The Honeybee Swarm that Got Away: Lessons from Overextending on Homestead Tasks


A year into our homesteading adventure, I was talking to some friends who had retired about their new boat and their plans to sail the Bahamas all winter. “Hmm,” I mused, “It’s funny that when you say, ‘I bought a boat,' it has entirely different connotations than when I say, ‘I bought the farm!’”

Homesteading offers many joys and even more challenges. It’s easy to fall into the trap of romanticizing the “good life” when we are stuck in city traffic or hemmed in by suburban monotony (I am not picking a fight; I am one those people who had the romanticized notions).  The people who actually get to homestead are the lucky ones who find that perfect intersection of time, opportunity, money, grit, and fearlessness to take the plunge.

Incredibly Exciting and Terribly Hard Work

Buying a farm or land, moving toward greater self-sufficiency, experimenting with heritage breeds and old-fashioned pastimes is incredibly exciting and terribly hard work. We moved from the inner city to the country and took on a lot: renovating a house, plowing and planting new pastures, starting a garden, starting an orchard, buying a pregnant team of mares, buying a pair of pregnant pigs, buying chicks, building pens, coops, acquiring two new puppies and setting up fences — all while living 20 minutes away in a rental house and while my husband had a full-time job!

I found the fantasies being swamped by the realities of being scared of my own animals, having to destroy a colt with a broken leg, waking up to the cops telling me my horses had gotten out, my guardian dog biting the mailman, discovering that thunderstorms are a whole different ballgame when you have livestock. The reality was hard.

Over time, we woke up to fact that we are bound to this land and these animals (and that it’s really difficult to find a quality farm sitter.) So while the beauty is still present every single day, the wonder can get lost in the pressure to plant, manage, problem solve, weed, prune, castrate, breed, move, spray, mow, bale, haul, dig, keep on weeding, mulch, and (did I mention) weed.

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