Author Wendell Berry writes about the difference between “movers and stickers”. The challenges of pioneering pale compared to homesteading in the same way that starting something is always easier than seeing something through. Anybody could stake a claim out west. It took grit to hold on long enough, and make enough improvements, to satisfy the homestead law and keep the land.
The cowboy life of big ranches and open range was always more romantic, but according to that former-cowboy-turned-president, Teddy Roosevelt, the homesteaders won the West. “… the homesteaders, the permanent settlers, the men who took up each his own farm on which he lived and brought up his family, these represented from the national standpoint the most desirable of all possible users of, and dwellers on, the soil.” (Memoirs)
Nebraska author Wright Morris took two photographs of a Nebraska farm on the prairie in the winters of 1940 and 1941. I wish I could copy and paste the photographs but that would be violating copyright so you can view them here: http://www.sfmoma.org/explore/collection/artwork/115539?artwork=115539 When you’ve seen one of Morris’s photos, you’ve seen both because they are the same in every detail, including the blades of grass in the foreground.
When I come to see that lack of difference as progress, I will have come to understand the power of sticking.