Older-Newbie Homesteaders: Why Not?
Actually, no one has said we old homesteaders wouldn't make it. At least not out loud. If you asked someone directly, they'd very likely chuckle in disbelief and shake their heads. "Those folks don't know what they are getting into." Well, we never have. Nowhere in all the homesteader literature, books, blogs, podcasts, videos and what have you is there advice directed at the elder homesteader.
Most of it is written by old homesteaders, but the emphasis is on young people starting up a homestead farm. As it should be, of course! We 50+ foodies -- homesteading or not -- can always step up encouraging and nourishing today's young farmers. If we are going to save our farms, food and planet, it is up to them to learn to farm efficiently, to rebuild the soil, to leave the earth in better shape than we did.
Let's face it: America needs fewer art history experts, fewer stock brokers, way fewer lawyers, way fewer bankers and way way waaay fewer lifetime politicians.
So, just to be clear, all that info and advice directed at young homesteaders is very much needed and wanted. Desperately so. In fact, we read it all!
It's just that there are people like DH and me who are starting a tad late. Heck, we married late, became parents late... age has never been a barrier. We are homesteading late. Yep, these two lifelong city slickers are now raising chickens, layers and broilers. Starting a garden, buying a tractor, building a house, pumping water from a well, installing bee hives... maybe growing hemp. There is a brand new world out here in the boonies!
Age is somewhat a barrier now, however. Our bodies, able as they are, have limitations now. There are special challenges for the elder homesteader. For instance, lifting and carrying heavy stuff. Homesteading life is chock full of heavy stuff needing to be transported from here to there. (Warning: expect detailed explanations on how to lift heavy things without touching them, which I expect will become my specialty in short order!)
Here's the puzzling thing about being an elder-newbie homesteader:
If we were young, would we be doing this? Probably not because, way back when we were young, having money and prestige was higher on the priority scale than it is now. In fact, we might've been chucklers and shakers.
If we were as rich now as we were then, would we have chosen a pink trailer far from the madding crowd in BFE? I kinda doubt it. Here's the funny thing: we sure do love where we ended up. Talk about lucky.
Looking back, my path has never been laid out very precisely. And it's certainly rarely gone according to plan. Here's how my plans usually unfold:
1. Get an idea.
2. Pursue it. Knock on that door as hard as I can.
3. While I'm knocking, life happens. It's usually chaotic, which is my personal M.O.
4. While I'm knocking, a little window opens behind me. I ignore it.
5. I keep knocking. I investigate every single way "my" door can be opened. Meanwhile, a constant wind blows in that window.
6. I don't close the window because... well... just in case. But I am 100% certain that is not my window.
7. More life. Now I'm ignoring that window as hard as I can and taking a sledgehammer to the door.
8. A massive hurricane comes along and blows me ass first through the little window.
Fortunately, I manage to bring along the sledgehammer. Just in case, ya know?
Aaaaaaand, here we are :) Looking ahead, here's how I'm pretty sure our new life will unfold:
No windows behind me. At least that I have noticed.
Last night I was sitting out in the woods next to the chicken coop wondering how it would feel to have lived in the same place for
30 40 years. I'll be 99. It's a curious ponderance.
How do your plans unfold? Please share your process so I'll know I'm not completely nuts.