Life as a homesteader is awesome and rewarding and I wouldn’t want to live any other way, but there are a few challenges you will face when you decide to live the homesteadin’ life. Here are the three most common…
Homesteading Challenge #1: Time
There are only 24 hours in a day, and you’re going to wish you had 36.
There are so many things we want to do as homesteaders because homesteading is awesome. And because homesteading is awesome, we tend to overfill our homesteading plate with more than is humanly possible.
I mean, that’s what people tell me anyway. (wink-wink)
Also, homesteading is closely connected with Mother Nature—you’re on her time schedule, not yours. So while you want to plow the field or plant the garden on a certain day, Mother Nature might have different plans. And you can’t change her mind.
This can be frustrating—especially if you’re a homesteader who works another job off the homestead. You’re always trying to fit those homesteading things into the hours that you’re home, and Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate with your days off. If chicken butchering day is scheduled and it happens to be pouring rain or tornadic winds or the one day that it’s 110 degrees….gah.
Mother Nature. Can’t we work together?
Homesteading Challenge #2: Money
Fantasy Homesteader might have us believe that moving to the country is going to simplify your life and fix all your money woes.
Hear me now: Fantasy Homesteader is full of it. Moving to the country isn’t going to fix your money problems. It will simply replace the money problems you have now with different ones. The money you were spending on one thing will be shifted to pay for something else. For instance, you may be saving money on groceries, but now you’ve got a bill at the farm and feed store.
Fantasy Homesteader has us all believing things like when something breaks, we will pull the part we need out of our scrap pile and put everything back together like new and it will all work out. And sometimes that happens, and it’s awesome when it does!
But hear me now, friends. That’s not always the way it works. Sometimes you have to go buy the part. Sometimes you have to pay to replace the thing. And many times, it’s not as inexpensive as you hope it is.
You’re going to move to your homestead with big plans and lists of things you want to do. And some of those things will get done…but not nearly as quickly as you want them to get done. Why? Because the money required to make those things a reality has been sucked up by the reality of things that already need to be dealt with on the homestead.
Homesteading costs money. Real, actual money. Yes, you can barter for some things. Yes, you can repair some things yourself. Yes, you can try to save as much money as possible when things come up. But if you think you’re going to move to the country, raise some chickens, plant a garden, and never again be saddled with wondering how you’re going to pay for something…you need to read some different blogs and books and magazines.
I’m just sayin’.
Oh. And regardless of what the blog or book or magazine article says, the reality is that most of us won’t make as much from our homesteading as we hoped we would. Your ability to make money from your homestead has a lot to do with many things, including:
- what you can do on your actual homestead—just because you want to grow raspberries doesn’t mean you can
- the proximity of your homestead to people willing to pay for what you’re selling
- the time and patience you have available to deal with customers
There is a big difference between homesteading and running a small scale farm. Let me say that another way: a homestead and a small scale farm are two very different things. Be honest about which one you’re trying to run.
Homesteading Challenge #3: Your own head
Homesteading can sometimes be a lonely adventure. And while I have a lot of conversations with the four-legged and two-winged creatures of my barns, I also spend a lot of time in my own head.
Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy.
- We think we’re not doing enough, and we want to do more.
- We feel like a failure when a project doesn’t turn out.
- We feel hypocritical when, in order to save our crop this year, we resort to using something we said we’d never use.
- We feel clueless when we give advice to someone based on our experience and a more experienced homesteader tell us we don’t know what we’re talking about.
- We feel crushed when we have to make hard decisions about what to do with a sick animal.
- We feel judged when we think we’re making the best life we can, and someone tells us we are cruel or dumb or wasting our time.
Folks, I’m not gonna lie. There are days you will spend too much time inside your head and you’ll throw your hands up at the sky and wonder why the hell you ever thought you could do something like homesteading.
But don’t give up.
Through all the tough stuff, focus on the awesome parts of homesteading. Because yes, there are challenges, but there is also a “peace you can’t buy off a shelf”. There is an appreciation for food that you just don’t have if you’re not raising or growing it yourself. There is a simplicity that I still can’t define, even after years of being here on the farm. There is the knowledge that at the end of a long, sweaty, frustrating day of hard work you can sit down on the front step with a glass of iced tea or a cold beer and gaze out upon your homestead and say I did this. This is mine.
I truly believe at the end of the day, even with the many challenges, homesteading is completely worth it.