Green grass, where are you?
Green grass, where are you?

Saturday Morning Ramble, or The Truth About Homesteading

Life on the farm
Life on the farm

Happy Saturday, Frugal Farmer friends!  This may or may not become a regular series, but today, I just kind of feel like rambling.   It’s been a long and busy week.  Good, but incredibly busy.   On another note, some of you know that, along with our debt mountain that we’re working to chop away at, I also have a weight loss goal.  I was at my ideal weight when we moved into this house, but I think the stress of making such a big change, along with the realization that we were up to our ears in debt, took a toll.  Many pounds and months later, I woke up to the fact that I’d gotten, well, chunky! 

Then, I spent the next year living in denial about my appearance.  I’d lose 5 or 10 pounds, get all puffed up about how well I was doing, and then pack ’em right back on again.  Ironically, this sounds remarkably like our life before January 1, 2013.  We’d accumulate debt, and pay it off.  Then we’d get all snobby about how cool we were being debt free, and then the “it’s only”s  would start again.  Round and round we went before we made our permanent money lifestyle change on DE-day. 

And so goes my journey with weight loss.  This week, however, I stepped on the scale at the doc’s office again (we had to run one of the kids in on Tuesday), only to find that I’d put back on all but 2.5 pounds of the 10 pounds I’d lost.

Crap. 

I realized that it was time to really get serious about getting this extra weight off.  Against my better judgment, I’m going to share that my total weight loss needs to be 27.5 pounds.  32.5 pounds would be better, but we’ll see.   30 pounds isn’t super traumatic to my 5’9 frame, but it’s traumatic enough that I’ve taken to wearing only stretchy clothes so I can continue to live in denial. 🙂

Along with my weight struggles, I feel like I need to share some things about homesteading today.  I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about homesteading, as there is about most things.  Some of my readers have been, or are, in homesteading situations, so they’ll identify more closely with what I’m talking about.

You see, I think a lot of times people have this glorified image of homesteading.  Like the glory days we see on an old episode of Little House on the Prairie.  And homesteading really is wonderful.  However, it’s kind of a mixed bag of good and bad.

There’s something immensely gratifying about being self-sufficient.    It’s awesome to look out the window and see food that you planted from seed growing in your garden.  It’s super cool to send the kids out to cut some lettuce for a dinner salad from your own back yard.  Hanging clothes on the line is, for me, very calming.  There’s something peaceful about standing in the sun and watching the clothes blow in the wind.  And there’s nothing like staring at a roaring fire on a cold winter’s night.

Homesteading, however, is also a crap load of work.  Maintaining a bigger garden, weeding it, etc., (we weed by hand) takes daily work. Chopping, splitting and stacking wood is a seriously taxing workout, even with a chainsaw and log splitter.  Also, since there’s much more land than you’d find in a normal city lot, there’s much more land to maintain: to weed, to cut, and to care for.  It takes Rick, at a minimum, 5 hours to cut the lawn.  Usually it’s closer to 7 hours.  Storms out here can be nasty.  The wind, undaunted by scores of people and buildings, flies through with a vengeance, leaving days of cleanup work behind.

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Everything you do, from laundry, to cooking from scratch, to growing and preserving food, to drying clothes on the line, to preparing for a long winter, to driving to appointments, even going to the store, takes 4 times as much work and time as it does in a city or suburban setting.

The work load is so grand during the spring, summer and fall months that I barely have time to blog or comment.  For that, my blogging friends, I’m sorry. 🙁  Please know that it’s not that I’ve forgotten about your precious friendship – it’s just that we’re swamped beyond belief.

I’m not sharing this to complain.  The pros, for us, far outweigh the cons, even with all of the work.

The peace out here is absolutely amazing, as is the quiet.  Whereas in the suburbs we heard traffic, sirens, music and lots of chatter, out here we hear birds, bees, frogs, turkey, pheasants, coyotes, wolves, the meowing of cats and the neighing of horses, along with the sweet sound of the blowing wind.  In the morning, it’s just you and the sunrise, and at night, you’d swear the sun looks at you with its gorgeous orangey/pink glow and says “Goodnight, sweet friend.” as it goes down for the evening.

 

Our kids are SO much happier here.  They’ve learned – and we’ve learned – that things don’t matter.  Nor does the opinion of others.  They’re free now, free to enjoy life and not have to worry about what they wear, what kind of a house they live in, or whether or not their smartphones are cool/updated enough.  People in the country tend to only care about helping each other and having a peaceful life.   We can call any one of a dozen neighbors if we need help, and they’d be here in a New York minute.  They don’t know that we don’t have smartphones, and they don’t really give a crap.  But they do call up a group of us to see if we want to hang out and have a bonfire on occasion.  Or go swimming in somebody’s lake.  Or just sit, have a beer or pop, and chat about nothing.

