Blogging about real life on a homestead can be an interesting challenge. On the one hand, I don’t want to use this blog as a platform for whining when things go wrong, as it’s my vision to inspire and uplift others on their homesteading path. But to not share the challenges of homesteading seems unfair and unrealistic as well.
The truth is, we all have homestead set backs.
A few months ago, I mentioned to a close group of homestead blogging friends that I was feeling particularly affected by a long list of personal challenges: Our property is currently threatened by a high-voltage power line project. A lower back injury has taken months to resolve and I’ve been left with some minor nerve damage. The cow that we had been waiting for months to arrive ended up not being able to come live with us.
In other words, life happened.
Luckily, I’m a pretty upbeat person, and I tend to bounce back from challenges pretty quickly (although boy, do I feel them acutely in the moment!!!). I’m at the core of a grassroots group fighting to protect our community. My back is (slowly) healing. A reader contacted me about her sweet Jersey cow, and Creme Brulee will be coming to live with us in a few days.
Life is moving forward.
My general strategy when faced with challenging personal or homestead situations is to fight despair with action. After a good cry, or a healthy mourning period, I tend to get practical. What can I do to make my situation better? How can I turn a lemon into lemonade? Not to say that real life challenges are always easy to turn around. Certainly, I have yet to find a real silver lining to a debilitating back injury, but perhaps some day I will!
As our homesteading group discussed these challenges, we got to talking about homestead set backs in general. How do we cope with them? What characteristics make a good homesteader? What traits has homesteading given us?
I found our discussion really inspirational and full of wisdom that I hope will help anyone on their homestead journey.
“I know that stubborn determination has kept me going in many many things. I am hoping this same stubbornness that I see in my own children is going to benefit them in the long run!!”- Leona of My Healthy Green Family
“When It comes to farm set backs, to me it’s easy. Get up. Dust your self off. Move forward.” – Katie of livinlovinfarmin
“The homestead life does change you and give you emotional coping skills that you maybe didn’t have before.” – Chris of Joybilee Farm
“I’ve found that the homestead life cheers me up because I love it so much. We are closer to the life and death cycle living this life, which makes it both challenging and beautiful.” – Isis of Little Mountain Haven
“I do think there’s a certain grit homesteaders possess. Maybe they don’t possess it from the beginning, but they learn it real quick- it seems to be the only way to survive. I think you have no choice but to do the next thing after something goes wrong on the homestead, because all the “next things” have to get done anyway.
The overarching theme of my life- clearly the lesson I am supposed to be learning- is perseverance. So many things I don’t want to do or deal with, or conversely that I want to accomplish, seem to rely on perseverance. To either get through the things you don’t want to be dealing with or to accomplish something you want. Always perseverance. Maybe a hefty dose of stubbornness in there too.” – Ashley of Whistle Pig Hollow
For more thoughts about overcoming homestead set backs, check out these posts:
Annie at Montana Homesteader wrote a great post about The Power of Positive Thinking on the Homestead.
And here’s a good reminder from Heather of Green Eggs and Goats about what do do when you feel like quitting homesteading!
What about you? How do you overcome homestead set backs? What qualities do you think homesteaders must have?
Teri , you made a comment about ticks, do you have a solution to minimize them? Plants or animals you use as a deterrent? Special,oils or the like?
Teri Page says
When we arrived on this piece of land, the ticks would literally cover you in minutes! We’d spread a blanket down for a picnic, and watch them crawl towards us! Getting chickens and mowing the land frequently has helped. But the reality is that we live next to a large piece of forest, so I doubt the situation will get much better. We do nightly tick checks.
We have hit a huge setback. The physical challenges of homesteading as you age (we are both in our 50s and disabled one way or the other) have hit us hard. My husband has developed mold in his lungs, sometimes called Farmer’s Lung. He is currently on oxygen and we had to get rid of our chickens, etc. He is not responding to treatment. His family thinks it’s the land (mine from before we met) which is over an aquifer with a very high water table. The think the land itself is causing the problem. He previously worked in weatherization, insulating low-income homes, so there was l lot of crawling under horrible mobile homes, and old attics. So he was exposed to mold, dead animals, rodents, and bats; all things that can also cause this problem. So the first thing of course is to get him healthy, but this also means no chickens or other farm animals. So that does constrict our homesteading goals hugely. Oh and for good measure, I broke a toe in January and my hand in July, so that didn’t help in getting the chores done either. I’m just so sad. We have been together for 6 years, but just got married this June, and I am so afraid that I am going to lose him to this lung infection. Just so sad.
