Homesteading is a lifestyle, that once started, needs your constant attention, prioritization, and commitment. Health, vacations, date night, day trips, illness, family crisis’, equipment failure, etc. all need to be prioritized and planned because once you commit to a homesteading lifestyle, life happens . . . the animals don’t care if it is raining if they’re hungry; they don’t care if the alternator on your truck is working or not when they’re thirsty. Every morning and evening, without fail the animals must be tended to. The garden still needs managing on holidays and summer vacation. Rain or shine, during a crisis and good times, homesteading doesn’t stop and life happens. This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy life, but priorities must be considered and managed every day. I’ve faced a couple of challenges over the last few years that required my attention and management in order to keep the homestead moving ahead, and I thought I’d share them.
Maintaining good health and physical fitness is both a byproduct of and necessity for a homesteading lifestyle. My health had been declining over the years. As an example, I have severe arthritis in my knee that significantly hindered my active homesteading activities. I had several knee surgeries over the years, and finally, I had my knee totally replaced with a prosthetic this last year that initially laid me up but later improved my mobility. What I discovered was that by focusing on my better health I was able to improve my homesteading lifestyle. Though I was completely laid up for nearly 4 months following the last surgery, 10 months later I have more energy, less pain and I am better physically fit than before my surgery. In fact, I’ve also lost 30 pounds. This is great.
Other “Life Happens” challenges can be unexpected. And like the saying goes, you must plan for the unexpected. For example, my tractor broke last year; the alternator failed. It is the only way I am able to move the 5 ft. hay bales around. My tractor does much of my heavy lifting; It is a priority to get it fixed. But, when the water well failed at the same time, the tractor repair ran a distant second in priority. As I mentioned in a previous article “Starting a Homestead; Top 5 Considerations“, water is absolutely critical. Not just for bathing, eating, and washing your hands, but for animal and garden survival. Thank goodness it was just ants in the water well contacts. I fixed the well and the tractor in between feeding and watering the animals.
What about a vacation? Firstly, I’m living my vacation. Just look at the view out my home window (that’s my house in the view): It doesn’t get much better than this. Sometimes, just a cup of coffee sitting at my dining room table looking out the window is all I need. Needless to say; however, burnout can happen and a little time away can do wonders to regenerate an appreciation for your homesteading lifestyle. Friends and family are amazing blessings when you need help. If I travel overnight, my children and grandchildren pick up the slack and feed and water the animals, water the garden, chase the pigs when they get out of the pen (no fooling it really happened . . . twice), and water my plants. I always preplan any time away to simplify the chores that need to be done while I’m gone.
While homesteading is a constant and continual commitment, it doesn’t need to be a chain around your neck. You can see and enjoy the simple pleasures of life every day on your homestead. With a little planning and support from family and friends (as well as a little bit of ingenuity), homesteading and retirement are not mutually exclusive.