If you’re a wanna-be homesteader–and I know there are a lot of you out there, cause you write to me often–I’ve decided you really need to know a few things.
When we started organizing this Falling for Autumn series in the Happy at Home Bloggers Network, I knew I had lots to say about fall. (Scroll to the bottom to see what the others have to say about Falling for Autumn as well!)
In New England, it’s breathtaking, with shades of oranges and reds in the leaves that I’ve seen nowhere else. In a garden, it’s exhilarating, with so much to do. In the kitchen, it’s exhausting, with oodles of canning and baking every day.
But on a homestead, in general, fall is completely–totally–exhausting. So today I’m gonna be real. Today I’m filling you in on the 8 things you really need to know about homesteading in the fall.
And don’t miss the 3 Secrets That Legit Homesteaders Might Not Tell You.
1–Homesteaders like old and practical, not new and fancy.
We wrapped up our apple picking a few weeks ago. The color, smell and taste of our apples? Beautiful. The effort to pick them? Good exercise. The effort of making cider and apple pie? Well worth it.
But our apple picker? We found it in the bowels of our barn’s basement. It’s rickety and old, and in my opinion, perfect.
Read this post for more stories of found treasures on our homestead.
And enjoy some simple, great tips for taking amazing fall photos.
And our apples? They’re ugly. I have no idea how to tell how old our trees are, but I know the variety of apple is an heirloom one, not a pretty one you’d find in the grocery store for sure. But that’s how homesteading tends to be. Old and practical, not new and fancy.
2–Everything has a season, and it’s always too short.
This summer was the first one of my life that I had to step in a garden without my favorite expert gardener to call. I would often talk to Dad to report my progress, describe my produce, or ask for sympathy for the mildew or larvae I was battling. I learned everything I know about plants, bugs, and dirt from Dad, who learned everything he know about these topics from his granddad.
But Dad understood way better than I that seasons slip through our fingers. The more food we long to grow, the more seeds we want to experiment with, the more plans we have for beautifying our gardens, the shorter the summer feels.
Read here–and watch the video–for my favorite way to rid the garden of Japanese Beetles.
And here for what mom and dad taught me last winter about Broken Heart Syndrome.
3–You get to a point that you can’t stand to waste anything.
You quickly learn, as a homesteader that almost everything can be useful. And homesteading is expensive (that should have been #9 on my list!), so if you can reuse something, benefit yourself or an animal on your farm, and save money to boot, you can’t resist doing it. Even if it means extra time and effort.
We save every scrap of fruit or vegetable for our rabbits to snack on. (Yes, we raise rabbits for meat. More on that in #5.) We save every ground of coffee and peel of banana for the compost pile. We save almost every other meal scrap for the chickens. And we save poop; our rabbits’ poo is truly the absolute, hands-down best fertilizer we have ever used in our garden.
Our free-ranging chickens also know very well that we will feed them our garden bugs when we find any. Scout and Selah, our momma cow and her calf, know that any old produce, corn husks, or dead vines go to them. See that in action here (and please subscribe to my channel while you’re there!)–>
4–You can never carve out any alone time.
Yes, the fact that the chickens and the cows know that our garden holds treats for them means that I’m never truly alone in the garden. Add to my company my daughters and the two curious new barn kitties and the garden is a regular old party, with a dance floor of old tomato vines and kitten exercise equipment of tomato cages waiting to be put away.
Even when I’m just sitting for a minute in a quiet place on the farm, there’s always a critter or two who comes to investigate. This, actually, is a fact of homesteading that I love. The part about alone time that I miss, from my pre-homesteading day, is that time when I literally sat and did nothing. Homesteaders have those opportunities few and far between, especially in the fall. Harvest time is definitely the hardest time.
Watch our new barn cats, Lassie and Reepicheep, in action in the newest Snippets of Life, just released this week. (And please take one second to subscribe so you won’t miss another cute, inspiring Snippet.)
Check out our garden trellis we made for free this summer!
And find out the top ten reasons to play in the dirt.
5–People don’t “get it.”
Most people don’t understand why a homesteading friend is never available in the fall. They have no idea how hard a homesteader works–often using all the dwindling daylight to their full advantage, especially this time of year.
Friends also don’t understand how someone can raise an animal for food. Never mind that they too (well, except vegetarian friends) eat animals. Never mind that the animals they eat led a lousy life before they went to an awful slaughter house and then on to the grocery store aisles. Animals on the homestead, on the opposite side of the spectrum, live amazingly good lives from the moment they’re born until their last breath, when they experience a humane death.