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As our crazy busy week wound down, things started to be more smooth sailing. We did finish up all of our errands and appointments, even if it left the gas tank quite a bit lighter.  I went on a 5-mile walk with a neighbor on Thursday – my first walk in a good month – which got me kick-started back on my weight loss plan.  My food intake wasn’t perfect this week, by any means, but I did find myself making several good choices when I could’ve made bad ones.   And I went for another 5-mile walk this morning.  Just me, and God, and an occasional appearance by the sun.

Today will be spent primarily resting, and tomorrow we’ll spend some time with our beloved family at a family reunion.

No matter what you’re doing this weekend, I hope you’ll spend some time reflecting on all of the blessings you have in your life.  I hope you’ll take some time to relax.  And most of all, I hope you’ll know that you are indeed loved, likely by more people than you realize. 🙂

 

 

 

46 comments

  1. Nicola says:

    Good luck with your weight loss – I’m aiming to lose some too but it’s hard going at the moment. And thanks for your honesty; I’m worried I’ve got a rather romantic view of living in the country as I know in reality it’ll probably be very different, and much harder to boot. But, as you say, the pros outweigh the cons. Have a good weekend 🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Best of luck to you too, Nicola. You can do it!! The primary reason I wrote the post was for people just like you, so I’m so glad you found it helpful. At least you won’t go into your dream starry-eyed. 🙂

  2. I can totally relate. I just got on the scale yesterday and had a surprising revelation. I gained the 10 lbs I lost last year and put on 3 more! Ugh! Time to get back on track.

    Country life sounds like a lot of work indeed but the benefits sound wonderful especially the peace and quiet. Will you be staying there in retirement or will it be too much work for just you and your husband at that point?

    Enjoy your weekend!

    • Laurie says:

      The weight thing seems to be common lately, Raquel. It’s definitely not just you and I. We haven’t thought much about the farm long term. In our ideal world, we’d like to build a new farm house on land that is much easier to maintain (lots of trees here) with lots of maintenance free perks. 🙂

  3. Kirsten says:

    Very interesting article – I think I do know, deep down, how hard homesteading would be but I admit I have romanticized it. Just to be away from people, traffic, and noise seems blissful… BUT I’m glad I don’t have to do all that work 🙂

    I think it’s interesting how many financially-oriented bloggers also have weight loss or fitness goals. I had a baby 4 months ago so it’s time to admit that breastfeeding is no weight loss miracle for me. I may be joining you and posting some for accountability. Good luck to you!

    • Laurie says:

      You’re not alone, Kirsten – it’s easy to glorify all of the wonderful benefits of living in the country. Yeah, I agree about the PF bloggers and weight loss – many seem to have joined the fitness bandwagon, which is a good thing. At least you still can use the baby as a bit of an excuse: my baby is 8! 🙂

  4. Iforonwy says:

    We moved from the big city 10 years ago and although we do not live in the country it is very close by. The same happened to me – those pesky pounds just crept up and decided to stay put! I lost just shy of 30 pounds but it took me almost 2 years to do it.

    I must admit though that about 5 pounds have snook back on. We are retired and perhaps not as energetic as we were. Saying that I do not drive a car and like to walk to the post office/shops/erands etc. No fancy gym membership or anything like that – we have an exercise bike that DH rescued from being thrown away at the tip.

    Initially I aimed for a loss of 10% of my body weight as the experts say that that is where you start to feel better and are at less risk of diabetes and heart problems.

    I agree that the life you lead is hard work. We have a large garden and I often suffer from “garden envy” because it does not look as prictine as those around here but I enjoy its bounty. This week I have picked blackcurrants and made jam, berries for morning cereals and enjoyed the elderflower cordial that we made a couple of weeks ago.

    I agree I do so enjoy seeing the washing blowing in the wind – although sometimes around here it can be very strong and you wonder if the washing is off to France without you!

    Thank you for your posts I really, really enjoy them on this side of the pond.

    • Laurie says:

      Your town sounds so very beautiful!!! So funny about the wash – yes, I do wonder some days if it just might blow away. 🙂 So very glad you enjoy the posts. I enjoy your thoughtful and witty comments just as much. Thank you. 🙂

  5. Will says:

    Wow, you really sold the post short in the beginning! I really enjoyed it! For me, I live the reverse of your life. I grew up on a very rural farm and now I live in the city. I’m strongly considering a change back. I feel in the city you are forced to endure a lot: people, noise, pollution, obsessive neighbors, etc. On the farm you get the handpick the way you live (garden pun).

