The Homestead Balancing Act

Ideally, homesteading is something you establish while you’re young and physically able to meet the demands of land preparation and manual labor. I’m only 26, but like I told my mother, I’m not counting on living to 100 unless the Good Lord allows it, so I’m really closer to middle age. Pregnancy and the subsequent children really effect the amount of manual labor a woman is able to do. Granted, at 8 months pregnant, I was still shoveling mulch and pushing a wheelbarrow. But the time and attention a mother has to give her children is a priority over land cultivation (and basically everything else).

I say all this to say, sometimes homesteading is a challenge and somewhat of a balancing act. The age of our kids and my husband’s job outside of homesteading limits what we’re successfully able to do.

It would have been nice if our family had owned land they could’ve given or sold to us right after we got married that we could’ve built a farmhouse on and immediately started the homestead before our time and attention were budgeted among children and careers. But life didn’t work that way for us. We wouldn’t have appreciated it then if it had. 

So instead, we’ve worked and saved and mostly, God has just blessed us with what we’ve asked Him for. And sometimes we have to make choices. Do I nurse the baby, or formula feed and have more freedom? I chose to nurse. Do I wash dishes or fold laundry? Dishes are a priority because we use them 3 times a day, and my husband likes a clean kitchen. Do I spend the hour nap time reading for pleasure, or fine tuning the budget and pricing fruit trees? Long term, the fruit trees are more beneficial. Do we replace the roof or windows first? Do I let my son watch TV so I can occupy my time doing something else, or do I get down on the floor with him and pretend that we’re animals? He’ll remember the time I don’t spend with him, so I prefer to make that as minimal as possible. Besides, T-Rex vs.Crab-Monkey is a pretty fun game.
I mean, there are plenty of choices that don’t involve dividing time with the kids. Like, when I DO get the chance to work outside, do I dig the swale, or edge the garden with rocks I found in a pile in our woods? I usually choose the task that involves more attention to detail and let my husband do the big picture tasks he is better suited for.

The reality is that there are short term compromises and choices that have to be made in order to achieve long term goals. That seems simple enough, but I feel it’s becoming counter cultural to be conservative, and it merits emphasis.

I’m a millennial and currently embarrassed to admit it. My peers have given themselves a reputation for immediate gratification, soap-box social media rants, peaceful “throw-a-trashcan-through-a-Starbucks-window” protests, and free-speech-killing political correctness. What I would like my reputation and legacy to be is one of faithfulness to God, dedication to family, and diligence in all my efforts.

There are times I have chosen the short term pleasure over the long term goal and about 90% of the time, I’m sorry I did. (The other 10% of the time, the chocolate or glass of wine is just a necessary “sanity luxury”)

Each person has to decide for themselves what they’re willing to sacrifice now for results in the future. I’m willing to sacrifice freedom and travel for family and roots. I’m willing to sacrifice a tidy house for horseplay with my toddler. I’m willing to sacrifice a workout here and there for quality time with my husband. I’m willing to sacrifice my youth in difficult labor to reap the benefits of established, low-maintenence permaculture in my old age, God willing.

Just some things to consider on your homesteading journey. I’m interested to know what short term sacrifices you have made to achieve long term goals.

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