Homestead Journal: Clearing Out

January 30th, 2017

We’ve been so busy outside these past couple weeks. The weather has ranged from cloudy and freezing to sunny, spring-like mid-60’s. One of our major goals this year is to clean up the homestead and get things in order. Over the past eight years we’ve started many projects… the chicken coops, the garden, the greenhouse, the workshop, the wood shed, the outdoor kitchen/porch… and we’ve done almost all of it from scrap materials. As you might imagine, we’ve accumulated quite a pile of junk in the process. Scrap wood, old pallets, damaged metal roofing, old windows… stuff that we got for free somewhere with the intention of using it for something someday.

I’m so over it.

I need a fresh start.

We’re clearing out, hauling off, and giving away.

Our old goat lot and pig pen have long been abandoned, and nature has begun the process of reclaiming her place. One of the first projects on our list was to pull the old fencing out of the woods, which is no small feat when vines and small trees have begun growing up and through the wire fence panels. For days we yanked, wire-snipped, chainsawed, and finally used our truck to pull the old fencing out of the overgrown brush. Once it was all in a pile, a guy we know came and picked up the old metal fencing to scrap, and a fellow homesteader was happy to take a big chain link gate off our hands.

We’ve also been hauling decaying wood from various junk piles, and tearing down structures that no longer serve their purpose. The $5 greenhouse is gone. The kids’ pallet fort is gone. The old fencing around the front yard is gone. The dilapidated rabbit hutch, rotten cold frames, and the old milking stand… all gone.

It feels good to get the place cleaned up. I’m tired of everything looking like a junkyard. We’ve had this hoarder’s mindset that we’d better keep anything that might possibly be useful one day, which has been somewhat good because we’ve been able to do a lot of things for very little money. But at this point it’s becoming a problem. I’m actually embarrassed to have people come over. And most of this stuff is rusting or rotting to the point that it’s not even useful anymore.

Even though I’m the one who initiated this homestead make-over, I still find myself resisting the purge at times. I can’t help but look at old pallets and see bluebird houses. I admit, I’ve pulled aside a few pieces of wood that look like they still have some life in them. And I did reserve several pallets in good condition for a new compost bin. But my husband is helping me make the tough decisions by assuring me that most of these items really aren’t worth keeping. I’m still debating on what to do with the old white picket fencing. Maybe I can sand and repaint it? Fencing is so expensive to buy! I’m afraid I’ll wish I had it down the road.

We still have a long way to go, and lots of work yet to be done. The floor of the greenhouse still needs to be deconstructed. Termites have eaten a few of the grapevine trellis posts, which need to be pulled up. Many trips to the dump are yet to be made. And I’ve got a lot of random things that I need to list on Craigslist. I’m hoping somebody will be able to use (or recycle) old tires, broken appliances, an old oil tank… stuff we’ve had sitting around forever and probably will never get around to using.

I’ve come to the conclusion that just because we live on an extremely low income budget it doesn’t mean we have to look poor. No, we’re not going to start spending a ton of money to make the place look fancy. But I definitely want to focus more on improving our property value and curb appeal (even though nobody can see us back here!). I look at it as an investment that will grow. Plus, it’ll be nice to have company come over without having to apologize for the mess.

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7 thoughts on “Homestead Journal: Clearing Out”

  1. I’ve spent the past few weekends cleaning and clearing stuff from the attic, basement, and all points in between. It feels good to ask myself, why am I keeping this, then haul it to the curb. I’ve discovered that people will take anything for free. Now my attacks cleared for new insulation and the basement is organized with shelves and ready for the upcoming canning season.

    As a side note, when the kids were young, they’d have friends over and everyone thought we were “rich.” I was totally confused because we were living well below the poverty line and everything we had was via garage sales or given to us second hand. Everything. I finally figured out that it was likely because everything was clean and orderly and taken care of. Dirty clothes in the hamper, floors swept, bathroom cleaned, etc. Just the simple act of keeping things cleaned and put away gave a certain impression. This was later reinforced when I did social services work and did home visits of those who lived in similar conditions as we’d lived in–for various reasons (depression, lack of knowledge, overwhelmed, etc.) homes tended to be in disarray or neglect.

    Appearance do make an impression and surrounding can have an impact on how we feel.

  2. I thought I was the only one who felt this way! My hubby told me he wanted to invite a few friends over for dinner. I quickly, but politely, told him we weren’t inviting anyone over until this place was cleaned up. I GET IT! Now, if I can just get him on board with the plan 😉

  3. We are also in a cleaning up mode at the moment. We are blessed to be able to have contractors due some work on our house, and it’s frustrating to still have too much stuff in the basement and garage. It’s hard to get to it (I have four little kids) but it feels really good to have things in order. I suspect you’ll come across what you really need in the future. You are right, things that are beyond their useful life are not helping you. (I say this to cheer myself on too!) Best wishes for your work!

  4. Hoarding is just re-purposing. Sometimes that which cannot be useful needs to be recycled, but I bet some new stuff will come your way. I’m not sure what ‘looking poor’ is (even though nobody can see you back there). You must be thinking that poor people are too lazy to clean up?


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