February

This Takes Time. . .

The month of February is usually filled with maple syrup prep and getting seeds ready for planting. This February was no different, although our weather has thrown our maple syrup production for a loop (warm nights and warm days is not what we were hoping for). I’ve personally been thrown a curve ball this year since I’m now 33 weeks pregnant and even the simplest of tasks seems to take an exorbitant amount of effort.

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Little tree-tapping helpers.

To top off the weather and a soon-to-be second child, we’ve been in the midst of laying new flooring and getting up drywall in a few areas of our home, and redoing an upstairs bedroom for a nursery. Needless to say, February has been a stressful month and I’ve found myself getting discouraged about the progress, or lack thereof, I’ve made so far this year as it relates to all things outdoors.

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Drywall. I will never, ever, want to do drywall again anytime soon.

I know it may seem silly to be stressing about this stuff in February. I do live in Michigan, after all, and usually we’re still blanketed in snow and cold this time of year. I think I’ve had to take a step back this week and remind myself that building a homestead is a long process that has taken even the most successful homesteaders decades to build, and ignoring what needs attention today (the floors, the drywall, baby prep, and carving out down time with family and friends) is only going to hinder progress in the future.

If you’re just getting started in your journey and feeling a little defeated, cut yourself some slack. If you’re like me and trying to get going with a limited budget, a family to care for, and while working full time, things can be slow moving. You don’t need to have ten chickens, three goats, a food forest, and amazing grey water system in place in year one (or two, three, four, five or six). You don’t need to be supplying the vast majority of your own food come July and August and grinding home-grown oats in November because that’s what you see others around you doing (remember, it takes years). As long as you’re working toward your goal, even when you have days of doubt (and trust me, you’ll have many of them), then you’re making progress.

In my opinion, homesteading isn’t about being 100% self sufficient. It’s not about achieving your goals by taking paths other homesteaders have taken (although their advice can be extremely helpful). It’s about going at your own pace today to be a better steward of the land and resources around you to provide more for yourself, your family and others tomorrow. It’s about finding a balance that works so you feel fulfilled rather than constantly burdened by the tasks of living more self sufficiently. It’s not considered “normal” in today’s society to want to spend 9 hours on any given Saturday ridding your large garden of weeds when you could drive a mile over and grab produce grown hundreds of miles away to feed to your family. It’s not normal to want to devote nearly every weekend in March to boiling sap into maple syrup when you could plunk down $20 for a small jar from a farm in Vermont. But, if you’re into homesteading like I am, then you know it’s not about being normal, fitting in, or doing what’s easiest.

I may not get my small chicken coop up this year. The self-built greenhouse will probably have to wait. I likely won’t get to digging out beds in the front yard for more edibles and fruit trees. And, for the record, I don’t ever plan to own goats. It’s all going to be okay.

This takes time. . .

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Taking advantage of the warm February weather and fixing farm toys.

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