The Importance of Mindset
Mindset is crucial in your ability to enjoy your homestead. Mindset is the factor that dictates whether you will be master of your homestead lifestyle or whether you will be the slave to your dream. Slavery is a horrific fate. And the crazy thing about it is that it’s your choice whether you are the master or the slave.
Let me explain, because I’ve been the slave and I’ve been set free of that mindset. When we first got out of debt in 1997, I thought that it was really important to stay out of debt, it we wanted to reach our dream of a bigger farm and homestead self-reliance. And this is true. Getting out of debt was a stepping stone to our dream.
But once we were out of debt, and we were on our 140 acre homestead – with Mr. Joybilee working full time on the farm, as a homestead entrepreneur, we stopped thinking of money as a tool to get to our dream. We started making decisions based on whether we did or didn’t have cash in the bank. And we thought, erroneously, that if we didn’t have cash and a job needed to be done, we had to do it ourselves. We had to do it ourselves even if there was someone that we could hire that could do it faster or better.
Being a slave to money
We decided that because we were cash-poor every spring, our busiest season of the year, we couldn’t afford to hire anyone to help us. We’d go without sleep to get the job done. We’d work 7 days a week, from sunrise to sunset. And as the spring moved into midsummer we worked longer and later every day. But we never caught up. The snow melted. The garden needed planting. There were lambs being born. Lambs needed bottle feeding. And we were exhausted. Nothing actually got finished. We’d clean out the barns, to get ready for spring shearing and lambing. But as soon as the shearing was finished and lambing started in full force, we had other jobs that were more urgent, and cleaning out the barns had to wait. Plus every time we walked into the barn to feed the bottle lambs, the unfinished manure in one corner, taunted us. It seemed like we never got on top of the workload. Homesteads are like that, but how we were thinking in this situation, not the workload, was the problem. We had become a slave to money – money we thought we didn’t have.
The other side of it was that because we were always behind, trying to do everything ourselves, we didn’t do the things that were necessary to make more money. We make and sell goat’s milk soap, herbal remedies, herbal moisturizers, and woolly fibers for crafts, as well as handspun novelty yarns, all grown on our farm. In fact, our customers tell us our soap is the very best, most mild, and thrifty goat’s milk soap they’ve ever used. But because we were slaves to the urgent needs on the farm – animals needing bottle feeding, gardens needing planting, we didn’t take the time to make the soaps and balms that are a third of our livelihood.
That kind of time management will catch up with you. And it did for us. By October last year, we were out of soap and had to turn away businesses that have stocked our soaps for 8 years, just so we’d have some soap to sell at the Christmas fairs. We easily lost $3,000 plus in sales because of our how we were thinking about money and time.
Tyranny of the Urgent: Neglect of the Important
With my mouth I would say, “We can always make more money, but we can never make more time.” But we weren’t making decisions on the farm based on this mindset. Instead we were so desperate to stay out of debt that we became slaves to the idea that we had to do everything ourselves. We failed to realize that the most important thing was left undone, until there were consequences. We did the work that was urgent, until the next urgent thing showed up, but we never got around to the things that were important.
The turning point
And you know what? By August last year, I hated homesteading. This dream of self-reliance has been a part of who I am since I was a child in the city, watching Little House on the Prairie on TV. The dream was in critical condition. The roaring fire had smouldered to only a few embers. I told Mr. Joybilee, “I can’t live like this anymore.”
I dreaded going out to the barn to see the manure pile that we didn’t quite finish cleaning out, sitting in one corner, because lambing had started. I hated the thistles in the garden, which I had to work around, just to harvest our food – because there was no more time to weed. And when the orphaned lambs, that I love dearly, bopped my knees for their bottles, I just wanted to scream. No days off. Going to bed at midnight and getting up with the sun. These are warning signs that something is not right on the homestead. These are the makings of a nervous breakdown, when you live in the city. In the country, living our dream had turned to a nightmare.
Awakened by Facebook
Thankfully I woke up. I woke up, thanks to Facebook. Yeah, I know a lot of people are down on Facebook and social media. A lot of my local friends brag to me that they “don’t do Facebook”, like somehow you are super good if you just avoid interacting with people online and use your time “wisely”. They act like I should feel guilty for “wasting” my time on Facebook. NOT! Facebook is a lifeline when you are isolated and losing ground. And there is wisdom there and help and encouragement for the journey, if you find the right mentor. Ironically, I found the right mentor through listening to my followers.
My followers on Facebook were coming to me, asking for guidance to live their homestead dreams. I heard a lot of my own thoughts echoed on Facebook. “We can’t get ahead.” “There is no one to help.” “We can’t afford to hire anyone.” “I guess life is just ‘gloom, despair, and agony on me.’” Then a funny thing happened. When I saw other people expressing my very own thoughts on my Facebook business page, I realized where I went wrong in my thinking.
The Homestead Abundance Shift
The switch was flipped. A shift happened and I started talking about “Homestead Abundance.” And then something powerful and supernatural took place. As I started thinking about my fans on Facebook and how they needed help to live their homestead dreams and how they didn’t need slavery but freedom – I realized homestead abundance is actually the answer to finding JOY in the homestead journey.
