Homesteading life can be described in many ways, but “balanced” isn’t often one of them. Finding balance, however is one of the most important things to do if you want to avoid the dreaded “homesteader burnout” that so many of us experience from time to time.
What amounts to balance in my homesteading life changes dramatically as the seasons change throughout the year. I am constantly readjusting my schedule and reevaluating what tasks I’m actually able to commit to. Here are my top 5 tips for balancing homestead life!
1. Only take on one new thing at a time
I am so guilty of trying to ignore this rule that I made for myself when I first moved to our little homestead. I had done so much reading and research before the move and I was ready to enthusiastically jump in with all sorts of animals and projects! The problem is that we often visualize the finish line, not the path.
For me, it has been extremely important to begin one new thing and become comfortable with that before moving on to the next. The first animals we added to our homestead were baby chicks. Once I felt good about caring for those and I had the coop built, we purchased some adult laying hens. Once they were happily laying in their coop, we bought some goats. And so on and so on. Trust me, you don’t want me to list ALL the animals I have sense added to my menagerie! The point is that my barnyard was built slowly in order for me to be able to decide if I could handle more responsibility or not.
2. Step back when needed
I’ll admit it. Spring absolutely kicked my tail this year. My projects and chores got way out of hand and I became very stressed out about this homesteading life I had chosen. I had to take a little step back and realize that I could not do all the things I had laid out for myself. Animal care became my top farm priority. Because of my new focus, my garden suffered, and you know what? It was OK.
My focus had slowly shifted from vegetable production to producing our own pasture raised meats. I was still expecting to be able to garden like I had in previous years, and that was just not realistic this year. Stepping back a little from the garden was the right choice to make this year.
3. Plan a slow season
After my rocky spring, I can not tell you how much I am enjoying my current slow season. We are heading on vacation soon, so I have dried off all my goats. I am down to just basic animal care and feeding and milking my Jersey cow, Beulah, once a day. It feels like vacation already!
Yes, life on a break can be grand. For awhile, that is.
My goats have been dry for not even a month and I’m already mourning the chevre that isn’t in my refrigerator. When I slow down for a season, I enjoy it immensely for awhile, and then I begin to itch to do all the things I was complaining about before. I want baby goats to cuddle. I want to spend more time milking. I want to pick vegetables in the garden. As my dad always said, “I want what I ain’t.” And that’s the truth!
4. Make time for friends
When I am in the swirl of my busiest homesteading season, I can become quite the hermit. My daily chores and projects (that I love!) take up so much of my day that I really do not have much urge to leave home unless I really have to. Nothing restores balance to the force however, like a good girl’s night out with my friends.
We usually go out to dinner at a favorite restaurant and talk and laugh like hyenas until they close (or all the husbands start calling in a panic). For the occasion, I try to put on something that doesn’t have hay or poop on it and they try to act like they are interested in my latest pig stories. It works out and I am a happier person for having made the time to get away for the evening.
5. Find a good support network
As I just mentioned, most of my local friends aren’t homesteaders. While they are always glad to listen to a friend in need, there are likely limits to their level of understanding when I am blubbering about the loss of a goat. Again.
Finding like-minded people and other homestead bloggers to chat about this crazy life we lead has helped me keep my sanity on many occasions! Facebook is my number one way of connecting with people who “get it.”
If you are having this same struggle, I would invite you to “like” my Facebook page where I’m (almost) always available for commiseration and inspiration regarding farm life. Of course you are also following Scratch Mommy on Facebook too, right? I thought so.
So, how do you find balance in your homesteading life or life in general? I would love to hear all about it!