The homestead lifestyle is a labour intensive lifestyle. In order to maintain your garden, your home, your homebased business, and grow your own food, you need to do the work. Further, if you live rural, the take out pizza doesn’t deliver to you. And by the time you drive into town, pick it up, and bring it home, you’ve lost an hour of your life, added $10 to the cost in gas, and you have to reheat it in your oven at home before you eat. So there is no way out. You cook it yourself or fast for the night. But what do you do when your body hurts.
Robin’s mom, called it “my friend, Arthur”. Maybe you know him. Aching joints, fingers that snap when you want to bend them, aching pelvis and back, or sore elbows or knees, stiff neck. At 53, I experience this at times.
Arthur causes more pain when inflammation increases. He can be worsened with diet choices. There are foods that increase inflammation in your body and other foods that will decrease it. Generally, the homestead lifestyle that offers a homegrown diet that is rich in raw milk, grass fed meat, home grown, organic vegetables and fruit, while being low on liquid oils like canola and corn oil, and low on grains is good for reducing inflammation. Homegrown herbs like willow, balm of gilead, and birch also reduce inflammation. So in many respects the homestead lifestyle is less painful than living in the city.
But homesteading is not painfree, and as we age the pain can make it difficult to cook from scratch and grow your own food, which pushes you into a cycle of convenience food that further increases the pain. But the work of homesteading can be reduced so that the labour is simplified.
1. Simplify meals.
The idea that we need to have a starch, a protein, and two vegetables at meals comes from the industrial food complex, not traditional diets. People who follow traditional diets have lived long lives without the pain and structural damage caused by the modern Western diet. Reducing your food intake to major on quality protein, from grass fed animals, and organic vegetables will greatly reduce your pain. A healing diet of bone broths, raw milk products, grass fed butter, saturated fats, coconut oil, wild fish, and naturally raised eggs will help. Add some raw vegetables in the form of a salad, and some cooked vegetables and you have a complete meal.
2. Soak all grains and beans
Seeds contain anti nutrients which decrease the available minerals in your body, increase inflammation, and make them difficult to digest. These anti-nutrients are used by the seeds to prevent germination until the soil moisture is right or to inhibit the growth of competition. Many of these anti nutrients can be minimized by soaking or fermentation. Beans are traditionally soaked for at least 8 hours and then rinsed well before cooking to remove the flatulent-causing anti-nutrients. Soy is a special case, and must be fermented for a minimum of a year to transform the antinutrients into a digestible condiment. Wheat, oats, barley, and rye need both soaking and fermentation to render them easier to digest.
Adding soaking of seeds and grains to your cooking regime can reduce Arthur’s influence on your life, as well. You can plan your meals the night before and soak your beans and grains over night. Soaked seeds cook faster, using less fuel, too. If you aren’t gluten intolerant you can make sour dough breads which by nature have reduced their antinutrient complex. But even sour dough breads have small amounts of antinutrients coming from the flour used in kneading. So you will want to avoid bread of any kind during a visit with Arthur. These antinutrients also cause tooth decay, and osteroporosis due to the demineralization of your body. Changing the way you cook your beans and grains will give you stronger bones and teeth, which will reduce your pain, especially if you add raw milk, and bone broths to your diet to increase the available minerals you consume.
3. Reduce your garden work by mulching
While mulch can provide a hiding place for pests, like pocket gophers, rats, and slugs, mulching also reduces your need for weeding throughout the growing season, increases soil fertility, and decreases your need to till the ground before planting each Spring. Mulch also keeps soil moisture in the ground, reducing the need for watering, while keeping plants like lettuce and cabbage, cool in their root zone, during the heat of summer. Mulch also keeps soil temperatures cool. If you want to extend your growing season by warming up the ground earlier in the Spring, remove the mulch over the areas that you want to plant and replace it once the plants are thriving. Always mulch your weeded and prepared beds in the Fall before snow, to keep the beds ready for planting, without tilling in the spring.
4. Start plants indoors for planting outside.
By starting plants indoors in sterilized soil, you can get a jump start on your growing season. You maximize your ground area, because you are setting out transplants in the place you want them to grow and you reduce the need to thin during the growing season. Plants need to be hardened off in a cool frame before planting out, but they will grow abundantly once in soil where there is adequate soil moisture and room for the roots to spread. This works well for all vegetables except root vegetables which should be started in-situ.
