Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Dark Side of Homesteading

"T" liked my homesteading mistakes post, then he asked me if there was a unseen side to homesteading. "What? Do you mean a dark side? Those dirty little secrets no one tells you about?" Yes, there is. Going back to the earth is trendy now. Success stories sell magazines, for-profit blogs, money making YouTube channels. If they talked about the horrible things that happen, then they wouldn't have an audience for long nor make money. 

So what are some of the dirty little secrets? It may be good to be aware before plunging into any level of homesteading. You aught to go in with open eyes. Be aware that everything isn't roses and lollipops.  

... If you have livestock, they will eventually die. Sometimes it's ugly, sometimes expensive, sometimes a surprise, sometimes drawn out agony. Sometimes you find them peacefully looking like they're asleep. Other times there is blood everywhere. 

...Crop failures. There goes your food supply. Oops. It seems that everything out there is trying to kill your crop: bugs, diseases, the weather, the neighbor's cows. I once had Bucky, my wether, and his friend, E-Ram the sheep, eat my entire main garden. All-l-l-l gone! 

....Nobody wants your products. Making crafts is one of the first go-to ideas people have for making income. But there's a narrow market for such items and the competition can be huge. Selling your extra veggies is another grand idea. But there's not a guaranteed market, especially if you have a farmers market in the area. Or if they aren't pretty and priced right, you'll be taking them all back home with you. 

...Things go wrong.  The generator you depend upon stops running. You run out of firewood. Frost hits the very morning your seedlings germinate. You check your pond and find all the fish floating belly up. The milk cow gets mastitis. 

...Bad weather. The land floods. Or, there's no rain. Early frost. Cold spring. 30 cloudy days in arow. Strong winds blow everything down. 

...Doing things by hand takes a lot more time. Hand digging a drainage trench can take days, while using a backhoe can take an hour or two. Everything done by hand takes a lot longer to get finished. But sometimes by hand is the only way you can afford getting the job done. 

...Every homestead different, but each has something that eventually becomes an issue. Hauling water? (That can lose its appeal.) Long driveway to maintain? (Wait until the first real snowstorm.) Living off grid? (It takes discipline to live within energy boundaries. And you'll kill your first battery bank while learning.) 

...It's hard work. There's lots of physical work. It's not a part time job. Once the entire infrastructure is in place, then the work eases up, until you get bored and start taking on new projects. Yup, the work never ends. 

...Not glamorous as depicted in the glossy magazines, glitzy blogs, polished videos. That beautiful photo of the well groomed family of dad, mom, and two young kids holding bags of fresh picked ears of sweet corn is staged. Hate to break that to you. But if they had REALLY just been out picking that corn, their hair would be torn askew by wrestling 6' high corn stalks, their hands would be red from twisting and yanking all those ears off, their clothiers would be a mess with spider webs and dirt, and they wouldn't be lined up smiling like a line of Hollywood actors.

Homesteading has its rewards. Of course. Otherwise real people wouldn't be doing it. 

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