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, and we're not getting any younger. I doubt anyone will argue with that.

Updated February 2021

When we moved to Oak Hill Homestead we started out 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 eventually we got the major items on the to-do list crossed off our list, the ones that took sweat and hard work. Our teenagers were still at home, so we had help.

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 down.

It took us both some time to get over the loss of our goat herd and the majority of our tools and machinery. About two years, actually.

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

Now my age is beginning to be a consideration too.

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 age, but I've realized that a gentle and cooperative personality is what makes a good goat, rather than size.

I've had a couple of flighty and difficult goats, 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. I'm too old to be chasing a goat around a pen.

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

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 either.

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 over the past fifteen years by horses that were arguing among themselves, and I've sold the worst culprits.

Both of our current horses go quietly into their stalls 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 down their dinner. 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 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. 

A few years 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.

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. 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.

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

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 use a fulcrum or rollers,  the simple basics of physics. 

Fence mending and maintenance are never-ending tasks, but driving t-posts is the hardest part. Pounding in t-posts is easier after a good rain, and I'm pretty good at it these days.

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 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 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 continue to sustain you when you are older.

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

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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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  1. There are many things we have changed over the years, Kathi. Now, when we buy 50 lb. bags of feed, we slide them to the end of the truck tailgate, have a large trashcan under the opening of the bag, open it and just let the feed fall into the bag. That way, we don't have to pick up or carry them at all. Our trashcans have handles on each side, so they can be dragged without lifting, or moved by two people.

    I definitely agree with your evaluation of animals. I won't keep a goat that I have to wrestle around or chase. I won't keep one that spooks the herd either, even if all of their other characteristics are great. Gentle and easy to handle is the only way to go, for me and for them.

    We bought a tractor with a tiller attachment for the garden, otherwise we wouldn't be able to do near the gardening we are doing now. The bucket on the front of the tractor has made a huge difference as well.

    Wagons and carts come in very handy for moving things that we used to carry. We are also looking into a battery powered ATV that we can recharge with solar panels so it is not dependent on fuel. If we can get what we want, then we can get a cart or wagon to pull behind it to help move things as well.

    Thank you for this post. It is a good reminder of things to think of and plan for.


  2. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead11:06 AM

    Those are good solutions too, Fern. We have an ATV with a cart and use it a lot to haul things from one place to another. I like your idea of just emptying feed sacks into a trash can.

  3. I've been thinking about this too, as we are planning on acquiring acreage. You are so smart for having thought ahead about these things. Have you no young adults near you who would relish helping out in exchange for lodging, food or community service credit?
    So glad your animals are of a gentle nature. That's gotta be so comforting.

  4. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead7:03 PM

    Those are good ideas, Daisy. I had several 4H girls that would come and help, but they've grown up now. When I need an extra pair of hands and hubby isn't available, I ask my riding buddy to help.

  5. Anonymous8:24 PM

    If you have a tractor with a front loader you can use the front loader to push the t-posts to the depth you want. We are senior citizens and we have fenced a LOT! If we have had to pound the t-posts in we would not have any fences.

  6. Thank you for encouraging us.

  7. I do think about it. The barnyard and animals are mostly all my responsibility - my husband loves me but the animals are not his passion at all.

    I agree that my best friends are my wheelbarrow and flat cart. I'd never be able to move the hay or feedbags without them.

    I'm lucky to have young kids who live next door that love the animals and like to help out!

  8. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead7:29 PM

    I'm in the same situation, Joan, the animals are my responsibility. You are fortunate to have helpers living next door!

  9. Good morning, Kathi. Yes, these are things my husband and I have been considering as we get older. We aren't spring chicks either - and we are just getting started! One main consideration for us is the gardening. I don't want to be on my hands and knees weeding the garden when I am in my 70's (Lord willing I get there), so we plan to make permanent raised boxes with concrete block two high. That will be the perfect height to sit on and tend to the garden. Permanent raised boxes also make tilling not necessary. The house we are going to build is a two story - but the upstairs will only have two bedrooms and a bathroom for guests only. Otherwise, we will live on the first floor. I wouldn't want to have to climb stairs when I get older and especially if I wasn't feeling well. We have also acquired an ATV and love all the work it can do for us. It can get into tight spaces and pull out huge logs, but just as easily takes us on adventures through back trails and forestry roads. I do know that because of the work we are doing on our future homestead, although I am older, I am also in the best shape of my life! You should see my muscles! :) Have a great day.

