157: Stages of Homesteading

157: Stages of Homesteading

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Stages of life affect stages of homesteading and we sometimes forget to think about that as we look into the future—at least I know I have. This has been on my mind a lot lately as we have reached a point at our house where there are a lot of changes that I didn’t realize would affect our homesteading so much.

There are many stages to homesteading

What happens when you were a childless homesteader and now you have twin babies and you’re freaking out because what you used to just walk outside and take care of you can’t just walk outside and take care of anymore?

Changes, my friends.

What happens when your kids grow up and get jobs of their own, and your big butcher day that used to be “easy” isn’t easy anymore because everyone is busy and schedules are complicated?

So many changes.

What if you are super involved in something outside of your farm life, and that something suddenly dictates what animals you can handle on your farm, or what month those animals can arrive at your farm (which ultimately changes other things in your schedule, like when they are butchered)?

All. the. changes. Some of them are temporary, and some are permanent. The point is that your life will change, and you will also change as a homesteader.

What you can physically handle changes

I’m healthy and I’m physical but I’m gonna tell you what, sometimes I’m gonna use that side by side ranger to do a job that I would have walked across the farm to do before. Because I’m not 30 anymore and sometimes it’s just nice to get a break.

I hear my dad talk about this, about wishing he could do the things that he could do when he was younger and how it frustrates him. Sometimes there are things that take you longer, wear you out more. Sometimes there are things you have to ask for help with that you used to do alone in half the time. Sometimes there are things you just have to admit you can’t do anymore, or shouldn’t do anymore, or have to really modify the way you do them.

And all of that affects your life as a homesteader.

The way you start isn’t necessarily the way you continue

The way you start your farmish life is not necessarily the way you continue your farmish life. The animals you have, the size of the garden, the things you take on will differ. There are things that will become easier… but you might exchange them for other difficulties or challenges. For instance, you’ve got to figure out how to modify all that cooking and baking you used to do and how much you have to make. The way I cook and bake has started to change because I never know who is going to be here or if they will have eaten before they come home.

Will my husband and I continue to raise as many pigs, chickens, and ducks after our kids are out of the house or will we cut our numbers? Will we continue to raise the same amount to provide for our family (even though they don’t live in the same house) but then ask someone else to process for us because the job will get too big to do alone and too complicated to find help for?

I don’t think we will know until we get to that stage of homesteading.

Kids getting older of moving out certainly frees up certain things for you, but you also lose some of the help you had (or the convenience of help you had). Kind of like the funny meme I saw the other day that said I thought sending my kids to summer camp would be a break for me—until I realized I had to do all their chores while they were gone.

Then again some people actually grow their farm after their kids get older or move out because they aren’t running their kids here there and everywhere and they are able to be home more.

Another stage: when homesteading isn’t a “thing” anymore

What happens when homesteading isn’t a “thing” anymore, it’s just something you do? I feel like some people identify as homesteaders. If there was a flag for homesteaders, they would fly it proudly. It would be imposed on their profile picture on social media. Homesteading is in everything they do. For others, however, homesteading is just something they do.

And neither of those are more right or better than the other, they’re just different approaches, and you may swing between them during your life. But they’re definitely different stages to be at.

I see this a lot in homestead content creators. There are many of us that started off talking about the how-to of homesteading and after a number of years we realized, okay, now what do I say about it now, it’s not a “thing” for me anymore, but it’s still something I do everyday… what ELSE do I talk about?

You start branching out – that’s a stage of homesteading too.

Why do stages of homesteading matter?

Stages of homesteading matter because we have to realize that we go through them and that we’re not all in the same spot. The stage you’re in might determine how you approach homesteading, the questions you’re asking, the advice you’re giving, what you’re able to tackle.

Homesteading affects your life, and your life affects homesteading.

How would you describe the stages of homesteading you’re in? Let me know in the comments!

— Amy Dingmann, 6-29-21

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Hay and drying herbs in a dusty barn


1 thought on “157: Stages of Homesteading”

  • We sure have been through every stage there is I think! Used to have every farm animal there was and plenty of them. Used to buck hay and 2 ton of grain without a thought except that it had to be done. Now, we have chickens and there are times when even they are too much now. Thankfully, my other half can still lift grain bags. I have to slit them open and fill buckets. Who woulda thunk it that there would be a time in life when I was not able to toss two bags of grain on one shoulder and snag a bale of hay on the way to feed? Yeah, not happening anymore.

    It is a time in life for absolute honesty about what I can and cannot do. I miss my farm as it used to be. From feeding 12 boys to feeding 2 old folks- we do not need the bulk of what we took on any longer- and it hurts. When we moved, I planted an orchard right away. Now, I look out there at the fruit trees and bushes and wonder why I did. We cannot possibly eat what we grow. Time to let my head catch up with my heart.

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