When you feel like a Failure as a Homesteader
Failure is such a harsh word, isn’t it? But, sometimes it feels like we are failures at this whole homesteading thing. Just this past year we have struggled with:
- A garden that was, shall we say, severely lacking in real vegetable growth.
- Losing most of our outdoor animals. We lost our ducks and then most of our chickens (I guess I forgot to write about that here, but we only have 2 left).
- I tried learning about how to make and keep sourdough bread and that was an epic failure.
- My attempts to gather and can and store produce were abysmal.
- Our new apple trees in our “food forest” were ravaged by deer.
- And lets face it, my attempts to keep you all updated and encouraged and inspired via this blog were pretty sad.
But one of the joys of homesteading, I believe, is that nothing is ever really a failure for long. Every single year is different. The lovely blanket of snow we enjoy here from November to March is like a big eraser swiping over the garden and encouraging us to start again. January and February are for poring over gardening and farming books and seed catalogues and watching videos for inspiration and drawing up new garden plans.
- My Favorite Homesteading/Farming/Gardening Books
- Designing Your Garden – What Makes a Good Garden?
- 8 Ideas to Make Your Homestead More Sustainable
- Ideas to Start a Homestead (For Cheap or Free)
Mourning and moving on
Mourning the loss of something or a failure is pretty important. It is important to be sad and disappointed in those things but it is also very important to get past the mourning and move on. Although we will mourn the loss of our ducks and chickens, we can learn from our experiences and figure out what we can do to prevent certain things (like bobcat attacks for instance) from happening again. We can work on more secure housing, more secure fencing and more patience in achieving those things before acquiring more animals.
Keep Trying a Skill Several Times Before Giving Up
I have to keep in mind that just because I tried sourdough once, doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it just means I need to try again. Maybe I need to take a class or read a book or get someone who is really great at it to teach me. And hey, if I really suck at the whole sourdough thing, maybe it’s just not my “thing” and I should leave that up to the amazing bakery just down the street and try something new. Maybe this year it will be kombucha or crochet (I’m going to check out this eGuide: The Beginners Guide to Crochet) or making cheese or one of the many “hobbies” us homesteaders dabble in.
I can look back at my attempts to gather and glean and “put up” and realize my biggest enemy this past year in getting those things done, is a lack of time and a lack of organization. I was trying to do too many things all at once last August, September, and October and therefore lacked the time to do the canning and dehydrating I wanted to do. Therefore, I need to look forward to this years calendar and work on NOT planning anything major in those months.
Talk to Homesteading Friends and Neighbors
I had been feeling really guilty about our homestead failures but, a huge factor in getting over the guilt and feeling of failure is talking with friends and family who are homesteaders, gardeners and farmers and commiserating together on the generally crappy year it was for certain plants and how the deer population was crazy and got into everything.
Or I sometimes also go to some of my favorite homesteading blogs and read about their failures as well. For example, I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Reformation Acres the other day, and although I think of Quinn as being pretty close to the “perfect homesteader” (you know, those ones who cook everything from scratch, who live in a perfect farmhouse with a pantry and root cellar and greenhouse, while maintaining a perfect garden, while homeschooling her kids and line drying all her clothes; while butchering all their own meat and using every bit of it from tip to tail) no one is perfect and she is open and honest about that in two of my favorite posts (Starting from Scratch & The One Reason Why we are not turning our Homestead into a Small Farm).
So, what is my best advice for overcoming failure as a homesteader?
Keep hoping and trying. Don’t give up on your dream of being a homesteader just because you have one bad day or a bad month or even a bad year. Hope and planning and adjustments and putting it all down as a learning experience.
And be grateful that we are lucky to have grocery stores and friends who have great gardens and skills. Hopefully they are willing to share and teach so that we may get better every day, every month, every year.
What do you do when you feel like a failure? Make sure you share with us in the comments so we can all commiserate together!