Seeing the blessings that each day offers on the homestead and the abundance that is there, changes your mindset. I stopped feeling like I needed to do everything myself. I started looking for ways to create more abundance in other people’s lives.
Money as a tool
One way was to hire a couple of young men to clean out our barns this spring. These two guys graduated from high school last year, and are without work right now. One just got back from a YWAM school in Mongolia, and the other is leaving for a YWAM school in Scotland, in a couple months. They are energetic, hard workers and we are so blessed to have them help us this spring. Its amazing that they were even available, given their amazing work ethic and attitudes. We are paying them well. And we promised them two weeks of employment at 30 hours a week, to clean our barns. We guaranteed 2 weeks because we didn’t want them to drag their feet, hating the job, because they needed the full 2 weeks of work. Instead we offered them the thrill of helping us burn fallen branches – a bonfire – if they finished early. (I found out these guys are latent pyro-maniacs!) These 2 young men are working 4 times faster than we could have worked with our 55 year old bodies. We are free to do the things that will make more money with our time, while we use some of that money to pay them for their good work. It’s a win-win situation. Money is now a tool to increase our homestead abundance and not our master.
5 easy keys to Master your overwhelm and take charge of your Homestead
So if you are feeling, as I was, overwhelmed by the shear amount of work that your homestead requires of you and you are feeling like the slave, instead of the master, here’s what helped me.
- Look for your daily homestead abundance and grab a pen and a journal or notebook and write it down. Post it on Facebook. Write it on your blog. This daily exercise in gratitude will change your mindset in a powerful way.
- Don’t make decisions based on the cash on hand. The amount of cash on hand should be only one part of the equation in your decision making process. Other factors include: can you earn that money back? Will this expense free up time so that you can make more money? Can you hire someone else to do a job that you are struggling with, who can do it faster and better? Is it an investment in your future abundance or a useless expense that doesn’t actually bring you closer to your dreams.
- Realize self-reliance doesn’t mean that you have to do everything yourself. Especially if you are a young mom with small children, don’t think you have to do it all by yourself. Get rid of the super-mom cape, now. This kind of thinking will rob you of joy and make you a slave to your bank balance. Look at where your ‘overwhelm’ is and find the spot where you can outsource. Maybe you need help with keeping up with the housework, or you could trade childcare one day a week with a friend so that you have time to focus on building a home-based business that would bring in extra cash. What would benefit you the most? Maybe there is a grunt job on your homestead that you could hire someone to help with, like we did, freeing up your time to do other more profitable things.
- Realize that sometimes your first solution to the problem doesn’t work, but waiting it out brings clarity. You may need to learn to live with an overwhelming situation temporarily until a solution comes. This was the case for me last year. We didn’t have an immediate solution to the problem. But the discomfort of the problem brought an understanding of where our mindset had allowed this in our lives. And as we gained clarity we were enabled to take action. And we slowly made the changes that were necessary.
Initially we tried WWOOFing to solve the problem of too much work and not enough time. WWOOFing (Willing workers on organic farms) wasn’t the right solution for our situation, though. The young people that came needed a lot of attention, mentoring, and meal preparation, and actually, for us, required more work in meal preparation, and teaching than they were giving back in work, in general. We met some fantastic people through wwoofing that were very good workers and enhanced our farm with their presence, too, like Marie and Pierre from France, Akki from Japan, Heike from Germany, and Ruth from Israel. For every good person that came wwoofing at Joybilee Farm, there were 3 that were difficult, with poor boundaries, and overly-demanding to work with. We decided that WWOOFing wasn’t a good fit for us.
So we learned to live with the overwhelming situation temporarily, while looking for another solution. If we simply had done a cost analysis comparing hiring out the job vs. the time the job would take, we would have hired help much sooner, though. You can always make more money.
5. Take a Shabbat rest. One day a week, from sunset to sunset reserve time to only do the very essential work on your homestead. Don’t go to town on this day. Stay home, and spend time with your family. I’m not talking about a day to go to church, what some Christians call “the Sabbath”. That’s the day when they are rushing through their morning homestead chores to get there on time, and then getting home to rush through a late lunch so that they can get back to the chores that they missed in the morning. Most homesteaders, who attend church, work harder and are more stressed on Sunday than on any other day of the week. I’m not suggesting that you add anything more to your already overwhelmed Sunday – especially not guilt.
I’m suggesting another day, perhaps Saturday – the Biblical Shabbat, where you can stay home, spend a restful time with your loved ones, enjoy a family walk, read a book, and renew your mind and your soul. This is what cured my overwhelm. It was like a balm to my “I don’t want to live like this anymore.” Shabbat is a time of healing for the soul. Do what you have to do to get the rest that your soul needs.
Looking at your own situation, is there a place on your homestead where you need some extra help to get over the overwhelm? Are you seeing some of the warning signs that I mentioned, creeping in to rob you of your JOY and make you a slave to your homestead? This is your chance to stop it in its tracks and become the Master of your Homestead instead of its slave. This is your chance to grab hold of your own homestead abundance and keep the dream alive. Don’t let your dream turn into a nightmare, like I did. Make money your slave and be the master of your homestead dream. Money is only a tool.