Solemn Confession of a Rookie Off-Grid Homesteader

Reader Contribution by Alyssa Craft
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When we first embarked on our journey of buying land and starting an off grid homestead, we dreamed up all sorts of elaborate plans. We were to arrive on our property in early September in a small travel trailer and build an enclosed barn by the time the first snowflakes flew. The following spring we would build a small apartment in the loft of the barn that we could live in while we built our actual home. This all was going to be done on a dime and debt-free as we planned to mill our own lumber and find both second hand and reclaimed building materials.

Not only were we going to be living in our low-cost barn built with our own bare hands by the following spring, but we were going to do that while running an online business, installing a septic system, and learning invaluable skills that we would need to develop our property.

Fast forward six months and we are just coming out of our first winter on our homestead. Because we were so busy the first, second and third months on our property, all we managed to do before winter was get up a primitive shelter for our travel trailer. After we were dried in for the winter, we had to turn all focus to our online business for the next three months. So here we stand, nowhere near started on our barn!

It seems that the worst of winter is over and that spring has decided to make an early appearance. Even though it’s finally warm enough to start making serious progress on our property and our timber frame barn, the truth is that we are completely exhausted and burned out.

Having Realistic Expectations

We realize that we came into this homesteading project with far too ambitious expectations and that we are only human. Instead of feeling rested enough to take on such a lofty project, we are mentally drained from working on our business for three months straight (with eating and sleeping breaks only), our tools need TLC, and we feel that we are spread very thin among the various projects we wish to get done this year.

In the past couple of weeks, we’ve had to admit to ourselves that we need to slow down. We’ve had to remind ourselves that we aren’t superheroes and we simply can’t get everything done that we want to get done on our property within a single year… it could take five to ten years! This is a very hard swill for overachievers and workaholics such as ourselves to swallow.

Remembering Why We Are On This Journey

We have had many heart-to-hearts over the past couple weeks on why we decided to start an off grid homestead in the first place. Some of the reasons were that we wanted to live a slower-paced life, not be tied up in the rat race, have the freedom to use our time to learn the skills to build our home rather than our wallets, and enjoy life a bit more than when we were stuck living in the city.

While we have fears like the next person about not having a better roof over our heads, having more water storage on our property or having a garden that supplies a small village with enough food, we have accepted that we can only move so fast and if we push harder than our bodies are capable of, it could have some tragic consequences and even slow us down.

Going Forward with Positivity and Acceptance

Going forward in 2016, we are more optimistic than ever, but have decided that we need to be kind to ourselves and cut ourselves some slack. It is not our nature to sit back and be lazy. We are extremely hard workers (to a fault) but at the end of the day we need to learn to be content with what we have accomplished, and not be so hard on ourselves about all the work that is still left to be done.

We may or may not get our timber frame barn built this year, and that is okay. We have a lot of pre-work that needs to be done in order to tackle such a large project, especially if we are going to do it using as little money as possible. If it takes us two or three years to get our barn built as opposed to the original six months or one year, then that is still something we should be happy about.

Homesteading is not about having a self-sufficient property overnight. To us, it is about being one step closer to sustainability than we were the day before, and we are doing a great job. Two years ago I was living in an apartment in a large city commuting to a job that robbed my soul and today, we live on our own property in rural America, in a dwelling that we own outright, and get to spend most of our days practicing our homesteading skills. What more could we want?

We are very exciting to see what the year 2016 has in store for us and while we may or may not build a barn and have it dried-in by next winter, we are committing to being okay with the outcome knowing that at the end of the day, all we can do is try our best and be happy about whatever achievements we did make… big or small!

Alyssa Craft moved to Idaho after purchasing 5 acres of land where she will build an off grid homestead from scratch with as little money as possible. She is blogging about the journey from start to finish in hopes of inspiring others that wish to take a similar path. Follow her many DIY projects, including building with reclaimed materials, building an off-grid hot tub and milling lumber with an Alaskan chainsaw mill. Follow Alyssa on her blog Pure Living for Life, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. View Alyssa’s other MOTHER EARTH NEWS articles here!

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