How to Homestead Alone and Not Die in the Process

how to homestead alone and not die in the process

Today, more and more women are running their own homesteads and decreasing their dependence on the grid.  But, just how do you go about homesteading alone and not die in the process?

Exactly how is that done in your 50’s? 60’s? 70’s?  Or if you’re a single homesteader? Or disabled?

To homestead alone, successfully, there are things that you need to consider.  You’ll also need to set firm priorities to stay focused.

  • Consolidate and Set Goals
  • Reconsider the Livestock You Keep
  • Calculate Your Exact Needs
  • Downsize
  • Proximity
  • Make the Farm Work for You
  • Maintain the Right Equipment
  • Learn to Barter
  • Reduce Outside Chores
  • Keep Routines Simple
  • Get and Stay Strong
  • Manage Finances

 

There are times when I feel as though I just don’t have the endless energy that I once had, even just 5 years ago.

At 57, I have to pace myself to get everything I want to get done in a day.  Yet, in the spring and summer, which is “high gear” time on a homestead, there are many things that I just can’t get to by myself.  Gardens get overgrown quickly, stalls aren’t as clean as I would like and soon, I feel overwhelmed and defeated. 

Not a good way to live. 

This was supposed to be fun.

After a couple years of thinking about this and homesteading alone, I’ve come to the conclusion that my success on this homestead is in my hands.  My daily decisions will determine how effective I am at sustaining myself and not wearing my body down.

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goal setting

Consolidate and Set Goals

The number one thing homesteaders who are alone need to do is to consolidate and set goals! 

This means reducing the workload so that the homestead can be more effective overall. 

Amazing things can be done with a small plot of land so don’t make it harder than it has to be.

What exactly are you trying to accomplish?  Take some time to sit down and think about this.  Consider what is most important to you and prioritize.

Because, here’s the thing:  no one can do it all.  No one.  But you can do a lot if you work smart!

Most homesteaders have similar goals, but number them in terms of priority for YOU.

  • Do you want to grow all or most of your own food?
  • Do you want to be off-grid and create your own energy?
  • Do you want your own milk source?
  • Do you want eggs and meat from chickens?
  • Do you want to grow your own herbs?
  • Do you want to collect water?
  • Do you want your own edible perennials?

Each of these items encompass lots of work behind them, so choose carefully so that you’re putting your energy towards what you need the most. 

How to Set Attainable Homestead Goals

clothesline

My goals today are different than they were when we first moved here.  

Today, my homestead goals are:

  • Lessen my dependence on the grid and produce some renewable energy.
  • Produce my own meat and eggs.
  • Raise honeybees.
  • Keep a small orchard and plenty of edible perennials.
  • Harvest rainwater.

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Everything I do today revolves around these goals.  Because I can’t do everything, these 5 goals keep me focused on what’s important to ME!

Resist the urge to spend time on things that don’t help you get closer to meeting the goals you set for yourself!

How to Set Attainable Homesteading Goals

Re-Consider the Number of Animals You Own and Manage

How to Homestead Alone

This is a tough one for women because we are nurturers!  We want to take care of every little animal that comes our way! 

But it’s not feasible to do that when you are alone and homesteading.

Yes, the animals are cute and precious, but they can also drive you to the poor house if not managed properly!

Avoid Collecting Animals

Remember, for every animal you keep, you must buy feed, spend energy feeding and watering every day, clean waste, worm and deal with illness (which could require vet bills).

Your homestead is NOT an animal rescue facility.  Don’t allow people to dump their unwanted animals on you!

Also, you’ll need to be very careful to keep only the animals that “earn their keep”. 

Sell the rest. 

The expense and workload is what you’re trying to get away from.

how to feed chickens cheap

Only Buy the Livestock You Need

At one point, I had a real problem controlling my urge to buy chickens.  They are so beautiful and lay so many different colors of eggs!  It just fascinated me! 

But pretty soon, I had about 60 chickens and far more eggs than I knew what to do with.

I sold the eggs and gave a lot of them to the food bank.  However, my goals did not include having an egg business.

Remember, whenever you leave the homestead, you lose valuable time.  I didn’t need to be out delivering eggs!

Today, I keep far fewer chickens.  I have less clean-up and lower feed bills.  

This is how you need to think when you’re alone.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have 24/7 energy like I used to.  My energy and time is finite.  I must reserve the stamina I have for my priorities!

How to Feed Chickens on the Cheap

 

Calculate Your Exact Needs

Modern homesteaders tend to be enthusiastic.  We over-commit, or at least I do.  Over-doing things will create more work and expense for you, so let’s pare things down a bit.

If you are homesteading alone, you’ve got to keep your homestead “lean and mean”. 

If you are growing a homestead garden, you will only want to grow what you can reasonably deal with and preserve.  

Here is a sweet little calculator that will help you decide how many plants you really need for your size family.   Avoid the temptation to grow too much and create more work for yourself.  

Container gardening is a wonderful option for small families.  Containers take away the chore of weeding and are much more manageable when you’re by yourself.  Watering is simplified and you’ll use a lot less water as well.

