Saying Goodbye to Homestead Overwhelm

Homestead overwhelm: it’s a real thing. In fact, being overwhelmed is such a common theme in my life that it hardly seems necessary to mention it anymore. I am a lady with too much going on.

Apparently, I like to revisit this problem repeatedly. I think I can take on the world, then I realize can’t keep up. So, I melt down and give up certain things. Then I am happy for a while– until I decide to try it all over again.

This summer, we planted a garden and built a new chicken coop. We had good intentions to try to improve the systems we have established to help our homestead become more efficient.

However, as musicians, our real life jobs are much more demanding in the summer when it’s full-swing festival and camp season. We spent almost 7 days a week this summer teaching, performing, accompanying, and practicing for event after event. It was both really great and pretty insane.

Needless to say, we aren’t rich enough to afford a housekeeper. So, all of our outside commitments left our home a certifiable pigpen, our porch a dropping place for various rubbish and chicken poop, our garden an overgrown jungle, and our rabbits mismanaged and multiplying.

At least the goats were happy.

I’ve hit burn out. I can’t and I don’t do it all. Don’t you believe for a minute that I have it all together.

With the changing of the seasons and the advent of another homeschool year, we are once again feeling the pressing need to scale back. So we’re doing it. And this year, we mean business. Here’s the Plan with a capital P:

  • Get rid of the rabbits. We. are. done. (At least for now.) All of the whys will have to be saved for another post. For now, let it suffice to say that meat rabbits, while an excellent homestead meat source, are not currently a good fit for our family.
  • Reduce our flock size. Either by giveaway or the cooking pot, at least one rooster has to go, and perhaps a hen or two as well. Our flock has divided itself into two groups- one that stays in their fancy villa, and the other that rejects their home and spends its days un-mulching everything and pooping everywhere. This situation must be remedied if I wish to maintain my sanity.
  • Plant a smaller garden next year. You know, you don’t have to grow everything you preserve for the winter? We’re going to opt for a smaller, more manageable garden over an unruly large one.
  • Get rid of the stuff. Unused, broken, or extraneous things aren’t doing my housekeeping a favor. I’m too busy and too undisciplined to keep it all orderly. I’m by no means a minimalist, but I’m trying to train myself to let go of things and embrace the freedom of having less to keep up with.

Basically, I want a nice garden and a few laying hens, with a pet goat who lives next door. And then I want to enjoy my family and my music.

I’ve let myself think that we can do it all ourselves. Let’s grow it all, can it all, raise it all, and be completely self-sufficient. I want to be legit Little-House-on-the-Prairie mom.

We’ve tried to do it. We’ve been working to build up to it for years. But the problem is, when we’re trying to do everything, we can’t keep up. Consequentially, our efforts are inefficient and insufficient. Eventually we succumb to despair and indifference.

It’s funny how stress and over-commitment take hobbies that we really love and turn them into heavy burdens.

You see, we’re not only trying to form a homestead. We’re also parents, homeschoolers, community and private teachers, and musicians. We have commitments outside the home. We don’t have 10 kids who can work the farm with us. We have only so many hours in a day, and we are only human, after all.

The reality is, I’d rather have a functioning, joyful, small-scale operation, than an overgrown, out-of-control project that we’ll never be able to finish.

It feels a little bit like giving up- selling off the rabbits and downsizing everything. And yet, I can’t help but think that by scaling back our commitments, we’ll do a better job at the ones we choose to keep.

If you’re like me- if you want to enjoy homestead projects without killing yourself via over-commitment- follow along with me here. We can encourage each other in the journey.

Hey you, Overwhelm. You’re not welcome here anymore. Maybe I’ll see you later– but if I’m smart, maybe not.

3 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to Homestead Overwhelm

  1. Sharon

    I hear you on the slowing down and can’t do it all. We were doing so well until my husband had a minor stroke. Now it is overwhelming for me but he still wants the garden, chickens etc. I am only one woman with the determination to feed us through the winter with the produce/ etc. we produce. I work my tale off from June til November, get a break where I can work on things in the house, then start all over again.
    I have managed to get rid of items I no longer use, and am working on clearing out a space for my art, ( kind of hard finding all my art supplies). I know I can get to a happy place with all this. Someday would love to say I am self-sufficient and know my food is not full of additives/preservatives etc.

    Sharon

    Reply
    1. Abi Post author

      Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with the stroke. I’m sure that was frightening. I think you must be very strong for continuing on and trying to find a way to make it work well. That’s what I’m hoping too- to be industrious without feeling like I have to do absolutely everything. Thinking of you. Thank you for sharing your story.

      Reply
  2. Jamye

    This is a very timely post for me. I always think I can do more than I can and wind up burned out and exhausted. We are turning our small property into a homestead, but like you we have a lot of other commitments as well. Jobs, a from home business and we just saw a daughter married and the preparation up to that eclipsed all but the bare minimum as my very sad garden will attest. I’m learning to say to myself “you don’t have to do it all!”.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Jamye

    Reply

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