Thursday, July 18, 2013

Working With What You've Got (Homesteader Edition)

The concept of *Working with what you’ve got* comes into play as a military spouse and as a homesteader.  Most recently, I have had to put this into play as a homesteader.  My duck pen was made with pallets a friend of mine had laying around her farm, my round pen and pony pasture were built with fencing I took down when rebuilding the large horse pasture, and all sorts of bits of my homestead are held together with bailing twine.  Being resourceful is an underrated skill that I believe everyone should possess.

As homesteaders, we pride ourselves on our ability to do amazing things with very little.  We build barns and pastures out of scrap wood and twine.  We concoct cleaning supplies, medication, and sometimes food out of plants growing in the back field.  We patch our wounded animals with rags and left over diapers.  The list goes on and on.  When things around the house break, we make do.  When Mother Nature refuses to cooperate, we work around her attitude.  Areas with high drought seasons collect rain water (where allowed), plant crops and raise animals that strive in dryer climates.  For me, it has been raining so much that I have not been able to mow my back yard.  Now that it is actually dry, the grass is to long/thick for my poor sad little mower.  My solution was to put up makeshift fencing and allowing one of my horses to eat the grass down.  I kill two birds with one stone.  The grass is getting cut and my horse is being fed.  

Very few of us can afford to purchase that elusive *Perfect Piece of Paradise *.  There is a lot we compromise to get started on making our dreams a reality.  When we first step on to a potential property the squirrels get to running and we think up ways to use every inch of our little hunk of earth.  Where will the barn go?  How can I configure pastures to optimize my space?  Where will my garden thrive?  What the heck am I going to do with that swampy area in the back corner?  All these questions start running through our heads and we just can’t wait to get started.  Of course, nothing goes as smoothly or as quickly as we originally planned, but we always make do.  Our garden starts smaller than we would like, our pastures go up one at a time and our outbuildings often go up in stages.  But when everything is said and done, we have that amazing sense of accomplishment from building our own little homestead.  

When I purchased my property, it came with a 6+ acre Christmas Tree farm.  Sadly, the trees are all over 25 years old and way too large/unmaintained to be sold as household decoration.  So what am I to do with all that space?  I don’t have the time, money, or resources to take them all out and I can’t imagine tearing up such beautiful trees.  So I plan on building my Cross Country jump course in that area.  I have an unfortunately placed hill just behind a low spot, so (hopefully befor this coming winter) I will level the hill and fill the low area with the earth taken off the top.  I, like many others, have found ways to work with the property I have.  

I love my farm and I am so happy to have fallen on this wonderful property.  I must admit it is far from perfect, but I enjoy thinking of the best ways to use every inch of what God has given me.  Like so many homesteaders, building everything from the ground up is half the fun.  Making the most out of what we have is a skill we pass down to our children and them to their children and so on.  We each accomplish so much and sharing that with others is one of our greatest rewards. 

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