Finding Balance on the Homestead

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Ever struggle with not having enough time to do all the things?

Yeah, I know how that feels. There are so many things that we want or need to do, fix, grow, build…and there never seems to be enough time to do it all. So projects get pushed out, or simply not done at all. And many times we feel like we’re barely treading above water.

This pursuit of the simple life isn’t so simple sometimes.

Sometimes I think the easiest thing to do would be to quit this madness. Focus on something else or even just plug back into the matrix and forget about this homesteading thing altogether.

But then I remember why we set out on this journey in the first place. It was to find the proper balance in our lives. To escape the rat race and to pour our souls into our family and our land, and in return live a more meaningful life.

But am I doing that?

It’s good to be reminded of what’s important. Because it’s easy to get caught up in the doing and forget that we’re supposed to be living.

There’s always going to be too much to do. Homesteading is about being more self-reliant, like the older generations were. We grow food for ourselves, and we sell the excess out of our market garden. We raise chickens and pigs for fresh eggs and meat. We’re in the process of restoring our old turn of the century farm-house and our land into its former, functional glory. We deal with non stop weeds, sick animals, unstable weather, broken machinery, financial restraints…and not enough time.

Sometimes I get buried in the activities, and if I focus only on the things we are trying to do, then its easy to get frustrated, and even discouraged. But this journey is about so much more than the market garden and preserving food and figuring out how to repair a leaky roof on the pig shed. Those things get me motivated for sure, but they’re not the point.

So how do we restore balance to this life, and keep from missing out on the joy that can come through homesteading?

Be Realistic

Don’t set unrealistic expectations.

I’m guilty of this. I like to dream big. But then I bite off more than I can chew, or take on too many projects at once. Sometimes I wrestle with guilt because I’m not able to do all the things I want to do.

But we have to be realistic with our own abilities and limits. We can stretch our skills, try new things and experiment with different methods, but the one thing all of us are bound by is time. And if we allow ourselves to feel guilty for not being able to do everything we want to do, that’ll only steal away from the true joy available to us in the homesteading life.

Prioritize.

What is most important to you? Faith? Family? Food?

Remember why you started homesteading in the first place. What values are you trying to instill in your family? This is where your priorities should lie when it comes to  investing your time and energy.

If preserving food for your family is the main objective, then going into business to sell canned jelly and baked bread should probably be secondary. Or maybe not something to pursue at all. Now doing so can bring a good stream of income into the household, which is good. But if that’s not the point or even necessary, then you can quickly lose yourself in the daily obligations of running a small business. Life gets frustrating and even overwhelming when we lose focus on the things that really matter.

We learned this lesson with our market gardening business. We weren’t prepared for the amount of time and energy it would take to grow 3 acres of vegetables and to sell them at the farmer’s market. We poured our heart and soul into making it happen, but eventually I started to realize what I was giving up in the process. Time with my kids. Woodworking (a passion for me). Market gardening quickly became the reason we couldn’t go places as a family or do some of the other things around the property that desperately need to be done.

And now I too need to get back to where my priorities lie.

However, if quitting your job and being completley self sufficient on the homestead is a priority, then selling homemade goods certainly makes sense.

Grade your activities according to your priorities. If something doesn’t fit, be careful how you invest in it.

Be Flexible and Willing to Adapt

Things change. We sometimes change with them.

As you set out to homestead, don’t be so fixed on how you think things should be. Life is fluid and rarely ever stoic. Have realistic expectations and get your priorities straight, but also be willing to adapt and change with the experience.

You will be challenged. You will stretch your abilities. You will learn. And you will grow through the process. But only if you accept each new experience with an open mind.

Focus on What You Can Control

And be willing to accept what you don’t have control over.

We often try to control every aspect of our lives, and then we get frustrated when things don’t go as planned. The homesteading life is certainly no exception.

We’ve had a couple of chickens die for no apparent reason. We’ve had rabbits eat more than their share of broccoli, celery and spinach in the garden. We’ve planted 1500 strawberry plants only to lose them to the heat. We’ve lost trees and had to replace the roof on our house due to violent storms.

Life has a way of getting in the way of our well made plans.

When you think about it, the things we really have absolute control over are very few. Our lives become much simpler when we choose to let go of the need to control every aspect our day. Take care of what you can, prepare for things you can’t and have faith that there is a bigger plan for your life.

Make Room For Joy

Sometimes we need to get out of our own way to see the little things we miss along the path of this journey. A butterfly landing softly on a dandelion. Lightening bugs on a hot summer night. Your daughter coming in from the garden with red juice smeared all over her face after gorging on fresh raspberries.

We take so much for granted! And we miss the little things that are there to bring us joy. We’re too busy. Too distracted. Too disconnected.

Homesteading is a means to wholeness. But even in this journey we can miss the point of living if we don’t make room for the little things.

If we don’t make room for joy.

So live the adventure. Be realistic. Set your priorities. Be flexible. Learn to let go. And pay attention to the little things. You’ll find that balancing this life isn’t as difficult as it may seem.

 

Finding balance on the homestead

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