5. Don’t keep more livestock than your needs require.
If Arthur has moved in and is a permanent resident on your homestead, you will want to seriously consider whether you want a homestead or a farm. Homesteads carry only enough animals to meet the needs of the members of the homestead. Selling eggs to the neighbours is less of a priority than having 2 dozen eggs a week for household use. Every animal needs feed, water, and dry bedding in both winter and summer. So the introduction of an animal requires weighing the productivity of that animal against the available energy to care for that animal. Don’t bring home the sweet looking and personable angora goat, unless you have a plan to deal with the offspring, and the fiber that will be provided by the goat.
6. Free range the animals rather than keeping them in a fenced yard and barn.
Movable chicken tractors, pastured goats and sheep, and forest raised pigs provide meat, milk, and eggs while spreading their fertility across pastures and gardens. They are also less likely to get a parasite infestation, as they are moved regularly to clean ground. Animals that are yarded and penned will create manure that needs to be shovelled, composted, and moved around your garden. While this works in some instances, it becomes problematic when Arthur lives with you.
7. Consider gardening with raised beds.
I visited Paula and Pat Green in Chilliwack when I was buying my super carder. This couple is in their 80s, slow moving, but energetic in their old age. Raising their own food is serious business for them. They manage their garden by creating several raised beds using concrete. The raised beds are waist high so that they can be planted, weeded, and harvested while standing. Their apple and berry orchard was covered with a lattice structure and netting to keep birds from damaging the fruit. All ground not covered in growing trees was covered in cement, which made walking easier, and reduced weeding. The trees themselves were dwarf varieties that could be harvested while standing firmly on the ground. Gardening doesn’t have to mean bending over painfully to till the soil.
8. Don’t have land consider supporting a local CSA
While it may seem like eating organically from local farms is more expensive than buying conventional produce and convenience food, in the long run it is less costly, both in money and in health. Carrots grown conventionally are used to clean up over pesticided and herbicided soil in California. And then sold for human food. The roots are full of bad chemicals that will increase your inflammation and pain. While organic carrots are only slightly more expensive — especially if you can source them in season and then freeze them or root cellar them for winter use.
9. Buy organically raised fruits and vegetables or raise your own
The pesticides and herbicides used in conventional agriculture contain fluorides and endocrine disruptors, hormones as well as poisons. These disrupt your normal glandular system and increase pain and inflammation. They also inhibit thyroid function by replacing normal iodine in the thyroid with fluoride, preventing its normal function. Eating soy will also do this inhibit thyroid function. When your thyroid isn’t working you will gain weight, your body will increase in inflammation and you be heavier which puts a strain on your knees and ankles, increasing Arthur’s complaints. If organic seems outside of your budget, try reducing your expenses in other areas to allow you to purchase the organic vegetables that your body needs for survival.
10. Turn off your cell phone.
Cell towers give off constant radiation which can increase inflammation, as well as make you irritable and inhibit relaxation. When your phone is turned on, it becomes a conduit to the radiation of cell towers. Don’t carry your cell phone turned on in your pocket or near your body. Use a land line whenever possible, reserving your cell phone for emergencies. If you must keep it turned on, place it away from yourself, never against your body.
11. Exercise at least 5 times a week.
Going for a walk or gardening for 30 minutes at least 5 times each week will increase your circulation and draw inflammation out of your body. It will also increase your metabolism, allowing you to lose excess weight and reduce the strain on your joints. You want to exercise to the point of perspiration, but not so much that you are hurting your joints. Start gently if you’ve been staying indoors for most of the winter, and haven’t been exercising. Build up your endurance over a month. Think of it as homesteading bootcamp. Follow every session with gentle stretching. Studies have shown that even without losing weight, exercising for 30 minutes a day decreases a persons risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and stroke.
12. Use an herbal balm to reduce inflammation and swelling and ease the pain that Arthur can cause.
Joybilee Farm makes a herbal balm — Hemp Rescue Remedy — that reduces inflammation and swelling and helps you when you find yourself needing to take otc meds for comfort. Many herbs will reduce inflammation including: birch, balm of gilead, willow bark, arnica, comfrey, to name only of few. Using one or more of these externally will help you cope with Arthur when he comes to visit, and allow you to continue working toward greater self reliance, which will further reduce your inflammation.
Back to you:
These are only a few of the ways you can reduce you workload when Arthur comes to visit and send him packing sooner. What ways have you found to kick him out of your house? Leave a comment.