This is our 4th year building the homestead and I feel I’ve adjusted pretty well to most things.  I no longer obsess about the crops that fail and all the mysterious reasons why; I no longer pine for a day of shopping and culture in the big city.  The isolation never sends me into mourning anymore:  The solitude now feels more like a gift than a curse.

But the one thing that hasn’t changed is I still hate playing god.  I wrote a couple years ago maybe I’d go vegan in order to avoid it.  Vegetarian, I was sure, could not be enough.  Even keeping chickens for eggs alone still means one must deal with predators–coyote, hawks, snakes topping the list–not to mention the ill or elderly chickens, trampled chicks, and the simple fact of stealing from the lesser creatures.

Then I realized being vegan wouldn’t solve the issue either.  Hubby’s just had to take out a pack of feral dogs, and the wild hogs here are not only incredibly destructive to the land, they can be dangerous.  Then there are the rabbits, raccoons, deer who all eat the same veggies we do.  A family of raccoon can easily take out a garden full of ripe sweet corn in one night, deer love lettuce, rabbits and voles are impossible to completely fence out, so there go those tasty carrots, parsnips, celery even.  Traps become a necessity even for the most soft-hearted of vegans, and then what?  Drive the poor creatures to the next county and set them free so the neighbors now share our problems?  Leave all the food production to the corporations who treat us like guinea pigs with their GMOs?

Most folks I know simply avoid thinking about such things, and I wish sometimes that worked for me.  They let the factory farm or butcher do their dirty work and then look down their noses at guys like Hubby, who must somehow be more insensitive than they are themselves.  “Da-Nile is a river in South America, right?” he likes to joke, in his well-executed, country-dumb humor.  And I always laugh.

Refusing denial myself, I struggle, still, with the necessity of playing god.  I am called to align my life with nature, that much I know, so why do my head and heart keep getting in the way?  We obviously don’t feel as much compassion, they say, if we can take the life of an animal.  But every time I hear the squeal of death or a gunshot destined for any creature my eyes still well up.

I would love sometimes to swim in that river of denial.  I imagine going back to my days as a blissfully oblivious city-dweller where someone else, someone “out there” takes care of the necessities of my life and I’m strolling the aisles of pre-packaged, prettily-wrapped goods that scream of efficiency and the power of science that promise to sanitize all the inconvenient difficulties of nature into a fantasyland of civilized ease, comfort and grace.

But I know I’ll never go back, not by choice anyway.  I’ll deal with the practical realities of nature, the most difficult choices of life and death and let the philosophers and intellectuals and all those others who haven’t a clue continue to consider me cruel.  At least I know and can admit with utmost clarity when I haven’t gotten it all figured out quite yet.


The simple life really ain’t all that simple, but it is authentic.