Aging Gracefully on the Homestead

Our readers have worked hard to build their homesteads, so why retire to the city? Here are some ways they’ve been able to stay on the farm.

| February/March 2017

From stiff joints and mild inflammation to full-blown debilitation, life can take its toll. In my case, I’m reminded every morning as I hobble out of bed of the brake drum that fell on my ankle, while still attached to the vehicle it belonged to, roughly 40 years ago. In my 60 years, I’ve found some smart — and some less-smart — ways to keep on keeping on, but one thing’s for sure: I look for ways to work smarter so I can still do what needs to be done. Several issues ago, we heard from folks looking for tips on how to stay on the homestead, even with a serious hitch in their get-along, and we’ve compiled many of the fantastic tips you all submitted, right here!

—Hank Will, Editorial Director 

Ways to Cope

Homesteading presents more challenges each year. Here are some ways I cope:

Gardening. Because I have trouble bending to harvest, I use “salad bars”. Yes, they’re small, but they provide plenty of greens for two or three people. I use three: two shallow “bars” and one that’s 15 inches deep. While I purchased mine from and Costco, they could easily be constructed from scrap lumber.

I use raised beds for most vegetables so I don’t have to till. I weed only at the beginning of the season and apply some compost. I’ve tracked my garden produce for three years, and the yields haven’t decreased enough to warrant constant weeding. (I’d like to see actual statistics on the value of a weed-free garden. I mean, I know mine is ugly, but the food seems just as good.)

Deep digging is a challenge, even in my raised beds. For the past two years, I’ve been using grow bags for potatoes. While I can’t raise a huge crop this way, I get some delicious potatoes with no pain at harvest time. (With a heavy-duty sewing machine, you can make your own grow bags from water-permeable weed-barrier fabric.)

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