    🙂

    • Laurie says:

      Will, GO HOME. 😉 Seriously, though, I can totally understand wanting to see what city life is like after growing up in the country, but as you said, you are forced to endure a lot. Even when we visit for the day, as we did yesterday (had a doc appt in Mpls, no less) the busyness is overwhelming. It’s awesome that some people love it and thrive on it, but for us, it just plum wears us out.

    • Laurie says:

      Speaking of pollution, when we first moved here, I went out one day for a long walk. I came back sweaty and gross (I know: TMI), and one of our daughters ran up, hugged me, and took a big sniff of my shirt. “Mommy” she said, “When you would walk in the city, you would come back and smell so yucky, but here, you come back and smell SO GOOD.” It freaked me out a little. What on earth are we subjecting ourselves to in the city?

  6. Kathy says:

    I never though of ourselves as homesteaders, but we had 5 acres in the country. Our garden was 50ft x 100ft. We had an apple and peach orchard. We also planted over 100 trees for a wind row around the house and shade. We planted lots of bushes and trees specifically for birds and after many years when the trees were big enough to support them, the birds came to think of them as theirs….fussing at us whenever we walked around the property to inspect things. We would sit on our porch and watch the Canada geese fly over to land in the field next to us so they could feed on the corn the combine left. Hummingbirds loved the honeysuckle and deer would eat apples that had fallen to the ground. All of that sounds so idyllic but as you know it was damn hard work also. The produce had to be picked and trees had to be sprayed (we were not organic) no matter how hot and humid, or no matter how muddy the garden was after a huge rain. I relate to how long it takes your husband to mow. Hubby and I each spent about 3 hours a week just to mow and then he did the weed eating, ditch mowing etc. another day. We eventually got too old and tired to continue so we sold it about 5 years ago and moved into town where our life is much different but I’m happy to say, just as satisfying. Well, didn’t mean to hijack your post. Just wanted to share.

    • Laurie says:

      Kath, your comments always make me giggle. 🙂 Thanks for sharing. I love hearing your insight, knowing that you guys were once in a similar situation. Right now, I can’t imagine leaving, but at 47, I can see us getting sick and tired of the work at some point, LOL.

  7. debt debs says:

    Great post, Laurie! I’m more of a suburb or country girl but to be honest I find the yard work even in the suburbs too much work! I hear you on the weight loss, I seem to have gained some pounds and I have to blame my blogging, which isn’t good. I’m not exercising as much as I used to because I’m so busy and it shows. I was just thinking this week that I need to get up in the morning and go for my walk before the day gets away on me and I’m too tired. This week we are minding the next door neighbours dog so I’m getting out with her which is good. Maybe I do need to think about getting another dog. 😉

    • Laurie says:

      Deb, I finally started taking the time to walk again this week, and it feels SO much better to making that a priority again!! Do it – for YOU. 🙂

  8. E.M. says:

    We’re the same height, Laurie! I need to lose a few pounds as well, or at least get some muscle. I went on a walk yesterday with my family and it was a lot of fun! There were six of us so it offered us a great chance to catch up. I like this series, as I pass a lot of rural farms on the way to my parents, and I wonder what goes into that lifestyle. I’m not sure it’s for me, but peace and quiet is never a bad thing. I hope you have fun at your family reunion!

    • Laurie says:

      That’s so funny, E.M.!!! I rarely meet tall girls like us, so I just assume everyone is shorter than me. 🙂 Yeah, really, we wouldn’t trade life on the farm for anything, but I do want people to understand the work that’s involved, lest they jump into farm life on a whim.

  9. Brit says:

    I was born in a small town in Puerto Rico and I remembered grocery stores were far away. I loved how I grew up and how simple it was. Those were good memories for me and my brother. When we were at our uncle’s funeral services, all of the cousins were sitting down and we were recalling spending summers in Puerto Rico and how much fun we had. How much fun gradma made it for us. When we moved to PA, we lived in the city and we vowed we were move to out of the city. We live in a small town, I have a small yard, and we are thinking of moving further away in a few years. Like your babies, I remember how free we were growing up in the country. I love this post. Thank you for sharing.

    • Laurie says:

      Wow, Brit!! Sounds like a super fun time!! I’m so glad you have great memories of your farm life. It makes me all the more glad we’re doing the same for our kids. 🙂

  10. Amy says:

    Good luck with the weight loss!!

    I’m definitely guilty of romanticizing homesteading. It’s good to be reminded that, like everything else, it has both pros and cons.