How to Grow Potatoes in a Bag

how to grow potatoes in a bag

I used to keep over a dozen bee hives!  I struggle to say “no” to a swarm that needs to be rescued!

Once again, beekeeping takes time, a lot of time in the warm months.  That’s something that needs to be considered, especially when the summer needs my attention in the garden and canning food.

However, beekeeping falls within the homestead goals I’ve set for myself.  I just need to manage my time and energy accordingly and limit the number of hives I keep.

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bee hives

Downsize

This is an important point, because if you’re trying to manage a property that is way too big for you, your chances of success greatly drop.

Ask yourself if you can truly manage the property you own.  You may need to think about moving to a smaller homestead.

 

How big are your gardens?  Gardening is a lot of work!  Don’t overwork yourself by growing enough food for the entire neighborhood!  

Grow and preserve enough food to feed yourself until the following year.

Utilize different ways of growing! 

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How to Grow an Easy Vegetable Container Garden

You can grow a lot of vegetables in containers or old feed bags and limit a lot of work!

Grow vegetables and small fruit bushes in your landscaping!  Make it easy for you to go out and pick some things for a meal!

How to Grow Your Own Herbs for Tea in a Container

woman hanging clothes

Proximity

Bring the everything closer to the house. 

This allows you to take breaks and get some water while you’re working.

My herb garden, vegetable garden, strawberry patch, blueberry bushes, blackberry trellis and clothesline are all just a few steps from my backdoor. 

I can get a lot more work done this way.

I would like to bring my chickens and bees closer, but that hasn’t been possible up to this point.  Neighbors are afraid of the bees.

Make the Farm Work for You

If getting on your hands and knees in the garden just isn’t in the cards for you right now, consider building/purchasing tall raised-beds. 

There are several designs that could work for even the disabled person in a wheelchair or just someone who has a bad back.

Do what you need to do to make the farm work for and with you.  You might need to hire someone to build what you need.

This “keyhole” design allows you to work both sides while sitting.  You could obviously adjust the measurements to fit your needs, but this is a game changer!

keyhole garden

container garden
Source: Ariel Edible Gardening

Buy and Maintain the Right Equipment

The right equipment is so important, you can’t do everything by hand, especially as a middle-aged woman. 

We own a used John Deere front-loader and it’s does everything I need it to do.  Remember, the more equipment you own, the more it owns you!  There’s maintenance on everything you own, so buy good quality and take care of it!

Invest in good quality tools that are easy on your joints and back, including a 2-tire wheelbarrow and a large easy to pull wagon.  These tools will go a long way to keep your pain down.

All of what we’ve discussed takes time and planning.  But if you find yourself homesteading alone, take the time to structure your property to serve you, not the other way around!

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learn to barter

Learn to Barter and Exchange Your Skills for What You Need

Hard labor is the most difficult part of homesteading alone. 

Trees fall and need to be chainsawed and hauled away.  Fences need repair and roofs leak.  You simply cannot do it all.

Bartering, or exchanging good and services in lieu of cash, is a practice as old as time. 

However, bartering is making a HUGE comeback among modern homesteaders! 

Use what you can do or grow without much effort to trade for labor and other materials you need.

You might feel tempted to short change your talents, but you have more to offer than you realize!

Are you a math whiz? 

Can you sew? 

Do you like to bake? 

Do you enjoy babysitting? 

These are all things that can be bartered! 

Tutor kids who need help at your local school by posting an ad on Facebook. 

Offer to babysit or do a few hours of after-school care to earn some money or barter for what they can offer.  

Many times, older single men are pretty darned handy around the house and would love to come fix your “whatever” for a home-cooked meal and some fresh-washed laundry!

See where I’m going with this? 

You can’t do it all yourself, but you can create a community for yourself to get the help you need. 

Of course, you’re going to want to be very careful who you let in your home, referrals are always best.  Use your best judgment, but don’t let it stop you from looking for the right people.  Churches are another good place to find bartering opportunities.

Here’s a few bartering websites that you might find interesting here and here.

single homesteading

Reduce Outside Chores

How much time in the summer do you spend mowing? 

Can you reduce that time by planting wild flowers, hay or just letting it grow up?  I’ve seen people mow paths instead of mowing all of the grass.  If you have a large parcel, could you rent the land out to a farmer to plant?  This would earn a little money for property taxes.  

If you have trees and bushes that create extra work for you, consider having them removed.  Minimize your outside workload as much as possible.  If it creates unnecessary work, get rid of it.  

Consider using landscape beds for gardening, “edible landscaping” is all the rage anyway.  You’ll be hip right along with the millennials!

Keep Routines Simple

Morning chores should be a simple as possible.  Pay attention to your “work triangle” as you work, can you reduce steps?

With your critters close to the house, their feed and supplies should be in good order and nearby as well. 

Use airtight trash cans to store feed and reduce pests. 

Keep waterers clean and located close to water source. 

