This is part 2 of a 2 part post on The Simple Homestead Life.
This post has a worksheet – journal prompt to help you sort through some of the issues in your personal journey.
You can download it free:
Do you sometimes feel that the simple homestead life has become too complicated. There is an impasse between the hope that you had when you began your journey and where you are right now. Here are 7 simple gifts that will help you uncomplicate your homestead journey. Think of them as compass points that will increase the JOY of the journey.
The fourth gift – Turning
“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” — C. S. Lewis
Sometimes, torn in many directions by different voices with different underlying faith messages, we find ourselves going in a direction that we never intended. Turning refers to changing direction. The well-intentioned neighbor convinced us to buy goats and then we find out that we hate the taste of goat’s milk, or goat’s are way more rambunctious and destructive than we anticipated. (I love my goats, by the way, but they aren’t for everyone.) There is no shame to saying, “Stop” and “Enough.” It’s alright to reconsider the homestead decisions that you’ve made. Go ahead and sell the goats, and buy the Jersey cow, or just find a neighbor who is willing to sell you a cow-share for a few seasons to see if you like it.
There is no shame in reconsidering a direction that you are going in and turning around.
When we moved to our homestead 10 years ago, our business plan was to raise fiber animals organically and sell the fiber at each stage of hand-manufacture. We bought a room-size wool picker and carding mill so that we could process the fleece at home. At first we did every step from washing the fleece, to picking, carding and hand spinning – and then we added hand-knitted hats, mittens, gloves, scarves, and sweaters to the handspun yarns in the on-farm store. Most people walking through the shop said, “That’s a lot of work.” And we had to admit, it was. Too much work, actually.
In order for this to succeed I had to spend a lot of time designing new patterns that would work with our hand spun yarn. But we discovered that wool and yarn are commodities. There’s a limit to how much a customer was willing to pay for yarn. Most people coming through the store just wanted to hack my original designs. It was difficult to feel joyful about working long hours and earning only a couple dollars per hour for our time – while our creative energy ebbed away. It wasn’t sustainable. When a project stops being a JOY, turn around and go back on the road.
The most humbling part of our wool project was that I no longer had the time to handspin and knit sweaters for my own family. So while there were sweaters sitting in the on-farm store for sale, my own family wore thrift store sweaters. Sad but true. I had to turn back and make changes to get my Joy back.
In turning back, we discovered once again the joy of making clothes for our own family, and relied on the commercial mill to turn our farm raised wool and mohair into yarn to sell to knitters.
The fifth gift – Humility
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend, we shan’t be ashamed,
To turn, turn, t’will be our delight,
For by turning, turning we come round right.”
The gift of humility is the other side of the gift of “turning.” Humility is the gift of being able to bow, and to bend without shame, admitting when we’ve made a mistake and missed the mark. Being able to say, “I’m sorry, I made a mistake.” is a gift. Sometimes the enthusiasm for the project or the goal becomes all-encompassing and we forget our guiding principles and values. For instance, realizing that the all-pervasive wool business actually robbed our family of things that we valued, like handmade clothes, time with mom and dad, and a Sabbath rest, allowed us to stop on the dead-end path and with humility admit that the trail was the wrong road.
There is no shame in asking our loved ones to forgive our mistakes, just as we forgive the mistakes of others. Don’t forget to forgive yourself, too. Without this essential gift, we are unable to move forward.
The sixth gift – The Journey
The journey itself is a gift to prevent us from complicating the dream. Each step on the homestead journey is a chance to re-evaluate the goals, and the gift – and make it serve you. There’s no official certification standards that define a “homestead.”
In re-evaluating what the homestead dream means to you, you will discover that not everyone needs acreage. The definition of “homestead” in Webster’s 1828 dictionary is “a home with attached land.” You can homestead in the city, on a lot. While some insist that in order to homestead you must live off-grid, and grow your own power, that’s not necessary either. And you don’t need to do everything yourself, from scratch, to be a homesteader. Someone said that if you wanted to make an apple pie from scratch you’d have to start by creating the world.
Each project that you add to your dream should give you joy and satisfaction. And each project should come out of singleness of heart and the motivation of faith. But if after trying a project on for size, you find that it violates one of your values or your trust, and doesn’t complement your goals. It’s all right to let it go and turn around.
The seventh gift – Contentment
The final gift is the good life – a fertile valley – contentment. It’s not that all our goals are met. It’s not that we have arrived. But as the conflicting values and opinions have been sorted out – our motivation becomes simple – single minded. Contentment and Joy in your homestead result. Homestead abundance grows from being thankful for what you have already.
Take a minute and write down 5 things about your homestead journey that give you joy and hope for the future. Write them down and post them in the comments here. Write them on a piece of paper and tape them on your fridge. These things are simple gifts.
You can download the worksheet for the post and work through each of these areas. Be sure and go to the first part of this two part post so that you don’t miss the juicy parts — the parts that can make a difference for you. The worksheet will help you sift through your thought processes and worldview, so that you can move toward a more satisfying, simple life on your homestead.