if it is somewhat inefficient simplicity (is that an oxymoron?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
I don't think you have to be extremist to be radical. It's not all or nothing. You are contributing to a community, you are sharing a skill, you are fulfilling a need. If "Radical Homemaking" thinks that's bad because somehow, you are sharing and exchanging skills with people beyond your immediate family, then count me out.
You are right, and I don't think RH does promote the idea that community is bad-- just the opposite.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
How does teaching not do that?!?
I think I wasn't very clear in my post bc I have a million ideas buzzing around-- sorry about that.

I am not considering quitting teaching here-- this community, job, ministry, LIFE is as close to ideal as I think my family has ever found. We LOVE our lives here.

I am just talking about the lure I feel to take on an EXTRA job-- work at home on computer type-- to pay off my student loans super early and be debt free (while still teaching and doing all the other things I do).

Debt free is an important goal for us, and seems out of reach on a teachers salary (a ministry supported teacher at that-- less than minimum wage). I mean out of reach EVER if nothing changes.

But I am also on the verge of overscheduled, and time with my children is an even more important goal for us. They only get ONE childhood, after all. Time spent online working would be time taken from them or from sleep, and I am at bare min on sleep as is.

Thanks for taking the time to reply to the post-- helps me clear my mishmash, maybe?
post #16 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by mum4vr View Post
TY so much for your posts, 1jooj and laohaire-- I think your perception of the ways this works are similar to mine.



This is a good point-- it is similar to what I struggle with. Not every "modern shortcut" takes you further from your ideal, nor does every "ancient traditional way" bring you nearer. I love simplicity tho-- even if it is somewhat inefficient simplicity (is that an oxymoron?)
I think it's just a result of an illusion. We are so familiar with certain stereotypes--the idyllic "self-sufficient" homesteader relying on wood only, and the repetition of the fact that they are somehow in harmony with nature, that we forget that all of human history is us manipulating nature. Trees are far less efficient fuel than petrol, even including how they are extracted. BUT--they are easier for one person to get. It seems anti-intuitive that something simple could be more work for us AND the environment, but in fact, it can be true. I'm not saying, consume petrol. I'm just saying, the alternatives ain't so hot, either.

Quote:
I think I wasn't very clear in my post bc I have a million ideas buzzing around-- sorry about that.

I am not considering quitting teaching here-- this community, job, ministry, LIFE is as close to ideal as I think my family has ever found. We LOVE our lives here.
That's so great.

Quote:
I am just talking about the lure I feel to take on an EXTRA job-- work at home on computer type-- to pay off my student loans super early and be debt free (while still teaching and doing all the other things I do).

Debt free is an important goal for us, and seems out of reach on a teachers salary (a ministry supported teacher at that-- less than minimum wage). I mean out of reach EVER if nothing changes.
Oh, I completely agree. We are debt free primarily thanks to having delayed having kids and having professional jobs early in our careers. We would be in the same position as you had we not had the luck we did. (Yay to finishing school in the nineties!)
Quote:
But I am also on the verge of overscheduled, and time with my children is an even more important goal for us. They only get ONE childhood, after all. Time spent online working would be time taken from them or from sleep, and I am at bare min on sleep as is.

Thanks for taking the time to reply to the post-- helps me clear my mishmash, maybe?
I understand this COMPLETELY. Working on it myself. I want to do more--more canning, more pickling, more baking, make my own pasta... but how can I get my kids playing outside (they are still babies, really) for three hours a day if I do that in my third-floor apartment?
post #17 of 33
I'm going to look for the book at my libraries.Sounds very interesting.And I do a lot of the things you mentioned(or at least try).I do feel limited by my skills but I am always trying to learn more ways to "take care of myself".This is the part of leaving the system that is scary to me...
Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post

Make their own health care, with old fashioned remedies and plain old preventative medicine (working their bodies, being in the sun, growing vibrant food, enjoying their work). You get the idea.
I was born with a heart defect(that was not discovered until I was in my 30's) that no amount of "good living" would have solved.Most of my adult life I did not have insurance.I can not tell you how lucky I feel that this heart defect never decided to present itself until I had really good insurance through my husband's job.I don't know what would have happened otherwise.


