Better an Oops, Than a What If

When we began this homestead life several years ago, we crept in slowly - inch by inch - as our finances and abilities allowed. Gardens here, a few chickens there. Then canning from our garden, yummy bread making, and eventually raising our very own meat chickens once we moved to our new farmstead. After a year of not having access to raw milk, we started looking into our next possible homestead addition: a family dairy cow, or a few dairy goats. Eventually, we decided to go with goats, since that seemed to be the better fit on a one acre urban farm & homestead. After a massive amount of work, and determination, we ended up with eight goats in total; about 4-5 more than I had originally planned for, but overall we’ve managed.

Recently, over the last several weeks, my mental and physical health haven’t been top notch, and I’ve all but succumbed to daily exhaustion and overwhelming feelings of being burnt out. I took a first small step to try and reduce our workload by rehoming our LGD, Sasha, since she essentially does not have enough work to keep her satisfied, plus living in neighborhood wasn’t the best environment for her or our neighbors, either. I’ve also been trying to rehome Heidi’s five remaining pups, plus dwindle down our extra rooster population without having to put them in the freezer. By taking this step, I had hoped it would be the boost I needed to pull myself up by my bootstraps, and get back to the grind - but interestingly it did something I didn’t expect. It made me question whether I even really wanted to DO THIS anymore. The motivation and drive to push on day after day has completely evaporated, and I’ve been forced to take a long, hard look at where I am, and why I’m in this place.

While I was busy planning and working to grow our homestead the way we've always wanted it to work, deep down I hadn't realized that my heart's compass was no longer pointed in the direction that I truly assumed it had been for so long; the idea and goal that we were going to live as self-sustainable as possible for the rest of our lives, and that ultimately I was going to do most of the work day-to-day, at least for now. I’m not sure exactly when this desire changed, as I really think this has ultimately been a slow build over quite a period of time, but, nevertheless, once I realized this, I was very hesitant to tell Brandon since it had been our supposed dream, and goal for so long. Turns out, he's been feeling the same way, too, and hadn't said anything either. Yes, I do enjoy having fresh eggs, making homemade breads, and canning fruits and veggies, but I was sorely mistaken that that must mean I would just love all things homesteading, or that I HAD to do them in order to be a "real" homesteader.

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I must admit that while having a full on, fully self-sustainable homestead sounds wonderful in theory, and the idea gives me warm fuzzies - I am just not as fulfilled as I anticipated working towards that goal, and surprisingly, Brandon has admitted that to me, too. Lately, I have found myself instead feeling the ever increasing direct opposite - She is tired. She is burnt out. She is done (for the most part). A feeling I’m aware most homesteaders discuss having, but the difference I’ve noticed is it’s still their dream. Despite wanting to give up, they somehow hold on to their goal until a second wind comes, and carries them through. Brandon and I can’t honestly say it’s our dream any longer, so our motivation to grit our teeth and bear it just isn’t there, unfortunately. I applaud those who have taken the challenge by the horns, and are rocking and rolling their homesteads, growing and creating as much as they can. It's hard, exhausting, and usually a very overlooked endeavor by most outsiders, and we wish you and your families nothing but continued strength and success.

Presently, our plethora of animals get as much attention, and sometimes more than our own children do, and I'm simply not okay with that. We're not prone to running the roads day in and day out, but we have immensely enjoyed our freedom to go and do as we pleased in the past, and now we are tied down more than ever to our place. We certainly yearn for those days of being untethered again. Permanent exhaustion has set in, and constant aches and pains have crept into places I didn't anticipate for another few decades at least. My outlook on life has taken a turn I neither foresaw, nor expected when I set my mind to going after the dream of being a homesteading family, and I am forcing myself to push pause, and rewind this thing back to a better place for myself physically and mentally. I want to be happy NOW. I want to enjoy life NOW, and not just hope that in 30-40 years it was all worth it. Not to say that people our age aren't happy or enjoying where they are as homesteaders - it's just not the best fit for us, and I think it's better that we admit that to ourselves now before we invest any more precious time into it.

So, in order to be transparent and hopefully avoid a lot of questions I would anticipate to arise after a post such as this, I just wanted to put it out there that we're going to probably begin scaling back on our farm, and committing to those things we do enjoy like keeping a smaller flock of laying hens, canning and baking, and maybe raising a small batch of meat chickens once a year for our family’s personal use. It's time I actually take my own advice, and remind myself that I can do ANYTHING, but I can't possibly do everything. And, hopefully no one will be taken by surprise if and when they see a big portion of our animals going up for sale. Staying in this to simply avoid looking foolish or like a big, fat failure can't be my motivation any longer, and we thank you all for your support and understanding during this challenging season of growth and change.