  11. Great pictures. I never doubted for a second it’s both hard work and also very rewarding. It seems there is a tradeoff for everything right. My life is a lot easier, however I have planes going overhead and live practically in my neighbor’s lap. Even when I go home to visit my parents in suburban Detroit it sounds like the country to me. I can’t sleep because it’s too quiet. I guess we pick the best thing for us at the time. Good luck with the weight loss. I know it can be a struggle…for me it’s food. It’s especially hard this time of year I think because of all the BBQ’s and the other festivities!

    • Laurie says:

      Funny about not being able to sleep because of the quiet. 🙂 And I think you’re right: we have to pick what’s best for us at the time. I have friends who think we’re crazy to be out here, as they just love the city.

  12. My blogger mate Karen at Lil Suburban Homestead works her tail off with her family to keep the place going. It’s a never-ending job but one that they take so much pride in. I love the recipes, the gardens and hearing about the unique ways they create uses for things that some of us would never have dreamed. We live in the city but certainly have lots of respect for those that homestead.

  13. I’m really glad you posted this, Laurie. I have been considering homesteading for a while now, and I needed to read an honest viewpoint of it! It sounds like all the hard work is absolutely outweighed by the benefits. 🙂

    Good luck on the weight loss! Maybe we should start an inter-blog support group? I have a good 20-25 I’d like to lose myself…

    • Laurie says:

      Alexandra, that’s great that you are considering homesteading! Yes, for us, the benefits outweigh the work, but I wonder if we’ll feel that way in a decade, you know? YES, I love the idea of an inter-blog support group!! Let’s think on that.

  14. I really like hearing these details about different ways of approaching life, Laurie, so thanks for sharing. I’m sure the work is preposterously hard, at least compared to my “city living”, but I’m so glad you said that the benefits outweigh the extra effort. I feel like there’s some lesson to life in there…like we need to work hard for us to really appreciate the benefits.

    • Laurie says:

      Yeah, it’s SO much work, but it is wonderful to live out here and do all of this stuff for ourselves. So true about the lessons, too: always something we’re learning out here. 🙂

  15. Ugh, I hear you about the extra weight. I’ve had a few extra pounds on for a while and it is SO HARD to get rid of them. My metabolism definitely slowed down when I turned 34.

  16. I have to say I agree with every thing you’ve mentioned! Since starting our homestead, I’ve gained a vastly different view of the world, something that takes us away from mainstream society and into a life more fulfilling, more difficult, more tiring and more wonderful than anything I have experienced.

    • Laurie says:

      Ha – glad to hear you’ve found a similar experience, Alicia! It’s amazing how something can be so fulfilling and so exhausting at the same time. 🙂

  17. I’m not a homestead-er (yet) but I do understand the things you are talking about. I didn’t grow up as a homesteader, so can’t relate to the giant garden, but I did grow up on a farm and it is a lot more work than people realize. But, like you said, there are so many rewards and benefits that people don’t realize until or unless they’ve been there and done that themselves too. Truly a mixed bag. Hope you are all doing well!

  18. Good luck with your weight loss, Laurie. You can do it! Wow, I had no idea how much work was involved in homesteading. I knew it was hard, but dang! 5-7 hours to the mow the lawn? There is something to say for convenience, but also something so rewarding about doing it yourself as you said.

  19. Good luck with the weight loss. It’s definitely a pain – I’ve been trying to just loose 15 pounds all year with very up and down success.

    You actually make homesteading sound incredibly rewarding and worth all the work, but I appreciate that you don’t sugar coat it. I still think it might be something I’d like to do one day.

    • Laurie says:

      Oh, we do indeed love it, but I just really wanted everyone to know how much darn work it is, so they don’t buy farms and say “That da_n Laurie: she made it sound so fun!!” 🙂 For instance, we’ll be spending most of Saturday chopping, splitting and stacking wood for the winter. LOTS of work, but we’ll be so very glad we did it once winter comes. Best of luck on your weight loss efforts too!

  20. I hear you my friend! I try not to think about my weight that much but lately my shorts are so tight I’ve been wearing stretchy dresses to compensate. I hopped on the scale the other day and was shocked (sort of) and horrified. I really need to start making better food choices and working out harder.

    The country life seems so ideal (in theory), but I know in practice I’d last about a week (if I was lucky) doing all the things you do. My hat’s off to you!

    • Laurie says:

      SO many bloggers seem to be dealing with weight stuff lately: what is that all about? I’ve had a fairly good week so far food-wise, let’s hope I’ll keep it up. 😉

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