Modern Pioneers?

When I recently did a radio interview on living in a small space and trying to be more conscious of the environment, the host called us “modern pioneers.”
While we’ve been called “homesteaders,” by our county seat in relation to the taxes we pay on our real estate, I had never been called a pioneer before.
My Merriam Webster Dictionary defines pioneer as “one that originates or opens up a new line of thought or activity,” or “an early settler in a territory.”

I must admit that sometimes I do feel somewhat of a pioneer, or maybe a little like a 19th century housewife. Although I know I don’t work near as hard as those tough women, I’ve felt a bit old-fashioned stoking the wood-burning stove in the winter. There’s also been a lot of things I’ve never done in the course of our marriage that I’ve done since moving here. In the city, if I didn’t have time to cook, we would eat our meals out. Here, for financial, logistical, and health reasons, I try to cook as many meals on the weekends as I can, or cook them in the crock pot.
Last Sunday, Dale had three of his grills going and we had a pot of salsa cooking on the stove making meals for the busy week ahead.
I’ve also had to resort to sewing Dale’s work shirts, many of which were missing buttons and/or had torn pockets. I know, for those of you who really know me, crazy right? We simply cannot afford to rent uniforms from his current employer.
We even got down and dirty last weekend (after replacing the mailbox), trimming bushes and trees, planting some flower bulbs, and clearing brush from around the house.
But pioneer, no, I’m not beating our wash on rocks at the lakeshore. We certainly didn’t “open up a new line of thought or activity” by inventing the idea of living in a small space, there’s plenty of modern pioneers who came before us in The Small House Movement who’ve done that.
I’ll leave my title as wife, Mom, writer, animal lover, appreciator of natural beauty, environmentalist, and someone who wants to live everyday as large as I can.

If you had to label yourself, what would it be?

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23 Responses

  1. Vida says:

    Hmmm… I would not know what to label myself.

    5 years ago I lived in an apartment in the historic center of Madrid. I had a totally urban life: bought my herbs at the supermarket and paid a fortune for free range eggs..

    Now I harvest my own olives for oil, my husband brings the fish home fresh from the sea, I grow my own veggies, can my own tomatoes, cure my own pancetta, have herbs sprouting all over the garden…

    I loved our life in Madrid and I love our life now in our little olive grove by the sea, in Greece. What does that make me, schizophrenic or adaptable?

    But I still pay a fortune for free range eggs to a neighbor!

    • Vida,
      Like you, I love both the city life and country life too. I love it when my writing assignments take me to an urban environment, from downtown KC to midtown Manhattan in NYC, love it all. However, I’m always ready to come home to nature and decompress. Your live sounds wonderful, sans paying a fortune for eggs. I was paying a heft price in the store for organic eggs (over $3 a dozen) and now buy free range from a neighbor for $1.50.

      • Vida says:

        Kerri, believe it or not this lady charges 60 cents per egg! That’s in Euros, so that works out to about 80 US cents each. Naturally the eggs are treated like nuggets of gold and I only use them where egg is an important feature of the dish I am making. I bet if your neighbor shipped eggs to me by courier it would be cheaper….

        • OMG, Vida! That is just crazy. My neighbor and I were laughing the other day that we could sell some of our produce we’re growing this year for a fortune because it’s all organic, using organic seeds, etc. But really, we were just joking!

  2. Alexandra says:

    “Pioneer” fits in that you are sharing new knowledge on the sustainable life. Think “pioneering effort,” I guess, and ditch the “arrived in covered wagons” idea.

    I identify myself as a green innkeeper and try, in my own small way, to encourage people to chose options that are better for the environment. So many people are throwing around the word “green” now to describe what they do, or their product. Green needs to go way beyond being “fashionable,” which is why some companies, like our utility NStar claim they are green, but do not blink at spraying herbicides across 150 miles of Cape Cod, despite outcry by the citizens here. In their case. I am convinced green-washing is going on.

    I listened to an NPR show last night that you might enjoy in their archive on this very subject. One of the things described was a new App for iPhone that helps identify products that are good for the environment. It was said that the App will pressure manufacturers to be more upfront with environmental info. I have not even had time to look up the site, and do not have an iPhone, or even a cell, but I know lots of people do.

