I bought a bottle of cold brew coffee. One of the $5 ones near the milk section of the grocery store. And it’s really good, I’m quite enjoying it. The thing is, part of my seven thousand dollar dental work need is for this one tooth, which is basically dead and crumbling (this oddly runs in my family). It broke twice, I had a root canal-and part of it broke again yesterday. I go for my post and temporary crown on Monday. What would have been ‘best’ would have been to just make my own cold brew, but I what I -wanted- was Starbucks. Which would have been close to $5 for a single drink, and not the half gallon of coffee that I got to have right away. I know we’re supposed to delay gratification, but my tooth was crumbling, and this was the better (and faster) coffee fix.
I have effectively given up on paper towels for my kitchen work. I use tore up sheets and flour bag towels for most everything now, including straining coffee and ferments, and I even use them at work for small spills and paper towels. I bring them home, wash them, and rotate them out of my bag. I really hate paper towels now. I didn’t throw one into my current work bag today, and was deeply displeased when I had to clean up a coffee spill with paper. It just didn’t work as well, and it actually angered me a little to have to toss them after. I’m not that person that will whip one out at someone else’s house or if we were to go out, but for work and my home needs, these really are the best option.
Everyone talks about gardening like it’s a skill that -everyone has by default-. That’s not true. And even if it were, what these discussions about how everyone can definitely grow their own food takes a lot for granted ranging from a stable, clean water supply, dirt that’s not practically within walking distance of Love Canal…and time. Because you’re talking a lot of time if you’re aiming for a truly usable food supply (not like, say, my one onion in a pot). Every little bit helps but sometimes it’s really the best option to just go buy produce.
The point of these three examples is that homesteading is about balance, and part of that balance is figuring out where to put resources to their best usage. And resources here means everything that you have to put into a homestead to get it to run properly, or at least smoothly. That includes things like skills, money, and time. Never underestimate the need to factor time into the homestead.
I do work a forty hour a week job, and I don’t drive, so I have to add transportation time into my job as well. Public transportation is great for many reasons but it means that I have to leave that much earlier, and if I have to leave work for whatever reason I have to try to figure out how that’s going to work. I actually don’t have the time, let alone the space, right now to do much more than a patio garden with some buckets. That’s the ‘best’ balance right now. Same with some processed foods, cleaning products, and why I don’t pressure can yet. I have to decide where my limited time is best used in the relatively small space I have to work on.
There’s no ‘right’ answer to what your priorities should be-the question should be ‘what’s a good fit, what’s a better fit, and what’s the best fit’. I didn’t make that up, I’m not claiming it for my own idea. But it’s effective here, and it’s not one that has to be an active thought when making a decision. The test is finding out if you can justify the choice afterwards (or during, or before, or whenever you’re judging the idea for fit) and deciding if the best fit is being achieved. There’s plenty of things I don’t do, that other people do without any strain at all-I don’t make soap, I don’t play with a lot of herbals, I don’t pressure can, I don’t have a dehydrator. Maybe someday. Right now I don’t have the time or the space to put into these tasks-I would be snuggling down with the canner every night at this point if I brought it into my kitchen.
That means that my list isn’t going to look like anyone else’s, or even my own over stretches of time. I now have three days a week off instead of two, which means I have more open time, but a need to rework my priorities so my apartment isn’t stacked with mountains of dirty dishes by the end of the work week (I’m still working on that one).
Sometimes what this will mean is making good choices instead of best ones, or settling for a consistent better option for certain decisions. I will buy cold brew coffee as a treat, and I will probably always buy my pie crusts.