Letting chickens free-range keeps down coop cleanings in the summer.  I would recommend the “deep litter method” in the winter to keep work load down.

Keep your garden soil healthy so that you’re not battling bugs all summer.  Plant herbs that attract good bugs and repel bad.  

stay strong

Get and Stay Strong

Strong muscles are less likely to get injured.

Having good functional strength will make a lot of difference when you’re lifting #50 bags of feed.  A strong core will also make a lot of difference in your ability and stamina.

What this looks like for you, I don’t know.  Everyone is different. 

I’ve been active my whole life and don’t really have any conditions that challenge me.  I lift weights a couple times a week in the basement with an old set of weights we picked up at a garage sale.  Nothing fancy at all!

I suggest you chat with your family Dr. and talk about what’s right for you.

how to homesteat alone

Manage Your Finances Carefully

Finances will make or break your homestead lifestyle.

Being debt-free is the goal, but if you only have mortgage debt, that could work.  

If you carry any consumer debt like a car payment or credit cards that don’t get paid off every month, you need to stop.  Get those bills paid off before embarking on the homestead journey!

It’s just too difficult to pay off debt and work on your homestead at the same time.  You need to be home and available, debt keeps you from that.

50 Frugal Living Tips to Save Money Now

Can you homestead alone?  Yep, let’s get it done ladies!

 

 

 

 

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This Post Has 65 Comments

  1. Carole

    I managed our small farm for the last 4 years before selling, it took and gave so much to my life. My husband and I are now establishing tiny homesteads on small acreage and I have to tell it’s more work than the farm… But we love it. That last 4 years on the farm was hard at times and I agree consolidating makes a lot of sense. It’s easy to become an animal hoarder thinking more is better but that’s just not always true. We used rotational grazing and that was the game changer because the pastures recovered naturally. This left me more time to do other things. I only cleaned up droppings when I needed them for the garden because the rest were fertilizing the fields. Letting nature work for you is the key…. To many times we establish things in a way that requires our full attention which in the end drains our passion and energy. But I agree, I’m not selling out for a condo and beach life either. I’m looking forward to finishing this project we’re on right now so we can get back to raising a few animals with addition to hunting because I discovered deer meat this winter and it’s amazing.

    1. Kelly

      Thanks Carole! I enjoyed reading your comments, so true! Hunting is something I want to do as well, venison is wonderful!

  2. Amish Heart

    We have some things in common, Kelly. I’m the same age as you, but my husband is older and nearing retirement. He is in poor health. We live most of the time on an acre in New Mexico, where we both have full time jobs. We go to our 23 acre farm in Kansas about 5 times a year. Each time we go, I think about how I want it to be when we retire there…animals, large garden, the old farmhouse needs so much work! I do a garden and raise chickens and turkeys in New Mexico, so I see somewhat what I’m getting into. But I also see not to bite off too much, either, because I know I’ll be doing those things by myself. Our five kids are grown, but we do raise 12 year old twin grandkids, so they are helpful. Right now our solution is a cousin farms our land and keeps an eye on the farmhouse, and keeps the grass mowed and the place presentable. That’s how we make it work. But I can’t wait till we retire and move!! A few more years I think.

    1. Kelly

      Wow, we do have a lot in common! My husband is 7 years older than I am, but in good health. The 12 year old twins would be helpful, that’s a good age. Sounds like you’ve got a great plan going! Thanks for the comment!

  3. Pat

    I really enjoyed this post! You have some great ideas. I will be 65 this year and my husband will be 70.He still works in the Cardiac Cath Lab at a hospital that is a 50 min drive. He works 10 hr days and when he is on call he can be gone 4 days at a time. We have 20 acres with all the work that entails. We also do foster for children ages birth to 5. We have an 8 yr old who was one of our foster children that we adopted. All 6 adult children live in different states. Most days I feel like I’m just treading water to keep up! It’s good to know that others are dealing with some of the same things and get ideas.

    1. Kelly

      Hi Pat, sounds like we’re doing the same dance for sure!! What a beautiful atmosphere for your foster children and adopted one! Best to you and yours and thanks for your comment!

    2. Karole

      Hi Pat I so want to foster on a small homestead! I’m single now and also 65 glad to hear it’s done and yes great healthy lifestyle for the foster kids, any advice?

      1. Kelly

        Hi Karole! Farm chores and working with animals has been shown to help children with emotional/mental set-backs by encouraging problem-solving skills. I would keep a chore chart and make sure everyone not only does their (age appropriate) chores, but continues to learn new skills.

        We keep a couple of horses and miniature donkeys, which are very good for the children to learn to ride. The “rocking” motion of the hips while riding stimulate parts of the brain that help heal emotional abuse, you can google it. Fostering is a lofty endevour, but homesteading with them will be the best home life for them ,I’m sure!

