Homesteading as a Senior: Finding Balance through Planning Ahead

| 1/25/2017 2:23:00 PM

Tags: senior homesteading, emergency preparedness, Bruce McElmurray, Colorado,

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We have homesteaded at our remote location at 9,800 feet elevation in the Sangre de Christo mountains, where we heat our small cabin with a woodstove. We have resided here for 20 winters on 11 acres of heavily wooded property. We share our cabin with our four German Shepherd dogs. While we have space heaters to heat areas that our woodstove will not reach, like our partial basement and bathroom, the remainder of our cabin is heated with our woodstove.

That requires approximately 10 to 12 cords of firewood per winter season. Our winters are long at this elevation, plus we also receive on average around 260 inches of snow per season. This fairly adequately explains our life choice and circumstances.

Physical Demands

When we first moved here full-time 20 winters ago, we quickly realized that our lifestyle of choice was clearly leaning towards a lot of manual physical labor. As we reflect back, we can see that each year, it has become increasingly harder as we have become older. With the many cords of firewood to cut, haul, split and stack, there is almost 22 feet of snow per season to be moved by shovel, pushed, or piled.

In addition to the firewood and snow, there are many rocks (both small and large) to move, tree limbs to be trimmed, mulched, or hauled off, weeds to be cut, and gardening, plus other multiple routine maintenance tasks to perform. In short, it is labor-intensive to live remotely in our chosen lifestyle but it is our choice.

Plan for Firewood and Other Necessities With Proximity in Mind

Each year, it has become progressively more difficult to perform these tasks, because of those typical  nagging aches and pains that accompany achieving senior status. We had pre-planned to a certain extent for this contingency by starting years ago, cutting the firewood the greatest distance from our home, leaving those dead trees nearer our home for when we couldn’t haul them the greater distance. We improved an old logging trail so we could use our small tractor to better transport cut trees giving us a better route to the far end of our property.

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