Em’s Question: what were the biggest disappointments you’ve had so far about homesteading? I mean, it just can’t be so rosy all the time? I’m most afraid of the disappointments that I could have with myself, finding out that I don’t have the skills or the guts or the strength to do things. How about you?
Kristine’s Answer: One of the biggest disappointments so far is not being able To accomplish everything I want to. We want to do solar and wind power, remodel the indoor kitchen, add on an outdoor kitchen with a solar shower, repair the barn, put in lots more fencing, grape arbors and add a lot more fruiting plants (berries, trees, et.) there’s never enough time or money to get it done. Also, my gardening skills are less than golden. I can grow herbs well enough but my veggie garden is less than adequate. If we were relying on it to feed us, we’d starve to death. Each year gets a bit better but I have a long way to go. Another disappointment to me is my lack of physical stature, which doesn’t allow me to do serious manual labor. Basically, I am naturally very thin and weak so I truly have to leave man’s work to my man who’s time is very limited due to having to work outside the home to pay the bills. if something ever happened to him, I’d have to seriously reconsider my dreams and aspirations. I also suck at carpentry.
Kathie’s Answer: I’m not a homesteader in the truest sense of the word, however; I don’t think any life is without disappointment now and then. I think the best we can do is put one foot in front of the other and just keep moving even when we want to just stay in bed and eat ice cream. I’m constantly finding out that I don’t have the skills I thought I did. I grew up in a gardening family, I thought I was a great gardener, until I moved to Montana and the climate changed everything. I’m learning that I’m always learning and that’s ok. As for guts, I say just go for it, I do often with little forethought and that’s where I get into trouble – my impulsiveness is a blessing and a curse. I want to do so much, but I’m learning that I just can’t do it all and that’s disappointing. I need to learn patience. On a practical level, I do wish I had more building type skills – carpentry, building root cellar, installing more water lines, that kinda thing, but thankfully I have a great library, a good virtual community, and a few construction friends, eventually I get it right, I’ve given up on getting right the first time.
Phelan’s Answer: I really hope I don’t come across as all rosy. I seem to be having a difficult year. Two of my dogs killed a whole mess of livestock, chickens are stolen by both humans and foxes, it’s been too cool here in late summer to grow heat loving veggies, the bottom blew out of a quart of sweet pickled peppers in my canner, oh I could go on. I find myself facing many struggles, physically unable to do some things, mental unable for others. I fear I will fail at every new project. It’s always there, nagging at me. But then I do something and it comes out wonderfully, so all of those mistakes that just happened, end up worth it. There is more woe in my life than celbrations. But when the celabrative moments occur, we party hard. When it comes to homesteading, “The Little Engine that Could”, has a great mantra.
Robbyn’s Answer: We certainly have challenges, but I think the disappointment for me is when I think we’re at the cusp of closing on land we’ve worked hard to negotiate to acquire, and then through no fault of our own, even at the 11th 1/2 hour, it falls through. It’s hard when it’s taken months of back-and-forth and patience and traveling and research and communicating with the seller/trader, blah blah blah. Jack seems to handle it better than I do. We’re still in the prelim stages of what we picture as our homesteading set-up…the “getting there” for the bigger picture. The other things along the way can be challenges, but arent really in the disappointment category…lack of finances for things we want to chip away at or begin, lack of time to devote fulltime to this because we’re stil in the important phase of retiring the debt, setbacks that come financially or situationally because life just happens and cars break down or something has to be paid for that wasn’t in the plan. And sometimes the two of us either don’t know which way to go with something and feel like we’re sometimes the only ones in our region trying to do this (in person…most of the folks we “know” who’re doing this are online, not local, and are so valuable!) Mostly having the time to do this and knowing we could manage our time better, that’s the challenge. But as far as our limitations, we just accept them. I’m overweight and so is he and we’re both going to have a real conditioning curve when more and more of our days are in the actual physical Doing stages. We want to grow all our own food, but know there’ll be things that just won’t happen, and bad seasons where we’ll be lucky to salvage something. But to answer your question, those aren’t the disappointments as of yet…for me, it is the W-A-I-T-I-N-G….
