It Takes Two to Homestead

“What does your husband do?”  Um…same as me.  I have been asked this dozens of times as if we could only manage if he moonlighted as a software engineer or cook for Pizza Hut.  He was working at the coffee shop for fun two days a week last winter and had to quit because his Honey Do list was expanding at an alarming speed without him home.

My cousin is excited to go off grid.  She asked me how Doug and I homestead without jobs or income.  I thought it was time here on Farmgirl School to set the record straight.  If you want to be a homesteader, here are some of the facts.

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1. You must have a cottage industry to pay the bills. 

Yes, we will be practically off grid when we move but we will have rent, propane, cell phones, and internet still.  We aren’t leaving forever to be hermits.  We also will need money for gas and car repairs since we don’t have horses and will need hay and chicken feed (and dog food and cat food) and a few groceries that we don’t make or grow yet.  Not much, our total income required will be $1500 per month.  That’s wonderful but we still need an income to make that much.  We are herbalists.  We have a pretty elaborate Apothecary here.  We make over fifty herbal medicines, salves, beauty products, honeys, and teas.  We grow the herbs, and sell our formulas at farmer’s markets, craft shows, and over the phone and internet.  I always say “we” but here’s the breakdown.  Yes, this is my creation.  I am the intuitive healer.  I am the one who developed all of these medicines, who continues to study, research, and create the most effective medicines out there.  Then Doug steps in.  He is the empath and loves talking with people and he is a natural salesman.  When people come by the booth I generally raise my book higher.  Not because I don’t like people, I do, and one on one I am great, but I am no salesman.  Doug is a retired IT guy, he makes sure the computers are running well, that I can get to my email, the website, my blog.  He develops labels, logos, and marketing materials.  He fills product, loads the car, does markets when I have other things to do.  He has memorized the answers, understands the science, and can help people as well as I can.  Without me there wouldn’t be an Apothecary, without him there wouldn’t be a business that could sustain us.  Not make us rich, just sustain us.  That is just what we want.

celtic festival

2. There is Women’s Work on a homestead.

aprons

Now, don’t get your apron strings in a knot, this is the truth.  Though we help each other when needed, there are definite divisions in our workload.  If I had to go outside and pound eight foot fence posts into the ground, run fencing, wrestle 150 pound goats, bring in hay, chop firewood, haul firewood, and till, I would be out there for awhile.  By the end, I would either be crying or off to find a glass of wine and a book.  I don’t like that I am not as strong as a man, but I have come to accept it.  Doug handles the heavy work of the farm like a pro.  It’s actually pretty sexy.  I am okay being in the kitchen (barefoot with a baby on my hip is fine too).  I am naturally inclined (as most women are) to nurture.  I enjoy canning hundreds of jars of vegetables and fruits.  I enjoy getting three meals a day on the table.  I love that my husband enjoys my cooking.  I feel pride that we provided a lot of it.  I enjoy a clean house (though right now it never seems to be).  I love to decorate.  Heaven forbid there be large posters of Broncos players in my Laura Ashley living room.  I will take over the decorating.  I enjoy sewing and making gifts.  I enjoy homemaking.  I like putting clothes out on the line.  I love my garden.  We help each other in our respective areas but a homestead runs on old fashioned ideals.

bee suits

3. Homesteading is hard work but worth it.

“When do you ever have downtime?” I was asked yesterday.  Often times we are asked when we ever work.  Since folks aren’t around here all the time they don’t see the inner workings of this homestead.  Right now with the farmer’s markets, harvesting, putting up food, and moving it may look like we don’t have much down time.  We work very hard physically for a good part of the year but it is enjoyable and feels good.  It is much healthier than sitting at a desk for eight plus hours a day.  It is really satisfying work.  If we don’t feel good or are injured we can rest.  Our schedule is completely made by us.  We work very hard during the warm months so that we can rest and do things we enjoy in the cold months.  We always have to milk the goats and feed the animals and do housework but our life is a string of pleasant events.  We eat fresh, unprocessed foods.  We enjoy good company and have great friends.  We get plenty of fresh air and enjoy the antics of animals.  We have a lot of time together.  Watching friends and family lose spouses, we realize that each day we are together is a gift.  And we have a very fun, quintessential Grammie and Papa’s house that will be host to many fond memories for grandkids and a respite for our children.

papa and goat

I suppose one could hypothetically homestead by themselves but they would only get half the work done and still require outside help.  It would be a tad lonely.  I’m not saying one couldn’t do it, but it sure makes it easier to homestead with two.  Without me there wouldn’t be a homestead, without Doug there wouldn’t be a homestead.  Life is sweet here.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Julie Pullum says:

    You’re a couple and your life’s endeavours take two. I think when you’re a couple that is how life should be, one copes but two succeed. Like you we are blessed to still have each other and we spend as much time as we can together too! Thanks for this it was good to read

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Thank you, enjoy your adventures together!

  2. I understand. I stay home and am often asked if I’m bored, when I’m going back to work and/or if I want a part-time job. We are not homesteaders, per se, but we have our livestock and 5 acres. My husband travels a lot for his job. It is good to have someone at home to manage our life here.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      Sometimes I think (and I am sure you agree) that it is tempting to just go get a “regular” job and hire someone to clean that house and I could finally get some rest! But there is no place like home, as they say. We may be busier, but it is nice to be at home.

  3. debweeks says:

    You have created a homestead that is also a business. It’s wonderful and seems to work very well for you and Doug. Although I know it comes with it’s own challenges.

    Our homestead won’t look the same as yours. I’ll be the one who stays home to take care of the kids, animals, gardening, etc. while hubby goes off to earn money to keep the homestead fires burning. I’ll need to learn to fix fences and do some of those jobs that are many times the man’s responsibility on the farm. However, in the same way that my job at home runs early morning to late night, his work day won’t end when he leaves the office. Evenings and weekends will be spent working together to do the things that take two. The food we grow and raise will be used to feed only our family. We won’t be selling at farmer’s markets or running any other type of business from the homestead.

    I know other couples who have homesteads and both go off to work each day. Their early mornings, evenings and weekends are spent taking care of the animals, garden and all the other chores necessary to keep the homestead going.

    No matter which model a family uses to run their homestead, your points are all excellent. Money is needed to pay the bills, women have a very important role on the homestead, and it’s hard work. I don’t have farm animals (yet), but caring for now four kids, three dogs and a garden has given me a good beginning picture of the homesteading lifestyle I long to live.

    1. Farmgirl says:

      You are right, there are many levels of homesteading. My meaning was that if one wants to be as self sufficient as possible then time requires that both parties be home to make and take care of everything! But homesteading could just be canning or growing half your food, or milking goats, or making bread. I think there may be a difference in just learning homesteading skills to improve life, and actual homesteading where one is self sufficient. But that is a journey and blog post in itself, don’t you agree?

      1. debweeks says:

        Unfortunately, I don’t believe we live in a society where 100% self-sufficiency is possible.

        And yes, living a self-sufficient lifestyle is probably several blog posts 🙂

      2. Farmgirl says:

        You are right, there is no such thing as 100% self reliance but I do like being able to do as much as possible!

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