Thanks for all your insights. I wholeheartedly agree with each and every one. I've really been giving this some thought since more than one person has asked me the Why? question over the past few years. Here are my reasons- in no particular order of importance.
1. I was raised this way. I grew up on a farm and even though Dad was a traditional corn and soybeans kind of farmer, we grew much of our own food. We gardened and canned. We had a huge freezer. When I was little, we had a dairy cow and pigs. We got rid of those when Dad got the travel bug. It's hard to take vacations in the summer when you have animals to care for. My parents were also very frugal. The motto I remember was "Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without". Being farmers, there wasn't much extra money so I learned at an early age to "make do".
2. Since I mentioned it already- MONEY. Yeah, it may be the root of all evil but it is a necessity in this day and age. V and I have never had much money so we learned early in our relationship to make it count. While I was raised frugal- V comes by it through common sense- a wonderful thing. We learned in our early days of renting that if we sealed up the house well (blankets over the windows in one old house) and turned down the heat, we had much more reasonable heating bills for poor grad students to be able to pay. We also discovered buying in bulk and storing food was a way to keep cost low and keep us fed through lean times. Yup, in grad school we ate lots of lentil burgers and learned other creative ways of stretching our food dollar. Even when we were both in school and rented- I always had a garden and at least canned a few tomatoes.
3. Care for the earth. We only have one planet. I get angry sometimes when I see people being careless or thoughtless. I've always had a connection to the soil- maybe that's part of being a farmer's daughter. Dad, for all he was a farmer, had a great respect for the land. Before it was even "the thing to do" he was careful about how he plowed his fields and always left grass growing in the drainage paths to prevent erosion. He was definitely a pioneer of the "don't treat your soil like dirt" attitude.
4. My children. V and I were "green" before it was cool or even a catch phrase. But after our children came along, we started having more thought to the future and what kind of life and world would our children inherit. We moved out of town, partly for the land and the life but for a large part for the lives of our children. They have so many more opportunities to learn and grow and explore out here.
5. Health- Growing our own food, I think, gives us the best nutrition. I know what is in it and where it came from. Fresh air and hard work are great for body and soul.
6. Food. No doubt about it, like some mentioned- the food just tastes better. There is nothing like the taste of a sun ripened heirloom tomato in July. Also, since I'm preparing it, I don't have to worry so much about food safety. It seems like there have been so many problems with the industrial food system recently but they haven't touched us. Food safety is key. As is food security. Having a pantry and freezer full of food helps me feel more at peace, knowing I could feed us for a while should something happen. Which plays into my next category
7. My Doomer mentality. Not that it interferes with my daily life, but I have this lurking fear that someday the sh*t will hit the fan. Whether it is an economic collapse, pandemic illness, climate change, or even the zombie apocalypse, I sometimes worry that something will happen and it gives me a sense of peace knowing that we could survive out here pretty well.
8. I also like the challenge. Yes, I complain in August when I'm up to my eyeballs in tomatoes, staying up canning til midnight and then having to get up at 5:30 am to go to my paying job. But it is a challenge to see if I can do it all. Seeing how much food we can produce, how local can we go with our diet. I love the challenge of self sufficiency. Maybe that's why one of my favorite TV shows is The Good Neighbors. V got me the DVD set for a gift a few years ago and even the children have fallen in love with it. Ah, to be as self sufficient as Tom and Barbara....
9. Last, but definitely NOT least. I LOVE IT! I wouldn't do all this if I didn't love it. Yes, it would be easier to hire a contractor to finish our basement. Yes, we could buy all our food at the grocery store. But I love the work and the challenge. And the benefits so outweigh the cost that it's not even a contest. I think, and hope that my family loves it too. I'm pretty sure V does or he wouldn't have stuck with me on this crazy journey for so long. The children, well, they're along for the ride and while they sometimes complain about the work- that's their job- to whine but do it anyway. And, the look on their faces when we had our first meal on the deck that we had finished as a family showed how proud they were to have been part of the process.
Thanks for putting up with my ramblings. This has helped me organize my thoughts.