Aging Gracefully

Homesteading is hard work, and I'm not getting any younger. I doubt anyone will argue with that.

We moved to Oak Hill almost eleven years ago. We started out getting as much done as we could, which was a good thing since even then we weren't spring chickens. Eventually we got the major items on the to-do list knocked down. Two and a half years ago we had a major setback when our goat barn burned down. It took hubby and me both some time to get over that. About 24 months, to be exact.

This year I've been working hard, trying to get back on track. Now my age is beginning to be a consideration. Fortunately, I started thinking about this several years ago. What would I do when it became more difficult to do the work I needed to do?

My plan was to move to smaller goats as I age, but over the years I've realized that a gentle and cooperative personality are what make a good goat, rather than size. I've had a couple of flighty and difficult does; even though they were raised just like the others, they were still silly. I'd think twice about keeping a bossy goat, or even an overly-shy goat nowadays. I'm too old to be chasing a goat around a pen.

My current buck goat is a gentleman, and behaves himself even during breeding season. He recently had a wound that had to be treated twice a day, and he never fought me about it as long as he had food in front of him while I worked. When the food was gone, he simply wanted to walk away, not fight me. His good attitude and personality are desirable traits. Hopefully he's passing them on to his offspring too.

Over the years, I've perfected my horse-feeding routine to make it easy and safe, both for me and for the horses. I've been knocked down a few times over the past ten years by horses that were arguing among themselves. I've sold the worst culprits. Each horse I currently have goes politely into its stall before being fed. They know which stall is theirs, and they go in without a fuss. A nice side benefit is that we've not had a horse choke on their feed in several years because they no longer feel pressured to gulp it down before another horse chases them off.

I've also downsized quite a bit in the past couple of years. I still have one more horse I'd like to rehome. Having fewer animals makes my chores much easier.

And let's face it, it's easier to break ground when we're young. Shoveling and moving dirt and heavy stuff is much harder as we grow older. I am still working on my garden and it's hard, physical work. This year we enlarged our garden a bit too and I had to refence it.

I use the wheelbarrow to move fifty-pound bags of feed from the truck to the feed storage area. I can move two bags in one wheelbarrow load, or move one square bale of hay from the storage area to the goats' pen with it.

Fencing is another task I don't look forward to at this age. We have fencing and cross-fencing in place, but horses are very hard on fences and we need to replace some of it, one line in particular. Fence mending and maintenance are never-ending tasks, but driving t-posts is the hardest part. Fortunately I just need to replace the fence fabric, not the posts. I'm hoping to talk one of the son-in-laws into helping with some of the fence-mending the next time he's here.

The moral to this story is don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Learn as much as you can now, and put it into practice so that you can tweak your systems until they work for you. And have a Plan B, just in case you get sick or are injured. Spend some time now to look ahead, identify tools and strategies, and turn your homestead into a property that will sustain you when you are older.

Have you thought ahead? I'd love to hear your thoughts and plans on this, you might have the answer to something that I need to change. Please leave a comment.

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