  4. Carol L

    Hi. I am a single 64 year old woman on 5 acres. I used to have cows, but had to sell because they were eating better than I was. I still have plans for a garden, chickens and cows again all for self-sufficiency. I know it will be a lot of work, but being self sufficient is important for me, and to be able to give this acreage to my daughters when I leave. Reading articles like this is going to be very helpful when I am able to begin setting up again. I hope to have chickens for eggs and meat this coming year. I will need help with the garden, getting it started as I never gardened before. (my parents came from huge gardening families and the store was enough for them after decades of gardening, so they never taught me.)…;-( Cows will come later after I have established the other livestock. I have experience with cows, and goats scare me as they are problematic….goats would be better as they are smaller, but I don’t know them, so cows it is. Maybe sheep for wool and meat…we’ll see. Thanks for the article.
    I know I’m taking on a lot of work, but work never scared me.

    1. Kelly

      Hi Carol! That’s awesome, thanks for sharing your story! Take it one day at a time!

    2. Kathleen King

      Hi Kelly!
      I loved this article too! And like you, I am 64 and single!

      Thankfully, I bought 10 acres of land in between 2 small towns BEFORE I lost everything in the 2008 crash!

      I’m just this year starting to garden on the land. I have to go slowly because I have MS, and am only able to work for 11 hours a week for regular income, and have very little passive income. (I thank God frequently that I don’t owe anything on the property or my Explorer!)

      So I will be reading and learning everything I can. And it’s so nice to know that there is someone else out there doing this alone. By the way…I LOVE being alone!

      1. Kelly

        Hi Kathleen! Thanks so much for sharing a little about yourself and for your comment!!

        1. Kathleen

          Thanh YOU! I’ve never come across anyone writing about doing this alone!

          I can hardly wait to learn more!

  5. Danielle

    Thanks for sharing. Being 25 years your junior with a house full of little children, this is good to hear. We are still planning and building and growing, but I have been giving a lot of thought to what we will do down the road. Right now, I essentially homestead alone. Our children are just first really going to be of help to me this year, and my husband also works a job away from home.. figuring how much to grow and what long-term goals are is tricky!

    1. Kelly

      Hi Danielle and thanks for your comment! I encourage you to train your children to be truly useful on the farm, because those years of learning only last for a season. Best to you!

  6. Steph

    I stumbled across your post while staying up late looking at goats on Pinterest… (blushes). What a great post! I’m in a different season, with 6 small children ages 8 and under (three of whom are 2 and under because moving to the country agreed with my fertility.. HA!). My husband can only help on the weekends and I’m left with our dream “farm” trying to care for the gardens, bees, goats, and chickens on my own. No one could have prepared us for the amount of work it would take just to keep things status quo around here, let alone make improvements! Thank you for this article. I found it helpful and full of great advice a well as an encouragement to any woman giving this self-sustainable lifestyle a shot.

    1. Kelly

      Hi Steph! Thanks for your comment! I remember those days with 9 kids running around and trying to homeschool. Sometimes I wonder how I did all of it. There are no easy answers to all of this when the “homestead bug” hits you other than to just do the best you can and don’t overload yourself. You’re simply not going to get it all done, but try to enjoy the journey!

  7. Susan

    Hi Kelly, I noticed you are not on Oak Hill Homestead when I was looking for you this morning. I found you through an older post. I would like to continue following you. Where can I now find you? Hope everything is ok. Thanks Susan

    1. Kelly

      Hi Susan, I’m just fine and right here at gentlysustainable.com! Are you referring to the Simple Homestead Blog Hop? That takes place Thursday and you’ll see me there! Thanks for checking on me!!

  8. Susan

    Your title grabbed me today. I do very little that I consider homesteading. I have chickens and I try to garden, which I’m not very good at. I’d like to do more in the future, but I seem to be better at dreaming than actually doing. I am alone as my husband and I have been separated for over a year. I have no one else, just my pets. Before I married I was quite capable of doing whatever I needed to do, but after several years of having someone to carry most of the load, sometimes the thought of doing things alone intimidates me. Thank you for the reminder that there are women alone who take care of business just fine.

    I had a silly thought about one of your plans. Your poor horses…. Watch for falling poop. LOL

    1. Kelly

      Hi Susan, I’m laughing about the horses! There’s no perfect system! They’re just going to have to duck! Thanks for the comment!

  9. Babychaser

    I love this post! I do feel like I’m homesteading along to some extent. I have 6 kids ranging from 2-11. Some of them are helpful, some of them add work. I figure I break even. 🙂 My husband shares the dream, but his full time job and house renovations leave most of the “farm” work to me. He does help when I need it, but whenever he is outside with me, the house isn’t getting finished. 🙂 I appreciate your ideas!

    Blessings,
    Babychaser

    1. Kelly

      Hi Babychaser! Thanks for sharing your story, hang in there and keep up the good work!

  10. Deborah Davis

    Hi Kelly,
    How awesome! I just hopped by from Homestead Blog Hop to check out your homesteading alone post and I shared your wonderful story. Such useful and inspiring ideas.

    1. Kelly

      Hi Deborah, Thanks for stopping by and for commenting! Hope to see you again!