I recently connected with Al Lumnah, a fellow NH homesteader who runs an informative YouTube channel you might wanna check out. Al explains this idea well in his own post today. Al explains that his goal is to give the animals the best life possible with only one bad day. By harvesting his animals on his homestead, he removes the stress that they would experience if they had to be taken elsewhere to be slaughtered, involving dreaded animal trailers, fearful road trips, and strange destinations with unusual smells.
No, if you become a homesteader, your friends may not “get it,” but I do. I know your animals will be well loved and cared for, given a humane death when it’s time, and greatly appreciated for the eggs, milk, or meat that they provide for your family table.
6–Almost everything has a dual purpose. If you haven’t figured it out, you’re probably doing something wrong.
We grow pumpkins for decoration then freeze the pulp to make these amazing muffins all winter long. We grow sunflowers for their sheer beauty in the garden, for food for the birds, and then we harvest the seeds that are left to feed our hens all winter long.
7–Homesteading isn’t idyllic. It’s hard work.
If we ever forget it, just one more trip to the “hay guy,” one more trailer-full of bales, 20 wagons worth carted to the barn overhang, and 200 bales piled high in neat rows is all we need to remind us of just how hard, exhausting, and itchy homesteading can be.
8–But sometimes it’s not so hard. And it’s always worth it.
When we, once in a while, discover a super easy trick that makes our life a little easier, we’re over the moon. Like when those herbs I dried in paper bags (for real) turned out perfectly.
Then there was how I felt when I realized my hack to store carrots worked! Last fall, we piled dirt over our carrot harvest in old buckets and stored them in our root cellar in our basement all winter. We would venture to the basement and uncover a few more whenever we needed them, all winter long.
Mind you, when I say “venture to the basement” I truly mean it’s an adventure, in our dirt-floored, boulder-walled, 200-year-old basement. Maybe I’ll give you a tour of that adventure someday. For now you may like to know these 3 secrets old-farmhouse owners might never tell you.
I could list plenty more important things wanna-be homesteaders should know, but they’ll have to wait. Because I have laundry on the line, compost to spread over the cleared garden, tomato cages to carry to the barn, a chicken coop to clean out, some water troughs to fill, oh, and a book to get to the publisher!
Meanwhile, a barn cat update: They finally have names! First, Lassie (pictured below)–named after Laissez-faire, because when she is left to her own devices, she finds all the food she needs. On her own. Then there’s Reepicheep, named after our favorite literary mouse, in honor of the many scurrying rodents who have been read their last rights in her churning, bursting belly.
So, indeed, life is hard, busy, and exhausting. But our barn is full of hay and empty of mice. Our animals are happy, healthy, and fulfilling their purposes on our homestead. And I am sleeping well. Always.
“Let’s not get tired of doing what is good, for at the right time we will reap a harvest–if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9 )
This post is part of the Falling for Autumn series hosted by the Happy at Home Blogging Network. Today I’m happy to be one of seven different bloggers who are sharing insights into what fall means to each of us.
- Kathi and her husband are racing against the first frost in central Oklahoma. She encourages and inspires your homesteading dreams through her blog Oak Hill Homestead.
- Michelle C. lives with her husband in an empty nest on their rural homestead in the Missouri Ozarks. She writes over at Mid-Life Blogger about homesteading, gardening and homeschooling. She’s out digging in her garden and prepping for next year.
- Angela is The Inquisitive Farmwife and she loves learning new skills and sharing knowledge about the crazy journeys that life takes her on!
- Danielle of Spring Lake Homestead is from N.E. Wisconsin where she and her family have been enjoying an unseasonably warm autumn while preparing their home and homestead for the upcoming cooler weather.
- Terri Steffes lives with her husband in a New Urban neighborhood in historic Saint Charles, Missouri. She writes about food, recipes, good books, travel and gardening, and decorating their craftsman style home. Our Good Life features many aspects for quality living.
- Linda from Apron Strings & other things, who spends her days homeschooling her youngest four children, nurturing a heart for homesteading while living on the edge of urban New Englan
- And then there’s me, enjoying fall here on our New England homestead while counting down the days until my book–Sweet Maple–is in print. In the meantime, make sure you snag your free eBook–Make Maple Sugar–while it’s free! Keep reading for more info.
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Please take a second to follow along here on SoulyRested to catch up on a few of my memorable mishaps, discover fascinating things about my centuries-old farmhouse, glean a little parenting/homeschooling insight from this momma who’s been failing at the effort for almost 2 decades, or enjoy the inside scoop on the secrets other legit homesteaders might not tell you. I hope my focus always encourages you, because simple joys require hard work. Let’s face it, we all need all the encouragement we can get! As soon as you subscribe (in the box at the end of this post), you’ll have immediate access to my subscriber library of resources, which includes many useful printables, including, through November 1st, Make Maple Sugar.
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