Ever wondered if life as a homesteader is all it's cracked up to be? Ever wish someone would just sit down and tell you all about it? Hi, I'm Amy Dingmann from afarmishkindoflife.com, and life on our 5-acre Minnesota homestead keeps me busy. Come hang out with me while I share a real and hilariously truthful look at what it's really like to live a farmish kind of life.
159: The Truth about Growing Your Own Food
Honest talk about growing and raising your own food, as well as a caution to the homesteading community about pride.
158: Mouth Noises and Pathetic Plants: Two Random Lessons from the Homestead
Today I've got two random lessons that I've learned on the homestead lately that I thought maybe you could learn something from, too. One was brought on by a ridiculous task I've taken on in my office—one that was supposed to be easy. The other is something I learned while checking out my struggling garden.
157: Stages of Homesteading
Stages of life affect stages of homesteading and we sometimes forget to think about that as we look into the future—at least I know I have. This has been on my mind a lot lately as we have reached a point at our house where there are a lot of changes that I didn't realize would affect our homesteading so much.
There are many stages to homesteading
What happens when you were a childless homesteader and now you have twin babies and you’re freaking out because what you used to just walk outside and take care of you can’t just walk outside and take care of anymore?
Changes, my friends.
What happens when your kids grow up and get jobs of their own, and your big butcher day that used to be "easy" isn't easy anymore because everyone is busy and schedules are complicated?
So many changes.
What if you are super involved in something outside of your farm life, and that something suddenly dictates what animals you can handle on your farm, or what month those animals can arrive at your farm (which ultimately changes other things in your schedule, like when they are butchered)?
All. the. changes. Some of them are temporary, and some are permanent. The point is that your life will change, and you will also change as a homesteader.
What you can physically handle changes
I’m healthy and I’m physical but I’m gonna tell you what, sometimes I’m gonna use that side by side ranger to do a job that I would have walked across the farm to do before. Because I’m not 30 anymore and sometimes it’s just nice to get a break.
I hear my dad talk about this, about wishing he could do the things that he could do when he was younger and how it frustrates him. Sometimes there are things that take you longer, wear you out more. Sometimes there are things you have to ask for help with that you used to do alone in half the time. Sometimes there are things you just have to admit you can't do anymore, or shouldn't do anymore, or have to really modify the way you do them.
And all of that affects your life as a homesteader.
The way you start isn't necessarily the way you continue
The way you start your farmish life is not necessarily the way you continue your farmish life. The animals you have, the size of the garden, the things you take on will differ. There are things that will become easier… but you might exchange them for other difficulties or challenges. For instance, you've got to figure out how to modify all that cooking and baking you used to do and how much you have to make. The way I cook and bake has started to change because I never know who is going to be here or if they will have eaten before they come home.
Will my husband and I continue to raise as many pigs, chickens, and ducks after our kids are out of the house or will we cut our numbers? Will we continue to raise the same amount to provide for our family (even though they don't live in the same house) but then ask someone else to process for us because the job will get too big to do alone and too complicated to find help for?
I don't think we will know until we get to that stage of homesteading.
Kids getting older of moving out certainly frees up certain things for you, but you also lose some of the help you had (or the convenience of help you had). Kind of like the funny meme I saw the other day that said I thought sending my kids to summer camp would be a break for me—until I realized I had to do all their chores while they were gone.
Then again some people actually grow their farm after their kids get older or move out because they aren’t run...
156: Why We No Longer Raise Goats
When we first moved to our farm in 2011, the one animal that I insisted we get was goats. We started with two male goats (Willy and Waylon) and then added three female goats (Luna, Pickles, and Olive.) Then we bred the gals and got babies. But after having goats for a few years, we ultimately decided goats weren't for us. I am often asked about why that was, so here are the reasons we no longer raise goats.
And none of the reasons are even because goats are often described as "unruly toddlers" or "drunk teenagers". ;)
Milking actually does control your schedule:
It's one thing to know in your head that having a doe in milk means you will be milking and that you have to milk everyday at about the same time. It's another thing entirely to actually live that. You can't drop what you're doing and run off to that thing you just got invited to. You can't run super late at an event with the kids. You really have to pay attention to what you're involved in outside the farm and make sure it works with milking.
No one was drinking the milk:
In the beginning, milking was a "thing" and it was "cool". We had milk from our goats in the fridge. Ain't that cool? Not if no one drinks it. While my husband and I have never been huge milk drinkers, my kids were. Until they weren't. And then I had a lot of milk in my fridge.
Goat milk soap sounded like a real great adventure to get into. Until I realized that likeliness of me fitting that in was similar to the likelihood of me finishing that one quilt I have in the basement...
We don't make our own hay:
We don't make our own hay at our farm which meant we had to buy it. And wouldn't you know it, the final year we had goats was the year hay prices went through the roof.
That's fine, goat friends. Just go ahead and toss that hay all over the ground. It's fine. Really.
Babies are stressful:
While I've always enjoyed hatching out chicks, pheasants, and ducklings, larger livestock babies ended up being a ball of stress for me. (This was similar to the reason we stopped doing piglets and now only do feeder pigs.) Some people enjoy the "rush" and stress of kidding season. I discovered I didn't, regardless of how adorable those kids ended up to be.
Selling/finding new homes for babies was a pain:
Wanting milk from goats meant having babies, and having babies meant selling babies. Selling babies meant dealing with people coming to our farm. That sounded like a lot less hassle on paper than it ended up being in real life. In our search for new homes for goat kids, we dealt with all sorts of people—from multiple no-shows, to the guy who insisted you can't have a male dairy breed goat because you can't milk males, to the woman who showed up alone to take three goat kids in her car... with nowhere to put them. They'll just stay in the backseat, right?
I'm more of a small farm animal/don't overwinter gal.
Every homesteader is different, and you don't know what kind of homesteader you really are until you actually live the homesteading life. After being on the farm for a decade now, I've realized that smaller animals are my thing. I've also learned I'm not big on overwintering in Minnesota. We do overwinter our egg birds and our ducks, but everything else is put in the freezer before the snow flies and we start again in the spring (pigs, meat chickens, and turkeys).
I'm glad we tried goats, because you really don't know if an animal works for you until you try them out!
155: Don’t Get Stuck
Thoughts on the importance of finding the line between being comfortable and being stuck.
154: Now I Get It
Deep thoughts on a certain something we hear from our parents that we don't understand until we have kids of our own.
Right on Target
This lady is right on target with her ideas, information, thoughts and comments. A great source for information for homesteading and life. She is her OWN person with her OWN thoughts and not afraid to voice them. She doesn’t bow under pressure! Listen, think and do!
WOW - great podcast!
I so appreciate Amy’s outlook on life. She’s accepting of others and shares inspirational tips on how to do this homestead life. I always look forward to listening to Amy’s podcast.