  11. Amanda Christian

    Hi Kelly,
    I really enjoyed reading this as I found it helpful in aiding my new adventure. My husband and 9 year old daughter and I are moving to our 33 acre country estate in a couple of months. We live in town now and are used to the amenities but are wanting to try our hand out at pioneering. I grew up in the country and was around animals but it’s been a long time. My husband works in the oil field and is gone most of the time, so this adventure will be mine to maintain. But I’m 39 and if I’m going to do it, now’s my chance! Thank you for all the practical no nonsense advise!

    1. Kelly

      Hi Amanda! Doing your research and going into a new season with eyes wide open is the best advice I can give. You can do it! Good luck!

  12. Cindy

    Hi Kelly,
    I read a lot of blogs but never comment! I am turning 50 next month and am looking forward to selling the big house and going small and basically off-grid in the next year. My husband and I have had small acreage, chickens, and horses (which I am now afraid to ride because I am the only one with a paid job or two. I cannot get injured!) for 12 years. Your article really spoke to me because I am getting older and am worried about starting something all over again at my age. Very inspiring! While my husband helps and has agreed to go along for the ride, I am the one who starts projects, fixes things, cans the harvest, and does most of the home maintenance. He enjoys mowing and landscaping and is the main cook and laundry exec in the house, but not really as interested in self suffiency. I dream of larger acreage that we can retire to once our last of 4 kids flies the coop in a few years. We must make it easier, as the kids won’t be around forever to help and they really make our lives easier now! Permaculture and keeping everything closer to the house makes great sense. Your topic really makes me appreciate all that my husband is able (if not always willing) to do! I can’t imagine doing it alone and you deserve an award for continuing to make it happen for you!

    1. Kelly

      Hey Cindy! I am so excited for the journey ahead of you! Sounds like you’ve got some great plans! Thanks so much for taking a minute to comment!

  13. Joan

    Hi Kelly. Loved your article and identified with most all of it…I too am a single homesteader from SW Ohio. I am 61, have an 80 acre farm, which I cash rent. I try to grow as much of my food as I can and raise chickens and honeybees. I think a lot about how to “age gracefully” on this farm..I have been here 30 years and doing it alone for 18 years and it’s not getting any easier as the years pass. I constantly think about ways to simplify things and appreciate that you have some of the same thoughts. Sometimes I wonder why I continue to do all of this hard work and then I realize that it defines me and deep down I still love it. Just hope my body holds up…I probably will continue homesteading and die in the process, but with a smile in my heart! Thanks for your article and keep plowing ahead!

  14. Elizabeth

    WOW what an eye opener, I too am older now an making the home steading changes. Worked many years out side the home raising children my husband a good guy but not really into it. He worked hard also out side the home to help pay the bills. We always had a garden put up our owe food, burn wood for heat, cooking in the winter. I enjoyed reading all the replies on your post smart women. It can be frustrating not to do the things we were once able to in half the time and not being in the best of health. But as strong women we fined a way to do things smarter and better to enrich are lives and love our family.

    1. Kelly

      Hi Elizabeth! Well said! Thanks for commenting!

  15. Shannon

    Oh, my goodness! I could have written your post! After 27 years as a banker I retired and started my lifelong dream of having a small farm. That was about 7 years ago and each year I’ve added to the load. I now stand at 1 jersey milk cow (who as I write this is getting ready to calve out in her shelter), 2 Lamancha milk goats due to kid in June. 31 hens, 2 pigs (short term project…yeah!) a horse I feel guilty about not riding more and 2 worthless dogs who bring incredible joy to my life. My husband still works and he, like your husband loves the animals but mine would rather golf than fix fence. So it’s mainly up to me. This year my goal is to learn how to use power tools. My husband is in the construction trade and has built our house,barns,shelters,shed, chicken coops, etc….I can’t bear to ask him to build me another thing so I want to learn how to build my next goat shelter(for the new kids) myself. Your post was very encouraging to me as I too need to downsize my operation. I do a farmers market all summer to help move milk, eggs etc but am thinking I need to start focusing on providing for just us….not the whole neighborhood! Not sure what that’s going to look like but a good start would be to reduce my chicken flock to maybe 10 hens… if I can bear to part with them. Love my farm but wish I could have started when I was about 20 years younger. At 65 I feel the pain…!

    1. Kelly

      Hi Shannon! Thank you soooo much for sharing your story! I, too, want to be better at carpentry! We can do whatever we want, but we can’t do it all…at least at the same time. Good luck with your future decisions!

