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What they don't tell you about homesteading

ayla whitehead

There is nothing more peaceful for me than the image of hanging clothes on the line, watching the chickens peck the ground, listening to the kids laughing when the cow swishes its tail in their face, smelling a fresh baked cobbler hand made with the blackberries you grew yourself and the milk and eggs you collected that morning.  That is a homesteaders dream.  Let me tell you, it is a real thing that happens.  There has been many spring days I've looked out my window while patting out homemade biscuits watching my cows and chickens just thanking God for what all He has allowed me to have.  A perfect dream.  

Then, on the other hand, there has been many summer mornings that before 10:00 am it is already 90+ degrees outside and I find myself looking at a dry pond, broken water lines, flies so thick on all of the animals they are irritable and not producing eggs or milk, a garden so dry none of the seeds are sprouting (not even the second planting you tried because the first one failed), and the heat is so intollerable you feel sick to your stomach. Not to mention mosquitoes so think you feel like every time you breath one flies up your matter how hard you try to rid the standing water.  But the work still has to be done.  The stalls still have to get mucked out. The water still has to be hauled from the house in buckets until the water lines can be repaired, algae build up scrubbed out of the troughs, manure removed from the barns then put in the manure pile, fences mended, fly strips changed out, and it doesn't seem as though you are gaining anything from all of the work you have put in.  But you hang in there.  You are preparing for what comes next...what will make every bit of the hard work worth it.

There does come a break- fall.  The temperature drops down.  Your garden is in peak production so you can begin preserving your own food.  The flies die down making the animals less irritable.  The mosquitoes thin out and apples come in for harvest.  Again you can hear the kids laughing when the cows swish them in the face.  The hens are more comfortable and giving you their last batch of eggs before winter comes.  The smell of fresh baked apple pie and the rewarding site of jars upon jars of fresh preserved food fills your kitchen... then a sense of accomplishment hits you.  All of the work you put in was for this moment.  The heat, dust, bugs, drought, and exhaustion all had to happen so you could have this moment.  A moment of pureness.  The knowledge that your family will be taken care of with good wholesome foods not loaded with chemicals or synthetic fillers.  Then just about the time you are ready to finally hits...

In my personal opinion, the worst days in homesteading are in the winter time.  Oh sure, the snow is beautiful, peaceful, and calming and the hot homemade stew made from your fresh preserved vegetables and broth are unlike anything in this world.  Do you know what isn't beautiful, peaceful, or calming?  Ice.  Ice build up on the pond you have to chop out with an axe, or taking a blow torch to the metal troughs because the heaters are in the bottom....which is where all of the thawed water is...under the four inch layer of thick ice on top, or solid sheets of frozen animal waste that has to be chopped out to be removed, hoses that stay frozen so you have to haul water in jugs from inside the house (if you are lucky you will have snow cover so you can put the water jugs in a sled and drag it down),  tractor batteries not starting making it difficult to put out more hay, or frozen molasses feed that is impossible to scoop.  Then you have injury after injury of animals slipping on ice, burns from the heaters in the troughs, risk of electrical shock from chewing/playing with the heater power cords,dehydration from lack of thawed water or just choosing not to drink the cold water, brittle wood and metal that are more prone to breaking (and trust me, fence repair in 100 degree heat is easier than in 9 degree temps. At least you can feel your fingers).  Then if you do happen to get any eggs they are eggsickles (aka: frozen eggs) that never thaw out right.  The cows draw up when you clean their bag to milk them making it so much harder to get the milk down.  It is just not the same.  

It is truly worth it though.  There is no price on your health or the health of the ones you love.  Homesteading can be difficult, if you find it too difficult just drop down a level.  We are hard core homesteaders processing our own meat, milk, soap, vegetables, cleaning supplies, etc.  But growing a window garden also counts.  Even the smallest things matter.