Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Homesteading Thoughts

I watched a TV show last night about a couple who wanted to go off the grid and raise free-range pigs. So they just plopped themselves down in the woods somewhere and trucked in forty domestic pigs and turned them loose in the forest. And then wondered why the pigs tore up their garden and broke down their shed and fell victim to coyotes and birds of prey. Their chickens and piglets were killed regularly. Not only that, the people themselves didn't have an outhouse, so human and animal feces were throughout the camp, creating a pretty scary scenario.

An experienced homesteader and his family came to help the people sort themselves out, but the couple resisted a lot of what they tried to do, insisting that "their values" wouldn't allow them to pen their animals. After a lot of argument, the experienced homesteaders at least got them to agree to pen their pregnant sows long enough to give birth, to give them some protection from predators and the aggressive boars.

It seems to me they would have had more success if they had approached the couple basing their argument on the couple's values. You want to show compassion to these animals? Well, turning a domestic animal loose in the woods without any sort of watch care and saying "Good luck" is not compassionate. You have a stewardship over these animals. It is your responsibility to see that they are safe and fed and given veterinary care. The people couldn't have argued with that. You also have a duty to care for your own health, so that you're able to care for your animals, and exposing yourself to disease and living in squalor is not the way to do it.

You are more likely to win someone over by appealing to their values (which were good but just not applied appropriately) than by argument or shaming or blaming. The couple's hearts were right, they were just unprepared and unskilled and not thinking very logically. You don't enter into such a stewardship without preparation. Sometimes values and beliefs aren't enough -- you have to know a little something too!

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