Oh this reminds me...of that documentary about a guy named Dick Proennekke who retired to Alaska.He built his own house and took care of pretty much everything he needed himself.It's really beautiful!
post #18 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by laohaire View Post
- Thinking about trading health insurance premiums for cash. Have another thread on that. Oy! It's RH because it's about "making your own health care." The big thing for me is that the insurance does not buy the health care I want anyway. So I want the independence of it. Obviously the usual fear is making me hesitate.
Reviving this thread to ask laohaire about this concept - did you start another thread about it somewhere? I have a huge philosophical objection to the way "health" coverage is implemented in our society now, it feeds on and promotes fear, and IMO does very little (to nothing, or possibly even worse than nothing) to promote prevention and true health. It makes it nearly impossible for families like mine to cover the what-ifs without buying into the whole twisted system hook, line and sinker. We're healthy, we have a healthy lifestyle, great diet, are proactive about using natural healthcare methods, and we don't go to doctors or use pharmaceuticals lightly. All we want is insurance as protection against financial devastation if one of us gets very seriously ill or injured. That kind of insurance doesn't seem to exist now. We're perfectly happy to pay out of pocket for routine stuff, and can currently handle a decent chunk of annual expense on health care, but something like a $100,000 hospital bill would be devastating. The "low cost" policies don't fit our life, they include things we don't care to pay for coverage on and exclude the things that are important to us. We don't qualify for any gov't coverage. Sorry, I'm getting myself all worked up here. Anyway, if you have another thread going for this, could I have a link? I'd like to know how others (if there are any) who have similar concerns in this area are handling it.

As for radical homemakers, I think I am one. I'm not into labels, and I understand some people have had very strong and emotional reactions to the book and feel judged or that the concept has fatal flaws or whatever. What really, really spoke to me about the book was the aspect of examining these choices from a feminist perspective. I have always felt very mis-served by how the feminist movement developed into something that only recognized the value of women working in the extractive, currency-based economy, while paying other people to do the necessary domestic work caring for homes and children (why do those people, usually women, matter less?), fulfilling one's "potential" through extensive, expensive (time-wise and money-wise) education obtained from the conventional university system (rather than real life), etc. I was expected to be "successful" by those standards because I was a high-performing student, but it really wasn't the kind of life I wanted, and I was lucky enough to slip out of that track before digging myself a hole of student loans or an entrenched conventional lifestyle. I also liked the examination in the book of the traditional roles of men at home, and the stuff about how, when and why men got pulled out of the home to "work", leaving women home alone, with that transition glorifying the away-from-home work as the important part and the at-home work as meaningless drudgery.

I got married young, and fortunately my husband and I have grown in the same direction, towards something very much resembling a lot of the radical homemakers described in the book. We have both at times worked outside the home or been employed by other people, but for the past 12 years or so all of our monetary income has come from our own home-based business. We bought property with a little bit of help from family (a relatively small cash gift and short-term co-sign on mortgage). We're always moving in the direction of more food production, keep chickens for eggs, a milk cow, garden sporadically (we live in an area where it's very easy to get good produce, so in busy or stressful periods it's easy to let the garden go without sacrificing food quality), keep honey bees, cook nearly everything from scratch, don't spend much money on entertainment or eating out or professional wardrobes, homeschool, don't commute for employment and try to combine trips when we do "go to town", rarely buy new stuff like furniture, buy used clothes when possible. Whew.

We got to this point by an intentional choice to be home together, even before we had kids, seeking ways to live in alignment with our values and move towards our goals outside of conventional employment. It has taken a lot of planning and A LOT of hard work, but work on our own terms is less of a burden.

I also read Depletion and Abundance, but I don't quite buy her version of what peak oil and peak everything will look like, so some of her assertions about the correct preparations to make and the reasons for these kind of choices didn't resonate with me as much.

Both books had things I loved and things that annoyed me somewhat, but on the whole I found Radical Homemakers more satisfying.
post #19 of 33
forgot to sub
post #20 of 33
Joining this interesting thread... I try to do little (or not so little?) things which already make me look "weird" among neighbors: I used CD, I breastfed, I avoided commercial baby food, I hardly ever use paper towels, I switched to family cloth, mama cloths and diva cup (some sooner, some later), I try to avoid plastic, I cook a lot from scratch etc.

But: I don't have a garden here. We live here because my DH works for the automotive industry - which makes me "part of the system". So on some days, I feel like a total hypocrite.

And yet, much of what has been written in this thread so resonates with me. There's something deeply satisfying and freeing about not "needing" to buy this or that (walking through the formula aisle while BF, anyone?).
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