  10. Vickie, those are good plans. I like the idea of raised beds high enough to sit next to. We have a one-floor house for the same reason you stated. And - I had to laugh - yes, I have muscles too!!

    1. Kathi, my sweetie did level one of a series of raised beds using cinderblocks. Eventually we will add another level or two so any gardening is raised more or I have an edge to sit on. I've even seen some beds built on legs so you can walk up to them and care for them. I think the one I saw was essentially a salad garden. Very nice.

  11. to put in a t-post fast. use a front end loader. rent one for the week-end? makes it tap, two,three, four. done. more of a walk. :)

  12. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead12:18 PM

    Thank you, Carol. I'll have to talk hubby into doing this with the tractor.

  13. Kathi, I just love this post. I found your blog via Tilly's Nest blog hop.

    I am 66 and disabled with an incurable lung and heart disease. We moved from another five acre hobby farm to this one two years ago. Before we moved, I planned everything out so that I could care for the animals, even with my limitations. I know it won't always be that way, but for now I am living my dream of hobby farming in an 1800's era farmhouse with 66 chickens, two donkeys, two goats, four emus and a spoiled rotten little rescue terrier.

    We don't have a barn here so I had a shed built at one entrance to the circle driveway. We can stop right there and unload the fifty pound bags of feed. We go through a lot of feed with all the chickens. I have covered containers that we pour the feed in for storage. If hubby isn't available to help pour, I can just scoop feed from an open bag, roll the bag down and lay a rock on top to keep creepy crawlies out.

    I use collapsible plastic buckets filled with enough feed for one feeding for all the animals. I hang them right by the back door, enough buckets for two days of feeding. I have a cute little scooter called a Cricket that has a small utility bed in the back.

    We configured the pastures and animal housing so that every creature big or small has a section of fence adjacent to our back yard. All I have to do is ride around and fill the feed buckets, put on and take off fly masks, hug the emus and I'm done.

    We have a plastic storage container that holds one bale of hay perfectly. It sits right next to the donkey's hay feeder. We use our ATV to carry out a new bale when we run out.

    We have 5 chicken coops with huge, covered runs that sit in a row next to the house. They are all walk-in coops with feed buckets attached to the front doors. All I have to do is open the door, and fill the buckets. The nest boxes are in the back so I can either go in the runs to collect eggs or go through the front door. All of our coops have water lines to them with two separate types of self waterers, nipple waterers and bowls. Unless we lose water completely I never have to carry buckets of water. When we clean coops we just back the Polaris with the big dump bed up to the coop door, shovel the shavings in, ride out to the compost pile and we're done.

    Next to the coops is a 4x8 playhouse that I use as a brooder room. I have two large, built-in chick brooders. We have a large basement so I keep my cabinet incubator down there as well as a small brooder for keeping chicks for the first 24 hours out of the incubator. I can keep a close eye on them until they are ready for the big brooder.

    Hubby built a small garden for me with raised beds right outside the utility room. I would never be able to garden if I had to stoop over for very long.

    We took everything into consideration before buying this property and configuring it to suit our needs.

    We were just talking yesterday that when we are no longer able to do the work that is required, or maybe we need more care ourselves, that we will sell the place, inclusive of the animals! I don't ever want to have to load princess Diana, the mini donkey into a horse trailer again.

    So thanks again for your post and good ideas. Happy homesteading!

  14. Mary, you obviously spent a lot of time planning all that out! Those are all excellent ideas to make the chores easier. I'm very glad you are able to live your dream in spite of the difficulties.

  15. Well, I'm not a homesteader, but we do live on an acreage, and deciding to buy property and build a new house (ourselves) in our fifties may not have been the smartest thing we've ever done, but almost 5 years down the road, it's almost finished! Just in time to downsize and retire! Oh, and our daughter would love to have goats and a horse, but my 5 dogs are more than enough for me!

    1. I'm glad you're almost finished with the house. :-)

  16. We've been living on this land over 40 years. Mostly raising chickens. We have done rabbits, and goats. My father raised cattle. Right now it's chickens and I've started ducks. We've learned to work smarter. Use an assortment of wagons, etc most of which can be pulled by the 4 wheeler. This year I've begun using electric fencing and so on. I would love to have goats again. I believe that once the grandkids are a little older my daughter and Son-in-law will want that too. So I guess our plan is to help grow it! Lol

  17. Kathi, thanks so much for your thoughtful article. At 63 I'm doing well enough, but I'm also moving toward raised beds, watering systems, animals that are easier to handle, etc. anything that will take a bit of the load off. I sincerely hope to be playing in the dirt and raising animals the rest of my life. :)


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