Gina’s Answer: There have definitely been lots of times I wanted to give up. Last year, my own dogs killed my favorite ewe (and it was on my watch). We also lost all of our goats to a neighbors dog (mine were boarded at the time and so had an alibi) just a few weeks later. It was heartbreaking losing all of them so quickly. To make it even worse, the neighbors down the road a bit also lost two goats to dogs and guess who they blamed? Another set of neighbors had witnessed my ewe killing and immediately told the other neighbors it was my dogs. They called the sheriff on us. My dogs stayed in the house at night and this is when their goat killing had occurred so it wasn’t mine. The sheriff believe me that it wasn’t my dogs, but he said they were getting complaints about our two lambs who were slipping under the bad fences. Because DH works away for a good part of the week, I was left to deal with this alone. Needless to say, it was very stressful. My husband I fought because I was depressed. I was depressed because I felt like the neighbors were watching our every move. At work, I worried about the lambs being lose and that the sheriff would come back. This was the catalyst that took us house hunting. We are much happier where we are now. Last night the sheriff (in the new county we live in) stopped by. My heart leaped into my throat and I thought of those crazy pigs. Even with a professionally installed fence, I can’t keep all the livestock in. I went outside to get the dogs away from his car and he yelled, “Just come up to the car, don’t worry about them.” I walked over and leaned into his car. He asked me if I knew some guy and I recognized the name from being the previous owner of the property. Apparently, the guy is being sued. I explained that we bought the house from (ironically) a sheriff sale and he said, “Oh, ok, we get 1000’s of these. I’ll just mark it down…” He then looked up and said, “I have a question for you too.” I waited. ‘Do you guys do everything big here?” “What?” I said. “Big dogs, big cows, big bull..,” He smiled (and it took several seconds for me to realize he was being playful). Then we chatted like real neighbors! So, to answer your question, absolutely it is not always rosy. Sometimes it is downright bleak around here. However, I am trying to squint, especially when I am feeling overwhelmed or depressed, and seek out what color I can find in any given situation. It’s not always easy.
Monica’s Answer: Of course we have disappointments. Anyone would be lying to say they didn’t. How about the year I wanted to grow lavender for cutting and selling and after putting in 225 plants in the ground we had the wettest winter on record in a very long time—so 95% of them died? Or when we started raising sheep—we knew about parasites since we had raised goats before and had to worm them. However this was a different farm with lower quality grass than previously—which nutritionally made them more susceptible. As I said: we knew to worm—but did you know you could lose 1/3 of your flock within 3
weeks of purchasing them? Well…I do now. I felt HORRIBLE about that. Just terrible. I could also list other things….but for each bad thing I can also think of an equally good thing or two (or more). However, one thing I would like to say is that life is about learning. I know I harp on this “subject” and I will tell you—I have my very un–optimistic days just like everyone else. But, when I am having a really bad time of something I try and say to my self “what is God trying to teach me” or “what AM I suppose to learn here?” because I truly do believe that everything in our life is meant for us to learn from. Everything. Even the most horrible and disappointing things. I also feel that sometimes you ARE meant to quit or change or alter what
you are doing—and that is why we have disappointments- –to help us figure that out. I mean, you wouldn’t adjust, change or stop something if it went along o.k now would you? says that
if something is at least tolerable we won’t change it. Why? Fear of change and failure of course. We all do it!
When I do stop doing something because it doesn’t seem to work for me/us—I still believe that there is another opportunity (another door opening you might say) that comes along. Maybe not right that minute—but it comes. And I know this because I have at times been able to look back and say “if I hadn’t gone through that I wouldn’t be able to do this”. All knowledge is important knowledge— even if it doesn’t work out the way we hope it will. We may also miss developing a skill we need for something that could or will work out for us in the future. As to the “guts” and the “strength” part of your question—you’ ll be surprised who you find inside your self when you really start to look! Or taking the meaning of strength another way—yes, you can do it—building muscle is sweaty and hard work—but everyone can do it.
So how did I handle the two disappointments I mentioned? In the case of lavender I went on to grow other things—which was good because I learned more about plants than I knew at the time (I was sure I was an
expert though!!) and I feel more confident that I could grow them successfully now even with an exceptionally rainy winter. The sheep—well I went on to “study” and learn as much as I could about internal parasites and how to deal with them, wrote an article for my breed’s newsletter and have taught many people about how to more successfully deal with sheep parasites including a number of veterinarians. It was very hard work—but the potential death of my animals drove me. I tell you this last bit not to pat myself on the back, but to show you that you can make lemonade from lemons. Good Luck!
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