Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Urban Homesteading Gender Roles

Here's my awesome urban homesteading hubby cooking up a mean spaghetti sauce with fresh garden herbs and making home made whole wheat sour dough bread the other night.  Someone once called Ron a Renaissance man, and it's true, the man can accomplish anything he attempts, and better than most.  Add to that the fact that he's wicked smart and a very hard worker, which makes for a power horse of creativity and production around here.  Truth be told he's hard to keep up with, but I manage.

Honestly, I'm not crazy about cooking, as much as it pains me to admit it.  I "tolerate" cooking.  I think it's more of a time issue;  by the end of the day I'm wiped out after driving my kids to and from school, dance class, and doing errands and the like.  The last thing I'm excited about by then is cooking up something from scratch.  Now that we've discovered cooking with home grown veggies and fresh herbs gone are the days of throwing a store bought marinade sauce over chicken and baking it at 350 degrees for an hour.  There is no going back, period.

The other day Ron asked me to cook and I told him it would be a "sauce on chicken" night.  He said forget it and rolled up his sleeves, cranked up NPR, got out the cast iron and went for it.  I have my specialties, generally Thai cuisine such as sticky rice and magoes, pad thai, and the like, but overall Ron does the lion's share of the cooking lately.  I'm learning slowly and adding to my cooking skill set, really I am.  However, I don't have the natural sense and talent for cooking that he has.  He just seems to intuitively know which herbs to use, how much to use, when to use it, and his dishes always turn out delicious.  I see no need to change the status quo around here anytime soon.  In fact, I really need to start posting his recipes here:  "Ron's Recipes"....has a ring to it don't you think?!

I've been thinking a lot about women and men's roles in the home in current society and their roles in the whole urban homesteading movement as well.  It seems like our movement has much more tolerance for role reversals since we're doing our own thing on our land "our way" anyway, so who cares who does what?  I've noticed though that most of the urban homesteading cooking blogs are written by women...actually most of the blogging is done by women in fact.  The urban homesteading facebook page I started is comprised of about 70% women and 30% men, which shows me that women are most likely the biggest presence of urban homesteaders on the net.  But I would estimate that a lot of men are out there doing the work; it's like that with Ron and I anyway.  He does the brunt of work out in the garden and the kitchen in fact, and I'm totally fine with it.  I get to photograph it, blog about it and research it endlessly.  I'm always telling him about the latest gardening idea I've read about and how we can get it done effectively, or letting him know which local classes are being offered.  He's going to an aquaponics class in a week or so, per my recommendation.

I'm the one who takes the lead with the sustainable end of things as well, making sure we're doing things as eco-friendly as possible, shopping at thrift stores, searching blogs for ways to balance the grocery budget so we can afford organic food, etc.  Then the artistic side of me is at work in the garden as well, painting things and doing mosaics like crazy on every flat surface....well, not every flat surface, but you get the idea.  Ron will bring home some free item and I'm all over it, figuring out a way to use it in the garden creatively.  I'm the healthy eating proponent around here as well, pushing my healthy eating agenda on the entire family, pour souls.  I love my green smoothies, and have figured out ways to hide the kale flavor in fruit smoothies so BOTH kids love them - huge accomplishment.

I've designed a children's clothing line in the past and used some up-cycled fabrics in my clothing as well.  I love to sew and craft, and have been trying to incorporate hand made items into our lifestyle as much as possible.  I made a fabric birthday banner a while back that I hang on our birthdays.  I love the simplicity and functionality of it, and the fact that it's not made out of plastic!  I know I have a long ways to go with sustainable living, but it's my main focus here on the homestead these days and I'm proud of the progress I'm making lately.

Yesterday I scored this amazing vintage hand made farm landscape needlework at an art trade from my gym.  The piece I traded it for wasn't nearly as stunning, but a trade is a trade!

So what are your roles on your urban homestead?  What are your thoughts on gender roles on the urban homestead?


  1. "I would estimate that a lot of men are out there doing the work" Totally NOT my experience! In both my trailer park homestead and my parents' hobby farm, it is about 97-99% women work! I can't generalize to everyone else out there, but the people that follow my blog and the related facebook page are almost entirely women too, and they almost never mention menfolk doing anything :-(

  2. Thanks for the comment! We went to a local plant and seed exchange and I saw a lot of men folk there, so maybe it varies by area? That's too bad that the men in your area are missing out on gardening. I'm proud of the women for stepping up to the plate though!!

