I should probably wait to write this, maybe when I’m not quite so raw. But the cold hard reality is that homesteading is hard. Out of all the things I have done in my life, I think homesteading is the hardest. I have had multiple miscarriages. Sent my husband off to war twice and raise two babies while he was gone. I have stood over bleeding and mangled bodies and said, “I’ve got you.” I’ve had a mom hand me her infant and say, “Save her.” Is homesteading hard? It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
*****Be sure to read till the end*****
Why Is Homesteading Hard?
The constant life and death decisions will wear you down. The constant checking on feed, hay, and medication levels. Hauling sick animals into the house or into the vet. Checking finances to make sure you can cover the feed, vet or light bill. Worrying about the garden producing not only your food but your animals. Prepping firewood and praying you’ve got enough. Constant research to find another way to possibly save money or a life. Frustration when a product doesn’t work. It’s enough to drive you insane. Homesteading is hard.
Life and Death Decisions
When you live a “normal” life, maybe you really only worry about your dogs or cats, maybe an “exotic”. But when you homestead (even small scale), you have to be constantly aware of your house pets and livestock, their safety and wellbeing, their health, laboring or egg/ hatching rates and so much more. You have to worry about predators.
You order chicks and realize that one just isn’t doing well, and you have to make the decision to cull. A duck breaks a leg? Is it worth the pain they will go through to see if you can set it, splint it and keep them confined? Actively warming a goat kid till the wee hours of the morning. Only to have them die a couple days later, anyways.
Running Out Of Feed
Sometimes you run out of feed, and can’t get more. The supply chain shortages are a thing and usually the small farmer is who suffers. You’ve got to get creative with how you are going to feed your chickens, ducks, pigs and goats with no access to feed. Sometimes it’s taking 5gal buckets to work and asking coworkers to fill it with their food scraps, just to feed your pigs or chickens. Or begging neighbors for a couple bales of hay.
The reality of caring for so many animals on the homestead is overwhelming sometimes.
Sometimes, your living room turns into an infirmary. Sometimes, your really nice SUV turns into a litter box because you’ve got to haul the pigs to the vet. Then despite all of your very best efforts, your animal dies anyways.
It’s pulling goats because momma is too tired to push, only to realize the kid is stuck and you can’t get it out. Praying to forces you don’t even believe in to save this baby.
It’s a cemetery on your property because you just couldn’t save them.
Sometimes life and death decisions are made because of finances and that feels worse. When you have to cull an animal, especially a favorite, because you don’t have the money for medicine or a vet visit. Other times, it’s feeding the pigs out of your pantry or fridge because you don’t have anything else.
Other times, it’s using your emergency fund to cover hay because you ran out.
Working Your Gardens
Whether you are praying for rain, or praying for rain to stop, your life revolves around your gardens in spring and summer. Since you’ve decided to grow as much fodder for your livestock as possible, you are stressing over it’s growth. You are simply hoping to reduce the strain on your wallet.
You are constantly checking for pests and weeds. Thinking about next years garden and what you will do differently. Pouring over notes, blog posts, and more trying to get a leg up.
When you make the decision to heat solely with your wood stove, you spend hours, days and weeks building that firewood stack. One cord down, seven more to go. Only to realize mid winter, seven wasn’t enough either. So you’re back out there, cutting down trees or finding your stacks you had put back for the next year.
It’s hauling huge rounds of wood up hills. It’s the pure manual labor that feels back breaking, but isn’t.
Is Homesteading Hard?
Yes, but it is worth it. Every single time and every single way, it is worth it. The good outweighs the bad, every single time.
The pure joy of harvesting peppers, dehydrating them, grinding them, and then using them in your dinner? It’s a feeling of pure satisfaction.
Seeing that firewood stack go from empty at the beginning of spring and full at the end of summer? Knowing that you are going to be warm and snuggly? It’s hard to describe the feeling of accomplishment.
It’s cleaning eggs, putting them in a jar to waterglass, and putting them on shelves in your basement, knowing you will have eggs this winter.
Watching your garden bloom and grow. Eating beans fresh from the garden. Canning your tomatoes. Knowing that when you are buttoning up everything for the winter, you have succeeded in your goal of providing for your family and livestock.
It’s watching that goat kid thrive after a traumatic birth. Knowing that you would do it again and again, just to see that baby come out alive and hear those first cries. And crying when you bury her sisters and listening to that momma goat cry for her other babies.
It’s waking up before the sun breaks the horizon to milk the goats. Softly talking to your most skittish goat and thanking her for her milk. Watching the sunrise with her as her kid jumps and plays with the other kids. Listening for her call her kid and the kid call back.
Planning a bigger better garden because you learned from your mistakes last year or the year before.
Is homesteading hard? Yes, but you should absolutely do it. There is no better feeling in the world than watching all of your hard work pay off. No amount of money or promotions, or follows, likes and shares compares to feeling of being self reliant, self sufficient, and earning through blood, sweat and tears the bounty.
Because when you homestead, it’s real. And in a world full of slight of hand, disinformation, division, and mistrust, your homestead is a living breathing thing that YOU created.
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