Overwhelmed Homesteader: It’s Okay to Scale Back
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As a homesteader, it’s tempting to want to do all the things. How do I know this? Because homesteading is awesome, and I want to do all the things! Unfortunately, this is the perfect ingredient for becoming an overwhelmed homesteader.
There is not one single homesteader out there who does everything that falls under the category of homesteading. I’m not kidding! You simply can’t do everything, nor are you supposed to.
Sometimes we get in over our head, but we don’t want to admit it. I’m here to tell you it’s completely and totally okay to scale back.
(Don’t want to read all the words? This blog post is also a podcast—just press the triangle play button on the little black bar at the top of this post!)
Overwhelmed Homesteader: Jack of All Trades, Master of None
You’ve all heard of chicken math, right? You start with four chickens and pretty soon you have forty.
Well, this so-called chicken math can be expanded to homestead math which is similar in the sense that you start with chickens and then you need goats and then you need a cow and then you need more gardens and then you need bees and then….kind of like Idlewild Alaska talks about in this funny piece.
Homesteading can be fun—as well as fulfilling—and it’s easy to want to take on more and more. But we have to be careful because there is a big difference between I can do a ton of things on this homestead kinda sorta well and I can do a few things on this homestead really, really well.
One of those things works out. The other often leads to an overwhelmed homesteader who is buried under produce that’s rotting or crying in the chicken coop or just. plain. burnt. out.
Maybe last year you could comfortably handle 12 chickens and then decided you’d do even better with 60.
Maybe you were right or maybe you were really wrong.
Maybe you discovered you liked goats so much that suddenly your 2 goats became 10. Or 23.
Maybe your one small garden turned into two huge gardens. And a corn patch. And a grapevine. And some apple trees…and maybe you’re still wondering why you’re so busy.
Listen. I’m going to give it to you straight. Adding things to your homestead, be it animals or gardens, generally means that you’re asking yourself to do more with the same amount of time and money as when you had less on your homestead. Sometimes, unfortunately, our resources get stretched too thin.
It’s very, very easy to become an overwhelmed homesteader.
Feeling like an overwhelmed homesteader? Re-evaluate the purpose of your homestead
If you feel like an overwhelmed homesteader, it’s a good idea to re-visit the purpose of your original homestead dream.
- What were the things you wanted to do when you first started homesteading?
- What were your dreams and plans for the future?
- Why did you decide to start homesteading in the first place?
- And is that what you’re doing now, or did you follow a wayward train track of increasingly out of control plans off a cliff?
One thing new homesteaders commonly get sucked in to is raising animals for other people—family and friends. Raising vegetables or meat or eggs or animals for other people is great—if you want to do it—but it’s a whole different ball game than just having a few for yourself.
Another thing that can be tempting about living on a homestead is the prospect of raising enough chickens, pigs, or garden goodies to sell.
I’ve sometimes heard homesteaders say, “But if I have the space, what’s 100 more chickens?”
I will tell you what it is. It’s one hundred. more. chickens.
Sit back and take a moment to think about why you’re on the homestead. Why are you doing what you’re doing? If what you’re currently doing doesn’t ring true to the purpose of what you and your family wanted to do, it’s time to gather the troops and re-configure.
Homesteading can be challenging; it’s even harder when you feel like an overwhelmed homesteader who veered down a different path than the one you intended to be on.
Sometimes you need temporary changes when you feel like an overwhelmed homesteader
Scaling back can be temporary. Take a look at your life. Every year is different and maybe this particular year is a tough year for you. So if you’re feeling like an overwhelmed homesteader, know that it’s perfectly okay if:
…you only plant one of your three gardens.
…or raise 1/3 of the chickens you normally do.
…or skip a year of having pigs.
You are not less of a homesteader. And it doesn’t mean that next year you won’t be back to doing things like you were doing last year. Maybe this year is tough because:
…your twins are graduating this year,
…you know you’re going to have to help out with a sick family member,
…there has been a change in employment which has left you with less money or time to work with,
…you’re just mentally or physically exhausted and need a break.
It happens. And it’s okay.
Animals and gardens need to be cared for every single day regardless of what’s going on in your life, so pay careful attention to what’s going on in your life. Are you an overwhelmed homesteader? Do you need to scale back this year?
As homesteaders it’s easy to get in over our head. When this happens, it’s important to know that we might need to scale back—way back—and that it’s perfectly okay to do so.
Repeat this until you believe it with your whole heart.
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6 thoughts on “Overwhelmed Homesteader: It’s Okay to Scale Back”
Aw, thanks for the shout out! I would love to do all the homestead things, but I get stressed out over my current to do list! Lol But I love it and wouldn’t change a thing. Great post!
I feel your pain! I have a small farm, never intended to be the green acres kind.. Thing I love best… Farm Hair and I dont care! Bless this Beautiful Mess.
I need to put this on my refrigerator to remind myself daily.
We’ve had some big changes in the past year and have scaled back on some things (fewer chickens, not breeding the dairy goats, not raising meat chickens this year), and have increased the size of the garden. We might resume some of those things next year, or we might not, but it’s ok. It’s just the two of us now that the children have grown up, so we don’t need to do/raise/grow as much.
I think one of the hardest things is BEGINNING to homestead. There’s extra work to do, just because you are building things up. There’s extra learning to do, and that takes time and energy (physically and mentally). And it’s all new, so knowing what is enough and what is too much is really hard to see. You are absolutely right about being okay with doing less, scaling back, and accepting that maybe “this isn’t the right season in life for….”
I read this a year or two ago and it must have resonated then. Coming across it again today it fits us so perfectly. We’ve halved the out of control chicken flock, and passed the highland cattle on to a new home. While the cows have defined us on the land for 5 years we really couldn’t give them the time and proper care they needed. Our paddocks had suffered and needed a rest too. So this season is all about the new orchard and extra garden beds. Did we really scale back? Well yes, but not too much….