Now at the outset I have to say that growing up in Los Angeles, surrounded by friends' parents who were in various behind-the-scenes aspects of showbiz, I already knew that most of what I was seeing was crafted by off-camera script supervisors. Nothing that comes out of Hollywood is real, including so-called "reality television." Real-looking breasts on TV and in the movies are probably not real. 80 year-old women don't look 80; they look like some nebulous age between 45 and 90, depending on the skill of their cosmetic surgeon.
Martha Stewart does not really tend her own garden and can her own vegetables, no matter what she appears to do on her show. Perhaps she did at one time, but she's an empire manager at this point.
Anyway, while I'm sure a lot of "Homestead Rescue" was scripted in advance, as most reality shows are, what did impress me and resonate within me was how hard Mother Nature appeared to be working to foil the plans of the aspiring off-gridders in the show, in weather situations no reality show series could script. Ice is real. Storms are real. Mother Nature cannot be commanded, coached or scripted. She just shows up and does her thing.
And I found I could relate to the show, not because we are off-gridders, but because we've already learned some of what the Raney family (the hosts) teaches each guest family on the show. The other half of the time, I related out of sympathy, such as when one family's greenhouse vegetables got completely destroyed by mice, or when putting up a new fence on the property resulted in two smashed fingers and muscles so sore that chopping more firewood seemed like too much to ask, but it was 4 pm and freezing, so chop they did.
There are days when this place discourages me -- so much so that I want to pack it up and move into town. If it's not the wind, it's the wildlife eating our food. Or the insects. Or the broiling heat that decomposes irrigation hoses, destroys electrical wire, and blanches and rots wood. We are currently in line for replacing all the irrigation hosing in our pasture (which springs a leak in a new place that must be fixed every single time I run it. Every. Single.Time.). We're also getting a new irrigation timer with new wiring, and looking into how to create a wind break so that our fruit trees stay erect and don't grow sideways. That's this month. Next month it'll be something else, I promise you.
And as I watched the homesteaders in the series attempt to surmount even more daunting challenges, I sympathized, while simultaneously realizing that we don't have it nearly as bad as we could. But the first time anyone gets country property, no matter how many YouTube videos you've watched or books you've read, the land is still gonna hand you your ass on a regular basis -- even if you're just keeping a few chickens and growing some food. (Usually there is a honeymoon period of a few months to a year, just to make sure your guard is down when fate finally comes calling.)
And it's gonna hurt, because you love those chickens and those vegetables and those fruit trees.
I think that's why most homesteading blogs disappear or morph into something else after a few years...because people finally realize it's just easier to order a pizza and sit inside listening to Pandora. There is a reason roughly 80 percent of all 1800s homesteads ended in failure, and it's the same reason the newer ones will as well: Mother Nature has no mercy and will challenge you at every turn, continually. There's a learning curve, but as soon as you master one challenge another presents itself.
But for the sake of knowing the reality of homestead life, "Homestead Rescue" is a show I can recommend. Because for all Hollywood's fakery and slight-of-hand script treatments, I know that some of what you see on that show is real, and for that reason alone, it's a pretty decent entertainment/life lesson show.
As for us and this place, we're putting Mother Nature on notice that we're not going away. Because while sitting inside listing to Pandora or wandering around some suburban lot in town might sometimes look attractive, what challenge is that? Strive on, I say, whether you're on 1 acre or 2000. Just prepare -- not only for starry nights and birdsong mornings -- which is nature's way -- but also for smashed fingers, sore muscles and expensive equipment getting broken, damaged or just disintegrating over time. Because that is also nature's way.