  3. Great post. I need to find a guy like that!!

  4. Around here most of the husbands/male partners aren't involved. My husband, who is very much involved in urban farming is always commenting about the lack of men in our community. I have several friends whose husbands/partners have no interest in urban farming/homesteading so they bear pretty much all of it on their own.

  5. We have a very odd arrangement at our house. I have always been the primary bread winner and have always worked outside the house as well as in. When the children were young, my hubby stayed home with them and I think that has given him a GREAT relationship with them. I do most of the gardening and cooking. I also do a lot of the design and dream stuff but my hubby is also the 'Renaissance Man' and is the backbone of the construction phase while I am his support person. All in all, it is a good mix and we're happy with it. He is working from home now and has to be quite disciplined to get his paid work done on time while still accomplishing things on the homestead front. The children are all old enough to help out now and they are getting a pretty balanced exposure to the 'guy construction stuff' and the household/garden/cooking stuff.

  6. Lol! I love this post! When it comes to mowing the lawn and daily cooking yes it is my wife "Dolly". Dolly and I Decided from the very begining that we would not have children. We've been happily married 16 years now. So I have to say first how proud I am of all of you that raise a family, and then even a family of animals. Now to the subject at hand,lol! It is true.. Dolly does most of the work here at our homestead. But I do all the "hard work" lol. I've built the chicken coops and installed the biggest garden in this town(16 inches deep of purchased soil. about 30 truckloads all done by hand. after digging out the old sand crud soil) and I actually grow most of the garden. I also cook alot but not daily, but I cook the tough stuff like Thanksgiving turkey every year. I cook about 6 stuffed turkeys a year( We buy them cheap at Thanksgiving and freeze them. It feeds us two a long while! I make turkey soups after that. I do any bar-b-queing. I fix the truck and hatch the chicks. I like to think I pick up all the things that would be too difficult for her to do. While indeed it is true she does most of the work, We are a team and could not live without each other. =D My thumbs up to "PaPa" Ron! I certainly do agree there needs to be more guys just like him,LOL! My best regards to all loving familys that lead a sustainable life! :)

  7. @Rachel - Interesting that few men in your area are involved in urban homesteading. I suppose if my hubby didn't want to do it I would be forced to do it all.

    Fullfreezer - Good for you! You must be a high energy person, jealous!

    Dan - thanks for the encouragement! The kids are starting to help out too which is awesome. Our daughter feeds/waters the animals and the little guy helps out in the garden. It's a fun family experience for sure. Thanks for sharing your story with me!

  8. My husband is an awesome partner - does the laundry while I'm out mucking out the chicken coop, gives the kids a bath while I'm starting seeds in the basement, remembers to turn on the soaker hoses in hot weather. I'm in my third trimester with our 4th kid, and the last few weeks, he's done the dinner dishes EVERY night, b/c I'm just too tired and my feet too swollen.

    We run this homestead together, in the house and in the garden. (Meanwhile, he tackles a day job, and I tackle homeschooling and the nonprofit garden on our property.) It's a healthy, even-keel partnership.

  9. Since I'm unemployed, I do all of the domestic stuff and I'm totally convinced that if the roles were reversed, my husband would do the same. I tend to do more in the garden just because I have more experience, but he's always willing to learn and help.

  10. Our gender roles are pretty fluid, but they're a little bit traditional, just because of our individual skills and interests. I do most of the cooking, because I enjoy it. He does most of the dishes, because I do most of the cooking. ;-) He does his laundry, I do mine and our daughter's. I tend to dream up the things we need to do next, and he builds anything that needs to be built...chicken coop, beehives, greenhouse, rabbit hutch, raised beds, fences, trellises, whatever. I do most of the actual planting/tending of plants, we both weed. He mows (it nukes my asthma something terrible). I do all the canning/preserving and management of the emergency supplies, he helps if I point and direct. He works a day job (when there's work to be had, he's in construction and it sucks right now) and I manage our daughter's schedule and schoolwork. He handles the bills, I do the taxes.

    Honestly, if I had a 40 hour a week job, he'd make a better homemaker than I do. He's just fussier. ;-) I'm just more organized and seem to know more about basic home routines and keeping schedules, he's better at the daily maintenance stuff. It works out well.

  11. Sounds like we all have great guys who share the homestead duties, lucky us! :) I think it's wonderful that guys are willing to get in there and get their hands dirty with the chores. We've come a long way baby!