  16. Julie Lara

    Hi,
    Found your post going through my nightly Pinterest . I have categories galore to go along with my self Dx ADHD for starting our homestead on 10 acres an hour outside of Dallas, Tx. It’s rare that I can focus long enough to read a total post etc because I save it “for later” I am inspired! I will be 50 in July and my husband 54. We both grew up on small farms but went on with life, raised 2 kids outside of Philadelphia on an acre. We have struggled last 5 years . Just when we thought we could plan our move South , kids graduated college, my mother had a life changing stroke in 2013 that took her from an independent , living on her own in Northern Maine out in middle of nowhere , to a total dependent, bed bound , wheelchair bound w right side paralysis victim of fate , she came to live w us and I became her 24/7 caregiver. She still had her mind. I had to quit my job as a nurse LPN and become HER nurse. With that said my mother was so excited to make move to our 10 acres in Texas w us, she planned to get a dog, Great Dane, an Alpaca named Dottie May (after her ) and build a tree house, even though she wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get her up there in her wheelchair! She woke up everyday waiting for us to make our move. She talked about the chickens, goats, horse or 2 and garden w honey bees. We just didn’t get there in time, my moms health slipped and she passed suddenly in Oct 2017. Your article makes me see that we CAN do this but also gave me a realistic goals not to go overboard and bitting of more then we can handle. We have to be careful to plan , make good decisions so we can enjoy our homesteading without putting us back in hardship. Looking forward to following your articles and learn from you and your readers to make this our dream and (my mother’s dream ) of returning to a small farm and having an enjoyable but rewarding dream to homestead.

    Thanks! Julie L

    1. Kelly

      Julie, First let me say how sorry I am about the loss of your sweet mother. What an incredible story! Thank you so much for sharing your journey! Best of luck to you and your homesteading dreams!

  17. Cindi

    Kelly,
    I live in my camper tying to save for our homestead dream. We have really learned a lot about living simple, but I miss my storage unit items that wait a new home.
    Your story is inspiring. My dear friend and husbands first wife has a small ranch and she once said it is her gym and her therapist. It is healing to achieve goals, sustain your own living, and healthy to keep physically active.
    YOu have a new tribe here to work with you. It is amazing when women come together what they can achieve. Thank you for the future advise I will need. I to have not responded to a post, but your post and the comments really rang with me this evening. I need to stay encouraged and not run and buy a townhouse.
    I work full time as an RN and my husband builds steel buildings. We will both work and run the homestead until I can retire at age 60. He works double time every minute he is home. We both have experienced some Farming as children and loved the life. I hope to build a great little place for our children and grandchildren to experience some of the memories I have. One of 4 still at home, but only part time with us.
    Out of curiosity, what do people do when a vacation is needed? I love to travel and though not gone much, I wonder what you do for animal and farm care?
    Kudos to all of you here. Envy is not good, but I really want what you have in a little land and love.
    Camper dreamer, CO

    1. Kelly

      Hi Cindi! Thank you for sharing a bit of your journey with me! I agree that women not only need each other, but can really grow in areas that only women can understand. Sounds like you’ve got a great plan laid out, I hope you’ll keep us posted as to how things progress.

      To answer your vacation question, I wrote a post about it here. There never seems to be a good time to leave the farm, but eventually we all have to. Take care!

  18. Summer

    I feel a lot of this. I’m only 37 but I have chronic health issues and pacing is truly a thing I have to balance. We live in my partner’s family house on a quarter acre and we’re building up in preparation for having a family after doing all that early life stuff.

    I grew up in a rural area, whereas he always has lived here in the city. (He thinks he lived in the woods. There is an interstate across the pond and public transit available down the street! *laughs* The only bused I saw growing up were school buses!) He is 100% onboard and loves doing everything with me, however, he just doesn’t have the knowledge base to work from. He planted his own garden on the Northwest side of the house! In the shade. *shakes head* So while I’m not on my own, exactly, he is at work 8-9 hours most days and when he is home I’m currently still teaching him a lot.

    Plus, we’re planning ahead for kids in a couple years so I know I have to prepare for the down swing in energy and time that pregnancy and a newborn can create! Hoping to get chickens in the yard before I have a babe so we can have fresh eggs, and we can all be broody together!

    I really appreciate you sharing this post and I’m definitely saving your blog to come visit back regularly.

    1. Kelly

      Hi Summer! I’m laughing at your Northwest garden!!! I could see my husband doing the same thing! Thanks for sharing your story and for commenting. Keep us posted!

  19. Kristy G

    Hello! What a great article. We live in 5 acres that we bought in 1999. We have learned so many ways to work hard and live it! We have raised horses, mini horses, donkeys, alpacas, guinea pigs, snakes, lizards, turtles, fainting goats, emus, chickens, guineas, sheep, cockatiels, doves, cows, pigs, quail, turkeys and dogs. Some for profit or food but all because we enjoy it! One thing we’ve learned is to enjoy what we’re raising and when it starts being just work, it’s time to give them up.
    Our animals deserve our time efforts and to be lovingly cared for. If our heart is waning, the care just won’t be the same.
    One thing I wish we could have done better is gardening. It’s super hot in the summer and we have rattlesnakes! So gardening can be super scary and if I see a rattlesnake, I will not finish the gardening. It’s just not worth it. I’d LOVE suggestions because I really love to garden!!

    1. Kelly

      Hi Kristy! I couldn’t agree more when you said that animals deserve our best – they feel it when we’re just not into it anymore. I can’t speak to the rattlesnake thing, but that’s scary!!!! I’ve yet to see snake #1 on my property, but the locals say that snakes won’t live near snapping turtles, which we have plenty of. They live in the creek and the pond. Any potential on your place for a small pond? Thanks for your comment!!!

