Balancing Demands On and Off the Homestead

Reader Contribution by Bethann Weick

The last couple of weeks have been stuffed to the brim with obligations away from our homestead.  Long days of work away from home, friends’ weddings, family get-togethers, board meetings and committee work: mornings have started early and evenings have ended late.  Weekends and weekdays have blurred together in a haze of Things-That-Must-Be-Done.

Consequently, my time in our garden has been pinched.  A hurried jaunt through the beds and between the rows fills our plates for each meal; a few hours are found once a week to preserve the bounty of produce we can’t keep up with such as string beans, peas, zucchini, summer squash, broccoli, cucumbers, and kale.  The early turnips and cabbage are poised to overtake us as well, not to mention the blueberries, raspberries, golden raspberries, and blackberries.  Herbs such as mint, lemon  balm, catmint, lavender, and calendula, too, are hung to dry in spare moments, alongside lupine seed being dried high on our shelves.  Echinacea, cleome, nasturtium, chamomile, and monarda are putting out new blooms by the day, while an assortment of sunflowers and gladiolas are readying themselves to open to the sunlight that has been nurturing them all season.

And yet, that’s about as much as I can say.  The nuances of carrot growth, or why the first row of onion tops are falling over, or how far the winter squash meanders each day in it’s goal to overtake the compost pile, or what time the bees arrive on the thyme flowers…these are details I’ve missed seeing over these hectic days.  And it’s something else: the peace of mind that comes with time to share a meal, listen to the river, and converse as the sun sets low.  

Ryan and I – no doubt like so many of you reading this – are continually striving for the balance between home and away-from-home.  Sometimes we get it right, sometimes things happen, and sometimes everything happens at once.  

And in homesteading as we do, there’s a few extra difficulties thrown in.  We can’t drink if we haven’t hauled the water, we can’t cook if we haven’t gathered wood (dry wood), we can’t get “clean” if there’s no time for a walk to the swim hole, and we can’t communicate with friends, clients, and organization unless we’ve been elsewhere to use a computer or phone.  These facts are blessings, and choices we reaffirm each day, but also challenges.  We are trying to cultivate not just food and fuel, but a life based on and in our home and homescape.  And so we breathe a deep breath when we arrive home to our clearing in the woods, renew our commitment to a sane pace and purpose, and work towards keeping ourselves laboring at home: for ourselves, our projects, and our dreams, as much as the rest of life’s needs can allow. We love it here. 

Garden work is my specialty!  Weeding, planting, mulching and pruning services available, plus edible landscapes and garden designs.  Contact Beth via for your annual, perennial, herbal, or ornamental garden needs (see Business Directory listing under ‘Garden Design & Services’).