Why It's Okay to Think about Downsizing Your Homestead


Why it's okay to downsize your homestead or redefine your simple life.

We've spent years building up our homestead. Why on earth would we want to downsize? And why would you want to downsize?

There are several scenarios that might have you thinking about downsizing. Finances, lack of help and growing older are just a few possible reasons.


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Life changes


The only constant in life is change. Can I get an amen?

But it's true: change is constant. So we might as well embrace it when it happens.

Perhaps you need to seek employment off the homestead for awhile, and you have less time to devote to your homesteading efforts.

Or you need to care for your spouse, small children, or an aging parent.

Or you're facing a health issue yourself that requires you to slow down. (Oh, those kidney stones I had last year! They really slowed me down.... for months!)

Or your children grow up and move away, leaving you to manage everything with less help.

Even if you're facing just one complication, you may feel you have to downsize your dream. Everyone has a breaking point, and it's different for each of us.

Your reasons are valid. It's okay to downsize your homestead, whether it's a permanent change or just for a season, a period of time.

Embracing change


In my case, it's a perfect storm of complications. Medical bills, a new part-time job that means I have to feed by flashlight at both ends of the day several times a week, the Chief's recent back surgery, and the fact that we are getting older. We don't have family nearby and don't have help easily available.

I'm pivoting and changing my focus a bit.

So many changes. But that's life, and we might as well embrace those changes instead of letting ourselves become bitter and unhappy. I choose joy over bitterness, and I hope you will too.

It's okay to downsize. It's okay to scale back or to change direction, for whatever reason. Let's embrace this season of our life, whatever that season might be.

Aging on the homestead


I'm older than I was five years ago, and I bet you are too. (I heard you groan, but hey, it's the truth!)

Five years ago I wrote about coping with aging on the homestead. But, five years later - in other words, right now - I've been thinking a lot more about my golden years.

They aren't far off, y'all. And I've talked to quite a few of you who are thinking about this as well.

For some reason, when I was younger and thought ahead to those years when I'd be "old" it didn't really occur to me that I would be "older" - that my joints would creak and I'd have less energy, or that I'd have less time available.

Here's how I'm downsizing and coping with the changes in my life. If you're facing a difficult season of life, I hope these suggestions will help you out too.

Downsizing livestock


For the past couple of years I've been downsizing my livestock and focusing more on my garden, but last year I seriously downsized my livestock. 

I sold my chickens and ducks.

In past years, part of my homestead income came from the sale of chicks and Muscovy ducklings, but it became impossible to keep egg-eating black snakes out of the chicken and duck coops. Those snakes even ate my half-grown bantam pullets. (I was so mad. And sad. I'd raised them from day-old chicks.)

While black snakes are considered good snakes because they keep the rodents down, once they find my coop I have a no-tolerance policy. I "live and let live" when I find them in the fields or even in the hay shed, but when they start eating eggs their lives are over. Unfortunately, there are always more snakes to take their place.

Then the roof of my chicken coop was badly damaged in a wind storm.


A recent wind storm took the roof off my chicken coop, one of the reasons I sold my chickens.


It was easier and more expedient to sell all the poultry, at least for now. I've been chicken-less before; it doesn't mean I won't ever have chickens again. Of all the homestead livestock, chickens are the easiest to care for.

For now, I'll be buying eggs from a man at work who raises chickens, and I'll be supporting his little homestead.

I also sold the horse that caused the most problems in the pasture, the one that didn't respect fences and pushed the other two horses around at feeding time. Life is much calmer now.

Think smart - what's earning its keep in your life and what isn't? What takes the most time, or is causing you the most stress? It might even be something other than livestock.

Keep what works


My two remaining horses keep the pasture mowed. Without them, keeping the grass and weeds down would be a lot of work. Wildfires are a danger here; we need to keep the grass and brush mowed short. Horses can be expensive, but mine are earning their keep.

Our huge Pyrenees/Anatolian livestock guardian dog is the best watchdog in the world, and keeps our homestead safe from coyotes and other predators.

So it makes sense to keep her and the few goats that keep her company. She wouldn't be happy without her goats, and I want her to be happy here.

Take a good look at what is and isn't working on your homestead. Make changes or tweak what you're doing to make it work better, or decide what needs to go, even if it's just for a season.

Make livestock care easier


There are ways to make caring for your livestock easier. For instance:

  • Store feed near the animals if possible.  
  • Prepare the morning's feed the evening before. Measure feed into buckets for each animal or species to save time in the morning. Open a bale of hay if you'll need it in the morning, or be sure the wire cutters are located nearby.