  20. Lynne Smith

    Hi, glad to have read your blog. I am turning 60 this month (April) and so I totally get trying to farm w/o killing myself. We have 5 horses, 2 mini donkeys, 3 dogs a barn cat and 1/2 doz chickens and a couple of ducks. We live on 11 acres. Our two boys are grown and on their own doing their own thing so I also get being the only one at home most of the time. However, I am still deciding what I all I want to raise/grow for food. We have deer and elk to contend with so any fruit and veggies need to be surrounded by deer fencing. We are in that process now. We bought this property about 5 years ago and started with raw land. At our age it hasn’t been easy to start all over but we love it here in the foot hills of Mt rainier so its good. Its funny you mention making your veggie garden smaller. We have gone out to measure for deer fencing a bunch of times and the area keeps getting smaller, ha ha…… Now if we just had a root cellar……

    1. Kelly

      Hi Lynne! I finally stopped growing corn because all I’m doing is feeding deer! I might as well put butter, salt and pepper out there for them too!!! The root cellar is on the “bucket list” here as well, and I have a large mound of dirt from another project where it will go…..someday. Worst case scenerio, I could bury a trash can in that mound and use it to keep things cool. Can’t do it all! Thanks for commenting!

  21. Shari

    Wow, so many strong and inspiring women! Thank you for your post and the great ideas. I am 56 and took early retirement from teaching to move 2 states away to 44 acres in the Appalachian hills two years ago. Unfortunately, I still have to work part time as a tutor and substitute teacher for a few more years, but I have big dreams of sustainability. My husband is disabled and retired Marine who can help with some projects, but is more interested in his wood working than a sustainable farm. I dream of having alpacas one day, but will need fencing and shelter for them first. I will be expanding my garden this year, but think raised beds and containers will be the way to go. Also, I’m planning to get some chickens soon!

    1. Kelly

      Hi Shari, Thanks for sharing your journey, 44 acres in the Appalachian hills sounds incredible! And yes, housing and fencing those critters is a whole lot harder than bringing them home! Best to you!

  22. Amber

    After all that hard work getting good soil, have you thought about using that area to grow feeder corn or grains for your livestock? I homestead on 5 acres, and this year we forgoed the traditional garden for raised beds and used the remaining space of the old garden to grow and dry corn feed for winter. Stalk n all gets feed to the horses and cows and the chickens eat up what they leave on the ground. Just a thought. Thanks for the great blog! Best wishes.

    1. Kelly

      Hi Amber, Great suggestion!! I do plant for the chickens, but I could definitely do a better job with growing for the horses! I’m going to work on that!

  23. Carmen

    Hi Kelly, I have found the perfect place for encouraging the journey I find myself on. My house in Houston, Texas has flooded for the second time and I lived in my travel trailer for a year waiting for the long renovation to be finished. “Harvey” came along last year and I found myself in the same situation again. I am fortunate to have inherited 22 acres and made the decision to move out there to live. It was a process to turn pasture land into a home site but once you start doing one thing there is always something to follow. I have become a full time caretaker for my roomate who was my partner when we were Paramedics working on an ambulance together so I have no help in this endeavor. I would like to raise my own food and some farm animals if I am able. I am starting out with container gardening to try and figure out how to grow vegetables and in the meantime get some raised boxes built-up for fall. I am so happy to have found other women who are on the same path and I feel like you’re experiences can help me in so many ways. Kelly, at 70 this may seem like it is a little late in my life to start all this but the journey has begun and I am following where it takes me.

    1. Kelly

      Hi Carmen, I’ve read your comment several times now and I’m just heartbroken about the continued challenges from Harvey for you! On top of that, being a caretaker in any stage of life is difficult, at best. You are among friends and supporters here! I truly appreciate you sharing your story!

  24. Jayne

    An idea for your big garden space, have you thought of planting grains or seeds that you could then turn and feed to your animals?

    1. Kelly

      Jayne, Great suggestion! I’m thinking about buckwheat….thank you!

  25. Todd

    Wow, ran across this and am so glad. I am trying to convince the wife this is the way to go. We can get land reasonable here in ND, or old homesteads I should say. Winters can be cold. I look forward to more from you.

    1. Kelly

      Hey Todd! Great to hear from you! Yep, I get those cold winters, we have them in Ohio as well, but at the end of the day, it’s still all worth it. Best to you!

  26. Rebecca C

    I love this post! My husband and I had always talked about homesteading and homeschooling. We had just bought a house and gotten our first batch of layer hens when he walked out on us. Not wanting to put my (not quite 2 year old then) daughter in daycare and give up on homeschooling, instead I set to homesteading, and making a living from our livestock. Still looking for acreage to expand, but while we look, I’m still raising layers, meat chickens, ducks, and meat rabbits in our smallish yard (our horse is boarded, look forward to bringing her home). It is already a lot of work juggling my daughter and homesteading alone, but it is so fulfilling that I can’t wait to expand.

