Often, as I read through homesteading blogs, I am discouraged by homesteaders who make everything from scratch, tap their maples, sew all their own clothes, make soap and candles and gorgeous crafts, build greenhouses and other carpentry projects and still have time to look beautiful (in handmade cosmetics, of course), run a successful online business and take lovely photos.
What’s wrong with me, that I can’t do all that?
Have you ever felt like that? Perhaps you look at the livestock that so many homesteaders keep and feel like you aren’t a Real Homesteader(tm).
Or you can’t sew a stitch?
Maybe you sew up a storm and you want to feel proud about that, but your grocery store is … well, the grocery store. And you know, these days it seems that it’s all about the from scratch cooking.
What you can do is going to depend on your age, your health, the number of children you have (and their health and special needs), the amount of money you have, whether or not you work outside the home, your past experience, where you live, and let’s not forget plain old talent. Did I forget anything?
Because I’ve tried sewing, my friends, and no one wants to wear pants with one long fat leg and one short skinny leg. I will say, though, that when I sew on a button, it never comes off. Ever. Not with dynamite. (You are supposed to use half the spool of thread, right?)
There are times when I feel incredibly discouraged. There are so many folks out there doing amazing things, and I don’t always feel as though I’m doing much of anything.
That’s when I complain to the mister.
Depending on his mood, he might tell me to get off my “but” and do what it is I think I should be doing.
Sometimes, though, he takes a look around our place and reminds me that everyone has different resources and abilities.
He reminds me of my readers who ask me how I can “do all of that” – which shocks me every time, because I never feel like I’m one of those people!
A homesteader with no children, or one child, is going to have considerably more time and freedom – and let’s be honest, spending money – than I do, with four young children at home.
Imagine yourself hauling an infant, a toddler and a preschooler out to the hen house every day. A five minute job suddenly takes twenty minutes, and that doesn’t include getting snow suits and boots (and hats and mittens and scarves) on!
I think of parents with twins or triplets – let’s just praise them for putting on clean clothes. Ok, let’s settle for clothes. If you have twin or triplet babies, and you are somewhat respectably dressed, you’ve impressed me.
Of course, those of us with children would never trade them for all that free time, and we need to remember that they’ll be big soon enough. Raised right, those young children will lighten our workload tremendously.
A homesteader with farm-raised, helpful young adult children is going to get more done than someone with preschoolers, toddlers and babies. According to Joel Salatin, the most productive time on an organic farm is when the children are in their teen years.
Those with full-time paid jobs have a major time issue, too! Over the years, I have spoken with many who work full time and struggle to find time to get even the basics done at home. It is hard enough when one person is home all day!
If you have a disability, you will find it more difficult to “do it all” than someone who is able-bodied and healthy. Sometimes I need to sit down and remind myself that I essentially lost 2014 to the last trimester of pregnancy, complications post-partum and then hysterectomy surgery. It helps me to remember that I should be happy I got anything done! (My friend and reader Lilias told me “You didn’t LOSE 2014. You were dealing with other important things.” Yea, but I still didn’t get much done.)
Age affects what we can do, for most of us. I never believed that I’d feel differently at forty, until that milestone came and went. Of course, I’ll feel differently at sixty, eighty and a hundred, too!
Location is a major factor.
If you live in a city, you likely will not be able to have a herd of goats, no matter how much you love them, so you can’t make that goat’s milk soap from your own organic milk. But perhaps you do have them and, while you’re out there milking and mucking, you think of the sewing or homemade beauty supplies (like homemade soap) you don’t have time to do.
Perhaps you live in an apartment and there is not a sunny window to be found. Sprouts are delicious and healthy, but they just don’t have the same wow-factor as a garden. And no matter how much you love your litter-trained indoor cat, she just does not lay eggs.
On the other hand, you may live in a rural community and wondering if the two hour drive to the nearest Seedy Saturday would be worthwhile. Or you’re on well water and envy those with unlimited town water. And when the chickens decimate the garden, you might think longingly of the days when farm fresh produce came from someone else’s farm. (Or maybe that’s just me!)
Some things are definitely easier in town and on-grid. I need to remind myself that the people who seem to have it all likely have running hot and cold water, central heat and abundant electricity. Most of them have basements, refrigerators and freezers, too. Without any of those, I spend far more time on basic survival than the average person.
But I spend far less time in traffic. Okay, none. While living on the mountain, I spend no time in traffic. If three trucks go up my road in a day, we ask where the party is. (Just to stay updated – in October 2013, we moved to an on-grid house in a tiny village.)
No matter where you are in life, there will be others who look as though they’re “doing it all”, and yet I am sure that they are struggling, too, perhaps with something you take for granted!
Really, not one of us is alone in this. Although it may look like it from the outside, no one has the perfect family, perfect home, perfect farm or homestead or house, or the perfect life.