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If you’ve been homesteading for any length of time, chances are you may have more on your plate than is necessary. How to know when it’s time to downsize your homestead? Let’s dig into this!
Becoming a homesteader and building a homestead is a fluid and organic process. It’s a time of great change in your life.
The land changes, the weather changes, animals are born and animals pass, and WE change.
We aren’t the same people that we were when we started on this homesteading adventure!
- You’ve learned a lot about how the world of nature and weather works.
- You’ve got a better understanding about gardening, what grows best in your area and what doesn’t.
- You’ve gained wisdom about livestock and husbandry.
- You’ve learned how to preserve your harvest.
- You and your clothing have been dirtier than you’ve ever experienced!
- You know yourself and your capabilities better than you ever have!
Bottom line: You understand how much work homesteading can be!
You’ve done a lot and learned a lot.
But perhaps you’ve come to a point now, in your homesteading, that you feel something needs to change. Maybe you’re feeling fatigued or frustrated.
It might be time to think about downsizing your homestead.
Lost Your Focus
New homesteaders tend to be very idealistic and excited!
I know that I was! You hit the ground running and can’t stop! There’s so much to do!
- Till up a garden
- Order seeds for the garden
- Plant the garden
- Water the garden
- Pick from the garden
- Get a canner
- Can your fresh fruit and vegetables
- Store your awesome food in a root cellar
- Build a root cellar
- Get some chickens
- Build a chicken coop
- Buy lots of chicken stuff
- Clean the coop
- Look for ways to use up excessive eggs
- Start an egg business
- Learn how to butcher chickens
- Bring in cute baby goats
- Read all the books about raising goats
- Get a buck (you’ll regret THAT decision)
- Have some more baby goats
- Milk your goat
- Bring your milk in the house to make butter, cheese, buttermilk and yogurt.
- Plant a garden for your chickens to reduce feed costs
- Build and repair more fences
- Decide to expand your pastures
- Seed your pastures for better nutrition
- Start a rainwater collection system
And you did all of this in the first month of living on your homestead!
It’s very easy to lose your focus on a homestead.
Ask yourself a few questions:
So, what was your focus?
What were your original goals?
Did you have any?
Did you reach them?
Did they prove to be successful or unsuccessful? Why?
What’s your exit strategy, if needed?
Slow down and take a good hard look at how far you’ve come, and all that you’ve learned! Pat yourself on the back!
But things are different now. You’re different now.
Knowing what you know now, what do you want your homestead focus to be going forward?
Every business goes through re-evaluations, downsizing and restructuring, frequently, so that they don’t get too far off track and lose money. Homesteads need to downsize as well!
Make a list of everything you love about your homestead, along with a list of all the things you don’t enjoy. Be honest and consider ridding yourself of the things that don’t bring you joy.
When we first moved to our 10-acre farm, I couldn’t wait to get goats.
After 3 years of being head-butted, fences broken down, large trees virtually destroyed, numerous goat diseases and high vet bills, I had had enough.
I never wanted to see another goat in my life.
When you get to that point, it’s time for immediate change. I sold the goats to good homes and I am goat-free! I feel strongly that if you don’t get those “warm-fuzzies” when you look at one of your animals, it’s time to let that animal go to someone who will. It’s ok.
It really is.
Money is Tight
In case no one told you, homesteading isn’t cheap.
At least not at first.
There are a lot of start-up costs.
Many times, with homesteaders, one spouse will work outside the home and the other spouse will stay home and run the homestead. However, there are times when it becomes necessary for the “stay-at-home” spouse to work outside the home as well, at least part-time.
Even working a few hours a week away from the home can and will put stress on your homestead routine. If you find that it’s all becoming just too much to handle right now, it’s ok to re-adjust and modify things a bit.
It won’t be forever, everyone goes through these kinds of things. Downsizing your homestead might be the answer right now.
Excessive fatigue can have many causes, however, we’re talking about fatigue from being over-worked.
When you’re at the point where even several nights of good sleep and clean eating isn’t helping you to feel better, you need to pay attention to that! Pain can be physical OR emotional/mental, so don’t ignore the signs that your body is giving you.
Chronic fatigue can lead to injury, if you aren’t careful.
Injury or Sickness
Last year, I had a knee-replacement that set me way back.
Our Blue Heeler was running after a ball and rammed right into my knee, knocking the meniscus completely out of my knee joint! At that point, my knee was bone-on-bone and the pain was excruciating. But I knew that the recovery time would pretty much trash any garden aspirations I had for the year.
And it did.
Actually, 2019 wasn’t much of a homesteading year for us. We pretty much maintained and didn’t add anything new.
Other times, especially in the case of a life-threatening illness, it might be best to be more drastic in your downsizing and liquidate or butcher most, if not all, of your animals. All of your attention (and money) will need to be paid to healing that family member!
Families are always changing.
Babies are born. Parents age and need more from us. Death in the family takes time to heal from.
Life happens. Don’t fight it, downsize and adjust your homestead as needed.
Joy is in Short Supply
When your joy is gone, consistently, that’s a sign of burnout!
Homesteading was supposed to be fun, right? Hard work, yes, but satisfying work! If your joy is in short supply, it might be time to change things up.
So, how do we deal with these seasons of life and still run a homestead?
Set New Goals
It is said that “Acceptance is the key to all of your problems”.
It’s true, as much as I don’t like that saying. I don’t want to “accept”! I want things to change back to the way they were!
But life doesn’t work that way.
Set new goals that satisfy the season of life you find yourself in.
Maybe you won’t have to give up the garden completely, just downsize it for a while.
Forego any new animals for a while and maybe sell or butcher some of what you have.
Some new goals might include doing more with less! Become more efficient with what you already have going on. Look for ways to enjoy homesteading that work along side your current circumstances.
Do Things the Way YOU Want and Need to do Them
“Comparison is the thief of joy” – Theodore Roosevelt
You are allowed to downsize and maintain your homestead any way you want to!
Don’t compare yourself to the glossy pictures in Mother Earth News or Pioneer magazines! Consider not even reading magazines and books about homesteading for a while.
Downsizing can be temporary, but it might be permanent. Accept the changes that need to be made and don’t compare yourself to anyone else!
Restructure and Re-organize
Restructuring should take place on paper and around the kitchen table, long before anything tangible is done.
Talk things through, brainstorm about ways to downsize but be more effective.
Look at what’s working and what isn’t working.
Downsizing your homestead is not, I repeat NOT an admission of failure! Nothing stays the same all through our lives except change.
Remember, acceptance is the key to all of your problems.