Change your gardening focus


Unfortunately my part-time job cuts into my gardening time. That's not such a big deal in the middle of winter, but when spring and summer arrive it will be. I'll need to work smarter in the garden.

I've invested a lot of time and work in my garden over the past few years, and it's paying off now. I built raised beds so I could care for the garden by myself, without asking the Chief for help tilling and mowing.

I filled those beds with homemade compost without chemicals and additives. I make comfrey tea to fertilize the plants for a bountiful harvest. I've made plant trellises and installed soaker hoses.

My biggest challenges will be keeping the weeds under control and watering the plants. Raising healthy organic vegetables is important to me, so I'll find a way to make it work.

Here are some ways you too can pivot your focus in the garden during a "season of life" when you can't devote as much time and energy to your garden as you have in the past, but still want to keep it going.

  • Decrease the size of your garden, at least for now.
  • Move your garden to a better location. Plant in containers if needed.
  • Grow what you know will sustain you. If you've been gardening for awhile, you know what will grow well in your location and what doesn't. Give up those fussy plants and concentrate on those that yield well and are a good investment of your time and effort.
  • Or grow the plants that you enjoy the most, perhaps fragrant lavender or your favorite blend of looseleaf lettuce. If I could only grow one vegetable, it would be tomatoes.
  • Use a thick layer of mulch such as straw, or cover the soil between plants with cardboard, newspaper or maybe even black plastic to choke out the weeds.


Raised beds make gardening easier for older gardeners.


Plant in raised beds if it's getting harder for you to lean over or kneel down. My favorite garden bed is this metal sink where I grow sweet potatoes. It's waist-high and so easy to care for.

Also in the photo you can also see the white water tank that we moved close to the garden so I didn't have to drag hoses across the yard in the hot summer.

In other words, make your work easier or less time-consuming so that you can continue to do what you love and what's important to you.

The definition of simple living


There are probably as many definitions of "simple living" as there are folks who strive to live simply. Downsizing doesn't mean failure, it just means you're revising what a simple life looks like for you.

Have you given up? No!

Simple living, self-reliance and "homesteading" encompass much more than raising livestock and gardening. It encompasses such a wide range of skills and practices, both indoors and out. You can live simply no matter where you are, no matter your situation.

Just begin with one skill, one thing you want to change about your life. Whether it's learning to knit or canning carrots. Cooking one meal from scratch. Taking control of your finances.

Being intentional with your time, eating real food, embracing homemade, and preparing for contingencies are a big part of a simple life.

You can do it, one step at a time.

What to do if you feel overwhelmed


Perhaps you are simply overwhelmed with what life is throwing at you right now. It's okay. This too will pass. But for awhile you may need to lighten your duties in some areas so you can take care of more pressing immediate needs.

Step back, see what you can cut back on, and give yourself grace to lighten your load.

We don't know what the future holds, but we can strive to be happy in our circumstances, to embrace the changes that life brings to us. I hope you too will choose joy.


Embracing progress and change on the homestead: why it's okay to think about downsizing your homestead.

Embracing Progress and Change on the Homestead


Several homestead bloggers have joined me for this collaboration on embracing progress and change on the homestead. I hope you'll visit their blogs and see what's new, what's planned, and what's changing on their homesteads.




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Why it's okay to think about downsizing your homestead. Sometimes life throws us a curve ball, and for a time we need to focus our attention on more immediate matters. Here are some suggestions to keep your homestead going when you have less time to devote to it.

It's okay to redefine and refocus your plans for a simple life. You'll find suggestions here on how to keep things going when you don't have as much time to devote to your dreams.

It's okay to downsize your homestead. Whatever your situation or circumstances, I hope these suggestions for downsizing will help you in your situation.


This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.

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4 comments

  1. What a timely post! Our landlord informed us today that he wants to sell our house. We are in no position to buy, so we have until April to find a new place. I had already decided to focus on more containter gardening this year, and bought seed for some dwarf type tomato plants. Since we can't plant outside til mid to late May, it seems I was well guided in my decision. I will still be able to start seeds, but will also downsize what I was planning. (sad face)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry you have to move, but so glad that you can still plant and garden in containers!

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  2. So much wisdom in this post. You're right, life does change and we don't have to do everything at all times. Thanks for sharing with us on the Homestead Blog Hop.

    ReplyDelete

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