    My biggest challenge is gardening! I can handle the animals fine. They have always been my strong point. But plants? Oy. Our first year here I built 3 big container gardens and pots and my herbs by the door. It was way too much for me to keep up with. This year I cut back to just a few pots, easy perennial herbs in the containers, and one container that I grow a mix of weeds in just for the chickens and bunnies. Whew! I think permaculture really is the only way to do this alone, it would be totally overwhelming otherwise!

    1. Kelly

      Hey Rebecca! Thanks for commenting! First, I’m sorry about your husband, that must have been very difficult. I can hear in your words that you’re very strong and I think it’s pretty cool that you’ve continued to homeschool and homestead! Take one day and one year at a time with this, calculate every step and every dollar that you spend. I totally agree with your thoughts on permaculture, I’m working on that as well, but it takes time. I wish you all the best with your endevours, Rebecca, and I hope you’ll stay in touch!

  27. Jo Murphey

    Kelly,
    Here at the Cockeyed Homestead, we are two widows creating a self sustainable homestead. Our vision, by the grace of God, is to live and work on the homestead and offer knowledge in exchange for labor to other widows. Widows come in various ages and sizes. Each invited widow is asked to bring their own solar tiny houses onto our two acre homestead (fee charged for electrical and conventional waste disposal). They will learn organic gardening, food preservation, basic building techniques, animal husbandry (chickens rabbits goats) all easily maintained and cheap to purchase, butchering, security, hunting/foraging, spinning, needle arts, and much more Hands on teaching methods with a flexible schedule. We do require that they have their own income source.

    Emotional support of other widows. We know what they are going through and I’m an ordained minister with grief counseling experience. A place for healing and health. Working smarter not harder is stressed. We believe in see, do, teach. We’re praying and passing it forward.

    1. Kelly

      Jo, that is incredible!! What a ministry! Equipping widows to take care of themselves is a fabulous pursuit, we need a whole lot more of what you do in the world! Thanks for commenting and letting us know about what you do!

  28. JennMcK

    Hey Kelly,
    I bought my first farm in 1989. My husband helped on evenings and weekends, as well. I raised cattle, sheep (wool, lamb) llamas (show & fiber), raised and trained horses, love chickens, had quail, ducks and pheasants. We also have had a large collection of dogs (obediance trained) and cats over the years. I had an acre gatden and fruit, nut orchard. Life barreled along and my 2 kids now have their own kids. I’m disabled, 58 and relocating my 20 acre farm projects to a 240 acre wilderness ranch. Bare ground. Just got the well in this fall. Working on fences. One huge piece of advise for “mature” farm and ranch hands: Hot tub or IR sauna.? Your title grabbed my attention because I live in the wilderness alone for about 7 mo. each year. I thought you were going to give some practicle tips like “Don’t use rendered bacon grease for wound dressings bc of bears.”?

    1. Kelly

      Hi Jenn! Wow, thanks for sharing your journey! I’ve heard before about the “hot tub” advice, I have yet to figure that one out. In the meantime, I soak in a hot bath with Epsom salts. You’re awesome, keep up the great work!

  29. Jan Dawson

    It was good to read your article. I’m 67 & alone. I bought 12+ acres 5 yrs ago, though it has timber on 2 sides. I’m just in process of bldg my house. I hope to put a garden in this summer. I got 120 yds of wood chips delivered before snowfall & 1 truckload of horse manure, more to come. I like the no til idea & also the rain gutter system. I’m also a woodworker & plan to build raised planters, so I’m not bending or kneeling as much. I plan to add some ducks, couple of geese, maybe quail & 2-3 dwarf goats. Keeping in mind my winter months for their care. I may try a field of flowers to sell. Although my goal was to have garden to table events, that will depend on how much of a green thumb I have. First is the garden & ducks, see how that works, then add or not next year. I only have a small SSI, so I need to make only a little more, plus whatever it costs for the animals to be comfortable. I’ll have no mortgage. My electric, propane & car insurance are my monthly bills. I figure winter months are for my woodworking & any crafting to sell. Hopefully it will happen with some success, I love my land & the peace & quiet. I have a flowhive & will see if I want more hives later. First to plant flowers for them, butterflies, birds & myself. The green trees need some color. Build a shelter for the bees for winter. I’ve been living in a trailer on the property for 2 yrs now, which has given me time to do alot of research & listening to you tube from homesteaders. Taking it slow, but still planning.

    1. Kelly

      Hey Jan, that’s one awesome setup! You go girl!

  30. Peter

    Massive amount of data,
    Have to come back and go over it in more detail.
    I’ll be 82 in a few months.
    I was born off the grid, didn’t use my own to bathroom until I was 12 years old.
    Worked on a dairy farm before I went into the Army 1958-1961, mostly Germany, stayed there for 10 years.
    Long story,,,

    1. kmorris

      Hi Peter!

      I love talking to people like you who grew up off-grid, I am very interested in your story! Please share anything else that you would like about your life!

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