Lately it’s been on my mind a lot… this struggle that I have for superficial perfection. Not in me, but in my home. And I’m finding that it doesn’t fit well at all with the homesteaders lifestyle. My modern ideals are conflicting with this inner longing for a simpler, back-to-basics lifestyle.
I’m talking about wanting to buy things that look nice instead of being happy with cheaper (or free) things that are just as functional but not as appealing to look at.
For instance, the chicken wire that I have around my garden is working perfectly, but when I look at it I find myself thinking, “Man, I wish I had a pretty white picket fence around my garden instead. That would look so much nicer!”
That’s normal though, right?
I realize that true homesteaders do the best they can with what they have. They don’t throw money around frivolously.
They don’t buy things just to have others admire them. But it’s SO HARD for me to think that way all the time! I’d really much rather have some nice planters instead of old tires to grow my herbs in.
I’d rather have pretty curtains than blankets tacked over the windows. Sometimes I look around my bare bones yard and long for a beautiful, magazine worthy, picture perfect homestead.
I know there’s a balance somewhere in between though. That’s what I’m trying to figure out… a balance. If you’re in the same boat that I am, you might want to follow these tips. Maybe you can work toward finding balance, too.
1. Be Patient: All Things Will Come in Time
There are so many things that I want to do to beautify my home.
I’d love to landscape the front, and have a walkway and nice front steps. I’d love to have a home that people come up to and say, “Wow, what a beautiful place you have!”
But I’m having to learn to be patient and do these things in time. And I know from many experiences that the Lord will bless us with all that we need when we are good stewards of what He gives us.
2. Spend Money Wisely
It’s not like we have the money to go out and buy all of the things I’d like right away.
And that’s what this is about I guess; learning to be wise with our money, not buying things that we don’t need, and doing as much as we can ourselves and not paying someone else to do it for us.
So, this is what I’ve decided to do. I’ll gladly accept free things, and if they aren’t exactly what I want, I’ll do my best to use a little creativity to spruce them up a bit!
I’ll shop yard sales and thrift stores to find great deals on things I need instead of buying new.
I’ll ask around for things that I’m looking for; I’m always blessed when a family member or friend just happens to be getting rid if something that I’ve been needing.
And I’ll find free plants to do my landscaping (my mother-in-law has a bunch she’s been trying to give me)!
3. Try to Take On Only One New Thing At Once
When you first start homesteading, it can be easy to find yourself wrapped up in all the excitement. If you’re anything like me, you want to do everything at once. There are animals to buy and buildings to construct and plants to grow and recipes to make and…phew. I’m exhausted just reading that!
But to do things right, and to have balance, both internally and on your homestead, you need to take things slowly. Pick one animal at a time – add only one new species each year. After all, it’s not just the animals you need to bring home. You also need to build them a barn to sleep in, figure out how to feed them, learn the proper tips for veterinary care, etc.
And it’s not just animals that you need to be patient with. Practice a bit of patience and only take on one new gardening project each year, or one new cooking experiment per week. Otherwise, you’re going to get overwhelmed – and in a hurry.
4. Take Breaks
If your homestead is anything like mine, I bet you get super busy in the spring and summer. By the time the garden is cleared out in the fall, you’re likely exhausted.
Try to avoid taking on new projects at all seasons of the year. You may find that you need to step back from certain areas of your life at times, and that’s ok. There is a season for everything – sometimes, the animals will need to take center stage. Other times, the garden might be the top priority. It’s okay to not be able to do everything all at once.
Make sure you take breaks throughout the year to rest and recover. If you can, try not to schedule anything major during the winter months. I’ve always found that this is a great time to kick back, finally read those books that have been collecting dust, and to spend some quality time with my family. If you can, plan for a vacation, no matter how brief or how close by, from the farm.
You will probably find that the time away not only rests and rejuvenates you, but it makes you even more excited for the upcoming season of gardening and farming ahead.
5. Giving Up is Okay – Sometimes
I know what you’re thinking – “I’m not a quitter!” – but sometimes, things just don’t work out the way we planned. We lose interest in a project or decide it’s not worth our time. As long as this isn’t a habit that you are getting into on a regular basis, it is totally fine to let some things fall by the wayside. For example, we used to raise bees.
We had several years of good production, and then our hive turned nasty and aggressive. Every time we would walk out on the lawn – not even near the hive, I might add – the bees stung us.
Working the hives was another beast altogether, and eventually we became so disheartened (it felt like we tried every tip we could find!) that we decided to stop caring for the bees. The hive eventually swarmed and left, and that was okay. No more bees – but we found that we didn’t have much time for them, anyway.
While we could have wallowed in self-pity and frustration that the bee project didn’t go as planned, we decided that it made more sense to cut our losses and to let it be. We probably won’t raise bees again any time soon, but if we do, we’ve now learned some valuable lessons that we can take with us moving forward.
Which leads me to my next point.
6. A Failure is Rarely a “True” Failure
Just because something on the homestead didn’t work out – just because you made a mistake – that doesn’t necessarily mean you failed. It’s up to you to decide what failure means, and how to define it. We don’t view our botched beekeeping experience as a failure.
Instead, it was all earning opportunity.
The same can be said of most bad days on the farm – try to look at the day objectively, even when you’re crawling into bed exhausted, feeling beaten-down and forlorn. What can be learned that can help you for the future?
7. Make Time for Family and Friends
Don’t forget about what really matters in the midst of all the homesteading craziness – don’t neglect your family and friends. It’s hard to feel so overwhelmed with your chores and daily projects (albeit, the ones that you probably love!) that you let your friends and family slide by the wayside. However, it’s important that you make time for your loved ones, because they are what truly matters.
Plus, a night out with friends is often enough to put your homesteading stress into perspective. Sometimes a little bit of a break is all you need!
8. It Takes a Village
Finding balance on the homestead is all about figuring out what works for you. In many cases, that means finding your support network.
That network doesn’t have to be comprised of fellow homesteaders (in fact, being friends with too many other homesteaders can actually be a bad thing – you’ll quickly learn to envy them and their new projects!). just make sure you connect with people who can help you out in a pinch, and who care about your successes (and of course, your failures, too).
You’ll need help a lot, and often, that help will come from unexpected places. Never turn away a helping hand and be willing to accept advice – even if you didn’t ask for it. At the very least, consider joining a few Facebook groups where you can get some insight (and yes, commiserate!) on farm life at its best – and at its worst.
Old habits are so hard to break sometimes. But I have to learn to control my “wants”, and simply be happy (joyous even) when I am supplied all of my “needs”. I’m slowly learning how to balance homestead life with “normal” life – and I’m sure I’ll be able to find a happy medium between living on less and still living richly.
updated 07/21/2020 by Rebekah Pierce
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.