    I would love if this became a movement. People like you, Kerri, are out there in Cyberspace, proving it can be done …

  3. Kristi says:

    I like the idea of marrying new technology and simple living to live with less impact on this fragile planet. We try to incorporate into our daily lives things that save money as well as resources. Of course, we are in the time of our lives, post young children, where we have the time to do so. It was much tougher when our schedules were less our own. It is pleasing to see our grown children recycling, growing their own food and reducing their waste, i.e. cloth diapers.

    My usual webname is “Growmyown”. I guess that refers to our food as well as my personhood. To be continued, ad infinitum.

  4. Sandy says:

    I love it, someday when I have little house or cabin, I’d be proud to be called a modern day pioneer! Here’s to all of us dreaming the dream!

  5. Kerri how about The Simple Small Quietude Life?
    The latest issue of natural Home magazine there is an article titled,”in Quietude.” An article of a lady living happily in a 280 square feet designed to nourish her soul.It costed 28,000 dollars. Neat! Check it out at

  6. I’m not big on giving myself labels. I get called enough names as it is 🙂

    I think you are pioneering in this effort to live more simply. You don’t have to be the only one doing it to be a pioneer. The Pioneers of the old west were people out doing what was harder to live a different life. They could have just stayed in the big cities and never gone anywhere. They wanted a better way. Seems to me you’re doing just that.

    Though they did have those cool covered wagons, too.

  7. Kathleen Winn says:

    I guess you could say that my husband and I are “weekend pioneers.” We have land in the country and our only shelter there is a tent. Our bathroom is an outhouse and all our food and water must be brought with us- no electricity, no running water. We have camped with snow on the ground and we’ve camped in temps of over a hundred degrees. Still, like you Kerri, I don’t kid myself that it’s anything like what early settlers had to go through. However, we love shedding our city identities and heading out to South Fork (the name of our land) for a weekend or as long as a week. A native prairie remnant on the property has become our mid-life passion. We have worked on restoration of it for almost ten years now, and it at last has the characteristics of prairies that Lewis and Clark described in their journal entries. This time of year is the most exciting, as each weekend, something new is blooming, migrating birds have returned to nest and baby deer are just venturing out with their mothers to explore the world. (David almost tripped over a fawn once, hidden in tall grasses.) Reading your blog, allows me to fantasize about the day that we will actually live there. I hope we prove to be as resilient and resourceful as you and Dale!

  8. V Schoenwald says:

    I love Jenna Ann’s quotes. Stellar 21st century to boot.
    I’ve been called a “witch”, not a cottage witch though, since I grow my own medicinal herbs,garden and have flowers and other stuff. The human, who called me this was smoking a crack pipe…go figure…LOL
    I love the path that all of us are on, and I love the fact that we all have blogs like Kerri’s and Rhonda’s Down to earth, and Path to Freedom, and many others, as we all share a love of the simple,and tread lightly ideal of living our lives. I will stay on this path, its much better, and much more honest.

  9. Jenna Ann says:

    Ahhh….the joys of labeling one’s self. 🙂 The ONLY kind of label I like is the one a person chooses for themselves and the beauty of that is that they can change it whenever they see fit. hee hee

    My chosen labels…Radical Homemaker, Cottage Witch, Photographer, Wife, Mother, Student of T’ai Chi, a spiritual being on a human path, tree-hugging dirt worshiper, nature nut and simple, sustainable living connoisseur.

    LOL How’s THAT?

  10. Thank you, BJ! From someone who spends their days educating our youth, that means a lot! 🙂 I’m so glad you’ve gotten so much out of Living Large. Thanks for making my day.

  11. Bj says:


    I wouldn’t be so quick to say you did not “open up a new thought or line of thought”. I know for me, yes ma’am, you did. I stumbled quite literally on this site, looking for ideas, and you have been like a teacher to me, opening new lines of thought on what I need, separating wants from desires, how to manage storage in my tiny cabin, etc, etc. So I would have to agree that you, and soon, hopefully me, are a new wave of “modern pioneers”. We may not be the first footsteps in that area, or even on our land, but you are teaching, and teachers do open new thoughts in other heads!
    Have a great Wednesday! Off to my 4th graders I go!