Teri Page says
I”m so sorry to hear about your husband’s illness and your challenges. I hope that you are able to find the support you need to continue homesteading. I wonder if there might be any younger people nearby who might be interested in a work trade in exchange for produce, milk, eggs, experience, etc. There is a program called WWOOF on which you can post your homestead as a place for willing volunteers to work for a few days or a few months. best of luck to you.
Ed Brown says
Yes, it is daunting when you realize that everything you carry, build or cultivate relays on the health of a very small area of bones and cartilage and their related ligaments and muscles. My silver lining was learning about alternative medicines and ultimately bringing Chinese herbs into my life for good. I have to recommend the books by John Sarno “Mind Over Back Pain” and “Healing Back Pain” – after reading the latter in 1989, I stopped seeing chiropractors and replaced them almost completely with meditation, dietary changes and herbal remedies. I still have an occassional tuneup from an acupuncturist and I do still have setbacks, but they are not as debilitating as they once were. Be well.
Teri Page says
It’s been a tough few months, and I’m still no where near healed. The worst part is that I wasn’t even doing anything dramatic when the injury occurred – not even a good story to go with the pain!
Essential perspective to have when homesteading. Two lessons I’ve learned about challenges on the homestead:
1. Diversify. One year isn’t good for strawberries – but the raspberries went bonkers. Slugs got the cabbages but the beets took off! Even with physical health, the diversity of work on the homestead has allowed me to stay strong.
2. Boy, I wouldn’t be so happy and contented if I didn’t have some frustrations and downers. That’s the beauty of homestead living, when it comes down to it. Those tough things you have to get through to enjoy sitting by the woodstove eating a good meal is what gives these simple pleasures so much impact! Not to diminish how tough it can feel in the moment – but in the long run, our challenges have made us a happier family. True contentment comes through tough experience – not by avoiding it all together.
Teri Page says
Yes, diversification is a really good thing! Glad you mentioned that, and contentment!
Thanks for this, Teri! An important reminder for me as I’m thinking of my own list of homestead challenges. Just put your shoulder down and plow.
Teri Page says
This too shall pass. Mistakes are an opportunity to learn and mistakes in homesteading are seldom repeated. These mantras or views are important to help me keep going and take problems in stride. My daughter inspires me too. She beat brain cancer at the age of 5…if she can do that and keep going and be happy..then I can too. She is very positive and sees the rainbow in every cloud.
Teri Page says
How wonderful that she beat brain cancer and has been able to bring such positivity into the world!
Nicole Mattingly says
This year has been the most trying homestead year for us to date. Whenever we hit a setback, I always try to look at it as an opportunity to re-evaluate and see how we can do things better the next go around. Thank you for sharing this post!
Teri Page says
I think it’s been the most challenging for me as well. I have learned a few good lessons along the way, but still hope that a few of the challenges will be resolved in the new year!
I literally just hit send on an email to another homesteading blogger complimenting them on their transparency with the challenges they face as homesteaders. As a wannabe/future homesteader myself (we’re in the process of choosing a new town and sufficient land to begin), I could get addicted to all the beautiful pictures of sunsets, chickens, and goats – but I also appreciate the sobering challenges too. When I see blogs that only talk about rainbows and unicorns, I get way more nervous about the lifestyle changes we’re embarking on. Basically, I get paranoid and wonder what I’m missing.
I don’t want the homestead life to be easy, but I do like to know what challenges I might face.
Long story short, your healthy balance of fun stories, useful DIY posts, and posts about short-term challenges is what I appreciate the most here.
Teri Page says
Thanks TJ. I definitely don’t want people to think that life is all rainbows and unicorns. On the other hand, I have read a few blogs that just got downright depressing with all of the talk of things gone wrong. Luckily, I feel like my overall view of life is pretty upbeat, and maybe that helps me as a homesteader.
Janette Neal says
Life, in general, is full of setbacks and challenges. Homesteading is not unique. Our outlook on unpleasant events makes so much difference in how they affect our existence. Do we see it as a knockdown where we lie on the ground and bemoan your circumstances or do we see the hard times as an opportunity to grow into the persons we hope to become? We all have some of both traits and it takes time and perseverance to balance us out and make us a whole persons. Each day keeps coming and going, over and over again. Some days are good/fun/exciting, when things go great. Some days make us wonder what we did that was so bad to deserve the problem we’re facing.
I’ve learned to appreciate those times when everything is going the way I like them because one of these days/weeks/months something is going to happen that’s unpleasant. At that point I’ve tried to teach myself to remember that this won’t last forever and times will be good again.
Teri Page says
Good point – bad times won’t last forever! It’s so hard to see that when you’re in the mire, but it’s really true!