Radical Homemakers

Last year we had the great privilege of meeting and being interviewed by farmer and author Shannon Hayes for her new book Radical Homemakers. Hayes is well known as an expert on cooking grass fed meat–see her website grassfedcooking.com for more on that. Radical Homemakers takes a look at the new domesticity of the past decade through a series of interviews with its practitioners. Touching on issues such as gender roles, food choices and finances, Radical Homemakers is the first book I know of to delve into the motivations of the unnamed movement that this blog and its readers are also a part of. I really like what Hayes says in the introduction about the subjects of this book:

“the happiest among them were successful at setting realistic expectations for themselves. They did not live in impeccably clean houses on manicured estates. They saw their homes as living systems and accepted the flux, flow, dirt and chaos that are a natural part of that. They were masters at redefining pleasure not as something that should be bought in the consumer marketplace, but as something that could be created, no matter how much or how little money they had in their pockets. And above all, they were fearless. They did not let themselves be bullied by the conventional ideals regarding money, status, or material possessions. These families did not see their homes as a refuge from the world. Rather, each home was the center for social change, the starting point from which a better life would ripple out for everyone.”

Now I have an excuse not to clean up the chicken poo I track into the kitchen! But seriously, I highly recommend Radical Homemakers, as well as Hayes’ other books. It’s about time somebody addressed the “why” of this movement and Hayes is the perfect person to do so.

You can pick up a copy of Radical Homemakers and read the introduction a radicalhomemakers.com.

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  1. AMEN! I am going to look into this book.I have had people challenge our choice of life style which I replied with much eye rolling.
    Fearless that would be me.

  2. A lovely vision for the home and family; unfortunately my personality demands that there by one impeccable space to call my own, clean, a refuge from the world, a sacred center of sanity, a place of order. I crave the freedom that the radical homemakers lifestyle engenders, but I fear that I have an almost pathological desire for cleanness and simplicity, for myself at least. It is a real problem!

  3. It’s always struck me as amusing that people with affluent lifestyles have huge kitchens with lots of workspace, storage space and gadgets–all of which are never used because they eat out all the time. They also have housekeepers, employed, apparently, to keep the dust off their shining appliances.

    A big kitchen would make all of our cooking and crafting easier, and a housekeeper would at least take the edge off the swirling chaos, but those very things, tempting as they are, would also cost us our freedom.

    @Nutty Professor: I’d think that you could keep one room as a sanctum without much trouble, even in the most homegrown of households.

  4. I am definitely going to get this book! as a working mother whose energy is centripedal, it seems that flux, flow, dirt and chaos, along with kids, cats and chickens, flow endlessly in my direction. How to balance homegrown against autonomy within the household? I hope Hayes can tell me!

  5. I found out about this book about 2 weeks ago from the blog of a local CSA farmer who linked to the Yes! Magazine article about it. After reading the introduction, I was hooked, especially when I found out you guys were involved! I immediately ordered a copy, and I’m about 1/3 of the way through. I particularly like how she talks about making our household economies more productive, and getting away from being as consumptive/extractive. It’s something all of us can do, whether we’re at the point of being able to be full-time homemakers/homesteaders, or whether we still have to go out and bring home a paycheck.

  6. Ooooh, a book that’ll make me feel okay about tracking chicken poo into the living room sounds like a good book indeed (fear not, there’s no carpeting).

    And my home is definitely a living thing rather than some escape.

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