Just recently I've been snuffling around the web, checking out other folks' blogs. When I've done this in the past, I often discover a new blog that I like to follow, at least for awhile. I'm up to six blogs that I check routinely, though two recently moved to Facebook, a platform that I decidedly dislike. Oh well, that's just me. Apparently other people prefer FB.
I've read many other homesteading/small farming/back-to-earth type blogs (which I don't follow) where farm life is rosy, wonderful, easy, paradise, and everybody on the farm is happy and making a decent living. In my homesteading experience thus far, real life is very different. Homesteading life is actually hard work, dirty, long hours, often frustrating and at other times depressing due to failures and losses. Homesteading pisses me off at times, like when things don't turn out right, diseases wipe out crops, or I wake up to dead livestock. In addition, getting stymied by government regulations which don't seem to make much sense for a small farm can be super annoying. Making a living via a homestead farm is quite difficult in my opinion. Doable, but difficult. And the larger the family needing to be supported, the more difficult it will become. I think that a single person or a couple can do it, but add a couple of children to the equation and the task can get incredibly more difficult.
Sugary blogs make neat, colorful, abundant gardens appear to be the norm. On my farm, I don't have enough hours in the day to achieve weed free neatness, cutsy gardens, color coordinated flower beds lining neat brick walkways. In real life, garden abundance seems to come in waves, interspaced with crop failure. I've noticed that sugary blogs don't seem to have weather, disease, and pest problems. And somebody on them seems to have plenty of spare time for creative landscaping architecture. I bet that I could do that too if I only had a small suburban lot in a housing development, but then I couldn't be self-sustaining on such a small plot, let alone try to make a living.
Ok. You've got the message by now, I hope. Some blogs out there are more an exercise in creative writing and smart photography than a journal about real life. The reason that I'm having this conversation is that I receive many emails from people (especially small families with often two young children) dreaming of living the sugary-blog-life homesteading life, and ask me how to do that. Well, I can't help them. I don't see how it's possible to live that perfect farm life, at least not without having employees or perhaps a handful of willing slaves.....or a lot of money. One person or two simply cannot have a self-sufficient homestead that looks like something ready for a Hobby Farms photographer. Self-sufficient is the keyword. It requires more land than a house lot, thus requires more hours in the day to maintain.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not whining about farm life. I love this lifestyle so far. I'm just glad that I didn't have sugar plum expectations when I started this project. I'm so glad that I didn't read those fairy land blogs before I started. And I'm lucky that I don't have young children to raise at the same time. And a biggie......I glad I didn't assume that I'd be able to maintain that middle class lifestyle of three bedroom modern ranch home, new clothing, late model pick up truck, new farm tools, pretty plastic fencing, and all those other high priced items one sees in those fancy farm blogs. No, us newcomers just starting out won't have all that, although we could aspire to them if we wanted. Frankly, I don't want to.
By the way, I've attained the point where I could be self-sufficient when it comes to our food plus several of our other needs (electricity, water, fertilizer, livestock feed, firewood, etc). But we haven't reached the point where we are earning our living. 2016 will see me gear up for some real income production. Wish me luck.