Aging Gracefully on the Homestead

We're all getting older. Start planning now so your homestead can sustain you as you grow older.

Homesteading is hard work. Do you wonder how you'll keep up as you age? Here's how we've adapted to the changes in our lives over the years, looking to the future and retirement.

Adapting to the future on your homestead

Updated February 2022

When we moved to Oak Hill Homestead we started out with great energy, working hard, getting as much done as we could. I think it was a good plan, because even back then we weren't spring chickens. 

And over time we crossed off the major items on our to-do list, the ones that took sweat and hard work. Many of those projects needed more than two sets of hands, so our teenagers did their part too.

The children eventually moved on to their own lives. Then the Chief and I had a major setback when our goat barn, built just two years earlier, burned to the ground.

It took us both some time to get over the loss of our goat herd and the majority of our tools and machinery. Actually, it was about two years before I was emotionally over that setback.

Then the Chief was diagnosed with cancer. He's in remission now, thankfully, but isn't able to work like he could before.

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?

Start planning now so your homestead will sustain you as you age. Goats with a gentle and cooperative personality are keepers! #homestead #aging #goats

The personality of your livestock makes managing them easier

No matter how old you are, the personality of your livestock is important. 

My plan was to move to smaller goats as I aged, but I've realized that a gentle and cooperative personality is what makes a good goat, rather than their size. I stuck with my full-size Nubians after all.

I've had a couple of flighty and difficult goats over the years, even though they were raised just like the others. I'd think twice about keeping a very bossy doe, or even an overly-shy doe nowadays. Chasing a goat around a pen isn't fun, no matter how old I am.

Most of my buck goats were gentleman, even during breeding season. Their good attitude and personality were desirable traits to pass on to their offspring. 

The bucks that weren't so well-behaved soon found new homes. That isn't the kind of personality I want in my goat kids.

Through trial and error I've found a milking routine that works well for my dairy goats and for me.

Growing older on the homestead: start planning ahead now so your homestead will be easier to maintain as you age.

Over the years, I've tweaked 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 in the past by horses that were arguing among themselves, and I've sold the worst culprits.

Our current horses go quietly into their stalls before being fed. They know which stall is theirs, and they go in without any fuss. 

They are both senior horses now, and they get along well with each other. They're also well-behaved for the farrier.

Having fewer animals that are also well-behaved makes my chores much easier.

Growing a garden when you're older

Let's face it, it's easier to break ground when you'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. 

Several years ago I changed from gardening in the ground to using raised beds, and while it's taken work to build them, I am able to reap the benefits of fewer weeds, and less leaning over because there are fewer weeds.

This year we added a few additional raised beds so I had to re-fence the garden.

Fencing is another task I don't look forward to at this age (or any age, really). We have fencing and cross-fencing in place, but new fencing projects do come up, and also fencing repairs need to be made.

Aging on the homestead: use a wheelbarrow to move heavy feed sacks and other items. Find more tips in this post.

Finding help and making chores easier when you're older

Moving large or heavy items: 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.

Moving heavy items is easier with a cart, ATV or tractor, or a simple dolly. A simple fulcrum or rollers also works, using the simple basics of physics. 

Fence mending and maintenance are never-ending tasks, but driving t-posts is the hardest part. I'm pretty handy with a t-post driver these days, now that I've figured out how to "put my weight into it."

Pounding in t-posts is easier after a good rain, by the way!

Accept help: We always take advantage of help from our sons-in-law when they visit from out of state. They're willing to help and I keep a running list of tasks they can do for us.

Growing older on the homestead: plan now so your homestead will be easier to maintain when you're older.

Start now to make your golden years on the homestead easier

The moral to this story is: don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today. 

Get the big homesteading projects finished first.

Learn as much as you can now, and put it into practice so that you can tweak your systems until they work for you. 

Have a Plan B, just in case you get sick or are injured. Who will feed the livestock for you if you are unable to do so? Write down the daily feed routine and instructions and post it in your feed storage area.

Spend some time now to look ahead, identify tools and strategies, and turn your homestead into a property that will continue to sustain you when you are older.

You'll find more ideas to make your homestead easier to maintain here.

So, can you homestead in your later years? 

I say yes, resoundingly! But it might look a little different than it did or would have in your younger days. 

Recently I had this conversation with Jill Winger at The Prairie Homestead, and we explored some of the ways homesteading might look different as we get older. 

You can listen to the podcast by clicking here, or watch it on YouTube here.

But remember, no two homesteads will look exactly the same, at any stage of life. It doesn't mean that you've failed, or that you are better than another homesteader. 

Let's give ourselves grace!

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Homesteading in your senior years - start planning now for a homestead that's easy to maintain and care for as you grow older. #homesteading #aging

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