As the boisterous summer season is replaced by the contemplative calm of fall, I cannot help but take stock of my progress in this homesteading adventure, and unfortunately I’m not entirely pleased. It’s true that, from spring to fall of this year, with the immeasurable help of my Ranch community, I have accomplished the following:
- Rebuilt the crumbling chicken coop and goat pen into a cozy and functional (not to mention lovely) shelter
- Increased my flock to five hens
- Brought in three wonderful Nigerian Dwarf goats to start the Henge and Hollow herd
- Prepped, planted, and harvested my first big vegetable garden
- Explored my property on horseback for the first time in 20 years or so
- Established my first colony of honeybees
- Built a patio and bee garden at the back of the house
- Threw a huge party
- Put away 6 pints of peach jam; 14 packages of pesto; 16 cubes of tomato paste; two jars of pickles; one pint of peach shrub; two cups of sundried tomatoes in olive oil; 1/2 pound of dried peaches; and one quart of jalapeno pepper sauce
- Replaced all the rotten trim on the house
- Hauled two truckloads of firewood out of the forest
- Fell madly in love with the most wonderful guy I’ve ever met
I guess you could say that’s not a bad 6 months for a single girl going back to back to the land. For sure, some of this stuff is magical and there’s no denying it. Still, there is so much more to do. The new hens haven’t started laying and are just three more mouths to feed, there’s the kidding shed and milking parlor to be built and no money to build it, the doe has yet to be bred, my garden was something of a disappointment and all I can see is pile of work ahead of me tearing it all out and getting the winter garden in, the apple, olive, and grape vine all produced nothing but shriveled useless little fruits, I will be going a full year as a beekeeper without tasting any honey (if I’m lucky and they even survive the winter), my horse needs shoes and I can’t afford it right now, the back patio project is being overrun with weeds and I can’t keep up, my summer exercise regimen fell to the wayside before it even started, my fella is about to head out for six months of work somewhere far away from me, and we still have to paint the house and split the wood ahead of what they’re saying is going to be a very wet season.
Not to mention all the wild plans for an aquaponics system, broiler chicken tractor, cheese cave, and greenhouse up and running for next season! Holy mole!
So much for the gentle paced life of a country mouse. I seem to have replaced the striving and grasping of city life with an equally frantic list of impossible homesteading goals. What gives?
What is definitely true is that winter brings new priorities. The bustle of warm weather tasks must be set aside for now. They can wait. Life will slow down, become more methodical. Keep the fires going, keep the soup hot. As the rain begins to fall I will learn a new meditation: appreciate what I have, be at peace with how things are. Take comfort in a pair of wool socks. The aroma of damp leaves and warm bread. My ambition will rest underground with the bulbs, and come up again in spring.