Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dealing with Disappointment in Homesteading

If you've been homesteading for even a week, you know things don't always turn out like you hoped! Crops fail, animals get ill or injured, building projects don't come out like expected, canning lids sometimes don't seal, and so on, and so on...

{Photo Credit: JJSchad}

It's understandable that a person might get discouraged and decide to quit altogether. But before you do, I want to encourage you to rethink abandoning ship when things don't go smoothly and are less than ideal!

It's really true that we learn by our mistakes, and homesteading is no exception. Only the difference may be in the amount of blood, sweat, and tears, you pour into your homestead. Making notes in your cookbooks, keeping a gardening journal, or even animal records can help you think through what went wrong and remind you later when you're refreshed and ready to try again. We think we'll remember, but time has a way of blurring the lines of bad memories. You might know that something went wrong with your potato crop two years ago, but the specifics will most likely be vague and you could be doomed to repeat the same mistake!

This year I had big plans for taking my garden to the next level, which for me would be 'year round' gardening. My hope was to get a hoop house constructed during the summer and fall crops in the ground for a continuous harvest. Didn't happen.

Several things contributed to this so called 'failure', including too many projects piled on my dear husband, coveys of quail that feasted on seeds and seedlings, and a lack of some supplies I needed to get the job done. Oh, and the fact that a lot of the garden was under construction. One of those extra projects was a drip system for the garden, so I certainly can't complain! In fact, it's a joy that this system is going in! Gardening in the Southwest is challenging when water is so scarce and there is no such thing as depending on rainfall. None. Zero. Zip. So I spend plenty of time out in the garden just watering. That's all about to change!

And by the way... don't think for a minute that was the only thing that didn't go according to my plans this summer! I'm just choosing not to focus on the negatives that much. Learn from them yes, dwell on them, no.

Homesteading and living close to the land is like seeing LIFE close up and personal. It just isn't a neat tidy package all the time. And just when things do seem to be going smoothly, a bump in the road appears out of nowhere. It's all part of God's plan to refine us and keep us humble and dependent on Him. And He doesn't do it to thwart us or to be domineering. He does it because of His great love for us. He desires for us to be Christ-like and knows that when we stray too far from Him, things are actually a whole lot worse. 

{Photo Credit: justmakeit}

Tips For Dealing With Disappointment in Homesteading

• Know for certain that everyone has had challenges! You are not alone. And the gal on the blog with the beautiful pictures? Well, you're just not always seeing the whole story.
• Find a friend or community of like-minded homesteaders who you can discuss challenges with on a regular basis. It's a great way to encourage and learn from one another.
• Ask someone who has a skill you need to learn to be your mentor for a season or two. 
• Join a club. If you keep bees, join an Apiary club. Gardening? A gardening club. 
• If you live where it's really remote, or you can't get out a lot, try an on-line forum, like the Homestead Revival™ Community Forum. Often you can make a friend and plenty of different advice from people who have made the same mistakes and recovered from them. Just be careful to guard yourself from forums that might be overly negative or crude.
• Start small when venturing into a new area of homesteading and don't spend too much money up front (and use only cash!). Expensive ventures can add a lot of undue stress and cause us to feel even more defeated if something doesn't go right.
• Get to the bottom of what went wrong. If you don't know, seek some counsel to find out. Make those notes detailed enough so that you'll know what you don't want to do next time around! 
• Consider the opportunity God is providing for you to learn perseverance and patience! And wisdom doesn't just happen (unless you're King Solomon). It's gained by experience; both the pleasant and the not-so-pleasant; through successes, but most certainly from failures! It's up to us if we're going to learn from them.
• Keep a running list of things that did go right for you during the year; new skills you learned; books you read; projects completed; produce harvested, etc. Just think of it as a "Grateful List". When you're feeling a bit defeated, read through your list and remind yourself just how far you've already come!

"Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial..." James 1:12


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