Ever wondered what it takes to be a homesteader? Homesteading is not for the faint of heart, it takes hard work, diligence, sweat and even tears. It’s not all hard labor though, a lot of homesteading involves great compassion and a love for the earth and creatures around you. Keep reading to see if you’re made up of these 5 homesteading characteristics. As told by our favorite farm girls, who also happens to be our resident Homsteader…
5 Homesteading Characteristics Every Tried & True Homesteader Has
Farming, like most things, looks great on paper. But when it comes right down to the nitty-gritty of actually doing it yourself, you may have some misgivings. Sure, you like nature and animals and spending time outside, and you’ve been told you have a green thumb when it comes to plants, and you really value the idea of living sustainably—but do you really have what it takes?
As a farm girl who has had my share of both wins and losses, I have identified some of the traits which have put me on the right road and helped me keep it between the lines. Out of those characteristics, here are five words that most often describe successful farm girls, or in this case, homesteaders.
1. Homesteader’s Are Resilient
A farm girl can work hard all day on farm chores and lose it all to windstorms, spilled milk buckets, pig fence breaches, or Japanese beetles—and still, get up and do it again the next day. She tenderly scoops up the tiny quintuplet goat kids and carries them into the house where she sets them up in front of the wood stove and spends all night tending them. And after feeding them every hour using a tiny makeshift feeder rigged from an eye dropper and the weakest to die anyway, she grieves, but somehow finds the strength to nurse the other three to health.
A farm girl can strap on a headlamp and harvest vegetables until the wee hours of the morning when a sudden last-minute turn in the forecast calls for a killing frost. She can somehow summon the energy to troubleshoot what went wrong with the last batch of tomatoes when three of the canning jar lids did not seal, and resolve to do it again and do it better.
Resilience is defined as that which is able to recover from difficult conditions. In short, it is about bouncing back. But farm girls are psychologically resilient as well, adapting to stress and adversity. That which does not kill her makes her a better farm girl.
2. Homesteader’s Are Positive
Most farmers are hopelessly optimistic. You know that old saying about how continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of crazy? That is what farm girls do each day, and the saying is probably right. It is a little crazy to cling to the belief that next lambing season will be better, or the next garden will yield a better crop, or there will be more time to get the hay put up ahead of time next year. But farm girls do not just keep blindly throwing ourselves at a doomed scenario. Instead, they tweak it a little each time, fully confident that they will eventually get the right combination. They try changing up fall breeding schedules for better timing of spring births, or vegetable varieties more compatible with our particular micro-climate, or delegating some responsibilities at a haying time.
From one farm girl to another, let me assure you—take heart! Stuff works out.
3. Homesteader’s Are Resourceful
No curb alerts posted online or piles of junk out at the end of the driveway go unnoticed by farm girls. They are constantly on the lookout for cheap stuff for all manner of projects. A walk through the big box do-it-yourself store fills the heads of farm girls with musings of now what can I potentially do, make, fix, save, alter, or create with that?
They are resourceful in other ways, too. When one phone call ends in “sorry, none available,” and the next one is “no, we can’t do that,” a farm girl keeps trying until she gets a “sure!”
And when a crucial farm component breaks three days before payday, farm girls find a way to jeri-rig it together with whatever they have on hand. In the hands of a resourceful farm girl,
gear ties, carabiners, used hay rope, broken shirt hangers, clay pots, leftover buckets, scraps of
wire and fencing, bits of lumber, and mismatched shoelaces all end up doing the kind of duties their makers never dreamed of.
Do these signs sound familiar? Click To Read “You Know You’re A Farm Girl When…”
4. Homesteader’s Are Brave
To be clear, bravery is not about being without fear. Bravery is about acknowledging fear and doing it anyway. A farm girl walks across a field even though she is afraid of snakes or ventures into the edge of the forest at dusk when a calf is missing. She dares to try backing up the utility trailer when there is nobody else around to do it and it has to be done. She reads the directions on the pressure canner and fills it full of jars of green beans even though she has heard horror stories about pressure canning explosions. She steadies the gun barrel and pulls the trigger when there is no other option, knowing it is up to her to save her livestock from predation.
But it is more than physical bravery. Being “farm girl brave” means to dare to try it at all—to leap in head first and invest time and money and heart and soul into farming.
5. Homesteader’s Are Realistic
Plants don’t always come up in neat little rows and rarely reach maturity in the exact number of days it said on the seed packet. Some kidding seasons yield nothing but bucklings, which are worth less money and harder to sell, from all eight of a farm girl’s prized does.
Sometimes everyone needs to swallow a good strong dose of reality and accept the fact that the best case scenario is less likely to happen than the worst one.
Being realistic is not about being negative or defeated. It is simply being better prepared. For example, if a farm girl estimates she will need between seven and ten bales of hay a week, to get through a season of 26 weeks, she counts on a reality of around 300 bales total. Maybe math defies reality, or maybe math defines it. Either way, a farm girl needs to take intentional steps to ensure that she and reality are on the same side for a guaranteed win.
If all of these attributes do not sound quite like you, do not despair. Nobody is all of these things all of the time. Some of us occasionally find ourselves devoid of any of these traits. Remember, the very nature of farming is about growing things, not the least of which is our own skills and attitudes. If you have chosen the farming life, you can choose to embrace the characteristics of success. Just dig in, keep your chin up, and be proud to be a farm girl.
This is a spinoff from the series – You Know You’re A Farm Girl When… Check to see if you align with these signs!
Do you have these traits? Are you a true farm girl? A true homesteader? Let us know in the comment section below.
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